Sunday, March 02, 2008

Am I being ENTERTAINED yet?
...or, am I just being sedated? I'm really not too sure...

Where's the Fire, and Where's the Rain?: Right now, a portion of James Taylor's latest concert DVD, "One Man Band" is playing on Our Local Public Television Station. Two conclusions about James Taylor: He CANNOT sing the blues well at all. And, he Cannot Rock. Oh, and one more conclusion: "You've Got A Friend" is just about the most annoying song in the universe, especially the line that goes, "they'll take your soul if you let don't you let them." Real intelligent, that line, huh? Following that, he did "Steamroller Blues", which is just about The Most Stupid Song Ever, and before he completed the first lyric line, I hit the "mute" button. Whoever invented the Television Remote needs to be inducted into the All-Time Smart Guys Hall Of Fame. The remote makes things (a little) more bearable when watching music on an Annoying Pledge Drive...although, it might actually be redundant to say "annoying" and "pledge drive" in the same sentence...

As you've undoubtedly found out if you've ever watched PBS musical shows during a pledge drive, just when you start groovin' to the music (if indeed you can 'groove' to James Taylor), the local PBS fundraisers come in during the breaks and say stuff like, "James Taylor is Such A Treasure, Such an important figure in music; I remember where I was when I heard my first James Taylor Song", yadda, yadda, yadda. SHUT UP!!! I don't need a bunch of soul-less yuppies who don't even know what music IS, telling me how I should think of James Taylor, or Any Other Performer. And, after they're done pontificating, then they try to "guilt" me..."you've been watching all these great shows on PBS, now step up and send us your life savings"...I kinda think PBS viewers would send in more money, to NOT have to see these pledge people. I'd pay 'em not to show James Taylor, actually...I don't hate him; "Fire and Rain" is one of my favorite tunes, but I just don't GET IT. Why do people think he's so good? I'm not kidding when I say I like John Denver more! How bad is that?

He may not be Young, but he's still Neil...Last week, I viewed a Neil Young DVD, titled "Heart Of Gold"...although that title might be a bit inaccurate, since it was actually the Premier Public Performance of Neil's "Prairie Wind" album that came out in 2004. Neil was going to have his big aneurysm operation the following week, so in a way, this was a "farewell" concert, I suppose, just in case he didn't make it thru the procedure. Nice to be able to say things worked out for Neil. He's still With Us, and I really treasure him. Many times I have heard Neil Young songs that seem to sum up what's going on within me, and I'm sure there's lots of his fans out there who feel the same way. He remains so restlessly creative, and I admire him unabashedly.

Anyway, "Heart Of Gold" is a really great concert video; onstage (at the old Original Grand Ol' Opry building) with him are musicians he's worked with for the last 30 years, and in between songs, Neil speaks to his audience respectfully...I enjoy the 'feel' of his countryish music, wistful, wan and forlorn...and he did plenty of that on the "Heart Of Gold" disc (which I managed to buy second-hand at a Blockbuster store for 5 of my better finds). In addition to music from his (then-new) "Prairie Wind" album, he also did some really sweet stuff from his 1992"Harvest Moon" album, and he reached back and did some oldies, and among them, yeah, he did "Heart Of Gold", which proves that Top-40 Music, if done right, can sound timeless. Neil's named one of his guitars "Hank". After all, it's Hank Williams' old guitar. And it came to life again during this concert. I recommend this video heartily. But you already guessed that...

Bland On The Run: Another place to look for Really Good "Finds" is in the wide wonderful world of Videotapes; lotsa people still have VHS players, and if you're one of them, you can find movies on VHS for $2 or $3 at any second-hand store; I've bought a lot of good movies that way. Recently, I came across Paul McCartney's "Get Back", (paid $2 bucks for it) which is actually a video of his 1992 concert performances, notable (I guess) 'cos it's the last tour Linda McCartney went on before she died. Thing is, Paul seems to just be re-hashing Mostly Old Stuff, (well, it is good old stuff), but "live", I'm sorry, his voice doesn't measure up, and the only interchange he can seem to muster up for his audience is the occasional "Are You Having A Good Time?", which is pretty much all he ever said when he was A Beatle.

I happen to think McCartney does One Thing Very Well: MUSIC. As a person, I've always seen him as somewhat "limited"; either he's not that bright, or he's just very careful in how he presents himself. I think the Real McCartney is somewhere in-between those extremes. Perhaps this music really sounded good, live, "at the concert", but watching it on VHS, I couldn't help but think that he performed mainly tired versions of Old Beatles Songs, but the audience didn't mind since they were In The Same Place A Former Beatle Was. Paul's released quite a few live albums over the years, and except for a few new songs at each concert, all of his concert stuff is BASICALLY THE SAME. Bland re-hashings of old Beatles and Wings stuff. Of course, his new "Memory Almost Full" album is REALLY good. It had to be. He needs to sell lotsa records to pay for his divorce from Hurricane Heather, after all.

So there's my report from the wide, but not necessarily wonderful, world of entertainment. There's no business like show business, I guess...


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