I have found music again, pretty much where I left it, and just as delightful as it was when I last felt connected to it.
I had a lot of work to do yesterday, extending beyond the confines of a standard work day. Fridays in the new normal are like that.
So at one point I broke down and did what I do when I have to work but there is no one around to watch me: I went to the Internet Archive and fired up some streaming Grateful Dead shows from their collection.
This has long been a favorite tactic on those days when no one else is in the office, like the day after Thanksgiving, but I hadn’t resorted to it during my pandemic exile until yesterday.
First I tried the Sept. 11, 1973, show from the College of William and Mary, which I knew to be good. Then I switched to the June 8, 1974, show from the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, which I knew to be great. (This one features a 23-minute version of “Playing in the Band” that turns very dissonant and very free. Something to pry your ears open.)
And when I was done listening and typing, I wanted music. More and lots of it. I haven’t felt that way since the plague started, and it feels good.
Since then I have listened to some or all of:
Magic Sam Live: In the car going to and from the grocery store. Haven’t put this album on in years, owing mainly to my general fatigue with electric blues. This one I can work with, though. Good raw live stuff, probably taped on a reel-to-reel.
Thelonious Monk, Solo Monk: Dinner prep music, Part One. I don’t have the knowledge to understand when Monk is intentionally subverting the solo piano genre, and when he’s just hitting wack notes. Monk’s eccentricities are not my cup of juice, I don’t think (hey, I can’t adore every freak who comes down the line) but this will be OK from time to time and it was OK today.
Miles Davis, Water Babies: Dinner prep music, Part Deux. It is possible that a Miles Davis jag/rediscovery is in the cards. This is not his greatest, but pretty much everything the guy touched is worth hearing, until the 1980s anyway (and I haven’t totally ruled that out either).
I also found a blog that’s posted a recording of a show my dad might have attended — Miles and band at Duffy’s Backstage, a short-lived nightclub in Rochester, in late February or early March 1969. Didn’t listen to it all but will have to go back. Interesting to note that the Prince of Darkness hadn’t entirely surrendered his grip on his old music at this point: This is apparently the last known recording on which he performs “So What.”
Josh Kantor: The Boston Red Sox’ amiable and wide-ranging ballpark organist does live sessions from his home every afternoon on Facebook, playing snippets of requests. Usually these sessions are a half-hour, but today he played a session of positively Garcia-esque lengths, perhaps in an attempt to recapture the atmosphere of one of those endless Yankees-Sox games that intermittently poison the schedule.
My wife tunes in every day, and she brought it in to keep listening during dinner. I forget what he played except for “Que Sera Sera,” “Can’t Fight This Feeling,” and “A Day In The Life,” which regrettably did not end with him holding the same chord for three minutes.
Finally, another round of Bandcamp trawling has brought up my New Favourite Band: Waco Texas Metal. They are quite possibly the future of rock n’ roll, not to mention a signpost to help future historians comprehend the 21st century.
They’re not actually Texan — they’re from Toronto — and they don’t play metal. They play very basic, familiar, murkily recorded chord progressions, and often for no more than a minute at a time.
Listening to them is like listening to a numbers station. What are they trying to communicate, who are they trying to reach, how did they manage to condense the message so tightly, and what key do I need to understand it?
This probably sounds like I’m trying to pull your leg, and there is some of that going on … but I am unironically fascinated by the five-song JP DB AD diningroom Nov 2018 release. There’s something going on there that I don’t get, and now I want to figure it out. (There’s a Volume 2 too, which is also interesting.)
I’ve built an iTunes playlist of those two releases — fourteen songs, sixteen minutes — and am now on my fifth listen to it. They use slide guitar and backwards tapes and cheesy synths and murmured vocals.
A couple of samples so you can scratch your head and wonder what the hell I’m so excited about: