Thursday, September 9, 2010
The Second Time Around (Or Third Time's The Charm...You Pick)
Let's say you've never heard a note by The Beatles. One afternoon, your best friend Clay calls you up and says, "You gotta hear this band. They are called The Beatles and I made a mixtape of my favorite stuff." You invite Clay over for some Hawaiian Punch and Funyuns, and you listen to his mix which includes the following:
A Taste Of Honey
Maxwell's Silver Hammer
What would you think of The Beatles then?
(I'd just like to go on record and say I don't mind any of these songs and actually love Lennon's vocals on "Mr. Moonlight." I am just making a point, so take it easy.)
My recent Frankie Miller revelation, (see yesterday's post below), made me think of how often I was unknowingly listening to the wrong representation of an artist. Not always the weakest output, per se, but just some ill-advised choices. I chose 1982's "Dancing In The Rain," not because I was interested in Frankie Miller, but his guitar player Brian Robertson, an alumnus of Thin Lizzy, one of my favorite bands. It's not a very good record, sounds like Thin Lizzy about as much as Nana Mouskouri does, and aside from Frankie's voice, sounds nothing like the music that made fans of so many.
Someone once told me that he thought ELO and Cheap Trick were overrated and "mostly horrible." He also admitted to only knowing the hits. 7 of the 16 tracks on "Cheap Trick's Authorized Greatest Hits" CD are arguably their worst songs, and only one song each from what I think are ELO's two best albums appear on their hits collection.
My first taste of Miles Davis was not "Kind Of Blue" but "On The Corner." Even if I liked "On The Corner," which I don't, if I had stopped there, well...
The Dead? "Casey Jones" and "Truckin'" OUCH! That was my introduction to the Dead, thanks to Dave Herman of WNEW-FM. (You owe me, Dave.)
There was no more ardent non-supporter of The Grateful Dead than I was. But with a little cajoling, a lot of food and alcohol, and the perverse need of one person to hold me captive and play nothing but the Dead for a snowbound weekend in Vermont, I did discover something special. (Not in that person, but the music.)
Here are my pointers for non-Dead fans, if you ever feel the need to try again.
1.) Listen to the songs Bob Weir sings only when losing a bet
2.) If forced to choose between a) horrible, painful death or b) listening to any of the Dead's live versions of Beatles or Motown covers, choose A.
3.) Start with the first album and move slowly through the studio output, regardless of how many times your friend says, "Dude, Cornell, 5/8/77."
4.) Make Disc One of "Dick's Picks Volume 8," the first live Dead you listen to. It's acoustic, Jerry & Bob harmonize well, and the guitar playing is stellar.
5.) "Black Muddy River," from "In The Dark." Heartbreaking.
So, I'm asking, is there one artist you may have resisted time and again, based on one particular experience, only to discover you actually love the artist and had been listening to the wrong music?