Some bits and pieces …
My blog post about Joni Mitchell’s 75th-birthday post ran a bit long, so I never got to the lady’s appearance at the concert held in her honor, and featuring her music.
Mitchell was in the audience, and was brought up on stage for the finale, “Big Yellow Taxi” — not her highest-charting single, but one of her best-known — performed by the artists who had showcased her songs those two nights in November 2018.
The victim of a 2015 brain aneurism that left her partially incapacitated, Joni was led into the hall, and helped up on the stage. Worse yet— she looked old. Yes, she was 75, but that age doesn’t necessarily mean you look elderly.
Part of it was the attire — a pillbox hat of the sort you would find on a blue-rinse society dame. But the bigger part was that way-of-all-flesh reminder: Jeez, we’re all getting old, and she’s only six years older than I.
That it’s happening to a woman who I always found rather fetching isn’t the biggest tragedy. Sadder yet is that we won’t hear that wonderful voice — high and soaring four decades ago, lower and silkier in later years — coming from anything other than a recording. A loss as great as that of Linda Ronstadt’s.
Worse yet, the author of those wonderful, personal, intricate lyrics and arrangements apparently no longer writes. That may change as her rehabilitation continues, but you have to wonder if the end hasn’t already come, in a sense, for one of rock’s true creative geniuses.
Goodby to Barerre
Joni is at least still on the planet, but another notable figure in The Music, Paul Barrere, departed this orb recently.
Barrere, who died Oct. 26 from liver cancer, is best known as one of the early members of Little Feat. He joined the band in 1972, three years after the late Lowell George founded the group, helping to create the classic LF lineup that produced the albums of their heyday.
Although he wasn’t as well known as George, who died in 1979 of Rock and Roller’s Disease, Barrere did write several of the band’s better-known songs, including “All that You Dream,” “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now” and “Time Loves a Hero.” Their first live album, “Waiting for Columbus” — considered by many to be one of the best live recordings of all time — starts with the band members calling out Barrere.
The guitarist played in a lot of musical styles and genres, and recorded and performed with artists as diverse as Jack Bruce, Taj Mahal and Carly Simon, among many others, and toured with Bob Dylan. Haven’t heard any of those recordings, but appreciate his contributions to Little Feat, one of my favorite third-generation rock acts.
Hall of Shame(ful) voting
I can’t let the travesty that is occurring in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame fan voting pass without comment — and the way things are going, it may be my last comment about the process.
Currently, the top five in the vote consists of the Dave Matthews Band, Pat Benatar, the Doobie Brothers, Soundgarden and Judas Priest. Of that group, the Doobies are the only one I endorsed for induction.,
The others I recommended are pretty much all out of the running, Thin Lizzy doing the best, at eighth. Todd Rundgren — a Wizard and a True Star, member of two significant bands, major success as a solo artist, record producer and engineer par excellence — is 11th, one slot ahead of T. Rex. Rufus featuring Chaka Khan is next to last, ahead of only MC5.
I get it with DMB and Benatar, but Soundgarden and Judas Priest, particularly the latter? I couldn’t name a song by either — although according to Uncle Wiki, JP has sold 50 million-plus records worldwide, and put out a baker’s half-dozen Top 40 singles.
The highest-charting of them, a Billboard U.S. No. 4, was “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” — which, come to think of it, I do remember. But not fondly, and it embodies why I don’t like this group, or the kind of music they do. They are also said to be very influential in heavy metal and glam rock — not selling points for me either.
Anyway, it will be interesting to see how the RRHF’s nomination process handles the results of the fan voting this year. Last year, the body that makes the final decision on the proposed inductees overruled the fans, who had voted Rundgren No. 5.
In the end, he was the only artist or act in the top five who wasn’t inducted. I have blogged about the nominations for several years, and voted the last two or three — a lot this fall, hoping to help correct an incipient injustice — but may give up on the process after this.