Ronnie Wood is a celebrated guitarist best known for his work as a bass guitarist and songwriter with The Jeff Beck group, vocalist and guitarist for The Faces and – finally – landing his dream job playing guitar and singing with The Rolling Stones (his favorite band). Ronnie Wood is a known figure in the world of rock and roll but is a very underappreciated songwriter and guitarist. Cry a river for Ronnie, right? Who cares? I do!
The shit song of the week goes to the anticlimactic Christopher Cross song “Ride Like the Wind”. I really remember hearing it for the first time, as a kid shopping with my mom at a southwest side Chicago Zayre Superstore in 1981. A middle-aged store clerk was stocking the shelves with pet rocks and sizzle lean wearing brown slacks and white shirt. I noticed the guys name tag and it said his name was Marty and he said to me, “Hey Kid you like Christopher Cross”? I was really young and shy but I just kind of replied that I really didn’t know? He looked at me, kind of giggled and remarked “your too young kid to really enjoy good music just yet”. Well now flash forward I’m 40 years old at the time of me writing this and I probably have been exposed to more music than most folks and I can safely say to Marty no, age isn’t the problem man. Christopher Cross just simply bores the piss outta me. It reminds me of death and that if there is indeed an elevator to hell “Ride Like The Wind” would be blaring in a loop at a high decibel all the way down. The song also raises a question. If you could ride like the wind wouldn’t you expect a more aggressive or even a more provocative and magical sounding soundtrack? You be the judge but as far as I’m concerned “Ride Like The Wind” by Christopher cross is about as exciting as a yawning festival. Enjoy!
There aren’t a lot of options for culture in Cowtown, circa 1990s. The Internet was still Telnet, and the dial tone determined whether or not you were going to be able to get your Furry-muck on that evening. But ’90s girls, please join me in a moment of silence for Sassy magazine. Sassy, giving today’s Teen Vogue its legitimate activism-lite marching orders. Sassy, which later evolved into the execrable Jane.
Digressions aside, as a white Midwestern gal of Gen X, Sassy was my window to a world beyond poof bangs and the vocational school rejects who mooed at me in the hallways. I devoured every issue, intent on filling my brain with activism, culture, and music.
Howlin’ Wind by Graham Parker and The Rumor is an album of abundant substance. The story behind the band and the production of the record have a lot of sub-plots behind them so I will try to focus more on the record and its songs rather than try to form a family tree behind it. This will be hard because Howlin’ Wind was produced by Nick Lowe, features Dave Edmunds as a guest guitarist and was recorded at Eden Studios in London, a studio that had quite an impressive guest list from 1972 to 2007. You very well might have quite a few records that were recorded there: Elvis Costello, John Cale, Joe Jackson, The Happy Mondays, The Smiths, The Undertones, The Sex Pistols, Primal Scream and Oasis are just a few bands that have recorded at Eden Studios. That said, I will try to pin down the Album “Howlin’ Wind” and a give brief history of Graham Parker and the Rumor.
So this is going to be new, because we’re going to get to know this one together. I became a fan – and I mean a rabid, rabid fan of The National via a burned copy of High Violet that a former co-worker slipped me back around the time it came out in May of 2010. I sat on the record for a few years because at the time I was inundated with new music and what I can now admit was a completely erroneous idea that The National’s music was what I call “beard and wine music” (think Bon Iver – who knows, I may one day find I’m wrong about him too). So around 2014 Bret Easton Ellis had the band’s lead singer Matt Berninger one his podcast. I was unfamiliar with the guest by name, and as the cast began with the opening of High Violet’s Conversation 16 my eyes went wide – it sounded exactly like Ellis’s prose – which I am an enormous fan of – reads: haunted. I listened to the conversation Ellis and Berninger shared, which dwelled largely on Mistaken For Strangers, and afterward sought out the song on youtube. When I did I realized it was from the album I had on file and immediately dug it out of one of the stacks of burned discs that live in a cupboard in my dining room.
So I intercepted that last tag…because well…maybe I just needed to and all the signs pointed that way. Sometimes life throws a few things at you and you probably know what I mean in your own way. Change, sadness, uncertainty, self-examination. Dodge, push, move, repeat. But move…move on and try your damnedest to look back in fondness or at least without anger. Live now. Evolve. This version of 1989 was suggested by a friend and I was a bit skeptic, but knowing Ryan Adams and his outstanding catalogue I had to give this a listen. I will fully admit I cannot boast of being a Taylor Swift aficionado thus I’d not heard any of 1989 with the exception of the singles like “Shake it Off” and “Bad Blood.” And at the point of this writing, I’ve still not. I prefer it that way, I feel I can be more objective rather then comparing the two works. I do fully recognize Swift as the primary songwriter and lyricist for these songs, thus critique of any lyrics would be directed that way. I will say she is talented. More talented then my original perception of her abilities. Which goes to show you…