Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Sunshine Came Softly

The other night, I had the pleasure of attending a Donovan concert in Toronto.

His voice isnt what it used to be, but hes such a good storyteller, and his songs practically sing themselves anyway, so it was all good.

What was especially heartwarming is that not everyone in the audience had white hair.  I was amazed at how many people under 30 were there and they werent casual listeners.  They knew him.  They were fans.

Donovan himself described his musics timeless appeal as hopeful melancholy.  He confronts that madness of our species, and shares his sadness at our willful self-destructiveness, but he celebrates the wonders of the world around us with an enduring spirit of hopefulness.

He is the hurdy gurdy man, singing songs of love.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Admit That The Waters Around You Have Grown

Well!   Bob Dylan has won the Nobel Prize for literature, and I think thats very cool.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

But My Mother Didn’t Know

Guitar duos are still the thing, man.  Aint nothing better than to listen to two cats play off one another:  John and George, Hammett and Hetfield, Allman and Betts, Trucks and Haynes, Ronnie and Keef, Jimmy Page and himself

But go way back to 1959, and have a listen to John Lee Hooker and (I think*) Eddie Taylor jam their way through Im In The Mood.


* I know there are multiple versions of this track.  Theyre all terrific, but hopefully Im referencing the right one.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

I May Make You Feel, But I Can’t Make You Think

Prog Rock is an interesting genre.  Sometimes a band (or song) can blow you away with its imagination and musicianship.  Sometimes a band (or song) can leave you feeling, What are they trying to prove?

And reactions tend to be both extreme, and extremely personal.  One persons Man, this is so good, can be anothers How can you even listen to that?

My favourite bit of self-indulgent showing off is Thick As A Brick by Jethro Tull.  You may agree, laugh uproariously, or hurl as you see fit, but for me its an amazing tour de force, as complex as any classical symphony or opera.

The transitions from section to section (and there are a lot of them) are seamless.  The intricacy of the arrangement is impressive.  And the tightness of the band is second to none.

Perhaps whats most impressive, though, is that those cats played the entire piece live (I saw them do so in 1973), and they were just as tight as the record.

Love it or hate it, the one thing prog rock will do is impress you with the skill of the musicians.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

All I Have To Do Is To Be Happy

Well, he wasnt Jimi Hendrix or Stevie Ray Vaughan, but it should be no surprise that George Harrison continued to show his superior guitar skills after The Beatles went bust, as illustrated in Guitar Worlds George Harrisons 10 Greatest Guitar Moments After The Beatles.

Its little wonder that the cat who gave us the 12 String guitar solo and the sitar should have invented his own style of slide guitar, or that he could hold his own on a blues song.

But session guitarist for Belinda Carlisle?  Now that was a surprise.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Oh What A Feeling

One of the ways I celebrate Canada Day each July 1 is to put on my CanCon (Canadian Content) playlist, which includes my favourite Canadian rock, folk and blues tunes and is, by the way, quite lengthy.

Damn, but we do make some good music here.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Wait A Minute, Something’s Wrong Here

Im grateful for all his other music and all, but when I hear songs like Red House, I cant help thinking:  Man, I wish Hendrix played more blues.

Friday, 24 June 2016

The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be

Fascinating article in the NY Times a while ago called, Which Rock Star Will Historians Of The Future Remember?

Note the singular Rock Star.  The authors premise is that in 300 years, Rock will have been rendered down to a brief footnote represented by one person.  Given our human propensity for over-simplification, and our attraction to hero myths, this is completely plausible.

Having successfully established that premise, the article goes on to examine and eliminate most of the obvious candidates, arriving at Chuck Berry.

Thats a very good conclusion, eminently argued in the article.  But my money is on John Lennon.  Yes, as the article explains, he was part of the Beatles, and groups dont qualify for the hero myth.  But Lennon has all the attributes ascribed to Chuck Berry and then some.  He also has the advantage of being a martyr, and the past 35 years would suggest that his hero-martyr persona will ultimately relegate the other three Beatles to walk-on roles in the larger Lennon legend.

Its not a stretch. 
John Lennon took a passing American musical fad and, with his band, turned it into an international sensation, defining the music and the culture of the times.  He died tragically, but his influence lived on for generations. 

So says the as yet unwritten music history textbook.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Let It Ring For Evermore

One of Jeff Lynne’s signatures – as a songwriter, as a singer, and as a producer – is poignancy, his ability to match the melancholy with the sublime.

Have a listen to ELO’s Telephone Line.   I think it’s one the best examples: heartbreakingly sad but so beautiful it’s sweet.

Thanks, Jeff.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Every Single Day Of My Life

Have a listen to The Beatles Got To Get You Into My Life.

9 notes spread over 2 bars;  in 3 seconds George delivers a perfect guitar solo.