Saturday, June 13, 2009

Quick Hits - The Pursuit of Happiness / I'm An Adult Now

Some lost afternoon during my junior year of college, I was sitting in my friend's dorm room doing something that rarely happens anymore. ..................... Now that you've got your snickering out of the way, I'll note that activity actually was listening to a major market FM radio station (KY102 - "Paseo. REPRESENT!") and hearing new, non-formulaic music that I actually enjoyed.

While college radio stations continue to perform the service of introducing young, impressionable listeners to music by bands outside the template of "conglomocorp-music" stations, the salad days of college music have unfortunately been consumed by internet-based music sources.

Brief aside: Has a relatively obscure (to the collective music-listen consciousness) entity, ever been so brilliantly represented than by The Replacements 1985 song "Left of the Dial". While this is a rhetoric question - the answer is no...and the point is moot (the car is mine!). Ah, here comes that train of thought, let's get back on....NOW

The point being, that as recently as 20 years, there were commercial radio stations that would attempt to broaden horizons by introducing listeners to new bands. OK, they constrained themselves to boundaries that college radio was less or not beholden to serve, but every now and then you still heard something really great.

And on that lost afternoon in 1989, I was introduced to one of my favorite Canadian exports - no, not Moosehead, or hockey - rather The Pursuit of Happiness. "I'm An Adult Now" off the album Love Junk had actually been a pretty big hit in Canada when it was originally released in 1986. Unfortunately, that's similar to being big in Denmark - where David Hasselhoff rules!

Admittedly, when Moe Berg's gravelly voice dumped out of my friend's speakers over a simple, driving beat, I thought it was actually something new by George Thoroughgood - which would have been good as well. Then the girls showed up. In the midst of the crunching chords in the chorus, Kris Abbott (also ably handling guitar duties) and Leslie Stanwyck jump in the background - and that sealed the deal for me.

I bought the album, "Love Junk" within a few days. The album's mood veers wildly between Brady Bunch "Sunshine Day"-optimism and Robert Cray "Smoking Gun" betrayal. Produced by Todd Rundgren (who I believe at last count has produced over 165,000 albums in his career), it borders on misogyny (some would say colors right in the lines), but instead of blundgeoning with agnst, Berg wields it incisively and sardonically.

For example - from "I'm An Adult Now" - "I don't hate my parents. I don't get drunk to spite them. I have my own reasons to drink now. I think I'll call my dad up and invite him." While I'm sure some would say "cliche", there is a universal truth in these four lines and it's generationally transcendant. And to those who would say "cliche", I would reply "I can see how you might feel that way, given that you were dropped on your head as a child...repeatedly." I can think of the first time I felt exactly this way, and even though my dad has since passed away, there are times when I wish I could "call my dad up and invite him."

So, I spent a paragraph using words like "transcendant" and the phrase "universal truth" and generally sounding like James Lipton on the Actor's Studio. I promise to kick my own ass for doing so. I didn't mention the obvious - but now I will. This is part of a song - a song with an amazing hook...and those harmonies. There are a few hiccups on Love Junk, but most other offerings measure up to this standard - try "Hard to Laugh" and "She's So Young".

OK, well, I'm done - and less than a week after my last entry! I guess my reason to drink now is to celebrate. And again, I wish I could call my dad up and invite him.

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