Added a bunch of new old music to my library over the summer, courtesy of a couple family members.
Cousin Bill, an Alert Reader of this blog, came to our family reunion in early August from Indiana, bringing with him a jump drive chock-full of music. Older brother Jim, who had been haunting the second-hand stores again, also showed up with a bagful of CDs.
Bill’s treasure trove was by far the largest — literally hundreds of albums, running the gamut from country to pop to rock and back again. To the point where my eyes started to glaze over, and I struggled to search through the directory AND indentify photos in the slideshow and converse with cousins, some of whom I hadn’t met before, some who I see only once in a great while.
I’m afraid I didn’t nearly get through everything on that TB -or-two drive, and likely missed some music that I would have liked to have. But I managed to load 45 or so albums onto my backup MacBook.
For some of them, on reflection, my time would have been better spent on other albums: Right away, I grabbed a bunch of John Cougar Melonhead (as a clueless call-in listener once referred to him), whose early stuff I really liked, but has since at times become pretentious and self-important.
Sometimes, I didn’t look closely enough at the songs in the folders, and ended up with works by artists that I liked but didn’t include stuff that I knew, or that I already had — 10cc, for instance; the Joe Cocker album that I thought was a studio album, but turns out to be a hits compilation (that I can’t find in his Wiki discography!).
Sometimes in those situations, I took fliers on artists who I maybe know one or two songs, but who I think will probably entertain — that day, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Lyle Lovett’s The Road to Ensenada, a couple by Collective Soul, for example.
John Fogerty’s Centerfield I had to have, as a baseball fan, for the title tune, but it’s Fogerty, so I grabbed Blue Moon Swamp, too. The two Stevie Nicks albums were kind of the same situation as Fogerty’s — I’m familiar with most her work on her first, Bella Donna, but Street Angel is pretty much a mystery to me.
Copperhead Road by Steve Earle also came aboard because of the title tune — and despite the fact that the artist’s politics can get annoying. Ditto for The Distance by Bob Seger, although I know the rest of that album a bit better; and, as with Fogerty and Nicks, I added a Seger LP that is a mystery to me, The Fire Inside.
Sometimes I grabbed albums because the groups are classic, and I felt I should have some of their work, but don’t. Deep Purple for instance — even though the heavy metal they pioneered isn’t my cup of tea, particularly.
Heaven Tonight by Cheap Trick might follow that pattern, too, except that I always liked that band’s sense of humor. (I also felt kind of a connection to the group: they were from Rockford, Ill., a half-hour or so from where I grew up; as Fuse, they played at the rock festival I worked in April 1970; their manager was from my hometown, Janesville, and I dated his sisters. But I digress …)
I added two Led Zeppelin albums — Houses of the Holy because they finally gave an LP a name, not a number. No, seriously, I knew there were some good songs on it; In Through the Out Door was a bit more iffy.
Alan Parsons’ projects have always interested me, because of their themes and my literary bent. Haven’t figured out what inspired him to do On Air and The Time Machine, but expect that they will be like the Poe- and Asimov-inspired albums: a bit uneven.
I doubled up on Don Henley, too. Had to have Building the Perfect Beast, if only for “The Boys of Summer” and “All She Wants to Do Is Dance”; The End of Innocence also has several songs that I like.
The real finds, so far, include Making Movies. That 1980 LP not only got me within one one album of completing my Dire Straits collection, but it also includes “Romeo and Juliet” and “Skateaway."
The former song has charmed me from the first time I heard it, with its wonderful finger-picked National Guitar opening, and the modern Clff’s Notes summation of Shakespeare: (“You and me, babe, how ’bout it?”) But I wonder if you could release a song like “Les Boys” these days, without the Internet Hounds of Hell coming after you.
I stocked up on Springsteen — four albums, I think — the prize being Nebraska. Yes, as friend Billy But said, “Get out the razorblades” — it is Gothic and depressive, starting with the murderous title tune. But there are some memorable songs, like “Atlantic City,” “State Trooper” and “Mansion on the Hill.”
461 Ocean Boulevard could become my favorite Eric Clapton solo work. Yes, “I Shot the Sheriff” got played to death back in the day, and yes, I have the original Marley, but Clapton’s version is still good. He also interestingly revs up the traditional “Motherless Children,” nicely reworks a couple other chestnuts (“Willie and the Hand Jive,” in particular) and holds up pretty well in a duet with the wonderfully-voiced Yvonne Elliman.
Big brother Jim often calls me when he’s culling the used CD racks, to ask if I have this or that album, or to find out what I know about his latest finds. He didn’t on these shopping strips, so I ended up with two LPs that I already have; he likes greatest hits compilations, and I mostly don’t, so ended up with a few CDs that won’t end up in my iTunes library.
But he did find me an album by Emmylou Harris; not familiar with Red Dirt Girl, but the lady’s a national treasure. The bagful included two George Harrison LPs; Cloud Nine has the wonderful “When We Was Fab” and “Devil’s Radio,” and some others that are growing on me.
Jim’s contribution also included a later Neil Young LP, Silver & Gold, all new music to me. And one of the lesser works by a greater group, Fleetwood Mac’s Tango in the Night.
Anyway, lots of new old tunes to listen to. As always, so much of The Music, so little time …