But it left me quite knackered, as my UK friends say. Add that to some modern world frustrations and the political shenanigans of our current USA leadership, and I fell into the Dark Pit for a little bit. Just only now peaking my head up over the rim. Still quite scary out there, but I’m trying to keep myself motivated with plenty of chocolate, kitty play time, and a right good shot of bourbon.
Music plays a huge part in helping me get through the day. My collection offers such a broad selection, there’s almost no mood for which I can’t find a soundtrack. I’ve already let you in on some of my classical (Part I) and jazz (Part II) tastes, so this week I’ll concentrate on the rock/pop world. It’s going to be really tough, though, given my formative years were spent in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s – a giant era for the music scene now broadly referred to as “Classic Rock.” The Beatles, the Who, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Aerosmith, Janis Joplin – the list of greats could go on for days. The fact a good number of those are STILL recording/touring in some form or another only goes to show how enduring the music is. Trying to winnow such giants and their descendants down to a select few I can share in a few hundred words took some work. I finally just sat back and looked at my collection and to those artists I seem to visit again and again, regardless of my mood.
You are already aware, of course, of my love for David Bowie. After years of taking him for granted, his death last year fell particularly hard on me, so I wrote about him (Legacy, GaGa NoNo) as atonement and tribute. The argument could easily be made that one need have only his albums in their collection and still have nearly all the styles and sub-genres of modern music represented. But since I’ve already droned on about him, I’ll move on to some of my other choices.
First up is Sting. Formerly of The Police, he’s spent far more time as a successful solo artist than he ever did as front man for the ‘80’s banner group. And I have more of his albums than of anyone else, even without counting the badly worn cassettes of The Police played nearly to death in my college years. His musical range is extensive, running from punk to rock to jazz to classical. The way he plays with tempo, time signatures, keys, and words keeps me coming back over and over again. Every album has something to just adore. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but the one that came to mind today is from his 1987 album …Nothing Like the Sun. Maybe it’s because of my mood these last few weeks, or just the lush sound and simple, pointed lyrics. Whatever the reason, it still gives me goose bumps.
If you have time for more, here’s a concert he did in Paris back in November that opens with the same song. He’s certainly aging much better than I am…
My next choice is Evanescence and their powerhouse singer/writer Amy Lee. Their 2003 debut album, Fallen, roared to over seventeen million copies sold and two Grammy awards. The single “Bring Me To Life” was featured in the movie Daredevil, has been covered by numerous artists, and is still a goth rock anthem. Lee’s ethereal voice has an astonishing range and clarity that seems almost unworldly. Combined with her dense, orchestral music, and pounding metal rock rhythm, the result leaves me equally exhilarated and exhausted. And her lyrics sometimes seem like she’s been rattling around in my head for inspiration. Kinda scary, when you think about it. I’ll take anything she gives, and for you I offer:
Or for the full concert experience, here’s the band from a performance in New York last year:
I’m probably going to take a lot of shit for this next choice, but everybody has a guilty pleasure and this one’s mine. I give you Nickelback, Canada’s best selling and much-maligned grunge/rock/pop band. Despite being referred to as “hard-rock ridiculousness” and “insipid,” they have total record sales topping over 50 million world-wide, multiple Grammy nominations, sold-out arena shows, and were named Group of the Decade by Billboard. I suspect they’re reading their critics while laughing all the way to the bank.
Most of you probably know their hit “Photograph,” among others, but you may not know they donated all digital proceeds from their song “If Everyone Cared” to Amnesty International and International Children’s Awareness Network, and have played numerous charity events to support various other causes as well. So what if they’ve fine-tuned their music into a sleek pounding of rock-n-roll average. Their sound has become almost iconic and is instantly recognizable, something most musicians only dream about. They are caught in a “damned if you do – damned if you don’t” situation: give us more of the same, but be original, and if you’re making that much money you must be a sell-out.
Ya know, sometimes I just need some mindless bass-thumping rock, and Nickelback fills the bill. Besides, occasionally they come up with a very topical little ditty, like their recent release:
And for the truly brave, here’s their 2013 Rock in Rio show: