Posts filed under: ‘Music notes‘
Yesterday’s music notes did a disservice to the female rockers out there, so I have to come back to the topic for just a minute. We boomers grew up on such greats as Janis (why did you leave us?) Joplin, Aretha, Bobbie Gentry and the late, great and untouchable Dusty Springfield (no one will ever touch her “Son of a Preacher Man,” though Joan Osborne’s is insanely good).
But again, music didn’t die with our heyday. The ’80s brought Annie Lennox, Cyndi Lauper (who was such an influence that at 4, daughter Liz converted a Barbie to a Cyndi Lauper doll), Pat Benatar (whom Liz chose to be for RnR dress up day at Park Hill Elementary) and grrrlll-power Joan Jett.
But, oh, the ’90s. Sexy/sassy Sheryl Crow. Sparkling Jewel. Growling Joan Osborne. Angry Alanis Morrisette. The beautiful and haunting Sarah McLachlan. The ever-so-fun and in-your-face-topical Dixie Chicks.
Girls rock. Women too. In a big way.
The girls I’m digging today are Adele, who makes me feel “Right as Rain”; Duffy, (“Mercy”!); Florence + the Machine, who have a strange and interesting sound (check out this funky “Not Fade Away”; and Amy (why’d you leave us?) Winehouse. And, of course, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals can keep me up at night listening to her retro groove.
Again, girls rock. And roll.
But so does my son-in-law Brent, in the local band FreeVerse.
He and the boys gave this mom-in-law a most happy surprise Saturday night at The Afterthought by breaking into a smooth version of Curtis Mayfield’s “Pusherman.” (Awesome guitarwork, Adam.) That doesn’t negate what I’ve said about new music, but it does show that classics never die.
Now if I can just get them to play “What Is Hip?” …
Add a comment August 15, 2011
Parade magazine, not normally my source of rock ’n’ roll news, says that 46 years ago today Sonny and Cher hit No.1 on the charts with “I Got You, Babe.” They certainly rocked my 9-year-old life – I read every word I could about Cherilyn Sarkisian Bono in my Sixteen magazines that I bought and studied religiously. (Never Tiger Beat – that was for boppers. It was Sixteen all the way for me. My walls were covered with their mini posters for years.)
If memory serves, Cher was billed as half-Cherokee/half-Armenian (maybe there was some French in there too – this is from memory). She dropped out of school for her music career. How romantic to a 9 year old. For a time, she drew my attention away from Pattie Boyd (soon-to-be Pattie Boyd Harrison, when she married – gasp – a BEATLE!), whom I considered the ultimate source for all things fashion and beauty.
She had a regular column in 16 and was a famous model in her own right before George married her then supposedly wrote “Something” about her. But that wasn’t enough – Eric Clapton wrote “Layla” about her when his love was unrequited, then “Wonderful Tonight” when they were married. She even claims “Bell-Bottom Blues” was written for her. Regardless, she was a highly influential person in my life.
I must admit to being disappointed to learn what a ditz her autobiography made her seem. Some people are better adored from afar – and when you’re in elementary school.
(Even her sister Jenny got in on the muse act; Donovan wrote “Jennifer Juniper” for her, then she was later married to Mick Fleetwood for a while.)
Getting sidetracked, as I was briefly by Cher. But mostly I dug the boy bands, the Beatles, of course, but so, so many others.
But here’s where I get to the point (about damn time, you may be thinking): Good music, contrary to what many of my baby-boomer cohorts say, did NOT end with the early ’70s. Au contraire; good music abounds.
Granted, there have been some musical-desert years. I would not have survived the late ’70s and early ’80s without my main man Tom Petty (he can do me like that, musically, anytime). That’s probably why son Ben used to beg, at about 15 months, for me to play “TP, Mama, TP” – he was my housework soundtrack in the stay-at-home mom days. Bruce Springsteen, whom Liz was determined to marry when she was a toddler, Dire Straits, Bob Seeger, then later, yes, John (briefly Cougar) Mellencamp all brought me comfort and joy.
