Thursday, June 28, 2007

Who Could Ask For Anything More?

There are for me those little moments when the way I used to think about things changes. Most of the time this happens with music, with artists or bands that I previously disliked for whatever reason - sometimes for no reason at all - and then came around to appreciate, all of a sudden-like.

I might have had one of those little moments tonight. Rare are the times when I just want to sit down in front of the television and drift off toward that peaceful place between being asleep and being awake - but I closed Tuesday night and had to turn right around and open (early!) this morning at nine o’clock. (I know...those of you with real jobs are thinking that nine o’clock would be a nice change of pace - but my nine o’clock this morning came on the heels of being there until one in the morning.)

Therefore, I was pretty much wiped when I got home. I stopped at Yats for some chicken maque choux for myself and Amy, came home and ate dinner and watched Jeopardy!, and then decided to lie down for a bit while Amy fed the Breast Milk Depository, which is what I am considering renaming young Jackson (who turned three weeks old yesterday).

There was a double-dip of acceptable programming on PBS tonight - a bear show at eight and The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song - Celebrating Paul Simon at nine. I like bears and Paul Simon, so I was content.

During the Paul Simon show was that little moment I mentioned. James Taylor performed (with someone else, though I no longer recall who) one of Paul Simon’s solo songs, “Slip Slidin’ Away.”

I’ve never been a big fan of James Taylor - I’ve just never “gotten it,” if you know what I mean. If not, I’ll make it real easy for you. Ever heard Rush? What do you think of Geddy Lee’s voice? Most of you hear Geddy Lee sing for the first time and you wonder what we Rush fans could possibly be thinking. Same thing with James Taylor - he’s just never reached me.

But he did a damn fine job on “Slip Slidin’ Away,” making good use of the strong tone he’s always had in his voice - it has an elastic quality to it that allows him to move up and down in pitch without sacrificing tone or rhythm. His guitar work, also, is very good. But songs like “Fire And Rain” and “How Sweet It Is” (though not Taylor’s song) have just never grabbed me. Something about the way he sang “Slip Slidin’ Away,” though, did sort of grab me. I don’t know if it was enough of a grab to turn me all the way around the corner on James Taylor, but it’s a start.

To be honest, though, Geddy Lee didn’t grab me at first, either. When I heard him sing the first time, I thought the same thing everyone else did, namely that someone should take his nuts out of the vise before any permanent damage occurred. (I imagine a lot of people thought the same thing about Robert Plant at first, too - though maybe not to the same extent.)

One of my favorite quotes about Geddy Lee was in an Indianapolis News review of their concert on the Roll The Bones tour at Deer Creek in 1992. Mike Redmond, who used to write about rock music for the News, referred to “Geddy Lee’s helium squeak of a voice,” and it made me laugh out loud. Still does. In his review, Redmond said that he had not been looking forward to seeing Rush because he did not care for their “pretentious” lyrics and overly erudite sense of self-righteousness. By the end of the review, though, he admitted that - as always - Rush overwhelmed his low expectations. Toward the end, he noted that, whatever else you might think about Rush - “these cats can play.”

Bob Dylan was also an acquired taste for me. His unusual style of singing is much better known than that of Geddy Lee, but no less annoying to someone who doesn’t appreciate everything else that is going on in Dylan’s music. I don’t recall exactly when it was that I came around on Rush, but I remember exactly when it happened with Dylan - or at least the circumstances, because I don’t actually recall the day. I was driving back to work (at Eastgate) from Indiana Concessions, and heard “Positively 4th Street.” One of my friends, at the time, was in a relationship with a girl who was...well, she was high maintenance, shall we say. I thought the song summed up their relationship really well - and could almost have been written for them, except that it was written in the 1960s.

(Aside: “Positively 4th Street” can be interpreted as Bob Dylan’s parting shot to Joan Baez, with whom he was in a relationship earlly in his career. Baez was already a superstar when she met Dylan, and it is in large part because of her influence that Dylan became a superstar. It wasn’t meant to be, however, and their split was acrimonious. Read all about it in an excellent book by David Hajdu, also called Positively 4th Street. Did Baez write a song as a parting shot to Dylan, then, too? Listen to her “Diamonds And Rust” and tell me what you think.)

I now count Bob Dylan among my favorite artists, and he is one of the few artists whose new record I will buy sight unseen (sound unheard?) the day it comes out. Also on that list are Rush, of course, and Pearl Jam. I liked Pearl Jam from the moment I heard them, though - no period of adjustment necessary.

Now playing on iTunes:
"Forever Young" - Joan Baez singing the Bob Dylan song that he wrote for his son Jakob, whom you might know better as the lead singer of The Wallflowers


Last King of SCOOTland said...

hey, i finally put something new on mine. you might find it interesting, if you hadn't heard about it already.

Last King of SCOOTland said...

Just read yours, and I of coarse had to smile a bit. I love being mentioned. I guess it fuels my ego and need to see things and know that you are talking to, or about me. HAH! Anyways, I have had many of these types of situation. Mostly due to you, Gretch, and that girl that you mentioned (and is named after a golf coarse on the south side) and it is always a good thing. If nothing else, it gives you new music to listen to, books to read, or movies to watch. I am not a Taylor fan either, although I do really enjoy "Fire and Rain" but mostly for personal reasons. Anyways, good stuff.

Hope the wife and Mini-me are doing well.