Monday, April 15, 2013

I Am A Bostonian

I am a Bostonian. I don't mean that just in a general "today we're all Bostonians" way - not "Ich bin ein Bostonian" - but in a born there, in my blood, key to who I am way.

No matter how long I live elsewhere, no matter how Californian I may also be, no matter if I never step foot on Massachusetts soil again, I will always be a Bostonian.

Growing up, going to watch the Boston marathon was an annual tradition. We had our usual spot, along "heartbreak hill," where the marathon wound its way up Commonwealth Ave through Newton.

Those memories come flooding back today with news of a probable terrorist attack killing at least two and injuring dozens more at the marathon's finish line.

There is now only speculation as to who and why this happened. I have my own theories, based on my own ideas of what the greatest threats are to America today. But I'll keep them to myself until actual facts are available.

Right now, all I have to say is, "I am a Bostonian." Hopefully we all are.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Ear Worms & Guilty Pleasures

It started a couple of weeks ago - March 21st to be exact - with the Guilty Pleasures episode of Glee. Yes, I sometimes watch Glee, and I suppose that is a bit of a guilty pleasure, but this post is not about Glee. I watch it, I admit it, get over it.

Anyway, the theme of the episode was that each kid would perform a song from an artist they were embarrassed to enjoy; their guilty pleasure. Blaine (Darren Criss)'s choice was to perform Phil Collins' Against All Odds. It was a decent cover, and the rare live performance rather than lip-synched production number. And, I had to agree with young Blaine, it's about time to get over being sick of how overplayed Phil Collins became, he still wrote some damn good songs and deserves our respect.

Yes, he created a lot of meaningless pop songs that all blended together into one horn-infused mess after a while. But he also maintained Genesis following the departure of Peter Gabriel, and while it wasn't the same, they made records worthy of the Genesis name (Mama and Home by the Sea from 1983's self-titled Genesis LP immediately spring to mind). Beyond the silly pop songs, his solo hits also included the undeniably classic In the Air Tonight.

Listening to Blaine sing Against All Odds, I tried to remember if I appreciated how great a song it was at the time. It may have been just after the saturation point had been reached and Phil was no longer cool. And, as a movie theme, I may not have taken the song as seriously as I should have. But, really, I don't fully remember.

What I do recall is a time about a year or two before, on December 19, 1982, when Phil embarked on his first solo tour of the USA, and I attended the show at Perkins Palace in Pasadena. His first solo LP, Face Value, had done well (featuring In The Air Tonight), and his second LP, Hello, I Must Be Going!, had just been released a few weeks earlier. I was working at the Music Plus record store on Vine Street, in Hollywood, and got the tickets only hours before the show from the Atlantic Records rep.

Two specific things I remember about that show. First, was standing in line before the show directly behind Tony Dow. Second was the excitement at the opening drum beat of I Don't Care Anymore. It was a great show that was captured on video and for radio broadcast on the King Biscuit Flower Hour.

So, anyway, yes, watching Glee a couple of weeks ago, I had to admit that, yes, Phil rocks, and that Against All Odds was, and still is, a brilliant song. But then, the next morning, I had it stuck in my head. Checking my email in the morning, "How can I just let you walk away, just let you leave without a trace?" Standing in the shower, "Oh, so take a look at me now-ow..."

And it continued the next day, and the next, and the next. It was 1985 all over - I'd been Phil Collinized again! Yesterday I thought it was finally gone, but it's back this morning.

This has to be one of the longest-lasting ear worms I've ever experienced. And that's the thing about Phil Collins' songs; they are infectious. The good ones along with the bad ones. Whether you like them or not, you cannot get them out of your head. "And there's nothing left here to remind me, just the memory of your face," and the endless loop of this song in my brain.

I'm just thankful now that Blaine did not choose Sussudio.

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