Gratuitous kick out the jam Thursday song. The Cult with a basic straight ahead rock song that puts the pedal down for a screaming ride on a dark stretch of highway—in a nonthreatening and exhilarating kind of way. Like most of the music I feature –it was sitting in my head demanding one more play- so here we go!
This is for one of the great lost technicians to ever craft wonderful beat and melody. He arrived on that great flood of new wave/pop-punk that washed a ton of debris on shore starting in 1979. He was one of the few precious gems left after that great flood receded. This post finds him still alive and well and living in Germany.
He not only creates great songs- the dude can sing- the dude can put on a show-grabbing the moment in his fists and squeezing everything out of it. He is a professional-I only saw him once in concert and he did not disappoint.
Am I going a little crazy waxing poetically about a little blip on the screen of pop music?
Maybe- but I hope you did not miss it at the time it happened. I am focusing on that great output of creativity in three short years from 1979 Look Sharp to 1982 Night and Day – 5 solid recordings – I admit that I left him at the scene of Mike’s Murder in 1983—it was over for this fair weather fan but the man kept rolling on through life and all the storms and kept making great music. You have to respect a true professional. And I am tracking him down again. Now that we are both adults (or at least should be by now).
I need some kind of rock n roll diploma to hang by my computer to justify me as a blogger of rock music; so I will tell this story from 1982.
My taste in music is not always as good as I think- now or in the past
Case in point:
I once was an REO Speedwagon fanatic.
I am not proud of this but I admit that I may still own the entire REO Speedwagon catalogue. (at least up until the incident in the title)…yes, even those obscure records before Kevin Cronin took over as lead singer-And it gets worse:
I proudly wore a R.E.O belt buckle that I bought at the county fair. Back in the good ol’ days when copyright infringement was not farmed out to Asian countries; we made quality fake stuff right here in the U.S.A!!
While my friends were listening to Pink Floyd and Kiss- I was way ahead of the curve on pure grain-fed Midwestern formula paint by numbers watered down blues. (In my defense- “You can tune a piano but you can’t tuna fish” is not a bad record)
And then R.E.O abandoned their rock n’ roll roots and became the biggest pop/rock band in America with the release ofHi Infidelity.
This was the biggest selling rock album in America In 1982.
And that is when I met my heroes in a bar…and ended up in handcuffs backstage at their sold-out show.
I had planned to take a girl friend but that required finding a girl and having her remain in “active girl friend status” at the time of this show- I had two months to make this happen but as an awkward, nerdy and slightly weird young adult- fate was stacked against me- I had great seats and no date a couple days before the show. I sold my tickets to some happy couple for no profit.
Plus the band was a riot of popularity as mega stars and my infatuation with them was rapidly fading. I told myself they had sold-out.
On the night before the show I am sitting in a bar in downtown Saratoga Springs- It is 1am and the bar band is playing- there are maybe 12 of us in there and the owner of said establishment has stopped collecting the 2 dollar cover charge.
Who walks in but Kevin Cronin, Gary Richrath and one other dude from R.E.O (maybe the drummer?- I guess I need help from one of the other eleven in the bar that night to help me remember?)
They walk to the stage and rip into “Johnny Be Good” with a couple members of the bar band- They did play a couple more songs before departing and I remember slapping Kevin Cronin on the back and saying thanks as they walked out (BTW-he does not like that- just in case you get in range)
But how cool is the biggest band on the planet just going back and playing for fun?
I should have left it right there, but:
Night of the show I am hanging outside the gates at the Performing Arts Center because I have no tickets…some go jumping over the fence and I join them to sneak in.
A security guard chases me and I run away—I am fast but the guard is faster and tackles me in a spectacular dive which could have made the top ten on Sports Center. The crowd loved it!
I am handcuffed and put on a golf cart with other criminals to be processed. They do the processing backstage at the show—which is kind of ironic because that is closer than any of us dreamed of getting.
One scary dude handcuffed to a locker and is yelling obscenities and insults at me largely because I am dressed like a geek. I realize 3 things at that moment:
I am a geek and even getting arrested with people does not automatically make me “cool” with those people.
I am going to be calm and make good decisions from this point forward so that I don’t end up going to jail.
Damn, that guard was fast! He must do a 4.1 time on the forty yard dash!
Thankfully- I was issued a ticket and released- It was a 50 dollar fine.
Soon after this I would get seriously in to more underground music.
I have posted this before and will probably post it again.
This song says in a few short words what my blog is trying to say in a bunch of long words over an extended period of time at a rate of about twice a week.
