Friday, October 17, 2014

You'll be okay, follow your heart

So he had a soul that couldn't tolerate the braggadocio and the bleakness of the biz. That's what happened. 
"It's the deal with the devil: if you want your work to be seen, it's unfortunately not just about the work. And when it becomes less about the art, then the art suffers."
I savored this interview with musician/songwriter Gregg Alexander yesterday, reading it twice, listening to the songs*. And THE song:



I loved this song. I found it because I listened to the radio--the actual FM radio--15 years ago, daily. So many blocks between 1 W and 2200 W and 10 S and 1600 N spent tromping around to this, wondering what the hell I was doing in this city after only five months. I only feel like I heard it all the time, because I mustn'tve. Some time was spent hearing this or this and straining to reach the dial when this came on.

But this was constant, at least in my head, and when, a few years later, I could obtain (not legally) and play (legally) digital music files, I found this first, or something close to it (not like I remember my first CD purchase, which was, of course, this).

The song--and its creator--were widely admired and naturally dismissed until he slipped into obscurity. Some of the admirers who stepped up were surprising; Joni Mitchell, herself once an idealistic newcomer, gave the highest praise, including the track among others by Debussy, Duke Ellington and Dylan on an album of "music that matters to her."

Gregg resurfaced later, but no on really knew it. Of course, of course he also wrote this other guilty-pleasure treasure of mine, aerial and poppy and classic rock-y, all at once.

My own well-loved digital file of "You Get What You Give" faded, disappearing sometime in the last few years between device changes and computer upgrades and virus-laden downloaded file flushes from my music storage. That's okay; it's a relic of a time past, sonically, socially, personally. But there are some things about this song that are ageless. I mean, replace some of these names, and then trawl Twitter, the New York Times, or some episodes of The Daily Show (which, incidentally, premiered in its current incarnation at the exact time that "You Get What You Give" and Gregg were pushed out over radio waves in January 1999):
Health insurance rip off lying FDA big bankers buying
Fake computer crashes dining
Cloning while they're multiplying
Fashion mag shoots
with the aid of 8 dust brothers Beck, Hanson
Courtney Love and Marilyn Manson
You're all fakes
Run to your mansions
Come around
We'll kick your ass in! 
But, for me, the bloom is still on this rose because the song's sound matches the point. The sound and the thought soar together. This song was not at shy about aspirational, and that's how I needed to be in early 1999. It says, "Remember how you did that/this with them/those? And who you are? You still are."

You still are.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Random Play: Like an oasis in the sand

Oh, man, What a find on internet radio. The playlist on this joint continues to surprise me.

Take this, for instance. What pierced my work-directed attention--and, really, it pierced--is the fuzzed-out guitar.




I'm pierced--and struggling. Struggling to fully remember other fuzzed-out guitar sounds. Maybe?



No; it was fuzzy--but gloppier. A little wah-wah AND fuzz (as if I know what I am talking about). It's fuzz guitar, but in an R&B song, that this prog-rock (and eventually electronica; see below) guitarist's handiwork reminds me of.


There's this, of course:



But that's not it. No, there's another song with a slow-burning, fuzzy guitar lick, accompanied by sharp syllables gulped by back-up singers, and then...

Send help. Googling "fuzz guitar in R&B song" just sent me chasing that musical cottontail down his hole.

It's not Edwin Starr, or The Undisputed Truth, or The Temptations.

Perhaps I ought to just focus on what's at hand, rather than search frantically forward to try to reach what's way back.

And this guy, Steve Hillage? Brit, prog, summoned forth weird noises from a guitar in the 70s (including a track called "Glorious Om Riff") and weird noises from other artists in the 80s and weird noises from machines in the 90s and beyond.



For the unsatisfied seeker that this guy's earlier efforts sent tumbling across bytes and days (this post was started over a week ago), his second career output is soothing away the burning need to know. But not entirely.

In the end, I'd rather burn with curiosity spawned by the fuzz of electrical impulses snapping through wire and metal and wood and human hands than fade away on gentle, digitally-processed waves of sound.







Monday, September 29, 2014

On Repeat: In love, in love, in love, in love

Not only am I obsessed--obsessed--with this song (and it's been a long time since that has happened), I have developed a huge retroactive crush. An I'd-put-a-poster-on-the-ceiling crush.


 
My fantasy bf, BF. Can you blame me?


Sure, we might have started out shakily



and aged a bit, as we all must do


But, really, can you blame me for a crush on some essence that's some 39 years old?

I mean, come on.




Friday, August 29, 2014

A love like ours is love that's hard to find

A ballad that resonates today because, well, because.

There's a time in life when you form a relationship with a dining establishment, and the sudden demise of that relationship can be unexpectedly devastating.

I know it's food--but it's more.  Friends, family, loves--memories. The biggest part of me.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Summer at the Pool: an' I can't blame all on the sun

I ran past the neighborhood pool the other morning, and that unnaturally blue water took me back to those lazy days of sizzling sidewalks and French fries and involuntary gulps of chlorinated water and that moment when you get to the pool early in the day and it's still crisp and clean-feeling. All day spent at the pool, with a Realistic boombox playing the radio end-to-end. You'd float along to whatever was being broadcast, and when it was crowded, only chopped bits of hits would penetrate the cries and splashing, like the gut-rumbling synth chords in this one:



Of course, at the time, gurgling and gasping from 3 feet to 15, we had no idea the song commemorated a riot.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Don't you know that you can count me out

I'm back and I still have Beatles on the brain.

While on a vacation, I read this new book detailing the drek, the droll and the decadent of early 80s Brit (mostly) New Wave. While it was "highly entertaining" as promised, I wish it had dispensed with the sometimes-cutesy personal intros that chirp or moan about the writers' personal connection to and memories about each group profiled. I wouldn't want to read that kind of thing even if I had written it.

Oh, wait.

Anyway, I have New Wave Brits and Beatles on the brain now; to wit:



Oh, I had this whole record (and still do) and I'm listening to it now digitally, realizing that it's not as terrible as I remember it to be  

Wait. I didn't own this record, I had the follow-up (and still do). And it is terrible.

However, they did somewhat redeem themselves at Live Aid's Philadelphia stage in a performance that preceded said terrible album's release, with some high-powered back-up:



I was nodding my head at the end there. But it's still pretty electric-drum-filled terrible.

I guess I have a new album to add to my vinyl hunt list. Oh yes, because this one that I don't have, Into the Gap, sounds like the distant places that New Wave began to conjure for teens in American suburbia, whether it's the coast of Antigua, slick Berlin streets, or the inside of David Bowie's closet. It sounds like the safari look of '83 (found here, a boatnecked treasure trove!), back when Banana Republic was a J. Peterman-style catalog operation.

Until I find it in the bin, I will enjoy Into the Gap digitally, and cleanse myself of the cover that followed it in 1985 (ugh, pearls, satin, giant shirts, ugh) with a different cover: