"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
Category: Music

Only the Lonely

crying-roy-orbison

Dig this fine piece on Roy Orbison by Rachel Monroe for the Oxford American:

The Orbison family moved to Wink in 1946, when Roy was ten years old, so his father, Orbie Lee, could find work in the oil fields. Though he did eventually get hired on as a rigger, the Orbisons were late to the oil boom party: Wink’s population peaked at around 6,000 in 1929; seventeen years later, when the Orbisons settled in, most of the wells had dried up and the town had shrunk to about 1,500 residents. “It was macho guys working in the oil field, and football, and oil and grease and sand and being a stud and being cool,” Orbison said later. “It was tough as could be, but no illusions, you know? No mysteries in Wink.”

Orbison wasn’t popular; later he said he felt “totally anonymous, even at home.” He started wearing glasses at age four. When he tried out for the Wink Kittens, the junior high version of the Wink Wildcats high school football team, the helmets didn’t have face guards, and his glasses kept falling off. He didn’t make the team.

Growing up is a lonely enterprise, even more so in a town that’s past its prime. Once he made his money, Orbison left for Tennessee, then Malibu. He wasn’t one to rhapsodize about his childhood very often, but once I visited his hometown, I couldn’t help but hear a telltale hint of Wink every time I listened to his songs: that sense of missing out, of having been passed by. An absence, a longing, a loneliness.

Qu’est-Ce Que C’est?

talking heads

Most cool.

[Photo Credit: Ebet Roberts/Redferns, via Getty Images]

Put the Needle to the Groove

needless

Def.

I Be Blowin’

keys

Rest in Peace, Bobby. 

[Photo Via: Rolling Stone]

Not Fade Away

brianjones

Larry Rohter in the Times:

Brian Jones is to the Rolling Stones what Leon Trotsky was to the Russian Revolution: organizer, ideologist and victim of a power struggle. Jones founded the group, gave it its name and recruited the schoolboys Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, who then marginalized him, eventually expelling him from the band. Since his death in 1969, a month after he was forced out, Jones has largely been airbrushed from the group’s history.

Paul Trynka’s biography “Brian Jones: The Making of the Rolling Stones” challenges the standard version of events, focused on Mr. Jagger and Mr. Richards, in favor of something far more nuanced. Though Mr. Trynka sometimes overstates Jones’s long-term cultural impact, his is revisionist history of the best kind — scrupulously researched and cogently argued — and should be unfailingly interesting to any Stones fan.

Specifically, “Brian Jones” seems designed as a corrective to “Life,” Keith Richards’s 2010 memoir. Mr. Trynka, the author of biographies of David Bowie and Iggy Pop, and a former editor of the British music magazines Mojo and Guitar, has interviewed Mr. Richards several times over the years and obviously likes him, but also considers his memory of events highly unreliable.

[Photo Via: The Groovy Guru]

Slowhand Forever, Man

clapton1

Few months ago I met a guy on the bus in the Bronx and we started chatting about photography. Turns out the guy–Gene Shaw–is a photographer and a mighty accomplished one at that (check out some of the movies he’s work on). He’s also a charming, approachable and engaging dude.

Shaw’s been taking Eric Clapton’s picture for more than 30 years and now has a book documenting that relationship–Journeyman: Eric Clapton–A Photographic Narrative

Worth thinking about for your holiday shopping list.

Ya heard?

clapton3

 

New York Minute

commodore-2 (1)

My man Max passed along this cool Jazz Profiles interview with Milt Gabler:

Q: Let’s start with the shop. It was your father’s shop, but it wasn’t a record store until you got involved in it, right?

MG: … My father’s store was on Third Avenue between 41st and 42nd streets at that time. He had a radio and electrical store, a supply shop. Originally he was a hardware man, and when electrical stuff came in, he took that in. Then at the end of World War I, my Uncle Sid, my mother’s younger brother, talked him into putting in radio parts and stuff like that, and they opened their radio department.

Later, a store became available between Lex and Third Avenue on the downtown side of the street, at 144 East 42nd Street, a little nine-foot store. Sid talked my dad into opening a radio shop exclusively on 42nd Street, to be nearer to Grand Central and get the flow of traffic when people walked to the Third and Second Avenue El. They had elevated trains in those years, although the Lexington Avenue was below ground.

Radio was coming in by ’26 and ’27, especially ham radios. Everybody built their own sets in those years. You bought kits, or you bought parts. You got these radio magazines and learned how to put together a crystal set or a one-tube set. And we sold batteries and aerial wire and all that kind of stuff.

