Thursday, November 26, 2009

GMVW # 99: "Acknowledgements"

Gem Music Video of the Week # 99:  Acknowledgements
Song:  Please Read the Letter by Robert Plant and Jimmy Page
Covered Here By: Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
(Songwriters: Robert Plant and Jimmy Page)
November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving: At least for everyone south of ~ the 45th parallel. For the Canucks on this list, a belated one: I missed you by a month or so. 

Being that it’s Thanksgiving, I wanted to get this Gem out early today, because this week the topic is ‘Acknowledgements’, and there are plenty of them to go around.

Back when I first started writing the themes to this compilation of fantastic songs, I came to the realization that this correspondence was also a chance for me to thank friends and family for anything and everything that came to mind.  And so I wrote, and wrote some more, trying to touch on a vast range of outstanding memories while recognizing those who played a significant role.  I hope it came across that way. 

Neil Young stated my intentions best in his song “One of these Days”:

“One of these days,
I'm gonna sit down
and write a long letter
To all the good friends I've known
And I'm gonna try
And thank them all
for the good times together.
Though so apart we've grown”

I believe I covered the gambit, hitting on a wide variety of life experiences, some of which I reflected on in detail, and some of which I but skimmed the surface.  Other memories I left out entirely (for example, I barely mentioned my many great adventures in Canada and Europe).  There was a method to my madness, however: The focus always remained that link between the music and the personal.  If talking points were ‘heavy’ in one but not the other, I usually left it out.  In some ways, I had no choice:  The music stimulated the memories and visa versa.  This supposed constraint propelled me forward though, week in and week out.  And the memories came flooding back, reminding me of the great times I’ve had with you all over the years.  As Neil Young states, for these times, I’m thankful.

My gratitude extends to the weekly Gem Video support as well.  There may have been occasions where you thought I had gone off the deep end (or at least was going through a serious mid-life crisis), but the support I got never indicated it.  In fact, the support was overwhelming.  Fred’s early responses were huge (the ‘Thanks for keeping it real” reply after Gem # 1 gave me a surge of early confidence). Jen had an uncanny knack to focus primarily on the Gems themselves, responding when she viewed something she enjoyed, which gave me insight into our common interests in the music world (Jen, based on your feedback, I think you will enjoy this week’s Gem). This was very important to me. Many of Jack’s responses were spiritually deep, which was also very important.  Amy’s replies were timely and loving. Tommy carried me through a long middle stretch with his weekly words of wisdom.  Dad and Mom’s single sentence replies said more than any dissertation could.  Nancy kept me going with her verbal encouragement at home and Mac did the same each time we got together these past 2 years. Tina’s responses were soothing; Jeff S’s were enlightening; Bob’s were reflective of a great friend who knows me well.

Some of you opened up your hearts and minds at times (Becca’s story of attending a Simon and Garfunkel show; Fred's of attending a Clash show).  Others expressed appreciation (Pat’s response to the U2, September 11 Gem; Mom’s to the Mothers Day Gem; Steve’s to the 'Canada' Gem; Jeff D’s to the ‘Friend is a Friend’ Gem; and Becca and Dave’s response to their wedding/anniversary Gem {with Dale chiming in on the Best Man commonality of their wedding to his} all come to mind). Others gave me input when I requested musician recommendations (Jeff Strause, Pat Shea, John, Steve). Still others had some hilarious comments: I loved Dave’s ‘More Cowbell!’ reply to Gem # 1; Steve’s reply to Gem # 40 regarding Whitehorse and Yellowknife residents; Joe’s ‘A’ list of band names for Gem # 94.  Even the sprinkling of abuse was welcome (which was always directed at my opinions, and never the Gem concept itself). Everyone had insightful comments at one time or another. Everyone!  That was also important.

Most of my favorite replies were in regards to the Gems themselves.  There was Madeline’s feedback to the first Ray Davies/Kinks Gem; Tommy’s feedback on the Beach Boys and Roy Orbison Gems; Jen’s enjoyment of the Leonard Cohen, Randy Newman, and Joni Mitchell videos; Steve’s of The Rolling Stones and The Who; Fred’s of Marvin Gaye; Pat’s of the Crash Test Dummies; Ruth’s of Jonathan Richman; Jack’s of Van Morrison; Mac’s of Richard Thompson; Jeff’s of Townes Van Zandt; Becca’s of Curtis Mayfield; Mom’s of The Beatles; Paul’s of Green Day; John’s of Johnny Cash; Kippy’s of Bob Seger; and on and on.

The themes were windows to my life (with occasional glimpses into the basement and attic), but those windows have always been open to everyone here.  It’s just that each had somewhat different vistas and vantage points depending on which windows they had access to.  As such, this was also an effort to get friends and family somewhat on the same page.  As I would write, I was reminded of my wedding: All these different parts of my life coming together for a day.  The one difference: This lasted a bit longer.

For various reasons, I did not include all friends and extended family in these weekly releases, but although they were not included, they are recognized here as well.  The early email address list was a short one, and through word-of-mouth requests for inclusion, it almost tripled over time. For everyone else who I’ve discussed in glowing terms at one time or another, I’m sure they know how I feel about them. Perhaps they will get a copy of this 100-release compilation of memories and music at some time or another when the moment is right.

I’m thankful to the musicians as well.  I’ve had the privilege of seeing many great shows over the years.  Some musicians I end up going back to over and over again.  The reason is that they come across in their shows as if the one they are playing at that moment is their last.  I appreciate this immensely.  The music was always central to the themes of these weekly releases, and I had to remind myself of that on occasion.  Looking back, however, I do believe I kept that focus: Virtually every one of the 100 songs is a true Gem in my mind, with the definition of a Gem being “if it stops me from turning it off in the car even if I have already arrived at my destination” or “if it has me replaying it over and over again to the point where, if someone were with me, they would cry for mercy”.  Finally, for these weekly writings, I believe I got at least some of my drive, openness and, at times brutal honesty, from the Rock n Roll mindset exemplified by the likes of Messrs. Dylan, Lennon, Young, Townshend and others.

With these dual appreciation avenues in mind (personal and musical), I suppose if I were to name a compiled document of all Gems and themes it would be “Outstanding Contributions to the Quality of my Life”, with the subtitle: “From Those I Know and Those I Wish I Knew”. 

Hell, why wait until your on your death bed:  A thank you like this would not have been possible 20 years ago.  To write letters to multiple friends and family would have been a significant hurdle, and so I guess my gratitude extends to the Internet (a central theme in Pete Townshend's aborted 'Lifehouse' project in the early 70's, which may help explain Al Gore's vision), including email, wikipedia, and of course, YouTube.

I can only hope the ‘Back Nine’ are half as dynamic as this first half of my life.

This week’s Gem Video is apropos: ‘Please Read the Letter That I Wrote’, written by Robert Plant and Jimmy Page and performed here by Plant and Alison Krauss.  My own letter, regarding friends, family, life and music has been read.  It means a great deal to me.

One more Gem next week.

Thanks again everyone!

- Pete

“One more song just before we go
Remember baby you’ve got to reap just what you sow”

Gem Music Video: “Please Read the Letter that I Wrote”

** Peter says “Gobble, Gobble” (which in a nutshell, may just steal my thunder) **

About the Video: Made for MTV-like video (Plant and Krauss in a home devoid of furniture)

Video Rating: 1

Best Feedback: Amy

I've always had a difficult time with change.  My earliest memory of this was the Christmas Eve      when, for the first time, You, Fred, Jen and Joe all had plans with friends.  I sat up in my room and cried on the Bunny you gave me (which remained my backrest for years until I left for college).
I have enjoyed your gems so much.  They have become another reason why I love Friday's.  I will miss them.  Thank you for sharing your gift of writing, and your music appreciation.  It's been a privilege to be on your mailing list.  But then again, you always included me.
I can't wait to spend some time with you all today.
10:30am - officially time to put Tom in the oven.
ps - if I forget, remind me to turn my XM station on at 3pm for you...
So thankful.
And Dad
             LOVE, MOM & DAD

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