05 March 2008

Never a Dull Moment


Ronnie Lane and Slim Chance, Debris (Live, BBC, 1974)

My Atlanta buddy Ybonix (pronounced ee-bon-ix) writes of rock in the age of parents being rockers. What's a parent to do? Ybonix discusses his approach in the letter quoted below. He also discusses my favorite Rod Stewart album (with some of The Faces, including Ronnie Lane), Never A Dull Moment (1972). I've made a name change or two to protect the innocent, and added a some links for clarity.

Let's all take a ride, both back in time and forward toward the future.

Hey Paco,

How ya been? I been thinkin' 'bout stuff, especially in the music world. The other day I picked my boys up at school, since we live in Atlanta it was no ordinary trip to the schoolyard.

In Atlanta you live in your car and have a house for your stuff. A round trip could be a half day trip so I armed myself with XM radio to protect myself from the five songs on "Classic Rock" radio (Which are in, in no particular order: a song by BTO; LZStairway to Heaven; a song by Chicago -- you know the one, every high school marching band played it during halftime in the 1970’s; something from Steel Wheels, and Ramblin’ Man.) plenty to drink and something for the boys when I finally arrive at the school.

When I eventually meet the boys and pack them their sports equipment, cello and viola into the trunk, the first act of my thirteen year old is to find a rap (or hip-hop -- allegedly there exists a nominal difference, however we are dependent on infinitesimally illiterate do-raggers for the existential nuance) station.

Not sure which is which I refer to the noise as crap. In a desperate attempt to be tolerant I waited somewhere between 22.005 seconds and 25.99 seconds before rendering my faultless opinion. "Kevin, my ears hurt listening to this person repeat the same three words over and over. Okay, let's listen to a CD I loved as a kid. This album came out when I was fifteen years old, not much older than you are now".

I liked Rod Stewart and [The] Faces primarily because my brother liked them, but I especially liked this album: Never A Dull Moment, because it opened up and inside was a picture of Tampa Stadium, the place I saw my first NFL game. Furthermore, the album sported pictures of the band playing soccer, which in 1972 was a rarity, since rockers carried the stigma of being dopers and lay-abouts.

I listened to it for the first time on my way home from the playground. I dropped in on my brother, Joe, and [and his friend] George ... [T]he two were painting his new residence a block away from where I lived with my parents.

This album was so special because I think it was the first recording of a cover of a Hendrix song. I thought at the time it was pretty heady stuff, to cover a Hendrix composition. Ron Wood did a masterful job and really, Rod sang sweeter than Jimi. I think it was, perhaps the first time I ever heard a Sam Cooke song, since he was long gone by the time I started listening to rock music. George told me about Sweet Sam Cooke, the man with the silkiest voice in all of rockdom, and how he met his untimely end. On top of that there was a Dylan song, "Mama You've Been On My Mind", that makes me think ol' Bob could have made it as a composer if he never made a public stage appearance. The next to the last song on the "B" side was a blues classic by Billy Foster and Ellington Jordan, "I'd Rather Go Blind", made famous by the great Etta James. A song that made me wish I had a girlfriend to love so much I could feel that bad when we broke up.

"This album had it all,” I told my boys, “roots of rock, the pulse of the blues, the great song writer of a generation and the greatest of all guitarists. All that with mandolins, organs, accordions and pianos, composition, melody and harmony, fellas, with a little of the old home town thrown in for good measure.

"When we get home", I told them , "I'll show them the pictures of the band. None have their hats on sideways or saggy trousers, or gang finger signals, just-solid-as-a-rock rock music. Something that barely touches your ears but goes straight to your soul."

We got home, I found the album and decided to go to You Tube to show them what a real music video was once upon a time. A band playing a song as opposed to a mind numbing montage of images of shirtless boys gyrating next to a lip-syncing underwear model.

"Boys some of these songs are so much a part of our culture that you will hear them played as background music to car commercials. For instance this and some of the best Faces songs were written by Ronnie Lane, the bass player, next time you see a Buick ad you may hear "Oo La La", so here it is on You Tube,” I said sitting in front of my computer, “When we were kids we would stay up late just to see one of these songs on a show called ‘Don Kirshner's Rock Concert‘, which was broadcast at 11:30 pm on Friday. It was such a treat to see a performance of the band playing the songs we liked."

Did it help any? Will I still be assaulted by T-Pain for milliseconds the next time I sit next to Kevin in my caddie? Who knows, perhaps my boys will now understand the revulsion I have with the new stuff. They did, nevertheless, enjoy the Ronnie Lane song "Debris" with his band Slim Chance, seeing the strings in harmony on You Tube which made me go dig out Faces' "A Nod Is As Good As A Wink..." so they could hear Ron Wood play the lead. I told them I wore a hole in "A Nod's" listening to "Debris" when the house was empty.

Just doing my part to keep rock alive. Happy New Year 2008, [Paco],


1 comment:

Baluja said...

Tell jd I read the whole thing and listened to Debris...I don't remember the song though I was a pretty big fan of Rod Stewart/Faces at that time...I still have a copy of the Jeff Beck "Truth" album (Rod on lead vocals) that Hurley made the mistake of lending me back then...in fact, when Rod played Tampa Stadium (the shot inside the [Never A Dull Moment] album cover) I remember walking around the stadium just listening and hanging out and wishing I had bought a ticket to get in. Come to think of it, I did that for a lot of concerts...Cocker, Leon Russell, and even the historic "Dark Side of the Moon" stop over. It's funny to hear jd talk about the trash out on the airwaves now...and it's true...the kids are into so much really bad music...but the truth of the matter is this...most of our parents had the same distaste for what we listened to back then...as far as they were concerned, it was just noise...a bunch of radical kids banging on their guitars...it warped our minds...it preached an evil alternative to the system...now it's a frickin' bass and a drum track that will shake a building to ruble with non stop thumps...and lyrics as explicit as the Springs theater, or the Cinema 69...paybacks are hell!