When the promise of a brave new world unfurled beneath a clear blue sky

3 08 2017

I had to have been high when I saw Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii.

I mean, who watches a Pink Floyd concert film sober?

JT and his roommate took me and maybe some of the other freshmen from our floor in Sellery over to the Humanities building, where they showed free films in lecture halls (Harold and Maude was regularly featured). JT & roommate were both sophomores, way into music, and likely to be high whenever it seemed like a good time to be high—and in a classroom watching Pink Floyd play long trippy songs in an empty amphitheater would seem to be a very good time to be high.

I knew Pink Floyd well enough—had a couple of albums, knew songs from a couple more—but was never a super fan. I learned that night in Humanities, for example, that they had a song called “Careful With That Axe, Eugene”, which I thought (then and now) was a great title. And I learned that young David Gilmour was beautiful, and that whatever drug he had taken had turned his pupils into teeny-tiny dots amidst a startling blue.

Anyway, there’s a semi-amusing countdown of Pink Floyd songs over at Vulture penned by someone who seems to hate that he’s a Pink Floyd fan. I didn’t click on the links to the songs themselves (on Spotify, which I haven’t joined), but did watch a number of the vids, many of which were live.

And, oh man, look at those concerts! I never saw Pink Floyd live, and most of the big shows I did see were either at Alpine Valley or at Summerfest, but that concert footage—guys mostly standing around, a few women ahhhhh-ing off to the side, and LASERS! and NONSENSE ANIMATION!—that. was. a concert!

I haven’t seen an arena show in. . . huh, ever, so, again, I can only go by what flashes across my computer, but it seems like most of the big acts touring today put on A SHOW. Plenty of music, yes, but dancing and more dancing and, oh look, another dancing routine. I can’t really say if this is better or worse than the old standing-around-noodling model, but it is a distinct change.

Guessing (again): the Grateful Dead were the premier stand-around-noodling band. Yeah, yeah, the Dead (and their ilk) are called “jam bands”, which, okay, is cooler than “noodling” band, but either way, not my thing. The Dead were still touring when I was in college, and you couldn’t swing a bong in Madison without hitting a Deadhead, but, nope, didn’t do it for me.

Didn’t hate ’em, didn’t love ’em; just thought, Okay.

But Pink Floyd? Yeah, they were all right. Biting, angry, inscrutable lyrics, and long (so very long) songs to play when you got in from a night out and needed to float back to somewhere in the vicinity of sobriety before falling asleep. What more could a teenager want?

One final memory: At one point while hospitalized, J and I were allowed out of the ward for a few hours. We walked down Lakeshore path over to State Street, where some kind of construction was going on outside of Memorial Library, the zone bounded by plywood sheets.

These sheets were, of course, a canvas, and on one, someone had spray-painted shine on you crazy diamond.

Both J and I, day-passed from a psych ward, thought this was pretty great, and I took a picture of her in front of it. J had a lot of bad days, but that was a good day, for both of us.





We’re dancing for the restless and the brokenhearted

25 07 2017

I’ve got such a weakness for the pop anthem.

And not just, y’know, the regular U-RAH-RAH anthem—not We Will Rock You—but the slow build/propulsive/rip-your-heart-out-only-the-music-can-save-us anthem.

U2 seems the obvious go-to band for this, and it’s true, those boys could be mighty anthemic, but they were always too eager, never desperate enough. And while David Gray can do both the build and the desperation, he tends to crash through too soon, breaking the wave rather than letting it break over him.

No, for the properly-calibrated desperation, you gotta go to the women.

Stevie Nicks knew how to do the propulsive/rip-your-heart out bit:

As did Heart:

Pat Benatar bridged both Heart and Nicks:

A little older, a little softer, but still that call:

Sinead switches it up: she starts at a pretty high level, then just levels this shit:

Here, she levels everything s l o o o w w w l l l y:

Okay, I will give this one to the boys:

This is our last dance, indeed.

Kate Bush is a force unto herself, and if you can’t find your way to liking even one of her songs, I don’t want to know you.

This one is pretty hard to ignore:

This one works, too:

The pièce de résistance, however, has got to be from the lovably dopey Streets of Fire, with Diane Lane lip-synching the combined voices of Laurie Sargent and Holly Sherwood. Big booms, big downs, big ups, big hair, and everything is demolished by the end:

God, I’ll stop and listen to that song every damned time.

Hell, I listened to them all: somewhere inside this middle-aged broad is that break-away-everything-and-nothing-matters girl, still.

All these years later, something more than a memory remains of her, still.





That Colucci, he can bake

3 10 2016

Trying, failing, trying to point myself in some kind of direction.

I think I need music. Yeah, I need my music.

Ach, I don’t know if I need music, but not listening to music hasn’t worked, so why not, why not.

Tonight: 10,000 Maniacs, U2, Mojave 3.

The 10,000 Maniacs cd is, well, first off, I hear it as an album: when “Peace Train” comes on I think, B-side. Anyway, it’s a bit dicey, because of all the music I listened to when I was on the psych ward, I remember this one. Don’t know why.

I’ve listened to it plenty since then—I was in a short time a long time ago—but I hear the first notes of “What’s the Matter Here?” and bam, there I am, in that chair, facing the window.

But I don’t stay there. And tonight, listening to In My Tribe, I think, Jesus Christ, this was a best-seller? Not because it’s not a great pop album—it is!—but what kind of pop album goes double-platinum with songs about child abuse, alcoholism, depression, illiteracy (illiteracy?!), and homelessness. And, oh, yeah, a song ripping on a brother for joining the military.

