Sunday, May 17, 2009
Last week I wrote about five albums that got me started in music. I got us to the early high school years. I hope to get us through college in this post—like that’s important for some reason. This is only a blog, I realize. Still, this might be how Nick Hornby discovers me (extra points for the Nick Hornby reference).
I noticed two things as I reflected on this time of my life. I was listening to a lot of music, but not anything really new or life altering. Part of that is probably the late 70’s early 80’s. Not the greatest era for the kind of music I like. Too much Ted Nugent and Bee Gees. Not much in between. The second observation is that I moved to Abilene, Texas during this time. And in that day and age, most new music you discovered on the radio. Not much variety in Abilene. Few concerts. And no music guides like I had in Portland (thank you Phil Hess).
This is not to say there weren’t albums I enjoyed. Just not many that took me in new direction or to another level.
Rumors—Fleetwood Mac. Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. Don’t need really to say anything else. What an amazing album. Actually, I had this on 8 track. I got my own stereo system my senior year in high school with an 8 track player and Fleetwood Mac probably spent some time in it every day for a long time.
Karla Bonoff—Karla Bonoff. I went to see the movie, FM, which was great (one of the great all time sound tracks). I found a lot of new music just watching that movie. For instance, I found Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers through that movie. One scene features a Linda Ronstadt concert, and as she is introducing the band she mentions a beautiful album by a new artist, Karla Bonoff. I went and found it immediately and loved it. I bought her subsequent albums. Beautiful songs. But she turned me to the singer/songwriter genre. Jackson Browne, James Taylor, et al. I loved reading liner notes on album covers and sleeves. Dan Dugmore, Waddy Wachtel, Russ Kunkel. These guys played on all these albums. I loved this world, and Karla Bonoff was my first foot in.
Hotel California—Eagles. I already had Eagles albums. I was disappointed when I heard that Randy Meisner had left the band. Take it to the Limit was my favorite Eagles song. But Hotel California allowed me to get over that easily. I loved Joe Walsh. Henley and Frey are great. But the addition of Joe Walsh was perfect. I loved his songs, but I loved his guitar parts on the other songs as well.
Souvenirs—Dan Fogelberg. See the Karla Bonoff description above. I also found Fogelberg through FM. After hearing Souvenirs, I went back and bought the earlier stuff. I loved, loved Netherlands. I liked Phoenix well enough, but Innocent Age cooled my enthusiasm. I like it more stripped down. I saw him three times in concert. The first time it was just Dan and his piano and guitar. Brilliant. I saw him in Dallas with a full band. Not so great. Then I saw him at a winery near Portland about ten years ago. Just Dan and his guitar and piano. Great. I can’t write or play songs like Fogelberg’s. I’m not good enough. But Dan was my way back through Neil Young and others and eventually to Dylan. And these are the kinds of songs I want to write.
Gaucho—Steely Dan. The Donald Fagan groove. This was different for me. I had heard Pretzel Logic and liked Do It Again and Reelin in the Years (one of my favorite all time songs). But Aja and Gaucho sent me into a new kind of music. Babylon Sisters, Hey Nineteen. And then Fagan’s first solo album was genius to me. I love the blue eyed soul, the slick rhythms and harmonies. Smart, smart music, layered and textured.