I long for the day of the album… and I don’t just mean vinyl, which is back in a BIG WAY…
I mean the days when artists came up with CONCEPTS… THEMES… COHESIVENESS…
Where ALBUM ART tied it all together, was thought out… and actually meant something. (Though follow that link for a most interesting and ironic read!)
Top 40 radio is all about the single… the one hit they can play over and over… and that one hit can sell an entire record… or maybe not. Spotify and iTunes has enabled us… yes, ENABLED… to buy one or two songs… to not listen from start to finish… or, in the case of Spotify, to not buy at all.
So while records are back, record sales are not. Most artists, it seems, now make their money on the road. And major stars… most of them… are involved with major money grabs. I cannot tell you how many concerts I would have to loved to have seen, but had to sit out due to ticket prices. Yes, I am talking to you Sting and Peter Gabriel… and Rush…
I get it… grab it while you can, but really??? Concert going has, once again, become a rich man’s sport… and music for the masses is no longer the rallying cry of the day. For those of us with a limited concert budget, it is much better to see three or four shows at smaller venues than one at a stadium or arena…
And yes, perhaps I am being hypocritical with my multi-Bruce shows, but that accounts for the majority of my budget and is most definitely by choice. There are not too many artists out there whose live performances actually infuse you with life and joy and energy and spirit. I was not happy that Bruce upped his ticket price by almost 50% since the last time around… but I went… and I am happier for it. Poorer, but happier.
Thanks to Al Gore (Ha!), the internet has also given the power back to musicians. You no longer need a major label to promote you. You can put out a record and sell it yourself. Easy? Hardly… but it can be done.
However, this too is an embarrassment of riches. There is SO MUCH amazing music out there, it is hard to discover all of it. It takes public radio stations like KCSN (Hi DJ Julie Slater!), KCRW, WXPN, etc. to hear new music on the airwaves… (And also a shout out to Christian James Hand’s great new show on 100.3 The Sound) and a whole lot of word of mouth and discussions with friends to tap into a new band. But we do what we can…
Last week I had the opportunity (thanks, Brad) and the privilege of seeing Dennis DeYoung (founder of Styx)… and Boston, a band I had never seen live. A friend of mine calls them fake Boston, which I get, as the only original member is founder and principal songwriter, Tom Scholz… who also happens to be an MIT grad and a genius on many levels…
Lead singer Brad Delp sadly killed himself in 2007… a whole other discussion, right there… So sad…
But, the band is what the band is… and while they will never be the same without the searing and soaring vocals of Brad… they were quite amazing and fun… and, to a person, a truly wonderful group of people. This is an old, classic stage show… the lights… the lasers… the videos… the stage poses… and the incredible onstage charisma… THIS is Rock n’ Roll!
Gary Pihl on rhythm and lead guitar, keyboards, backing vocals.
Jeff Neal on drums, percussion, backing vocals.
Tommy DeCarlo on lead vocals, keyboards, percussion.
Tracy Ferrie on bass guitar, backing vocals.
Beth Cohen on keyboards, vocals, rhythm guitar.
Okay… Fine!!! I have a little crush on Beth! And I loooove that this is Jeff’s “summer job,” as he is a teacher in Maine the rest of the year. And yes, I told him I would love to have this kind of summer job!
The concert was so enjoyable, in fact, that it had me go back and pull all my Boston albums out… Okay, CDs… my albums are in my parent’s basement in Jersey!
I have not stopped listening since then. From the brilliant, opening fade in of “More Than A Feeling” to the closing of “Let Me Take You Home Tonight”, this is an iconic, time-defining, life-defining, eight song, perfect album.
Yes, I know many people who did not like “Arena” or “Stadium” rock bands… who dismissed their music as being nothing more than loud anthems… but anthems bring people together and on to their feet… anthems bond us and get us to see the similarities in all of our lives…
But Boston is really quite more than that… If you take the time to really delve into the lyrics, you’ll find a deep humanity… a yearning… a rebellion… and THAT is what Rock n’ Roll has always been…
“I looked out this morning and the sun was gone
Turned on some music to start my day
I lost myself in a familiar song
I closed my eyes and I slipped away
It’s more than a feeling (more than a feeling)
When I hear that old song they used to play (more than a feeling)
And I begin dreaming (more than a feeling)
Till I see Marianne walk away
I see my Marianne walkin’ away.”
He’s writing about how OTHER records and music start his day… How he gets lost in that music… and how it heals and saves us… and yet, in a brilliant twist, THIS song… THIS record is now what WE are…or were listening to… to start OUR DAY! To get lost in… to heal us and save us and give us so much more than a feeling. Boom! The power of music is so visceral… it informs us… every cell and every heartbeat can be matched to the beat of a drum… the strum of a chord. We find commonality in a lyric.
Universal themes are timeless… hit across all races and creeds… religions and beliefs… They are UNIVERSAL for that reason… because they have tapped into something we can all relate to.
How can you NOT like this record??? I mean really.
My windows have been rolled down for almost a week straight… and I have been blasting this…
The crazy of the world is all around us… Crazies and craziness abound… We all continue to struggle with so much… It hasn’t changed… Music gives us answers… keeps us sane… reminds us that we are in this wild journey together… so lift up those lighters (or dreaded cell phones)… but don’t record… or watch something in front of you from a tiny ass screen…
Put your arms around the person next to you… move and sway to the music… and rock your ass off!!!
“Now if you’re feelin’ kinda low ’bout the dues you’ve been paying
Future’s coming much too slow
And you wanna run but somehow you just keep on stayin’
Can’t decide on which way to go
I understand about indecision
But I don’t care if I get behind
People livin’ in competition
All I want is to have my peace of mind”