This past Saturday, the women’s march provided a singular moment of inspiration, empowerment, and catharsis for millions upon millions of people, men and women alike. It was a great moment, but with all things in life, you take the good with the bad because Saturday also marked the end of the life of an uncanny musician by the name of Maggie Roche.
The eldest of the three Roche sisters, Maggie had a big hand in shaping music that has given me so much over the years, even when I was blissfully unaware. I’d love to say I’ve been into The Roches since seeing them on Tiny Toons as a kid or since I was a late teenager falling in love with Paul Simon thanks to There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, but the real truth is I remembered that episode and read those album credits years after I came across their music on a mixtape and I had already begun my slow descent into their rabbit hole of distinct and peculiar harmonies. More
It’s been a stressful week for me, guys. I’m not here to use this website as a means to map out my thoughts & feelings, but it’s been one of those weeks I’m glad to see over. What this website is for, however, is great music so let me share some with you today that I’ve been enjoying this late night. We all have those songs that calm us down when we’re stressed. They take it away, make everything all right, get us smiling, whatever. Like you guys, I have my few, but there’s one of them that just might be the best stress-reliever ever. Of course, I’m going to share it with you, but let’s get a little back-story on the song first. For that, let’s re-visit The Clash again, shall we?
“Punk died the day The Clash signed to CBS.” This 1977 quote by Mark Perry is almost prophetic for describing that era of punk. Some dub it the end of the first wave of punk. Some put it as the definitive end of “true punk.” It doesn’t really matter to be honest, but over the years, the quote has stuck to the band and to the era. It’s not like it was unwarranted. The Clash were a punk band on the highest pedestal. They came on the scene with only a few shows here & there and just blew people away, some would say even matching the current kings of punk The Sex Pistols. They were good, scathing, raw, and pure. They were the punk band. But before the band made their true impact on the punk scene, they were snatched up to CBS. They signed the label with the “enemies” and “sold out.” It was a smack to the people who had supported them and the movement at the time and while The Clash would defend their decision, it would ultimately turn out to be a slap to their face as well. For starter’s, their contract was a joke and later used as an example on what not to sign for new bands. It left the young band with virtually all of the costs for tours, recordings, remixes, artwork; you know, pretty much most of the things that a band needs desperately? More
Sorry for the break, but let’s keep the countdown rolling with #85 as John Lennon tells us all he wants in a selection from the Let It Be album: “Dig A Pony!”
Later dismissed as “another piece of garbage” by John in 1980 before his death, the song was lyrical nonsense with Lennon himself addressing by saying “I just make it up as I go along.” Like “I Am The Walrus,” the song features a bunch of randomly-linked nonsensical phrases with no real set meaning. The chorus was the exception here as Lennon screams “All I want is you” aimed directly at Yoko Ono who dominated the subject matter of most of his songs at the time. With that said, perhaps the song represents Lennon’s mind at the time: a crazy mess where random thoughts pop up here & there, but his desire for Yoko always comes to the forefront. Or maybe I’m reading too into it. Who knows? The lyrics of the song do contain a bunch of funny & obscure references though. The Beatles’ one-time name Johnny And The Moondogs pops up in the line “I pick a moondog.” Mick Jagger also gets mentioned in the line “I roll a stoney, well you can imitate everyone you know” though that does seem to be a sharp take on their competition at the time, but also one that’s been repeated a lot. In the abundance of Dylan-esque phrases in the song, I’m sure you can pinpoint out more obscure references too.
It’s only fitting that we go from the band that defined punk in my eyes to the band that ultimately started punk & another of my favorite bands, The Who!
I really don’t even know what to begin with to describe The Who here. So much has been said while so much has been left unsaid and my words alone will probably never fully explain their legacy, importance, and place in music history. To say The Who is one of the best bands of all time is pretty much like saying Creed is the worst band ever: it goes without saying because everyone already knows it. Just look at how much they have accomplished and their library of songs. Of their main British contemporaries at the time, they definitely outlasted The Beatles in longevity and definitely beat the pants off The Rolling Stones in terms of great hits & great albums (arguable, but very true). Even looking at the sheer talent these men possessed, it’s mind-boogling. Most bands with that much talent in each individual’s hands don’t stay put due to egos or other commitments & opportunties (see Cream, The Jimi Hendrix Expierence, and pretty much any supergroup ever).