Sweet Accustomed Ways: Yes in Nashville

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Yes at the Ryman auditorium in Nashville was my second concert for the summer, the first being Jack White at the Saenger Theater in New Orleans. You may recall that my Jack White concert experience was not so great, and this is why:

  • We were informed by one of Jack’s henchmen upon arriving that we were at a rock concert, and as such, were expected to stay out of our seats and on our feet throughout the show.
  • We were then informed by this same Jack-like sycophant that we were not allowed to take pictures or videos and it was implied that those who tried to do so were crass and ill-mannered.
  • Being crass and ill-mannered, I then got yelled at by a cell phone-Nazi in official looking black polyester pants to put away my phone.
  • A lot of the audience members were obviously Jack-imitators whose primary motive was to look, act, and sound just like him, down to his mannerisms and vocal affectations.
  • I was nearly blinded by a floodlight on stage that was aimed directly at the audience, not that it mattered anyway, because I couldn’t see the stage as I stood there in my little pocket of extra-tall Jack-imitators for hours, listening to distorted, overly-loud music.
  • There was an overall vibe of coldness and negativity and rigid conformity, along the lines of Tommy’s Holiday Camp or the concert scene from The Wall, and it was apparent that the whole thing was as much, if not more, about fashion and fad as it was about music, which is unfortunate because Jack is a talented musician, in spite of everything.

So now that you have all that concert misery firmly in your mind’s eye, imagine the direct opposite of each point.  Friendly, helpful venue staff and an ancient elevator operator that tells you jokes on the way up. A non-pretentious looking audience of mainly middle-aged people, mostly wearing jeans and tees, and all sitting down comfortably. And using their cell phones to take the occasional video or pic. No big deal.  All sharing happily in the joy of sublimely beautiful, perfectly clear music, performed by a band that looks as relaxed, friendly, and non-pretentious as the crowd.

To put it succinctly, as I sat in the concert, experiencing all this, the thought popped in my mind, “these are my people, and this is my music”.  I’m sure I’ve conveyed my love for the music of Yes in my previous concert review and in my post about the Roundabout Fiasco of 1979, so I won’t belabor the point. However, I do need to compare this concert to the Yes concert I saw in Jackson last year.

The Nashville concert reinforced to me how very special the one in Jackson was. Not that this one wasn’t great, because it was, but the show in Jackson was extra special. The band had been delayed for two hours due to weather and had chartered a plane and flown through bad weather to get to us. Jackson waited; hardly anyone left.  I’m sure the band was tired and stressed, and I don’t think they expected the incredibly enthusiastic reception that they got from the audience. Perhaps they weren’t aware that Jackson, po-dunk town that it is, had one of the ass-kickinest album rock stations in the nation (WZZQ) during the 1970s; thus, we were all heavily exposed to Yes during their heyday and love them vehemently still, although they hadn’t played here all these years, what with us being po-dunk and all. So when Yes got extended, passionate, emotional ovations after each and every song they played, and I’m talking the best ovations I’ve ever heard in my life, you could see the surprise and gratitude in their faces. All of them were smiling ear to ear, including the normally stoic Steve Howe. Chris Squire, one of the nicest guys in rock, who lives and breathes Yes, was so emotional you could see the mist in his eyes. But he was not alone – half the audience was in tears.  An amazing concert and a profound experience for all who were there – band and audience alike.

So the Jackson concert gets an A+ and the Nashville concert gets an A-. They played Close to the Edge in reverse order, which kinda messed me up a little. They played two songs from their new album Heaven and Earth, and they were just okay. And they just didn’t seem quite as tight as they were in Jackson, but I think that’s because they were giving it all they got at that show, since we were definitely giving them all we had that night.

I feel so lucky that they are still touring and I got to see them again. They still speak to me in those old, sweet accustomed ways…

And uh…this is for you know who and his concert henchmen, because we’re not gonna take it. We know how it’s supposed to be. This was recorded at Woodstock. Where people sat, stood, rolled in the mud, or whatever they wanted to do…

And by the way, we’re still free…

Okay, one more, I can’t resist. So glad to be a part of the Yes generation. And The Who. It’s my generation, baby…

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Krystals, Cigs, and WFAT

I mentioned in an earlier post or maybe in the comments that I spent some time around a radio station in my youth, so now the onus is upon me to explain myself. First of all, to be clear, I did nothing of any value whatsoever while at the radio station. Well, that’s not strictly true. I fulfilled a number of functions, none of which had anything to do with radio broadcasting. My main job was to run out for Krystal burgers (for those of you in White Castle territory, Krystals are the southern equivalent thereof) and cigarettes. And to smuggle in beer in my purse.  Impressed? Of course you are.  Everything to do with radio in those days was glamorous. But this wasn’t a cool radio station – it wasn’t even close to being cool. The cool radio station in town was WZZQ.

wzzq

WZZQ was one of the first of its kind in the country – a free-format, anything-goes, bad ass album rock radio station, and it was where I learned about music. It was the station I listened to on my little Panasonic transistor. It was the station of “Nantucket Sleighride” and “Mississippi Queen”.  If you are interested in radio history, this is a fascinating story, because all this took place in ultra-conservative Jackson, MS. You can read about WZZQ here and here.

But like I said, this wasn’t WZZQ. It was more of a fly by night operation that took place in an old house on the edge of town. Since everyone there was scarfing down fast food, guzzling beer, and smoking like a fiend, let’s just call it WFAT. Or we could go with WYUK. WBIG. WCIG. WSUD. You get the picture. Anyway, I met this guy at W.C. Don’s (Remember? Home of big-arm-dancing and where my friend hit on Michael Stipe?), and he told me he was a deejay at WFAT and could get me an internship (um…unpaid) for the summer. WOW! I was so excited! I wasn’t too impressed with the easy listnin’ music they played, but what the heck, it was RADIO!

So I showed up, all eager, ready to learn the ropes and picturing myself as one of those ultra-cool female deejays with the deep, sultry voices. Not that I have a deep, sultry voice, but I thought maybe I could develop one. Imagine the let down when I was instructed to take the order for the first round of Krystals. And the Benson and Hedges. And the Budweiser and so forth. And when that was done, there was nothing else for me to do, except try to avoid the other female that worked there, because she seemed to hate me with a burning passion.  I guess there was only room for one female deejay per radio station, and she was there before me, so I was an interloper and a potential threat to her radio stardom. Anyway, I’m sure she rejoiced greatly when the summer ended and I was relieved of my duties to return to college. I know I did.

A deejay story by the great Harry Chapin…

And not only did we have a kick-ass radio station, but the founder of MTV, Robert Pittman, was born in Jackson and grew up down the road in Brookhaven, Mississippi. That’s between Jackson and Granny’s swamp. Here’s the first song played on MTV, and a fitting one it was, too.

 Questions? Comments? Please Share!

And a shout out to Vis – thanks for reading! But the answer is no – I’m not in the study board biz anymore. lololol…

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Hysterical, Screaming Girl Fans: An Analysis

Since I got a Facebook account, which is called “Annie Rich”, and by the way, please be my friend if you are on Facebook because my low number of friends is embarrassing, I’ve taken my YouTubing to an even higher plane, because I follow all these 60s and 70s pages or whatever they are and I click on almost every music link they send out. Which is a lot.

I was watching a clip of  The Beatles’ version of “You Really Got Me”, which prompted me to watch the original Smokey Robinson version. I realized with a sinking feeling that Smokey’s version was much better. I say “sinking feeling” because I am a Beatles fan and don’t like to diss them in any way, but I speak only the truth, and the truth is that they sucked all the soul and sexiness out of the song.  You’ll see what I mean if you watch this…it just doesn’t get any smoother than Smokey Robinson. Unless it is Sam Cooke, then sometimes it does. I love the lyrics in this song – what a perfect anthem for obsession! You treat me badly; I love you madly. Oh, the humanity…

You may have noted that this clip has a lot of hysterical girl-screaming in the background, as do a lot of live performances from the early years of rock and roll.  Somewhat understandable what with Smooth Smokey and his thinly veiled “tight hold” references, but still. The crying. The sweating, flushed faces. The high-pitched, panicky screaming. The peeing in the pants. The fainting. I mean, what was up with all that, right?

