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September 1, 2014 / thackersam

August 31 – The Moody Blues – A Question of Balance

Moody QuestionRemember my friend, my trouble-bud from way back with whom I attended a couple of concerts at the Fillmore East when we were 14? If not that, perhaps you remember me writing about the Rod Stewart concert we went to in Miami Beach the summer when we were 15. A number of months ago she had sent me this CD she found that someone had donated to her library’s book sale, in memory of one of those Fillmore concerts. Even though we had gone to see second-billed Lee Michaels, the Moodys were the main draw, and their Days of Future Passed made it to the Ram alternative list of 20 albums, as it is a super swell record, and provides for a decent workout. This one, not so much. However, it does give me the opportunity to write about seeing my old trouble-bud again this past Friday night, for an all too brief, but enjoyable dinner that also included another friend that I’ve known since kindergarten. I had found my trouble-bud on Facebook more than two and a half years ago, and have enjoyed renewing our friendship, but seeing her again after all this time, and it has been a VERY long time for both old friends, well I just get all misty every time I think about it. Plus, our renewed relationship just makes me want to go out there and do some damage. But in a good way, now that we are mature, responsible adults, with adolescent memories. Waddya say Ames?

August 27, 2014 / thackersam

August 27 – Fiona Apple – Tidal

Fiona Apple-TidalI found this for a buck at my local Housing Works and was thrilled. While I was handing over the dollar I said out loud how it was more than worth it for just the one song. “Criminal,” stated the young woman with short spiky green hair and a single nose piercing, who stood on the other side of the counter. “Criminal” it was indeed. Fiona Apple was pretty major with her debut album. At just 19 she came across as someone wiser, more jaded than her age, and her deep voice added to the mystique of an old soul. When you think of it, there’s kind of a congruence between her and the newly late Lauren Bacall, who also made a first big impression on the world and Humphrey Bogart when she was all of 19, with her deep voice and been around the park once or twice aura. But let’s get back to Fiona Apple. Even if “Criminal” didn’t have a totally hot video accompanying its release as a single, which was made more erotic and less trashy by Apple’s total aloofness, how could you not absolutely love a song that begins “I’ve been a bad, bad girl” and contains the lines “What would an angel say – The Devil wants to know.” Unfortunately, aside from “Shadowboxer” and “Sleep to Dream,” for me at least, the music falls short and gets kind of repetitious. And aside from the aforementioned songs, the CD is not workout worthy. But it did give me the chance to listen to the entire CD and not just play “Criminal” over and over and over.

As I don’t want to exercise to Tidal anymore, and don’t want to start mulling over another article about another artist until this has been posted, plus I can’t peruse my tape collection, I pondered last night, what should I exercise to. Oddly, I suddenly heard Rod Stewart’s voice in my head singing “Only a Hobo.” Not even close to being a favorite, but there it was. And, if we think back to the S’s and the second of my Rod Stewart collections, the first being the Faces, and the second railing against Rod for what he has been doing lately to music, we will remember that Gasoline Alley made it to the Ram alternative list of 20 albums to which I would like to exercise again. And “Only a Hobo” is on that album. No, it is not the best workout album, but I really like it, and hearing it makes me move. And I’m doing it again tonight.

August 25, 2014 / thackersam

August 24 – Grateful Dead – Workingman’s Dead

Workingman's DeadFor those of you who may not think I gave American Beauty a proper amount of attention, please be aware that I am now able to sing along with much of “Truckin’” and fumble through several other verses as well as some of the other familiar songs. I still don’t know what to do between “Ripple” and “Truckin’” on side two, but for the most part, side one makes for a lovely aerobic workout and mindless fun. So I will put up with side two while I’m on my back, knowing that it all leads to “Truckin’,” the song that accompanies me now on my walks to and from work.

The same cannot be said for Workingman’s Dead. In this album’s case, I have no interest in what is between the very first and the very last songs. It begins with “Uncle John’s Band,” which I always thought was Come Here Uncles John’s Band, like – “Hey. Uncle John’s Band! Get yourselves over here,” instead of Come Hear… It ends with “Casey Jones.” I can appreciate the repetition of the phrase “don’t murder me,” in one of the never-heard by me songs, plus the fact that they add “please don’t murder me,” because politeness always counts (I will leave it up to you to research LSD advocate Timothy Leary’s response to how he felt about Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign). But then there’s another song that repeats an ever-so irksome single note guitar twang that I can only describe as cringe-worthy. Don’t get me wrong, I thing the popular Grateful Dead songs are quite deserving of their eternal popularity status, and I find that I can easily sing in the key of Jerry Garcia (and of course, in Bob Weir in “Truckin’”). Maybe if all the albums were of the caliber of American Beauty, I could be more of a Dead fan. I do think they can survive without me. I don’t doubt though that a best-of CD will be added to that now growing collection and will be listened and exercised to often.

August 22, 2014 / thackersam

August 22 – The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test – Tom Wolfe

Electric Kool-AidI must have been about 13 or so, when I found a copy of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test amongst my father’s Playboy magazines. He kept them in the guest room of his divorced-father- with-kids apartment in New Jersey that was meant for me and/or my brother when we came to visit. I was always bored and desperate for something to do, even though I realize that this collection was either left in the room out of sheer thoughtlessness for me or a need or a hope to influence my brother. He did make the trip more often than I did. So I got to sleep in a room with a couple of good sized stacks of Playboys and a dirty book or two. I read them all.

Really Dad – trying to make sure your teenage son goes straight is one thing, but do you know how that screws up your pre-adolescent daughter?

Can you imagine growing up with Little Annie Fannie as a role model? I mean really! {Well this is turning into quite the venting session. I can hear my cousin saying “Gotta get over those father issues, Cuz.” And this helped. Once again, people who actually read my blog, I thank you for allowing me this moment.}

But I did find The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, and it didn’t unscrew me, in the least, but it turned me on to a great storyteller and a fascinating story with real people unlike any other characters I’d ever read about. And of course, the scene that I know was the reason for this particular book to be in my very conservative yet playboy wannabe (or wasabe) father’s collection of smut is engrained in my memory. It had to do with the Hell’s Angels. I’m just surprised the passage wasn’t underlined.

This book inspired my fascination with the long-dead lothario actor Errol Flynn. This book painted pictures that allowed me to enter another world as only Tom Wolfe can do. This book introduced me to Ken Kesey, making it easier for me to write my English paper when we covered One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in high school. I would learn of the Grateful Dead. I remember the description of the “Errol Flynn sleeves” someone on the bus wore, and the scene for which my father added this book to his smut collection. But most of all, I remember the sight of Mountain Girl driving up on the back of someone’s motorcycle and the description of the brown ring at the crown of her head as the roots grew from the top of her bleached locks (I’ve not read the book in a very long time so I may be fuzzy as to her position on the bike). What I also recall of the book, and I don’t know if this was after that first reading as a pre-adolescent, or the subsequent reading whenever that was 10 or 20 years later, is that I don’t think I liked anybody in the book when I was done. Except Mountain Girl, who in the story was Kesey’s girlfriend but would later marry Jerry Garcia. And I liked the writer character. Not knowing diddly about Tom Wolfe, and I think few did at that time, I probably imagined his character as kind and nonjudgmental. Kind of cool and a master storyteller. I know I didn’t like Kesey, nor the Hell’s Angels. But I got to participate in the magic that Tom Wolfe wove. And sometime after reading the book the first time, I was able to graduate from Little Annie Fannie to Gretta Groupie. Was Gretta Groupie in the same comic book as The Doo-dah Man?

See what happens when you give me a Grateful Dead album to exercise to?

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.

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