I, of course, went with Sid to the 42nd Street store, and would wait on customers. Acetone speakers came out . . . Cone speakers were invented in those years, where you would get, like a wooden frame and you would stretch airplane cloth that they used on the wings of the airplanes in 1918, like the Wright Brothers and all. You stretched it over this square frame. They had magnetic coil and stuff with a stylus coming out of it, and a gimmick for putting the hole in the cloth, and then tightening on with a thumb screw, and pulling it back. Then you bought this stuff that kids used to sniff later, the glue, and you poured it on the cloth and it would shrink and become taut, and you would have a cone. Now they’re made out of paper, but then you did it with this airplane cloth. And we sold all those kits and everything. It had a better sound the little magnetic thing, like a more sensitive earphone in your telephone. Those were the first loudspeakers with a cone on them, a cone diaphragm.

New York Minute

billyjo

This is a few weeks old but check out Nick Paumgarten’s long New Yorker profile of the piano man:

Billy Joel sat smoking a cigarillo on a patio overlooking Oyster Bay. He had chosen the seating area under a trellis in front of the house, his house, a brick Tudor colossus set on a rise on the southeastern tip of a peninsula called Centre Island, on Long Island’s North Shore. It was a brilliant cloudless September afternoon. Beethoven on Sonos, cicadas in the trees, pugs at his feet. Out on the water, an oyster dredge circled the seeding beds while baymen raked clams in the flats. Joel surveyed the rising tide. Sixty-five. Semi-retirement. Weeks of idleness, of puttering around his motorcycle shop and futzing with lobster boats, of books and dogs and meals, were about to give way to a microburst of work. His next concert, his first in more than a month, was scheduled to begin in five hours, at Madison Square Garden, and he appeared to be composing himself.

“Actually, I composed myself a long time ago,” he said. He told a joke that involved Mozart erasing something in a mausoleum; the punch line was “I’m decomposing.” He knocked off an ash. Whenever anyone asks him about his pre-show routine, he says, “I walk from the dressing room to the stage. That’s my routine.” Joel has a knack for delivering his own recycled quips and explanations as though they were fresh, a talent related, one would think, to that of singing well-worn hits with sincere-seeming gusto. He often says that the hardest part isn’t turning it on but turning it off: “One minute, I’m Mussolini, up onstage in front of twenty thousand screaming people. And then, a few minutes later, I’m just another schmuck stuck in traffic on the highway.” It’s true: the transition is abrupt, and it has bedevilled rock stars since the advent of the backbeat. But this schmuck is usually looking down on the highway from an altitude of a thousand feet. He commutes to and from his shows by helicopter.

Joel was wearing a black T-shirt tucked into black jeans, black Vans, and an Indian Motorcycle ball cap. The back of his head, where hair might be, was freshly shorn, and his features, which in dark or obscure moods can appear mottled and knotted, were at rest, projecting benevolent bemusement. To prepare for the flight, he’d put on a necklace of good-luck medallions—pendants of various saints. The atavism of Long Island is peculiar. Though Jewish, and an atheist, he had, as a boy in a predominantly Catholic part of Hicksville, attended Mass, and even tried confession. His mother took him and his sister to Protestant services at a local church; he was baptized there. Still, a girl across the street said he’d grow horns, and a neighborhood kid named Vinny told him, “Yo, Joel, you killed Jesus. I’m gonna beat your ass.” Vinny did, repeatedly. Joel took up boxing to defend himself. The nose still shows it.

There was a rumble in the distance. “That’s my guy,” Joel said. “He’s early.” A helicopter zipped in over the oystermen and landed down by the water, at the hem of a great sloping lawn, where Joel had converted the property’s tennis court to a helipad. He’d recently had to resurface it, after Hurricane Sandy. Joel often attempts to inoculate himself with self-mockery. “Oh, my helipad got flooded,” he says, with the lockjaw of Thurston Howell III.

 

Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard On You?

mothership-landing

Now, if that’s not the best book title of the year I don’t know what is.

Here’s James Guida writing about the lessons of Dr. Funkenstein over at The New York Review of Books. 

[Photo Credit: George Clinton]

It’s Only Rock n Roll

Maxs

But I like it.

[Photo Via: Max’s Kansas City]

Fulfillingness’ First Finale

coletrane

Over at the New York Review of Books, Geoffrey Dyer writes about John Coletrane:

Offering: Live at Temple University offers further evidence of the catastrophe of the last phase of John Coltrane’s work. “Last” rather than “late” because he became ill and died too suddenly (on July 17, 1967), too early, to have properly entered a late period. He was forty. In any other field of activity that would be a desperately short life. Only in jazz could it be considered broadly in line with actuarial norms. So there’s no late phase in the accepted sense of Beethoven having arrived at a late style, only a sudden ceasing of the unceasing torrent of sound.

The interest of recordings from this final phase—in which Coltrane’s playing became increasingly frenzied and the accompaniment more abstracted—lies partly in what they preserve and partly in any hints they contain as to where Trane might have headed next. Given the composition titles from the last studio duets recorded with drummer Rashied Ali in February 1967—“Mars,” “Venus,” “Jupiter,” “Saturn”—and released posthumously on Interstellar Space, the question might reasonably be asked, where was there left to go?

