Weekend Music: In Which I Have An Epiphany

Video

I went looking for the weekend music last night. Found this. It brought tears to my eyes. So, even though I’ve posted other versions of it here in the past, the audio quality isn’t so good, he talks way too long before he starts the song, and I am posting too many country videos lately, I’m going with it.

This one is entirely more than the sum of its parts.

This song was written almost 30 years ago, maybe longer, and Robert Earl Keen, as far as I know, is still playing it.

I first heard it in a bar in Hattiesburg Mississippi, being played by this guy. He left for the Southwest as I was finishing up my graduate degree, years ago now. The last thing he said to me was “Gene’O, use the headphones.” He said it through a microphone that he was also singing through as I left the bar. And I understand why he said that. Advice to a newbie who was trying to learn to play an electric guitar, is what it was. This happened at a place called the Keg and Barrel, just so you know.

Steve has “left the building,” as we say in these parts, and I did not know it when the song brought tears to my eyes. I found out because I went looking for his website to do him a good turn on account of that memory and the kindness he gave me back in those days.

Steve had a sweet dog. Her name was Edie.

He was good about playing requests. He knew Randy Newman front and back, and that’s no mean feat, since Randy is a pianist and Steve was a guitarist. He introduced me to a lot of music I’d never heard before. I’m grateful to have known him, even if only casually, and for a short time. I have one of his CDs, and I treasure it

“Feelin’ Good Again” a song about hope, and renewed friendships, and joy. It’s a story of a man who’s been absent from his favorite bar for a long time. He goes there. He recognizes everyone and I think they recognize him. He decides to buy a round. Realizes he didn’t cash his paycheck before he came to town. But then, miraculously, he finds enough money in his pocket to actually buy the round, and a REALLY SPECIAL PERSON appears on the scene.

It’s a beautiful story, but life doesn’t work that way.

Except when it does. Life does actually work that way sometimes. Not very often, but now and then. I’ve experienced life working in that beautiful way more than once in my short life.

“Feelin’ Good Again” is surely a song about joy, hope, and possibilities.

But it’s also about memory. And loss. It might even be an ode to wishful thinking. That’s the epiphany I had, when I stumbled upon this video and it brought tears to my eyes. It’s such a happy song, this is easy to miss. It is is about loss as much as anything else.

Despite the brightness of the chord progressions, the friendliness of the lyrics, and the comfort of the story, this is a sad song.

Weekend Music: Here’s to surviving another seven days.

Marie of My Wild Surmise put Thunder Road in my head a couple of weeks ago, and I knew right then it needed to be weekend music before the month was out. For my money, the best arrangement is the one they used for the Live 1981-85 boxed set, and this is an especially good performance of that version, recorded in Paris. Stick around until 5:55 and you will see something truly awesome.

There was no real internet until I was into my 20s, and music was very important to me when I was a kid. It was more immediate than books – I could get it from the radio all day long for free. I discovered Bruce and the E-Street Band in 1984 through the Born to in the USA album.

The first thing that impressed me about them was that the sound was so big. They didn’t just have a bass, two guitars, and a drummer. They had a glockenspiel, an organ AND a piano, an accordian when they needed it. They had the best saxophonist in the universe, they were playing hard rock, and their lyrics were as good as any poetry I’d ever read.

I was also taken aback by the fact that ” Born in the USA” is really a scathing song. It’s criticism, not patriotism, but none of the grownups seemed to understand that at the time. It’s like they just did not understand the words. It’s one of the first pieces of art that made me really stop what I was doing and look at how the world works.

The way I learned about artists in those days was, when I heard someone I liked on the radio, I’d go to the library or the grocery store and browse magazines. There were weekly mags that published song lyrics and discographies on newsprint that you could buy for less than one 1980s dollar. I’d memorize the discographies and the names of the band members.

This is also how I educated myself about The Beatles, Led Zepplin, The Eagles, Bob Dylan, and a lot of other important musicians. The ones I really liked, I’d memorize all their album titles and save my money for the monthly trip to the mall. I’d go to Sound Shop for cassettes (anyone else remember that store with their yellow stickers that gave you the one-year guarantee?)

I bought Born in the USA and liked it so much, I bought Born to Run on the next trip without having heard a single song from it. The trip after that, I  bought Nebraska.

Born to Run is their third album. The first two, Greetings from Asbury Park N.J., and The Wild, the Innocent and the E-Street Shuffle, are immature, both in terms of songwriting and sound. Born to Run is a coming-of-age album. It, and the next four (Darkness on the Edge of Town, The River, Nebraska, Born in the USA), are some of my all-time favorite popular music.  The next few aren’t that great, but I love The Seeger Sessions.

You can find the full discography at the Wiki.

(This post just wouldn’t be complete without shoutouts to Vinyl Connection and Peace, Love and Great Country Music. So, #shoutouts!)

WC Don’s, R.E.M., and Big Arm Dancing

– This is a very nice memoir of the 90s music scene. It’s funny, I don’t claim the 80s, either. Since I am just a few years younger, I claim the 90s. When my friends and I first discovered REM, they were referred to as a “college band.” If you’re interested in the development of popular music, late 80s to mid-90s Atlanta is sure to fascinate.

My Wild Surmise

 

In the days of my youth I was told what it means…oh, sorry.  I got sidetracked a little there.  In the days of my youth, Lynyrdskynyrdville had one of the greatest dive bars ever to sling a beer and hire a band. It was so cool that Rolling Stone named it one of the top ten dive bars in the United States.  That’s right.  Little ole Lynyrdskynyrdville had one of the top ten dive bars for a while there back in the mid-eighties to the mid-nineties.  It was called WC Don’s, as in “We Couldn’t Decide On A Name”, but we just called it Don’s.  It was an alternative music mecca, benefitting greatly from its reasonable proximity to Athens, Georgia – in other words, Don’s was a major stopover on the southeast dive bar circuit for Athens-based bands.  R.E.M. was among the plethora of bands that performed there in their early…

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