15 July 2008

Not acting my age

I was telling someone at work about some of the new British bands I have been listening to lately and he made a comment that got me thinking. "That's kids music, isn't it?"

Is it? If it is, does that mean I'm not supposed to like it? Or admit I like it? Or what? Life is full of memos that I never got, it seems.

The Right Place At the Night Time - Fluid Lines

The Last Dance - Through And Throughout

Where Are Your Friends? (Demo) - Lights and Sounds

I mentioned this to someone else at work and he told me that most people listen to music that was popular when they were seniors in high school (17 or 18 for the non-USAn readers). I dug out the charts for my year and looked it over. I remembered everything on it and most of it is okay, some of it better, some worse.

That got me thinking about what I did listen to in high school besides that stuff in the air. Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw. Peter, Paul, and Mary. Gershwin—the clarinet at the beginning of "Rhapsody In Blue" is sublime. The Beach Boys. Squaredancing and roundancing records produced by my grandfather ("A corner swing in Indiana, circle right and walk the lady home. The moon is shining bright, left allemand tonight, ... "). ELO and George Harrison. The Monkees. I love the Monkees and I am not ashamed to admit it. My father practicing the cornet, banjo, accordion, and whatever else he was teaching himself that month.

As I let my mind wander back through my musical history, I was suddenly transported back to one of the most perfect musical moments in my life. When I was a senior in high school, as it happened.

I can close my eyes and be there again. I was at some party, kids and parents. The father of the house was a good two kilometers past "audiophile"—he had a room in which nothing was to be moved so the acoustics wouldn't change. For some reason he took pity on me, allergic to the sun, being stuck at a pool party. He set me up in his listening chair, with his special headphones and a stack of vinyl. He had good stuff and I occupied myself well. Everyone else was off somewhere doing whatever social people who get all the memos do.

I was sitting in a dim room, headphones on, leaning back in the perfect listening chair. I was relaxed and probably doing some interesting brain wave stuff (from the music, of course. No substances were involved. Of course not. And stay in school, too.) And then I hit the opening of Steve Miller's "Fly Like an Eagle" and could feel my brain being altered. It felt like the music was inside me, making my mind bigger (and buzzed). That song somehow made a chord I was part of.

I had always listened to music, but that changed the way I listened. After that, I understood what music could be and started paying attention to what made it work like that. And that led to paying more attention in general. That moment with that song was a turning point. And still, whenever I hear that song it takes me back to that perfect moment. I've got that album and just listened to it again a couple of days ago and lost myself in it again.

I started this somewhere. Right, "kid's music". Fuck that shit. If you think that, I bite my thumb at you. If I like it, I listen to it—no matter who made it or when. And if there's a memo that says this is not properly acting my age, you can take that memo and file it.

Here is what I listened to. These two are really one piece, so listen to them back to back. I have no idea why it was cut into two tracks.

Space Intro - Steve Miller Band

Fly Like an Eagle - Steve Miller Band

Here is a nice recent version from Seal.

Here is a very interesting early version of the song I found while looking for something to embed. It's a live performance of the song around 3 years before the studio version was released. It is more bluesy, the lyrics are more explicit (in the literal sense, not "dirty"), and he plays the spacy bit at the beginning on his guitar. That may be a ho-hum for guitar experts, but to me that is made of awesome. It is interesting that he had not yet hit on the rhythm that made it really work. (Geek? Me?)

The whole Fly Like an Eagle album is worthing listening to, by the way.

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