Norman, Daryl, And A Brother Named Daryl

November 20, 2011

Though Kevin Costner has provided me with a wealth of knowledge when it comes to surviving apocalyptic scenarios involving water and lack of mail delivery in Waterworld and The Postman, respectively, he’s offered no cinematic advice for dealing with the undead.

Fortunately, Norman Reedus has become a fine role model to me for how best to navigate a zombie apocalypse through his portrayel of the crossbow-wielding, squirrel-gutting, walker-slaying, Southern redneck anti-hero Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead.

(and he’s Zen)

Norman Reedus is new to me. His lengthy list of credits contains nothing with which I am familiar, though apparently he’s pretty stellar in the vigilante flick The Boondock Saints.

This unfamiliarity with the actor makes it believable to me that Daryl truly is some mountain hillbilly, plucked from rural Georgia and put in some television show.

(if Daryl was a real person, he would summarily put an end to Chuck Norris, gut him, use his ears as a necklace, and, then, deadpan a line revealing someone quite self-aware)

But Norman Reedus is apparently a real person and, based on his Wikipedia bio, seems like a fairly interesting cat in his own right, having left home at twelve and lived in England, Spain, and Japan.

He also had a kid with Helena Christensen, who broke Chris Isaak to the mainstream with the video for Wicked Game.

If you’re hooking up with supermodels, you must have some kind of mojo.

Of course, the two apparently named their kid Mingus which, if true, is either genuinely cool or pretentitious, hipster silliness.

As for Norman, I don’t recall that name having much cachet during my lifetime, being neither plentiful nor iconic.

(I can’t think of knowing a Norman and – thanks to Three’s Company – the first one that comes to mind is Norman Fell)

I did know a Daryl as a kid, the brother of a good buddy and neighbor.

Daryl was six or seven years older and out of high school when Will and I were still in junior high. I think he worked in construction.

A tall, lanky kid, Daryl had sideburns and shoulder-length hair, and his usual attire would have gained him admittance to any biker bar (there being a few in the area).

He might not have been killing zombies – though he did hunt, on occasion, with a crossbow – but we considered him to be pretty badass.

And when Daryl screamed out of their driveway in his beat-up Camaro on Saturday night, gravel becoming tiny, lethal projectiles, he might well have ended up at some watering hole that would have been frequented by his Walking Dead namesake.

Here are four songs that might have been blaring from the eight-track player in his Camaro…

Nazareth – Hair Of The Dog
from Hair Of The Dog (1975)

One eight-track that I know resided in Daryl’s Camaro was Nazareth’s Hair Of The Dog. Every now and the, Daryl would give me and Will a ride somewhere and the language of the album’s ferocious title track made us feel like we were on the highway to hell with a true outlaw.

Blue Öyster Cult – (Don’t Fear) The Reaper
from Agents of Fortune (1976)

There will be no cowbell joke here. The mighty Blue Öyster Cult deserves more respect than that and, to quote The Smiths (to Paloma’s delight), that joke isn’t funny anymore.

Lynyrd Skynyrd – Tuesday’s Gone
from Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd (1973)

Like Blue Öyster Cult, Skynyrd has been reduced to many to one tired joke. And, classic rock radio has so burned me out on the Southern rock band to the point of disinterest.

Then, I hear something like the wistful Tuesday’s Gone and make a mental note that a personal reassesment of Skynyrd might be in order.

Alice Cooper – School’s Out
from School’s Out (1972)

My all-time greatest arch-enemy might have been a third-grade teacher who, on more days than not, I was at odds. She was an Alice Cooper fan, so I’m not sure if that was why I never bothered with the music or rather because during the ’80s – my musically formative years – he wasn’t on top of his game.

But I’ve gained a greater appreciation for Cooper’s catalog in recent years and, even as a third-grader in the late ’70s, had an appreciation for the sentiments of the stomping School’s Out.

Advertisements

Two For Tuesday

March 8, 2011

Once I reached college – and easy access to a dozen record stores – Tuesday was indelibly stamped into my music-centric mind as new release day.

