May 03, 2018

Who Killed the Blues?

"There shouldn't be a rock and roll Hall of Fame." Agreed.

That acknowledged, Bill (not that Bill Wyman) Wyman has a go at ranking the Rock Hall "inductees", with capsule summations of each act interleaved with a surprisingly absorbing account of the Hall's farcical backstory.

Wyman is a great writer and as usual has lots of interesting, provocative things to say. What's the word for this elevation of the ordinarily irksome, boring, 100% inert "listicle" format? Transplendent. That's the word, transplendent.

You won't agree with all of his assessments. If you're the kind of person who is moved to anger by such things, you'll probably be moved to anger (and that will be cute, when you vent it on the internet.) Anyway, it's worth reading, which I can't say about all that many things that come across my window.

There's one bit I wonder about, though. In re. the Ramones, he says: "they pretty much removed the blues from a strain of rock."

I've heard people say this before, and I truly don't understand what it's getting at. Surely there's just as much blues in the Ramones as there is in any 1-4-5 pop-rock, going all the way back to the beginning of rock and roll pop songs. Is it just that there are fewer flatted thirds and sevenths in the melodies? (If that's even true.) Is it the "no guitar solos" thing (which is not even strictly true either)?

I'm willing to entertain the idea, but it sure doesn't seem obvious to me. At minimum, it requires some explication. Assuming removing the blues from "rock" is a thing that actually happened, why are the Ramones, per se, the culprits? Is there no blues in "Be My Baby"? Maybe Phil Spector is the blues-remover, then, not Joey Ramone. I'm not saying there's anything particularly or definitively "bluesy" about the Ramones, but rather that you can say that about a great many rock and roll songs that came before. Their compositional aesthetic was indeed based on such material. Is it simply a matter of driving the final nail in the alleged blues coffin, somehow, completing the work begun by Phil Spector, the Brill Building, et al.? Cynthia Weil, with the lead pipe, in the drawing room?

(On the other hand, I've heard people say that Metallica excised the blues from heavy metal -- or "freed" heavy metal from the blues -- which it wouldn't occur to me to question in the same way. That seems obviously true, and also: I"m against it.)

It hasn't moved me to anger, but only to a kind of puzzlement. Anyway, I'd very much like to read a transplendent Bill Wyman article articulating it. Get on it, Bill, wouldja?

Posted by Dr. Frank at 04:14 PM

Minor Secrets of "Our Love Will Last Forever and Ever" Revealed!

Minor secrets of "Our Love Will Last Forever and Ever" -- praise Odin! I hope your Wodensdaeg proceeds apace, if apace means what I think it does.

This has never been regarded as one of the "top tunes" in the catalog (at least I don't think it has), but it's one a handful of songs I'm genuinely proud of and satisfied with. Conceptually, lyrically, structurally, melodically, and even maybe in execution, it hits it out of the park, or, to tone down the self-praise a bit, it does more or less precisely what was intended. Which you can't always count on, and in fact it's quite rare.

As to why others don't seem to see it like that, quite, maybe that has something to do with the fact that we've never played it live all that often? (And one reason for that is, it's got a structure that, while rational, isn't predictable: it's hard to remember how many "bumps" go where and it's easy to screw it up.) Also, we never made a video of it at the time, which seems to make a big difference in the beloved-ness of particular songs. This video, which is obviously brilliant, was done long after the fact by the very talented Augustus Rachels, as a school project. (He also did the "Cinthya with a Y" video.. check out his stuff here.)

Anyway, I'm not going to "explain" it or anything. It's a dyspeptic, upbeat, rather grim yet wry love song, which is how I like 'em best. The Tin Pan Alley Cole Porter-y lyrical-compositional affectation doesn't always work this well when crammed in to two minutes of punk rock. It's got some great lines that still make me smile/smirk a bit after all these years. And for what it's worth, for me, it's basically the quintessential Dr. Frank song (if you don't dig it or get it, you probably won't dig or get any of my stuff) and maybe even the quintessential MTX track from that era (along with, possibly, "Sackcloth and Ashes" or "I Fell for You".)

The feedback guitar in the bridge was played by Kevin Army. We wanted it to sound apocalyptic and blown up, and I think layering it over the strummed acoustic has a cool effect, if not, perhaps, quite evoking the end of the world. We used to put more thought into this than you probably think we did.

(Oh and here's the official and semi-official videos playlist for more of this... ilk.)

So there you have it. Another song for Woden. Be good to each other. Kiss each other a lot, keep your fingers crossed, and try to avoid getting shot and struck by asteroids if you can.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 12:33 AM

Road Story

A re-telling / re-posting of the story of how the Mr. T Experience almost died in a blizzard in North Carolina on the Yesterday Rules tour.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 12:30 AM

Free Speech Diary

The Count Dankula sentence and various other news item sparked some free speech blather of the sort I tend to emit from time to time, and I aggregated them here, adding some relevant grafs from an old essay sparked by the International PEN award for Charlie Hebdo.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 12:26 AM

Eh well...

Let things slide with keeping the updates going here.

Here's a round-up of last week's links.

Here's the round-up post of the previous week's links, just in case.

All this courtesy of "on google", which allows important celebrities like me to intrude information in a little panel of boxes on the google search page. Check it out.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 12:21 AM