The Music Blog: Not Edgar Allen

There used to be a disc jockey on radio back in the day, station KDGE in Dallas named Jessie. I loved her. She had this great voice but more importantly she would advocate strongly for the bands or artists that she loved. To me that was the real attraction to being a disc jockey. Now understand I know the record industry pushes certain artists on radio stations, they pay for airtime. They pay the bills so radio stations have always bowed to them a bit, but I never got a sense that Jessie did that. Sure she played songs she was told to play but the songs she raved about, the artists that she spent her time passionately talking about; those were here artists. Almost without exception her choices led me to new music and inevitably it was always music I loved. Jessie’s show was where I first heard Poe.

I don’t know if there is a cooler chick on the planet for me. She has that something, tall slender and angular and fiercely independent. She has a style that I love, a presence undeniable for me a voice that is magic to me and writes songs that I love deeply. I would probably have her baby and wonder if she needs or wants a blind faithful servant willing to do anything. Ooops I digress a bit. Yea I got a thing for her.

Poe arrived on the alternative music scene in the mid 90’s along with the mad rush for angry female artists. I would not describe her music as being angry, instead I see it as a declaration of female independence, fierce independence. Poe goes her own way. It’s easy to see these days the powerful influence of social media with the multiple platforms for expressing your individuality and influencing people. In the mid 90’s there wasn’t those platforms, yet Poe built much of her base through her interactive website that included her personal communication with fans and sharing things about herself and her music. It built a fanbase before she ever released an album. There was always a buzz about her. She was and still is a creative force.

She is the daughter of Polish film director Tad Danielewski and she lived all over the world until she was 8 when her father moved the family to Provo, Utah. Her parents divorced when she was 16 and she moved to New York independently while trying to re-connect with her mother. She finished school in Utah by mailing in assignments and then attended Princeton. Her brother is Mark Z. Danielewski who she later allowed to butcher in my opinion her best song. He is a novelist. She was born Anne Danielewski.

She began collaborating as a teenager with noted DJ’s  JDilla  and RJ Rice and in 1994  she was signed to Modern Records on the strength of a demo. In 1995 Poe released her first album Hello on the strength of the single Trigger Happy Jack. It was a terrific debut album and the song I have always loved is Angry Johnny. Now Angry Johnny has one of the truly great lines ever. She sings “I wanna blow you” insert pause “away.” I have been told that there is a lot of innuendo with that line but I don’t know what they are talking about.

Hello is a wonderful album and because of Poe’s great online presence she built a big following. It was also the time of the alternative female singers and she fit that mold nicely. Her second album came five years later in 2000. She discovered a boxful of audio tapes of her late father and began listening to them . This impacted her and is especially apparent in some of her lyrics for the follow-up album Haunted which was released in October of 2000. If you listen to the song Haunted it will give you chills or to use a JLo term goosies.

When haunted was released I still did not know Poe’s music except for the song Angry Johnny. My favorite DJ Jessie introduced me to the song Hey Pretty and I absolutely fell in love with Poe. Hey I would be willing to have her baby. It is absolutely a great song. If you have never heard it then do a search and listen to it but be careful. In 2001 because the song was so popular Poe re-mixed it only dubbed her brother’s voice over the song reading from his stupid novel thus ruining a wonderful song. Yea yea some people like it but I hear his voice and I want to scream. I won’t listen to it.  The original is 100% better.

Poe had a lot of record label problems and maybe that turned her off the entire industry but for awhile she disappeared. Somewhere around 2014 she began to do some shows but there is no indication she will ever do another album and really she is media savvy enough that she could just stick to digital releases.

She is one of my favorite artists. I encourage you to give her a listen. She writes great music has a unique wicked cool voice. I had a friend tell me once that they didn’t like her music until one day we were sitting around chatting and he asked me what I was playing because he loved it. He was shocked. It was Poe.

Mike out

The Music Blog: Black Francis and the Real Deal

So imagine a kid from the east coast, a high school age kid and his father gets a job working as a high level educator in the west so the family moves. He is angry but his dad buys him a ham radio to stay in contact with his friends back east only no one really wants to do that. The school that his father raves about is really a horrible place. The principal and vice principal are quick to expel undesirables all for better test scores which means more attention and more money. Its not about education. Full of anger and angst, the teen age kid begins to make purchases at Radio Shack and starts an underground radio station.  He picks a frequency and sets a few safeguards in place to avoid the FCC and starts at the same time each night. Some nights he stays on a few minutes and sometimes longer. His target audience is the high school students that are his peers and especially the undesirables. He introduces them to new music and the ideas of standing up for yourself speaking out mostly against the school. He focuses on certain administrators and he suddenly gains a bigger and bigger audience. He begins every show with Leonard Cohen’s Everybody Knows but his show plays hardcore punk and new underground music most everyone at the school has never heard. He plays Concrete Blonde, The Descendants, Cowboy Junkies and when he is particularly melancholy a song titled Wave of Mutilation. That is the premise and the basic story line for the 1990 film Pump Up the Volume starring Christian Slater.

For the longest time Wave of Mutilation was like a prayer for me. I played it all the time, starting my day with it, the first song I played when I got off work or went on a date and before I went to bed.  It just resonated with me. I loved that song, and I still do. It still means something to me, something always undefined but a something that makes my heart slow and quiets my mind.

Black Francis and Joey Santiago were two friends from Boston who both played guitar and who wanted to form a band. Black Francis (Charles Thompson IV) had been writing songs and they were looking for a bass player. They put out an advertisement looking for a bass player who liked Peter, Paul and Mary and the band Husker Du. Kim Deal was the only one who answered the advertisement. She didn’t own a bass, as she played guitar but she loved the songs that Black Francis was writing.  So the Pixies were born. They recorded a string of albums beginning with Come On Pilgrim in 1988. It took time to really build a following for their brand of music, a mix of surfer rock, pop and punk. There was tension almost immediately. It was Black Francis’ band and he was both the singer and the song writer. At one point Francis threw a guitar at Deal on stage during a performance.

Yet while I love the songs the Pixies recorded, the albums they made the vocals of Black Francis, the humor the absolute sarcasm of the words it was Kim Deal who made it work. Its often her voice that stands out as background to Black Francis. It is most certainly that wonderful combination that made them special. Monkey Gone to Heaven is a perfect example. Without Deal that song would not stand out although it might make you chuckle. From the first album with the great song Caribou to the album Surfer Rosa which is wonderful with songs like Gigantic, Where is My Mind? And Tony’s Theme its Deal’s happy vocals in contrast to the darkness that is Black Francis that make the Pixies special.

In 1993 the Pixies broke up. Deal learned of this via fax from Black Francis, which is quite hilarious. Kim Deal had a side project the Breeders and she went on to score a majpr hit bigger than anything the Pixies had done with the song Cannonball. During this break up period the Pixies popularity grew until they finally got back together for reunion shows. They recorded a couple of singles and toured for years but Deal refused to record an album and eventually Black Francis fired her for good. Since then the Pixies have recorded without her beginning with the album Indie Cindie and the music is the same, good songs full of humor and satire but no Kim Deal to make them work the way they should. I still love them although to me the music is less vibrant.

This is one of those bands that you would love for them to find a way to make it work but they won’t, and that’s just the nature of the business.

Mike Out

The Music Blog: The Floyd

Imagine if you will being an English band in the 60’s and it’s the height of the British Invasion. You are not even a widely popular band in England but America is so hungry for British bands that you see yourself as being like the Rolling Stones. It could happen. If you can make it in the United States you can make it anywhere, your career is set. So you are excited and you are thrilled when your first appearance is on an American television show. They treat you so well and everyone is so nice you can have anything that you want. Finally its time to tape the show. You take your positions instruments in hand and the director explains what is going to happen. He says ready action and you start playing except your guitarist, singer, your front man the one you are depending on to get the girls screaming with that dark curly hair and those sultry eyes freezes, literally like a statue. Cut the director shouts and he goes through all the directions again and your singer says yea we got it of course we are totally ready. And action, and he freezes and this continues for a couple of more attempts and then they are done with you and its all over before you ever got started. Back to England you go and no one even your singer really knows what happened.

Back in England you get back to work but you find things are different. Something is wrong with your singer and you urge him to stop with the drugs. Some nights you go on and everything is fine but some nights you go on and you play one song and he sings another, or he plays a different song than the one you are playing. You hire a friend of the band to be ready to play if your singer can’t which seems to happen with greater frequency until one day without telling him you just stop swinging by to pick him up and you move on sadly because he is your mate, your friend your collaborator your front man.

The story of Syd Barrett is tragic and always makes me a little sad but truthfully the day they left him behind they got better as a band exponentially.  There are a lot of Syd Barrett stories but my favorite is when Pink Floyd were recording the song Shine On, a song about Barrett they arrived to find this strange man sitting in the studio, shaved head and heavy set it took them a moment to realize it was Barrett. They all laughed and slapped him on the back the way that friends do and then he quietly got up and left never having said a word even to acknowledge how he got there or why. It was odd too like he knew they were recording a song about him.

Pink Floyd.

If you are my age then you know them well. Most people love them and a lot of people are quite fanatical about them. Depending on who you talk to they may have recorded the greatest album of all time in Dark Side of the Moon. Most everyone loves it, and yes that means me too but its really so unique that I put the album in some sort of special category all its own. There were two albums where I grew up during the 70s that everyone just had to have. It might be different in your region but at least for me when I look back Frampton Comes Alive and Pink Floyd’s The Wall were albums everyone had. I had them both and it seemed like whenever you got in someone’s car they had The Wall in their repertoire. We heard the song Money on the radio a lot but outside of that I didn’t know Dark Side of the Moon well until after college. I am not a Roger Waters fan either so The Wall is an okay album for me but I don’t love it. There are three Pink Floyd albums I put above all others in the Pink Floyd collection and I will talk about them but not in the order they were released.

I was in my room one day doing something, probably building a model airplane and listening to the radio when I heard about Pink Floyd releasing an album. Up until that time I had probably heard the song Money but not really registered who it was as I was a lot more interested in Chicago and Elton John. Pink Floyd was releasing an album and I didn’t care except they were also releasing a giant inflated pig to mark it. I wasn’t really of an age to understand that balloons were going to come down eventually so everyday I went outside and scanned the sky looking for that pig. The album released was Animals. It was one f the first albums I ever owned on 8 track. Yea yea I am that fricking old. I later owned it on cassette and on CD and now on vinyl. I love that album and it has my favorite Floyd song, Pigs (Three Different Ones). There are only four songs on that album. I love all of them but Pigs (Three Different Ones) is just an anthem like song to me. I used to have this wonderful collie and he would go nuts when the song Dogs would play because he would hear the barking. No other dog has ever done that.

In 2001 I began working in cube land working short term disability claims which I was very good at because of all my medical expertise and experience. To help me get through the day I bought a small CD player/radio and one of the CDs that I began to listen to regularly at work was A Momentary Lapse of Reason. I fell in love with this album and partly because there is no Roger Waters who I really dislike. Its almost a haunting album to me and its mostly because that’s the way I find David Gilmour’s vocals. I have really loved Gilmour since I heard his 1978 solo album which featured the song There’s No Way Out of Here, still a favorite for me. He is an amazing guitarist and I love to listen to him play. That album, A Momentary Lapse of Reason has the song On the Turning Away and when it plays I stop whatever I am doing. It just hits me that way, makes me stop and listen.  That entire album just works for me.

The third album I fell in love with I already had and had heard a hundred times. Maybe one day I listened to it and just heard it differently than before, but Wish You Were Here became such a great album to me when I moved to Atlanta in December of 2006. I didn’t discover the album then I had heard it many times before and I loved the song Wish You Were Here, especially Gilmour’s guitar work and those great vocals. It made me feel closer to my son who was still living back in Texas. Shine on (You Crazy Diamond) the aforementioned Barrett tribute song is also a wonderful song.

I am betting that if you had to guess those would not have been your choices for Pink Floyd’s most cherished albums but then it’s a blog about my music collection and I never do anything just to go with the crowd.  I am also not one of those people who sit around dreaming that one day Pink Floyd will get back together. Quite honestly, I just don’t care.  There are not many bands I sit around and long for them to get back together and the ones I do are probably bands you don’t care about.

That’s the way it goes.

Mike out

The Music Blog: Heartbreaker

When I was 15 my parents divorced and for a short very troubled time in my life I lived with my dad which culminated in me running away before moving in with my mom. My dad is a great guy but I was rebelling against everything and he was single for the first time in a long time. My dad loves music but we don’t generally agree in music much. He could listen to Willie’s Place on Sirius XM all the time. He always loved to go to the music store back in the day and one day he bought something because the store was playing it and he liked it only to find when he got home that he didn’t like it at all so he gave it to me. It was Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I didn’t like it either. I can’t remember if it was the first or the second album both of which I love now but then I hated it. That colored how I felt about Petty for a long time. To me Petty is like David Bowie. I love the hits but when I would go and buy music there was absolutely always another artist or artists that I wanted to spend my money on more. So for the longest time I didn’t have a lot of Petty albums. I have gone twice to buy music where I was looking for Tom Petty, once to buy his first solo album and again for what I think is his best album Into the Great Wide Open.

I have two friends, two best good friends (Gumpism) who both love Tom Petty. In fact they revere him. I asked them both to share a story or some thoughts about Petty. The first is from my friend Scott who is like me in so many ways when it comes to music. It’s such a huge part of our life that most of our memories revolve around music.  So this from Scott:

June 1st, 1987. The lights went up.

I had always been a Tom Petty fan. I wasn’t a “late arriver” but it was during a time when I wasn’t buying much music. No steady cash flow.  That is until 1981 when I went away to school. My cash flow consisted of what I could embezzle from my parents. They thought, while on campus, I was paying for necessities, but what I was really doing was paying for long distance phone calls to my girlfriend and buying vinyl. Every time the end of a semester rolled around and I sold back my books and I would walk the two blocks from the book store down to the Sound Warehouse. One day I walked in while they were having what was known as a “midline” sale; lots of albums for less than five dollars. While perusing the big blue bins I struck gold in the form of Tom Petty and Heartbreakers’ first five albums. Immediately they were in my arms. That vinyl sounded so sweet on my hand-me-down Electrophonic stereo system with built in 8-track and shitty speakers. Many hours were spent with headphones on, being entranced by and memorizing the words to all the songs I had never heard before. Up to that point I had only heard what was on the radio and up to that point the radio satiated my rock and roll lust. It would be three long years before Petty put out another record and I bought it brand new on the day of release.

In June of 1986, Petty rolled through town with Bob Dylan. Having never seen Dylan before, I purchased tickets for my before mentioned girlfriend and myself, and we hauled it up to Reunion Arena. What truly blew me away about the performance that night was not Bob Dylan, but his “backing band” Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. It sounded so good, so free, and so right. At the end of their warm up for Dylan, Tom said they would be back and I set my sights on this “next time.”

One year later in June of 1987, Tom and the Heartbreakers came back around. Once again my wife to be and I took our pony to Reunion Arena and we waited for the show to start. If there was an opening band, I can’t tell you who it was. I didn’t care then and I still don’t now.

The lights went up.

What I remember most about the presentation that night were the lights. It wasn’t some big elaborate lighting show/production. There were no whirling lasers or huge screens, just a band under the warm glow of strings of drop lights. They looked like strings of Christmas lights stretching from the stage to the audience. No glitz, no pizzazz; just an honest and humble rock and roll performance, like you might see in someone’s back yard. The lights reached out to the fans and even though we were probably pretty high up in the arena, they made you feel like you were part of something intimate. It was just a cozy show by your favorite home town band. The first few notes of Breakdown were heard and the crowd roared. Tom started the song but the crowd soon took over. That was the first time I heard him utter the words “Man, you might put me out of a job.” The rest of the night was spent playing classics along with a couple of new singles. My heart poured to every note. Nothing was lost on me.

That night encrusted me as a devote Petty-ite. I knew the magic of his words and I felt them every time I heard them. Not near enough was heard from him. He experimented with his sound but in the end there was always that foundation, those roots, and that honesty.

I still turn it up. This is what it’s supposed to be.

 

Thank you Scott. Good story huh? I remember when I heard the news that Tom Petty had died how shocked I felt. It compared to the death of Prince to me in how shocking it was. I had no doubts that it was an accident. After the shock wore off I thought about my friend Wayne who I knew would take it very hard. Like Scott, Wayne was more than just a fan and I knew how he felt about Petty. Some artists’ death we take harder than others. I knew Wayne would also want to share his thoughts on Petty.

This was something Wayne wrote after Petty’s death.

Monday, Tom Petty died unexpectedly of a massive heart attack. When I heard the news I was devastated. Here’s why.

