Benjamin Booker continues a long line of great musicians to come out of New Orleans. Like his predecessors, Booker blends a variety of styles to come up with something unique. A few of his influences include: The Gun Club, Blind Willie Johnson and T Rex. To my ears, Booker’s sound is a combination of Blues, Surf and Rock in the style of a good old power trio like Cream or the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Booker is an extremely shy young man who lets his guitar speak for him whenever he gets in front of a crowd.
I had a chance to see Parquet Courts recently and it was one of the best Rock and Roll shows I have seen in awhile. Calling them hard to describe is an understatement. I was reminded of everyone from Television to Bad Brains from the Beastie Boys to Pere Ubu. This is a no nonsense band. No chatter between the songs just buckle and let’s go. Intelligent lyrics with a good sense of humor. These guys rock.
Gerry Goffin passed away recently. Sadly, the modern generation might not know what a brilliant songwriter he was. Goffin and his writing partner/wife, Carole King racked up a string of hits starting in 1961 the Shirelles, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”. Goffin had a knack for writing lyrics that shared how many felt but few were able to express. Goffin’s words contained tremendous depth and help give Rock and Roll credibility at a time many felt it was immature and simple. Even though it never landed at #1 on the charts, “Up On The Roof” maybe one of the finest examples of Rock and Roll as an art form.
Right smack dab in the middle of town
I’ve found a paradise that’s trouble proof
Up on the roof
And if this world starts getting you down
There’s room enough for two, up on the roof
Goffin employs an internal rhyme scheme and iambic pantimeter similar to a Shakespearan sonnet rather than a more traditional AAB rhyme scheme found in most blues and pop songs of the time. Goffin and King eventually landed in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 after creating some of the more memorable songs of our time.
“McPhail, is that Scottish?” that’s how my my friendship with Ian McLagan began. I told him it was but that my ancsetors had been kicked out of Scotland for rustling sheep. “Rustling, is that what they’re calling it these days?” I knew we were going to be friends any time you start a conversation by giving someone shit.
It was a miracle I even made our dinner plans. I arrived in Philadelphia at 5pm and dinner was at 6. Everything fell into place as I caught a train immediately and arrived at the train station just as a taxi pulled up. I told the cabby if he could get me to the hotel and restaurant before 6 there was one hell of a tip in it for him. He pulled every trick in the book from driving in bike lanes to running red lights and got me there just in time.
I was like a kid in a candy store listening to Mac tell stories about Bob Dylan, Mavis Staples, Rod Stewart and the Rolling Stones. He talked about eating ribs and Austin, TX. He talked about being too “Spinal Tap” for the movie Spinal Tap and how he used to meet girls. But the highlight of the evening came when he told me the meaning of the song “Itchycoo Park”. “You see,” he began, “the song is really about education.” We used to sit on the river by Cambridge University and just watch the students. Everyone thinks it’s about drugs but really it’s about the separation of the classes and our desire to have the same education as those kids.” He went on to tell me his biggest regret came from not performing that song the last time he and Steve Marriot performed together. Mac explained that the lyric “It’s all too beautiful” was really meant as a love song. He started singing it the way it was recorded and then he turned to me and said,”It really needs to be sung like this.” and he started singing it in a softer, slower manner. “It’s aaalllll tooooo beauuuttttifulllll” I had to pinch myself. Here I was sitting next to a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and he is singing his biggest hit to me in a BBQ joint in Philadelphia. Life is good. Ian Mclagan may be one of the greatest guys I have ever met. Thanks Mac.
Walter Martin of the Walkmen decided he wanted to create an album for the entire family. When I was in High School, I used to get rides from my parents. We would always listen to KBCO (this is back when it was good). My mother would always show up for work singing Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds”, The Grateful Dead’s “I Need A Miracle” or her personal favorite, Todd Rundgren’s “Bang On The Drum All Day”. Those are great memories and it was a shared experience made possible because my parents instilled in me a love for great music. Here’s to great music, great parenting and a love for music that will never die.
I am not a fan of top 40 music by any stretch of the imagination but, you have to hand it to Casey Kasem for making music an essential part of everyone’s lives. I think most of us have fond memories of listening to Casey count backwards and reminds us all to keep our feet on the ground and to always reach for the stars. He was the master of the tease, getting us all to listen through commercials to find out who used to be a waitress before hitting it big. Not only was he a great DJ, the guy had a great set of pipes. He was the voice of everyone’s favorite stoner, Shaggy until Hannah Barbera decided to have a tie-in with Kentucky Fried Chicken and Kasem refused to voice the spot because he was a strict vegan. Thanks for playing the hits Casey, Saturday afternoons will never be the same.
The Postal Service did this song originally but Sam Beam of Iron & Wine finds the essence of this song. Without getting too schmaltzy or sentimental Beam turns this into one of the sweetest love songs of our generation.
I have to admit, I am feeling a little bit sentimental today and this is the song that I was reminded of. Love comes in so many shapes and sizes and this video shows the beauty such a variety displays. Imagine experiencing this song for the first time with the love of your life and having it captured for eternity. The dog, the pregnant woman and the child who might not be a big Bright Eyes fan are among the highlights. The best part is knowing this is how I feel whenever I see my love.