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August 20, 2014 / thackersam

August 19 – The Grateful Dead – American Beauty

American BeautySorry, but first we have the story. If you remember, more than two weeks ago I went to a writers’ conference in the City. After the conference ended at 1pm on that Sunday, I bought a dress that wouldn’t leave me alone at Banana Republic, went uptown for brunch and a walk with my New York cousin, then went downtown to hang with a friend at his bar and pick up a few albums he offered to lend me. You know, contributing to the cause. And just in time too because the tapes are on hold due to a faulty tape deck, as I have previously mentioned for those of you playing along. While I know my friend wanted to load me up or load me down with more albums than I cared to carry home on the subway, I had him select two Grateful Dead and two Kinks albums of the dozen or so of the ones he brought of each group. After a Pinot Grigio or two, I got on the last car of the subway and headed home carrying the four albums under my arm, American Beauty, probably one of the most recognizable album covers if not only for the group identification, just happened to be on top. Across from me on the train sat a mother and her two adolescent children. And I should probably remind you here to keep in the back of your heads the writers’ conference, as it heightened my sense of observation and assumption, and the wine, as it just made me rude and stupid. I scanned the family. The mother looked like she didn’t have the kids too young. The boy was maybe 13-14 (I’m bad with ages), and as boys with their families, particularly their mothers will do is sit just a few feet away, as he did looking only mildly sullen in his cap. The girl was the older, I think, but not by much. She was a bit on the plump side and had a couple of big red pimples on her face, though her skin was still nicer than mine ever was. Her floral shorts enhanced her plumpness, I thought, and a pair of jeans shorts would have made her look cooler. However, even with her pudgy awkwardness and her brother’s aloofness, this family was comfortable with one another. I liked them. And then the girl caught me looking at her, and appeared self-conscious. I leaned forward and said, “You have beautiful hair.” She did have nice hair, long and silky light brown locks. She and her mother smiled and said thank you. The mother got up followed by her daughter as we approached their station, seeming unfazed that the boy remained seated until the doors opened. “Are you coming,” the mother called as they were stepping out. Finally the boy rose and before he got off the train he said to me, “Have a nice night.” And of course I replied “Thank you. You too.”

Well, I think that the albums under my arm had something to do with his need to acknowledge me. I don’t think it was the Banana Republic bag hanging from the other.

Now, back in high school, a few of my immediate girlfriends were Grateful Dead fans, as were a few of the girls from the other group we’d mingle with, and probably most of the boys with whom we all socialized, which included this particular friend whose albums I have borrowed. I was not into the Dead. Again, we must return to what we remember of the album collection, and recall that my music of choice during my high school years consisted of Rod Stewart, David Bowie, Mott the Hoople, a little Alice Cooper and some others. One boy, who is actually now a Facebook friend, would often accost me and say accusatorily “You don’t like the Dead?” And I would feel the need to explain that it wasn’t a question of liking or not liking the Dead, I just wasn’t into them. Hey! I can blurt out “What in the world ever became of Sweet Jane” in the appropriate place, in the right key, without a thought. Still. And I can say now that “Truckin’” really is near masterpiece status. But, upon listening to “Friend of the Devil” even just once again, I recognized the Kerouac mentality of it, and then remembered the Ken Kesey/Grateful Dead connection. And that has stirred a whole new batch of memories.

August 14, 2014 / thackersam

August 14 – Alan Freed’s Ashes

FreedNot to be disrespectful, but why is there an urn with anybody’s ashes in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland? In any case, the controversy that has sparked much debate of late revolves around the notion that Alan Freed, the late 1950s disc jockey credited with coining the phrase “rock ‘n roll” and championing its cause, has had his ashes removed from the Hall of Fame and returned to his family, though the family wishes for them to remain on display. It has been said that the space the urn took was needed for a particular garment that was to be added to the new Beyonce exhibit. Now, I understand that not only has Beyonce not done anything to further rock and roll, she’s not even a rock ‘n roll artist. And while I liked her very much in Goldmember, and I think that “Single Ladies” is a damn clever song, and funny, everything else Beyonce just annoys me to no end. There’s the overly overkill and the in your face ostentatiousness, though I kind of like that she just stood back and let her sister kick the crap out of her husband. But if the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame needs an exhibit from a current pop star to raise funds to keep the museum going, even if she is meaningless to the history or future of rock and roll, so be it. I’ve read that Alan Freed’s exhibit remains fairly large anyway, and question if anyone else’s ashes are on display at the museum (we know that Keith Richards’ father’s are not) and why this is necessary.

