The Beatles – Hard Day’s Night

AHardsDays_0

Day #5 of 10.

The Beatles – Hard Day’s Night

I was wearing out the The Beatles red and blue greatest hits albums, and Meet the Beatles.

On 8-track tape, in my parent’s living room.

My dad went to London on business, and came back with The Beatles – Hard Day’s Night  – the British version, which is to say, the REAL version.

This record cemented my membership in the cult of The Beatles, combined with the film itself.

And has perhaps my favorite Beatle song of all – If I Fell.

I can’t even…those harmonies!

I’ve listened to that song a million times and never tire of it. It’s perfect pop.

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How Bad – Song #83 of #365songs – A Musical Memoir

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Earnest Artist I think this is 1990 or 1991, recorded in Sean Kennedy’s studio in Santa Barbara. he got really mad and stressed out at me because I couldn’t quite nail the big ‘timpani’ beat at the end of the song. Like…he was really stressed out about it. But holy cow, man, I’m not a drummer! Still, I eventually did it close enough for him to relax (and two sop making me do it again). I personally didn’t really care that much about the drum part, I though it was cool and all, but jeez louise, it was just an idea. there’s plenty of those around. this is my songwriting at it’s most didactic – I cringe a little, but it’s all part of the story!

 

Seeking Resurrection – Song #82 of #365songs – A Musical Memoir

I tried watching The Leftovers on HBO when it first came out. Didn’t really grab me, and left it after a few episodes. I keep reading, however, about how amazing the third and final season was, on a lot of levels. So, I started again, with episode 1 of season 3. And HOLY SMOKES, no pun intended, it’s great. So far it is beautifully written, acted and shot. Really liking it, and it’s right up my alley. Dark, intense, but funny and real. They are taking chances that would (and did) lead many to accuse the show of being pretentious. I can see that, and also firmly believe that if you’re not willing to risk being seen as pretentious (often a code word for ‘ambitious’) then you risk creating things of little consequence. Which is fine, but the world is already jam-packed full of the mediocre and inconsequential. Why add one more piece of thoughtless crap to throw on the trash heap of culture. The effort to NOT do that is worth it. As my pal Krishna once said to Arjuna during happy hour: “We have a right to our labor, but not to the fruits of our labor.” The process is its own reward. The only real reward.

 

 

Nobody Knows the Danger of the Ramones – Song #60 of #365songs – A Musical Memoir

There are very few bands that I can remember precisely when I first heard them. I can’t even remember when I first heard the Beatles. But I definitely CAN remember when I first heard the Ramones. I was 15. It was 1976. I’d been talking to a friend of mine, an older friend whose musical taste I really respected, for a couple weeks about…where was MY music. I loved the Beatles, and the Who, and Bowie, etc., but they all seemed like not of my era. My era was Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles and what-not. I liked Springsteen. That was maybe closest to what I was trying to describe. But generally the music of the day did not speak to me at all. It was fine, but the music I really felt went back a few years. I remember vividly saying that to him as we were driving in his car. And he said, well what about the Moody Blues? Which still makes me laugh out loud. THE MOODY BLUES? Give me a f**cking break. That was somehow going to be my music, the music of my time, that spoke to me? DOUBTFUL. A couple weeks later, we were at his house listening to records, like we did every week when the new releases came out. There was another older friend there whose taste in music I also really respected. And I brought up again this subject of current music, and music that really felt like mine (and lack thereof). And he mentioned Roxy Music. His favorite band. Again, great band. I liked them then I like them now. But still. I liked them. They didn’t wreck me like the best of the Beatles did, like the Who did, like the Kinks did. And then the one friend said, ‘have you heard the Ramones?’ (It had just come out). And the OTHER friend went on a rant about how it was the WORST music he’d ever heard. Barely qualified as music! Just absolute sh*t. Friend one puts it on the turntable. Blitzkrieg Bop came on, and literally my life changed. There was before that moment, and then there was AFTER that moment. I was fucking stunned. This was IT! This was the music, the energy, the attitude, the SOUND my 15 year old self had been craving without ever having heard. The feeling I’d been trying to describe, I had just heard coming through the speakers, louder than hell. Song ends, and friend #2 says, well, I was right, right? Total crap. I was so knocked out all I could muster was a ‘I kinda liked it’. I bought the album and for the next several years was a Ramones evangelist. It’s hard for folks who didn’t experience that at the time it happened, when you first heard the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, the Clash, how completely revolutionary it sounded and felt. Even just a couple years later “New Wave” was around, Blondie was selling records, Talking Heads and Television, it was still a musical revolution, but that singular moment was now passed. It was, I imagine, similar to turning on the TV on a Sunday night in 1964 to watch Ed Sullivan and seeing the Beatles, having never heard them before, and thinking WHAT THE HELL DID I JUST SEE I’M BUYING A GUITAR AND ALSO F*CK HAIRCUTS. Later that same week, I put a down payment on a black leather motorcycle jacket, just like the Ramones were wearing on the cover of their first album. I was a busboy at a country club and every week I’d get my paycheck and go pay 20 dollars on the jacket. And they wore Converse All-Stars…already had those. The song after Blitzkrieg Bop was Beat on the Brat. Uh…what? That song, like the best Ramones songs, sounds EXACTLY like a machine. It IS a machine. Drums, guitar and bass all completely locked down and locked into the beat. There is no space available in that sound. You cannot strip it down. You can’t add to it, you cannot subtract from it. It is like one of the elements. It is factory-made sheet metal by a band that was so poor and weird that they didn’t have guitar cases – if it was raining, Dee Dee would put his bass in a grocery bag when they rode the train in from Queens to play downtown. Two songs after Beat on the Brat comes I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend. PERFECT POP! That’s what I kept telling people. IT’S POP MUSIC! Now that point is completely obvious, why would you think otherwise? Then, people thought that was bananas. It’s not pop, it’s WEIRD. I saw immediately, in a flash that stunned me and has lived ever since in me – in that singular moment when I first heard that album – the connection between the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and the Ramones. It was so obvious to me. The kids are losing their minds. The Blitzkrieg Bop.