Music -for the people, by the people and of the people. (sorry and thank you to Ben Franklin or whoever wrote that first)
And by people –I mean all people-even people that grow up with the stain of privilege like Mr. Turner. (Seriously dude, Eton college with Prince William?) Not the expected training for a post-punk folk revival demi-saint of music. But -So What, welcome and thank you!
And since then I have goggled around and have found no boot tracks to mark the consecrated ground of the “Seven Wonders of Rock”. None have attempted to single these out: from the big guys of Rolling Stone and Spin all the way down to the insignificant little-guy blogger in a cave like me.
I am starting at The Crossroads-There is a marker at the intersection of U.S. Routes 61 and 49 in Clarksdale, Mississippi that is the tourist spot to go. This may or may not be the place of legend and it does work …but…I have this idea of a more rural deserted crossroads at midnight with a full moon(devil optional). Robert Johnson made a choice that night and played guitar like he was chased by the hounds of hell for the rest on his days on earth. Rock n Roll was born here! So when I go I will be taking pictures at both places…the one that is marked and the one that I have in my mind as yet unmarked.
It has to be in Mississippi -The crossroads where black and white music mixed to create an American phenomenon that took over the whole world. The devil has been in the details ever since.
My plan is to roll these out one by one until we have all seven- Then create a separate page- and just maybe another site where people can send pictures and opinions because that would be awesome! There is still time to change my mind on these wonders. I will entertain any suggestions and give you full credit if you can convince me of an error.
And lastly I am not enforcing the “be nice” WordPress decorum if you want to leave opinions. These 7 wonders are for all of us and it is more important that I get this right (or close to it) instead of feeling warm and fuzzy all over with tons of like buttons.
As of now I have no actual pictures because I have visited none of these sites, I hope to change that in the near future!
Ska used to be a tonic for the oppressed. Maybe because it has its roots in Jamaica where it seems like economic strife and hardship are permanent fixtures. It found a home in Britain then made its way to America to gain smoothness and swagger. I never think that music loses anything as it gets interpreted by different people in different places. That is part of what makes it so great.
Reggae is the rhythmic offspring of Ska- your body will tell you the difference- Reggae makes you sway and Ska makes you jump.
You know the cave guy loves every kind of music but that does not mean that every kind of music can get this guy moving. So I’m gonna take you on a ride that can be enjoyed no matter what kind of life you have. Beat down by the man or the man himself. Ska will make you move.
My apologies to Fishbone who I tried to find a place for in this post but it always felt like you guys didn’t quite fit. Awesome band but we don’t know where to put you…I know –you’re heard that before.
Just felt like playing this-I’m sorry that Morrissey recently had to cancel his U.S tour due to illness..this song says it all for those that can’t break out of the prison of themselves. I’ve been there and this song helped a great deal at that time. Pure genius!
Wow…that is one awkward song to listen to. It may be the most uncomfortable filler song that has ever been produced. I get what they are trying to do and I respect them for giving it all they had-but this was doomed to fail for many reasons….Now maybe rich rednecks (like duck dynasty rednecks or country music stars) hit up Starbucks for a mocha cappuccino on the way down to the creek for some bluegill fishing. But I am not thinking that is too typical. And I have a tough time picturing L.L. Cool Jay as a barista. It seems like the Skynyrd shirt is the least of the things that could go wrong with this song.
You have two very rich and famous men trying to relate to the everyday man in this country. It is just too big of a jump to make. Again, I respect them both for taking a running start and doing a big cannonball into this pool of historical anger and guilt that no one else wants any part of.
This is the first time through and like all first times at everything- it is not going to be smooth.
Brad Paisley tends to write cartoony songs about all kinds of subjects and this is no exception to that style. What makes this approach usually work is his strong sense of humor weaving around the quirky guitar lines. LL Cool J tries to offer the clarifying view from the other side but can’t make the mis-written words fit. There is nothing worse than listening to an unfunny joke poorly delivered and this is how this song comes off.
I thank them for breaking the ice and getting the conversation going.
And to all the critics and distracters out there….Go write your own song about healing these wounds and see how it goes.
I for one am glad that representatives from country music and hip hop music have met and are starting talks. This is a complicated issue that cuts through many layers and generations and I hope this bad song starts the writing of some good songs. I would love to live in an America that lets music bring us together instead of driving us apart.
And maybe it is starting to work…because all the different cultures and sub-groups in this country have gotten together with one single voice to declare “This is a bad song”