August 12, 2014 / thackersam

August 12 – The Thompson Twins – Into the Gap

ThompsonThe group, at the height of their popularity was a trio more equivalent to The Mod Squad, for those of us who remember them – One white, one black, one blond, as the intro went. The Thompson Twins were not twins, not even triplets, and weren’t related by blood, though the blond and the redhead became a couple and created a child together. The group itself is no longer.

This tape was purchased strictly for the song “Hold Me Now,” which, at least in my eyes is our song, mine and the ex’s. The frustrating relationship depicted in the song mirrored ours, and like in the song, was often calmed by an embrace. The ex and I had a rocky relationship, as mentioned many times previously, but we hugged well. Hugging was the place where we were most compatible, and the hugs were so satisfying they may have been the reason why we couldn’t stay away from each other. The other songs, including another Thompson Twins hit “Doctor Doctor” are not bad and may make this a tape to listen to again if it were not for the fact that I only got to listen to it once before the tape deck totally went kaflueey. Yes, the cassette player kicked the bucket, bit the big one or the dust, depending on your preference. It is no more. It is an ex-tape deck. So until this situation is somehow rectified, I have to discontinue the exploration of the cassette tape collection. It’s a good thing a friend, whether he knows it or not, came to my rescue.

August 9, 2014 / thackersam

August 9 – Fleetwood Mac – The Dance

Fleetwood-DanceNow this was a complete surprise amongst my cassette tapes. I don’t remember buying it, but I am now glad I did. Upon first listening to it, I thought it was a live recording of a concert that maybe took place in the early 80s or so, but as it turns out it was released in 1997, 20 years post Rumors. Aside from the fact that the voices are just a tad deeper and some accommodations had to be made to avoid some tricky high notes, they sounded just as good as 20 years prior. The harmonies were just as sharp, and though the blending of Lindsey Buckingham’s and Christine McVie’s voices often sound like two parts of one voice, there was a better identification of individual voices that I kind of like. The live version of “The Chain” showcases the talents of each band member and the harmony they generated from disharmony.

I think I could write a dissertation on this tape, if I knew anything about writing a dissertation. The music these five people created together was incredible. They took chances that paid off more often than not. Stevie Nicks had an all-over style to which she’s been loyal all these years, and Lindsey Buckingham, well what can I say. I remember once after a Fleetwood Mac song played on the radio, the DJ blurted out afterward “God bless and keep Lindsey Buckingham!” I don’t recall the song, but I remember agreeing wholeheartedly. On The Dance he does a solo version of “Big Love” (not to be confused with “Big Big Love” by The Pixies that we’re hearing on a commercial these days) that is amazing and demonstrates what an underrated guitarist he is. Nicks’ song “Silver Springs” hadn’t made it on to Rumors so I bought the single, which was actually the B side to “Don’t Stop” and wore it out after my final breakup with the ex. After performing it live, Nicks thanks the audience and calls it a “great old song,” and I can accept her lack of humility, because it is. The other highlights for me on this live set are “The Chain,” “Landslide” and “Tusk,” which I always really liked though many did not. I do wish that this contained McVie’s “Warm Ways,” Buckingham/McVie’s “World Turning,” and of course McVie’s “Hold Me,” a favorite of mine and the ex’s, but only second to “Hold Me Now” by The Thompson Twins. But that’s another story.

The Dance at about 40 minutes per side, makes a good workout tape, whether I want an extended exercise routine or just the usual using one side or the other. It is remarkable the music that comes from turmoil. I’ve never seen Fleetwood Mac in concert, and don’t think I’ll be seeing them this time around either, but I’m still glad the Christie McVie has joined the tour. These people should perform together through eternity.

August 5, 2014 / thackersam

August 5 – On Writing & Exercise

ParkerIn his keynote speech at the end of the Saturday session of the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference, mystery writer Harlan Coben quoted Dorothy Parker, who said among other things, “I hate writing. I love having written.” He also quoted Cher, but that’s besides the point. I love writing, have a problem with finishing, but it makes me love the having written part even more so. This will now explain why I missed the weekend blog post altogether. I was a first time attendee at this most wonderful conference. It’s not my first writers’ conference by any means, but it was the best, hands down. Not all the sessions I sat through were hits, but even those were not too bad. The keynotes were entertaining and inspiring. Harlan Coben was hilarious, and I do love to laugh. He was sandwiched between Dani Shapiro on Friday, whose tale of becoming a published author was fascinating, and quite different from Kimberla Lawson Roby’s closing keynote address in which she told of trying unsuccessfully to end a successful book series over the objections of her readers.

