Saturday, September 26, 2009

Generations of Music - The More Things Change.....

........the more they stay the same huh? Now, please allow me to qualify what I am about to say. These are the words of an old rock and roller, and a seasoned concert goer since the bands touring were groups like Strawberry Alarm Clock, and ZZ Top was still known as The Moving Sidewalks. I grew up on be-bop late fifties and early sixties pop. When I as my son now has, became enamored with anything that had a steering wheel and four tires, I was fortunate enough to be swept up in the Southern California born hot rod and surfing craze and the music that accompanied it - Beach Boys, Jan and Dean sufr pop, and the real deal as well, which was Dick Dale, the Chantays, and the Ventures. Mind you, I grew up in coastal Texas shrimping country, so my teen pop and rock, was seasoned with a dose of a then flat topped Willie Nelson, with a salt and pepper sprinkling of George Jones and Charley Pride. My first live shows were local garage bands, who worked their butts off learning Van Morrison's "Gloria" or "St. James Infirmary", or they were beer joint Saturday night country cover bands. I suppose I was fortunate to have fled Victoria for Austin in time for the '70s music revolution. My tribe arrived there about the time The Armadillo opened, which coincided with the arrival of the "Cosmic Cowboy" phase of music, which thrives there to this day. I doubt the Austin-Dillo bunch honestly thinks they coined the sound of country rock, as with most other innovations those days, it came first out of Cali, with the young genius and Grievous Angel, Gram Parsons leading the charge, and being the driving force that launched the Byrds, The Flying Burrito, Emmylou Harris, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks.........just to name a few. That said, I think the genre of music was, and still is being tuned, tweaked and perfected in Austin Texas, and was all started by Eddie Wilson and Jim Franklin, and the bunch at the old AWHQ, and the groups like Michael Murphey, Willie, Greezy Wheels, Jacky Jack Walker ........

Now I will get to my story, for those of you still reading.........

I have been going to rock shows since 1966. I love music, it is a gift I have received and given many times. I couldn't count the number of shows I have seen, songs I have Audiogalaxied or Napstered, if I wanted to. As much as I enjoy listening to music though, the real joy for me is seeing it performed, preferably by the person who wrote it. I heard Shawn Phillips probably do the best job of putting it into perspective. He was referring to recording and performing his songs, and he said "I can go into a studio, and given the time and money, make a perfect record every time". If you have heard his music, I think you'd be inclined to agree. But then he said "the real trick is to be able to stand in front of an audience and reproduce that sound live"......again, I know for those of you who have been fortunate enough to see one of his shows, and hear a beautiful thundering orchestral crescendo drop yo you could hear a pin drop silence in the blink of an eye, you know what I mean........

I think one of my favorite aspects of seeing truly amazing concerts, was the evolutionary process of the music of the chosen few who made it big. Like those who were fortunate enough to see The Beatles do a club show in Liverpool, and now greying, go back and see a jaw dropping Paul McCartney show. By comparison, my early years were seeing The Moving Sidewalks in Port Lavaca, then ZZ Top at Sun Valley, then to see them be picked up as an opening act for the Stones, and finally to see them sell out an arena as headliners. The most consistent place I was able to watch the evolutionary process begin, was without a doubt at Armadillo World Headquarters Give the performances there a look, then browse the whole website. You are in for a treat. Those lucky enough got to see a struggling, but powerful New Jersey Band there before a whopping crowd of about 175. Next time I saw Bruce Springsteen was just a couple of years later at the Erwin Center - stuffed to the rafters......I could give you such examples forever, but I'll cut to the chase here.

I think my nightclub of choice for the present, has changed from the bars, to now being Austin City Limits - then catching the acts I saw first there, when they do the arena or stadium shows. That would be the change to which I alluded. The "staying the same" part, is what validates my love of music and live shows. The gal pal and I, and my boys 12 & 14, went to see Coldplay a few weeks ago - at The Woodlands. For me anyway, the joints have been replaced by a glass or two of chardonnay(hey, at least my shirts don't get holes burned in them by exploding, flaming seeds), and while stomping and clapping for an encore remain in fashion, now a sea of cell phone lights have replaced the Bic lighters as the visual display of approval from a crowd. The shows are amazingly unchanged, in that eye popping visual special effects still mark the high points of shows, only the technology has become exponentially better. Much of the old customs of concert going remain, including all in the car getting revved up listening to a CD(instead of an 8 Track, or cassette tape of the band) on the way to the show. I don't make as many of the shows as I once did, but I do try to take my boys when I go. My girl pal is thirty years younger than I, so when we go to shows with the kids, we are basically three generations of concert goers sitting on a blanket on a hillside, doing exactly the same thing I did thirty some odd years ago at Hill On The Moon, watching Thirteenth Floor Elevators in a field outside of Austin. I can deal with that! What a treat, all of us focused on the same music, grinning ear to ear, and my 12 year old just staring in amazement listening to "Clocks" and seeing the lasers trace the night sky out in the Piney Woods! I am indeed lucky to have seen my tastes in music and performance, remain the same for so long, and even more so, to know that I can enjoy it with two generations of people who mean so much to me at my side.

I reckon that is another thing that's changed - that never could have happened with my dad and I. As much as I owe him for instilling the love of music in me......I just can't imagine ever having gone with him to see Glen Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw, or Perry Como or Jim Reeves live........On the other hand, I guess it would have been pretty cool to have seen Chattanooga Choo Choo done live in a smoky bar.....watching the old man beaming like I do when my boys go to a show with me.

That makes for a nice picture in my mind. Far out!

The Law of The Garbage Truck....

Like most of you, I get forwarded e-mails, chain letters and various spam crap in my mailbox on a daily basis. Truly, 99% of it I glance at and nuke on the spot, and I rarely if ever pass it on to ten people, and sit back and wait for the winning lotto numbers to appear in the clouds within ten minutes. This one was a bit of a profound one I thought. I got it from Bird Dog Billy - one of the original readers and commenters on what was very enjoyable and gratifying blog for me to write as part of - The original blogger group on the Victoria Advocate website, before the carpetbagger editorial staff that now runs it arrived.

Funny, as I read this, at some point, it quit being words on a page to me, and became the voice of my brother-in-law telling the story, as he has said the same thing to me a few times before, just with different words. However you take it, it is hard to argue with the logic............

The Law of the Garbage Truck By David J. Pollay

One day I hopped in a taxi and we took off for the airport. We were driving
in the right lane when suddenly a black car jumped out of a parking space
right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his brakes, skidded, and
missed the other car by just inches! The driver of the other car whipped his
head around and started yelling at us.. My taxi driver just smiled and waved
at the guy. And I mean, he was really friendly. So I asked, 'Why did you
just do that? This guy almost ruined your car and sent us to the hospital!'

This is when my taxi driver taught me what I now call, 'The Law of the
Garbage Truck.'

He explained that many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full
of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment.
As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it and sometimes
they'll dump it on you. Don't take it personally.

Just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. Don't take their garbage and
spread it to other people at work, at home, or on the streets. The bottom
line is that successful people do not let garbage trucks take over their

Life's too short to wake up in the morning with regrets, so...Love the
people who treat you right. Pray for the ones who don't..

Life is ten percent what you make it and ninety percent how you take it!
Have a blessed, garbage-free day!

Thanks Billy - I needed this. I have been having such issues with the folks who jacked my daily paper. Hopefully I can learn some patience from these words.