Personal reflections based on the inspiration of songs. The 2016 series "Under the Big Top" was centered on the music of the Who. The “Forever Young” series in 2014 was inspired by Neil Young songs and “Stepping Stones” in 2012 was focused on the music of the Rolling Stones. The first 100 postings (the original "Gem Videos") emailed to friends and family and later added here are from 2008 and 2009; include songs from a variety of musicians. Bob Dylan and the Beatles are anticipated.
My good buddy Kurt and I have shared a laugh for many years at the expense of the clientele at the Plough and Stars in CambridgeMA (where, by the way, you have to walk across the stage to go to the bathroom, which gets tricky during a set).Our thought is that if you are having one of those 'boy am I ugly' days, head to the Plough and Stars, where you will instantly feel like a million bucks.There are times when a glance around this club makes you feel like you are in the bar scene of the first Star Wars movie.
Ahhh, but most folks who frequent live music haunts like the Plough and Stars (i.e. the Tam, the old Channel, the old E.M. Lowes in Lowell, CBGB's, Nightstage, the Middle East, The Rat, etc.) know where their priorities are.Whenever I go to one of these joints, I enjoy the occasion when I can break from the crew for a while and connect with the regulars, particularly the loners.
Often, you find wisdom in these circles, and more often than not, conversations sway to music.
Which leads to the Gem Music Video of the Week.Rock Music is pretty near impossible to rank, but when you break it down to one of its sub-categories, say Pop, it gets a bit easier.Many big-time magazines have tried to rank Pop songs, but it's from these night club ramblings and listening to late-night DJs (who are slotted in these 3rd shifts usually because their substance far outweighs their style) and their call-in listeners that I've gotten the inside scoop.Granted their opinions are far from unanimous, or even of a majority.However Gem Music Video of the Week, "Senses Working Overtime" has clearly percolated it's way to the top.
Who am I to argue? Somehow XTC, a middle-of-the-road band, was able to capture lightning in a bottle when they wrote this song.It's a darn fun song to listen to.
So, the question then becomes, can it be beat?Well, as Dave hilariously pointed out to me in an earlier Gem Music Video of the Week, the song could clearly use "More Cowbell!!" (type these 2 words in you tube to find the multi-hit reference if you don't know).
In 1967 a program was broadcast worldwide called 'Our World'.It was the first satellite broadcast ever and the first viewed by millions.The premise was to showcase a diversity of world cultures.While other countries focused on more traditional activities (knitting in Canada, clog dancing in Venezuela, etc), Britain had the amazing insight to turn to the Beatles.
'All You Need is Love', Gem Music Video of the Week, never appeared on an original Beatles studio album.However, the song/video has a studio feel to it.The Beatles aren't posing on a stage like you would expect in a live broadcast.They are mixed in with the crowd (which included Clapton, Jagger, Keith Moon) and orchestra....a statement that reflects the times.John Lennon, who wrote the song, looks unusually uplifted (as opposed to his more typical sarcastic veneer).
Britain, of all countries, was telling the rest of the world to lighten up!
In 1987, Rolling Stone Magazine hosted a prime time show which focused on the then 20 year history of the magazine (I've got the video if anyone wants to borrow it).The show included great interviews with many musicians including George Harrison.Beatle George discussed the 'All You Need is Love' event 20 years earlier, and brought up another interview he had not long before with a reporter who asked him cynically, 'Do you still believe that all you need is love'. George's response.... 'Absolutely!'.
So, here's a video tohonor the days when kids were streaking across Dean Junior College campus and thru the Franklin High School cafeteria, and others who were sticking flower stems into the gun barrels pointed in their direction.
Amazing they could sing this while chewing gum.Also note I think there are a total of 4 songs reference in that piece.The opening is long live the Queen or some such, then there's All You Need, then you hear a british musical piece played by the orchestra when they repeat "Love is all you need", of course followed by "She Loves You Yeah Yeah Yeah"!Great piece!!