Shadowboxing – Song #56 of #365songs – A Musical Memoir

When he realized that he’d gone too far, he turned back. Of course too far was only halfway to the bathroom, but it’d been many hours since he’d been out of his bedroom so this counted for progress. He lately (starting two hours ago) had come to believe that this would wear off, before he wore out. In fact, this is exactly what he’d been saying to himself the last two hours, “this will wear off, before I wear out. “ He’d said it approximately 10,000 times, often – he thinks – out loud in a very high pitched voice. Maybe not. He’d memorized every detail of his pillow and was no longer convinced his desk lamp was trying to speak to him. To be sure, he still believed that his desk lamp COULD speak to him, but was relieved it was no longer trying to. He started shadow boxing, and it felt good, at first, until the phrase ’shadow boxing’ started to play over and over in his head and the words appeared bigger and bigger in his mind’s eye – oh shit HIS MIND’S EYE he thought, now what. Shadow boxing in my mind’s eye? This was too much. That thought weighed more than he did, and it pulled him to his knees.

 

Everything We Touch – Song #55 of #365songs – A Musical Memoir

Crashing Plains circa 1986.

Since Nirvana’s first album was still 3 years away, I’m going to go ahead and note no Cobain influence despite those scream-sing “yeahhhhhs” in the bridge and ending.

 

Earth – Song #54 of #365songs – A Musical Memoir

Sometimes you have an idea that’s circular and can never straighten itself out in order to keep going to some unknown or unseen destination so you pull over to the side of the road and look out at the sun coming up for a bit and you can hear birds waking up and trying out their morning songs, they dreamed they might’ve lost their voices overnight and are delighted to find it wasn’t so. A mute ghost of fog lay asleep across a broken barley field, deaf to the morning song.

 

The Mystery of Faith –  Song #50 of #365songs – A Musical Memoir

This is the band Cool Engine Myth. Consisted of 4 singers and 3 percussionists and that was it.

We only played a couple shows (4 maybe) – but they were among the best shows I’ve ever had.

People had a really emotional reaction to seeing these songs performed, just voices and percussion.

Bill Coffey and Russ Davis are two of the singers, in addition to me, and ‘lead’ percussion is the one and only Kurt Sodergren, who had the good sense to become the drummer in Big Bad Voodoo Daddy shortly after these recordings.

 

Never Enough – Song #42 of #365songs – A Musical Memoir

Another ‘shoulda been a hit!’

Maybe it was on Earth 2.

This is the Third Man lineup, with me and Bill Coffey on guitars and vocals, Jason Bays on bass and Tim Lauterio on drums.

Another song with multiple recordings / versions. This song is also on the Live at Neurolux album (available on iTunes!) and an acoustic version of me and Bill is around here somewhere. This was and is one of the most fun songs to sing live – one of those tunes where when Bill and I are in sync, it’s like we’re both singing lead at the same time.