Thursday, May 22, 2008

Songs You Know By Heart

The Lefsetz Letter is on about belonging.

I just finished reading the Eagles story in "Rolling Stone". Halfway through I wondered why. I decided it was because it was written by Charles M. Young, one of the legendary second wave "Rolling Stone" writers, and because I cared, I had an investment. I’d bought the debut on a whim, knowing it contained "Take It Easy", but discovering it contained not only "Witchy Woman", but "Earlybird" and "Tryin’". I bought the follow-up because that’s what you did. Buying the debut was like purchasing stock, owning a piece of the band, you were devoted, you didn’t need to hear a new single to be convinced, you purchased the follow-up without hearing it first. "Desperado" was just another cut, on a failed album, financially. But I purchased the third record, which had "My Man" but wasn’t quite as good, and then the band broke through and started to be hated for its wimpy ballads. That’s what success breeds, hatred. But I soldiered on. I bought "One Of These Nights", and on the day it came out, "Hotel California". When I dropped the needle and sound started pouring out of the brand new stereo I purchased as a reward for attending law school, I was stunned. The track was not on the radio, hipsters were not debating the band… Everywhere I went I told people about this one track… That they had to hear the new Eagles album.

I guess that’s what had me reading the "Rolling Stone" article. My sense of belonging.
Me, I could care less about the Eagles, but it would require invasive surgery. But I get his point. His point is, we want to belong. We hear a band and we get involved. It becomes part of our life and we want to be part of their life. I bought a copy of American Songwriter because it has a small interview with Gary Louris in it, and in 1992, Gary and others were in a band called the Jayhawks, who recorded an album called Hollywood Town Hall. There is no way that Bob Lefsetz would consider the Jayhawks a classic band — his idea of classic ended when Diamond Dave was kicked out of Van Halen, I think — but for me, they were. When I was in college the first time, Hollywood Town Hall was folksongs, because everybody knew the words.

I drove with my eldest yesterday. I knew my MP3 player was near dead, so I grabbed a CD. When it died, I put it in. I play music for my eldest, who is thirteen, that I wouldn't for my other two because he's older. He won't reject it because it's "not the Beatles". (I'm a Stones man, myself. I'm alone in the family that way.) I stick in Trace by Son Volt. It's a CD I've had since 1995. Basically, it's a CD I've had as long as I've had my eldest. And I started singing. Because I knew every word.
This music is not evanescent. It’s part of our collection. We carry it in various formats, everything from vinyl to cassette to MP3… Not that we truly need a copy, because it’s embedded in our brain, our DNA, it’s part of us.


Stratocat said...

If you haven't already, listen to Hotel California back to back with Joe Walsh's "But Seriously Folks". Sounds like some of the stuff comes from the same sessions-- namely the arrangements of "New Kid in Town" vs "Tomorrow".

Dave Jacoby said...

I may have to do that.

I don't own either at the moment, but I know I can grab them with very little effort....