Saturday, 29 August 2009

Thoughts on Live Music

That bloke with the leather jacket got me to thinking, as I so often do, about attached meaning, about nuance, about semiotics, which led me to leave a comment, full of Steppenwolf, on his blog, because, leather jackets got me to thinking about the whole biker freedom mythology, as epitomised by Easy-Rider, (no, no web2 hyperlink, use google if you've no idea what easy rider is, or where steppenwolf come or comes into the story) and not Herman Hesse, that's another wolf of the steppes, but about freedom all the same...
Then I got to thinking about songs in the genre of "Born to be Wild", which led me to thinking of Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run", which is definitely kin to Born to be Wild, though it's not so much about bike culture as cars, chrome wheel, fuel injected and steppin' out over the line, so I had a listen to Bruce, who I think is a great American chronicler, his songs are stories and poems, histories and dreams, a bard for the common man, I think it's a sad thing these days that people like him play to vast arenas, rather than smaller, more interactive places, theatres, clubs, college dining halls....
When I was a teenager/young adult, the music venue in my town was the University's refectory, a stage at the end of a hall where by day, hundreds ate lunch.
It was big enough, in its time, for the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, and many others. The Who's (possibly) greatest album, "Live at Leeds" was recorded there. If you were there, you were THERE!, oh yes, with a pint glass of beer in your hand, in a room of smoke and sweat and music.Now, if you get a ticket to see a band, chances are you'll be in the seven thousandth row back, the band are ant-like specks in the far distance, and the music you hear is rebroadcast to speakers a quarter of a mile from the stage, you're watching action on a giant screen, why not stay at home and watch on TV? After all, you paid a kings ransom, and you're barely in the same county as the band.
Whereas in the seventies, you could work your way, beer in hand, to the front, no security guards barring your way.
I recall, I'd had an empty glass, for a while, but was loath to miss the music, it was, I think, Jethro Tull that night... there was a stack of crates on stage by the amps, and whilst the singer was in a solo, the bassist was popping bottle caps for himself and the drummer, caught my eye and chucked me a couple of bottles, with a grin.
Wouldn't get that with stadium rock.

Just north of here, a couple of miles, it's festival time, at Bramham Park. Leedsfest Radiohead, Arctic Monkeys, Kaiser Chiefs, and umpty-seven other bands.

Anyway, after all that... The Music.
The leather jacket brings me to a motorbike song, which I've posted before, in a different recording, I know, here's Richard Thompson.........

It always sounds, to me, a non musician, that he manages to get two guitarists worth of sound out of one guitar...


  1. love richard thompson's voice, judging by the post, we had a similar youth in terms of music. jethro tull was a big fave of mine for many years and got to see them live twice. i recently took "aqualung" out from the library because i had already bought it as an LP and cassette tape. i was struck by how anti-religious the entire album is because i don't particularly remember it that way even though i must have listened to it a thousand times beginning at age 12. i also practically wore out the led zep you mentioned above and their first, second and houses of the holy albums. steppenwolf too when i was young although i never got to see the latter two live. however, recently i did get to see the decemberists live here in louisville and it was in a smallish theater setting and although we had to stay in our assigned seats, there weren't any bad seats in the theater. it was a great concert and would now rate it in my top 5 of all time. if you haven't checked them out, you might give them a listen. the lyrics are very poetic and he (the band's leader, colin meloy) seems barely to be contained in the format of writing songs. they are unbelievable songs, some evocative of a distant time, some humorous, some dark and some downright eccentric. a very literate song writer, maybe the first since ian anderson to go off on his own and never come back. you have me wanting to get out led zeppelin's first album and listen to those electronic blues... loved the post.

  2. Tomorrow I'm going to a "Blue Grass" concert. this is the basic idea. Like what you are talking about...I'm gonna be THERE! It's real music. :)

  3. I think this is the originalhere w/some good American yodeling.

  4. that bloke, c'est moi!
    Quite a lineup at the festival you mention. I remember the Who Live at Leeds album of my youth.....

  5. Jim, I first saw Jethro Tull live in about 1972... seen them a few times since, in pub bars and small dance halls in the early years.
    Fairport convention too, guitarists and drummers seemed to migrate freely between the two bands, last time I saw Tull, it was when Ian Anderson turned up at Fairport's Cropredy festival, so the band sort of changed hats and became Tull for a while, As for Aqualung, I've not listened to it in years, I'd forgotten the anti religious theme, though I just looked it all up and it seems he was saying that organised religion should not get between a person and god.
    Me, I'm a heathen anyway.
    Led Zepp were recording in the same studios at the same time that Jethro Tull were recording Aqualung. ( I only read that today, I'm no musicologist).
    I listened to some Decemberist tracks, I like them. I like content and narrative in songs, which they're pretty strong on.

  6. Rita, Hope the concert is as good as you wish for... Muleskinner Blues?
    Hahahahahaaaaaaa.... My poor ol' mule, i'll stick to carrots and persuasion, and eschew the nasty whip. "I can pop my initials, on a mule's behind"...She'd bite me.
    I'd seen those videos, the Jimmie Rogers one has a load of interesting historical images, bygone worlds....

  7. Gary, I was at my mother's house, earlier, turning some pots, with the garage door open, listening to the bands at the festival, a couple of miles away.
    Now I'm at home, listening to the bands in the park just up the road, it's the caribbean carnival this weekend, and a load of reggae bands are playing, top of the bill is Aswad.
    Tonight will be alnight partying, then at six in the morning the first carnival parade, the pajama parade will go by my front windows. I expect to be asleep and miss it. Then from two p.m., the full parade takes to the streets, costumes, sound systems, and lots of rum.
    (this monday is a holiday in britain).

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  9. funny you mentioned them being in the studio together... the aqualung disk i took out from the library was one of those classic reissue things where at the end of the cd was an interview with ian anderson and said they opened for led zepp back then and that he inadvertently slighted plant in an interview where when asked about LZ, he said, "they can really play, with their musicians and my writing, we could make a great band". he later went on to say that he didn't really think of plant as the writer because some of those early songs were blues remakes but i guess did write quite a bit of their early stuff too.


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