Here’s a good example from an Elvis concert in 1957. This one hits close to home because these are Mississippi girls – the concert was just up the road in Elvis’s home town of Tupelo.

Now for some Beatlemania…

You may ask, “So Marie, why did girls act like that? And why don’t they do this anymore?’ And I could give an answer to these questions, and would gladly do so, but it would take us into the deep, murky waters of psychology and sociology. I’m sure this must have been studied and analyzed by someone, somewhere, but the things that showed up in my Google search didn’t really answer the question to my satisfaction, so what the hell. Let’s go there.

I could just be lazy and shy, say “sexual repression”, link another song and be done, but it’s much more complex than that and deserves a closer look.  There were a number of causal factors that led to the girl-fan-hysteria that was so widespread during the era – the main one probably being an increasing awareness and awakening of female sexuality on the heels of  1953’s The Kinsey Report on Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, which alerted the world to the fact that women are in fact, sexual beings. It was a real shocker, apparently, and the report was roundly criticized and condemned, but you better believe the news leaked out. It was academic trickle down to the common man. And woman. But at the same time, if you recall, there were extremely strict social parameters of sexual behavior for women – to be labelled a slut was the kiss of death. Thus, we had a powder keg situation – an increasing awareness and understanding of female sexuality combined with music that spurred it on, but tightly controlled by strict social mores and expectations and religious beliefs. Girls, if they wanted to be good and nice and not get a bad rep, had to push all those feelings down deep, which of course meant that they came out in unusual, unexpected ways – like having a weird melt down at a concert where songs with vaguely sexual lyrics were being performed by cute boys, for example.

Over time, the powder keg was slowly defused. The birth control pill. More access to education and careers. 1971’s Our Bodies, Ourselves, which continued to increase knowledge and understanding of female sexuality. Societal attitudes toward women and the rules regarding their behavior started to change, ever so slowly, but steadily. By the time I started going to rock concerts in the late 70s, there was no more hysteria among the girls – those days were over. Of course, there was plenty of drooling over Paul Rodgers and so forth, but it was a more normal level of idolatry. Not hysteria. Nobody fainted, for example.

There are other explanations, naturally, such as the effect of music on the brain and the nervous system, group dynamics, female emotional tendencies, etc. But if that’s all it was, why doesn’t this happen today? No, those elements, while I’m sure they were contributing factors, are incomplete as explanations. It was a phenomenon specific to the times in which it occurred and it’s not likely to happen again, which is a good thing. I would hate to go to a concert ruined by a bunch of out 0f control, pitifully repressed females.  Oh, that high-pitched screeching! Terrible.  But I’m still proud to be a woman. From 1962, with change blowin’ in the wind…tell ’em about it, Peggy…

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The Interconnectedness of All Things

Hello, bloggerville!  Have you missed me? Yes? No? Well, let’s just pretend that you pined away miserably while I was off lying in the sun on a sugar-white beach in south Alabama.  So dry your virtual eyes and bury those feelings down deep where they will later cause you to burst into tears at a Bruce Springsteen song like me.

I just listened to both versions of “Brother Louie”. I like the original version by Hot Chocolate, but I really dig that hoarse, Steve Marriottish sound from Ian Lloyd of Stories. And by the way, the keyboardist for Stories, Michael Brown, had previously led, wrote, and performed with his band, The Left Banke, who did one of my favorite songs of the sixties. Ah, the interconnectedness of all things blows my mind without end.

Here’s the original by Hot Chocolate…

Here’s another little ditty by Hot Chocolate that you might remember. Where ya from, you sexy thing?

