Today, let’s talk about music. And if we can agree that I am of a certain age, you may not be surprised to learn that I’m not overly familiar with much of the music that’s popular today.
In some of the earlier part of my advanced time on Earth, I pledged to myself that I wouldn’t get stuck in the music of my high-school years, as many boomer Dads did, with their collection of LPs by the Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan and various remnants of the Beatles.
But at some point I did hit a dead end and failed to march along as popular music progressed to its current state. Still, I tried a little bit. I could stand Taylor Swift, I suppose, as long as it was tempered with her collaborations with The National’s Matt Berninger. Baby steps.
Still, I have annoyed my colleague Kat Schuster maybe a dozen times by reminding her that in high school I saw the Rolling Stones (with Stevie Wonder) and Led Zeppelin in the same week for $15 — $7.50 per concert. It’s the prattlings of a nostalgic old man.
And, I was happily surprised to hear the Stones’ new single “Angry” in Episode 8 in Season 3 of “Reservation Dogs.” Maybe it’s still OK to listen to them.
Plus, last Friday brought the release of a four-CD Rhino compilation, “Tim: Let It Bleed Edition,” that includes a new mix of the Replacements’ original and brilliantly titled 1985 “Tim” album by Ed Stasium along with a raft of alternate takes, demos, and a live performance at the Cabaret Metro recorded in 1986. The set includes 65 tracks, 50 of which have never been heard before. And I am all over it.
You should check it out; it’ll make you feel young again.
What you should read, with the volume on high
Rock and roll books abound. Almost everyone with an album has a book by or about them. Some are bad, but here are a half-dozen you should take a flyer on:
“Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Drugs,” a collection of mind-bending pieces by legendary rock critic, the late Lester Bangs, edited by rock intellectual Greil Marcus.
“Hammer of the Gods, the Led Zeppelin Saga,” a study in wretched excess and debauchery by rock biographer Stephen Lewis, who has chronicled the lives of Jim Morrison, Duran Duran, Stevie Nicks, Guns N’ Roses and others.
“High Fidelity,” by Nick Hornsby. A rock novel involving a record store’s owner and clients forever chatting about music and offering their top 10 picks in an array of categories. It was made into the motion picture of the same title starring John Cusack. Both the book and film are excellent.
“Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota,” by Chuck Klosterman. A history of heavy metal and glam rock wrapped around the author’s memories of growing up as a heavy metal fan in Wyndmere, North Dakota.
“Life,” by Keith Richards. Well, he’s certainly had one, and it’s one that keeps on going. You’ve gotta love Keith Richards a lot to like this heavily egocentric yarn that takes Richards from cradle to the almost-grave, through a mountain of drug use and other self-abuse, along with some bad-mouthing about nearly everyone he’s played with. There are some good bits about the band’s songs, however, that makes this book, perhaps, worth reading.
“I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon,” an oral history compiled by Crystal Zevon. Before he died of cancer at 56, Zevon insisted his former wife Crystal make this book without holding anything back. It’s a largely entertaining if indecorous compilation of remarks by nearly 90 friends, enemies, musicians and others close to Zevon as well as snippets from his own journal with emphasis on—it’s a rock and roll book, so what else?—drugs, sex and alcohol. And still he comes off as a likable fellow. I’m not mad at him.
A video clip for us old fans
Steve Miller, who I seem to recall seeing at Cal State Long Beach, but only vaguely and getting vaguer, is turning 80 in a couple of weeks and he’s still an entertaining performer as you can see in this solo acoustic performance of “The Joker” on the Howard Stern Show. Check it out, and then you can go back to listening to that stuff you kids call music.
Last week’s newsletter was mostly all about a tree falling in the marina area and what caused it. Some blamed environmentalists for barring the trimming of the tree which some say caused it to become top-heavy and fall over.
Those who are concerned with the safety of nesting birds and the non-seasonal trimming of trees, sent a response which, in part, reads: “While the Tidelands Area tree policy does limit regular trimming to non-nesting season and mandates that the trimming of trees with active nests be supervised by a biologist, it does not prohibit trees that present a safety risk from being trimmed or removed at any time. As far as we know, the Marine Bureau’s tree trimming policies or practices have not changed in response to our efforts to ensure protections for marina coastal birds and rookeries.”