Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Both Sides Now

I remember the first time I saw Chrissie Hynde as the waitress in the Brass in Pocket video - I was, like, Who the hell is this broad? I mean, she's not exactly a beauty, but she's super compelling to watch. And she's damn sexy as hey-ell.

Great song, really compact, great riff, chorus... it is weird to think that this was when MTV really was Music Video Television. Almost thirty years ago! It's also weird seeing James Honeyman-Scott and Pete Farndon...

Now, I was never a big Pretenders fan, but a few of their songs are really good rock songs (like "The Wait") and pop music gems, and I say that reverently, because I came up on pop inclusive of R&B. And although I have deep love for my jazz/blues roots, there's an unprecedented element that was ushered in post-war with rock n' roll: the show. From the stepping of James Brown and his subsequent "exhaustion" toward the end of his show and the draping of his cape to his miraculous revival (!), to Tina Turner and the Ikettes shimmy shamming in their mini skirts (and giving all the white boys boners while making white girls look on in horror/jealousy at true talent unleashed, among other things) to the pyrotechnics of Jimi at the Monterey Pop Fest, Rock and pop music entertained in a completely different manner. One of the great things was that it blasphemed the establishment in ways that made kids go crazy.

And the volume was an integral part of it (although not as much of an element with R & B): Cerwin Vega had a great slogan on stickers that I plastered on my amp: "Loud is Beautiful, if it's clean." But perhaps the more apt one was, "If it's too loud, you're too old."

The Devil's music, indeed, but what a show.

These days I rarely see live music, having clubbed and arena'd myself a lifetime in my youth. Which is sad, because although I'm old, I still love a good show, as evidenced by my enthusiasm for the Eagle Rock Music Fest. There's nothing like seeing a live show.

That's where I think the kids of today are missing something special. In the 80's, there were so many great shows around, from big arenas to dives and everything in-between. Many of those places - The Masque and The Starwood come to mind - are legendary in the LA scene but are now gone.

Perhaps the best thing about the punk scene was its chill factor. I was once at an informal jam in a house in North Hollywood where D. Boon was playing; he was so loaded he couldn't keep his guitar on right and resorted to wrapping the strap around his neck because it'd come off the back button (near the guitar neck). My buddy Thrust and I were cracking up. I got to talk to Boon a bit and he wrote his name and number on a matchbook which I still have. Years later I saw fIREHOSE and reminisced to Watt about Boon. I showed him the matchbook and he just held it and got all wistful. I kinda regret showing it to him, but he's moved on, now gigging with The Stooges. Good for him.

Today, in the post-MTV era, kids are bombarded in ways we weren't. As a consequence, they have little to no knowledge of underground/indie bands, let alone the presence of mind or wherewithal to withstand the relentless spam of the mega corps.

So in a stylistically jarring roundabout, we're back to The Pretenders. The first time I heard "Kid" I loved its composition and great arrangement. I didn't really identify with the lyrics because I thought it just a "story song" - I don't think Hynde was a parent at that point. Now of course it reminds me of my daughter. So, here's to you, Renee. I know you're going through some teen stuff right now, but guess what? Odds are good you'll come out of it okay. I have pretty good instincts, and when I think of you that's what I feel. Bottom line, your old man loves you, more than you know.


KID WHAT CHANGED YOUR MOOD
YOU'VE GONE ALL SAD SO I FEEL SAD TOO
I THINK I KNOW SOME THINGS WE NEVER OUTGROW
YOU THINK IT'S WRONG
I CAN TELL YOU DO
HOW CAN I EXPLAIN
WHEN YOU DON'T WANT ME TO

KID MY ONLY KID
YOU LOOK SO SMALL YOU'VE GONE SO QUIET
I KNOW YOU KNOW WHAT I'M ABOUT
I WON'T DENY IT
BUT YOU FORGIVE THOUGH YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND
YOU'VE TURNED YOUR HEAD
YOU'VE DROPPED BY HAND

ALL MY SORROW, ALL MY BLUES
ALL MY SORROW

SHUT THE LIGHT, GO AWAY
FULL OF GRACE, YOU COVER YOUR FACE

KID GRACIOUS KID
YOUR EYES ARE BLUE BUT YOU WON'T CRY
I KNOW ANGRY TEARS ARE TOO DEAR
YOU WON'T LET THEM GO

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