Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Music Month Continues: A Star-Spangled Rodeo

Like most Tuesdays in the U.S., today offers a handful of newly released albums for your perusal and potential enjoyment. Sample some new output from the likes of Juliana Hatfield, Robert Earl Keen, or Lenny Kravitz, or perhaps the latest live album from Counting Crows (for Rob). Then tell me how they are, as I haven’t heard any of them. I actually can recommend a few items among today’s releases:
  • Mike Doughty, Yes and Also Yes (especially “Na Na Nothing”)
  • John Doe, Keeper
  • Beirut, “Santa Fe”
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers, I’m With You (Frusciante is gone, the sound isn’t. This album isn’t up there with Mother’s Milk, BSSM, or Californication, but it’s as decent as their last couple. Try the mellow “Brendan’s Death Song” or the messy “Monarchy of Roses.”)
The record I aim to highlight, however, isn’t any of these, and I’m as surprised as anyone at my selection. In the last week or so, we brought up our first favorite songs in the G:TB comments, and Rob remembered “Rhinestone Cowboy.” As I mentioned briefly at the time, Glen Campbell recently divulged that he has Alzheimer’s Disease, and he’s coupling the release of this album today, Ghost on the Canvas, with one more time back on the road to his horizon, something he’s plainly calling The Goodbye Tour.

The backdrop to such a record changes the way one listens to it, similarly to how Warren Zevon fans heard The Wind; even though Zevon had been singing about death for decades, “Keep Me In Your Heart” still gives the knowledgeable listener a little pause. Critics are going to go easier on Campbell in their reviews, and there’s almost more incentive to hearing and liking the music. I’ll be as guilty of sentimental kid gloves, undoubtedly.

The thing is, Glen Campbell, while a mainstay of country and lite rock several decades ago, never was a true heavyweight. I always liked him well enough, probably because my stepdad looked just liked him, even dressing up as him for Halloween. But Glen Campbell was just a handsome guy with a good voice who had some big hits in overly sentimentalized, over-produced, string-laced Southern pop. (And he probably got laid a ton, at least until he got Bible-fied in the 80's after too much partying.)

Those pop songs worked at the time, and they still find their way onto the airwaves emanating from your parents’/grandparents’ radio stations: “Wichita Lineman,” “Galveston,” and “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” (never, ever to be confused with “By the Time I Get to Arizona”) for the laid-back country folk in the 60’s; the cover of Allen Toussaint’s “Southern Nights” and the aforementioned “Rhinestone Cowboy” for yacht-rockin' AM listeners in the 70’s. But they don’t necessarily hold up as well as a lot of the music from the same era.



Meanwhile, for the most part, Glen Campbell has always relied on the likes of Jimmy Webb or other songwriters to craft his tunes for him; that’s not the hugest knock, for as Barenaked Ladies sang about the New Kids on the Block, “So we may not write the songs we sing / But Look at Elvis, he sold his soul and you crowned him King.” (Wow, that there’s a musical mélange.) Campbell did play with the Beach Boys in the 1960’s, but he was more Bruce Johnston than Brian Wilson. (He was no Mike Love, to be sure.)

As such, even given the backstory that might skew judgment, it’s no blasphemy to compare this record favorably to his heyday hits. I won’t use the silly subjective word “better” to describe this new album; I’ll say it’s certainly more “accessible” to the modern listener than the old stuff is, and better than I would have figured. He does have the benefit of modern production and new content imbued with an empassioned focus like I haven’t heard since The Rising. Glen Campbell also still has his voice. And songwriters like Paul Westerberg and Jakob Dylan in his arsenal now, though he actually inked a bit of this album.

And the truth is that it's a good story. The tandem of Pat Summitt and Glen Campbell gives hope to a whole lot of people going through one of the most trying twilight chapters I can conjure. Hell, for as long as he can, I hope the Rhinestone Cowboy continues to keep making music rather than going the Richard Farnsworth route. We're on the eve of a period when, more than ever, hard-partying rock stars are dying of old age, for lack of a better way to put it. From Robert Johnson and Hank Sr. to Keith Moon and Kurt Cobain, we know how to reflect when music icons put themselves in a early grave and waste talent. Well, here's to the seniors, launched most successfully by the Man in Black, busking heartily for one last quarter on death's doorstep.

Bottom line: the album’s pretty good. Worth a listen, especially for those who’ve lost or are losing someone great.

44 comments:

T.J. said...

Music Month ends tomorrow. Television Month begins Thursday.

zman said...

So we can post about TV On The Radio?

T.J. said...

And you can post about "UHF" reruns on late night cable.

zman said...

Hidden in this post is the fact that Whit called the album a "record". It's little touches like this that make this blog worthwhile.

T.J. said...

