Part of me feels a little funny posting this song. The phrase “boys will be boys” has been historically used to excuse a lot of bad behavior by the male half of the population. Bar fight? Boys will be boys. Sexual harassment? Boys will be boys. Rape and domestic violence? Boys will be boys–but he was probably provoked, so that makes it her fault.
The football world (and not a few feminists and anti-violence groups) are kind of pissed at the paltry two game suspension Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice received for apparently knocking out his then-fiancee. (The two have since married, and Janay Rice has publicly stood by her husband.) Law enforcement has put a temporary hold on prosecuting Rice, in lieu of completing ordered treatment and no further incidents of domestic violence. The NFL seems to think that two games is adequate suspension. Nobody else does. Rice spoke about the issue today, and he seems sincere. I hope this was a one-time incident, and they go on to have a long and successful marriage. Nobody outside of law enforcement has seen the complete surveillance video, so we don’t know exactly how Janay Rice came to be unconscious (their story is that he pushed/shoved her, and she hit her head). And we certainly don’t know the circumstances of their relationship. But if that had been me, I’d have run as far and fast as I could away from that bastard.
But lucky for me, this song has none of that baggage. I suppose in a way I just burdened it somewhat, but the infectious joy here kind of liberates it from any sort of real world association.
Of course, it also helps that there’s a rambling, incoherent quality to the lyrics. There’s no narrative consistency here. Some guy is just singing out his happiness at being in love with his girl, “sometimes you make me feel like I’ve got a heart full of toys.” Maybe she forgave him for something. Maybe they just met. Maybe he’s a little goofy. (Okay, there’s really no ‘maybe’ about that last one.) I’ve never quite understood Cyndi Lauper’s “girls will be girls” portion. Like the rest of the song, it doesn’t really make much sense. It’s all just tossed together like a big musical salad. But who cares. This song just makes me smile. It’s one way to cure the bad feelings brought on by the news.
Tim Finn has had a pretty successful recording career, but the majority of listeners in America probably don’t know anything about it. He’s never been much of a commercial success in this country. Outside of cult classic 80s band Split Enz and a brief stint as a member of brother Neil’s band Crowded House, Tim Finn just hasn’t gotten much exposure this side of the equator.
“How’m I Gonna Sleep” is the one single/video I ever heard about being released. While it suffers a bit from 80s style production values, this song always struck a chord with me. The guy is wondering how he’s going to get any sleep now that his girl is gone. He’s lonely, preferring “to have you near to me, making the shape that used to be.” He just wants some peace, and he’s not sure how he can feel that way ever again.
I get it. For that brief time between Dad dying and Mom moving in, I had trouble sleeping in an empty house. I imagine it would be so much worse if I was used to sleeping next to a lover who suddenly wasn’t there anymore. It’s weird enough when I wake up and there isn’t a cat next to me. I think I’d end up sitting up most of the night watching old sitcoms and cartoons if I were in the place of the guy in the song. He copes with it by driving and/or walking the streets at night., but I’m not that brave. Or crazy. (And now I might have an idea for a song for tomorrow.)
According to Wikipedia, neither this song or the eponymous album it was from charted in the U.S. Tim Finn hooked up with Crowded House for Woodface a couple of years after this was released, although he quit during the tour to support the album. (I still remember Neil asking the crowd, “Okay, show of hands. Who knew Tim wasn’t going to be here tonight?”) I’m not familiar with all his recent work, but I’m quite fond of his collaborations with his brother. Tim Finn isn’t quite Criminally Underrated, but he should maybe get a bit more attention from listeners on this side of the Pacific Ocean.
Since my brain’s a little short on good ideas lately, I decided to juice it with another installment of my extremely irregular series drawn from Tom Moon’s spectacular book 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die. Today’s randomly selected recording: Cream’s 1967 opus Disraeli Gears.
First, some honesty: I dislike Cream. I find most Psychedelic Rock distasteful, and Cream practically invented the genre. They also might be responsible for extended jam sessions in concert and Prog Rock. They were that influential. The fact that I think virtually everything they may (or may not) have spawned to be awful and pretentious probably goes a long way toward explaining my prejudice against them.
Cream was one of the first supergroups. The trio consisted of bassist/singer Jack Bruce, drummer Ginger Baker, and guitarist Eric Clapton. The band existed for only three years, but they became somewhat legendary in that brief time. Disraeli Gears is considered their best work. Tom Moon feels that this recording shows Clapton’s talent at its “least affected,” which seems odd to me considering how affected the whole style seems now. Psychedelia has not aged well. It comes off as naive at best, confused and stilted at worst. I’m sure in 1967 this was groundbreaking stuff. Mostly, it makes my head hurt.
