The Hyacinth House

26 04 2011

One of my favorite Doors songs is “Hyacinth House.”  I haven’t listened to L. A. Woman in years, but the song came back to mind when I saw the hyacinths growing in my yard.  Great song.  Lovely flower.


Memo to Zeppelin fans

12 04 2011

Most of you probably know this, but plenty of you don’t.  If claim to be a Led Zeppelin fan, you should know this.

“D’yer Mak’er” is not pronounced die-er maker.  It’s pronounced like juhrmaker.   Have you ever heard a Brit put an “r” sound at the end of a word ending in “a”?  (For example, vodka sounds like vodker, Donna sounds like Donner.)  Linguists have fancy terms for that, but I’m not going to go into it.  It’s quite boring.  Long story short, that’s what’s going on with the song’s title.  D’yer Make’er is Jamaica.

I know this seems snarky and a bit know-it-all-ish.  I think what caused this mini rant was hearing a rock and roll radio personality/DJ, from a major market radio show, call the song die-er maker, not unlike the Zep fans I knew in junior high and high school.

Carry on.


24 03 2011

I swore that I’d never mark anniversaries of bad events.  This one, though, has been hard to ignore for reasons that I cannot explain fully.  On March 24, 1996, my dad passed away.  Each year, I think about this day for weeks as it approaches.  That’s not all bad.  It just is.

One of the things that always linked my dad and me was music.  Last night I was reminded of a song that he played for me not too long before he died.  That got me to thinking about the songs that trigger memories of time spent with him.  Maybe we talked about the song or maybe I just remember hearing it in his car.   These jumped out at me.

“Dust In the Wind” (Kansas) — It must’ve been on the radio when I was with him.  He liked it, which probably triggered me to ask what it meant.  I was only 6 at the time, but I remember him telling me that we’re all born, we’re here a (relatively) short period of time and then we return to dust.  We return from whence we came.

“Hello Goodbye” (Beatles) — I remember that it was on the radio when we were driving somewhere.  The conversation wasn’t very deep, but it stands out.  I asked Dad if John was the singer.  He said, “No, it’s Paul.  Paul wrote this.  You can tell by the lyrics that John didn’t write this.  He wrote songs that were more like ‘Come Together.'” Excellent point, Dad!

“Better Off Without AWife” (Tom Waits) — Not too long before he died, he had been divorced.  He played this song for me at his place and said it explains why he’d never marry again.   It’s kind of funny if you know the song.

“The End of the Line” (Traveling Wilburys) — This song’s connection is a little less direct.  During Christmas 1988, I worked at Musicland in our local mall.  Because I got a discount, I got tapes and CD’s as presents for some family and friends.  For Dad I got him the Traveling Wilburys Volume 1 on tape.   I sent him a note saying I thought he’d like these guys because he would’ve grown up listening to some of them.  It was forgotten until maybe a year later or something and I said, “Dad, did you like that tape I sent you for Christmas?”  “Oh, yeah! I wore it out.”  I think he mentioned The End of the Line as one of the highlights.

“Give Me One Reason” (Tracy Chapman) — It was released months before Dad died, so I don’t know for sure that he was a fan, but I always assumed he was.  Even 15 years later, every time I hear it, my thoughts immediately go to him.  Why?  It just sounds like a song he would have loved.  He might have, but we never had that discussion.  It was definitely his style and I can’t separate the song from thoughts of him.

“Sister Golden Hair” (America) — The only explanation for why this song and my dad are linked in my mind is that I’m pretty sure I first heard it on one of our long trips up north.  It was just in the background.  Maybe he turned up the volume a bit when he heard it.  I couldn’t swear that he liked it, but I flash right to the interior of his Volkswagen Beetle whenever it’s played.

Small Town

16 05 2010

I was listening to “Penny Lane” today — which, by the way sounds brilliant in remastered stereo! — one of several of the Beatles’ songs that so adeptly look back at the area of their youth.   I wondered if my hometown, in the Detroit suburbs, had a song that described it, at least implicitly.

The first song that came to mind was “Main Street” by Bob Seger.  But other than mentioning “Main Street,” the song bears no resemblance to where I grew up or where I live now (which, coincidentally, are not far from where Bob Seger was raised.)  That songs about the seedy side of town.  Then, of course, there’s “Detroit Rock City,” which really isn’t about Detroit.  It’s more about a vibe.

John Mellencamp’s “Small Town” kind of fits.  My current town is really a small town surrounded the more urban massive “Detroit metropolitan area.”  It’s still a town within miles and miles of city and the people have that “small town” feel, the good kind, not like a bunch of hayseeds.

It seems like English bands have a lot of songs like this.  Lennon and McCartney, as mentioned, were quite good at writing that kind of song.  The Kinks’ entire Village Green Preservation Society album is built around the theme of the then-vanishing 19th century English lifestyle.  My suspicion is that there are more American songs out there to be found.

Earth below us, drifting, falling

19 04 2010

One of my favorite 80’s songs is “Major Tom” by Peter Schilling.  I saw the video at my gym yesterday and it inspired me to share it here.

Jeepster for your love

25 02 2010

My song of the moment is “Jeepster” by T. Rex from the Electric Warrior album.  I’ve been getting into T. Rex the last year or so, but mostly just piecemeal.  I hadn’t bought anything because their CD’s are kind of hard to find in stores it seems.

Two nights ago, though, I got ahold of Electric Warrior from the local library and I’ve played it a few times.  It’s one of those rare albums that I immediately loved.  Normally an album takes a few spins to get used to it, but this one was great the first time ’round.

It’s not a heavy album, despite the title.  There’s plenty of rock but it’s mostly understated, simple.  Still, the album grooves!  “Bang a Gong (Get It On)” is the big hit on the album, but “Jeepster” is my song right now.  This video is quite good.

There are some other great tracks on the album.  In fact, I think the whole thing is pretty damned good.   I can’t wait to get my hands on more T. Rex.  Next up: The Slider.

A Hymn

22 11 2009

Maybe it’s the time of year.  Perhaps it’s because of what I’ve been reading lately (church history and apologetics.)  Whatever the reason may be, I’ve been wanting to listen to traditional Christian hymns, mostly the Protestant variety.  I’m very picky and I can’t seem to find what I want on CD or even via internet audio or video.

But then I remembered that a dear friend of mine, Caleb Gilbert, is in a band called the Black House Ceilidh.  BHC put together a Christmas album a few years ago and does several appearances each holiday season.  The band is quite diverse in terms of its influences and style, but leans toward a traditional English and Celtic sounds.

Though not traditionally associated with Christmas, “Come Holy Ghost” is a song in the band’s holiday repertoire, and it fits nicely.  It’s actually the kind of hymn I’ve been wanting to hear, played in a style that I’ve had trouble finding.   Enjoy the video.