Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Whenever You're on My Mind


You never know what lurks outside the frame. That's what makes life lovely and Halloween. (Long digression that really shouldn't come as the second sentence of a quick essay: John Carpenter figured out in America we read screens left-to-right, just like we read books. So if you shoot a film widescreen, and always have your boogieman pop up from the right of the frame, he's there! already!! before the audience quite gets their eyes over there to see him. Extra scary. Not sure how the film plays in Israel, though.) 

So as I wait for my last C-90! Go! radio show to air tonight at 11 pm, and I can't even begin to explain how weird it is to do a radio show while I'm already asleep most weeks (it's pre-recorded, that's not some horribly self-mocking joke), I'm getting pre-nostalgic for my nostalgia. So, so, so many layers of past and memories and longing and singing along when I have hoped no one was listening. I've loved the Marshall Crenshaw album since it debuted in 1982 when I was all of 19 and Crenshaw a wizened 29; it particularly seemed so when I got to interview him  for WJHU, one of my first rock one-on-ones, in the gnarly dressing room at the old 930 Club in DC at one of his shows. I'm sure he thought, "Why am I talking to this child?" He never took off his shades.

But, of course, I figured my heroes shouldn't like me--if they did, how could they be heroic? Especially when his magic all seemed so simple--just perfect little pop tunes that seem a kind of rehash (he had played John Lennon in Beatlemania, he'd play Buddy Holly, his encyclopedic recall was part of his charm and skill). Of course, he flies in and out of verses and choruses in unorthodox ways, he leaves the lyrical cliches pristine so they almost regain their original meanings, and if he wants to, he can drop in a tasty guitar lick, if the few bars he allows himself could ever be considered solos. And on many of the albums, that's his brother on drums, how familial and charming is that (and it helps with the harmonies, too).

Still, here's this video from a concert in 2011, Almost 30 years after "There She Goes Again" was released, and it's already been ten more years since that. And who, of all people, suddenly appears from the left of the frame, and my guess is the person filming on their phone has no idea what they've captured, but it's Ira Kaplan from Yo La Tengo, another of my favorite musical artists for decades. It's easy to want to assume all the people we admire secretly hang out together, and if only we were cool enough for that club. But, hey, there they are!

And poor Ira, always appearing so mild-mannered, but as anyone who has seen YLT live knows, is just a feedback burst away from going gonzo, flinging his guitar about or jamming an elbow on an organ that needs some squelching. Here he is trying to fit notes into this tight little construction, and at best he flints off a spooky spark or two, just so you know he's there, so there's a reason he's on stage.

What a lovely discovery, this video. So much I appreciate and have appreciated in 2:51. It's almost enough to make you ignore the lie that's the title of Crenshaw's greatest hits CD--This Is Easy.

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