359. madman across the water

“I suppose I was born just early enough to remember a time when Elton John was not a big deal pop supernova, but rather a cool underground item, more for the older kids. Like Russ (boyfriend of a friend’s big sister) who insisted that Madman Across the Water was about Richard Nixon and Watergate, the crazy mess he’d made of things. He was the madman destroying everything he touched. Which kind of made sense in 1973. Except I later realized it was a 1971 record, and the Watergate break-ins didn’t even happen until 1972, and didn’t get much media coverage until after Mr. Nixon got himself massively re-elected with pretty much the biggest majority in American political history. Mad and confusing times, no question. Lots of scary shadows forming across the water, maybe throwing time itself out of joint. Who knew the what of anything? Except the music. The music was amazing.” (Philip Random)

EltonJohn-1971-serious

 

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365. gypsy man

“The band known as War at absolute peak power. In the case of Gypsy Man, it’s how the song creeps in, as if carried by a distant storm, catching the moment for me, 1973, maybe fourteen years old, the Watergate thing, the Vietnam thing, the whole prolonged end of the 1960s thing, all the bright colours fading, distinct stench of garbage caught in the breeze. But at least  radio was still good in 1973. You could actually hear Gypsy Man on a commercial FM station, the long album version. Because the big corporate screwing hadn’t happened yet, but it was about to, because the consultants had filed their reports. There was stupid money to be made with the FM airwaves, and all of this visionary art and truth-telling crap — it was in the way, babe.” (Philip Random)

War-LIVE-1976

573. fingerprint file

Are the Rolling Stones the greatest rock and roll band ever? Maybe. But for a solid ten or twelve years, no matter how messed up things got in their camp, no matter who was dying, getting arrested, nodding off, almost choking on their own puke, there was always a new album, every year, and they were always at least good. But it probably should have all ended in 1974 with It’s Only Rock And Roll. Not that they didn’t still have a few choice moments left in them, but in terms of proper swan songs, nothing was going to say it as succinctly – we’ve done our time, we’ve played our various hands, it’s all just rock and roll anyway. Though Fingerprint File is hinting at something more — funky, groovy, tense, whispering of surveillance and paranoia, all secrecy, no privacy. Like a long tense night, no sleep, no end in sight.

RollingStones-1974