Tuesday, April 30, 2013

It's almost like living a dream

Today, randomly, is about English bluesmen-at-heart who ended up being fleeting pop sensations in the States.

Chris Rea was playing on a jukebox last night, but he wasn't. It was just the Chris Rea of my imagination, or, rather, a late-career Gino Vannelli.

Chris Rea was not a smooth crooner at all, really. He wanted his blues influences and craggy voice to emerge from the crisp yacht-rock coating applied by Elton John's producer. He returned to his early goals only after surviving pancreatic cancer, including the same harrowing-sounding surgery that Steve Jobs had had.

Still, I like Rea's intimate little admonishment to a heartbroken girl."I'll buy your first good wine," he offers.

Creepy? Maybe--but this was 1978, after all.

Climax Blues Band is that workhorse that's been around since bellbottoms and now, somewhere, they play with a little gut (and a lot of guts) and some gray hair. (This is when I always think of walking down a street in downtown Asheville, NC one summer night in '01 or something during a festival and there, at the bottom of the road, was Foghat.) They got it right (ha) in '76 with a clomping, funky favorite (I thought "that lot" came from America, too, dude), and came back again in '80 with this couples-skate-only ballad that's so much more than that, including a band-buster that was only performed live once, karaoke-style, in an English pub in Clearwater, Florida. But what emerges from its crisp, yacht-rock coating, applied by an American producer (who gave us not just Styx, but Styx II and went on to crisp up Animotion with a Fairlight), is an unalloyed love song.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Gasping at glimpses of gentle true spirit

This was a post that's been sitting in draft form since November 2011. 

I'm sad that the reason that I found it today is that Richie Havens has passed.

This folk singer, purveyor of peace and possibly the best-known drawer-outer of a stand-in performance after his legendary three-hour set at Woodstock was an  inimitable interpreter of the most wonderful songs of the true rock era--some of them peerless treasures that probably shouldn't be touched by anybody save an older version of its creators.

And I dig that, a lot. Here is my first and foremost favorite:

Tremendous gifts, energy, passion. Tremendous.

Listen to the song--originally precise and clarion--tell me if Richie's diaphanous interpretation doesn't make you ache and want to see some open sky to wonder into.


I flit, I float, I fleetly flee. I fly. This is like when clouds scud (is that word ever used in any other context?) across the daytime sky at a good clip, you look out and see that, like a mechanically-moved backdrop on a scroll.

I'm going to make an effort to see Richie someday.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Monday, April 01, 2013

You kick them when they fall down

Amateur Joke Day.

Bad jokes done badly by people who don't know how to be funny -- jokes that go on too long, or are funny for a nanosecond, or are generally not nuanced enough nor ever will be to land without making someone feel tricked or judged. Pranks (gawd, I hate 'em! I hate the word!) that are, as the person who has articulated everything I've said already elsewhere today about today, but in The Atlantic, points out, a "derivative of a derivative of a derivative."

And let's not even talk about the self-indulgent, not-entertaining wankery on the Internet.

Look, whether it's announcing a non-existent pregnancy or career change (I'm leaving for Japan to learn to make origami mice! Har! Har!) on social media,  or being sent to see lions washed at the Tower of London, it's not funny.

However, I could watch this one, like, for days.

Charm--and not harm--wins every time.