This latest discovery—more exactly recovery since parts of the concert have circulated as poorly produced bootlegs—in the ongoing archaeological dig of Trane’s work was recorded in Philadelphia, on November 11, 1966. There’s a degree of irony about the date, Armistice Day, with its traditional Minute’s Silence, given the shrieking, screaming, and wildness—the ferocious anti-silence—of the music. Three of the concert’s six songs—“Crescent,” “Leo,” and “My Favorite Things”—are over twenty minutes each. Only the title track, a short and devastated ballad, offers respite from the extended wailing and overblowing.

[Photo Via: Photomusik]

Monkology

monk Thank you, Longform for reprinting Lewis Lapham’s 1964 profile of Thelonious Monk:

At the end of the hall on the ground floor of a tenement on New York’s West 63rd Street, behind a rickety door, in three small rooms littered with cardboard cartons, catsup bottles, half-empty suitcases, Japanese dolls in glass boxes, soup dishes stacked on a piano, team irons, clothes hanging from nails in the fiberboard walls, shopping bags and children’s toys, lives Thelonious Sphere Monk.

There he has lived all but seven of the 43 years of his life, first with his mother, his brother and his sister, and then with his wife and two children, entangled in a domestic clutter wholly inappropriate to his reputation as the weird and enigmatic genius of modern jazz.

Among all the jazz musicians of his generation, none was reported “further out” than Monk. Tales of his strangeness drifted through the stale and noisy air of every jazz joint. The hipsters, taking his name for an obscure joke, called him “The Mad Monk” or “The High Priest of Bop.” They made much of his clumsy dances, his fondness for silly hats, hit gift for cryptic and whimsical statement. (In response to the question “Why do you play such strange chords, Mr. Monk?” he once told a disc jockey, “Those easy chords are hard to find nowadays.”) It was always assumed that he could be found in some dark back room, a remote, if not imaginary, figure, like the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

But all the while, oblivious to the smell of boiling cabbage in the corridor, he has remained on West 63rd Street, a sentimental man with kind eyes and a full beard, playing his blunt and angular jazz on the grand piano in his kitchen.

Now suddenly, after 20 years of neglect, the critics are beginning to suspect that Monk may be the dominant jazz musician of his time. His conception of rhythm and harmony has influenced the playing of such dissimilar musicians as Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins. Several of his tunes, among them Around About Midnight, Off Minor, and Epistrophy, have become jazz standards. His use of dissonance is analyzed in composition courses at the Julliard School of Music. Recently published articles assign him a niche in the development of jazz comparable to those of Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, and Duke Ellington.

And yet, notwithstanding his new fame, the old rumors persist. Ask anybody who does not know him well, and he will say, “Yeah, man, that Monk, he’s a funny cat, man, he’s something else.”

[Picture by William Claxton]

Don’t Sweat the Technique

rakim

The 18th letter.

What Becomes a Legend Most?

silver

R.I.P. Horace Silver. 

And of course (Steely, Stevie):

New York Minute

FOR-WEB-Park-Jam-1984_Yes-Yes-Yall-p70

Yes, Yes, Y’all.

[Photo Via]

Move On Up

curtis

From a 1976 interview with Curtis Mayfield posted over at Soul Music (found via Lonform):

DN: In recent times, you’ve been working in the studios, producing yourself and other people and you haven’t been out on the road. How do you know at what point you can stop driving yourself, working hard?

CM: Well, I guess when you’ve got your trophies, your little awards they become like in the past tense. To me, I don’t feel that I’m a great success – although I’m sure on the other side, people look on me as having achieved many, many things. I guess people feel that based on what I’ve done in the past, I’m a success. I’m very proud of that and yet, because of my outlook on things and how I take in my rewards – I guess I’ll never feel that I’m a great, great success – it takes a lot of ego and playing a role that I’m not. I like the idea of having money, just living a bit better – it’s easier to do that. I’m very happy that I’m in an area that people turn their heads and listen, that I’ve got respect and naturally, I feel proud of myself.

And then, every couple of years, when you get the money in, you wonder if you’re winning or losing. It’s possible for it to become a burden – you have to insure it, support it, and then with the success comes sacrifice – the non-privacy – I cherish the time I can get away from it all.

Then, there’s your personal life that’s very important. I’m just happy that I’m here, and I see other areas where I can still prove my versatile and creative ability – I hope to achieve the best I can.

I wouldn’t mind owning 300 million dollars! But you never want to reach the peak because after all, when you’ve gone all the way up, the only way to go is down.

[Photo Via: The Chicago Sun-Times]

You Need Coolin’

loveswim

Marc Myers on the making of “Whole Lotta Love.” 

Ah-hem:

[Painting by Antoine Renault]

Put the Needle to the Groove

bowiess

Great rock n roll pictures found here.

pattis

Bring it Back, Come Rewind

IMG_4892

Everything is a remix. 

feed Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email
"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver