Sunday, August 30, 2015

Thinking About Yesterday's Blues: Richie Sambora Stranger In This Town

I'm sure that when people heard Richie Sambora was going to release a solo album, they were not expecting his 1991 blues-laden but still rocking release, Stranger in this Town. There are a few songs that really captures Richie's talent in both writing and blues playing. But, he cannot get away from the Bon Jovi sound on some songs.

Rest In Peace
The first sounds and words are haunting. A soulful, lusting prayer for a woman. This songs however, gives no hint of what's to come on the album.

Church Of Desire
The songs opens where the haunting Rest in Peace left off, but you soon get the soul and blues feel to this album. The lyrics are well written for this album. And what would a good blues, guitar album be without longing for a woman.

Now we dance with the devil down lonely
Street, lonely street

Looking for a window in the house of tears
Living in hell, I pray the rain disappears
I'm headed for a breakdown
And the fever runs higher
As I kneel at the altar I can feel your fire
In the church of desire
Church of desire

Stranger In This Town
A great blues song that really seems to come from the heart. This album should have been filled with songs like this. He's dealing with some type of conflict for sure in this song.

Ballad Of Youth
Simply a great song that deals with just going along with life. There is a lot of reflection in this album. It's nice to hear substance in a song.

One Light Burning
More of what I think people expected from this album. There is a lot of discovery in this song.

Mr. Bluesman

I still think having Clapton on this song is a but much, but good for Richie for being able to get him to play. Good song, but a but tongue in cheek. Also has a touch of country actually. Curious.

This is the rock and blues infused with some Jon Bon Jovi. You can hear it.

River Of Love
Blues, love, lust. This song is really reminiscent of the time, very late 80's early 90's. Think it would have been good on the Cocktail soundtrack had this album come out earlier.

Father Time
The only ballad-like but non-ballad song. Could have been more bluesy, Richie.

The Answer
This song clearly illustrates turmoil in Richie's life. It's a beautiful acoustic song of questioning, again reflection, and moving on.

And now my life is like a storm
Growing stronger every day
Like the unrelenting wind
That comes to blow our lives away
So I live each day like I know it's my last
If there is no future there must be no past

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Highway's Jammed With Broken Heroes On A Last Chance Power Drive

Released August 25, 1975, Springsteen and the E Street Band's third album Born to Run has been called one of the greatest albums of all time. Springsteen has also referred to it as  a maturation in his lyrics, saying Born to Run the album where I left behind my adolescent definitions of love and freedom*. Springsteen has said that he wanted Born to Run to sound like Roy Orbison singing Bob Dylan, produced by Spector.

The album cover adorned with Eric Meola’s classic shot of Springsteen holding his Fender leaning up against Clarence Clemons gives away the work that went into the album. This one frame is one of over three hundred taken for the cover.
Side 1
The album boasts some of not only Springsteen and the E Street Bands best hits, but some of rocks most iconic songs. With the soft piano and harmonica opening of Thunder Road, the album quickly builds tempo. As for track number two, I’ve walked by 10th Avenue and E Street and been to the ice cream stand, the landmark basis for Tenth Avenue Freeze Out.  This song talks about the formation of the band who would give Springsteen his wall of sound that he was searching for. This album focuses on New Jersey, New York, and the working class, blue collar hero. Side One ends with a romantic ambiguous song about love, platonic or not, on the beaches and in the Backstreets.


Side 2
Born to Run is possibly one of Springsteen and E Street Band’s best and most recognized songs and the tile track of the album. It’s about his love of a girl named Wendy and his Zeppelin like Trampled Underfoot muscle car undertones. She’s The One takes the rock sound to historic level with the 50’s sounding guitar. Again, it’s about love but love that shouldn’t be wanted since she seemingly tore out his heart. Meeting Across the River shows the depth of Springsteen’s characters that he develops for his songs. Jazzy to the core, this song brings us to a haunting and classic final song. Jungleland is the showcase to this album. Violins and gang violence, wrapped perfectly in a Clarence Clemmons solo saxophone bow.