Man, the late ’80s were weird.

Still, this song makes me grin every time I hear it:





First we take Manhattan

21 09 2016

That was my first Leonard Cohen song, although I didn’t quite know it.

I’d gotten the Jennifer Warnes’s album, Jenny Sings Lenny, and First We Take Manhattan was the first cut on the first side. It’s a great song—probably why I bought the album—but I had no idea who Leonard Cohen was.

Oh, I got that he was a singer—he did his thing in a duet with Warnes—. . .

. . . but I didn’t really know him.

I don’t know when I thought he might be worth knowing—at some point in grad school, I think, relatively late, I think—and I can’t say that I know all there is to know about him. But oh, yes, I think he is worth knowing.

(An aside: of the singers who can’t sing, I’ll take Cohen and Reed over Dylan and Waits every time. They’re all killer songwriters, though, so I’d want ’em all for that.)

Anyway, a coupla’ more, of just him, singing songs I mention often on this blog:

and, for that one beautiful, heartbreaking line:

Happy 82nd birthday, Old Man. May you live to be Ancient.

 





This is ourselves

12 01 2016

I was never a huge fan of David Bowie’s.

I mean, I liked his music, had a few records, and generally enjoyed his work, but I was never a super-fan, and never had a full-on Bowie fever.

So why am I so sad today? And why can’t I stop reading about him?

~~~

David Bowie is actually associated with one of my worst memories from high school.

I wanted to be the yearbook editor my senior year. I’d started working on the yearbook staff when I was a freshman (which frosh usually didn’t do), was generally acknowledged to be ‘the writer’ in my class (not that hard, really, in a class of 150), and fully expected that the adviser, Ms. G., would appoint me.

She did not.*

L. and T. were appointed instead, and I’d be pissed about it to this today had they not a) put together a kick-ass yearbook; and b) treated me really, really well, allowing me to contribute in all kinds of way. They were champs.

Anyway, my idea was to create a yearbook around the lyrics to “Changes”—which is how Bowie gets dragged into this bad memory.

I have no idea whether or not this would have worked: it could have been amazing, it could have sucked, it could have been Eh.

Woulda liked the chance to have found out.

(*She had her reasons, which were legit. Still. . . .)

~~~

I’ve said “Under Pressure” is one of my favorite guilty pleasures, but today I’ve read all kinds of pieces holding that song out as some kind of genius.

I don’t think it’s genius, but yeah, it is a good pop song, undeserving of the guilty-pleasure label.

~~~

One good thing that’s come from all this reading today is that I found, courtesy of the Huffington Post, a couple of videos of Bowie playing with Arcade Fire.

First I saw this one, one of Bowie’s songs:

Then one of Arcade Fire’s:

I like Arcade Fire’s cds just fine, but watching them live, man, I realllly want to see them live.

What it would have been like to see them live with Bowie.

~~~

I think the main reason I considered “Under Pressure” a guilty pleasure is that every time I hear it I tear up.

I cannot handle my own tears, cannot handle that I am moved to tears.

~~~

It’s kind of astonishing how amazing a singer Bowie was, given that he didn’t have much of a voice.

He’s not like Leonard Cohen, who can’t sing at all, but if I were asked for the best straight-up voices in pop, I wouldn’t name Bowie.

But oh, could he sing, so many different types of songs, with so many different types of singers. Some of these collaborations (Arcade Fire) work better than others (Mick Jagger), it wasn’t down to him.

Something about that thin reed, stretched across the universe.

~~~

“Space Oddity” reminds me of John Lennon. I don’t know why. Maybe I heard it while thinking about Lennon’s death.

Or maybe it just reminds me of high school.

It’s not every time I hear the song I’m reeled back, but sometimes, sometimes I’m in the parking lot at Sheboygan Falls High School, Bowie on the car radio, singing And I’m sitting in my tin can. . . .

~~~

“Under Pressure” is about love, after all.

And love, I don’t know what to do with love.

Thus my chagrin over my tears, my chagrin over love.

~~~

And all of the work he’s done, all of the chances he took, all he gave and all he withheld, all he hid and all he revealed.

David Bowie, 1947-2016, was a Starman, a man who fell to earth, an alien, an artist, but most of all, most of all, David Bowie was a human being.





Upsot?

24 12 2015

My mom loves Christmas music. Loves loves loves.

Back when we had a stereo she’d load up that little thingamabob in the turntable with, I dunno, 5, 6, albums and let ‘er rip. Nowadays, she loads up the cd player and lets ‘er rip.

When I was little I loved the music and then I got older and teen-crabby and hated it and now that I’m not forced to listen to it I’m kind Eh about the whole thing.

Still, there was one song I was amused by:

And yes, I listened to it while writing this.

I still like it.

I hope you do, too. Merry happy peaceful.





You’re bad for me I clearly get it

13 01 2015

So Mike Huckabee, who just quit his Fox gig to maybe kinda consider reflecting on the possibility of perhaps running for president, demonstrates his credentials for the post by criticizing not only Malia and Sasha Obama’s musical tastes, but her parents for allowing her to listen to  “mental poison”.

Who is the fiend behind such neuro-toxin?

Surely you know by now, but in case you don’t: Beyoncé!

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, given that he had recently wondered if Jay-Z weren’t a “pimp” exploiting his “incredibly talented” (tho’ apparently intellectually-venomous) wife.

Max Lockie has the appropriate response to this.

On a not-unrelated note. . . man, I am so looking forward to the Republican primary.