Now the saga of Louie from the Small Faces, I mean Humble Pie, I mean the Black Crowes. Ha! Silly me! I mean Stories, of course. With a cringe-worthy introduction by Jose Feliciano. Nothin’ bad, it was good…

And now for one of my favorite songs from the sixties. Just walk away, Renee. You won’t see me follow you…

And as a special treat, since I’m sure it seemed that I was a thousand miles away and never coming back, here’s a sweet little salve for your hurt feelings, complete with scenes from one of my favorite movies. This is one of those songs that makes me feel all melty inside. It may be on a Sunday morning, it may be on a Tuesday afternoon…

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The Diamond Girls

We have talked before about the Jaycee Hut and the pitiful dances I attended there in junior high and high school. But there was another activity that took place at the Hut, or in the fenced enclosure behind it, that wasn’t pathetic or lame in the least, because the Jaycees had the swimming pool that we all used every summer.

From the time I was old enough to paddle around in the baby pool, I spent every summer there, turning brown as an old boot. I use the expression “brown as an old boot” with pride, because in those far away Farrah-days, tan and blond was de rigueur for beauty. I could never achieve the blond thing, although I tried, as you will see in any picture of me with the tell-tale copper colored coif that is the bane of dark haired girls who try to lighten their locks. But nobody could beat my tanning abilities. We did crazy things to attain those dark tans – laid out on the roof, on top of aluminum foil, coated in baby oil, for instance. Now I look anxiously in the mirror for signs of sun damage and skin cancer, but none yet, thank God. Must be thanks to that good Cajun blood Granny gave me.

But in the early days of Jaycee Hut swimming, I was stuck in the shallow end with my cousins, who apparently were trying to drown me. Well, they were trying to drown everybody. It was like a game. They would dunk you under and hold you there until you started to panic and thrash wildly, then they would stop because that might gain the attention of the aunts. Then they would let you up for a breath of air, and back down you would go.

Pool

“Today’s the day. I just know it. They’re gonna drown me for real.”

So I was pretty happy when I reached the age when I could escape the regular threats to my life and join the teenage girls on the chaise lounges down at the deep end of the pool by the diving boards. That’s where they hung out because that was the greatest vantage point for seeing and being seen by the boys lining up to dive. But I had one problem – my friends, whom you’ve met as the girl posse, refused to make the giant leap from shallow end kid to deep end fox. They were afraid. Lacked confidence and such as that. I mean, I was a little intimidated too, but my desire to join the foxes outweighed my fear, so for a while, we were stuck in limbo, hanging out in that bland, no-man’s land of mid-pool. Away from the little kids, but still not in The Fox Zone.

At regular intervals throughout the day, we would go inside the Hut and get an orange push up or a Popsicle and listen to the juke box. As you may have already surmised from the title, Seals and Crofts’ “Diamond Girl” was in regular rotation. One day, as I sat licking my pushup, listening to the music, observing my shy, chicken-shit friends, I suddenly announced that Seals and Crofts were singing about us and that we were The Diamond Girls. It was our secret club and you had to learn all the words in order to be a member. So we played the song and sang it over and over and learned all the words. Once we became The Diamond Girls, we were invincible. Afraid of those older girls? HA! We were like “precious stones” – they had nothing on us. Scared of those diving boys? NOT! Cause we were “like shining stars” and they “could never find another one like us”.

Diamond girls, you sure did shine…

You already know how this ends, right? The Diamond Girls moved into The Fox Zone and made it our own.  We ruled it. And as a corollary to this story, I got my first kiss that summer, right next to the juke box. He was one of the cutest boys at the pool and his name was Donny.  I’m still carrying a torch. Sigh…

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Now I’m All Tangled Up In Blue

If you’ve ever watched my twitter feed, you know that I, like a lot of people, get temporarily obsessed with some artist or some song for a while, and then that gradually fades into the sunset, and it’s on to something new. Last week, I had Springsteen fever.  During this protracted brain-worm illness, the Springsteen lines that spun around in my head the most were from “Prove it All Night”, particularly the phrases “Meet me in the field behind the dynamo” and “To buy you a ring and a pretty dress of blue”.  Over and over. The field, then the dynamo, followed by the ring, and ending with the pretty dress of blue. It dawned on me after a while that every time I heard those lines, I was picturing this dress…

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In case you don’t know what you are looking at, it’s a prom dress from 1980. Specifically, it’s my prom dress from 1980. After picturing it all week, I was compelled to go dig it out of the storage closet. I’m not sure what all this means, but there is a story that goes along with this dress. Naturally.

