Something Light For A Saturday Night: Nylon, Steel, Mahogany and Spruce

Yo!  It’s Saturday, and you know exactly what that means.  Now, I was sitting in the office Friday, and because I was temporarily covering the day shift, I had to be polite and keep the radio on, and I remember lamenting just how terrible so much music is today.  In the best case scenario, listening to the crap on the radio is a practice of listening from one hook to the next, and enduring the bland filler music in between.

The songs are all about the same thing, and typically enjoy lyrics that all seem to have come from the same person who, apparently, wasn’t all that creative to start with.  It was enough to make me go to an older era and a less popular genre, one where it wasn’t merely just a chain of hooks, but instead real songwriting, deep and reflective laid over beautifully picked melodies.

First up is what is got to be in my opinion one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard.  You can check Wikipedia to learn more about the song, but the derivitive, per the page, seems to be based upon old tales that an elf threatened to abduct a beautiful young girl unless she performed a series of impossible tasks.  I’m no expert and can’t really weigh in on the veracity of this as the origin, but the song that supposedly came from that is truly one of the great classic ballads.

Performing that song, Paul Simon, Art Garfunkle, and Andy Williams:

Now I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a Simon & Garfunkle fan, and in fact, somewhere around here, buried under all the clutter, I have an old VHS recording of a concert performance that they did and was, when I was but a wee lad, aired on HBO. When I moved out of the house, my mom let me take it with me as something of a parting gift. From that show, comes a performance of a song that has become synonymous with older women robbing the cradle (though it should be mentioned that initially, it was about Mrs. Roosevelt).

Now, in a performance I actually grew up with, “Mrs. Robinson”:

Now it’s time for another band that I grew up with. Coming up in the sixties, this kind of pop/folk crossover spawned a number of hits, and when their career was ended, it would be poetically coincidental that some of their offspring would enjoy a shortlived musical success under the name Wilson Philips, giving the older generation’s band name something of a validation… if you will.

Lacing layered lyrics at once joyous and yet rueful, over beautifully carved melodies, this group would come to define in my mind what I slowly began to call California Rock, that unique mix of joy and pain that we see in other bands like The Eagles, Red Hot Chili Peppers, even Sublime to a degree.

And so here are the Mamas and the Papas doing one of their biggest hits ever, “California Dreaming”

And since we’re talking about the Mamas and the Papas, you know, I kinda wish Mama Cass was still around, or at the very least had not been taken from this world so soon. We truly did miss out as a result.

Another artist stripped of life in his prime (there are so many) was only just starting to hit it big in his folk career. To this day his songs have etched themselves indellibly in pop culture with such songs as “Bad Bad LeRoy Brown”, but it all came crashing to a halt when he died (if memory serves me) in a plane crash.

Still, the world may forget his name, but will not forget the music of Jim Croce:

Finally, ending out this musical post, I’m going to direct you over to Mark’s site, where he is morning the passing of one of his favorite musicians. There he has lyrics musical clips you can sample all in the hopes of honoring Reggae artist Lucky Dube.

Well, that does it from me until Tuesday (sorry for not being around much yesterday. That’s going to continue until my schedule normalizes). Take care of yourselves and have a lovely weekend.

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