Monday, March 30, 2015

Talking In My Sleep


We are living with the ultimate guitar legend. Clapton, member of bands such as the Yardbirds, Cream, Derek and the Dominos, John Mayall, Delany and Bonnie, and Blind Faith, proved his ability to survive through moments that would bring many to their knees.
This 70 year old was witness to some of the world's best musicians, Hendrix, Harrison, and Vaughan. His signature slowhand style, that rich, full bodied, soft but powerful chords , is pure Clapton. Songs such as Running on Faith, Layla (with the help of Duane Allman), Bell Bottom Blues, and so many more.
But with the highs come the extreme lows. His battle with alcohol and drugs was written at in length by Clapton himself in his 2007 autobiography. Deep depressions, his closest companion George Harrison trying to save his friend during the Concert for Bangladesh in New York City, and turning it all around to create the Crossroads Centre. Clapton's relationship with George Harrison is one of true love, especially when they went through so much turmoil over one woman: Pattie Boyd. Their love of this woman should have ruined most relationships, but these two maintained friends until Harrison's death in 2001. This one woman and her lovers would be the inspiration for some of rock's best songs. Something, I Need You, For You Blue, Layla, Wonderful Tonight, and Bell Bottom Blues.

But Clapton would see his world  turn tragic just as he thought he had turned it all around. First, he could have been on the same helicopter as Stevie Ray Vaughan in the doomed helicopter that crashed in the Alpine Valley Amphitheatre in 1990. In 1991, his son Connor would die after a fall from a New York City apartment window, and all the steps forward Clapton had taken would be null and void. Arguably his biggest hit, Tears in Heaven, would come of out of this tragedy.

And since the early 1990's he's turned it all around - a new outlook, a family, and a generation of new musicians that he has inspired. Clapton continues on touring and making new music. If you have never seen him play live - you must put that one your list of things to see this year. Clapton plays Madison Square Garden to celebrate today's birthday, ironically on the anniversary of his 1968 MSG concert with Cream.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Lift Up the Receiver I'll Make You a Believer

March 19, 1990 was the day the Mother Love Bone's lead singer, Andrew Wood passed into the heavens, Alan Cumming and Natasha Richardson brought Cabaret back to Broadway, and one of the most influential albums of the 1990's was released. Depeche Mode's Violator, the band's eighth album, was released at a unique time in that hair bands were dying and grunge was festering away in Seattle. This is the album that put Depeche Mode into the superstardom realm. Their unique lyrics and creatively unique risqué videos also helped to push them into a realm of more than electronic and more than pop music. While they had proved their popularity by selling out the Rose Bowl in 1988, it would be the release of Violator that gave them credibility.

World in My Eyes
It sounds like a futuristic car starting up. Then Dave's voice hits you. Let me show you the world in my eyes. The lyrics to this one are very simple, it's Martin and the hypnotic beat that drag you into the driver's seat (which assumingly would be in Dave's lap).

Sweetest Perfection
Call it electronic jazz if you will, this song is purely about the uber love of someone.
The sweetest infection
Of body and mind
Sweetest injection
Of any kind

Personal Jesus
The song that is probably Depeche Mode's most known to many, I'm sure many in the religious world hated this song. But, hey everyone needs a Personal Jesus - and for a while, mine was Dave Gahan. Yes, reach out and touch faith.

One of my favorite Depeche Mode songs of all time, Halo is the acceptance of sin. It's opening lines grab you and are genius.
You wear guilt
Like shackles on your feet
Like a halo in reverse

Waiting for the Night
It sounds almost like an electronic lullaby. Its a song about the still of the evening or if you really listen, is it about Dave's addictions?
Been waiting for the night to fall
Now everything is bearable
And here in the still
All that you hear
Is tranquility

Enjoy the Silence
There are two incredible videos to this song. The first is one of Dave Gahan traipsing about a mountain top dressed as a king. Ah, enjoy the silence - power, possession, a crown. Another song with simple lyrics All I ever wanted, all I ever needed, is here in my arms, but it would be the second video that eleven years later would give people chills. 
High atop the World Trade Center, Depeche Mode captured the grandeur of the Twin Towers.

Oooooh, hidden track of symphony. Sort of like a "drums and space" for the electronic band. It goes seamlessly into ...

Policy of Truth
You have to really listen to the lyrics in this song to realize they are saying You know, things would have turned out so much better if you'd only lied a few years ago. About what, we will never know.

Blue Dress
Many have done between this is a song about a really pretty girl to, when in doubt, the song is about heroin. Is the worthless item the material dress or the damaging drug?
Something so worthless
Serves a purpose
It makes me a happy man
Can't you understand
Say you believe
Just how easy
It is to please me
Takes the listener back to Music for the Masses and refreshes for the final course.

A very personal glimpse into Dave's clean lifestyle - or attempt at the time.
As years go by
All the feelings inside
Twist and they turn
As they ride with the tide
I don't advise
And I don't criticize
I just know what I like
With my own eyes


Man of Golden Words

Have I run too far to get home?  Have I gone? And left you here alone?If I would, could you? 
 Alice in Chains Would

Andrew Patrick Wood left this side of the universe 25 years ago today. He has been gone longer than the life he lived. At 24 years old he was just beginning to realize the dream he had so longed to be a part of.

How do you describe Andrew? Take David Bowie, Glen Campbell, Freddy Mercury and Marc Bolan - throw in some Mississippi, some NBA, some bass  some fancy hats, and don't forget a sparkling, shimmering persona and you've got Andrew Wood.

Some talented artists in 1988 already making their own waves with bands such as Green River and Ten Minute Warning found each other. Jeff Ament, Greg Gilmore, Bruce Fairweather and Stone Gossard came together with Andy of Malfunkshun fame and formed Mother Love Bone. This was the pre-big bang for Seattle. Living with Chris Cornell and loving the music, Andy was making his dream happen.  

Grunge was just bubbling in the mire of anger and frustration of Seattle musicians. Mother Love Bone however, to me, was not there at that angry jumping off point. Andy brought the glam and persona of the musicians and icons he looked up to into the mix. Songs like Stardog Champion and Stargazer lyrically were heavy but still airy and not weighted down.  Mother Love Bone was signed and headed in the direction that Andy had dreamed.  But life was not all perfect and sparkly like the persona.

 Andrew had his demons,
but so did so many at that time. Drugs were a part of the Seattle scene. He struggled for years - he also had a supportive family and friends that worried about him. Almost kicking it, the demons still won  (without some controversy of course as his hospital records have mysteriously gone missing). The rising star had gone out on the top of his game. So many questions as to what would happen to the band and what Mother Love Bone would have become had heroin not kicked Mother Love Bone in the heart and stole their flamboyant keystone. Ironically, Andy's departure would spawn one of the most influential bands to come out of the grunge era: Pearl Jam.
                                   Chris Cornell pays tribute to his former room mate and friend

25 years gone - it still seems like yesterday. Andrew had a promising musical career ahead of him. He had life and love ahead of him. We will never know what else L'Andrew had in store for us. Would he have ever crossed paths with Eddie Vedder? Would he have fought with Kurt Cobain about "selling out?"

All I know is that the hole is still there - but it is filled with the memory and love of a wonderful soul - my heart shine, Andrew Wood. May you forever be young and be fabulous Mr. Golden Words and may there always be a Lakers v. Celtics game on in Heaven for you.