Albums are not written like this anymore. They don’t go into the studio for months and work until every sound is right. Forty years and this album has not been topped. This is our history. It is the history of the young and in love. The story of the working class going to the shore and trying to make ends meet. Born to Run is just as much Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s history, as it is ours.

Side 1

Thunder Road
Tenth Avenue Freeze Out

Side 2
Born to Run
She’s the One
Meeting Across the River


Inteview  Richardson, Mark (November 18, 2005).

Thursday, August 20, 2015

So My Big Brother Was Playing Guitar And I Thought I'd Try It Too

Unknown Credit
August 27th marks twenty seven years since the world heard Stevie Ray Vaughan play Number One, his signature Fender Stratocaster. Twenty seven years since I knew I would never get to see this gifted musician play live. And since Stevie Ray Vaughan's untimely and shocking passing, his influence and legendary status has only gained in momentum.

At the 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction, the man who is responsible for Stevie Ray Vaughan ever picking up a guitar inducted his little brother. And the moment was not lost on Jimmy Vaughan. While he did talk about Stevie Ray sneaking around to play his big brother's guitar when told not to, he credited his brother's sobriety with saving his own life.

Whether it was his raw and emotional guitar playing or his truth about addictions, much can be said about Stevie Ray Vaughan's influence on people to change their lives for the better. From Bonnie Raitt to John Mayer, Stevie Ray can be attributed to helping them become clean and also become the best guitar players that they could be. He also influenced many to simply become the best person they could be.
One has to wonder, twenty seven years on, where in the musical world would Stevie Ray
Vaughan be? What other songs, such as Lenny, Riviera Paradise, or Pride and Joy would Stevie have gifted to us. He was the epitome of the blues. He hit the very bottom and rose to stardom, only to be lost so very young in such a tragic way. Sobriety found him loving life to the fullest and playing the best shows of his career.

In the time since Stevie's passing, a true testament to his staying power is how timeless his music is. His songs were not jockeyed for an era or a style of music. Stevie Ray played the blues, he lived and breathed the notes he played. Music was his passion and it was evident every time he picked up his guitar. 

Scottish singer, Sandi Thom, said that once after a gig at El Mocambo in Toronto, she was one of a handful of people left in the building. Off in the distance, she heard the unmistakable sound of Stevie Ray's guitar. She is not the first to have heard his signature heavy handed riffs when the lights are turned off. El Mocambo was a favorite venue for Stevie. She followed the sound, to see a  shadowy figure in a room, hunched over playing guitar. Both he and the sound disappeared when she turned on the lights. In the end, we're all chasing the ghost of Stevie Ray Vaughan.   

It seems like to me that he’s just out on tour and he’s going to come back soon, but then I remember. I’m not going to ever get over losing him, I’m not going to get over this crazy thing.
~Jimmy Vaughan

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Nothing Left To Do But Smile Smile Smile

Counting stars by candlelight, all are dim but one is bright ~ Terrapin Station The Grateful Dead

Twenty-two years ago, before I entered the Dead Head world, I remember my friends holding vigil for Jerry Garcia. August 9th is the day Jerry left this world.

I get it now.

Once I became a fan I understood the love of Jerry Garcia. He brought happiness to so many by singing songs that brought joy, conveyed feelings that so many of us felt but didn't know how to say, and taught us how to live and love in the moment.

Something was lost that day years ago, but something has been passed along. Jerry left us with one lesson and that is to keep the love going through music.

Even if you are not a Dead Head, I hope you can understand. I hope you can live in that moment for one second.

There is nothing like singing your soul out, under the stars, to your favorite Grateful Dead song, or version of that song. Singing it and understanding what he meant when he wrote it or remembering a time when you heard that song.

I will never hear Morning Dew the same way again - it will brings me back to sitting next to Rob E on Dino's drum riser, back to my better half asking me to marry him.

Or Touch of Grey, I will always remember those snow angels in a parking lot in Burlington, VT.

And my last memory of Scott, listening to Stella Blue.

Thank You Jerry! We are still spreading your message and we are still counting stars by candlelight.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

U2ie Madison Square Garden July 31, 2015

I resisted seeing U2 for a while after having such an amazing experience seeing them under the Brooklyn Bridge...and I'm glad I waited until last night.

