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Posts Tagged ‘Wilco’

Ignored 54: Do you like Blue Rodeo?

In Uncategorized on March 12, 2015 at 12:53 am

I talk to my high school pal Adam about Blue Rodeo, Neil Young dying (again), Oasis (a few times), everything and nothing.

Cam: Morbid question: of any active living musician, who will you be the most upset for when they die?

Adam: Funny you ask, as I was commenting to a buddy that Van Morrison feels like the guy to go now that Joe Cocker is gone.  That’ll be sad. I love Van and fell in love to Astral Weeks. Paul, without question.  Dylan, Simon, Bobby and Phil.  Springsteen will outlive us all. It’s hard to imagine the legends of rock passing.  It’s interesting for us to have grown up during the baby boomers 40s.  We saw their second acts and revered their first.  The 1960s, the British Invasion, the Summer of Love and then 1972.  All these things were within the same recent memory as August and Everything After (or Nevermind) is to us now. So rock had always been around. George dying devastated me. So did Jerry dying.

C: Astral Weeks is fantastic. Consistently one of my Top 10 faves. Yeah, Van is pretty enigmatic, at least in terms of his public persona. Which he barely has if he’s not touring. Neil Young dying is going to be brutal. That seems like it could be very personal to Canadians in our demo: an artist that we loved, our parents loved, a Canadian, somebody who was equally at home jamming with Booker T and the MGs, the Band or Sonic Youth. A total legend: both “Neil Young: the performer” and “Neil Young: the concept”. It’s crazy Jerry was only 53 when he died. Considering McCartney, Brian Wilson, etc. are now in their 70s.

A: Forgot Neil.  Yes. Harvest for our parents. Harvest Moon for us. BTW, that Barrie concert had nobody I wanted to see. On the plus side, the thing at Fort York looks super awesome.

C: Ya, I wouldn’t mind seeing Kendrick Lamar, Danny Brown and I guess Modest Mouse but nothing grabs me. it’s a very contemporary line-up so I kinda give them credit for not copping out and having AC/DC headline, a la Coachella. i think we discussed it before… i find these massive outdoor concerts are more akin to “camping” than “music event”…. the bands seem almost secondary to the experience. Do you like Blue Rodeo?

A: “Lost Together” was our wedding song, and I saw them at the big Simon & Garfunkel l show at the SkyDome back in…94? Also saw them once at the Gardens, I think. 5 Days in June was a tremendous album to hit for us at that age. It was everywhere at camp, and “5 Days in May” had a fantastic video that felt a lot like “Lovers in a Dangerous Time”. That is my favorite Toronto 1990s thing ever, my favorite BNL song, one of the greatest covers of all-time, and a video about youthful love.  Holding hands and running away from the camera in black and white still makes me feel 18.  “Diamond Mine” is also a great song too. They hit such a creative peak back then that they got to coast on being Blue Rodeo after that. Everything sounds the same, but I’ve got no gripe with them, just not any interest for anything past their greatest hits, which I like a lot. Sometimes, I love it.

C: Ya, from 1988-1993, they were in a rare place: massively popular/stadium worthy but making music that was pretty innovative and seemed very contemporary even though in other ways, it was very old. At that time, comparisons to the Band seemed farfetched but maybe not that far off? Again, it’s crazy that a song like “5 Days in May” was something that little kids listened to and enjoyed and watched the video for on MuchMusic. For anybody who loved them in that 1988-1993, they still seem like superstars even if they’ve been on commercial autopilot for the last 20 years (assumedly… I haven’t really been paying attention although I saw them at the Amphitheatre 2-3 times during that stretch). It seems they could’ve been marketed differently and been a positioned in the Wilco/Son Volt/Whiskeytown ilk or gone ina slightly different direction and been in the Widespread Panic/String Cheese conversation? Instead, they were kind of just a notch below the Tragically Hip commercially.

A: Heard some stuff off their last album that was good.  Or was that Cuddy? Have been rewatching The Last Waltz on the topic of the Band.  Wondered about best or biggest bands with multiple singers.  Ricky, Richard, Levon. How cool it is when the song goes to the guy who sings it best?

C: I guess the Beatles introduced the “multiple singers” model? Hate to say… I automatically think of the Eagles and afro-era Don Henley behind the kit. In more recent times, I think Sloan really nailed this model. Maybe part of the reason they’re now a quarter century in. Another band where I haven’t paid attention to the last 4-5 albums but I have little doubt of their continued quality.

A: I thought about it with the Eagles too as I was reading the Simmons eagles history recap in the Grantland quarterly.  Obviously the Beatles.  I met the bass player from Sloan, the one I recognize, and asked him about the baseline on “Money City Maniacs” being the same chord trough the entire verse until the chorus.  Like “Tomorrow Never Knows”!  He was appreciative. We were with our kids at Centreville on the island.

C: Good call. I still get a bit starstruck when I see musicians in public. It’s very humanizing. Some recent sightings: Damian from Fucked Up with his kids at the ROM, Ron Sexsmith walking down College, Stephen from Lowest on the Low on the subway a bunch of times. The thing that I find funny about the Eagles in retrospect: they were essentially devoid of any humour or fun. That was a VERY serious band.

A: Very serious band. I liked the Eagles.  At least their greatest hits. Just learned “Hotel California” on the ukulele.  So much fun to play and sing/scat the dueling guitar solo.

C: I like the Eagles too. I think the “seriousness” was a 1970s thing. It’s when whoever decided that rock music wasn’t just for kids anymore. It was OK for 45 year-olds to listen to the Eagles, James Taylor et all. These were seriously artists who (apparently) had something to say. I like the Carly Simon song “Anticipation”. Here’s a good question: who are the most tense bands of all-times? Artists where the acrimony on-stage was really obvious. I’d say (at times) the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and the Pixies all belonged in the top three. I feel like I’ve seen some Van Morrison performance where he seems like he’d rather be anywhere else than on-stage.

A: Carly was great. And the cover of that album? Man.  That is a good question. Knee jerk answers. In no particular order: the Beatles in that picture with Yoko there.  The Beatles in that scene filming Let It Be when George says (do your best George), “Tell me what you want me to play and I’ll play it”. Oasis. The Eagles. The Wonders, from that Tom Hanks movie.

C: Oasis. Yes, good one! I think the Kinks used to brawl on-stage too. So there’s that…. I could be imagining it but I feel like the last 3-4 years, there’s been a certain demo that is yearning for Oasis and they truly are cementing themselves as one of the most beloved bands of the last 25 years. I think people took them for granted a bit. I was in Scotland last summer and this really hit home when I saw a rowdy bunch of 20-somethings collectively slurring their way through a karaoke version of “Wonderwall”. I don’t think it’s even that great a song but it somehow has infiltrated multiple generations. People LOVE it. Although maybe just in that setting, since it does lend itself well to karaoke (not many lyrics, fairly short, everybody has heard it 10,000 times).

A: I think “Wonderwall” is one of the greatest pop songs of all-time.  Certainly of the decade. I had this experience last summer when I was five weeks into working seven days a week and I was burning out.  I was walking, exhausted through a Loblaws in the west end. “Wonderwall” comes on. I start singing to myself. It gets to the chorus and after singing, “You gonna be the one that saves me”. I burst into tears and say aloud,  “That’s not a good sign”. The point I turn to as a mild breakdown last summer.  I love that song.  “1979” came out at the same time. Great song, too. The sound on the Morning Glory album is bollocks. What would Liam say?  I also love watching Noel sing “Don’t Look Back in Anger”.  Perfect song for his voice.  At the time, I thought some of their stuff was totally and completely derivative of the Beatles (see “All Around the World”, “… Anger” opening chords, every Beatles reference etc). Noel just gave an interview that Alan Cross linked to. I still do Oasis binges through seven songs. I was way too into the Dead’s Mars Hotel (and DMB) at the time to be into Oasis.

