Sometimes things fall apart. At the centre. Other times everything comes together.
Tonight at 2 am I flicked on RAGE ABC TV. First up was Bill Withers doing USE ME live. It reminded me how great this guy was.
Then at his peak he just retired. No drugs. No gambling. No marriage or money problems. He lives happily in the suburbs - not performing.
He's one part folk, one part R&B, one part blues, a lot of jazz and a whole lot of funk and soul. It's seamless. No one else seems to be able to do this combination so effortlessly. No one else even does it with effort.
One of the greatest live albums is Bill Withers LIVE at Carnegie Hall. [There are few lasting live albums. Bob Marley is one, Van's Too Late To Stop Now is another]
The Bill Withers USE ME clip was engrossing, encompassing all the elements of his style.
Next there was a clip of Chuck Berry live doing Johnny B Goode. His striped trousers reminded me of Hendrix. His duckwalk reminded me of Hendrix. His bit of free forming guitar solos slung low and between his legs reminded me of Jimi. I did think that whilst Chuck's backing band was clearly not important and much lesser than him Jimi's was integral.
The RAGE logo / theme clip with Iggy Pop always reminds me of how I like Iggy and then reminds me of Molly Meldrum. I like Molly too.
Then a clip of Johnny Cash singing HURT.
Then Radiohead doing CREEP. I understood them then. Great song. Only song I can remember where the word fuck worked.
Yesterday I walked into the local library vaguely looking for a Wiggles, or something, DVD to assist uncle type babysitting duties that night. Not much around that I recognised but I did grab the DVD of Rust Never Sleeps - Neil Young. Had a quick flick through for 30 minutes. Crazy Horse makes old Shakey work at his best. Teetering on the edge of chaos they propel forward each song forcing Neil to pour everything into the tune to hold it together in whatever shape he vaguely imagined it. Just like they did at the Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne last year.
Sometimes I think Powderfinger is my favourite song. [I have about 900 favourite songs]. Every time I hear "Look Out Mamma There's White Boat comin' Down the Riv - arrgh…", I tense up in anticipation and then relax into the song thinking that perhaps it's the best opening salvo, lyrics & riff, of any song. I like Neil very loud and noisy. The DVD is highly recommended. There's a great version of Tonight's The Night at the end. And I can, if I choose, start with Welfare Mothers (make better lovers) and then run Powderfinger into Cinnamon Girl and Hey Hey My My or Hurricane or any combination I like.
Took me back to Greenwich Village NYC 1979 when I went to the premier of the Rust film. It was as exciting as any live concert. You could smoke and drink in USA cinemas then and there were joints and beers floating freely through the seats. Well my seats anyway. I still have those cardboard and paper "Rust -O-Vision" glasses handed out.
I'll probably still be listening to them all in 10 years time. Johnny Cash the most. More than likely Bill Withers is the best.
Late note. Food for Thought:
I've only just noticed that beginning with his article on Plunderphonics on March 8, Gary Sauer-Thompson has written 4 or 5 blog pieces on music, ranging from the piece on Plunderphonics through to Jacques Attali's Noise: The Political Economy of Music, and then a bit on Aesthetics & Rock Criticism.