The Music Blog: The Drop Zone

Some time in 1997 or 1998 I settled down with my then wife to watch some movies at home. Our toddler was with my mom and we had gone to rent movies. We rented a few and both of us really enjoyed Murder at 1600 with Wesley Snipes. Now truthfully, I liked Wesley Snipes movies. Like some types of music or bands we need movies where we don’t have to think, the plot is simple the good guys win and get the girl and that’s the kind of movies Snipes did. I still use “What’s your boggle?” from the Wesley Snipes, Sylvester Stallone movie Demolition Man. It is my favorite question to ask my dog. Now this particular night my wife and I watched this fantastic movie about a murder in the White House. After the movie, my wife, a nurse asked me the question “So I don’t get it. The murder happened in the early hours of the morning not at 4pm. Where does the title come from?” I stood there looking at her and then it struck me all that military time nurses use and said with a straight face, “The White House is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.” Yea it still took her a second to realize that should have been common knowledge. I will get back to Mr. Snipes though.

Look I get that I am pretty weird. Sometimes I don’t like a song or a band because of the name of the song or band. I will judge a band based on their name. I know and yea I pay for it sometimes. Had Hootie and the Blowfish not had a huge hit song on their first album I would have never bought a single thing from them. No, this isn’t a story about Hootie, or the blowfish but the band I am writing about was loved by Hootie, and I guess the Blowfish too.  In 1994 Wesley Snipes, yea remember I said I would get back to him starred in the movie Drop Zone.  Now, to be fair as much as I mostly liked Snipe’s movies this one just wasn’t very good, but since the theme centered around skydiving some of the cinematography was breathtaking. There was a song too, a great song that was up tempo and seemed perfect for the movie. That song was about all I took away from that movie, well that and I didn’t want to ever skydive. I searched for the song and found one of those bands with one of those names that I was all not into and had avoided even when other people suggested I give them a try. I had judged them and now here they were with a song that was stuck in my head.  Sure enough the song was on their latest album which had also been released in 1994. The name of the song was Fall Down, the album Dulcinea, and the band Toad the Wet Sprocket. I must have listened to that song ten times before I ever listened to the rest of that cd. Now somewhere my friend Steve who I have known since childhood is squirming because I already know he loves this album. The first song on the album is Fly From Heaven and that song, all by itself made me fall in love with the band. Right about now Steve is nodding his head vigorously in agreement. The song is just that good and for that matter so is the album. If you have never heard the song, find it now and listen. That album I just cherished for a long long time and that was my journey with Toad the Wet Sprocket. I just didn’t need to buy anymore. Then somewhere around 2004 while I was listening to that album for the one millionth time I asked myself why I had never bought another, because I knew they had other really good songs like Walk on the Ocean, All I want and Hold Her Down. The time seemed right so I bought their albums and loved every single one.

Like many fans I follow my favorite bands on Twitter and/or Facebook including Toad the Wet Sprocket and Glen Phillips the sInger and a primary songwriter for the band.  During the pandemic Glen Phillips has put on twice weekly short shows from his home. Each show lasts about 30 minutes and each show allows you to donate money to that day’s charity which he always speaks about. Over the past year he has raised thousands of dollars for charity. He takes requests, sometimes has guests, doesn’t just play Toad songs but also songs that are covers and even songs that he has written lately. He is always kind, patient, great with fans and like clockwork he plays twice weekly. He has helped keep many of us sane, often playing in the daytime for a quick respite from worry and stress and for good causes too. I think that says a lot about him.

Whether he did those things are not I would still love this band that I almost never knew and I owe it all to Wesley Snipes.

Mike out

The Music Blog: Comfort Food

So, if you have ever read any of my music blogs then you will know a few things about me. You know how much I love music, all music of all genres. After all, why else would I have a music blog? You also know that the way I am hard wired has a lot to do with music. My memories are all wrapped up in music, categorized neatly, well actually sometimes chaotically. Most of the songs or bands I rave about have strong memories attached to them; heartbreak, sadness, joy, moments in time all recalled by a song or an album. I know more than a few of you feel the same.

There are few artists I love that don’t have some great memory attached to them, or a memory of a girl or something. It would also be a little disingenuous to say that an artist I love doesn’t have any memory attached to the music.  So, I won’t do that to you.  There is at least one artist who I love though that the memories associated with the artist are completely neutral.  There is no heartbreak, no grief, no sadness, no moment of fun with friends, nothing scary or tragic.  Every memory completely neutral and maybe that males a little sense considering the artist.

I remember hearing the song Sweet Baby James on the radio. I was young, nine or ten years old. It was so easy to sing, rock a bye sweet baby James. It was just a great song, and still is. I remember talking about James Taylor and Carly Simon and thinking with my young brain that the two of them being married made sense. They should have been married. As far as memories go that’s about it.

When my parents went shopping and offered to buy me an album, meaning one album, there were usually 10-20 albums I could think of before any James Taylor. Later, after I was working and making my own money and deciding how to spend, James Taylor also wasn’t high on my list.  Yet , he always had songs on the radio, great songs that you could not help but sing along to; songs like Fire and Rain, How Sweet It Is, Shower the People,  and Handy Man to name just a small few. James Taylor always seemed to have a song on the radio and no matter what was going on in the world or in your life you could stop and sing along, or drive and sing along. For just those brief few minutes you could leave the world behind.  The music of James Taylor is like comfort food.

In 1991 James Taylor released the album New Moon Shine. Right about now you are saying so what? I said that like in 1969 we landed on the moon. It is significant though because for the first time I walked into a music store and bought it. Me buying an album not surprising right? This time though I walked into that store with the purpose and intention to buy that album. I had fallen in love with the song Copperline; in fact it’s still my favorite James Taylor song. Buying that album made me wonder why I hadn’t bought a record of his before. From that point on I did start to slowly build up my collection of his works.

James Taylor isn’t flashy, he never has been. The nice thing for me is that the music doesn’t make me remember things that happened long ago. I can just listen to his music sing along and fill myself with harmony, a lot like comfort food.

Are you ready?

Think about your favorite comfort food, chicken and dumplings, soup on a cold day, your mother’s meatloaf maybe even some amazing chicken fried steak.

Here we go, the albums of James Taylor.

Mike out