“Nights of Mystery/Every Picture Tells a Story”

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I don’t really have that much to say about this song.  Well, two songs, really.  At the end of their debut album, the Georgia Satellites took their driving, muddy river current of a song “Nights of Mystery” and linked it seamlessly to a rip-roaring cover of Rod Stewart’s classic “Every Picture Tells a Story.”  The crashing drums and guitar fading gently to a single acoustic is as natural as the sunrise.  And then everything comes crashing down again.

I like the Satellites’ cover of “Every Picture Tells a Story” better than the original.  It’s not just the music that fits with “Nights of Mystery”;  The two songs are thematically similar:  Somewhat clueless guy meets awesome girl, true love ensues.  Just like the songs, the guy & girl are like puzzle pieces slotting together.  But they have to be together.  One downside to the iPod is that it just cuts songs at the moment where the track changes.  (There is a menu item on itunes that allows you to link tracks, but you must have the CD to do it.)  But separating these songs diminishes them.  Their power not comes from the fact that they’re good songs individually (although they are).  They are transformed into something else once they are linked, something greater than the sum of their parts.  What?  I don’t know.  It depends on the moment.  Love song, life philosophy, anthem.  All I know is I feel better whenever I hear these songs.

I hope y’all feel better, too.

 

The Georgia Satellites

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I’ve noticed I get fewer views when I post about some semi-obscure act that I absolutely adore, but never achieved any real popularity.  I don’t care.

Back in 1986, this stupid video premiered on MTV.  It started with a handful of guys playing their instruments in the back of a flatbed, the singer lamenting about the fact that his girl wouldn’t put out.  He wasn’t angry or mean.  Probably a little frustrated, but he complained with a smile.  His complaints always fell on deaf ears, since she kept repeating, “Don’t hand me no lines, and keep your hands to yourself.”  Of course, the “funny” twist in the video was that she was obviously pregnant  (wow, didn’t see that one coming. . . and sarcasm really doesn’t translate to the computer screen all that well).  That, ladies and gents, was my introduction to the Georgia Satellites, one of the best mostly unheralded rock bands ever.

That’s all they did.  Rock, and rock hard.  They’d go acoustic once in a while, but they didn’t sing “ballads.”  The Satellites were hard-core Southern rock all the way.  Think Lynyrd Skynyrd and Little Feat.  They sounded like they ought to be in a bar behind chicken wire to keep the beer bottles from hitting them in the face.  They were four ordinary looking guys–Dan Baird, Rick Richards, Rick Price, and Mauro Magellan–who knew what they were doing.  I saw them once, out in Ventura.  My BFF and I got there nice and early so we could be right next to the stage.  I spent most of the concert flirting with Rick Price on bass.  The next day, I couldn’t hear out of one ear.  It was totally awesome.

I miss the Satellites.  “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” was fun and funny, but it shouldn’t have been their only hit (and it probably only hit because so many people thought it was funny).  There really isn’t a clunker on their eponymous first album.  Their second effort, Open All Night, is utterly forgettable except for the outstanding “Sheila.”  I think In the Land of Salvation and Sin was stellar, with Dan Baird showing off some real songwriting chops to go with his voice and fine rhythm guitar.  The pretty much faded away after that third album.  Dan Baird quit for a solo career, although Richards and Price still carry on.  Mauro Magellan moved to Wisconsin, but still plays with Baird sometimes.  They’re just working musicians, ordinary guys who hit it big for a little while and then disappeared.  But when I listen to their music, I still wonder why.

Thanks guys.  Your music still gives me a lot of pleasure.