One of the session speakers mentioned writers getting their best ideas in the shower, and my mind’s jaw dropped. I do that. And it’s awfully inconvenient. I could keep a pad and pen in the bathroom, as I am a pen and paper kind of gal, but water is water and made all the worse by my being left-handed, and there’s no getting around having my best ideas looking like nothing more than a big blop on a page. There was one class on blogging – Blog Your Way to a Book Deal, which was interesting but not why I’m doing this, even though my play’s next final revision is coming along, and I have two stories and the plots of three others in the erotic murder mystery compilation I started (don’t ask why, it just came kind of naturally to me), and will probably, hopefully do some self-promotion here one day. But I’m just blogging because I love to write, because I love music, and because I have found that the exercise routine is not just physically beneficial, it’s mentally beneficial as well, and is like meditation in motion that’s unfortunately too often negated by the five days of the week I spend at the office. I just wish I had thought of this much, much sooner.

So, I didn’t exercise either this past weekend, unless you count the numerous stairs I climbed in the subway, rather than taking the escalator, and the stairs up and down for one and two half days, from the mezzanine to the second floor of the hotel that hosted the conference. I do. And speaking of exercise, I have found out that the floor exercise in which I have excelled from two sets of twelve repetitions to two sets of 30-72 repetitions (a repetition in my world is one elbow to one knee) is called cycling cross crunches. Impressive sounding, isn’t it? Anyway, the conference was a distraction from the music and exercise and memories project and I am just getting back into it. We still have more Fleetwood Mac to go and I apologize for the delay. But it was worth it. It was such a positive energy and I just love being around writers. And Btw – I can now write and exercise at the same time, though it may not be legible to anyone but me, and sometimes not even then.

August 2, 2014 / thackersam

August 1 – Buckingham Nicks

Buck-NicksI don’t have this album. I’ve never heard this album. But I have seen this album. Before I even knew who they were, or would become. So let’s just step back and take a moment to soak it all in. I don’t know about you, but all I can say is – Wow, those are some good lookin’ folk. I know you’re probably thinking – too much hair, too much skin. Yeah, but I like it.

Here’s a tidbit – this album was woefully unsuccessful and has never even been re-released, but Lindsey Buckingham came to the attention of Mick Fleetwood and after Bob Welch left Fleetwood Mac for his solo career (please refer to the Ws). Fleetwood asked Buckingham to join the band. Buckingham said no, no, Stevie and I are a package deal, Mick said okay, and the rest is history.

 

July 30, 2014 / thackersam

July 29 – Fleetwood Mac – Rumors

Fleetwood-RumoursBack when I covered Fleetwood Mac’s album Penguin, I bemoaned the fact that I had none of their records with the Buckingham/Nicks incarnation. But that was before I moved Max’s box and took a look at the cassette tape collection that I had disregarded, and that now I am totally appreciating. Lo and behold, there was Rumors. This was not the first album they released with this group of people, for which they will always be remembered. The old Fleetwood and Mac, Mick Fleetwood and John and Christie McVie (when did she become Christine?), plus the duo of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, release a self-titled album two years prior in 1975, which was Fleetwood Mac’s second self-titled album. Very telling, don’t you think? And quite bold.

The first album had some really good stuff on it too, but they were just building to the splash Rumors would make. Splash may be somewhat of an understatement, cause this album was freakin’ monumental. Perhaps that’s why I’ve been putting off writing this article. Yes, I confess, I have exercised to Rumors before and didn’t tell you. But I’ve been playing it quite a bit over the past few days and it deserves more research and info than I’m willing to do and present. I don’t want to go into the personal lives or personalities of the artist(s) (Now before you object, Paul McCartney is different. He is after all the major influence on this whole thing.) And Fleetwood Mac is so full of behind the scenes drama, which only seemed to add to the great music and incredible songs they’ve produced. I was more into the Buckingham or Nicks songs on Rumors, and Nicks’ stuff on this and the preceding album is phenomenal. (Don’t worry, I will get to Lindsey Buckingham). Her music, her voice, her looks and her style – how could she not get the recognition she did. Trouble was, and I may have mentioned this before when we worked out to Walter Egan, for the next few years she was all over the place. There she was, backing up this person or dueting with Petty and Henley.

[Aside – In 1981 when Nicks released her Grammy award winning solo album Bella Donna, she was being interviewed on WNEW-FM and I remember her saying that she got the title of her song “Edge of Seventeen” from Tom Petty’s wife, who with her southern accent was telling Stevie that she and Tom met at the age of 17 and Stevie misheard her, and therefore wrote a song. A hit song, by the way.]

Anyway, you’d turn on the radio and hear Stevie Nicks’ voice quite often. I don’t know about you, but I was finding it irksome. It must have been a big kick for her, and I’m sure I’d be doing the same thing with that level of talent and popularity, but for me, it got really annoying. I’ve since gotten over it.

We’re going to have to continue with Fleetwood Mac later. Which is fine, because they are providing me with a decent workout to some fine music.

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