C: “1979” is indeed great and a really strange, unique single. Nothing really like it and certainly  very dissimilar to anything in the Pumpkins discography. It’s probably hard to quantify but why do you like “Wonderwall” so much? What is the broad appeal? I think it’s totally fine but a bit boring and the vocals are slightly nasally, even by Oasis standards. I do like “Don’t Look Back in Anger”. Just the huge production values and drama of it. Very out of step with 1995 or whenever that came out. I always admired Oasis’ ambition, even when the quality of songs didn’t really match up. Plus Noel is probably Top 3 best musician interviews ever. I could listen to that guy talk for hours. Zero filter when he’s in the right mood.

A: I like the chords. I like the guitar intro. I kinda like it nasally on that one.  I love the way the drums come in after “back beat the word is on the street”. I love the baseline. I love the stings beefing up the baseline in the chorus.  love the chorus.  Maybe the right time of my life at 18.  Probably feels like a Beatles song.  A piece of magic.  It’s also one of those songs perfect to sing alone to.  Words you’ll just know by heart.  Oh, also I love “Live Forever”.  Learned how to play it on the uke.  Great fun.

C: Yup, fucking love that song too! Never acknowledged your BNL “Lovers in a Dangerous Time” comment but seriously, that might be my favourite cover version of all-time. As a 14-year old kid growing up on the Toronto city limits, that video perfectly captured the banality, boredom and humour of suburban Toronto perfectly. Such a tasteful, pitch-perfect performance for a band that was really young and unestablished at the time. I think too many people write them off as a joke band but at their finest, there was a lot to like with BNL. I really like the song “Jane” as well from their “difficult” second album.

A: I remember hearing million dollars in the big A&A on Yonge Street with Marc and us laughing about the real green dress that’s cruel.  The era of that tape. Good call on why the video is so pitch perfect.  The apartment looks just like my late grandmothers at York Mills and Leslie, but wasn’t.  And the power lines reminded me of the ones down by Finch.  Which they were just in Scarborough.  It definitely captured suburban Toronto.  Though their neighborhood was postwar bungalows.  I saw Paige in withrow once.

C: His coke bust is still likely in my Top 5 pieces of most shocking pieces of “music news” that I’ve ever heard. I don’t really know anything about those guys personally but that ordeal no doubt blindsided a lot of casual fans. In summary, drugs are horrible. It is telling that while Nirvana and Pearl Jam were blowing up stateside, Canada’s hottest new “modern rock” bands were the Barenaked Ladies and the Crash Test Dummies. The Odds were really solid as well. Supposedly there was a piece on CNN around that time that suggested that Canadian was in the midst of a “silly rock” revolution during that era, throwing names like Corky and the Juice Pigs and (for some reason) the Rheostatics into the mix.I could totally be imagining that last part but I think I read that somewhere.

A: Interesting.  And that (Steven Page’s) life blew up and the band broke up. That still doesn’t register for me.

C: I love the song “Try” by Blue Rodeo so much. Such an incredibly self-assured song from a debut album. Not an easy feat to pull off.

A: Oh man. Yes.

Ignored 49: The year(z) in music 2014

In Uncategorized on December 21, 2014 at 3:10 pm

ignored49

A “2014 – the year in music” chat with my pal Adam that has very little to do with “2014 – the year in music”.

Cam: I have a web chat I want to do with you for a blog post: a “2014 – the year in music” post for two guys who aren’t really in tune with the latest/greatest music-wise. Vague concept but the subtext is that certain bands remind you of certain times in your life, irrespective of when the music is actually from. For example, when I first graduated from university and had my first job, I was really only listening to the first five R.E.M. albums, for some reason. I still don’t know why this happened.

Adam: 2014 musically for me: he year I became a more regular iTunes purchaser.  Easier, cross platforms, no ripping.  My Wilco fandom continued to rise and I really, really enjoyed Tweedy’s solo album. Saw it live at TURF this summer and liked every song I heard the first time. Then, I had to wait until the album finally came out in September. Concerts before the album seems more rare.  I downloaded and listened to a lot from the spring 1990 Grateful Dead box set with the Omni show in Atlanta becoming one of my favorite newly-discovered shows. Wonderful second set of “Foolish Heart”, “Looks Like Rain” and “He’s Gone”.  The beauty of wonderful song transitions. This was the year I realized I may not be seeing the Dead much more as Bobby cancelled the whole tour and Phil is doing long stands at terrapin and the capital theatre.  Perhaps that led to my dialling up the Wilco knob towards 11.  Added Wilco at Red Rocks to my bucket list.  What else. Oh! The discovery of 106.5 Voices radio late in the work season was a special experience. “Ghost radio”, as we call it. Random inexplicable and novelty on a new scale.  I’ll think of more once I can scan through my iTunes to see what else is new.

C: Awesome recap! I like how listening to music from the past is always the real measure of a “year in music” recap for most hardcore music fans. It’s why year-end issues of Rolling Stone or whatever never held much interest because truthfully, twelve months of music fandom can’t be limited to music that comes out in that calendar year. I saw some good shows this year: Slowdive, Beach House, Mogwai, Stephen Malkmus. All nostalgia largely but considering I probably listened to more of the Brian Jonestown Massacre this year than any other band, it seems fitting. I re-discovered checking out legit “new bands” early in the year too via Wavelength and Long Winter show. It reminded me of how fun it can be to check out really young bands, even if I have no intention of checking them out beyond those shows. I saw Alvvays and Pup at a library, which was also cool and atypical. So do you basically feel tapped on Dead/Dead-related stuff at this point? Does it make you sad on some level? I’d liken it to reading a really good book and that feeling of semi-dread knowing that there’s only 50 pages left and that void that’s on the horizon. There’s also that morbid silver lining when an artist passes that people tend to revisit their work with a slightly difference perspective. Albeit, very skewed in the immediate. Your Dead is my Pavement. That band was so important to me, as a music fan and to me, personally. They influenced my sense of humour, how I interact with people, the ways I’ve managed my career. Big picture stuff! I don’t know. I think some bands/music brings a point of view that extends far beyond the songs coming out of the speakers. I could probably bring myself to tears just looking at the cover art for Wowee Zowee and yet I’m sure somebody could listen to that album for the first time in 2014 and find it, at top dollar best, “slightly boring indie rock with 2-3 country songs uncomfortably mixed in”.

A: Yes, I am sad about [the Dead going away].  I also am not really willing to do a trip to see Phil at the capital outside New York, mainly because of the driving time and money and needing to coordinate someone else to do that with. Road tripping is a funny business if you’re finicky as I can sometimes be. It’s far. Fuck that. I always drive to western New York shows religiously and still would. Saw Bob Dylan play there in February and drove down alone. Met up with some friends.  Found a miracle ticket outside the show that was sold out. Second set: “Iko Iko” was the highlight.  I’ve seen Bobby or Phil About 25 times over the years. It’s my favorite music and I’m an unabashed dancer at shows. That’s where you get to do it in the midst of the thousands, also basking in that. All while singing along to your very favorite songs you know by heart. I wished I liked Phish more than I did, as they’re fun like that and I’ve gone to two shows in the last two years. Their live show is a completely different beast compared to their albums. Not a Dead show other than the crossover on the Venn diagram, the spirit and influence that spawned it. It’s still called “Shakedown Street” outside in the lot for a reason. Same crowd. Much more frenetic pace and faster dancing to be sure. Music that people on MDMA would love. Dead music was for pot and LSD. I’ll say that whereas I’d be up on the lawn for a Dead show, for phish, you want to be in the pit or lower bowl. Where the energy builds.  The pit in Toronto last summer was amazing. Getting the energy from the crowd pour down on you was a trip.  So there’s hope. Wilco gives me that for sure. Nels is fantastic at helping you lose your shit. Check out the Ashes of American Flags (actually just watch the whole thing) versions of “Impossible Germany”, “Side with the Seeds” or “Handshake Drugs” to see what I’m talking about.  That’s my fucking jam, that is.  I dance to the static at the end. It’s the funniest. I just like 4/4 time, I do. Also, I’m a total sucker for 3/4 time. “Norwegian Wood”, “Ashes and Fire” by Ryan Adams, “You’ve Ruined Me Now” by Norah Jones.  That’s another episode.

Cam: I don’t think I’ve ever asked: are you a vinyl guy? CDs seem to have the least amount of resonance as collectibles as music fans. One theory: the glut of shitty AOL “one month free” CD-ROMs in the mid-1990s rendered the format pretty much disposable, even when you were paying $18-20 for a new release. It seems like music being analog-ish in any respect just seems more tangible. Also, I think the ability to skip tracks on demand totally changed the way people listen to albums. Now, we see that x1,000,0000 with MP3s/iPods.

Adam: Fuck vinyl. I couldn’t like it less. It’s absurd to me how horrifically inconvenient it is, overriding the audiophile thing. CDs got a shitty rap up front because all those original CDs were AAD (remember that?).  Once they started remastering stuff, I never cared to look back.  I also don’t get mono. The Beatles in Mono? Fuck that! Didn’t they hear the stereo versions?  Had the Pet Sounds that came with mono and stereo? Deleted all mono tracks. I simply don’t get it.  Unless the sound of shitty audio is nostalgic. I grew up on vinyl. I still hear a skip in “American Pie” because the the scratched LP my parents had. Yes, CDs became disposable but I loved my Discman and my Walkman before that. I remember once seeing this portable record player thing at Woolco at Towne and Countrye Square.

C: I’m OK with vinyl but I kind of see vinyl like I see pets: it’s a good experience at somebody else’s house or in public but I have no desire to have one in my own home. I don’t buy this “vinyl sounds warmer” argument that a lot of vinyl dorks will throw out, esp. when they’re listening to it through shitty dime-store speakers they lifted from grandma’s basement or a flea market. Maybe the sound is slightly different and there’s a bit of crackle but to me, vinyl in 2014 is more a statement by the owner than it is a statement about the music. It’s a brand: “I’m the type of person who buys vinyl because it says something about me”. I do like vinyl purely from a collectible standpoint. Perhaps because it subconsciously reminds me of collecting baseball cards. I miss album art and liner notes. A lot. 1989 Topps was the first complete baseball card set I managed to complete. I guess Grateful Dead collectors would be the closest equivalent? The only other bands offhand I can think that inspire that “collector mentally” (based on sheer volume of product) would be the Beatles, Frank Zappa, Guided by Voices and the Fall. At least with Zappa and GBV, I think the completists try to grab everything because it “exists” rather than because its necessarily “good”.

C: Did you see Dylan this fall?

A: Nope. Have seen him a dozen times but the experience has fallen off sharply the last 3-4 years. Larry Campbell left his band and there’s less and less I enjoy about it.  Saw him close Americanarama last summer after My Morning Jacket and Wilco. A major drag. Id be going to get one, maybe two sweet harp solos. You can’t go I. With expectations and he can surprise you but the values not there for a shoe you hope to try and enjoy by force of will.  Have been listening to a ton of time out of mind though.

C: You know what’s sad? Certain concerts where the ticket buying decision is measures on the “This show will probably suck but this guy might be dead soon” scale. Felt this way about the last local shows for Neil and Leonard Cohen.

A: The band he had for the Never Ending Tour with Larry Campbell leading it was fantastic. it carried the shows. I still like Bob’s albums and I don’t want to be a complainer about live Bob, because you’ve got to know what to expect going in. but at Americanarama, it was the most lackluster “Desolation Row” I can ever recall. It broke for me. especially after Wilco and My Morning Jacket. Actually, it broke for me when Bob played the ACC with Foo Fighters opening. The first sub-par Dylan show post-Larry. Then, I went to see a show up at Rama, which ranks as the worst concert I’ve ever seen in the worst venue. That broke it good. Then, went to see him in Oshawa maybe three years ago, which was pretty decent. Passed on Lewiston last year and here we are now. it’s a weird strange thing when you don’t want to see the people you love anymore.

C: Yeah, the fact Bob played Casino Rama, Oshawa, Air Canada Centre, now Sony Centre… I dunno… this is fuckin’ Bob Dylan and he’s kinda just getting trotted out to whatever room will have him. Did the Rama experience taint him for you? It just sounds really, really sad. Like when you see old ballplayers all broken down and sitting at some folding table at a memorabilia show, signing crap for $25 a pop.

A: Have you watched Festival Express?

C: No. Always have meant to check that out. Do you consider the Band a 1960s band? On paper they should be since their most prominent work and Woodstock happened that decade. But they somehow, they don’t seem of that era. They’re a really unique band to me: if a lot of their shit came out today, it’d still seem contemporary and yet they recorded it 40 years ago and even then, I think they were trying to seem old timey. I’d love to read a oral history-type article of the Band in the 1980s and early 1990s. When they were releasing all those albums people didn’t like or didn’t care about (like the one with big pig face) and yet they continued to plow ahead.

A: Levon’s This Wheel’s on Fire is that book. Couldn’t bring myself to read it.  Didn’t want to hate Robby.

C: That’s sad. The 1980s were a real awkward stage for a lot of artists when music switched to become a more visual medium. Id put Robbie, Lou Reed, George Harrison, the Stones all in this category. Their videos esp. from this era tend to be pretty cringe worthy. Misguided attempts to get on MTV.

A: … but 1988 was a turning point!

C: Yeah but you also got the “it’s the 1990s so time to get real and grow a goatee” approach adopted by people like Bruce and Jack McDowell. You know what was really terrible? Mid/late 1980s Robert Plant. “Tall Cool One” et all. Just really weak and poorly thought out.

A: We aren’t going to talk about goatee’d Bruce. It’s dangerous territory. “In the Mood” by Plant is good.

C: Yes. Once they grow a goatee and engage in photo-shoots featuring B&W pics of them not smiling, the tide has clearly turned. Another trope of bad 1980s: bringing in sassy female back-up singers in inexplicable places. Such as…. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7btcksg7z8

A: Hold on, you’re going after Petty? He has a short bad album window.  He was hitting his early stride in the early 1980s, then toured with Dylan, Roger McGuin and the Dead. Royalty. Then, the accident and Full Moon Fever, the Wilburys.  Artist of the decade. Shit. But go watch the Stones’ Steel Wheels video (At the Max is fantastic) for the classic back-up ensemble.

C: I dunno. I’m feeling all feisty after not having thought about Plant’s “Tall Cool One” for 10-15 years and forgetting about how shitty a lot of 1980s production was: this tendency to slot in back-up singers, keyboards, etc. where they didn’t necessarily belong. You know “Tall Cool One” sampled a bunch of Zep tunes (according to the music website Wikipedia)? Just total garbage and very indistinguishable from the equally weak Robert Palmer tune “Simply Irresistible” from around the same era. Truth: I thought Robert Plant and Robert Palmer were the same guy for a long, long while before I knew anything about music. I mean…. they were both named Robert!!!

A: PS:. Loving the new tweedy album. Though I’ve deleted the first and fourth songs   Mixed guilt about taking out the songs I don’t like. Weird huh?

C: At least you make an effort to appreciate albums in any form still. That’s rare.

A: I’ve been enjoying buying things from iTunes.  I still download movies, but actually bought both the iTunes movie and the soundtrack from Chef.  Bought a soundtrack!  When’s the last time I did that? Just decided not to buy the deluxe Fully Completely on CD and instead iTunes downloaded.  Otherwise, I’m just ripping it into my Mac anyways.  And no tax. Strange feeling about it.

C: I’d recommend you check out this. Weird renditions. Weirder audience. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUmMkD1fdIo

A: That was kinda awful.  The signing cheerleaders was an interesting touch.

C: Yeah, that Neil rendition of “USA” is really, really strange. I assume he’s trying to be provocative… or maybe not? He used to be really cheeky and self-aware when he wanted to be but I hate to say: I think he’s kinda just old or scattered at this point. No idea what the deal with the cheerleaders is. Did you like that song “This Note’s For You”? I still hear it from time-to-time on Q107. I’m not sure it’s even a good song but I like listening to it, if that makes sense. Unrelated, not sure if you listen to the Marc Maron podcast but he had a really good one recently with Chrissie Hynde from the Pretenders. I’ve always liked the music w/o being a big, big fan but I kinda love her after this. She’s mid-60s and been around for more than 30 years but still sounds so enthused about music in a really basic, pure way. I love that she came out of the teenage Bowie/Lou Reed/punk sphere and then formed this band that was a straight-up rock and roll/power pop band, akin to a female fronted Heartbreakers. I forgot she was married to Ray Davies AND that annoying dude from Simple Minds:

Ignored 36: Do you like Neil Young?

In Uncategorized on June 22, 2014 at 2:35 pm

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I asked my friend Adam (via Facebook) if he liked Neil Young. What happens next will SHOCK you…

Cam: Do you like Neil Young?

Adam: Yes very much but not as crazily as others. Only seen him twice. “A Man Needs a Maid” acoustic at Massey Hall was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

Adam: You ask me questions at times were I can’t adequately answer on an iPhone.

Cam: I was going to ask you to tweet me your ENTIRE thoughts on the Beatles next.

beatles

Cam: I’m not a massive fan but I like him. I have this morbid reaction every time he plays Toronto… balking at $80 tickets to see him play his latest song cycle about the electric car or whatever. And then finding out he dies a week after filling the ACC. Similar feelings about Leonard Cohen.

Cam: Is there a particular album or three you’re into?

Adam: Harvest Moon is a slice of perfection for me. straight through. A certain place and time I remember well. That album, then. Getting it, and listening to it all the time. The harmonies. Oh, the harmonies. James Taylor is on there. I had a Nicolette Larson phase, who sang all the harmony on “Comes a Time” (also great, I could go on) and then had her own hits with “Rhumba Girl” and “Lotta Love”. She died early, which was super sad, especially since she’d done an album of lullabies that I had found. but I digress. Nicollete Larson, James Taylor and Linda Rondstadt all do harmonies on the album. It makes me happy all the time. It makes me want to sing along. It’s simple and perfect. “One of These Days” is one of the best songs he ever wrote, and the live version of it from Neil Young: Heart of Gold is something else. How he talks about the letter he’ll write to his old friends, how he feels about them, it’s really beautiful and stirs emotion in me every time.

Adam: TBC…

Adam: My first album was Decade. A great starting point. “Out on the Weekend” and “Everybody Knows This is Nowhere” and “Tell Me Why” are the shit. Watch this. Greatest thing ever. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Pf0RkL6lN4. Chrome Dreams II was a fantastic album. I was lucky to see him do the tour live at Massey Hall. Frst half acoustic (people need to shut the fuck up). Second half electric. Awesome.

 

Adam: Also saw him at the ACC with Wilco opening. Most notably, my first Wilco show. Neil did a really good “Cortez the Killer” if i recall. Show highlight for me. Lowlight is always “All Along the Watchtwoer” because I can’t stand that song, though he wails. Deceptively. you forget that about him because of how soft and gentle he is, then he fucking goes off.

Cam: I like your comments very much. Harvest Moon is interesting because it comes on the heals of “Neil Young in the 1980s” which is almost entirely experimental, “message albums” or both. “Neil in the 1980s” is definitely a massive Rolling Stone article in its own right. I’ll need to go back and give Harvest Moon a deeper listen. There’s something about “Unknown Legend” that rubs me the wrong way, although I think for no real reason. Maybe the concept of desert highways freaks me out a bit.

Cam: You’ve mentioned Tweedy in a few times in past. Seems like for you, he’s one of the few new (i.e. ONLY been around for 25 years) artists who kinda sorta carries the mantle for Bob, Neil, etc? I think I’ve suggested it before but definitely give the War on Drugs’ “Baby Missiles” a listen if you can carve out a few minutes. If only because it kinda sounds like Dire Straits, Petty, Bruce and all that shit squished together. Via Philadelphia somehow. It’s a great song but I guess only time will tell if this guy/these guys are their own thing or a merely vaguely interesting soundalike.

Cam: OK, I’m putting “Journey Through the Past” on my iPod. One thing I really like about Neil is that he’s such a curmudgeon but his lyrics and songwriting is incredibly earnest and when he wants to be, very universal. I’d like to see make one more really vastly acclaimed (and listened to) album before he splits. Maybe his Time Out of Mind? I dunno. He’s got kind of a “Neil being Neil” thing going for the casual observer at this point.

 

Cam: Strangely, my introduction to Neil was CSNY’s “American Dream”. Primarily, the video. I guess we were around 10 when that came out and I thought it was by somebody akin to Weird Al since the song and video were (apparently) parody. I think for a while, I thought it was Genesis since they had that video with all the puppets in it and… well, I was young and foolish, I guess. It’s interesting to watch the video now and see how prominently Oliver North and Gary Hart factor into it… two fellas that NOBODY ever talks about anymore (let alone sing about). It kinda bothers me Nash is in there poo pooing the “American Dream”. Dude, you’re from Blackpool. Git outta there!!! Git!! Git!!

Cam: I know you never “did” Pearl Jam. What about when Neil was jamming with those guys? I think that Mirrorball album was a bit like “the emperor’s new clothes”. The coolest mainstream band of the day with the baddest mainstream legacy artist. The single “Downtown” was pretty weak and had inane lyrics: there’s a place called downtown/where all the hippies go… downtown/let’s go downtown.

 

Cam: Just writing this out reminds me of that Seinfeld where George is trying to solve the downtown “riddle” by dissecting the Petula Clark song, famously resulting in the humiliation of a mail room clerk.

Cam: Deer Tick is another new(ish) band that I like to put in iPod playlist with Wilco, Steve Earle, Bright Eyes, the War on Drugs, etc…. kind of real fake country rock, I guess. Not sure I’d draw any parallels with them and Petty, Bob or any of those guys. The Replacements yet. I love the persistent organ on this tune.

Adam: My Other first Neil album was Live Rust. Holy shit, that album blew my mind. His early output is so over the top impressive.

Adam:The opening to “Comes a Time”!!

Cam: Yeah, I certainly gravitated more towards “noisy Neil” when I was a litte guy. I like when he took Sonic Youth on tour and went through “gratuitous noise” phase but it always sounded different when he’d freak out with Crazy Horse because it was coming from a more “bar band” sensibility than pandering to critics or “edgy alternative types”. He could go from noise freak outs, straight up country rock, jamming with Booker T and the MGs and then when he wanted to do something MOR and mainstream, he could drop a Harvest Moon and completely nail it.

Ignored 30: Swerves

In Uncategorized on March 17, 2014 at 2:10 pm

#ignored30

The latest chapter in my on-going dialogue with @dradam. We use a Rolling Stone article about Bob Dylan in the 1980s as basis for a discussion of what happens when artists reach middle age. Also discussed: Geddy Lee driving around North York and Thornhill.

Cam: You read this? http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/humbled-in-the-eighties-jonathan-lethem-defends-dylans-lost-decade-20140314

Adam: Reading now

Adam: Interesting. there are a few highlight songs for sure, but it’s the Wilburys and Oh Mercy where he starts “amazingness” again.

Cam: It seemed like Neil Young and Elvis Costello (and maybe Tom Petty?) had a similar trajectory. Kinda hit-or-miss for the decade before ending the 1980s strong with Freedom, Spike and Full Moon Fever, respectively. At least from a dual critical/commercial sense. Although Spike may be a piece of (junk) in hindsight. Never heard it.

Adam: I’ve often thought about certain artist’s awkward years between their zenith or creative peak, and the time when they hopefully get to tour into perpetuity milking their catalogue, playing classic albums in their entirety, and letting their fans pass them onto the next generation of fans. But while Springsteen appears to be the golden god (or “Boss”, to be more accurate) at this point, he too went through a kind of awkward phase in the early 1990s when he disbanded the E Street Band, released two albums at once (when one would really have sufficed) and floated around with a moustache and goatee. He was doing songs for Jerry Mcgwaire (sic) and teasing the would be E Street Reunion with “Murder Incorporated”. But whenever I see any footage from Springsteen plugged, I can’t help but cringe (not just because he’s got a non-Clarence on the horn). Tunnel of Love followed BITUSA and was already Bruce trying to move away from what everyone seemed to want him to be. While at the time Tunnel was unfairly maligned for not eclipsing the incredible success and six singles from the previous album. The thing here is that Bruce was in control. he needed the break and took it. Then, cue the reunion tour and suddenly sparks are flying on E Street again. Elton John seemed to avoid this awkwardness though I’d argue there was a weird patch in the very late 1980s/early 1990s. While his star power and The Lion King vaulted him again, his album The One always seemed to me to be the ugly duckling (read: it sucked). It wasn’t ’til Songs from the West Coast that he put out an album again that was worth listening to, and that one certainly was. As one of those icons, his quality never really fell off completely despite the mountains of coke he was doing and most of Too Low for Zero. Yet his flat hat phase produced “I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues” and “I’m Still Standing” (though he apparently has no recollection of filming the latter video). Billy Joel didn’t hit his awkward gap till after River of Dreams I guess, and then just stopped creating new music. But he first hit in the 1970s, so the 1980s were still his latter wheelhouse. Same with Bruce. and Elton too. But look at the Band. they were THE Band. The biggest thing around, cresting, arguably with The Last Waltz. Then, Robbie broke up the Band (guess you only get one chance in life to play a song that goes like…but I digress), and they limped along through the 1980s doing non-Robbie tours, and dealing with their own demons (Rickie and Richard specifically, who didn’t make it out). I thought a lot about that during Levon’s victory lap at the end of his life. You go from superstar, to no longer hip enough for the kids you were playing to who got married and had kids and didn’t have time to devote themselves to your music anymore. If you were versatile, you bided your time to your next album. If you were a “one trick pony”, not so much. For some of the rock icons, their dry spell was short. Paul Simon’s Hearts and Bones was his first commercial flop. Then, he hit his jackpot with Graceland. Important to remember that these guys did not all start out at the same time. Bob, then Simon & Garfunkel came up in the folk boom of the early-to-mid 1960s. Paul Simon hit his solo success during the 1970s, had one bust, then had the huge comeback of Graceland and Rhythm of the Saints. Dylan had his first comeback in the 1970s with Blood on the Tracks, I believe. He’d already long changed his early image and after his bike accident, he became reclusive. Then, he hit big again with Blood and Desire and then toured with the Band. So Dylan’s 1980s, which started in 1979 with Slow Train and then Infidels, was a transition time for Bob. He also lost his direction, I think, and (maybe) was into drugs in the early 1980s, as most were. The problem with those albums is that they feel lazy. There’s not much on Empire Burlesque or Shot of Love or Knocked Out Loaded that I can even recall. Then, he gets with Lanois and makes his comeback on Oh Mercy before shitting out Under the Red Sky and Good As I Been to You. Both forgettable. That takes him to the early 1990s. He has his pericarditis scare and comes back for his encore with Time Out of Mind and his whole new career begins again. It’s quite amazing really. I think we all need to wander in the wilderness at some point and I can’t imagine it’s different with artists. Back to Levon: it made me sad to think that while he got to do those rambles and be everyone’s loveable musician grandfather, Richard Manuel and Ricky Danko couldn’t have toughed it out. They went from rock gods to playing in clubs. That must be hard to deal with. The 1980s sucked until the people who grew up in the 1980s hit their 30s and then felt nostalgic. Same with the 1990s and beyond. “Golden oldies” referred to the initial rock-and-roll pioneers by the 1960s. Nobody cared for a while until you see all these reunion videos from the early 1980s. The Everly Brothers at Royal Albert Hall for one. 1983 seemed like that awkward phase for the Grateful Dead. Not 1977-1980 anymore, not yet the big comeback of the “stadium Dead” and the “Touch of Grey” momentum or Jerry’s coma. Also, that’s when Jerry was sliding down the Persian heroin dragon slide and the music isn’t what it was from the height of a few years earlier. In short, different acts hit that awkward phase for different reasons. Nobody can be amazing all the time and your fans are fickle. Just ask U2 how long it took them to get back the fans after Pop.

Cam: These… these are thoughts!

Cam: Bruce… Tunnel of Love was definitely maligned at the time. Ostensibly, it flopped. However, what could he have done to commercially to follow-up Born in the USA? There was really nowhere to go but down. It was his break-up album but I dunno…. “Brilliant Disguise” stands up pretty well, “Tunnel of Love” is a good song caked in 1980s production, “One Step Up” is still a bummer. Not a bad album by any stretch. I think his true WTF was “Streets of Philadelphia” which isn’t a bad song per se but also, it’s a clear attempt to stay current. Y’know, brooding over (ahem) “hip-hop beats”.

Cam: Elton… I think he kind of avoided (an awkward phase) because his descent (ascent?) into pure adult contempo was pretty gradual through the late 1970s. I think he kinda of got a pass because there weren’t huge expectations on him, even based on his prime 1970s output. He was glammy but he’d never be Bowie. He did the singer/songwriter thing but he wasn’t Lennon or even Paul Simon. He was just consistently massive and nobody really gave a (darn). At least amongst snobs? So he starts doing songs for Disney cartoons… nobody really cared. From what I can tell, Elton purists aren’t very vocal or defensive.

Cam: Billy Joel… Similar arch to Elton although I think he tried to convey the “serious artist” card more (i.e. lots of press shots where he looked sad or contemplative). Therefore, crap like “We Didn’t Start the Fire” and “River of Dreams” seem laughably corny in retrospect (and at the time). It was never cool to like Billy Joel but I think even non-Billy Joel fans held him to a higher standard (artistically) than Elton John. He never dressed up like Donald Duck and played Dodger Stadium in a sequent baseball uniform. But Billy did have massive cornball moments in the early 1980s (i.e. the video for “Uptown Girl”) that somehow seemed less disposable than Elton John’s efforts of that era, even though the songs were probably worse. Give me “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” any day. Chuck Klosterman wrote a good essay on Billy Joel that talks about his positioning in rock music lore (or lack thereof). Companion piece.

Cam: The Band… Do big fans even consider their 1980s albums “real” Band efforts? I know zero about these, aside from the fact there is (I think) an angry cartoon pig on one of the covers. As a pretty casual fan, I can’t really imagine Rick Danko even existing post-Waltz. I do remember Levon getting trotted out at Bonnaroo and elsewhere in his final years but sadly, in a “holy shit, that guy’s still alive” fashion. And all the while, Robbie tried to shoehorn himself into the video era. You do realize from maybe 1984 to 1988, Robbie Robertson and Lou Reed were kind of running parallel in their efforts to fit into the MTV era? And now both seem MASSIVELY dated output-wise in the process. All that stuff… I’m kinda just talking out of my ass because I really don’t have a full sense of how these guys were received by fans/non-fans at the time. I was a toddler while this was going down As the first CompletelyIgnored.com essay points out (and the entire MO for the blog really), unless you literally lived through this stuff, it’s tougher to piece together the true arch from an ascent/descent perspective and have it resonate in a truly authentic (and less theoretical) fashion. To your point, these cycle repeat and always will with any artist that has legs career-wise. A few more recent examples of the “awkward phase”… Sonic Youth (Dirty… which I maintain is still a really solid album), Dinosaur Jr (Where You Been…. very similar quality- and sonic-wise to the previous two… kind of a “three strikes, you’re out” jag for those who were still pining for another version of Bug),  Mogwai (Rock Action… way shorter and less epic than previous efforts… Happy Music for Happy People might be my overall favourite but really, they just don’t make bad albums ever…. they’re never mind-blowingly amazing but they’re always good/very good)

Cam: I think the best modern parallel to the original “Dylan in the 1980s” theme is Beck. His first two widely-available albums (Mellow Gold and Odelay) were completely locked-in to a mid-1990s aesthetics, as much as Dylan was with his 1960s output (assumedly). Beck kinda retreated and messed around for a bit to close out the 1990s (Mutations) and then unloaded his real divisive moment (Midnight Vultures) maybe six years into his career. Everything since has been reasonably well-received and from the reviews I’ve read about his new album Morning Phase (which is great), they feel eerily similar to whatever was written about Neil’s Freedom or maybe Bob Dylan’s Time Out of Mind. In short, if you can last deep into a career and keep a reasonable amount of acclaim, your latter day output will definitely be graded on a curve. And in fairness, if you can keep people’s interest 10 or 15 or 25 albums in, that is SERIOUSLY impressive. Here is a related question: is it even fathomable that a current artist could stay relevant for 50 years like Dylan, Neil, Leonard Cohen have? It’s almost like talking about another pitcher winning 300 games and how unlikely that seems. Clayton Kershaw is arguably the most impressive (stuff-wise) lefthanded pitcher since Randy Johnson. He just turned 26 and he ONLY has 77 wins. And yet two Cy Youngs! Beck seems like a candidate and he’s got a good pace going now 20 years in. But could he seriously keep making well received albums for the next 30 years?!? Until 2044?!? Again, I can’t even wrap my head around the possibility. In the pop realm, this is even more unlikely. Sadly, I just watched the video of Lady GaGa getting barfed on by a dancer at SXSW. This is one of the biggest pop stars in the world and she’s resorting to little stunts like this that are clearly geared towards the YouTube crowd. One would think (hope?) that Madonna or Michael Jackson would never have stooped to this level of attention grabbing… and they were/are massive ego-maniacs!

Adam: Where to begin. “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” is one of my favorite songs of all-time. I love the song to death, I love the video, it makes me emotional that song. Must be something about the chord progression combined with tremendous lyrics (“…laughing like children / living like lovers / rolling like thunder / under the covers”) and “… I simply love you more than I love life itself”. In WWII era England? Kills me every time. Also on my short list are “Amoreena”, “Bad Side of the Moon (live from 10-11-70)” then wonderfully covered and made famous by April Wine. Talk about an under appreciated band! Most of Madman Across the Water kills. “Holiday Inn” is a great road song that should’ve been in Almost Famous. There’s also a great live version of “Daniel” with a nice pulsing piano and a really nice energy that is better live than the flute-y feel of the studio track. I’ve got a soft spot for “Nikita” too. Too much music! I forgot about “Streets of Philadelphia”. I heard that during the commercial break before the Oscars performance of that tune, someone called out “Rosalita”! I love Tunnel of Love. Same time as Nothing Like the Sun by Sting. I’d call Desert Rose his awkward phase but he weathered the storm. I love the sound of Tunnel of Love. Very 1980s in a good way. “One Step Up” had a great lyric: “… check the furnace / she wasn’t burnin'”. “Brilliant Disguise” is the song I’d hold a sign up for at a Springsteen show if I didn’t hate doing that. Held a “Jungleland” sign at the (Sky)Dome first row when he came by but he wasn’t playing it that night. The video for it is directed by Jonanthan Demme (I think) and is a live performance on a long, slow zoom in shot in black-and-white. “Tougher Than the Rest” has a kick-ass harp solo to finish it out. Kind of like the piano outro on “Racing in the Street”. I judge Bruce’s awkward years by his facial hair. You know what I mean?

Adam: Also, thought I’d mention that I introduced the kids to “We Didn’t Start the Fire” this week and they loved it. I actually remember hearing it for the first time on a Sunday night “new music” spot on CHUM-FM, I think. Grade 7. They played the verse that starts “… Buddy Holly / Ben Hur / space monkey mafia”. They also played a part from Jive Bunny and the Mastermixer’s “Swing the Mood”. I purchased cassette singles of both I believe, though I had the storefront CD I think. “Swing the Mood” is just essentially this: The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – Hooked On Classics Parts 1. Which although is nostalgic to hear, not nearly as perpetually listenable as this: Walter Murphy – A Fifth Of Beethoven [HQ]

Cam: Here we go… I totally forgot about “Tell Her About It”. A total craptastic piece of 1980s cheese and something that reminds me for 98.1 CHFI and accordingly, sitting in a dentist office. I hadn’t really thought about him trying to update doo wop (or thought about him much at all) but that totally is him trying to bring the Frankie Valli approach into the 1980s. I guess the modern equivalent might be…. parts of Bruno Mars? It does seem like a bit of a swerve considering he was positioned as “singer/songwriter” before and then shifted to a modified “song-and-dance man”. Amazingly in retrospect, he got his most early traction on “modern” MTV by aping a style of music that was more than 20 years old at the time. Having Christie Brinkley mincing about in there no doubt helped. I actually kind of like “Allentown” although it seems a bit too jovial for an “issues” song. Songs about labour that don’t sound like Pete Seeger or Billy Bragg are often weird/clunky but BJ pulls no punches considering how the song starts: “… well, we’re living here in Allentown / and they’re closing all the factories down”. I like the Wikipedia page talks about the then-mayor’s reaction to the tune. It seems a bit invasive considering he didn’t grow up in Pennsylvania but is more coherent (rightly or wrongly) than the Rheostatics’ “Horses” and more sympathetic (though less awesome) than Rush’s “Working Man”. “Allentown” totally sounds like BJ trying to write a Randy Newman song, right? File under “what would Randy Newman do”. Complete WTF on the video. Considering the song is supposedly about the plight of the working class, the clip is massively campy and really inconsistent with the tone of the song. I guess the TV show Fame was big in-and-around the time of that song? It’s like a musical theatre version of what working in a factory would be like with BJ dressed like a slightly more handsome Emmett Kelly.