Cream disbanded when the strife that marked their entire run became too much for all concerned. Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker hated each other; they simply did not get along, and fought ferociously at every opportunity. Clapton was a mostly innocent bystander caught in the middle of the discord. I think that discord is important, though, because I think that’s really at the heart of why Cream doesn’t work for me. There have been many great bands with powerful inner turmoil–Fleetwood Mac, the Kinks, the Eagles, just to name a few–but there was something else that bound them together. Cream made music, but there was no other link. They weren’t buddies or relatives, and I’m pretty sure none of them were sleeping together. They were just three talented musicians who were unhappy with their other gigs and decided to record together. There was no chemistry, and I think it shows. The music is technically very good, but lacks any kind of spirit or emotion. It’s a notable album for the skill that the musicians showed, and for the influence it has, but I don’t think there’s much else to recommend it.
A little Duke Ellington number came up on the computer this afternoon, and it reminded me of this song for some reason. There’s no other reason for this post. I just felt like hearing this fun little song performed by two very, very underrated artists.
Fact is, my brain’s kind of deserted me the last few days. I feel a bit stuck. I don’t mind a good rut; I live my life based on routine. But although my activities and actions are pretty proscribed, my mind is usually going a million different directions at light speed (trust me, it’s not nearly as fun as it sounds). I have noticed that my thoughts do tend to run in cycles, with certain ideas dominating at various times. I have a set of worries and fears that plague me pretty much all the time. There’s a few story and poem ideas that bounce around in the foreground sometimes. There’s a set of regrets and what if’s that like to sucker punch me on occasion. The daily to do list is always there, waiting to be checked off. And the daydreams are always ready to move up when there’s nothing else to think about. The only things that really change are the specifics.
When I get something in my mind, I tend to hang onto it like a dog, shaking it like a rat between my teeth until its little neck snaps. (I saw our dog–a dalmatian–do that once; it was kind of horrifying.) I turn ideas over under sideways down in my head, twisting them until they’re recognizable by no one but me. The current bit of weirdness running through my mind is the idea of paranormal investigations. I even went so far as to google “paranormal studies” and “parapsychology” today. During my first great ghost story phase as a kid, I really thought that might be a cool career to get into. I still think it sounds pretty cool, but I’m not really considering it; it’s just another bee in bonnet. I have to ride it out until this particular thought flies away.
The inability to settle on one cool idea or line of study has perhaps hindered my life–although it has made me pretty good at Jeopardy! and Trivial Pursuit. I know a lot of stuff because I’m constantly picking up strange little thoughts and thinking about them until all the thinking has been thunk. I like to learn things. Just about anything, it turns out. It’s led me down some interesting musical paths, too. Watch the video again just in case you didn’t notice.
News in the world is bad right now–really bad–and I’m still feeling a little blue. Time always seems to move too fast. I just hope maybe we can get it together before we blow it all up.
Maverick (the original TV show, not the movie). Move Over, Darling. The Great Escape. Murphy’s Romance. Victor/Victoria. What do these things have in common? The wonderful and talented James Garner. (They’re also some of my favorite performances by him.) Garner’s screen presence was such that you liked him the moment you laid eyes on him. You trusted him. You knew that even if he was pretending to be a bad guy, he’d do the right thing in the end, even if it meant he would lose. The real James Garner, of course, didn’t lose; he had a long and successful career, and a happy personal life. But his charisma, personality, and presence made him perfect for the role that will always define him in my eyes.
Jim Rockford never did seem to catch a lucky break, but he never let it get him down. Not for long anyway.
James Garner died yesterday at 86. It’s a celebrity death that hits me pretty hard. Not just because I liked Garner, but because enjoying his work was something I had in common with my father. It was a link between us. I hope in whatever afterlife there is, Garner will have a drink and a laugh with my dad. I know the real man was just as personable as he was on-screen, so I think they would like each other.
While the rest of us have lost a great talent and nice guy, I know his family and friends have lost so much more. My heart goes out to all those who loved the man.
A belated farewell to Jazz great Charlie Haden, who passed away last week. He got his start with Ornette Coleman back in the late 50s, and his name is among the most influential in Jazz. What a magnificent sound he created!
That bass grounds everything in the song, a foundation on which every other sound is built. Beautiful.