I haven't listened to much music recently. Earlier in the day I was at football with Justin and Melvin. We'd smoke and drink in the mancave and return to the tv, back and forth, listening to the radio in the mancave. Most often we listen to the race or the game on the radio. Today, the Cowboys walked all over the Colts. In the mancave the radio was on a station that plays "oldies" of pop metal from 60s to 90s. We heard Pink Floyd's Money, the Stones' Paint it Black. The dj said Keith Richards turned 71 this week and picked this song to illustrate Richards' artistry with an electric guitar. Justin and Melvin returned to the tv and I stayed with the radio. Billy Idol's Dancing With Myself. I was thinking I wished they would play something with a punk jam to it, then they played Billy Idol. Just right. He did vocals for one of my favorite punk bands, Generation X. Dancing With Myself was the time of his transition from the London punk scene, which was over, to American pop. He injected a little bit of punk into American pop metal at the time. I sat listening to familiar rock from the past, songs I never paid attention to, but heard because they were in the air. Mostly it was post-Sixties metal heavy with lead guitar, a direction I did not follow in rock. About the time of the transition from Sixties to post-Sixties, I never took to nearly all of it. A bit too corporate pop. Punk started up in the mid Seventies and my rock n roll attention went with punk. The Clash, Joy Division, Nina Hagen, Patti Smith, the Sex Pistols, the Damned, Siouxsie and the Banshees, to name a few. I was listening to the rock I never paid attention to, hearing why, thinking I want to put on the Clash live when I get home, have a good jam. Listen to it like watching a movie, sit back and let it roll.
mick jones and joe strummer, the clash
By the time I made it home, everything had changed. I seldom play music while writing; it pulls my attention and won't let it go. Tonight I wanted to hear music. I said to self, I'm not listening to music enough. I went searching through the classical collection for something to fill the air. Stopped looking when I came to pianist Murray Perahia playing Brahms intermezzo solo and one long quartet with the Amadeus Quartet. Perahia's piano puts me in bliss. Brahms does too. Together, the music is divine. Automatically, I wanted to hear Alban Berg Quartet play Dvorak, but wouldn't do it. I've fallen into a Dvorak rut where once I hear him I don't want to hear anything else. This is what happens when I read Tolstoy. I'm at home. Tolstoy speaks to my soul, as does Brahms. Murray Perahia is tickling the ivories like the master he is. I can't imagine the millions of hours of practice behind what I'm hearing. The same applies to the violin, viola and cello. Something with this degree of skill and artistry is out of this world, quite literally. Musically, I'm somebody, who, when asked what kind of music I like, is stumped. I don't know what to say. Can't say everything, because I don't like everything. Should I give the long list of what I like and listen to, or the shorter list of what I don't listen to? What is called for is a word or a short phrase, certainly not a list. I don't know what to say.
One day someone I knew then, some years ago, dropped by with a friend I didn't know. I happened to be playing a Chuck Berry album because I'd been reading his autobiography he wrote in prison. The guy I didn't know said, I see you're into oldies. I was older than his parents. I thought: What? But couldn't say anything. Uh, yeah. Whatever. I thought about warping his mind forever by putting on the Murderdolls. But chose to let him believe his generalization. I had a hard time with one thing I'm listening to being the only thing I listen to. It told me he is into one kind of music. Didn't ask what it was. Didn't want to hear him say Poco. I'm remembering my friend Jim Rhodes I used to ride to Boone with weekly for Edgar Cayce meetings. When rock n roll was new, I was the first year that could stand to hear it. The kids one year older than me and beyond could never develop an ear for rock. Jim was a few years older and had never listened to anything but big band music, cotillion dance music, which he loved. He asked me one time to bring a tape of something I listen to in the car so he could hear what it was. I took a cassette of Hole's Live Through This. It was new then and it was in my truck. I told him to push the off button as soon as he can't take any more, I'm not pushing it on you, only answering your question. It didn't last ten seconds and he never wanted to hear anything else. Even among people I know who listen to rock, very few can listen to what I like. Neither Justin nor Melvin like what I listen to. Not so much that it's extreme, because it's not. I haven't listened to radio pop since the Sixties when non-corporate music went underground.
courtney love, hole
I'm inclined toward artistry with the guitar. I don't mean flourishes, but a new, original sound. Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, my guitar hero. I don't know many people who can take more than half a minute of Rage Against the Machine. But that's not my concern. My only concern is that I like them. I will sit down over the next day or two and give myself a good Rage concert. The first time I heard them, I didn't get it. Then I got it. I feel like a great good fortune in my life was being just the right age, 13, to start listening to rock n roll when Shake Rattle and Roll, Maybellene, Long Tall Sally, Bo Diddley all came on at close to the same time. One at a time, the pop radio station played a new rock n roll song. I've thought it a blessed aspect of my life, chose to follow it all the way along, see where it goes. It's been a half century and a decade of a wonderful music. It has a way of absorbing every other music it touches or that touches it. An Australian rock band of Aborigines, Yothu Yindi, uses traditional instruments with electric guitars, keyboard and drums. They're quite good. I love how rock n roll came from the wedding of Anglo music and music from Africa. James Brown and Otis Redding did a tour of Africa and turned people all over Africa on to a new electric sound from America that evolved into a new kind of dance club music mixed with traditional musics all over the continent. Now African music is coming back to us and getting woven into rock n roll again.
zack de la rocha and tom morello, rage against the machine