Sunday, May 16, 2010
"When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years."
Nicely played, Samuel.
I'll go you one better.
When I was a boy of 21, my father had little or no use for any of the music that I enjoyed.
By the time I was 51, I understood why.
Doing a little musical research, I came across the video for the latest Eminem single. Generational gap aside, I've simply never been a fan of the genre' where Mr. Mathers has made his mark.
That said, I think of myself as a creative man, possessed of an open mind.
At least as regards the creative arts.
So, I gave it a look/listen.
And while Marshall's latest self portrait isn't going to convert me, it does accomplish one thing for certain.
It is a textbook illustration of why we tend to hate what our kids listen to as we get older.
And it has nothing to do with the content, per se'.
More in a moment.
First, ladies and gentlemen, the shit stirring stylings of Eminem...
Here's the thing about the thing.
You don't have to be a Rhodes Scholar, or even over the age of eleven or twelve, to see that this is one pissed off fellow.
Live and let live.
And while there's no denying that the envelope of " the world sucks and I'm here to tell you about it" gets pushed exponentially harder with each new generation of tellers, it's also true that there's really no new information being included in the envelope.
Sooner or later, everybody finds out that the world sucks.
Happiness seems to be largely a matter of learning to live with the pony philosophy.
As in "with all this shit...there must be a pony..."
While Marshall's blunt, and very well paid, approach to sharing the shit side of the story isn't exactly the kind of prose you would vote to have carved on a DC monument, it is, like every other point of view, deserving of the freedom to be expressed.
When I was younger and the musical heroes of that youth were pushing that era's envelope, mothers and fathers were quick to dismiss those expressions as, at best, inappropriate, at worst, vulgar, obscene, even moral warping.
Somehow, my generation managed to weather the warping and went on to become the mothers and fathers of the next generation.
Whose envelope pushing is, at best, inappropriate, at worst, vulgar, obscene, even moral warping.
Emotional knee jerking aside, I never intellectually understood why my father had no use for the music that I enjoyed.
And why a lot of what I listened to evoked either stony silence or the tell tale subtle head shaking with a gentle, but obvious, tsk-tsk attached.
I wrote it off to a predictable lack of hip.
The man was in his 50's, for God's sake. Old people don't get shit.
Turned out, I was missing the point.
It came to me some years later.
Long before M and M started venting his spleen to the tune of ten figures.
And I understood why the music I enjoyed pissed my father off.
Because it made him feel old.
By turning him into his father.
As the tsk-tsk torch was passed.
Couldn't help but think, though, as I finished listening to Mr. Mathers' musings.
Time marches on.
Sooner or later.
We all get handed the torch.
Yo. Tsk-tsk, muthafucka...
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Saturday, January 16, 2010
But he got over it pretty quickly.
Some years ago, while burning the midnight job oil at Tower Records in Nashville, I was often visited by Tommy who, by that time in his life, had begun the sad decline into poor health and depression that culminated in his suicide in 1994.
But I remember those visits as a great deal of fun, if only because this was one of the few who could back up his "been there, done that" attitude with an amazing list of the places he had been and the things that he had done.
For the back story, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boyce_and_Hart
One story he told that remains my favorite to this day was how he was upset to learn that a song that he and Bobby had written especially for the super successful Paul Revere and the Raiders that had, in fact, already been recorded by Paul Revere and the Raiders was going to be hijacked by a new, as yet, relatively unproven band.
Tommy's motivation for getting over it was that the song ended up making the top twenty of the U.S. pop singles charts and being prominently featured on the multi million selling debut album of the aforementioned unproven band.
The night Tommy told me the story I confessed to him that I had always preferred the Raiders version as the Monkees take was less edgy, the very cool guitar lick much less prominent.
Though he didn't say anything, I had the impression that Tommy was pleased that his belief in the Raiders version was being validated. So much so, that a few nights later, he came in and brought me an autographed photo of himself and Bobby and Mark Lindsay, et al hanging out at in an L.A. club.
All these years later, I think about those late night chats and, as a songwriter, can't help but smile when I realize that this was a guy who got the kind of "bad break" every writer hopes for.
Getting a song bumped by one successful group...
So that it can be recorded by an even more successful one.
Way to go, Tommy...and thanks for the nights.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Even if you know Jimmy Webb.
Pop music fans over the age of forty will, of course, know his work, ranging from "Galveston" and "Wichita Lineman" to "By The Time I Get To Phoenix"; from "MacArthur Park" to "Up, Up and Away".
The song I have included here was never a hit single for anyone, not a song likely familiar to any but the most ardent Webb fans.
And the video that I found on YouTube has its own charm, but that's not why I've posted this for you.
Close your eyes. Play the song. Listen to the song.
Without using anything but your ears....heart...and spirit.
Most especially to the bridge of the song.
The lyric that begins "if I could do it over..."
Trust me when I tell you that if you're over the age of forty, you're going to be, at least, touched and, possibly moved, by those few lines.
And the last two lines of that bridge...are genius.
Good songwriters speak about us.
Great songwriters speak about, and to, us.
Genius knows us.
You might not know Jimmy Webb.
But he knows you.