With apologies to my more than patient friend who lent me The Grateful Dead albums (I’m still enjoying American Beauty) and two Kinks albums, including this double record set compilation that features their songs from 1966 through 1970, I think I may prefer the earlier greatest hits album. I like some of the Kinks songs, but not a whole album, and especially not a double-record compilation in which I only recognize four or five songs, and am not wowed by anything else. Perhaps the other album will go over better.
The set starts with the song “Victoria,” and my friend Vicki liked the Kinks and Ray Davies, and thus of course liked that song tons. It may have been about 18 years ago when Ray Davies did his Storyteller tour that Vicki’s husband got her tickets to see him for her birthday. Two tickets in fact, but he didn’t want to go. So I got to. And it was fun. He is a good storyteller, though I recall a little on the bitter side, but my only complaint would be that he didn’t do “Apeman.” I even convinced Vicki that we should sit in our seats and wait for him to come out again because he had to do “Apeman.” This, even after two guys for whom it was obvious this was not the first show of the tour that they had seen, ran out of the theater as soon as Ray Davies left the stage without an encore. And even after most had already filed out of the theater. I felt bad that she believed me, and I had to disappoint. But I blame Ray.
From Asbury Park Press: The night Janis Joplin met Bruce Springsteen. Psychedelic blues singer had a close encounter with aspiring young rocker in Asbury Park. http://on.app.com/1obM8MK
So just a short comment off the topic, for me at least since I’m not really posting.
I need to read more. No. I need to read. My bedtime reading dwindled when I got a Blackberry a little more than four years ago. Yes. That was my first phone. Then with the IPhone, well forget reading. There have been small attempts, and then I decided to get serious, but start small. I took out my old copy of Animal Farm and I’ve gotten all the way through page 16, three times as a matter of fact, and after a few weeks of it gathering dust on the nightstand, I gave up. Then I thought I’d go easy and found my even older copy of Alice in Wonderland. That didn’t work either. Finally, after seeing a couple of off-off Broadway plays this late-summer, I found on my bookshelf a book of one-act plays that was printed in 1991, which I didn’t even know I had. I do like reading plays – Tennessee Williams, some August Strindberg – so it’s not a big surprise that it is doing the trick, and I am happy to report that I am reading again. Yay.
I found Amy Winehouse to be most irksome in life, her life, and now that she is gone I kind of like her. Doesn’t sound very nice of me, does it? In my defense, what I knew about her was the bad example she set – deliberately, with her in your face – what are you going to do about it attitude. Now that she can no longer set that bad example, you hope that people who thought her lifestyle was cool would think – yeah, she did what she wanted, but whoa – she croaked (I’m just saying what they would say), and view that as a bit of a turn-off. So, at least for me, her music which lived in the shadow of her drug and alcohol-ridden jerk persona, rises like cream to the top. And it is really very good music. I even like “Rehab,” a lot. In fact, I have nothing but raves for this CD, another Housing Works find, and have been listening and exercising to it for the past few days.
Where do I begin? Each song is like an homage to a myriad of sounds. Motown, 60s English Beat, Lesley Gore, R&B, Billie Holliday, Bette Midler. If I keep listening, I’ll come up with more. But it’s a shame, cause she obviously loved music and soaked it all in, coming up with her own uniqueness in voice, style and look. I am taking it in with fascination at what she could do. Let me say that I absolutely adore the old Billy Paul song “Me and Mrs. Jones,” and thought that her “Me & Mr. Jones” would be her version of it. And I was curious. But no, it is her own completely different song, and a good one, yet you can tell she too was a fan of “Mrs. Jones.”
The thing is, and this smacks of irony, at least a little, the CD is short. The whole thing is 35 minutes. And I’ve noticed that the songs are also short. I kind of wish that she had just one long one – a longer version of “You Know I’m No Good” or “Me & Mr. Jones” (“Rehab” needs not be any longer). But they leave their mark. As her short life did. And I enjoy her now. Her music is great, and I can appreciate her style, even the whole persona. She was odd, and I like odd (I would tell you to ask my friends, but they may get insulted). She even did the odd look well. I now think she did a lot of things well, very well indeed, except what got her the most attention. Unless she really wanted to join the 27 club in immortality.
Five days from today marks the 29th anniversary of the day my brother died. So long ago, but he remains in my heart along with the pain and sadness of losing him, and for what he went through. But this day is more significant as today is his birthday. He would have been 62. I think about all he’s missed. He definitely would have been among the first to have a cell phone, and a CD player, all the things I resisted at first, and second. He missed the turn of the century, marrying his partner, and then marrying his partner legally, maybe even adopting a child together. But it’s his birthday, and as my blog is about music, exercising to it, and the stirred up memories, I need to reiterate that it was my brother with whom I discovered rock ‘n roll, while watching shows together like Ed Sullivan, Shindig and Hullabaloo. So I exercised tonight to this Beatles compilation CD of 27 of their #1 hits that I found at Housing Works just this weekend. It appropriately ends with The Long and Winding Road, a favorite Beatles song of my mother’s, and mine, and it always reminds me of a dream I had about my brother soon after he died. This evening’s workout is in celebration of the short time he was on this earth.
Btw – Great workout tonight! Yeah Beatles.
Remember 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?
I 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.
For 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.