I have been an avid fan of Tom Petty since I was a teenager in the 1970s. For 40 years he just refused to go away. He kept cranking out fantastic albums filled with great songs. His music has been with me during every major period of my life.

But there is another reason I have admired Tom Petty so much. Among musicians he is probably one of the best leaders the rock music industry has ever known. He has given us examples of leadership that all of us can apply to our own careers.

Here are 5.1 Leadership Lessons I have learned from Tom Petty’s 40 year career. 

Lesson 1.0 Build a Team.

If you’re going to build something great, don’t go solo. Build with a team. Early on, Tom Petty made it clear the he wanted a “band.” He didn’t want to be a solo artist with a revolving door of session musicians and hired touring bands. That is why when the record label in the mid-70s insisted his records be “Tom Petty” records, he pushed back and insisted they be “Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers.”

In business, you can never accomplish anything of significance alone. Whatever you are trying to accomplish, form a team.

Lesson1.1 But, Lead the Team.

But if you form a team, be the leader of that team. Petty was not a dictator with the Heartbreakers. He understood their genius. Everyone contributed. Everyone had their say. But in the end, Petty knew he had to be the one to close the deal, push out the finished product, and have the final say. You should be the same way with your team.

Lesson 2.0 Build a Team with People you can Love and Care About.

If you’re going to build a team, find people you can love and care about, and who love and care about you, and the mission of your team. Petty was originally from Gainesville Florida. His guitar player, keyboardist, drummer and bass player were all fellow southerners like him. I am not suggesting you need to restrict yourself to working with people from your home town, but you do need to build a team with people that you would feel comfortable taking home to meet your family. Petty and his band were friends. When he died on Monday, most of the band was there in the hospital room with Petty’s wife and daughters.

Lesson 2.1 But, Be Willing to Make Tough Decisions with your Friends.

You build your team with friends and people you love, but if they can’t do the job or don’t share the team vision, let them go. Be nice about it. Help them find a new opportunity if you can. But do it.

Early on, Petty went to California looking for a record deal with a band named Mudcrutch, that was made up of his home town friends. After trying out for several labels, he was finally told his band was not good enough to get a deal, but Petty was. Petty made the tough decision to disband Mudcrutch. He then formed the Heartbreakers. He said it hurt to send his friends packing, but he had to make the tough decision to see his vision become true.

Also, after the Heartbreakers hit super star status, their original drummer Stan Lynch decided he didn’t like Petty or the Heartbreakers anymore. He became a chronic complainer and trouble maker for the band. Petty fired him.

Petty would later find ways to honor and help his friends from Mudcrutch. And he always spoke well of his former drummer Lynch. He even invited Lynch to rejoin the Heartbreakers for one night when they were inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame.

When you work with your friends you have to be ready to let them go. It’s the hard part of “business friendships.” But we spend most of our awake time at work, might as well spend it with people you like, love, and care about.

Lesson 3.0 Don’t Back Down.

Before Petty had become a superstar he got into a huge fist fight with his record label MCA. He went as far as to file for personal bankruptcy to get his way. It was unheard of for a young up and coming musician without a platinum record to go up against his record label. But Petty did and won. It reshaped forever how record deals were done in rock music. Petty would have other disputes with his label, and always got his way.

I am not suggesting you sue your employer or get into fights with everyone. But there is something to be said for having a laser focus, and a commitment to fairness, and to doing things the right way.

Lesson 3.1 But, Be Nice When you’re not Backing Down.

The music industry is a rough and tumble world. Your industry probably is also. There are many stories of Petty standing his ground but being nice about it. One that comes to mind is when the George W Bush campaign started using Petty’s song, “Don’t Back Down.” He didn’t make a huge deal about it, but Petty did have his people send the Bush campaign a letter that essentially said, “I am not political, and I don’t want my songs being coopted by politicians. I am respectfully asking you to stop using my song for at your political rallies. I can’t make you stop playing my song at your rallies, but if you don’t I will endorse your opponent and come out against you.” Firm, but polite. Bush backed down. Petty went away and was not heard from again in that election.

There are other examples of people using Petty’s music. Several times other artist took a Petty song and kept the music, but changed the words. Petty’s response was always the same. “No hard feelings. These things happen. List me as the coauthor of the song and include me on your royalties.”

In your business life you face similar challenges. Someone oversteps their bounds and needs to be confronted. Sometimes it’s easy to let others run you over. And sometimes, pushing back hard, and roughing people up seems to make sense. Petty showed a middle ground. Tough lesson, but one we need to follow. Try to take that middle road. Don’t back down, but don’t overdo it.

Lesson 4.0 Embrace Change and New Technology

Petty’s first platinum record hit in 1980, just as the music world was going through its biggest change up to that point. Petty came up in a music industry where the formula for success was built around record sales, radio hits, and touring the country playing convention centers. MTV changed all that. The music video, and television interviews became as important, and some would argue, more important than radio. With his gawky appearance and funny southern accent, few predicted Petty could survive this seismic shift in the music industry. But he did. If fact he was hugely successful with it. Many would argue that of all the rock bands who found their start in the 1970s, Petty made the most of MTV and the Music Video genre.

Lesson 4.1 Don’t just Embrace New Technology, Be Really Good at it.

The 1980s are littered with horrible, cheesy, rock videos put out by really talented and accomplished bands. Many musicians saw the rock video as an expensive nuisance, and a distraction. Not Petty. He was not an early adopter, but when he started making videos for MTV, they were innovative and interesting. He also did something else no one had done yet. He hired actual known actors like Johnny Depp and Kim Basinger to star in them. https://www.wired.com/story/rip-tom-petty-video-pioneer/

Today you are confronted with social media, crowd sourcing, ride sharing, and much more. Like Petty, your goal must be to not only engage these new technologies, but to be the best at them.

Lesson 5.0 Collaborate, Collaborate, Then Collaborate some more. 

The list of musicians Tom Petty collaborated with is breathtaking. From George Harrison, to Bob Dylan, to Roy Orbison, to Johnny Cash, to Stevie Nicks, and many more. The list just goes on and on and on. His most famous collaboration was the Traveling Wilburys with the aforementioned Orbison, Dylan, Harrison and Jeff Lynn. In your career you may not be offered many chances to work outside of your circle. So instead of waiting for opportunity to be offered to you, go out and find them yourself. The Traveling Wilburys didn’t call Petty, he called them, before they were even formed. There are several legends about how the band came to be, but the fact is that Petty had stepped out of his comfort zone to hang around some of the greats in is his industry. As a result, he was there to seize the Willbury opportunity when it arose. You should do the same. http://www.travelingwilburys.com/

Lesson 5.1 When Collaborating, Don’t be Afraid to Take a Backup Role

Twice, after becoming platinum selling super stars, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers became someone else’s backup band. The first time was in the late 80s when they spent a year touring with Bob Dylan as his back up touring band. They played Bob Dylan music, and Petty sang back up to Bob Dylan songs. Petty said they did it because Dylan asked them to do so, and Petty and the Heartbreakers thought it would be fun. But Petty later said the experience made him and his band better musicians. He also said it helped them get out of a creative slump. Petty was not wrong about that. In the years to follow, his music career would reach a new peak as he put out some of his best music ever.

The second time Petty and the Heartbreakers played back up, was for one of Johnny Cash’s last, and best records. They received little notice for this collaboration, but said they did it as a tribute to Cash whom they all considered a music hero and friend.

In your business world you are probably surrounded by people far more successful than you. Don’t be afraid to become friends with them. And don’t be afraid to collaborate with them. Be their equal if you can, or be their back up if you must. But be around greatness as often as possible.

Final Thoughts:

Most of us will probably never play a guitar or write a song as well as Tom Petty. But all of us can take away some leadership lessons from his remarkable life.

#RIPTomPetty

Wayne gave me permission to edit that and take excerpts but in the end I felt that would not be fair. I am not going to ask someone to share their thoughts on an artist they love and then cut it to pieces.

One more thing about Tom Petty, here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area we have a Tom Petty cover band called Petty Theft. They are terrific and I have been lucky to see them a few times all with either Wayne or Scott.  The first time I saw them was with Wayne. At the time I had maybe five Petty albums and generally he was an artist I liked but as I said not one who I went in search of his music. I went that night mostly because I wanted to hang out and hear Last Dance with Mary Jane. I was surprised to hear so many Petty songs I knew and some I didn’t, what you might call deep cuts. They did play Two Gunslingers which is my favorite song on Into the Great Wide Open. I came away with a new found respect for what Tom Petty had done. I started collecting his music and discovering an artist I had mostly ignored. I will never love Petty the way my two friends do but that isnot the point. It’s never really too late to discover an artist. Thanks Tom Petty your music carries on.

