Wish you were here

Both the single and album of Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’ became one of my favorite songs and albums over a period of years, and  almost against my will, in the decades following its 1975 release. Through the good graces of high school friends, I attended many great rock concerts from 1974 to 1977. Led Zeppelin, Robin Trower, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, The Who, and the Guess Who.

Prior to many of these concerts, and I remember it most clearly in the old Met Center, the Front of Hall guys would play this meditative album over the sound system until the act came on stage. I recall not liking it at the time, and when you are eagerly awaiting the explosion of of Whole Lotta Love, ambient music rankles.

It seemed the album was omnipresent during my high school years of 1975 to 1977. A couple of classmates and cross country teammates were obsessed with it and quoted lyrics in the school hallways and made much of the admittedly brilliant ‘burning man’ cover art, and the deeper philosophical implications thereof.

In the fullness of time, I learned the album was inspired by Syd Barrett, an original Pink Floyd band member, who was stricken with schizophrenia and was unable to continue as a musician. It was a song of loss, longing, melancholy. Ironically, while the band was mixing down the album, Syd visited the studio but was so disruptive they escorted him out–begging the question of just how badly did they wish he was there. Floyd’s prior effort, ‘Dark side of the Moon’ also took inspiration from Syd’s illness, the moon being associated with lunacy in former times.

And a few years ago, it became linked to my dearly departed friend, Steve Gursky. More on this remarkable man in other posts, but I will simply note that his brother, Loren, played the song on acoustic guitar and sang it at Steve’s funeral gathering. He said it was the hardest song he ever had to play, but that he just had to do it for his older brother.

And I now present you with another priceless treasure from youtube, a cover of the song from an extremely talented young woman–even more melancholy than the Pink Floyd version, if such a thing can be humanly possible. She has put multiple versions of it on youtube. She started with the sheet music, and now appears to have memorised it. Looks like its getting under her skin too.

This is for you, Steve. I truly do wish you were here.

Boz Skaggs, soundtrack of my Vo-Tech years

I attended Area 916 Vocational-Technical institute from roughly 1977 to 1978. I earned a two-year programming certificate qualifying me to program mainframes in COBOL. Out of all my over-educated years in school, this was hands down the most enjoyable learning institution I attended, due to the good friendships, the relaxed atmosphere, and many enjoyable parties. Due to its independent study competence based program, and the fact that I got high school credit for attending it in high school, I spent about a year and a half there.

It represented for me at the time a big expansion of my scope of experience, which I often viewed with a wide-eyed fascination. Learning the principles of computing, new friends, romance, and attending parties with classmates who lived in apartments! I was living at home and apartment living seemed the height of adult sophistication.

And behind all that, the music of Boz Skaggs. In 1976 he teamed up with session musicians that later formed the band Toto, and created his masterpiece, Silk Degrees. While the ‘Lido Shuffle’ topped the charts, I much preferred ‘We’re All Alone’, dubbed with the detested appellation “MOR” by a clueless wickipedia author, and the peerless slow-dancer, ‘Harbor lights’.

I recall some 30 odd years ago, a callow young man who would take a beautiful young woman to the dance floor, slow dance to Harbor Lights, become intoxicated in a cloud of pheromones, and enter a dreamlike state of bliss…

 

Libertarian at heart

My son let me know he is preparing a post discussing our trip to the Republican state convention in Rochester Minnesota a few years ago. To avoid any misunderstandings, I would like to state that today I align myself with libertarian thought rather than one of the two major political parties–and in fact my election to state delegate was due to the libertarian views expressed in my speech, as my district had a lot of Ron Paul types in it. I no longer align myself with either major party.

If one seeks to learn more about libertarianism, the website mises.org contains a wide collection of scholarly and popular writings, discussing many subjects from a libertarian viewpoint. If one wants to see a very disturbing interpretation of the financial activities of our time, the libertarian/populist web site zerohedge.com provides daily commentary–though plenty of what is discussed there is beyond my investment/financial expertise.

I will also note that I enjoyed taking Anthony to attend the convention with me, and I am glad he remembers it fondly. At the convention, I recall Governor Quie telling us of some mischief he got up to when his dad took Al and his brother to a republican convention when he was a child. Let’s guess he was 12 at the time, it then would have been in 1935. I was touched, thinking about the father/son parallel. Also, Anthony was able to sneak in because they were all too preoccupied with making sure Ron Paul didn’t get into the convention. He was confined to the outer hallway where the picture of the two of us was taken. 😉

The 60s, a time of simple drum kits, and some tasty morsels from Cyrcle

For me, the pop/folk/rock of the 1960s was joyful in a way that has never been replicated. In my mind, conveyance of joy in popular music is a historical concept replaced with today’s obsession with darker emotions and debasement of the flesh.

I haven’t linked to any youtube yet in this blog, but I will give it a try here. Youtube has become not just a treasure chest of 60s music, but rather a city full of treasure the likes of which one can never fully explore. For your enjoyment I present this sugary snack from Cyrcle, Turn Down Day, a sound alike to their greatest achievement, the wonderful Red Rubber Ball.

A couple of notes here. It may be the limitations of my ears or mind, but I really prefer simple music in terms of number of instruments and singers. This simplicity was due to technological limitations of the era, when a premier studio counted itself lucky to have a three track tape recorder.

The item I really enjoyed in this video (the lack of microphones indicating lip-sync to their studio recording), is the small and typical early to mid-60s drum kit. a snare and hi hat, one mounted tom, one floor tom, and a single ride cymbal. And look how the drummer has managed to dramatize his 16ths on the ride by swinging his arm while swatting out quarters on the snare.

http://youtu.be/ZqrsGXjRLds

Since I mentioned Red Rubber Ball, I found another tasty morsel, a live performance of this song. Again, the drummer is of interest as I have always felt the drum shuffle was a key element of this song’s success. In a live setting, their soaring harmonies are rougher but also less sterile than the studio effort. I will also mention my lust of the gibson 335 one of the guys is playing. This video is said to be a 1966 performance, and the longer hair and less formal clothing indicates this to be about the last moment of mountain stream purity in pop music before the psychedelic influence that transforms pop music in 1967.

PS. Well, holy socks, Batman! The videos show up with an image preview–that’s as good as it gets.

The case of the friday night studier

As I mentioned, many of us liked to let go a bit on friday (as well as saturday) nights. When gathering the gang and trying to figure out what to do, we often tried to recruit a certain classmate whom we will call Jack for the purposes of this anecdote. Now Jack was  quite personable and was an enjoyable and humorous guy to party with. Then I started to notice that he frequently didn’t come along with us, but rather took a stack of books to the law library on friday nights. We would try and convince him to go and he would say stuff along the lines of “Listen guys, I’m not as smart as you are. I’m just not getting the material, I gotta work on it more.”

So, this goes on and after grades come out at some point we find he is like third in the class. Well, live and learn…. Jack gave us much to admire and envy.