Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Shameful Revelations

I generally prefer obscure, roots-oriented alt-country music to any other variety. But my musical tastes run far and wide.

One of the greatest musical evenings of my life was in a Fort Worth club called The Wreck Room, listening to a band called SplitLip Rayfield, who feature a standup bass made from an old Ford gas tank strung with Weedeater line.

I've sung in three fully-orchestrated performances of The Brahms Requiem. One of them was in the original German. No big deal in Fort Worth, but a huge deal for someone from Drew, Mississippi.

I've heard Charlie Robison in concert 9 times. The same Charlie Robison who recently wrote a song entitled "New Years Day", which has references to Totally Inappropriate Entertainment In Mexico and Dancing with Cross-Dressers.

I can almost guarantee that I was the only graduate in the North Sunflower Academy class of 1979 who owned a "Never Mind The Bullocks, Here Come The Sex Pistols" 8-track tape (now worth about $30.00 to collectors.)

You probably get the idea by now. I don't spend too much time looking through the "Adult Contemporary" section of the music store.

Mrs. Whited Sepulchre recently bought a CD that I would ordinarily avoid at all costs. Just because of the title. Just because of the image surrounding this particular performer. (I will admit to some reverse snobbery when it comes to my music, and deep down I probably believe that if 9 out of 10 Minivan Drivers like something, it's probably not very good.) Plus, you can't leave this performer's stuff on the dashboard of your pickup if you work in shipping or manufacturing. You would be shunned, and sent to a rehab where they strapped you in a chair and forced you to listen to Hank Jr. and Tejano all day until you regained your manliness

This is a CD of 1970's cover songs. I'm not going to tell you who the singer is yet. I've kept it at arm's length for about a week. Blame it on an involuntary reflex that made me zone out whenever Mrs. Whited Sepulchre played it in the car. But then my daughter, of all people, downloaded it to her IPOD, or sucked it into her Facebook, or MySpaced it to her itunes (whatever the kids do these days....) and she was playing it again in her car tonight. These arrangements of these songs have gotten into my head and refuse to leave. Because (ahem) they're really good.

The CD has songs like "Bridge over Troubled Water". "It Never Rains in Southern California". "Sorry Seems to Be The Hardest Word". Plus a lot of new versions of acoustic, almost-unplugged, much less schmaltzy versions of this guy's older hits.

Lordy, this is embarrasing. Please, please, please remember that I own almost everything that Bob "Minnesota Mud Throat" Dylan ever recorded, so don't hold this guilty pleasure against me....

Yes, friends, I'm ready to make an official position statement. Barry Manilow - The Greatest Songs of The Seventies is one of the best things I've heard this year. The unplugged version of his 70's hits all have great arrangements - even "Copacabana" has an interesting Flamenco guitar thing going on. "Even Now" is totally reborn without all the overproduced bombastic mess going on in the background.

The only song that really doesn't work is his duet with Melissa Manchester on Carole King's "You've Got A Friend". That's the one track that makes you want to go listen to the original. Or the James Taylor version. Or the 1976 Sing 'n' Celebrate Songbook version.

Ok, there it is. I've said it. It's totally geeky music that all the Soccer Moms love. And I really like it, too. This Barry Manilow CD is really, really good.

I'm so ashamed....We deeply closeted Manilow fans take so much abuse... You know Axl Rose, lead singer and rock demigod from Guns 'n' Roses? Here's what happened when he went public with a Manilow admiration....

Rose....describes his childhood in mostly angry terms. He speaks of physical and sexual abuse, of a mother who was never there for him, of a stepfather who whacked him for singing along with Barry Manilow's "Mandy."
Well, confession time is over. I'm going to take the guitar out on the deck and write a two-chord song about Hawg Hunting.

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