Gem Music Video of the Week # 6: Biting the Hand That Feeds You
Song:Radio, Radio by Elvis Costello
(Songwriter: Elvis Costello)
February 14, 2008
When I first saw Elvis Costello in a video, I wasn't sure what to make of him.The anger fit, but it was pouty.Then there was that revenge of the nerds look.I was only a few years out of junior high school.This was a bit hard to swallow.Lucky for me I was young and able to get over this first impression.It was not long before I was:
>Wearing out the grooves to the "My Aim is True" album
>Plowing my way to the stage at a scorching hot, open festival seating, Cape Cod Coliseum show (likely shedding 10 pounds in the process)
> Dubbing 'Less than Zero' the theme song during a great road trip with the Canadian crew (Ottawa to Vermont to Franklin to Cape Cod to NY City to Pennsylvania back to Ottawa) ** this was at the same time Dad, Fred & Joe went to Texas to see Flutie and BC in the Cotton Bowl
"Radio, Radio", Gem Music Video of the Week, is likely about the restrictive nature of state-owned BBC Radio in Elvis' home country, England.It certainly could not have been about stations like 104.1 WBCN in Boston, which at the time was very independent, creative and spontaneous.The song does relate to what eventually became of WBCN and many other stations around the country, which were bought out by mega-radio conglomerate corporation, Clear Channel.I never thought Rock and Roll could be neutered.... but it was!At least on the radio it was.It may never fully recover, even with the advent of digital radio, which thus far fractures it's audience into format-centric factions.As far as I'm concerned, the best radio stations out there, though few and far between, remain the small independently owned ones.
About the Video: This is the actual made-for MTV style music video of this song (starts out with a miniature Elvis in front of a juke box)
Best Feedback: Fred
Pete....truly another gem.I think Elvis was one of the first albums that made me feel as though I was graduating from Beatles and Stones
Have a good one
Elvis was one of my first two albums ever owned...Jimmy gave them to me for Christmas (My Aim is True and you'll gag to this next one...."Player"). He knew I liked the song Red Shoes but I don't think either one of us had heard any other cuts at that point. I used to sing it at soccer practice in high school and as I recall, nobody on the team had ever heard of Elvis. It's amazing how quickly a musician can take off.
Gem Music Video of the Week # 5: A Gale Blowing in My Face
Song: A Little is Enough by Pete Townshend
(Songwriter: Pete Townshend)
February 7, 2008
The one regret I have of my 1986 summer tour of Europe with Bob was not catching Pete Townshend in Niece France on his first ever solo tour.It was a mini tour consisting of only 3 shows (one in Niece and 2 in BristolEngland) and we happened to wander into Niece 4 days after the show.At the time, it was rare to hear Townshend do any solo (non Who) stuff so it would have been quite a treat.I remember hearing about the show when we got there and feeling pretty lousy about the missed opportunity.Later that year I bought the live album and not too soon after the video.
This is one of the best songs from that concert and one of my favorite songs (I believe Bec agrees).The song, "A Little is Enough" is off of Townshend's first true solo album, "Empty Glass", which is one of my favorite albums.Townshend is one of the few tortured artists (rarely satisfied with his work) I can appreciate which is one of the many reasons why his music has always resonated with me.Below the Gem Music Video of the Week, I've included some bonus tracks from the Empty Glass album that were released as promo videos and never saw the light of day when the album came out in 1980.
The title track. Pete's younger brother Simon is bouncing around looking eerily like a young Pete.Considering the serious lyric contents of the song, it appears Pete is not so happy near the end of the song to see his brother bouncing so joyfully.
About the video: This is the official live video footage of Townshend’s 1986 Deep End tour.The other videos are from the release period of Empty Glass.Two are on stage (‘I am an Animal’ and ‘Empty Glass’) and the other 2 are not (‘Keep on Working’, ‘Rough Boys’)
Best Feedback: Becca
I most certainly do agree Pete....Pete's Deep End Live CD (with "A Little is Enough") was literally the first CD that I ever bought (a gift for Dave that turned out to be one of my favorite CDs ever).
Can’t believe it took 5 weeks to get to one of my clips!You are out of the fan club