Saturday, October 15, 2011
4 Seasons of Music
Every few years or so, I find the music I am listening to completely defines a point in time. Where synchronicity steps in -- suddenly I am in my own movie, there is a sound track, and I will forever equate that period in my life with those songs.
This has been one of those years for me. I love it when that happens! Like all the other mysteries in life, you can’t plan or explain when and why these things happen. But I have 4 CDs to share that are now part of my DNA.
My first road trip was through the back roads of Illinois. Barren trees and farm land rolling all around. Someone had given me a copy of “Time On Earth” by Crowded House. Just as I hit The Great River Road on the Mississippi, the song “Say That Again” started playing and everything changed from black and white into color. Neil Finn, so ethereal and sophisticated. His voice soared like the hawks I saw circling above me on that winter day. I think I hit repeat a dozen times. “Don’t Stop Now” will always remind me of silos and red barns and frozen rivers by the banks of snow. This CD has a rhythm to it that says keep going, keep driving, even when everything around you feels dead, there is life, and where there is life, there is hope.
Years ago, I met a singer songwriter named Ariane Lydon. She is a devastatingly talented woman. She plays the harp, 12- string guitar, and many other instruments. She was single at the time and raising her son. She gave me her CD “Lady Of The Green." I remember listening to it then and really liking it. This spring I fell in love with it. So many CDs have an agenda these days. So many songs are written with hooks that want to manipulate. I get worn out by these songs. While driving to Ann Arbor, her rich deep voice seemed to call out from the woods and left me crying uncontrollably in my car. This CD plays like a haunting, unrequited love story that could have been written hundreds of years ago. All in all it’s a masterpiece. Ariane seems to go from death to life and finally to a place of reckoning. With all the spring flowers blooming around me, “Lady Of The Green” woke something up inside of me that had been sleeping for a long time.
So there I was, sitting in my chair, tuning my guitar and getting ready to play a gig at a club in Minneapolis. In walks Ben Kyle from the group Romantica. He is wearing a hat, has a flower on his guitar, and speaks with a soft Irish accent. He totally blew me away. Just when you think you’ve heard all the great songs and all the great voices there are in the world, it amazes me that still today, some stranger can walk in and sing a song and rearrange all the molecules in your body. I can’t say enough about Ben Kyles songs or his CD “America." I wore it out this summer. It’s one of the best Americana genre CDs I’ve heard in years. It has horns, great catchy choruses. It makes you want to eat a taco and polka and “Drink The Night Away." Music to dance to and fall in love to. Perfect summer CD. Every time I listen, there are stars above and fireflies below.
The North Shore, Minnesota. It’s not an ocean, or is it? They say it’s a lake, but I don’t know. There are waves, ships, lighthouses and jutting rocks. Mmm? I brought a CD along that I really wanted to listen to on the North Shore. My sound track for the year came to a zenith on this drive. “Under The Skin” by Lindsey Buckingham came out in 2007. Its his acoustic CD. This guy can get more out of a guitar vocal performance then I don’t know what. When his voice goes from that soft whisper to his wild banshee scream, I feel like an animal that has been gripped by the scruff of the neck and fall limp. His version of the Donavan song “Try For The Sun” explodes in rays of sunlight. “Cast Away Dreams” is simply stunning. His Rolling Stones cover “I Am Waiting” pulls and pulses like the waves of the ocean, I mean lake. He may be known as that guy from Fleetwood Mac, but I see Lindsey Buckingham as one of the greatest singer songwriters of our time. His introspective songs are not cold and lonely like some, but have a sheen and glow with a warm light. I am going to follow the light.
When I was not boring a hole into the 4 CDs above and needed a palate cleanser, “This Is The New That” by Jonathan Byrd was blasted at ear-bleed volume. I put Jonathan in same realm as Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Bruce Springsteen. Listening to this CD is like opening your garage door and finding a rock ‘n’ roll band playing with wild abandon on a Saturday night. And the music is so good, you invite all the neighbors and have a beer... and I don’t even drink beer. Jonathan transcends time for me. I can just as easily see him being invited on stage by Robby Robertson in “The Last Waltz” as I can see him on “Austin City Limits” today. Jonathan is a friend but there are times when I feel I should be asking for his autograph. If you ever get a chance to see him, just go. Drive hundreds and hundreds of miles. It will change your life