When Tom Petty and I divorced our long-term spouses at about the same time in the mid-’90s, my kids teased me with “Now’s your chance, Mom. Your man’s free.” Everything he does is gold. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better sound than the Travelin’ Wilburys came up with. (Hmmm, Pattie Boyd’s ex was a TW. There she is again.)
Dave Matthews has been around way too long to be considered new, but some of my boomer friends still don’t listen to DMB; some don’t even know who he is. If you’re in that category, you must learn now. Can’t let too many days go by without a fix. Maybe two. After that, the jonesing sets in (which reminds me of Counting Crows, another oldish “new” band. If you’re not in the know, check them out too.)
My kids introduced me to Jack Johnson when they were stationed in Hawaii, just before he hit it so big he became an Andy Samberg character on SNL. Even if you could possibly not love his music, you’ve got to love his big heart and green-living lifestyle. And he’s a surfer, dude.
Hate to end on a downer note, but I’ve got to give the late Amy Winehouse her props. If she could’ve held out to our birthday (we were born on the same day), at least she could’ve beaten the cliche of the 27 club. Sigh. She should’ve lived long enough to catch up with her old lady voice. The child was even brave enough to tackle “Mr. Magic” – Grover Washington, Jr.’s groovy tune.
If she could only have hung on, she could’ve been a contender to be some young girl’s Cher or Pattie Boyd Harrison.
Add a comment August 14, 2011
Wow. I read today that starting next year, Ford is phasing out CD players in the newest Focus and instead putting in USB ports.
Moving forward takes me back. As a kid, nothing was more exciting than listening to rock ’n’ roll on the AM radio, whether it was riding around in the station wagon with Mother or in front of the console stereo or on my transistor. Then FM came brought album rock and expanded our horizons and cool cars had AM/FM radios.
Big clunky eight-track tapes were heavenly for a girl who dug bands that didn’t get played on the radio much, FM or AM — the Allman Brothers Band, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, early ZZ Top. (Pre-stupid-beard ZZ Top, when Billy Gibbons was a sexy hunk. Yes, there was such a time. I saw him at Barton Coliseum with my very own eyes. Gracious.) Those were the bands that made my first little car, a tiny Toyota, rock on its rims via an add-on, ugly eight-track player.
Pretty quickly we got a reprieve from the clunkers via cassette, but, boy, were they prone to problems. Like melting in Arkansas summer heat or pulling loose and refusing to retract. But still, they gave us options to listen to what we chose. They were heaven sent.
Actually, no they weren’t. But CDs — ahh. Listening ease meant never having to hear a radio commercial again or wasting time on idle DJ chatter. Love, love, love. For many years. Still love my built-in CD player, even though I’ve been pretty unfaithful since Sirius Satellite Radio came into my life. Spectrum is divine. Makes me happy every time I drive.
The only frustration with satellite radio (beside the expense once a year. Ouch.) is that the DJ chatter is so very low you often don’t know who you’re listening to if it’s a new band. Shazam on my iPhone solved that. Thanks, Brother Paul, for telling me about it. It’s still the only app I’ve paid for. (We won’t talk about iTunes, though.)
I’m sorry I’ve neglected you, CD player. I still buy CDs — but mainly I dump them into my Macbook, then copy them to my iPod Touch. But just knowing you’re there has been comforting.
But I’ll admit that built-in USB ports are heaven sent. Divine. Someday we’ll have one, when the wheels fall off the Jeep or (more likely), John’s old truck.
And The Buggles were wrong. Video didn’t kill the radio star. It just expanded musical horizons.
Add a comment July 28, 2011
For slipping back into time, an olfactory memory (hallucination??) is probably the strongest and straightest route. You get a whiff of a certain something — or imagine you do — and suddenly you’re 5 years old again. (Dubble Bubble bubble gum, perhaps? Grapette soda?) A few years ago, while walking Toby, I rounded the corner at 14th and Spring, and for a split second, slipped through a vortex in time back to my great-grandmother’s house in Russellville. It was the smell, which I couldn’t even begin to describe. It was a disorienting and disconcerting, though absolutely fabulous, moment, and, because I’m married to John, my husband was fascinated, instead of questioning of my sanity, as I tried to describe it in great detail. We went back to the spot, but nothing. I’ve gone back many times, in fact, trying to sneak up on it and slip through again, but no luck so far.