Prom 4

I grew up in a suburb of Jackson, that shall remain nameless, and we had a serious rivalry going with the kids that lived in Jackson. It got pretty ugly sometimes. It was all very Socs (short for Socials) and Greasers ( “The Outsiders”). We were the Socs, and the kids from Jackson were the Greasers, except of course we didn’t use those terms. We called them hoods; they called us preps. Which was entirely inaccurate – there were kids of both of these genres that lived in either place. But my girl posse and I used to like to sneak away from our suburb and cruise the strip in Jackson to check out the “hoods” and their hot rods. Suffice it to say that they were greatly admired. So when I broke up with my El Camino boy (and I use that term figuratively, you understand – he actually drove a smoking hot Olds 442) for some trivial infraction, I quickly rounded up one of these Jackson fellas as a short notice replacement prom date.

That was a big mistake. The guy acted like a total douche bag the whole night.  In fact, I hate to besmirch the good name of douche bags by calling him that. Let’s just say he was defensive and angry. And understandably so, really, since he was in enemy camp and my former El Camino boy was also defensive and angry and glaring in our general direction all night. It was a powder keg situation. So I spent the whole night smiling nervously and trying to smooth things over on both ends, which naturally only made things worse.

Finally I feigned illness, which was one of my specialties at the time, having become a master of gym-avoidance via that technique, and we left early. Riding home, we were both completely silent. There I sat, in my pretty dress of blue, having created yet another fiasco, and with both fellas mad at me.  He didn’t even pull up in my driveway; he just let me out on the street beside my house. I guess you could say it was a bad prom night. But now, with the power of technology, I can completely erase the guy’s face from my prom picture, as if he never existed and none of that ever happened. It’s too bad that the background is wallpaper, or the effect would have been even better, like an empty suit just standing there. Beside me and my pretty dress of blue.

This is the song that finally ended the brain worm. Note that it’s also got the blue theme going. Lord knows I’ve paid some dues getting through. Tangled up in blue.

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My Superpower Name is: “Chameleon Woman”

As you can see, I’ve made some changes to my blog. Any change at all is a really big deal because I don’t know how to do anything. Thus, any change that I make usually brews in my feeble mind for a couple months before I actually take any action. It all started this time with a mild displeasure with my profile picture or gravatar or whatever that tiny picture next to my name is called. I liked the picture I had for a really long time, because I thought I looked kind of spunky and sardonic. Then, one day, out of the blue, I looked at that picture and “spunky and sardonic” suddenly appeared “bitchy and snooty”.

Say goodbye to our old friend, “Bitchy Pic”!

bitchy pic

So I finally decided I would update my tiny picture, and I thought I would try to take one with my puppy, Penny. I’ve seen pictures that other women have taken with pets that looked really cute and sweet and feminine, and I tried to achieve the same effect, but as you can see, mine just came out weird and distorted. Penny wouldn’t cooperate and was squirming wildly and I had to tilt my head back, so the end result is that the entire world gets a fine shot of the underside of my nose. But I’m going with it anyway, because the puppy is so darn cute.

Say hello to our new friend, “Puppy Pic”!

Puppy pic

Since I didn’t think the puppy pic really looked like me, I did another picture, this time in black and white, trying to go for an artistic effect.  I didn’t even look like the same person at all.  I tried to have a completely blank expression so that it would be an accurate representation of my face, but I looked kinda like an alien. And I don’t think my eyes are that far apart. Or are they? I just don’t know. Anyway, if you want to know what I look like, I recommend piecing the various photos together in your head, creating sort of a composite pic, because apparently I am going to continue looking like a different woman in every photo ever taken of me.

It’s really bizarre how I look different in every picture. I’m not even sure how I look exactly. I’m a chameleon, I guess. A Karma Chameleon, perhaps? I mean, I am slightly worried that I have unresolved karma issues, after all.

Instant karma’s gonna get you. Gonna look you right in the face.

Who’s that lady? Another great one from the marvelous Isley Brothers and one of my faves. The extra yummy extended version…

“But seriously, lady, who are you?”

Bean Bag2

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