Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Random Leftovers

I remembered the third thing I wanted to talk about in the Saturday entry I wrote. On the way home from work, I turned on NPR a few minutes before six o'clock, right when they usually interview a musician. The guy talking to the interviewer (at this point I didn't hear names) was explaining how he reacted when he first had success and popularity. He was talking about comedy and jumping into the story mid-way, it almost sounded like he was a musician that dabbled in stand-up, or vice versa.

He started explaining at length that he suddenly had all of this attention on him - being interviewed for Rolling Stone, for example -  and he was worried he had nothing to say, so he created this persona so that nobody would think he was boring. It took him a long time to realize that he wasn't doing himself any favors and that he was lucky to have this success and he should've appreciated it more.

The thing is, he was speaking as if it wasn't this realization gave him some newfound modesty or served as a wake-up call. He sounded as if he was operating with the same level of self-importance that he had initially when his big-head brought him success.

And this is the edited version.

I was hanging on for dear life wondering how the hell this windbag was. They cut to a song in the middle of the story, which sounded kind of bland - and then they finally reintroduced him and  I knew why I was loathing this subject. It was John Mayer. A man for whom every movement is GRAND GESTURE. Every lyric is a statement. Even when it's something vapid like "I'm going out west with my earbuds on." That could only mean something big is happening, or your searching for something. Yeah right.

Please note that I usually go online and fact check info while I'm writing, but this time I did not. There's a slight chance that I'm a little off with some details but the whole sentiment of this windbag is pretty much on the money. Besides I have other things to talk about.


I borrowed a stack of albums from a friend of mine a few weeks ago, which included Blood, Sweat & Tears' debut album Child is the Father To Man. That album has always received high praise as something of a high water mark of adventure and experimentation for a band that quickly went on to play it safe and head for the middle of the road. I heard it back when I was about 20, and couldn't understand what all the fuss was about. So I figured it was time for a reexamination.

Time has helped me appreciate it more. Turns out BS&T - at the time helmed by Al Kooper, pre-David Clayton-Thomas - was a pretty interesting band, as long as Kooper wasn't trying to be a blues belter. There is some interesting arrangements that take pop music to a more elaborate level. But it's incredible that a band could be on Columbia Records - home of Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk at the time - and that the horns could sound so thin. I'm presuming they worked in the label's legendary 30th Street Studios, but things sound really tinny like they didn't get a good sound level.


In listening to the discs by Jason Stein's Locksmith Isidore that I got from Clean Feed last week, I found it pretty impressive that Stein actually blows some sounds on the album that honestly sound like no other bass clarinetist out there. I mean every horn player begins sounding a little like their predecessors if nothing else because they're playing the same instrument. From there, everyone has some new spin on the vocabulary. But Stein emits some pops and growls that sound break new ground.

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