Categories » music

 
 
 

Being There

Categories: Midd Blogosphere, music

Matt’s post about being a fan called to mind the first rock concerts I went to as a teenager. I purchased my first record—a 45—when I was in sixth grade (“Grazing in the Grass” by the Friends of Distinction) and my first album shortly thereafter (by Blood Sweat & Tears).  But it wasn’t until I was in high school that I went to a concert on my own.  I remember going with my family to see Judy Collins at the Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Fall, Ohio, about 30 miles outside Cleveland.  I must have been fourteen or fifteen, and this was a pretty tame affair: lawn seating, blankets, and white wine (for the adults).

My next concert was much different, and marked my first real outing as a rock fan.

The big event was something called “The World Series of Rock”—one of several all-day concerts held in the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium in the 1970s. Torn down in 1996, the Stadium was a cavernous structure that held over 80,000 people and served as home for the Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Browns.

For the management of the Indians and the Browns, the World Series of Rock must have been a questionable proposition, regardless of the revenue opportunities, since the concert brought thousands of people on to the field and chewed up the turf. But for concertgoers—at least for me, a sixteen year old—it was a kind of delirious mayhem.

The first World Series of Rock concerts took place in the summer of 1974, and I attended two of them. The first included the Beach Boys, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Joe Walsh, and REO Speedwagon. The second featured Santana, the Band, Jesse Colin Young, and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.

The crowds that attended these concerts were huge and rowdy (drugs and alcohol had their effect), and I remember feeling exhilarated—and a little fearful—when I ventured onto the infield and was engulfed by a mob of people.  It turns out my apprehensions had some merit since several people ended up getting seriously hurt when they jumped or fell from the second deck of the stadium.

There is nothing like a live concert to drive home the sensory pleasures of rock ‘n roll. It’s a full body experience, especially if you are an adolescent male.  I remember hearing Lyrnyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” for the first time (in the smoking lounge of my high school) and thinking of it as some kind of revelation (just short of “Stairway to Heaven”).  Seeing/hearing it performed live at the Cleveland Stadium—with dual guitar solos—did not disappoint.

The fact that I saw this concert with thousands of other people raises a question that Matt suggests in his post.  Can you be a music fan by yourself?  Or does being a fan necessarily mean being part of a larger collective?

Being a Fan

Categories: Midd Blogosphere, music

I would like to take a second to discuss this photograph. And, yes, I can hear you: “Here he goes again. First, procrastination and now college hoops. What, exactly, does this post have to do with music.”

Well, I’ll tell you. It has to do with being a fan, specifically how being a fan of something or someone when you are a kid is impossible to replicate in adulthood.

This picture was taken in December, 1982; I was 12 years old and a rabid fan of the University of Virginia basketball team. Growing up an hour or so away from Charlottesville at a time when the Cavaliers were one of the best teams in the country and featured the best player in America, Ralph Sampson, I lived and died with UVA hoops. Nothing was as important. And while I still follow the Cavaliers and consider myself a big fan of both their football and basketball teams, it’s not the same. I was reminded of this the second I took a look at this photo, which an old friend pointed out to me with the message, “Get ready for some serious nostalgia.”

As soon as I saw this image of Ralph battling with Patrick Ewing under the basket in what was then called “The Game of the Century,” I was hit with a wave of emotion that is near impossible to describe. Seeing that uniform, and not just that uniform but that uniform in that particular moment, frozen in time, made me feel for a nanosecond like I was 12 again, and there was no more important thing in my orbit than the fate of the UVA basketball team. And then the feeling faded, like a wisp of steam evaporating in the air.

Had I been a music nerd rather than a sports nerd at that time, I imagine that I’d have a similar reaction to artists who I first heard as a young adolescent, when one’s love for something is unencumbered by, well, real life. As it is, I still have visceral reactions to albums that I remember my parents playing at that time (The Beatles’ “Abby Road” and Lester Flatt’s and Earl Scruggs’ “Nashville Airplane” are at the top of the list), but the feeling is not as intense as it would be if I had wanted to be a musician or a music journalist.

So, what about you? What takes you back to adolescence and makes you feel like a kid again?

Procrastination Nation

Categories: Midd Blogosphere, music

I’m a procrastinator. A big one. And I don’t know if this is true about others who are prone to procrastination, but I am more likely to put off doing something if the task involves subject matter that I’m really interested in. Take the Sunday New York Times, for instance. I often read the sections I’m least interested in first, and “save” the sections I’m most looking forward to reading. This means that I am about 12 weeks behind in reading the Sunday Times Magazine and have fallen into the borderline (?) obsessive-compulsive habit of saving the Book Review and Formerly-Named-Week-in-Review sections for the following Sunday, at which point I read both right before I take a look at that day’s paper. (Yes, it can be exhausting being me. I’m sure it’s even more tiring living with me, but you’d have to ask my wife.)

