Five on Friday: Rain on the Scarecrow

It wasn’t until I was a freshman in High School that I went to my second real rock concert. And it was my first without parental supervision. Well, they did drive me there since I was still pre-driver’s license, but they dropped us off – so it still counts, right?

So my second rock concert was John Cougar Mellencamp’s Scarecrow Tour. Post “Johnny Cougar” – Pre “John Mellencamp” – At this point he was using all three names.

I have had a hot/cold, on-again/off-again relationship with JCM’s music throughout my life. There have been times that I have loved it and other times that I was “over” it. But that is kind of how I feel about him as an artist. He has always teetered on the line between being a really good singer/songwriter and being an over-blown caricature of himself.

Typically, if I really like an artist, I like their body of work. I want whole albums and not just greatest hits compilations. But with JCM, even with those, I tend to only really enjoy a little over half of the songs.

But, even after saying that, I like JCM. He has some great music in his catalog. I was a big fan when a lot of my peers were listening to the spandex-clad, hair & glam rock – a genre of music that I never really got into. I think that the kind of music I was listening to back then (JCM, Springsteen, Tom Petty, etc.) was the beginning of my love for Americana and alt.Country. And I will always respect him for what he has been able to accomplish with the Farm Aid benefit concert & organization, along with Willie Nelson & Neil Young.

And I’m glad I got to see him live.

Here are some of his better tunes (in my opinion)…


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Five on Friday: Rock and Roll All Nite

Okay – I have exposed my country & bluegrass side quite a bit here lately and as a result, I am feeling an overwhelming need to turn the amp up to eleven and ROCK! So I decided late yesterday that I would do a short series on my concert history – starting the journey exactly where I started in 1979, with KISS.

My parents took me and my brother to our very first live rock concert when we were both just kids, just about a month short of my eighth birthday. Judas Priest opened up for our favorite band in the world, KISS. The show had a profound impact on me and my musical history. I still absolutely love live music of all shapes and forms. There is just something about that shared experience of standing in a crowd of people, feeling the beat, screaming, singing along – it pulls you in and makes you a part of it. It is amazing. And for me, KISS started it all.

It seems like an eternity ago – and it was – but I still think about it occasionally. I was too young to remember a lot of details about the show, but there are definitely some memorable moments that can never be erased; like the band rising from beneath the fog-filled stage, Gene spewing blood and fire, Ace’s guitar flying from his hands and exploding over the crowd, Peter Criss’ massive drum solo…

Yeah, I kind of got upset at them in the 80’s when they changed their style a little to better compete with the hair-metal bands that were so popular at the time. But now I can look back at some of those songs that I was so critical of back then and realize they aren’t nearly as bad as I thought they were.

Here are four awesome “love” songs – and one of the many KISS tunes that anytime I hear it, makes my heart beat a little faster and makes me want to uncontrollably pump my fist in the air.


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Man, if it wasn’t for the Friday music posts, I wouldn’t be blogging much at all here lately. I really need to write more! Maybe I will soon… maybe.

I have a request

When it came to my own musical tastes, for a number of years I drew a very solid distinction between the kinds of music I liked and the kinds I absolutely hated. I left very little room in between for music that I kind of liked but didn’t really love. One of the things that I always said was that I HATED country music. Unfortunately if you looked at my iPod right now, that statement wouldn’t hold water. In fact over the years, that line in the sand has become blurry; blown around by the winds of time, washed away by the crashing waves of maturity… and a few other corny sounding metaphors.

A more accurate statement is that I dislike most of what can be categorized as “modern” country. I still feel like the stuff they play on local country radio is mostly drivel. In fact, I keep my alarm clock tuned to it so that when it goes off in the morning, I want nothing more than to get up and turn it off just to make it stop! MAKE IT STOP!!!

But I love a lot of classic country as well as “alt. country” and americana – not to mention bluegrass and folk. But for the majority of my life there has been one man – one singer/songwriter – that has walked that line brilliantly. His studio albums make a considerable footprint in my CD collection and get plenty of iPod play-time. That man is Lyle Lovett.

And for the first time ever, I have tickets to see him live on Tuesday sharing a stage with another long-time favorite, John Hiatt.

I am a little bit excited.

Lyle is a master – a legend. He is the penultimate example of smooth, Texas gentleman country. And in the 80’s, he had epic hair AND Julia Roberts.

Wow.

Dad introduced me to his music in my youth with clever, often funny, and musically masterful songs like “If I Had a Boat” and “She’s Hot to Go”. It’s tough to forget such easy to identify with lyrics like “she was ugly from the front” – isn’t it? And as much as I still love those songs, my tastes tend to lean more towards those hauntingly beautiful, dark, and melancholy tracks. I am not sure why, but those are the ones that really stick with me.

So since my voice doesn’t carry very well, especially in a place like the Fabulous Fox Theater in St. Louis, I thought that today I would use my blog as a platform to shout out my requests:

“PLAY FREEBIRD!”

1.  She’s Already Made Up Her Mind is one of those haunting songs. It is about that soul-crushing moment in a relationship that you realize that the relationship is over, but the coroner dwarf has not yet read the proclamation. It is such a personal and accessible feeling for many of us that no matter how many times I listen to it, my heart breaks a little each & every time.

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2.  L.A. County is a dark and brilliantly written story song. It has one of those driving rhythms that starts off kind of slow but builds slowly, like the story itself, to a dramatic climax that you never really see coming.

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3.  If I Were the Man You Wanted is another heart-breaker from Lovett’s eponymous debut album. It was actually recorded by (the awesome) Nanci Griffith before he released his own version. “if I were the man she wanted, I would not be the man that I am

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4.  (Please ignore the cheesy video – it’s the best I could find unfortunately.) Private Conversation seems to be about regret, or getting over those relationships above and moving on with your life. I’m not sure, but I love it. My favorite song from the Road To Ensenada album is a close race between this one and “I Can’t Love You Anymore”.

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5.  Lyle Lovett is an amazing songwriter, so I will be perfectly satisfied if he only plays his own songs – but if he decides to play one cover, if there is a God in Heaven, it will be one written by Townes Van  Zandt, like the unbelievably beautiful If I Needed You.