Cam: “A Fifth of Beethoven” is a textbook novelty song but could it be argued that this was the first mash-up? Is Girl Talk an “evolutionary Walter Murphy” as our friend Bill Simmons would say? This perhaps rivals Afrika Bambaataa’s “Planet Rock” as the most unlikely merging of the era that somehow works. I’d love for somebody to write a definitive piece (maybe they already have) on electronic music from, I dunno, 1974-1982 but not delineate between disco, Kraurock, early hip-hop, Top 40, Donna Summer, Giorgio Moroder, music for video games, etc. It’s sad hope deeply music gets segmented. I know next-to-nothing about disco but I think it’s always been unfairly pushed to the margins (in a critical sense) and never really given its just due on how much it impacted Top 40 in the 1980s and beyond. There is a really solid BBC documentary on Nile Rogers that is worth a look. He’s obviously not even an electronic artist per se but I think it does a really nice job of fixating on delving into the genesis of Chic and showing how his POV morphed through his work with David Bowie, Duran Duran, INXS, Madonna. Obviously, he’s getting a broad revisit/rediscovery because of his work with Daft Punk. I like his “it’s all just music; deal with it” approach. His set at Glastonbury 2013 is really awesome too–it’s almost like something you’d see on a cruise ship and completely unironic, sincere and celebratory. I’m curious that you put Eddie Vedder on your “built to last” list with Beck and Jeff Tweedy. I think Pearl Jam is completely fine but for yourself, for somebody who never “did” grunge”, was there a moment when you came around on PJ or EV specifically? I kinda feel like Snoop Dogg is going to be on that list too. Hip-hop is too young to even begin to speculate but “Big Snoop” has had incredible lasting power. I’ve always thought there are only two musicians who’d be equally at home on Sesame Street and in a pornographic film: Snoop and Gene Simmons. There’s gotta be some cache there.

Adam: We’re all in hyper-focused niches of consuming what we already like. I’m amused through-out these discussions about how you’ll start talking about vitally essential “alt-rock” artists and I’m thinking “Oh, I think I’ve heard that name once”. There is clearly a lot of crossover of mainstream stuff but our divergent tastes (and the obsessive way we get into those things) is cool. It’s why I like the Sam Dunn movies Global Metal and Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey despite not liking metal on any level and it sounding like noise. I dig that there are tribes who come together loving it, dress in their outfits (their black is my “carefully selected, just the right amount of cool” Dead shirt). and they’re as happy as they could be in their music, moving their bodies, along with 30,000 others. Just as Trading Places once taught us, there is a place for both nature AND nurture (I mean, look how quickly Valentine figured out the pork bellies market). Certain frequencies of music just sound good to me. Why? Definitely what I was raised on but I never liked the hard Pearl Jam or Blues Traveler stuff (and not for lack of exposure or trying). I like the part in the Rush movie where Trey Parker (or Matt- the curly haired one) is talking about how you pick who you like in high school: “Well, this is the smart band and I fancy myself a smart kid. This is what I’m about”. The hippie thing just felt right for me. It still does.

Cam: Did you see the The Story of Anvil? Both that and the Rush doc are great in that “you don’t even have to like the music” kind of way. More importantly, it’s pretty cool to see the roots of those bands in North York, very close to our beloved Thornhill. Those guys and their families really remind me of a lot of people I knew growing up. Plus it was pretty sweet to see Geddy Lee drive past that plaza where Newtonbrook Bowlerama is located in the back of a Lincoln.

Adam: I loved (the Rush doc). My fifth grade teacher was his first cousin. Everyone had a Geddy story. I sat behind him at a Leafs’ game once. His kids played ball at Bishop’s Cross. Jordan sat next to him once and kept talking about “Xanadu, trying I get his attention. They were going into Pancer’s Deli in the movie. I had the good pleasure of bumping into Sam Dunn at the airport a few years back as I was listening to “Far Cry”, one of the few later-era Rush songs on my iPod because it was the song through the final credits of the doc. So I’m sitting listening to the song from the movie and this long-haired guy walks past me. I “nerded” out a little on him. Gushed over both movies and how cool I thought it was that I didn’t get the music but I got the experience of the music. He was very nice. Talked about on-going projects with Iron Maiden and Alice Cooper. Asked him how cool it just be to be working for your heros. He was in the affirmative.

Ignored 25: #Knopfler etc.

In Uncategorized on February 3, 2014 at 5:35 am

#ignored25

I recently reconnected with a high school friend via Facebook, fueled by some past CompletelyIgnored.com pieces. The conversation veered from Dire Straits (within a broader musical universe), the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, ghostwriting, re-casting the Traveling Wilburys, people’s expectations of U2, Roy Orbison’s legacy and how Steve Winwood used to be really popular amongst little kids.

For the sake of this transcript, he shall be “Snake” and I shall be “Fox”.

Here is the conversation…

PART ONE

Snake: Last night, I was watching the Everly Brothers playing with Chet Atkins and friends, wondering how it was that neither Mark Knopfler nor Dire Straits are in Cleveland. It’s a very short arc of thought. I’m a Rolling Stone junkie, but the most I care about RS covers are when they don’t put a legendary and recently deceased musician (Clarence) on it.

Fox: Dire Straits probably would be remembered completely differently if it wasn’t for the “Money for Nothing” video. Rightly or wrongly, he’s always going to be “that guy with the head band who hung out with animated movers” to a lot of people.

Snake: I hate getting nerdish on this like i used to have about Gary Carter being left out of the HOF for seven years inexplicably. Look at the body of work he (ed. either?) put out in the 80’s. His Prince’s Trust presence (he and Clapton on guitar, Elton on keys, Collins on drums)….see, here I go. i think it’s because Dire Straits broke up after the ’92 tour, and his early solo stuff leaned too Celtic at times and was a little underwhelming to have broad commercial success. Perhaps I’d also question who he influenced musically.

Fox: Ooh, here’s another theory: did Mark Knopfler get overshadowed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers from late 1970s to early 1990s? Think about the similarities! Both appeared mid/late 1970s, hard to classify (not “classic rock”, not New Wave but enjoyed by hard rock fans, some punks, little kids, critics, etc.), moved seamless into the MTV era by using innovative videos to distract from the fact their singers were weird looking. Petty got the eventual long-term recognition, maybe because he was American and Knopfler wasn’t?!? Parallel: Carlton Fisk overshadowing Gary Carter. Fisk made the HOF in his second year while Kid had to wait six. Makes no sense on paper based on their stats. I’d suggest this was largely fueled by the conscious/subconscious impact of the visual of Fisk waving that ’75 WS home run fair (a series his team DIDN’T EVEN WIN!!) in countless MLB video packages. The true crime is Ted Simmons arguably had a better career than either of them and he was off the ballot in his first year, collecting a scant 3.4 per cent of the vote. Check it: http://bit.ly/1dNH92n

Snake: I resented all the defacto glamour that Fisk got because of that homer. Maybe because Gary played the first part of his career in Montreal? But he was me clutch in New York and was a better defensive catcher.

Fox: Yeah, I think the Carter/Montreal thing was a factor. Similar rationale maybe explains why Dave Winfield was a first ballot HOFer and Andre Dawson took eight tries before he got in? Anyway, I’m working on a kick-ass Bob Boone / The J. Geils Band analogy. Will advise.