Now, I’m sure you’re asking (that is, if you are still on this page): What does this have to do with music, specifically as it relates to this particular blog that Tim and I are starting? Well, for nearly two weeks I’ve been intending to write about REM, specifically the band’s decision to call it quits after 30-odd years of playing music together. I’ve put off this effort for a number of reasons—none of which have to do with the hubristic notion that I’ll be writing anything profound or different. Rather, I’ve put off this idea because I’ve been looking forward to it and because, well, I do have some things to say. I’m just not ready to say them yet. Because it’s something that interests me. (Again, exhausting.)

But, I don’t want you, dear reader, to go away empty handed. That is to say, I want you to come away from this post with something more than a handle on my neuroses, so I thought that since it’s the beginning of fall, now would be a good time to offer up a few recommendations for new music that has caught my attention. (And lest you worry that I’m not interested in this post, understand that I intended to do this last week.)

Matt’s picks

  • Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Hysterical
    These guys made a big splash in 2005 with their self-produced, self-released eponymous album (that was really quite, quite good), followed that with a mediocre second album a few years later, and have now atoned for their sophomore slump with this infectious, shimmery release.
  • Beruit, The Rip Tide
    Yes, this album sounds like just about everything else these guys have done, but that’s not necessarily bad, is it? Melodic, eclectic poppy fun.
  • Marsalis & Clapton, Wynton Marsalis and Eric Clapton Play the Blues
    I mean, why not? Two of the masters jamming together…what’s not to like?
  • Tony Bennett, Duets II
    Ok, I need to explain this one. I don’t really care for Tony Bennett (I’m a Sinatra guy) and I’m usually suspicious of these duet efforts (unless it’s, like, Armstrong and Fitzgerald), but after reading Gay Talese’s profile of Bennett in the New Yorker, I was intrigued enough to sample a track on iTunes, and damn if I wasn’t impressed with Bennett and Lady GaGa’s version of “The Lady Is A Tramp.” Out of pure snobbery, I had never listened to Lady GaGa before, but she can sing, really sing, and you can tell that she and Bennett hit it off. (And this was the subject of Talese’s piece.) Now, I’m not sure the entire album, is worth a buy recommendation, but this track certainly is.

Bruce Springsteen Goes Extraterrestrial!

Categories: Midd Blogosphere, music

Imitation or gentle satire being a sincere form of flattery, you gotta love this take in The Onion on the Boss’ forthcoming album.

Pure Pop for Now (or is it, Then?) People

Categories: Midd Blogosphere, music

Last week Nick Lowe came out with a new album called That Old Magic, and it’s really good. I’ve been a fan of Lowe since his first solo album, which was released in Britain as Jesus of Cool but was retitled for the American market as Pure Pop for Now People. This was 1978, and as a college student who aspired to be cool, I found Lowe’s music just the ticket. It was melodic, clever, ironic, and poppy.  One song on Pure Pop is called “I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass,” while another is about a woman eaten by her dachshund.  Lowe also wrote “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding,” and produced several Elvis Costello albums. As an iconoclast, Nick Lowe knew how to have fun.

In more recent years, beginning with his 1994 album, The Impossible Bird, Lowe has been writing and singing songs that evoke Buddy Holly, Frank Sinatra, and his former father-in-law, Johnny Cash.  This is Lowe in a more reflective, wistful, even soulful mode.  More lounge crooner than New Wave rocker—and a good deal older (he is now 62)—this Nick Lowe is still completely immersed in pop music.  It’s just that the vantage point and emotional perspective have shifted. Like his previous four albums, That Old Magic is filled with longing and tinged with the blues, including an awareness of what it means to grow old as a pop singer.

You can read about That Old Magic and Lowe’s career in this New York Times piece, or listen to Terry Gross’ interview of him, which aired this past week on NPR and features an in-studio performance with Lowe covering several songs.

And on the subject of old pop music cycling into the new, you don’t want to miss Gay Talese writing in The New Yorker on Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. Pure pop traveling across the generations, sped by desire.  (Unfortunately, if you don’t subscribe to the magazine, you won’t have full access to Talese’s article.)

 

Tweeting 88 Keys

Categories: Midd Blogosphere, music

Ross Common Heads Pavlos Sfyroeras and Maria Hatjigeorgiou, Professor Bettina Matthias and MCFA Events/Administrative Coordinator Shannon Bohler-Small organized a small post-concert reception following the Paul Lewis piano recital. This reception was exclusively for the students in Matthias’ first year seminar class “The Cultural History of the Piano.”

We tweeted a small amount of the conversation (below) that transpired between pianist Lewis and the students. What would YOU have liked to ask Paul Lewis?

Paul Lewis and Live Program Notes

Categories: Midd Blogosphere, music

Our colleagues at MusicaViva (Australia) presented Paul Lewis this summer, and produced a series of “live program notes” to accompany his recital. They offer great insight into the works he will be performing tonight.

Introducing Paul Lewis and his program

Mozart: Adagio in B minor K. 540

Schumann: Fantasie in C major op 17

Liszt: Vallée d\’Obermann

Piano Sonata no 21 in C major: op 53 \’Waldstein\’

And don’t forget to visit our event page for Paul’s bio and other concert information. See you tonight at 7:30!