Posts Tagged ‘Foghat’

Wordstock Oct 2011
(Image borrowed from the 2011 Wordstock Festival.)

This morning I had a job interview and this afternoon I worked onsite for a freelance client. In one day I went from health care to lubrication analysis to trains in the mountains in 1947. You have to be flexible if you want to survive in the novel-writing game.

Today I followed William Stafford’s direction to “lower your standards and keep on writing.” I’ll never type “The End” if I simultaneously move forward and return to rewrite. I’ll return later. So I forced myself to finish Chapter 5 already, even though the ending is lame, and plowed ahead in Chapter 6. In Chapter 6 we get somewhere, literally, and I’ll have some real scenery-chewing. I have to agree with Ms. Mukherjee:

“I remembered loving Henry James’ Portrait of a Lady when I studied it for my Ph.D. comps,” Bharati Mukherjee said. “This summer I tried to reread it. I soon abandoned the book, screaming, ‘Enough complex interiority, just give me a couple of big head-butting scenes!’ ” (“Read It Again, Sam,” The New York Times Book Review, 4 December 2011)

In real life, I’m too well-behaved for big head-butting, but in fiction I can be someone else (a big head-butter). I’m warming up the exclamation points right now!

Box score
– I’ve written for five days out of five
– 6.5 total hours
– Here’s the Clarion West Write-a-thon
– Here’s my first post on the Write-a-thon

Random Pick of the Day
Charles Earland, Black Talk! (1968)
If you love jazz and particularly the organ, you’ll dig Black Talk!. The title track is supposedly a variation on “Eleanor Rigby.” I can’t hear the dots connect, but nevermind. Charles Earland and his sextet transform the pop music of their era into something fresh and new. The standouts are their reworkings of “Aquarius” and “More Today Than Yesterday.” The latter is particularly astonishing, a soulful, funky romp that’s as light and joyous as Charles Mingus’ “Haitian Fight Song” (1957) is dark and murderous. They’re even about the same length, 11:13 for Earland, 11:57 for Mingus. 

Random Pick of the Day 2.0
Foghat, “Take Me to the River,” Night Shift (1976)
And now a band that needs no introduction, probably because no one wants to meet them. Foghat sucks the phone, and yet detractors such as myself are unable to explain “Slow Ride” (1975), which I can occasionally listen to (if I’m in a car), or their stellar version of “Take Me to the River,” which is in the same league as the versions turned in by The Commitments and Talking Heads. Bachman-Turner Overdrive could only dream of rocking this hard.

Toys in the Attic

You don’t have to be a music critic to sense that Aerosmith sucks dead bears. If Led Zeppelin and AC/DC were battleships, Aerosmith would be barnacles. If my roof was leaking, I’d nail Aerosmith LPs over the leaks. Exposing their vinyl to acid rain could only improve the sound.

But you once loved these guys!
You know me too well, Mr. Subhead. I’ve played air guitar for years to Aerosmith’s version of “Train Kept A-Rollin’.” If it came on the radio right now I’d do it again, and then I’d call NPR to ask why they’re playing Aerosmith in the middle of Thistle and Shamrock.

As long as I’m confessing, I might as well confess it all. Some years ago, after the glaciers had retreated but before we speared the last saber-toothed tiger, the young Aerosmithers played an all-ages dance at the National Guard armory in Fall River, Massachusetts. We high school journalists-in-training wanted to interview them for our school paper, but we never got backstage. In my memory we were chased from the building by an enraged Steven Tyler wielding a flaming guitar, but if I could travel back to that moment I’d probably find it was just a Pabst-swilling roadie with a Carl Yastrzemski baseball bat.

Eventually I grew up, realized just what it was I was listening to, and traded my Aerosmith records for something better, like a frog.

Aerosmith: Plague or pestilence?
If scientists cannot answer this question, why am I suggesting you put yourself at the mercy of Toys in the Attic? Because Toys transcends the congealing sludge of the Aerosmith discography on the strength of one song, “Sweet Emotion.” How this band produced that song is a mystery. “Sweet Emotion” is one of the supreme driving songs in Western culture. It even sounds good when you’re parked.

Give the rest of this disc a chance and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the passably rockin’ title track, as well as “No More No More” and “You See Me Crying,” which showcases Tyler’s bargain-basement voice but somehow wins you over with its amateur theatrics. (I don’t include “Walk This Way” because I never saw the point of that song until it was hip-hopped by my namesakes.)

If you’re planning a party, “Sweet Emotion” pairs well with another winner by a loser band, Foghat’s “Slow Ride.” Don’t forget to invite Run-DMSteve.