Friday, January 2, 2009

800-mile musical musings

Just got back from a road trip to Chicago. The drive is short enough to go straight through, just long enough to wear you down. While the iPod was plugged in a few times, the background was mostly provided by XM Radio (I guess that's Sirius/XM Radio, post-merger).

We flip between a few major channels, from classic rock to classic punk/New Wave, with occasional stops at older country, current alternative, hip hop and garage rock. On this trip I discovered that the sounds of Yes, always grating, can nearly drive me to the point of hitting someone. They are excruciating and their iconic status is lost on me. Art rock in general is my least favorite. It's not that I have complete disdain for pretentiousness, a little never hurts and is present in most artists' work. Which leads me to Peter Gabriel.

Early Genesis is a favorite of my wife's. Lamb Lies Down on Broadway - yecch! I even can't really latch on to the argument that Gabriel's Genesis is better than Phil Collins' Genesis. Though the choice is one between a kick in the head and a kick in the crotch, my tendency is toward Collins' era, since I lean toward vacuous pop. Gabriel doesn't drive to me lash out physically, as does Yes (it's odd to be so angry at such a positive word). He does push my queasy button and the headaches his music produces for me are identical to those I get driving on a gray rainy day, listening to news radio. If I still got carsick I would carry a bottle of ginger ale for the times Biko or I Have the Touch come on. We did catch the latter. It's almost not a song at all and the lyrics are ridiculous, as arty prog-rock tends to be. That's him above, singing into his pistil. I admit to liking Shock the Monkey though. For my readers, you'll remember a previous post on my simian obsession. I prefer the German version, Shock Den Affen (I believe). The great tune isn't marred by comprehensible words.

Poetry is where you find it. I love Dylan (below), always have, but I never truly accepted the idea that his lyrics, his poesy, were to be seriously considered among the greats. I won't argue against it though. It seems to me sometimes deep, most times witty with a huge helping of words arbitrarily connected for little reason. In Martin Scorsese's No Direction Home, the best scene is of Dylan outside a London shop scrambling and re-scrambling the words on a sign until they are rendered meaningless, or meaningful, depending on your mood. We listened to Blonde on Blonde with little comment. We also listened to the new Conor Oberst CD. Oberst, lead singer of Bright Eyes, is another in the long line of new Dylans. I like it a lot. Karen pointed out that his lyrics were a parody of folk singing. But were they? They really aren't far from Dylan, just absent the years of praise and elevation to godlike status.

Just one more thing. I missed the last week of the NFL, but did get to see the wrap on the Jets. My post of a few weeks ago called it all. Glad to see the mopey Favre end this way. Firing Mangini was the only thing to do. Who to hire now? I hear rumors of Bill Cowher, but why stop at a living legend for a coach? In typical Jet fashion they should go for the big name, one way past his prime. I suggest the corpse of Vince Lombardi. No one is more hallowed in the game's history and it would give the New Yorkers a high profile leader. They could prop him up in his coffin on the sidelines, just like Morgan Freeman (below, pre-decease) outside the saloon in The Unforgiven. It may drive some fans to a rage, just like the one Bill Munny (Clint Eastwood) was driven to at the sight of his friend dead outside the bar. It would get a lot of press though, and that is what the Jets are after. Winning championships is for the Giants.

That was truly a Long Distance Runaround from the beginning of the post!

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