I want to thank my friends Scott and Wayne for sharing their thoughts on an artist they really love.

Mike out

 

 

The Music Blog: Like the Mythical Phoenix

Have you ever wondered why some bands are able to continue and some are not when a member dies. It certainly depends on which band member dies but sometimes it seems off. INXS tried to replace Micahel Hutchence. Alice in Chains did replace Layne Staley although many Staley fans refuse to acknowledge the band even though it’s as much Jerry Cantrell’s band as anyone’s. Led Zeppelin knew immediately they would not continue without John Bonham. Mick and Keith have always agreed that if the Stones lost Charlie Watts they could not be a band. You can go back through the history of music and look at it through any window you like but it still isn’t easy to explain.

When Andrew Wood died Mother Love Bone didn’t even contemplate moving forward. They disbanded and went their separate ways. For Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard that meant retreating back to the home of Stone’s parents or maybe it was his grandparents where they disappeared into the basement and contemplated chunking it all. They wondered if they had it in them to give it another try.  Ultimately they started playing music again and recorded a cassette of music that they sent out to their contacts in the music business.  That tape made its way into the hands of Eddie Vedder who liked what he heard and added lyrics and sent it back with a letter. Jeff and Stone responded and Vedder made his way to Seattle from San Francisco. He arrived penniless and without a place to stay. One of the first things these three new musical friends did was help out Chris Cornell on the Temple of the Dog Tribute album to Andrew Wood.  They also participated in the filming of Cameron Crowe’s Seattle film Singles portraying Matt Dillon’s band.

They also went to work adding a drummer and more notably guitarist Mike McCready. The result was an album that I believe is one of the 10 greatest albums ever made. It is so close to perfect and it retains its edge even after all these years.  When the song Evenflow was released it took only one listen for me to know I wanted the album and I bought it as fast as I could. Back then it was not unusual for me to buy ten or even more albums at a time.  I could not stop playing the album. It was so good and it was one of those albums where there just wasn’t a bad song which clearly the label agreed with because there were so many singles.  The album made Temple of the Dog take off and it made the song Crazy Mary which is my favorite Pearl Jam song an underground hit as well.  Pearl Jam could do no wrong. I love the song Alive and I can’t help but smile at the memory of one of my all-time favorite patients, Gianna, sitting in front of a speaker and singing it at the top of her lungs. She was such a free spirit.

I like so many others waited for that follow up album and when it came it completely surprised me. Somehow Pearl Jam completely reinvented themselves and if you expect Vs. to sound like 10 you will be greatly disappointed. I loved it. Pearl Jam kept doing that, creating music that was always theirs, never really bowing to corporate label pressure. They fought a war with Ticketmaster and released multiple live concerts. Most of these were double cds in stripped down packaging, no pictures. I looked for them and I bought a few of them. I think they are wonderful.

That’s the pattern for them too. You never know what direction the music will take from album to album and their efforts have produced a string of hits. Listening to their greatest hits album is absolutely amazing. They are my favorite American rock band.  There are a lot of Mother Love Bone and Andrew Wood fans out there. I wrote before that the two largest groups of pure music fanatics I know are for Andrew Wood and Layne Staley. Most of them hate the band Pearl Jam and treat them as if they owe Andrew or even his family something.  I love Andrew Wood. I love Mother Love Bone but Pearl Jam doesn’t owe him that kind of homage. Andy gave everything he had and that’s all there was all we are ever going to get. I have never heard Pearl Jam, be disparaging. They did not slight him at the Hall of Fame. In fact Stone and Jeff freely gave of their time for the documentary Malfunkshun, and through Stone’s efforts and backing the music of Mother Love Bone and Malfunkshun has been remastered and released again. Andy has been gone more years than he was alive and its way past time to move on from that ship. I love music enough that I can love both bands and Ten remains to me one of those amazing very special albums.

They have maintained their Seattle roots. They have continued on, a voice of a generation when so many of their peers have fallen by the wayside. I sometimes think that they carry the mantle of the great American rock band Aerosmith, ready to bring their music to generation after generation. And they began, oh they began like the mythical Phoenix rising from the ashes of Mother Love Bone to be something different and something better.

Mike out