Archive for the ‘Music that doesn’t suck’ Category

R.I.P., Dusty Hill

July 28, 2021

One of the many ZZ Top albums I’ve worn out over the decades.

ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill has finally bottomed out.

According to the band’s website, Dusty shuffled off in his sleep at home in Houston. He was 72.

Dusty, Billy Gibbons, and Frank Beard helped keep me between the lines on many a long road trip over the years, pounding on the steering wheel and singing along. Now he’s up there jamming with Stevie Ray Vaughan, Guy Clark and the rest of them hombres.

’Scuse me while I crank up some “La Grange,” y’all.

Willin’

July 18, 2021

Nope, not a church. It’s the chimney for the bedroom kiva fireplace.

The Lowell George song is pretty much all I know about Tucumcari. That, and that round two of The Visitation occurs today, as another smallish herd of Texicans gallops in from there to see Herself the Elder.

Their trip looks like a stroll through the daisies compared to what Herself’s sis will endure when she jets in from Maryland midweek. Holy hell. That itinerary is why I drive any distance under 3,000 miles that does not involve an ocean crossing. A UPS driver at Christmastime makes fewer stops. Plus there are fewer psychos to duct-tape to their seats en route.

Meanwhile, the news of the world remains an ongoing refutation of both Darwinism and theology. One envisions the Son having a Word with the Father while the Holy Ghost spitballs a new PR campaign:

“I got nailed up for these people? What were You thinking? I’m going to put You in a home while HG and I try to figure out how to turn this thing around.”

Good luck with that. Me, I’d think about starting over with a fresh crop of monkeys. But judging by the state of the place, maybe that’s already occurred to You.

Black Woodstock

July 5, 2021

You’re never too old to learn. Especially when you start from a base of ignorance.

I didn’t learn about the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre until 2019, when it came to HBO in “Watchmen.”

And I didn’t hear about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival until 2021, when Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson carved a mountain of forgotten concert imagery into a Black Mount Rushmore, creating the documentary “Summer of Soul” for Hulu.

The Tulsa massacre was buried with its victims for reasons that should be all too obvious. And the Harlem Cultural Festival was strangled by the largely white Woodstock — until Thompson brought the late Hal Tulchin’s long-buried footage back to life.

In an interview with The New York Times, Thompson said:

For nearly 50 years, this just sat in a basement and no one cared. … History saw it fit that every last person that was on that [Woodstock] stage now winds up defining a generation. Why isn’t this held in the same light? Why was it that easy to dispose of us? Instead, the cultural zeitgeist that actually ended up being our guide as Black people was “Soul Train.”

We watched “Summer of Soul” last night, and man, what a blast from the past it was. So many cuts from the pivotal days of this whiteboy’s personal soundtrack.

David Ruffin, fresh from an acrimonious split with The Temptations. A young Gladys Knight and the Pips, very much on their way up. Sly & the Family Stone. B.B. King. Hugh Masakela. Stevie Wonder. The 5th Dimension. The Edwin Hawkins SIngers. And artists whose work I didn’t come to appreciate until later, like Max Roach, The Staple Singers, Mahalia Jackson, and Nina Simone.

All of them on stage in Harlem’s Mount Morris Park, playing for a largely Black audience of 50,000 people at a pop, guesstimated at 300,000 over six shows. Admission: Free.

And to think all that sound and glory wound up in a basement tomb, waiting for someone to roll away the stone.

Happy birthday, Bob Dylan

May 24, 2021

The Master’s eighth studio album.

I backed into Bob Dylan, the way you might bump into an interesting character at someone else’s party.

“Mr. Tambourine Man?” The Byrds sang me that one. “Blowin’ in the Wind?” Peter, Paul and Mary. “All Along the Watchtower?” Heard it first from Jimi Hendrix. I don’t think I really got into the guy that Chazbo Pierce calls “The Master” until “John Wesley Harding” came out in 1967, shortly after my family moved from San Antone to Bibleburg.

My friends and I played the shit out of that one, and then I started rooting around through his back catalog.

I lost interest after Bob found the Lord, though I dug “Gotta Serve Somebody” and “Everything Is Broken.” These days I only have the old stuff — “Blonde On Blonde,” “Blood On the Tracks,” “Bringing it All Back Home,” “The Freewheeling Bob Dylan,” and “Highway 61 Revisited.” You’ll find more killer tracks on those five albums than most singer-songwriters could produce in five lifetimes.

As Thomas McGuane put it in “Nothing But Blue Skies”:

No one compares with this guy, thought Frank. I feel sorry for the young people of today with their stupid fucking tuneless horseshit; that may be a generational judgment but I seriously doubt it.

Extra-Credit Dylan:

• At Esquire, Charles P. Pierce discusses the old soul of The Master.

At The New York Times, Jason Zinoman calls Dylan our most underrated comic, arguing that he belongs “in the pantheon of great Jewish funnymen.”

Happy Mothers’ Day

May 9, 2021

Don’t freak out, man.

Live together or die alone

May 1, 2021

The Free New Mexican Air Force?

February 25, 2021

From the Albuquerque Journal:

“Do you have any targets up here?” the pilot of American Airlines Flight 2292 asks Federal Aviation Administration traffic controllers. “We just had something go right over the top of us. I hate to say this, but it looked like a long, cylindrical object that almost looked like a cruise missile type of thing moving really fast right over the top of us.”

Was it Mescalito riding his white horse? Or The Free New Mexican Air Force?

¿Quien sabe, ese? Rolllllllllllllllllllllllll another one … just like the other one. …

Piles of blues against the door

February 18, 2021

There’s a strong whiff of the dumbass coming out of Texas lately. The directions are printed right there on the soles of the damn’ boots, yet nobody in authority can pour the piss out of them.

Maybe it’s frozen.

But not everyone in the Lone Star State is all hat and no cattle. For instance, there’s Steve Earle, and there’s also Steve Earle talking about the literary qualities of Willie Nelson, which is even better.

And finally, there’s Texas Monthly, with “13 Curses to Mutter Against Ted Cruz While You Boil Snow to Drink.”

Can’t buy me brains

February 7, 2021

The Fab Four arrive in New York.

On this day in 1964 The Beatles came to America.

Two days later they appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” and I was watching, like 74 million of my fellow Americans.

My parents were appalled. My sister was entranced. And me? I remember thinking something along the lines of: “Hmph. These guys will never be as big as Elvis. And look at those silly haircuts.”

R.I.P., Claude Bolling

January 25, 2021

Not just another jazz album.

Damn, I don’t know how I managed to overlook Claude Bolling’s departure. He and Jean-Pierre Rampal helped spark my interest in jazz way back when.

I got in by way of what they called “fusion” — outfits like The Crusaders, Weather Report, Pat Metheny Group, Return to Forever;  individuals like Stanley Turrentine and Grover Washington Jr.; and so on.

Some classical and jazz purists turned up their snoots at this sort of thing, but I loved it. Being a flutist of sorts myself I instantly found a connection with the Bolling-Rampal collaboration, right down to the whimsical cartoon album covers.

Bolling himself seemed to have a playful nature, and he resisted attempt to categorize what he was doing musically.

Mr. Bolling’s compositions were sometimes described as “combining” jazz and classical music, but he had a different view.

“I don’t like the word ‘combination,’” he said in 1982 in an interview for The Syracuse New Times, a weekly paper. “This is simply a dialogue between two kinds of music. I have made nothing new. This has been going on for a long time.”

His music will do likewise, no matter what the snobs say.