Much more common is the auditory memory/temporary time travel that for me occurs through songs. Any song from Neil Young’s Harvest album instantly (and as years go by, much more heart-stabbingly) transports me back to second semester of my junior year of high school. At least for a few seconds, if not for a full song, I’m 16 again and falling in love.
Likewise, Santana’s marvelous cover of “Black Magic Woman” (not the original Fleetwood Mac’s original version, which is mighty fine,too) sends me back to 10th grade, and Santana’s “Evil Ways,” takes me to freshman year. Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” (or the flip side, “Living Loving Maid (She’s Just a Woman”) is a ticket to ride to the eighth grade, and the Beatles “Ticket to Ride” is good for the fast track to fifth grade.
You get how it works. Maybe it works for you, too.
I remember clearly standing by my parents’ console stereo listening to KAAY-AM, 1090, on your dial, at age 8 and hearing my first song “by a new band out of England,” but I can no longer remember if it was “Please, Please Me,” “I Saw Her Standing There” or “She Loves You.” I do know it was love at first hear and my life changed. If you didn’t live through it, you probably can’t relate, but if you were there, you know.
My transistor radio became my best friend. The Daily Top 10 Countdown, which came on at 5 p.m., was a sacred ritual. I had to experience it alone at just the right spot on the driveway for optimal reception. (Don’t talk to me! I’m listening.)
Later, over on Blackhawk, I discovered that after 9 at night at just the right spot on the driveway, I could pick up WLS in Chicago. “Truckin’” and “Cindy’s Crying” made my nights.
Hmm, this posting kind of took off on its own. Let me reign it back in.
I meant to say that early Tom Petty is my son Ben’s toddlerhood (little Liz had a thing for The Boss); anything early MTV is my stay-home-with-the-kids years; “We Are the World” sends me back to the spring I taught seventh-grade English and Liz’s Cindy Lauper Barbie doll (Liz transformed her via scissors and markers — very nicely done for a 4-year-old). The Live Aid concert finds me steaming Elvis-Presley-gold flocked wallpaper off the hall walls at our second house.
Sheryl Crow’s “All I Wanna Do” and REM’s “Bittersweet Me” both made me cry and let me know it was time to cut my marital losses and move on. (Really, when you’d “sooner chew your leg off than be trapped in this,” it’s obviously over.) Instead of making me sad now, they’re freedom anthems.
John and I fell in love to Bonnie Raitt’s Silver Lining CD (yeah, kind of cheesy, but great lyrics and what a voice), and one note from any song still gives me the giddies. But we got married to the Beatles “In My Life,” which has a nice synchronicity. He changed my adult life, just as the Beatles changed my childhood.
And music is my memory. All I have to do is roll up for the tour.
1 comment July 13, 2011
AKA random chatter about one of my favorite things in the world.
On Eddie Vedder’s Ukulele Songs (which I recommend if you like EV or the ukelele), his “Dream a Little Dream of Me” is of course very different from Mama Cass’s version. Makes me hear her in my head, though.
Had I gotten my way, my daughter would be named “Layla.” I didn’t (get my way), but her ringtone on my iPhone is “Layla,” so there’s that. And Elizabeth, her given name, is mentioned in one of my favorite Allman Brothers’ songs — “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” which is actually my daughter-in-law, Elizabeth’s, ringtone.
Shuggie Otis: “Hurricane.” Boy Wonder.
Another one of the greatest albums ever recorded, from that little band from Oakland with the big, big sound. Woke up singing “What Is Hip?” on this Fourth of July 2011, which somehow seems perfectly patriotic. Tower of Power is what Chicago wanted to be when they grew up. (And, yes, grammarians and copy editors, technically that “they” should be “it,” but that sounds unhip. Which won’t do, when discussing Tower of Power.)
Add a comment July 9, 2011