Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Just an old fashioned love song

In an apparent case of retribution, the fine folks at 12thHarmonic pinged me back with their newly minted "High Fidelity meme" quiz. I work in the music biz, because, well, I really really like music. But I had to dive into the archives of my mind, and do some serious soul searching to come up with these "mirrors of my soul."

Note: numbers1 through 5 are just that, numbers, not ratings in order.

Top Five Lyrics That Move Your Heart

1. "Blowin' in the Wind", Bob Dylan

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?

Yes, 'n' how many seas must a white dove sail

Before she sleeps in the sand?

Yes, 'n' how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they're forever banned?

The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,

The answer is blowin' in the wind.

It starts and stops right here folks, this is the pinnacle. As it was, and ever shall be, world without end, amen.

2. "Flying On The Ground Is Wrong" Buffalo Springfield (Neil Young)

Turn me up or turn me down
Turn me off or turn me round
I wish I could have met you in a place
Where we both belong
But if crying and holding on
And flying on the ground is wrong
Then I'm sorry to let you down,
But you're from my side of town
And I miss you.

The time, the place, the song in general, and the band, moved me so much. Inexplicable to anyone else.

3. "Gates of Delirium", ending movement, Yes

Soon, oh soon the light,
Pass withing and soothe this endless night,
And wait here for you,
Our reason to be here.

Soon, oh soon the time,
All we move to gain will reach and calm;
Our heart is open,
Our reason to be here.

Long ago, set into rhyme.
Soon, oh soon the light,
Ours to shape for all time,
Ours the right;
The sun will lead us,
Our reason to be here.
i'm sorry, if you can listen to this music and not be moved, then you're just too hip and can't be reached. Sad for you.

4. My Back Pages, Bob Dylan again

In a soldier's stance, I aimed my hand
At the mongrel dogs who teach

Fearing not that I'd become my enemy

In the instant that I preach

My pathway led by confusion boats

Mutiny from stern to bow.

Ah, but I was so much older then,

I'm younger than that now.
For those of us who really came of "age" in the '60s, full of conceit about changing the world, the hubris of youth came crashing down around our heads with these lyrics, which, while puncturing our fragile egos, offered salvation in the future..

5. Peace, Love & Understanding, Nick Lowe, recorded by Elvis Costello

And as I walked on
Through troubled times

My spirit gets so downhearted sometimes

So where are the strong

And who are the trusted?

And where is the harmony?

Sweet harmony.

'Cause each time I feel it slippin' away, just makes me wanna cry.

What's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding? Ohhhh

What's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding?

Even though, as reported by Lowe, the song was meant to be sarcastic, there is a clear cry for someone to to answer the question. Just what is so funny about peace, love, & understanding? Indeed.

Honorable mention:

The Times, They Are a Changin' Bob Dylan (again, dammit)

Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam

And admit that the waters

Around you have grown

And accept it that soon

You'll be drenched to the bone.

If your time to you

Is worth savin'

Then you better start swimmin'

Or you'll sink like a stone

For the times they are a-changin'.
Born To Run, Bruce Springsteen

In the day we sweat it out in the streets of a runaway American dream
At night we ride through mansions of glory in suicide machines

Sprung from cages out on highway 9,

Chrome wheeled, fuel injected

and steppin' out over the line

Baby this town rips the bones from your back

It's a death trap, it's a suicide rap

We gotta get out while we're young

`Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run

Time Of Your Life, Green Day

Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test, and don't ask why
It's not a question, but a lesson learned in time

It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life.

Somewhere, West Side Story
There's a place for us,
Somewhere a place for us.

Peace and quiet and open air

Wait for us


There's a time for us,

Some day a time for us,

Time together with time spare,

Time to learn, time to care,

Some day!

For bonus points, check out the Yes version of "Something's Coming," from West Side Story. No link, you're on your own.

Top 5 Instrumentals

1. Cliffs of Dover, Eric Johnson
A rollicking romp on the strings, soaring ever higher, to an impossibly beautiful conclusion.
2. Partita for solo violin No. 3., E major, Prelude, J. S. Bach
A rollicking romp on the strings, soaring ever higher, to an impossibly beautiful conclusion.
3. Miserlou, Dick Dale
Made recently famous by Pulp Fiction. Listen to how tough and assertive it sounds, and imagine how that played in '61. Damn scary guitar playing.
4. In The Mood, Glenn Miller
This was a transition from mannered swing music to R 'n' B of the '50s. It's really all rock 'n' roll.

5. Walk, Don't Run, The Ventures
Pre surf guitar, post jazz, proved that intense doesn't have to equate to loud. This song swings really hard, but keeps the lid on the volume pressure cooker. Rocks with subtleties, not volume. But it's fun to play loud, too.

Honorable mention:

Peter Gunn Theme, Henry Mancini

My friend Al Schmitt recorded this, along with all Mancini's work. Bob Bain, later of The Tonight Show, played lead guitar.

Parkening Plays Bach
, Christopher Parkening

Andres Segovia wrote the entire book on classical guitar, esp. re: Bach transcriptions of violin, cello, keyboard, and choral pieces. Parkening took it to a new level with this album. Technically daunting ( I made it through Prelude in C, Well Tempered Klavier, but that's about it), and breathtakingly beautiful, it emphasises not only Bach's contrapuntal art but also the melodies. Ah, the melodies...

Embryonic Journey, Jefferson Airplane (Jorma Kaukonen solo)

Starting to get the ideal that I play guitar? Not as well as Jorma. Just a quick slice of lovely fingerstyle guitar playing, with a wonderful melody and flawless tone. Anybody really into fingerstyle would do well to study this man's work.

Steppin' Out, Cream: "Live Cream, Vol. 2

Back in the day, when Eric Clapton was young and hungry, he helped define the vocabulary of rock guitar playing. This 14 minute exercise shows the dexterity and depth of this guy's fingers. He never plays the same lick twice, and, while it would be foolish to compare him to Charlie Parker, the similarity is that both played with passion, skill, and new ideas in their day. Contrast this to the later work done by Mr. Clapton, pop star and much calmer persona. The young Eric really had something to say.

For additional homework, and to learn more about guitar music, look up: Clarence White, Doc Watson, & Lenny Breau. Especially Lenny Breau.

Top 5 Live Musical Experiences

1. The Beatles, August 28, 1965, Balboa Stadium, San Diego, CA

During these few years, everything was new. Kids today won't understand that. This was when rock was being defined, fine tuned, & refined. Every day brought sounds never heard before. Most of them started with these guys. Screaming girls, and an energy in a moment of history never to be seen again. Thrilling, yet somehow sad. Those were the days.

2. Buffalo Springfield, Spring, 1968, The Purple Haze, Riverside, CA

My band, The Shades Of Time, opened for them. What a thrill, hanging out backstage with guys we had seen on TV. Only drag was, my band didn't have a lot of original material yet, and we knew almost all of their first album. Needless to say, we played other stuff.

3. Vanilla Fudge, Spanky & Our Gang, opening for The Bee Gees, Spring 1968, Anaheim COnvention Center, Anaheim, CA

The BeeGees with an orchestra touring on their first album were pretty amazing, years before Saturday Night Fever. But the reason for going to this show was Vanilla Fudge. Histrionic, overwrought, too complex, yet knock you back in your seats stunning in their intensity. Most noted for their outrageous takes on Motown chestnuts (You Keep Me Hangin' On), they were truly original, and blew the roof off the joint.

4. Jimi Hendrix Experience, Spring 1969, Swing Auditorium, San Bernardino, CA

Every rock guitarist ever since owes his/her entire existance to this man.

5. Big Brother & The Holding Company, feat. Janis Joplin, Spring, 1968, Swing Auditorium, San Bernardino, CA

I'll never forget when she sang her first note. I looked at my friend (and bass player in my band), he looked at me, our jaws dropped, and stayed there. Transcendental music experience.

Honorable mention:

Chicago Transit Authority, Fall 1968, The White Room, Anaheim, CA

On their first pass through LA, they played The Shrine Friday night. My girlfriend saw them, heard them say that they were playing in OC Saturday night, and made me go. In a tiny room, on a stage 12 inches high, horns blasting, they created a sound totally new at the time. This was the Chicago of "25 or 6 to 4", not "Color My World." This was the Chicago of Terry Kath, and Peter Cetera before anyone told him he was a star. This was a bunch of guys living in a ratty house in Hollywood, playing their asses off, making new music.

The Doors, Spring 1968, Swing Auditorium, San Bernardino, CA

Hearing "Light My Fire" live was so much better than the record.

Top Five Artists You Think More People Should Listen To

1. Saves The Day

Great band, great guys. Tracked a record at the studio where I formerly worked with producer Rob Schnapf.

2. Richard Thompson

I've loved his work since Fairport Convention. If you're not familiar with them, look them up. I'm not doing all the work for you. He did an album at Capitol while I worked there, again with producer Rob Schnapf. (He and I like a lot of the same music, I think.) Great experience to meet Richard and hear his new music.

3. Dale Watson

This guy should be as big as Tim McGraw & Alan Jackson. Roots American music, tracing a heritage from Jimmie Rodgers, through Hank, carried on by modern artists such as Dale & Dwight Yoakam. And a really nice guy.

4. Lucinda Williams

Yeah, I know she's a sort of cult favorite, and does good business on tour. But she, like Dale, should be headlining major venues. Currently working on a new record here in LA at a friend of mine's studio.

5. Johann Sebastian Bach

What I mean is that more people today should discover Bach. Not just some old fart who came at the end of the Baroque movement, he defined the ultimate in Baroque music. What many people don't remember today is that much of his work, using "figured bass" technique, was improvisational in nature. Like Ravi Shankar's ragas ("Ragas are precise melody forms"), Bach's work often involved defined melodies with accompaniments only sketched in, much like musicians jamming today with just a chord chart. He was prolific, tossing off several compositions for each Sunday Mass, and while he recycled his own material sometimes (the previously mentioned Violin Partita in E Prelude was reshaped as Sinfonia to Cantata #29), his work was breathtakingly beautiful as well as complex and challenging.

Top Five Albums You Must Hear From Start to Finish

1. Close To The Edge, Yes, 1972

While most rockers were still trying to figure out a new way to use three chords, these guys were figuring out new chords. Put your biases and preconceptions about progressive rock in your pocket, and just listen, please.

2. The Kick Inside, Kate Bush, 1978

Quirky, different, this album is several scenes of a different musical vision than anything around that year. I was genuinely moved the first time I heard it, and immediately became a fan. Using sounds, rhythms and instrumentation unconventional in '78, and even today, she presaged many female indy rockers working today, including Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan, among others.

3. Buffalo Springfield, Buffalo Springfield, 1967

This album pre-dated and predicted the coming country-rock confluence, espcially as it was realized here in Los Angeles. Everyone knows "For What It's Worth", but listen to the other songs, too.

4. Abbey Road, The Beatles, 1969

Yeah I know, but have you listened to it all the way through lately? Please, do so, and then re-realize exactly how influential these guys were.

5. The Pretenders, The Pretenders

This album from 1979 shook many of us in the music business. Coming after some of the excesses of the '70s, and some of the inept punk of the late '70s, this album was a non-stop collection of great songs, each better than the last, delivered in an unforgettable vocal style by Chrissie Hynde. It stands the test of time.

Top Five Musical Heroes

1. The Beatles

2. Andres Segovia

3. Les Paul

4. Bob Dylan

5. Jimi Hendrix

It's really quite simple: They all did it first. Everyone else followed the trail they blazed.

For my last number, I'd like to dedicate this to the folks next in line:

TBogg, & Jane at FireDogLake,

"Come and sing a simple song of freedom,
Sing it like you've never sung before..."


12thharmonic said...

Great lists Steve. If I had gone for honourable mentions. I'd still be writing.....
Thanks for your participation. It wasn't retribution. I don't think?
The Music Meme

12thharmonic said...

Great lists Steve. If I had gone for honourable mentions. I'd still be writing.....
Thanks for your participation. It wasn't retribution. I don't think?
The Music Meme

SteveAudio said...

Not at all, I was being faux annoyed at having to wrack my brain to come up with that stuff. It really was a joyful exercise, and a great idea on your part. Let's see how far it spreads.

Jane Hamsher said...

I started obsessing and was up until 3 in the morning with that one. It was fun, though. Thanks much.

Anonymous said...

May I nominate someone in the most overlooked category? I saw Roy Buchanan in a small club in Columbus, Ohio in the early seventies. I've seen Clapton, Dylan, Paige, Gibbons, Montrose, Waters, B.B. King, Allman, Guy and too many others to name. Buchanan left me speechless. Add him to your thoughts.

hook said...

Interesting live list. I saw the Buffalo Springfield, maybe the same year, at Melodyland in Anaheim, with the Chambers' Brothers. The Doors at the Anaheim Convention Center in '67 before they really hit it big. They weren't the headline act, Jefferson Airplane was. They were incredible, and definitely stole the show.

Your comment about hearing 'Light My Fire' live as opposed to recorded, is pretty much true of all music, isn't it? Live is just so much better, unless the recordings have stuff that you like that can only be created in the studio.

Any chance you were at the one (and only?) Newport Pop Festival at the OC Fairgrounds? 1968 - preceded Woodstock, which I'd forgotten, and included: CJ and the Fish, Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, QMS, Eric Burdon, Iron Butterfly, James Cotton, and the Chambers Brothers?

SteveAudio said...

Yes, I was there on Sunday: Grateful Dead, Blue Cheer, Iron Butterfly, etc. This was my first real yake of the Dead, and as much as I liked jamming, I never 'got' them.

There was 2nd Newport Pop Festival, the next year, except it was held at Devonshire Downs Race Track, now part of the Cal State Northridge campus. Highlight of Sunday was Mr. Hendrix, making this the 2nd time I saw him.

Thanks for stopping by.

hook said...

The Dead were so forgettable at this particular concert, that I had forgotten they were even there. I saw them in San Francisco much later, when they had a long time to play, after about the first hour, they were great.

And it was that concert I had in mind when thinking about live versus recorded music -- one of the exceptions. The Beach Boys were also performing, and they were really awful.

Glad to have bumped into you, and I agree with many others about your particular choices for the music meme.

John Eje Thelin said...

The odd thing (or the great thing, I guess) about this list, is that you mention what I consider to be the worst artist not ignored by everyone: Neil Young and the best band to ever stride the planet (in their heyday, that is): Yes.

Amazing. But I'm always glad to see Yes get kudos anywhere. They really don't deserve their bad rep, and even people who don't like or get what they do should be able to see that they're a unique and different band.

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Unknown said...

There are times when the work is too tiring, I chose to relax by listening to the music that I like. These are the songs I like, please listen and feel. Thank you.