Mike and I are the same age. We’ve known each other for twenty years. Lately we’ve been playing music together. We meet for a few hours with our guitars and swap songs. Mike is a fine guitar player. He puts up with my limitations and in return I do most of the singing. Mike proposed a rule that we limit ourselves to one song per artist per session so we might avoid the seductive rabbit hole one can enter with artists like Joni Mitchell, Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, or can Bob Dylan. There are just too many great songs.
We have many songs residing in our collective memory. The other day I suggested we do Jackson Browne’s, Under the Falling Sky and then Mike brought out the Beach Boy’s, In My Room.
Because of the rule, I couldn’t suggest the Beach Boys’ Don’t Worry Baby, which continually blows my mind for its sweetness and harmony. I dug it out on YouTube and when you hit the link below you will be rewarded. It’s one of my favorites and when you see the guys in their matching shirts and pants, hair neatly coiffed and their motions so reserved you may struggle to imagine what was so radical about music in the sixties. True the Beach Boys weren’t considered radical and maybe that’s why at the time even though I liked their music I didn’t identify with it. But I do now and as soon as I master the G#min7 chord we’ll be in business.
“Beach Boys Singing Don’t Worry Baby c. 1965”
A bit of a digression. Some years ago I listened to Terry Gross conduct an interview with Paul McCartney after Paul had published a book of poems. I’ve always been a John Lennon kind of guy first, but Paul is a genuinely impressive person. He spoke about his father and childhood influences, about songwriting and poetry: it was lovely. Apparently there were some ground rules forbidding Terry to ask Beatles questions and Terry was admonished a few times by McCartney in a gentle way, but of course things moved in that direction anyway and Paul recounted how sad he and John were that the great jazz clarinetist Benny Goodman railed against their music when it came to America. The Beatles had idolized Goodman, as well as some of the great American songwriting duos, and they were surprised when the blow-back came from people they admired.
Benny found the music too threatening, whatever that means, and somewhat ironic considering Benny made his name in a musical form that owed its vitality to musical origins mainstream America wanted no part of at one time. When I play Her Majesty’s a Pretty Nice Girl or When I’m Sixty-Four I try to channel the revolutionary zeal that made it so threatening.
But, Mike and I can only do one each session so I better choose carefully.