See You On The Dark Side Of The Moon

People have told me I march to the beat of a different drummer.  I’ve usually responded “Yes, I do.  He was Keith Moon”.

The right people get the joke.

It was forty years ago today that Keith Moon died – too  young, but also probably later than he should have.

I had just barely discovered The Who at the time.  Pete Townsend was a self-obsessed overdramatic post-adolescent with a flair for the dramatic.  And I was a self-obsessed overdramatic adolescent.  It was a match made in heaven.  Ask anyone I knew in high school – I was a Who fanatic.

And I don’t think I’m overstating it – The Who died forty years ago today.  Townsend’s pompous mini-operas needed the raw, unpredictable, “what’s gonna happen next?” power of Moon’s inimitable style to seem like anything but the caterwauling of a guy griping about getting old without dying first.

Moon had been declining for a while, as his legendarily-dissipate lifestyle had been

Even close to his soggy, saggy, alcohol sotted, drug-sodden end, though, Moon still had distilled blasts of pure brilliance:

And the band onstage desperately needed the comic relief Moon provided.

Townsend, Roger Daltrey and (for another 25 years or so) John Entwistle played on, and even made the occasional good/great song.  And Townsend made a couple of essential solo albums in the next decade and change – but those were written around the styles of different drummers.  Great different drummers – Mark Brzeziczki, Simon Baker, Jason Bonham and a who’s who of other great British sidemen played on Townsend’s solo records, all of them superb in their own way.

But without Moon, The Who always felt like a nostalgia band.

The Kenny Jones edition of the band was the first big-time rock concert I ever attended, in October of  ’82 at the old Saint Paul Civic Center (29th row tickets on the floor, $15).   I loved the show – I loved the event, really – but for The Who, there really was no going back.

 

The Musical Christmas Truce In September

The nation is truly polarized.

And I’ll cop to it; one small part of it is because I’m pretty revolted by what the “other side” in our national debate wants.  It’s not gonna be easy to resolve.  Maybe we can’t.  Who knows?

But if you dig long and hard enough, you can usually find some common ground.

So with me and former Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges:

And what the heck – why not celebrate the little things.

So yeah, it ain’t no sin to be glad to talk about something other than politics once in a while:

OK. Back to business.

Things I Largely Don’t Care For, But Am Chagrinned To Find I Don’t Madly Dislike

I never cared much for late’80s-early ’90s Hair Metal.

If I were a rock historian, I’d say Hair Metal was a snapshot of a particular era – the cha-cha days of the late Reagan / George HW Bush years – and a particular place, a very prosperous and dissolute Los Angeles.   You’ll note that was a time of my life I was neither especially cha-cha nor prosperous, nor, I hasten to add, a the angry teenager I’d been 5-7 years earlier who’d marinated his brain in the Clash, the Kinks, the Who and the like.

So the whole genre sort of left me cold.

Poison?   A lite-metal boy band.

Motley Crue?  A bunch of yobs trying and failing to ape Alice Cooper. And that’s if you leave out Vince Neil’s role in the death of “Razzle” (more below).

Cinderella?  Please.  Waterboard me.

But as with all episodes of this “Love and Hate” series (click the tag below for some history), I’m writing this not to bury hair metal, but to praise it.

Well, some of it.

And I know what you’re gonna say.  “Everyone likes Guns ‘n Roses.  That’s a gimme”.

And indeed you’re right:

Beyond that, though?

When I was at KDWB in ’90-92, listening to the night shift, it occurred to me “Slaughter doesn’t totally suck”:

I mean, if you’re in the mood for some Robert Plant lite. And I was.

Skid Row? Not sure why I didn’t hate them; more relatable to me? Less contrived? More interesting? I have no idea anymore.

But hate them, I did not:

And why not Hanoi Rocks – Finland’s greatest band, and the band that is to hair metal what Creedence Clearwater was to the sixties; a solid rock and roll band with a way with a hook and a single:

Of course, the band took a solid shot in the, well, hairdo when drummer “Razzle” was killed in a car crash with Motley Crue’s Vince Neil; Crue went on, while Hanoi Rocks slowly fizzled, in one of rock history’s greatest injustices.

So yeah – can’t stand LA Hair metal.  Except when I can.

Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin passed away yesterday.  She was 78.

This Detroit Free Press obit is uncommonly excellent.

The first real exposure to Franklin I ever got, growing up in the middle of country-western country, was working at my first radio job.  Where I heard “Respect” for the first time – and felt a chill that the human voice could do…that.

My favorite is still “I Never Loved A Man (The Way That I Loved You).

But perhaps my ultimate testimonial?  When my oldest was born, “Aretha” was on the short list of names.

Is This The MPLA, I Thought It Was The USA…

Johnny Rotten – lead singer of the Sex Pistols – joins the Velvet Underground’s Mo Tucker among punk icons supporting Trump:

“What I dislike is the left-wing media in America are trying to smear the bloke as a racist, and that’s completely not true,” the 61-year-old said. “There’s many, many problems with him as a human being, but he’s not that, and there just might be a chance something good will come out of that situation, because he terrifies politicians.”

Mr. Lydon said Mr. Trump is like a “political Sex Pistol” whose purpose is to rattle the status quo. After co-host Piers Morgan described Mr. Trump as “the archetypal anti-establishment character,” Mr. Lydon added: “Dare I say, a possible friend.”

Back in the glory days of blogging, one of our sayings was “conservative is the new punk”.  In our society, the way it is today, standing for a fairly timeless establishment against an utterly temporal one certainly qualifies

Life Is Almost Never A Museum

Prince’s Paisley Park has almost literally become a Prince museum – and it should, most likely; it’s a fascinating product of a fascinating guy.

But at least commercially, Flyte Tyme Studio (which became Runway Studio after Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis moved to LA fifteen years ago) may actually have been the Twin Cities’ biggest musical export.

And it‘s closing down in October, to make room for the Twin Cities’ current biggest import, “affordable housing”:

“It’s bittersweet because this was a dream for us to purchase part of music history of not only Minneapolis, but the world,” said Richard McCalley, the owner of Runway Studios.For 15 years, the building was the base for Jam and Lewis, where they produced songs for everyone from Janet Jackson to Mariah Carey to the Sounds of Blackness.

Janet and her brother Michael Jackson recorded their duet “Scream” inside these walls and it’s where Janet gave her iconic shout out to Minneapolis in her hit “Escapade.”

It’s just one more bit of the Twin Cities I moved to in 1985 slowly fading away.

Gonna Miss Her When She’s Gone

I don’t say this nearly enough – indeed, I may never have said it – but Scott Johnson may be the most overlooked music critic in town.

As we see in his review of Shawn Colviln’s four-night stay at the Dakota.

Speaking of which:  I see the Dakota starts booking acts about six months out.  That means I’ve got about three months before I need to jump on tickets for the next Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes show  at the Dakota, which seems to have become a March tradition at the Minneapolis stop.

I Don’t Want To Go Home

I saw Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes at the Dakota last night

First things first – the Dakota is a great place for an evening out.  They make a mean old fashioned.

A Dakota Old-Fashioned. I drink them so you don’t have to. Although you might want to anyway,

And just to make sure quality of the first one wasn’t a fluke, I had two more.   All of ’em checked out.

The food is pretty righteous, too – although oddly enough, the french fries that came with the  outstanding House Burger were cold and not very tasty.

Can’t win ’em all, I guess.

Anyway – if you’ve been reading this space for a while, you’ve familiar with Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes.  They hit their commercial peak in 1978 with the album Hearts of Stone – sometimes called “the best album Springsteen never recorded”, which is a bit of an overstatement; Springsteen wrote half of it (and a great half it was; I reviewed the album ten years ago in this space).

The Jukes have  been together since the early seventies – although “together” is kind of relative, since over a hundred musicians have been members of the Jukes at one point or another, including Miami Steve Van Zandt, who produced their first two albums and only left to join the E Street Band in 1975.

The Jukes raving it up during the opening song, “Until the Good is Gone”.

Even in their heyday, of course, the Jukes were something of a retro anachronism – a band specializing in horn-driven Stax/Volt soul during the height, respectively, of the singer-songwriter era, Disco, punk, New Wave, synth pop, heartland rock, hair metal, new-jack hip-hop (which dominated the charts when the Jukes had their solitary Top-40 single in 1991, thirteen years after their commercial heyday, with “It’s Been a Long Time”, a musical favor called in with “Southside” Johnny Lyon’s pals, Springsteen, Van Zandt and Jon Bon Jovi) and on  and on; by the time they grazed the top forty, they were a borderline nostalgia act.   Not only is Lyon the only member left from their seventies glory days, he’s the only member left from twenty years ago.

“Make yourself at home”. Keyboard player  Jeff Kazee and a very comfortable fan in the Dakota’s, er, intimate setting.

But don’t let that fool you.  They do a fantastic show.   Lyon, 69, has always been one of rock and roll’s better lead singers, and while his voice has an extra dollop of gravel after fifty years of leading bands, he hasn’t lost a note (of power, anyway; he joked about his range “I’m a little like Tom Waits these days”.

The setlist was thick with old favorites, with a generous helping of R&B museum pieces delivered with a galloping, sloppy affection, and a few of the band’s newer songs thrown in for good measure.

  • The set opened with “Until The Good Is Gone”, a soul-rock opener from Van Zandt’s classic Men Without Women – a group of songs Van Zandt originally wrote for the Jukes, and recorded with the Jukes’ horn section of the day (who went on to be part of the Max Weinberg Seven, and are now touring with Springsteen).  .
  • “This Time Baby’s Gone For Good”, from Hearts of Stone, one of the most glorious heart-on-the-sleeve breakup songs ever.
  • “Sweeter Than Honey” – an R&B classic cover from their first album, which was covered by dozens of R&B artists in the day.
  • “Promises to Keep”, off of one of the Jukes newer albums.
  • “Love on the Wrong Side of Town” a Springsteen penned song from ’76’s debut album that could have  been a Four Seasons song – and that’s a complement.
  • “Cadillac Jack”, a blues-rocker from one of the Jukes’ newer albuums
  • “I Played The Fool”, another one from Hearts of Stone – one of my favorites, actually (link is to a version from the Capitol Theater in Passaic NJ in 1978, on the Hearts of Stone tour with the band’s definitive lineup – Lyon, Kevin Kavanaugh on keyboards, Billy Rush and Joe Gramolini on guitars, the great Al Keller on bass, Kenny “Popeye” Pentifallo on drums, and the original Miami Horns)
  • My Whole World Ended the Moment You Left Me, a David Ruffin deep cut given a raw, horn-driven treatment.
  • Walk away Renee – the version the Jukes did from one of their mid-eighties albums.  It’s a bit jazzier than the Left Banke’s original.
  • Words Fail Me – a slow-burn ballad off of a more recent Jukes record, a duet with keyboard player Jeff Kazee.
  • Trapped Again – another Hearts of Stone classid.
  • Spinning, another newer Jukes song with a powerful Stax/Volt vibe.

    I don’t wanna go home.

  • “Broke Down PIece of Man”, a classic duet with Van Zandt from the band’s ’76 debut.
  • “When Rita Leaves, Rita’s Gone”, a Delbert McClinton rave-up.
  • “Talk To Me”, a Sprinsteen cover from Hearts of Stone
  • “Sherry Darling” – an actual Springsteen song, covered from The River, featuring a raucus mariachi turn from the horn section.
  • “The Fever” – the band’s signature song.
  • “Without Love”, the Carolyn Franklin R&B classic from the seventies that’s been covered by more artists than “Happy Birthday”.
  • And finally, “I Don’t Want To Go Home”, the inevitable encore.

The Jukes have been making the Dakota an annual stop – they’ve appeared there the last two years in March.   I bought my tickets for this show in September; I may do it earlier next year.

A friend of mine noted on Facebook “When I hear the Asbury Jukes, I expect to hear the scratch on the vinyl, and an ID for WMMS radio (the Cleveland station that was the greatest rock and roll station ever – the station that broke almost every band that was worth breaking in the seventies). It’s a great description.

Speaking Of Disasters

Gibson – one of America’s iconic guitar makers – is spiraling toward a massive restructuring:

Less than six months out from those crucial deadlines, the prospects for an orderly refinancing — Gibson has hired investment bank Jefferies to help with that — look slim, observers say. And the alternative scenarios look likely to sideline longtime owner and CEO Henry Juszkiewicz.

“At the end of the day, someone will take control of this company — be it the debtors or the bondholders,” Debtwire reporter Reshmi Basu told the Post this week. “This has been a long time coming.”

The culprit would seem to be corporate overextension – going into debt to buy subsidiaries like Baldwin Piano, and an assortment of home and pro audio marques – rather than the guitar business itself, which is still a good home base:

Gibson needs to report by next week its final numbers for its fiscal third quarter to stakeholders. One thing bond owners will be watching for is an improvement in the company’s electronics business, which has been built up in the past few years via debt-fueled acquisitions but has seen sales slump of late.

Still, even a solid turnaround on that front won’t be enough for Juszkiewicz to avoid difficult conversations.

“Some type of restructuring will be necessary,” Cassidy said. “The core business is a very stable business, and a sustainable one. But you have a balance sheet problem and an operational problem.”

If this results in a fire sale of Les Paul Standards, on the other hand, that could improve my fundamentals…

 

A Terrible Year In Music Gets Worse

Pat DiNizio of the Smitherens is dead at 66.

“The who?”

Siddown, kid.

The Smithereens, from Carteret, NJ, need no introduction to anyone who was listening to the radio in the mid-eighties.  Crisp, taut melodic power-pop with just enough garage to make it fun and just enough polish to make it memorable,

And against the stereotype backdrop of eighties music – glossy stylied synth-pop, slick hair metal, and of course the golden age of the Big Arena Rock Anthem, it was defiantly retro, not as a stylistic statement, but for the sheer love of the sound.

“Blood and Roses” was first:

“Only a Memory” was probably my favorite:

“A Girl Like You” was, if memory serves, their biggest hit:

But I’ve learned the hard way; never ask if it could get worse.

Hypothetical Exercise

These days, a lot of the “classic rock” bands that were the stuff we all sang along with at parties in the seventies and eighties – Styx, Journey, REO Speedwagon, Def Leppart, Poison, Motley Crue, Boston, Foreigner, Rush, Head East and the like – are playing the State Fair circuit.  They haven’t put out albums – or at least serious albums – in years, maybe decades.  There’d be no real point to it; do you want to hear anything Boston did after “Don’t Look Back?”.  That Foreigner did after “Jukebox Hero?”  They are playing the nostalgia circuit, slopping the trough with the stuff their fans want to hear.

Now, that can never happen to the first-generation punk rock crowd.  Because we were iconoclasts wouldn’t never, ever..ever…

Oh, who am I kidding.

If the Sex Pistols ever play the Minnesota State Fair, it’ll sound – and look – something like this:

And I’ll probably buy a ticket.

And Here You Go

After about 32 years of trying to write music, a year of recording stuff, and a few months of frantic planning, it’s here:  the debut (and who knows, likely final) album by my band, The Supreme Soviet of Love.

See Red goes onsale today at your favorite music online music retailer:

The album includes a few songs that date back to the eighties – “Fourth of July”, “Chicago” and “Great Northern Avenue” are songs I used to play with bands back at the Seventh Street Entry way back when.

Others – “The Wonders Each New Day Brings”, “Almost Monday” and “Snake”, among others – are things I wrote in the past year, largely to prove to myself that the whole thing wasn’t just a nostalgia exercise.

And a couple others – “Shotgun”, “The Ugly LIghts” – split the difference; they’re lyrical reboots of ideas that’ve been knocking around my head for years, sometimes decades.

Anyway – the album is on sales as of today:

Coming soon (like, probably today) on:

  • iHeart Radio
  • YouTube Music
  • Spotify
  • Pandora

And hey – it’s priced to move!

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind y’all one last time:


Tomorrow (Saturday) Night:  Elephant in the Room (rock and roll covers, ’50s-’90s) at the Sundance in Maple Grove

8-12PM.  No cover.


Sunday Night:  Album Release Party; The Supreme Soviet of Love at O‘Gara’s in Saint Paul

5-9PM:  $5 cover.


Hope to see you there!

2017 Tour

Waaaay back last summer, when I  planned to release a Supreme Soviet of Love album, I picked a date:  November 12.  A Sunday night.  Few conflicts, start and finish times early enough to get everyone home for the evenings news – perfect!

My other band, “Elephant in the Room”, after taking taking a few months off to learn new material and change lineup, on the other hand, spent most of the year looking for a gig.

Any gig.

So between scheduleing a Supreme Soviet of Love gig for November 12 way back in July, and today, what happened?

Of course Elephant in the Room landed a gig for November 11.

So talk about this weekend!.


Saturday, November 11 – the Sundance in Maple Grove

Elephant in the Room will be playing at the Sundance in Maple Grove from 8 to midnight.  

EITR does classic rock covers from the 1950s through the 1990s – a grab bag of Elvis, the Kinks, Ian Hunter, the Cars, Bad Company, the Stones, the Who, Jimi Hendrix, the Eagles, Steve Miller, Tom Petty, John Mellencamp, Johnny Cash…

…well, pretty much anything that grabs you from that entire forty year period.

And the Sundance – which I just visited for the first time last weekend – is a nice place; bowling, golf (probably not much of that ’til spring), good pizza, decent beer selection, “Steak Night” on Saturdays ’til 8PM (just $10!), and, of course, live entertainment.  That’d be us, of course.  No cover that I”m aware of, which makes it even nicer.

It feels like it’s way out there – but it’s actually super easy to get to:

It should be a fun night and a fun gig.

Hope you can make it!


Sunday, November 12 – O’Gara’s in Saint Paul

This gets complicated, so stick with me, here:

“The Supreme Soviet of Love” will be having the album release party for its first (and wjho knows, maybe only) album, See Red this coming Sunday at O’Gara’s.

See Red includes a bunch of songs – a couple of them going back to the 1980s (we’ve encountered some of them here), and a whole lot more that I wrote in the past year just to prove to myself that the whole thing wasn’t a nostalgia exercise.

Who knows – it may have been both.  I don’t know.  And I don’t care!

The Supreme Soviet of Love will go onstage at 8PM, and come hell or high water we’ll be out of there by 9PM;  you’ll be home in plenty of time for the 10PM evening news, or the 10PM rerun of Walking Dead if that’s what you prefer.

There’s a $5 cover – 100% of which goes to pay the rest of the band.  Me?  I’m hoping to sell CDs (and they’ll be on sale there, as well as available for download on iTunes, Amazon or wherever you like to get your music from.

And by the way, the opening act, going on stage at 6:30ish, will be…

…Elephant in the Room.  Yep.  I’ll be opening for myself.    That’s one way to save money!

I’ll be hanging out after loadout until they kick me out of there, for anyone who wants to talk politics, music, beer, food, or whatever you got.


So I hope, in an ideal world, you can make both shows; the Sundance could become a regular gig if we draw a lot of people, and of course the album release party has been on my bucket list since Ronald Reagan was president.

Either one would be great, though!

Swinging Singles

As I noted last March, I’ve been playing guitar for 40 years.

I moved to the Twin Cities 32 years ago, largely to try to be a musician.

And since either or both of those events, I’ve been dreaming about making this announcement:

My first single [1], “The Wonders Each New Day Brings”, is out today.  It’s on most of your major music vendors:

Amazon.

iTunes

(It’s also on Pandora, Spotify and any number of other music services)

The album See Red is also available for pre-order; it will be released 11/10.

[1] OK, it’s technically a “Teaser Track”, not a single.  I don’t care.

Art Of Noise

So the Supreme Soviet of Love’s first album, See Red, is off to the printers.   My son Zam – who’s in school for graphic design – did the front cover art:

So I’m committed now.  The album goes on sale on November 10 (I hope), on both CD and digital  download; with a little luck the “teaser” (they used to be called “Singles”), currently a song called “The Wonders Each New Day Brings”, should come out a week from today, if all goes well.

So – hope you can make it to the Release Party for “See Red”, November 12 at O’Gara’s in Saint Paul!

News That Eluded Me

I ‘m shocked and a little depressed to see that Caleb Palmiter died over the summer.

“Caleb who?”

Caleb Palmiter has been in a “who’s who” of seminal Twin Cities bands-that-made-it-regionally-big-but-never-broke-out; a founder of the Jayhawks, Bash & Pop, as well as stints in the Mighty Mofos and the Magnolias.

I remember him best for  a couple of bands well before that; The Law and A Single Love, both of which heavily featured his quirky, claw-hammer finger-style guitar style that was too articulate to be Doc Watson but was simpler and less ornate than the obvious comparisons, Richard Thompson and Mark Knopfler.  Whatever you want to call it – I’d catch every gig I could, entranced by his mesmerising guitar style.

Here’s a sample:  he was always this good:

He died of heart failure, says the Strib.  Decades of booze and drugs.  Same old same old.

And now I feel a lot older.

World Tour 2017

Boy, is the weekend of November 10-12 going to be busy.

First – one of my bands, “Elephant in the Room”, is going to be playing at the Sundance in Maple Grove:

If you’re in the Northwest Suburbs that night, I hope you can stop by!

And then the next night, November 12, my other band, the Supreme Soviet of Love is having the release party for our first album, “See Red”, at O’Gara’s:

Doors open at 5PM, and the Supreme Soviet of Love goes on at 8PM.  Come on down, have a beer, enjoy a few tunes, hang out after for the closest thing to a MOB party I’ve been able to put together in a while!

Maybe I’ll print tour t-shirts…

Retrospective

Variety does a two-part cover story on Bruce Springsteen.  And it’s worth a read, if you’re an uberfan.

And I guess I am.

Others are not – and among this blog’s audience, that’s in large part due to Springsteen’s limo-left politics.  I’ve always figured I care as much about musicians’ politics as I do about politicians’ iTunes playlists; I’ve also noted that if I limited my music by politics, I’d be listening to nothing but country-western and Ted Nugent.

But on the subject of politics:

I’m ambivalent about … sort of getting on a soapbox. I still believe people fundamentally come to music to be entertained — yes, to address their daily concerns, and yes, also to address political topics, I believe music can do that well. But I still believe fundamentally it’s an affair of the heart. People want you to go deeper than politics, they want you to reach inside to their most personal selves and their deepest struggles with their daily lives and reach that place; that’s the place I’m always trying to reach. I’d never make a record that’s just polemical, I wouldn’t release it if I did. To me, that’s just an abuse of your audience’s good graces. But if I’m moved, I’ll write, say, something like “American Skin” [inspired by the 1999 shooting death of Amadou Diallo by New York City Police officers — who were later acquitted]. That just rolled very naturally for me, and that’s as good a topical song as I’ve ever written. And when it comes up, I write ’em. If I felt that strongly, I’d do it now. But I watch myself, because I think you can weigh upon your audience’s indulgence in the wrong way.

Someone tell Katy Perry.  mu

Anyway – worth a read, if you’re a fan.

Heartbroken

When I was a kid, the cosmology of the musical world was Pete Townsend, Joe Strummer, Bruce Springsteen, Ray Davies, Tom Petty (Bono and the Edge joined when I was in college)…

…with everyone else trailing far behind.

Strummer passed 15 long years ago; Springsteen is alive and kicking, but it’s not the same without The Big Man and the Phantom.

But now Tom Petty is dead at 66.

When I heard that he’d been found in his Malibu home unresponsive, with a cardiac arrest mere days after the end of what was reputed to be the last Heartbreakers tour, I couldn’t help but think of Charles Schultz, the “Peanuts” comic artist who passed away mere hours after the last panel of his seminal strip ran in papers around the country; their life’s artistic work over, they retired for real, for good.

I wrote about Tom Petty years ago; my abrupt conversion from doubter to fan 38 years ago next month.  I was watching Saturday Night Live, looking to mock and scoff at the singer I’d heard about – for reasons I can’t  begin to remember four decades later.   Buck Henry introduced Petty; by the time they got three counts into “Refugee”, I had reconsidered my skepticism, and become a fan

(NBC blocked access to that original SNL video years ago; someone needs to die in a grease fire.  This one is close):

.  The next morning, after sunday school, I skipped church and ran to the drug store to pick up Damn the Torpedoes; me andMike Aylmer and Matt Anderson and Keri Kleingartner listened to it on a record player in one of the classrooms.  And that night, I sat down with my guitar and started learning every single song, every lick Mike Campbell played; every flourish Benmonth Tench played on the organ; I didn’t so much listen to it as I absorbed it.

Because when you were a little too tall and coulda used a few pounds, and were hardly renowned, it was revelation to know that even the losers – tramps like us – could get lucky sometimes:

It was like a musical flash-bang grenade went off in my brain, blowing it open to a phalanx of new influences:  the Byrds, Del Shannon, the whole canon of post-Beatles American rock and roll – it was all there.

Indeed, given that Petty, like his contemporaries Bruce Springsteen and Bob Seger was such a traditionalist, it’s hard to remember sometimes what a radical departure from the 1970s’ mainstream he was.  Music radio lumped him in with the New Wave (as they did with many acts and artists that didn’t fit neatly into 1970s’ radio formats, from Dire Straits to AC/DC to The Police); in a half-decade of American pop music dominated by disco, sixties-holdovers from the “singer/songwriter” genre like James Taylor and Jackson Browne, arena acts like Styx and REO Speedwagon, and top-40 machines like Fleetwood Mac, Linda Ronstadt and the Eagles, the idea of a singer doing perfectly crafted homage to the Byrds, Stax/Volt (Duck Dunn sits in on bass on Damn the Torpedoes’ “You Tell Me”) and all that was great about early-sixties American rock and roll, and turning in into something vital, funny, crisp, fierce, was kind of radical.

It sure felt radical at the time.


His cardiac arrest yesterday was Petty’s worst medical problem, obviously – but it  wasn’t his first medical issue, as he relates in this stunning 1985 version of “The Waiting”:

And as the years unwound, he had the same personal issues a lot of us fans had when we grew up; the girl who Petty told not to do him like that, did him like that in 1999, leading to one of his best albums (and the one from which he never played anything live), Echo, full of world-weary anthems about profound loss:

But maybe my favorite thing Petty did? He wore that Dixie chip on his shoulder with pride – and wrote one of the best songs every about that chip:

And that – the idea of putting the chip on my own shoulder out there in the form of music, the one art form I ever failed to completely fail at – led to one of my life’s great adventures, writing music and playing it for people, an adventure that’s still going on today.

If you told me to take a Tom Petty song to a desert island, it’d be…well, “Even the Losers”. But I’d sneak “Southern Accents” along under the table anyway.

UPDATE: Mr. D adds his own musical obit.

UPDATE 2: Tor Sorenson, who plays bass in “The Supreme Soviet of Love” and “Elephant in the Room“, also has a tribute.

When Making Your Weekend Plans Two Months Out

It’s the working cover…

Looking for an early Sunday night out?  Block out the evening of November 12 at O’Gara’s in Saint Paul for my band, “The Supreme Soviet Of Love“, and the album release party (and only live date) for our first (and maybe only) album, See Red. 

Doors open at 5PM.   The opening act (“Elephant in the Room”) opens the show with a set of covers from the ’60s through the ’90s.   The SSOLs set begins at 8PM sharp.

Need a sample?  Here  you go

Anyway – I’ll post the EventBrite later this month.

I’m not quite gonna call it “The MOB Winter Party” – but if any Mobsters wanna show up for a drink or two after the gig (and before teardown), I’m totally there.

They’re Out There Somewhere

So it was 20 years ago today that “Mmm-Bop” by “Hanson” reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

You remember it:

I was married and had three kids to take care of at the time, so I didn’t have much time to be the music snob I’d been ten years earlier.   I thought it was bubblegum – but bubblegum with enough of a groove that I couldn’t not like it, really.

And apparently I”m not the only one.

Because the Hanson brothers are doing a 25th anniversary show.

At the First Avenue.

And it’s sold out.