Just call Whit "Old Man Clemens":
http://bit.ly/qOcSlx

zman said...

zwoman experienced several morphological changes after giving birth so many of her old bras aren't comfortable anymore. I did the laundry the other day and fucked up one of her two "good" bras, prompting her to say "Now I only have one good bra." I responded "For Christ's sake, go on the internet, buy 10 of those good bras, and put your tits in them."

Apparently this was not the correct response.

Dave said...

during some of whit's random idiot's performances, i wondered if he was suffering from alzheimer's disease.

Dave said...

i want to hear zman post about "tv on the radio" and his wife's bras and tits more.

zman said...

Golubev might not win another game this match.

I'll try to come up with other funny stories about my wife's tits.

zman said...

Speaking of tits, Nadal is completely out of his right now. His forehand breaks like Pedro's curveball circa 1999.

Danimal said...

certainly lucky there. what's his face f'd that up big.

i'm in scottsdale. i saw 108 on the thermostat today. started in nor cal where it was 55

Danimal said...

is zdawg going to flushing meadows at all this week?

zman said...

Alas no. I'm home on daddy duty and closing on the new zhome on Thursday, then coordinating the logistics for packing, moving, and invading the suburbs.

Danimal said...

fun. new cable company or directv hopefully.

rob said...

all that shit about the city this weekend and you're buying a minivan and moving to the suburbs? mozzafazzeel.

zman said...

No minivan but permanent G:TB minisummit -- the new digs are a few blocks from the TR compound along with at least three other lammies in town. This is a preposterously unlivable city despite many assertions to the contrary. Unless you have tons of cash, which I do not.

Whitney said...

How does Papi not run home on that hit? Not just slow but baaaad baserunning. Hope they don't lose by 1.

Whitney said...

One thing I forgot to mention about RHCP: Anthony Kiedis is sporting a sweet mustache these days. A big plus.

Whitney said...

And, now that I am watching a live show of theirs on the Fuse channel, I notice that it looks exactly like Dave's stache from the fishing trip. Spitting image.

And their new guitarist looks like the kid in Spanking the Monkey. And Chad Smith will be portrayed by Will
Ferrell in the movie. And Flea will have to portray himself.

Dave said...

zman-- word to the wise. new home advice. installing baseboard molding is way harder than it looks. hire someone.

zman said...

I actually had mold removed, why would I install more?

zman said...

How come TJ's bacon babe had no thoughts on sopresetta? Seems to be right in her wheelhouse, but I guess the wheelhouse is dead.

KQ said...

speaking of bacon, i recently had biscuits with chocolate-bacon gravy. it was darn tasty.

rob said...

i don't suppose you brought any home with you, as requested?

Geoff said...

Terrelle Pryor scored a crowd pleasing 7 on his wonderlic. He's looking up at Vince Young's 9.

Lumpy said...

guess wonderlic doesnt test your knowledge of the exchange rate b/n tats and sports memorabilia

TR said...

Terrell says you all can wonderlic his balls.

Geoff said...

Hi Lumpy! Remember in college when you literally shat your bed? Much like Monica Seles is the only person I've ever heard of literally getting stabbed in the back, you're the only guy I know (over age 3) who's literally shat the bed.

Lumpy, when you woke up this morning you didn't think you'd be having this discussion sometime today...but here we are... Good times...

zman said...

Robodell shat a girls bed once. Does that count?

rob said...

hightower shat himself in the campus center. does that get any points?

TR said...

I shat my pants at a urinal at work once. Thought I was breaking wind, but I was just breaking the spirit of the maintenance guy who had to fish my boxers out of the garbage later that evening.

Danimal said...

buckles has a similar story as tr...did it at work, donning suit. had to go into serious clean-up & removal mode in stall.

know of a couple of loopers, jocks, ya know, caddies that have done so on the course in their coveralls...THAT would suck

Lumpy said...

hey geoff- good times indeed...

fortunately i passed out on my stomach that night- or it couldve been a real mess.

Geoff said...

I remember the smell like it was yesterday. Matt Holmes, who is probably incarcerated right now, dragged a group of us down from the 3rd floor just to get wiff.

Squeaky said...

Didn't someone shat themselves riding down to OBFT one year? Maybe 3 years ago.

zman said...

Probably Paci.

zman said...

There isn't a single bad song on this mixtape:

http://smokingsection.uproxx.com/TSS/2011/08/download-devils-pie-native-tongues-tribute-mix

rob said...

the rza being interviewed on xm public radio about his new book. fascinating dude. and i love hearing the announcer call him by name.

rob said...

and johnny g had an obx shitting incident

Dave said...

my friend shat himself while teaching history.

rob said...

condemned to repeat?

zman said...

Another reason why HD TV is cool: you can appreciate that Isner serves at such a downward angle that the ball deforms when it hits the court.

Danimal said...

schilling hasn't missed many meals lately.

24 hours from now college football will be on. chubby.

TR said...

Got thru the meat of the SI college football preview today. Am definitely fired up, even if the Big Ten has 12 teams and the Big 12 has 10.