Sunday, July 20, 2008

Music To My Years ...

Back in the mists of antiquity, as English Teacher Dave would say, I discovered Pat Metheny. Not on my own, mind you. That self-same Dave introduced me to Metheny's music, and I really liked it. Dave made a tape for me (remember tapes?) and one day, in my room, I played it for my friend Tracy who said, sarcastically, "Cool music, Beth."

I was 16, I believe. Now, her crack was understandable. I was 16 in the mid-'80s. Pat Metheny wasn't exactly gunning for my demographic. But I've always felt older than my years. Even in grade school, I preferred to talk to my teachers instead of my peers.

When I graduated from high school, I spent a chunk of my graduation-gift monies on new speakers (Pioneer – still have them), a CD player (Technics – don't), and my first-ever CD.

And what did I buy? The Cure? The B-52s? Depeche Mode?

Nope, I bought Jerry Goodman's "On the Future of Aviation." (Which you can get through Amazon and which boasts a five-star rating among reviewers, thankyouverymuch, at least one of whom references listening to it when they were 10 years old, so I'm not only young'un who dug Jerry's sound.)

And how did I know about Jerry, you ask? I heard Jerry for the first time live when he opened for ... wait for it ... The Psychedelic Furs at the Riviera in what, to this day, stands as the oddest billing of any concert I've ever attended. Because The Furs, as you know, are all iconic '80s and Valley Girl and "Love My Way" and Jerry Goodman is, of course, a violinist.

But he's not just a violinist. He's an amazing violinist. Which doesn't say enough about him, because Itzhak Perlman is also an amazing violinist. But Jerry layers a lot of other tracks behind his violin to create really cool violin-fronted atmospheres of sound. "Sarah's Lullaby" still knocks me out whenever I listen to it, which I am doing right now. He's part of my iTunes library.

I was thrilled when WNUA debuted. Back in the day, WNUA played amazing artists like Andreas Vollenweider. I already owned "Down to the Moon" and couldn't believe I was hearing him on the radio.

Andreas Vollenweider, if you're not familiar with him – and if you're not familiar with him, you should check him out – is a harpist. But not a flowery-crescendos harpist. Vollenweider, like Goodman, creates multi-layered compositions that amaze me. At the moment, I'm listening to the title track from "Dancing with the Lion" which is included on "The Essential Andreas Vollenweider," which is a fine introduction to his music, if you're of a mind. Interestingly, you can't buy that collection on iTunes, though iTunes offers most of Andreas' music. Still, check out the track listing for the Essential album. It lacks "Hirzel," which is a serious must-own, but you can buy that individually on iTunes or just buy all of "Book of Roses."

For the record, I think that whole "Smooth Jazz" sound quickly became too milquetoast and homogenous. I will absolutely cop to owning Yanni's first album. I had never heard anything like it. But then he grew out his hair and started dating Linda Evans and became "Yanni."

By now, though, I have buried the lede so far that we need heavy equipment to excavate it, and so I'm going to create a new post to give the topic its due. See you in the next post.


Anonymous Ethan said...

I will absolutely cop to owning Yanni's first album.

I don't remember which came out first, but I also had Out of Silence and Keys to Imagination (right?). It was good driving music. Very cinematic.

But then he became "Yanni", indeed, and there went my interest.

Kitaro was another fairly overhyped New-Ager. I did own one of his albums and came to realize that it was a re-hash of Dark Side of the Moon (minus the singing).

I had my "new Age"/Smooth Jazz phase too. The Wave was better than WNUA. Just ask Chuck Mangione. I even met David Lanz at Woodfield Mall. But as-a the Steely Dan said, those days are gone forever.

1:15 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

"Out of Silence" is the Yanni album of which I speak. Not sure if it's officially his first album, but it's from early on in his career, as evidenced by his short hair in his cover photo.

Never did get into Kitaro, now that you mention him. But I do own a David Lanz/Paul Speer disc.

David Arkenstone is worth a mention. He's rather amazing, actually.

4:20 PM  

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