Posts Tagged 'fleetwood mac'

Liner Notes-My Life Was Saved By Rock And Roll – Part III: Rock Is Dead; Long Live Rock

In the late nineteen-sixties, I began picking up hints of musical things that I had some difficulty digesting. The more pop aspects of the big folk music revival had caught my attention: Simon and Garfunkel, Joan Baez and even Flatt and Scrugg’s “Foggy Mountain Breakdown.” I sure as hell didn’t get Bob Dylan. Something was indeed happening, but like Zimmy’s Mr. Jones, I really didn’t know what it was.

I remember being appalled at the dissonance and musical sloppiness of much of the music on the sound track of the film “Monterey Pop. I thought myself far too sophisticated for what seemed to be the faux rock and roll hippie appropriations of earlier and purer forms like the blues. The Beatles were cute, but the Stones were just too crude and ragged around the edges. There are those who, to get their ears and heads, unclogged need just a little help from their friends. To say that in 1970 I was naïve is probably an understatement. The images that came into my mind even that late in the game when the term “pot party” came up were those of people sitting around a fondue pot. I was aware that drugs, hard and soft, played a role, for better and worse in the new popular music, but that sort of thing was utterly irrelevant to the life I was leading.

It was of all people, a cop, a casual friend who then happened to be on the Philadelphia police force, who showed up one evening to drink a few beers and to listen to records. In addition to a stack of records, he brought with him a couple of those small illegal, hand-rolled cigarettes. We were listening to the Crosby, Stills and Nash album when it occurred to me that until that moment I had never heard anything quite so wondrous. The terms marking the experience were all the cliché’s of the times, life changing, transcendent, whatever, but no less true. To make the impact even more intense, that very same evening four decades ago, we took in a showing of the biggest ever pop concert movie ever, “Woodstock.” I awoke the next morning, a man changed forever in terms of my relationship to music.

It took some time for my burning bush experience to root, but root it did. My choices in radio stations began to turn from the all-classical and jazz formats that had defined my tastes, to the then free-form progressive rock stations. I played Van Morrison’s “Moon Dance” and the Steve Miller Band, even Boston and Kansas until my wife would say, “enough, enough.” Like world history and life itself, one thing followed another and another, until my record collection, then my cassettes, then CDs and now my iTunes library grew to encyclopedic densities. For decades, I attended shows and concerts, staying up far too late for my working life. Now in my dotage and retirement the outings are more and more rare, but my I’m on my third iPod with over fifteen thousand songs on file.

My choices in music remain catholic: from classic rock; Fleetwod Mac and Led Zepplin, to indie alternative; Red House Painters, the Feelies, Bloc Party, Wilco and Beth Orton. There’s country and bluegrass, reggae and even classical music and jazz, from Bach and Bartok to Goodman to Coltrane, all of it. And yes, there’s even Bob Dylan now. I think I may know now “what is happening,”or maybe not. But I keep listening, continuously monitoring the DEW line of the culture.

The Twin Atlas, live at Indres Studios, Philadelphia

And as an aside, my listening now includes the stuff done by my own son, a multi-instrumentalist with almost a dozen CDs to his credit. I of course feel that their band’s “psychedelic folk pop” has much too small a cult following. The name of the band is “The Twin Atlas.” They have become one of my default choices for music. Check them out at:


My All-Time Top Ten Albums

No Bruce, no Beatles, no Stones, no apologies.

The list was originally compiled for a local non-commercial radio station event. It reflects strictly personal choices rather than significance. It may not be a true Desert Island Discography, but in a pinch, it would do for me.

1. Rumors – Fleetwood Mac

Why not? A great album whose very success assured the end of any possibility of music as a vehicle for change. I recently pitched it to a twenty-one-year old music freak who rolled his eyes at the prospect of actually having to listen to it. A week later he called and used the word “amazing” about it.

2. Hotel California – The Eagles

The same critique as Rumors. Go a couple of years without hearing anything from it (probably impossible if you ever got to shopping malls or own an FM radio) listen with fresh ears and test your reactions to it.

3. Wildflowers – Tom Petty

A so-called solo work, but a Heartbreakers’ album all the same, and the best thing old Tom’s ever done.

4. AJA – Steely Dan

A pinnacle for the band, filled with pop masterpieces,

5. Sweet Baby James – James Taylor

A never to be repeated tour de force covering an dazzling range of musical styles.

6. Reading, Writing and Arithmetic – The Sundays 

A one-off classic that set the bar for alternative pop. 

7. Slow Train coming – Bob Dylan

A much maligned Dylan effort, but the one that made a believer of me.

8. Being There – Wilco

A redefinition of pop-rock.

9. Songs For A Blue Guitar – Red House Painters

Don’t believe it? Listen to Kozelek’s cover of The Cars, “All Mixed Up.”

10. But Seriously Folks – Joe Walsh

A discarded musical jewel awaiting rediscovery.