Pearl Jam, IMHO before I saw this documentary, is a really good band, sometimes even great, but not one of my favorites, and not one that I own any CD’s by or have on any of my playlists. But you know what they say. 90% of show business is showing up. Pearl Jam’s showed up for 20 years now, and there’s just something about longevity that speaks volumes. Look at U2. Starting out with one great song, “Walk Away (I will Follow)”, then a bunch of crappy, overproduced records, somewhere along the way, they slowly turned into the juggernaut that you’ll see today at their concerts. Picking up a great song here, a great album there, next thing you know, they’ve got a wealth of material that is all great! And it cancels out the stuff you weren’t that impressed with at the beginning. Tom Petty, The Police, same thing. Both bands showed flashes of brilliance immediately, but took a few albums to produce a masterpiece that had no clunkers. For Petty, it was “Damn the Torpedoes”. For The Police, probably “Ghost in the Machine”. The point is, Pearl Jam is definitely in that club. They are a great band! And this movie makes any musician want to play, which is, I guess, the point. Moreover, it made me want to see them, which I suddenly remembered, I never have. So, Eddie, Stone, and the rest of PJ, WATCH OUT! I’m comin’ fer ya!
Another really cool movie that I’ve watched about 5 times in the past few weeks is “Living in the Material World”, Martin Scorsese’s biopic of George Harrison. Now, everybody knows that Marty is probably the king of music documentaries. Of course, there are other pretenders to the crown, but I think Marty’s surpassed them all, and this George Harrison picture shows why…again! George is such a great subject and this movie is long overdue, as is George getting the proper respect for his songwriting, singing, and guitar playing. Overshadowed as a guitar player by his friend, Eric Clapton and other guitarslingers, George was nevertheless, like Ringo, perfect for The Beatles. His taste was impeccable! Again, as a songwriter, he was one of the best ever, but had the ironic position of being in a band with THE best ever, John Lennon and Paul McCartney. There’s a great clip of George watching films of The Beatles playing live that is one of my favorite parts of the film, and then he says that he wrote his first song simply as an exercise, just to see if he could do it. The song was “Don’t Bother Me” and George says of it, “It really wasn’t a very good song”. I shouted back at the TV, “Are you crazy? It’s a GREAT song!”. But that’s George for you. Everybody reading this should make it a point to see this movie, so I’m not going to tell you that much more about it, but I can’t resist retelling my absolute favorite scene. A few years before he died, George was attacked and stabbed by a mentally unstable man who broke into his house at night. He and Olivia had to struggle with the man to disarm him, but in the process, George was stabbed, and it was a pretty serious cut. Paramedics were called, and he was taken to hospital on a stretcher. As he was being carried out, George turned to two staff workers who had just started on the job the day before and were watching in horror, and asked them, deadpan, “So, what do you think of the job so far?”. Pure George!
I also want to mention that I have a new favorite radio station, 89.9 FM, AKA Fox Oldies. I found them by accident about two weeks ago, and did not hear one bad song for the first 5 days I listened. Since then, sure, there’s been a few clunkers, but for the most part, you can keep this on in your car or at work, and you almost never have to run for the dial to change it. Here’s a small sampling of stuff I heard this weekend.
1. Walk Away Renee - Left Banke
2. Singin the Blues - Marty Robbins
3. North to Alaska - Johnny Horton
4. 25 Miles - Edwin Starr
5. Too Many Fish in the Sea - The Marvelettes
6. Hurdy Gurdy Man - Donovan
7. Look Thru Any Window - The Hollies
8. I'm Ready - Fats Domino
9. Honky Tonk Women - Stones
10. World Without Love - Peter and Gordon
11.If You Wanna be Happy - Jimmy Soul
12. Marie's the Name of his Latest Flame - Elvis
This makes me happy, after so many years of radio abdicating its responsibilities and in the process, pretty much destroying the music business. It’s just a shame that this has to be an oldies station. The Return of Top 40. Who could ever imagine we’d miss it?
Live music picks for this week:
It’s a pretty quiet week we have coming up, with most of the action taking place on the weekend. The one exception is Wednesday, November 2, when LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM rolls into The Egg in Albany. He’s always been my favorite part of the current incarnation of Fleetwood Mac. Great guitar player, great songwriter.
As for Halloween weekend, we’ve got my Pick of the Week at The Horton Smith House in Hensonville on Friday night, which is SCOTT SHARRARD, CONNOR KENNEDY, KYLE ESPOSITO, and SONNY ROCK. I don’t know what they’re calling this band, but everyone in it is top shelf. Scott is the guitarist with Gregg Allman. Connor leads his own band, and I think he’s all of 17. Kyle plays with everyone in town and there’s a reason for that. And Sonny has more chops in his little finger than most drummers have in their whole bodies, so this is gonna ROCK! I’m going, and you should too. Hensonville’s a hike, but there’s no cover, so $10 or $15 in gas will get you and whoever fits in your car through the door. Oh yeah, it’s a Halloween party, so come in costume if so inclined.
Also on Friday night, former J.Geils lead singer, PETER WOLF, is at The Egg in Albany, and one of my favorite local dives, The Fernwood in Palenville, is having their Halloween party with VOODELIC.
Saturday night, the only show in town is Woodstock’s best songwriter, TOM PACHECO at Upstate Films in Woodstock.
Closing out the weekend, we have the Halloween party at Harmony in Woodstock. This is the only event actually ON Halloween, so if you’re in Woodstock for the annual Halloween celebration, consider sticking around for dinner and then hitting Harmony for ZUMBI ZUMBI.
Happy Halloween everybody!