I was a big Elvis Costello fan back in the day. I've seen him a few times, once in Blacksburg. Squeeze opened for EC and the Attractions, and both were young and in their creative primes. EC was also into his "abuse the audience" period, and was kind of a jerk between songs. But the songs! Yup, great hard-edged rock 'n' roll with smart lyrics and enough hooks to hang a side of beef. About a year or three later, EC released Trust and entered into another era for him. Here's a great song from that album that I just recently heard, and which brought these memories flooding back.
One memory leads to another. One of the other great musicians that I saw in Blacksburg was Warren Zevon. I don't know whether anyone has ever linked WZ with the angry young UK guys like Elvis C., Graham Parker and Joe Jackson (the shoed one, not the shoeless one), but Zevon had an edge about him that made him kindred. The fact that he lived in LA during the time when LA was putting out putrid California rock is all the more amazing. Thankfully, bands like X and Black Flag came along to wash the streets of the filth left behind by the California hippies. Getting back to my memory, Zevon followed a dirt road to Tech, put on an energetic live set that fired us up for a big round of college-style all-night drinking, and blasted out one of my favorites, Lawyers Guns and Money.
Warren died of lung cancer. He was funny and witty - check out his last show with Letterman - but he left this song that is tender and reminds us that memories fade. All we can really hope for is that those we love or admire keep us in their heart for a while. Warren, here's to you, man, still in our heart.
I didn't mean to get heavy, but sometimes that's what happens. When you're young, life seems long and you sometimes just waste it or rush to the next stage and forget to enjoy the place where you are at the moment. When you're old, you realize that life is really short, and you find yourself remembering times past that probably occurred differently from your memory - you conform them to your narrative that you tell yourself. I find myself trying more and more to live in the moment, to enjoy everything, to be happy and easy going. I don't always succeed, in fact far from it, but it's what I strive to do. Here's a pick-me-up that should get your feet tapping and your butt moving in your chair. It's ok to get up and dance to it even if "they" are watching. Yeah, it's ok. BRP gives you permission to feel alive and happy!
Here's another Blacksburg song that brings me back to a very good time. One quarter (Tech was on the quarter system back in the stone age) I finished my exams super early, and there was this band called Lee Street playing at Spanky's. It was like a Tuesday during exam week, and the kid was DONE. I wasn't alone, either. Anyway, the beer was cold, Lee Street was hot, and they blew me away with this cover of George Thorogood's take of Hank Williams' Move It On Over. Later, we were happily drunk walking down College Ave and singing this song loudly when we bumped into one of our great buddies who just laughed and laughed at us. We laughed, too. What a great memory.
You know what artist I loved while I was in Blacksburg? Holly and the Italians. Holly Beth Vincent put out a fantastic album that was played on WUVT constantly, and it was the background music of a segment of my VT days. I don't know what happened to her, but the album got caught up in legal issues and you still can't buy the damn thing in the US except as an import. It's truly a travesty. I still remember seeing Nasty Habits play Rock Against Romance at 117 South Main, and they ripped it. I can taste that cold, cheap beer that I was sucking down right before I got out on the dance floor and thoroughly embarrassed myself. Here is some long overdue RESPECT for an artist who should have been a star - get ready to freakin' rock!
Let me embarrass myself one more time. You know Miley Cyrus, right? The former queen-of-corporate-pop that sucks? Well, there is one song that I like from her. I like to dance to it. I like the concept of a person out of step and feeling a bit overwhelmed in a new situation. I like the thrill of life on the upswing prior to anything cynical spoiling the feeling. I like the patriotism, proud that America not only is the most dominant economic power ever in the world, but also an amazingly fun and partying place full of cool people. I like the catchy, get under your skin and stuck in your brain, pop loveliness of it. And I'm not afraid to admit it - or at least bury it deep in a post and hope that you still are with me and in a forgiving mood. Here we go:
I need your help now. How can I like that poppy confection by a teenager, and also like this punky rocker played by middle agers about a teenage riot? Heck if I know, but I like them both. A lot. I miss the teenage Miley, and I miss Sonic Youth. And I really really miss the Clash. But that's a story for another day.
Ha, here's one last BRP special. I used to make mixed tapes, then CDs, for my brothers and sisters at Christmas. I wrote song lists to accompany the mix, and put in a blurb about each song and why I had selected it. But at the end, I always buried one last track. It was the Hokey Pokey.
You might laugh, but I still remember being in New Orleans in January 2000. VT was playing for the National Championship against Florida State in the Sugar Bowl. We had been there a few days already, and were kind of needing a bit of a break from the drinking and partying. We woke up on game day after about 3 hours of drunken sleep and went to breakfast, vowing not to start drinking again until late afternoon as game time was 8 pm. Anyway, we're sitting in the window of a restaurant eating some greasy eggs or something when Big Puppy goes strolling by outside, notices us, and comes busting in, big as life. We do the high fives and hugs all around, and then he announces that a bunch of people we know are hitting this bar on Bourbon Street and insisting that we join them. Peer pressure being what it is, we paid for our meal and went with him. So about a half hour after swearing we weren't going to drink until late afternoon, we instead found ourselves in some packed Bourbon Street bar with a bunch of fellow Hokies. It was probably 11 in the morning or so, and the place was already rocking, probably because they had a 3-for-1 special going on. Being New Orleans, there was music pumping. They played the Florida State fight song (yup, Jailhouse Rock), and then they put on the Hokey Pokey. I don't know if you've ever seen the Hokey Pokey performed by lusty drunks, but it's downright sexy and nasty.
This next video isn't quite the same thing, but it's pretty great in its own right. Enjoy!
There's nothing I can say that can top that. I'll just exit, stage left, and see you very very soon.
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.