The energy of the Garden was electric to say the least. Everyone in attendance had a favorite song they had to hear and a U2 moment they cherished. Even more excited, every time you see U2, they re-invent themselves - yet stay the same. They are technology innovators and I was excited to see how they could top themselves again.

Lucky to be able to go with a friend who could name the song before the first note was played, it was not only the best U2 show I had every been to, it was one of the best concerts I had ever attended.

As the lights dimmed, U2 walked from within the Garden locker rooms and onto the stage. Beginning with Miracle of Joey Ramone, it is very fitting that each show starts with this song. The Ramones are part of the reason why we have U2 and Bono becoming such a part of Joey Ramone's life makes the opening number in NYC so emotional. The next three songs got the crowd really going once we heard it was U2's 100th performance in NYC!!  

We went back to the new album - which people should give a second listen - and went down an emotional path as Bono told of the loss of his mother, Iris. He recanted his journey to become a band, as well as trying to win the girl of his dreams. At this point, the band and Bono are actually within the animation on the Garden length screen. Truly wondrous technology that U2 always seems to invent for shows.

At this point, it got really emotional for me. The screen display changed from houses in Dublin, to traditional row flats in Northern Ireland. The floor was lit to the Irish Tri-Colour green, white, and orange. Larry Mullen proceeded out with a simple snare drum as The Edge played the first notes of Sunday Bloody Sunday. Emotional enough, right? After a brief When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again, they go into Raised by Wolves. It is a song about finding justice for those killed in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings in 1974. The gentlemen in front of us lost his grandfather in the bombing and pointed him out when the victims pictures were displayed on stage with the words:  Justice for the Forgotten

The first set then ended with one of my favorites from Achtung Baby, Until the End of the World.

The Fly and the Berlin Wall back drop took us through a very brief intermission.

Besides the Invisible second set opener, it got very Zoo TV with throwbacks to Achtung Baby and some Talking Heads and David Bowie thrown in.

It was party time with Desire, Give Your Love and then ... the crowd surprise favorite, Party Girl (which had not been performed in full since July 7, 2009).

I was feeling very Rattle and Hum with some Pink Floyd mixed in when Bono took to the runway with a  megaphone to sing Bullet the Blue Sky. The surprise of 19 mixed in really got me. I used to listen the song over and over via cassette.

The show was at a crescendo as a member of the audience (in our section) was hondered for his peace work in Northern Ireland. During Pride, we all sang for Bill Clinton. (a great geeky, political moment for this nerd).

(Minute 12)

The final songs of the second set had everyone singing. Beautiful Day with a Springsteen teaser of Hungry Heart led us into the final pre-encore song, With or Without You.

Knowing that City of Blinding Lights was about the first time U2 played in NYC, the band lived up to the tour's name,  Innocence and Experience. Innocent boys from Ireland 35 years ago to the experienced band they have become, giving a nod to the previous night's guest, Paul Simon with Mother and Child Reunion, before belting into Where the Streets Have No Name.

And then we finally got our surprise guest answer: Bruce Springsteen (who look amazing) joined the band for I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For and a surprise (not on the set list even) version of Stand by Me.

And just when I thought we would break into One to end the show. Manager Dennis Sheehan was honored and U2 ended the show in a traditional fashion that concluded for me why this was my favorite show ever: 40.
In the halls of the Garden, the words still echoed: How long to sing this song.


U2 Innocence + Experience Tour
Madison Square Garden NYC
July 31, 2015

Miracle of Joey Ramone
Out of control

I Will Follow
Cedarwood Road
Song for Someone
Sunday Bloody Sunday > Johnny > Raised by Wolves
Until the End of the world

 The Fly (Intermission)

Even Better Than the Real Thing
Mysterious Ways >Burning Down> Young American
Desire>Give Your Love
Party Girl
Every Breaking Wave
Bullet the Blue Sky > 19
Hands That Built America >Pride
Beautiful Day > Hungry Heart
With or Without You

City of Blinding Lights>Mother and Child Reunion
Where the Streets Have No Name
I Still Haven't Found > Stand by Me (Springsteen)