Thursday, July 3, 2014

Navigating Soulless Slush & How Vintage Trouble Restored my Faith in Music

When it comes to writing, I get an A for content. As for flow….basically there is none- so just try to keep up.

Sitting, cold and wet at the most epic concert venue in the world, I pondered (which is funny because I was almost too sick to even think let alone ponder)  “what the hell has happened to music?”  There is more rap on CMT than here is on MTV, no music at all on MTV or VH1, musicians are in short supply but if you’re computer literate you can back up and front your own band, produce, record and market your own album and probably take home a Grammy for it the next year. Mind you, you haven’t ever even picked up an instrument and you can’t sing but you know how to mix, I mean fix that. Elwood Blues could not have said it better… It’s recycled digitally sampled techno groove, synth rhythms, pseudo songs of violence laden gangsta rap, acid pop and saccharin soulless slush.”  It’s disappointing really, and disheartening. As the parent of a “tween” I go through a constant circle of emotions when it comes to the music she listens too: proud mom moment, rock out with the kid moment, OMG turn that sh!t off moments, and all points in between. We raised her right though. She loves Elvis, Led Zepplin, Joe Bonamasa, BB King, Stevie Nicks…..and of course she likes Ke$ha, Lady Gaga, and a plethora of other “artists” that definitely have catchy tunes and make you wanna groove in your car seat but musicians? - most of them are not….far from it actually. My husband can completely reproduce their entire albums on his keyboard in less than 30 minutes.
When did it come to this? When did we stop caring about jam bands, guitar riffs that melted your face off, drum solos that made you pee your pants, power ballads that broke down even the toughest bastard.  When did we let go of that? When music grabbed a hold of you and yanked you up by the roots. It wasn’t always sensible but it was profound. It lacked finesse but it was an extension of your soul and you could share it with everyone around you. It was as simple as the fellowship that came from peeing in a field with a bunch of strangers after a show. Music was a religion, just look at the 60’s and 70’s. People dedicated their entire lives to following bands around the country and so what? So what if they gave the proverbial F-You to society and blue collar jobs and white picket fences. They didn’t have a pot to piss in but they had happiness; happiness, freedom and love, they shared, they laughed and they lived-they truly lived.  Yes, things have changed, it’s not so easy to live that lifestyle anymore unless you’re on a commune in Oregon but that doesn’t mean the rest of us should have to settle musically.
This is why I flip through my parents old records once in a while. There is good, good music in there. I was bottle fed this stuff! Led Zepplin, Janis, Jimi, Crosby, Stills & Nash, ZZ Top. It was the soundtrack to life. It was always spinning in the living room. My parents appreciated good music, felt it, lived it, enjoyed it, shared it. They started taking me to concerts when I was 10. My first experience was EPIC, it was loud, crazy, it was Red Rocks, a drunk lady threw up on me-I couldn’t have asked for anything better, it was awesome! My parents were products of the 60’s and before I was 12 I had seen  Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Robert Plant, CCR, ELO, Billy Joel, U2, Foreigner, Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Marshall Tucker.  Then later  they tagged along to the bands I grew up wanting to see, Def Leppard, Metallica, GnR, Pearl Jam, Refreshments, Smashing Pumpkins, Everclear, Matchbox Twenty. They never said no to anyone I wanted to go see because I never liked a band that wasn’t made up of actual, living, breathing musicians.  Love or hate their music, they actually knew how to play instruments…..what a concept!  Maybe all of this technology is put here to make us appreciate the real music that’s left. Hell BB King has been doing this  for 70 years now, still the same, still blues, still plays, still makes Lucille talk, of course he sits a lot more now but what the hell, he feels it, you feel it and it didn’t come off a junk drive. One night, we were stuck on the ramp at Red Rocks for an hour (I have no idea why.)  We stood like cattle waiting to be branded, singing every TV theme song we could think of. Nothing says comradery like belting out the Brady Bunch with a herd of weirdo’s you don’t even know!  None the less, I will never forget it, it was simple, it was stupid and even now, it makes me smile.  On the 25th Anniversary of Woodstock, my dad stacked the speakers up in the window of our house, pointing outwards, and played Jimi Hendrix Star Spangled Banner as loud as that German system would go.  You could hear it for miles. It was a lesson in love: love of the times, love of America, love of peace, and a lesson on how to break the law just a little bit and feel good about it.
 So back to my pondering in the cold night. I admit I was annoyed by many things at that show. First, I was f-ing cold, it was June and I was cold! On top of that, I was dying of what could only be poisoning from the margarita machine. Mostly,  I was disappointed. When you love a band your whole life (name not to be mentioned) and then you don’t get the show you know they are of capable of, you feel a little cheated.(On a side note, apparently I’m just getting old because I no longer have the patience for stupid people. To this day I do not see the point in $50-200 to see a band (yea, we won’t touch that subject) and then getting so drunk you don’t remember any of the show.)  For days afterwards I read post after post on Facebook about how amazing and wonderful this show was when really, there have definitely been better.  And I guess I feel a little cheated when you have the service fee from hell on your ticket charge and the sound guy has clearly lost his mind because no one in the band can hear each other and the timing is off for the first 5 songs.  And I feel ever further cheated when a guy’s a jerk! The way I see it, I make your paycheck. I buy your CD and your t-shirt, download your songs, pay to see you live. I make your paycheck and you do not reserve the right to be an asshole to me. You have it made, there is no need to be a prick. Maybe my expectations are just too high.
Okay, rant over-now, having said all of that and I know it was all over the place, occasionally, my faith is restored-Alleluia! And if you have achieved restoring my faith you have done something. What I love more than anything in life is when you stumble across by chance, accidentally, or on purpose, a band that makes you smile big and say to yourself “Hell yes, that is what it is about. That is what it is supposed to sound like. That is what it is supposed to feel like. It is supposed to be this infectious! YOU are supposed to make ME feel this way! That is it!”  Kinda like a “come to Jesus” moment in the music world.
Over time, our perceptions change but the electricity never does.  The fact remains that you can’t program passion and you can’t download soul. There is only one way to get that feeling. The one that starts in the soles of your shoes and collapses your knees a little bit and tears through every inch of your insides and makes you groove whether you want to or not and you never, ever want it to stop. It comes from good live music and musicians that love what they do and what they do to you. They give it all, with every ounce of everything they are, it pours out of their hands and feet and eyes, it oozes out of their pores and you can’t help but just want all of it. It’s like a storm that just dropped out of the sky on top of us and blew us the hell away.  How refreshing to hear something so classic and so vintage sound so right now. So soul, so funk, so rock, so creamy, so tasty, so, so…. Energy and sweat and skill and sex flooding the stage and fueling the well-oiled machine that blazes through you like lightening and burns your soul leaving you simply smoldering in the afterglow when it’s all over.

 Yea, that’s what it was like.  That’s what it was like the night Vintage Trouble restored my faith in music.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.