Just some thoughts, questions, and observations this week… some of them inspired by my piece last week about albums that inspired me, and my love of music.
– In last week’s column I mentioned how I became a Springsteen fan somewhere after 1980 (when he came to Rochester on The River tour and I didn’t really care) and 1984 when Born In The USA came out and I was at Record Archive buying it the day it came out (June 4th). Actually I bought the “Dancing In The Dark” 45 single (with the b-side “Pink Cadillac”) when that was released a month earlier. So who do I have to thank for turning me on to The Boss? A girl… sort of.
From the fall of ’81 until the spring of ’83 I rode the school bus to East High with a young lady I thought was really cute. She would read Stephen King books a lot while riding to and from school, so I borrowed a couple from the library and started doing that too hoping it would lead to conversation. It did. I can’t believe it either. We never became more that friendly acquaintances who occasionally chatted because I was such a shy nerd. What did happen was I became a huge Stephen King fan, and because he would often reference Springsteen lyrics in his novels I started listening to the songs and REALLY loved those. His use of “Jungleland” in The Stand, and “Cadillac Ranch” in Christine stick out right now, as does a book introduction where he talks about watching a crowd sing along with “Born To Run”. Shockingly Mr. King really knows how to paint a picture with his words, and made me want to dig deeper into the music of this New Jersey songwriter.
I haven’t seen Karen Montana in 37 years, but because of her my life was changed because of all the enjoyment I’ve gotten from my favorite author, and my all-time favorite musician. Thank you Karen.
– When did the name Karen become internet shorthand for an unpleasant woman? How and why was this name chosen? I’ve known a bunch of Karens in my life and they’ve all been awesome people. Is there a male equivalent? If there isn’t, why not? If there is, how come it’s not as well known?
– Last week I also mentioned my obsession with the Doors in the 80s. I can’t tell you how much I loved the Jim Morrison biography “No One Here Gets Out Alive” by Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman. I don’t know if it still holds up, but I remember thinking back then that it was the greatest book ever written. I may have to revisit it.
– Speaking of rock and roll books I’ll make a couple other suggestions. If you are a fan of The Band I highly recommend you read both Levon Helm’s 1993 autobiography “This Wheel’s On Fire” and Robbie Robertson’s 2016 “Testimony”… two very different takes on the same story, and both told very well. In my brain I’ve combined the two into a tale of a friendship sadly gone wrong. Last week I wrote about my love of the group’s concert film “The Last Waltz” and it really bums me out that Levon dislikes it as much a I dislike peanut butter.
Yes, you read correctly… I hate peanut butter. That’s one of my most controversial stands. Sorry to be so divisive.
– Right now I’m in love with the music of a band I’ve never really listened to before. They’re called X. They’ve been around since the late 70’s, and I’m not sure why it’s taken me over four decades to check them out. I saw in the Record Archive newsletter that they have a new album out called “Alphabetland” and on a whim decided to give it a spin (I liked the cover). All I can say is WOW. The store’s social media pages recently asked if punk was dead… this disc proves the answer is a resounding no.
I’ve now listened to a couple X releases and to my ears there is just a touch of a 50’s rockabilly sound to them. Were artists like Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Bo Diddley, and Eddie Cochran the first punks?
I’m not sure if I’m sad I missed out on the music of X for all this time, or if I’m happy that I now have their 40 plus year catalog to listen to and enjoy for the first time. Here’s a link to that new record… you can get it on CD, regular black vinyl, a cool indie exclusive blue vinyl, and also digitally. Take your pick here.
Stay safe and see ya soon. -Billy