PART TWO

Fox: I had no idea Knopfler wrote Tina Turner’s “Private Dancer”. Would’ve been (strange) if Dire Straits had done that tune instead (shudder)

Fox: I know. Hadn’t thought of that in a while. Haven’t ever heard him sing it. I imagine it as a pretty straight forward straights tune that has a long instrumental finish. Like a bonus track from making movies.

Fox: Best line from the Wiki entry: “Mark Knopfler considered that they were not suitable for a male to sing“… no (guff)

Snake: He also produced Dylan’s Slow train and played a bunch on Infidels. “Sweetheart Like You” and “Precious Angel” are two or my favorite Knopfler riffs. Knopfler should also get actual points for being part of the Jerky Boys (ed. -style) prank call tape. I gotta hire you first guy! Mark, Mark Knopfler!

Fox: (Darn), forgot about those! Cant recall if I promoted my former blog The Reset Button on Facebook? A recast Travelling Wilburys with Knopfler in the Harrison role?

Snake: Ric Ocasek? That’s Elvis Costello now.

Snake: Though Lynne was also serving as producer for everything with that same sound from Cloud Nine and “Into The Great Wide Open” and that Orbison album.. And then the Beatles tunes.

Snake: Check out a song called “When the Beatles hit America” by John Wesley Harding. Very cool line about it sounded a lot like ELO…

Fox: Hmmm. I think you need somebody more obscure in the Jeff Lynne role. less famous than everybody else… but still massively popular within the context of THEIR ELO. Nick Lowe?

Snake: Was reflecting last night while rewatching Rattle and Hum that (it) was the first rock and roll I found myself that I didn’t know if my parents would like. I remember getting the cd single of “Angel of Harlem” at the Towne and Countrye Music World. And then wanting to know who Charles Manson was, and what the hell that meant about stealing the song from the Beatles. It propelled me down that path. Getting the Wilburys tape at 11 was equally significant. A devoted Beatlemaniac, Dylan disciple, and worshiper at the alter of rock and roll.

Snake: Ryan Adams? Though too antisocial.

Snake: Have you watched the Harrison movie? There’s great footage of them messing around in the kitchen writing. Then recording. They were just hanging out.

Snake: How about Tweedy and Jim James?

Fox: Like the Jim James suggestion. Physically, that could work and he’s got that “oh ya, the guy from THAT band” thing going on. I’ve never gone too deep with U2 beyond hearing the singles really but I’m assuming Rattle and Hum is kinda vexing for the fans? They were in basically a no win situation following up The Joshua Tree so whatever they did would seem secondary. But still, does anybody really care about any of those songs anymore? Aside from “All I Want is You” (think that was that album?!?) which was one of the latter singles from the album and yet the one with the biggest legacy. From y’know, weddings ‘n (stuff).

Fox: Will definitely try to track down that Harrison footage. Seems like one of the few legit “super groups” that was at all authentic. And pound-for-pound, has to be the best from a critical/commercial perspective.

Snake: Good call. I remember reading that while The Joshua Tree was massive here and Rattle… a let down, in England, it was the other way around. It really was no win for them. Black and white was kind of pretentious and I recall people thinking that it was kinda naive that they were discovering all this music that had long been around. I don’t feel that way. They were reverential and clearly raised on rhythm and blues. It’s absolutely worth watching. Jim James also works as an Orbison replacement. Because of the high voice.

Fox: In fairness, every video during that era was (A) either black and white (B) shot in an empty arena or bar. Often… both! See: Simply Red “If You Don’t Know Me By Now”. Basically, it was essential to have at least one janitor in your video. Unrelated, is there a reason nobody under 55 ever talks about Roy Orbison? I mean, seriously. Best voice, awesome songs, weird image, died young… seems like it’d be a natural for hipsters to namedrop in lieu of Johnny Cash or even Willie Nelson.

Snake: See also that Roy Orbison and friends video, Black and White Night. Empty stadium is a great call. I picture a Bon Jovi video. “Hey let’s save money and record the sound check!” Roy wasn’t cool. At least, I didn’t think he was so much. Maybe the high voice. Johnny have the finger and wore black. Willie smokes weed. Roy had the shades. But was he blind? I feel like he fell into the golden oldies hole of the 70s/80s. Rock and roll fans got bored of their heroes until they got older. I don’t feel like country goes out of style for country fans. Roy also was very one dimensional. Those other guys are outlaws. Roy was the odd man out of the Wilburys too. They just loved him and wanted to be around him. Fanboys.

Fox: Also, in hindsight. think how strange it was that in 1987-1990, music being marketed to little kids (i.e. us) included Roy Orbison, Steve Winwood, Willburys, the Rolling Stone “Steel Wheels”. These were bands that had been around over 20 years already and still in the Top 40. You’d NEVER see that today for a rock band with maybe the exception of the Chili Peppers and (I guess) Foo Fighters.

Snake: It was the baby boomers kids. That was just the pop music at the time. All the heritage acts that came up with new material of any value got their exposure. Remember that the industry likes predictability. They were marketing at us via our parents. Or am I makin this up as I go.

Fox: Yeah, Roy was soft-spoken, quite effeminate, quite possibly blind (or going for a blind look). Remember the “tough” Roy Orbison single “I Drove All Night”? He still sounded wildly precious over top that bad 1980s production (a great song BTW… and obviously, a black and white video)

Fox: Just saw the IMDB for the Harrison doc. Wow, totally missed that. Never heard of it. Was it “a big deal” when it came out? Normally pretty clued into this stuff.

Fox: You’re also right about marketing to baby boomer kids via actual baby boomers. I mean, record execs were all “hey, the keyboard player from the Spencer Davis Group… these eight-year olds are gonna eat this (stuff) up!!!”

Fox: Ha! Maybe he’s cooler than I thought. The missed opportunity for his publicist was “In Dreams” appearing in Blue Velvet. Between that, Nick Cave covering “Running Scared”, Wilburys and Mystery Girl plus that b+w special, he was on the comeback. And then he died.

Snake: It’s really wonderful. Can’t say enough good about it. Doesn’t feel like Scorsese. Kinda like no direction home. If you subscribe to Beatlemania as the one true religion (or if you just thought George was awesome) watch it. Was on the box when it came out and I got the DVD for my birthday. There is a lot of insight into that in the movie. You’ll eat it up.

Fox: Will definitely check it out. It’s been ages since I’ve seen a music doc and really know nothing about GH besides the basic and the Weird Al parody “This Song is Just Six Words Long”.

Snake: I remember the first time I heard “Roll with It”. He was so cool. Plus back in the high life was a great album. He was really young with the Spencer Davis group and was still young and hip in the 80s. He had an album called arc of a diver in the early 80s with a great song called night train. Think too about how the boomers would love the whole concept of back in the high life. Also, a great great cover of that tune by Warren Zevon. Love Winwood.

Fox: I had Back in the High Life and Roll With It. Both on cassette from Columbia House!!! My Winwood arch…. 1986-1989: love him when I was 9-12…. 1990-1993: quit music fandom to become a full-time sports nerd… 1994-2001: MLB goes on strike, get really into indie rock, pretend that I never knew Winwood existed (much less owned the albums)… 2002-present: get burned out on indie, listen to only 1960s music for two years, read somewhere Jimi Hendrix was scarred (senseless) of Windwood’s musical chops, realize the Spencer Davis Group were awesome.

Snake: He was a fascinating guy. It’s awesome.

Snake: That’s a wonderful arch. Very funny.