Wednesday, June 29, 2011

We Need Better Books, Better Music, Better Randomness

With thanks to Feodor via Facebook comes this review, purporting to show links between the events and the popular musical choices of 1970. The review makes several interesting points, and a boner. The boner is that CSN&Y were one of the reasons punk came along. Actually, as a British phenomenon, punk was reacting against the music of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Yes, and ELP; in America, The Ramones were taking on Captain & Tenille, Billy Joel, Barry Manilow, and the hyper-produced, slick sounds emanating from LA's studios (think The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Steely Dan, that kind of thing).

More interesting for me is the choice of James Taylor. Taylor, a son of privilege with a variety of issues including a tendency toward mental instability and drug indulgence, spent a couple years in the late 1960's in The Beatles' orbit before landing with both feet as a singer-songwriter, the tunes being largely of the navel-gazing variety (although his covers of various tunes from Motown to the Brill Building were interesting, to say the least). No mention is made of Carole King's groundbreaking Tapestries, perhaps the most important pop recording of the year. Nor, as the reviewer notes, is mention made of Led Zeppelin II, or Captain Beefheart, or The Yes Album, and their subsequent US tour that brought them fame, money, and a new audience.

Reducing a year, a time, an era to a handful of artists is a dangerous game. Today's popular choices are tomorrow's trivia contest footnotes. A serious journalist, looking to do more than reflect on childhood memories, might well take a few moments to consider the huge variety of ways various musics emerge and how they reflect, or don't reflect, a time.

That being said, yesterday and today are both picture-perfect summer days pushing me to indulge some rare nostalgia for summer days of my youth spent running hither and yon. Normally, I try to remain clear-eyed about my childhood and youth but the days have been far too good not to take a few moments to remember those hazy, lazy, crazy days of summers gone by.

Here's a soundtrack, in part:

And now, something no one was expecting, the Spanish Inquisition without the confy chairs:
Dark Time - October Project
Present Joys - Alabama Sacred Harp Singers (Anthology of American Folk Music)
Swingtime in the Rockies - Benny Goodman (Live at Carnegie Hall, 1938)
Sysyphus, Part III - Pink Floyd
El Greco, Movement III - Vangelis
Telephone Calls From Istanbul - Tom Waits
Down The Road - Kansas
Only Child - Steven Wilson
Low-Spark of High-Heeled Boys - Traffic
Pretender - James LaBrie

Virtual Tin Cup

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