Saturday, 4 August 2018

Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun

Every year when I see who is getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, my reaction is either “it’s about time” or “why them?”  Maybe sometimes both.

This year, I got to thinking: what makes a band deserving anyway?  So I listed my 10 favourite bands and looked for the similarities.  Here’s the list:  The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Cream, Deep Purple, AC/DC, Pink Floyd, Queen, The Who, The Rolling Stones, CSNY, The Kinks, Dire Straits, Jethro Tull, U2.

OK, that’s more than 10, but nevermind.  And I know your list is different and that’s cool.

But what sets them apart?  Genre/subcategory?  Nope.  Great musicianship?  Mostly, but not – with the greatest respect to those listed – universally.  Killer song writing?  It helps, I suppose.  Clothes?  Just kidding.

Maybe it’s a combination of curiosity and fearlessness.  I tend to think of my favourite artists as explorers, trying new ideas, poking around in unfamiliar places.  Even after they’ve forged their own sound and persona, there’s a restless drive to seek out the new and see what it has to offer.

That drive, that curiosity, that willingness to try something new is why the music of these bands still sounds fresh and exciting.  That spirit of exploration keeps the music young.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Just My Tears And The Orchestra Playing

Maybe it’s because I’ve heard them, like 7,000 times, but some songs are like symphonies.  Take, say, Third Stone From The Sun or Dazed And Confused.

As you listen to the ebb and flow, the music continually morphs into an entirely different vibe.  As you pick up on the nuances that drive those translations, you gotta think: this is musical genius of a higher order, like Wagner or something*. 

Or maybe it’s just because I’ve heard them 7,000 times.

* Yeah, I know.  Wagner was an opera guy, and not really known for his only symphony, which, as it turns out, was once conducted by Engelbert Humberdinck, whose namesake performed music which – especially compared to Hendrix or Zeppelin – was not particularly symphonic.

See how I worked that in?

Thursday, 24 May 2018

At The Station

I dunno.  Listening to White Room by Cream, I just think that Jack Bruce was the most underrated singer in rock.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

It’s A Low Down Dirty Shame

I’ve decided I’m only listening to the Blues until the Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup again.  Luckily, I have thousands of songs, so I probably won’t get bored.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

A Higher Place

The thing about Tom Petty is, like, when you hear one of his songs, you go, I wrote that, didn’t I?

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Same Old Thing Happens Every Day

I have no quarrel with those who would choose Chuck Berry, but if I had to explain rock and roll to an alien I would play I’m Down by The Beatles.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Eight Miles High

Sometimes, when I’m grooving to the music and everyone else is busy yacking, I just feel sorry for them.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Only A Bar Band?

I have friends who will disparage bands they aren’t fond of by saying, “They’re only a bar band.”  Curiously, this includes people who are in the same bar band as me.

To which I say:  Only a bar band?!?  Think about some of the massive albums that were recorded by bands who were still playing in clubs at time.

The Beatles were still gigging at places like the Cavern Club in Liverpool and the Star Club in Hamburg while they recorded Please Please Me.

The Who were performing in clubs when they recorded My Generation.

Eric Clapton achieved his notorious divinity not on the concert stage but in the nightclubs of London, while he knocked off both the John Mayall “Beano” and Fresh Cream albums.

The next year, Eric, The Beatles, The Stones and their pals caught Hendrix at the Bag O’ Nails while he was recording Are You Experienced.

Even Page, Plant &co. played a few club dates before Led Zeppelin I launched them on their path to world domination.

Only a bar band?  I guess if you can have a left-handed compliment, you can also have a left-handed insult.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Don’t Fade On Me

“The soundtrack to your life” may be a cliché, but to the extent that we all have one, mine seemed to be slipping away in 2017.  Check out Rolling Stone’s People We Lost This Year.

Chuck Berry, Tom Petty, Malcolm Young, Gord Downie, Greg Allman, Walter Becker, Fats Domino, J. Geils …  sheesh!  That’s a partial list of cultural icons relegated to our memories.

Back up your hard drives, people.  We need to keep this stuff alive.

Friday, 15 December 2017

How Many Times?

If you can’t achieve immortality through song lyrics as deep and meaningful and insightful and poignant and timeless as Dylan’s Blowin’ In The Wind, then you should at least get a Nobel Prize for it.