Tuesday remained a linchpin of the week for me because of music well into the ’90s and my thirties.

But in high school, new releases would have to wait for a trek into Cincinnati as the lone store in our hometown that carried music stocked a small selection. New titles might take weeks to arrive after release to the civilized world.

Music was the stuff that held together my fairly eclectic cast of friends and, more weeks than not, most of us were anticipating something that we wanted as soon as it hit the racks.

The wait could seem interminable.

If the title was a lesser-known act, it might make for a scavenger hunt involving dozens of visits to a number of record stores over weeks, even months to be in the right store at the right time to find what you desired.

By our senior year, we began to swing the odds in our favor. There would always be a handful of us ditching Tuesday and getting to the record stores as they opened.

It was usually Cincinnati, but, depending on who had procured transportation and, thus, was leading the junket, we might end up in Indianapolis.

If Naptown was the destination, we were usually listening to Q95 as the station’s mix of classic rock and (then) current stuff had something for all of us.

And Tuesdays meant “two for Tuesdays” – all day the station played back-to-back songs by each act. I’m sure it was hardly an uncommon gimmick, but I don’t recall any of the other rock stations we could dial up using it.

Acts with new or relatively new releases were often favored on Q95’s Two for Tuesday with one track being from the recent album and another being a popular song from the artist’s catalog.

So, here are four pairs of songs that I very well might have heard on Q95 during early March in 1986 when, if it was Tuesday, I probably wasn’t in class…

Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers with Stevie Nicks – Needles And Pins
from Pack Up The Plantation: Live!

Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers – American Girl
from Playback

Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers assisted Stevie Nicks on her first solo hit, Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around, and also appeared with the Fleetwood Mac songstress on her follow-up album The Wild Heart.

However, I prefer their partnership on this cover of The Searchers’ hit (co-written by Sonny Bono) which appeared on Petty’s album Pack Up The Plantation: Live!

As for American Girl, I can’t help but hear this Petty classic and not be transported to the hallways of Ridgemont High.

Blue Öyster Cult – Dancin’ In The Ruins
from Club Ninja

Blue Öyster Cult – Godzilla
from Workshop Of The Telescopes

I’ve written before of my affection for the mighty Blue Öyster Cult and Dancin’ In The Ruins was one of the few worthy tracks on the rather dire affair that was Club Ninja.

Club Ninja arrived when we finally had MTV available to us and Blue Öyster Cult was becoming a musical afterthought, but I vividly recall seeing the video for Dancin’ In The Ruins – seemingly inspired by Mad Max – in the wee hours of the night much to my delight.

Sure, Blue Öyster Cult was lumped in with early heavy metal bands like Steppenwolf, Black Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin, but – due to my frame of reference when I discovered music – heavy metal was a genre where its practitioners wore spandex and either sang of non-stop parties or dragons. I suppose Godzilla fulfills the latter requirement and Blue Öyster Cult had the vision to pay homage to the greatest dragon of them all.

Rush – Territories
from Power Windows

Rush – Tom Sawyer
from Moving Pictures

Rush had a small, but ardent following in our high school that consisted mostly of the jocks and the stoners in band – two clans who rarely intermingled but could find common ground in the beloved trio’s music.

Territories was one of several tracks from Power Windows that got played heavily on the rock stations that I listening to. I loved the lyrical reduction of warring nations to a squabble for “better people…better food…and better beer.”

(well played Professor)

There were few concerts for me before I reached college and the opportunity to see Rush was a day-of, last-second opportunity. A ticket, t-shirt, and the chance to see a sold-out arena full of never-would-be musicians airdrum to Tom Sawyer on the Power Windows tour cost me less twenty-five years ago than it did to fill up my car with gas last night.

Jackson Browne – For America
from Lives In The Balance

Jackson Browne – Running On Empty
from The Next Voice You Hear: The Best Of Jackson Browne

By the time I started listening to music in the late ’70s/early ’80s, Jackson Browne’s career was on the decline, though he did have one of his biggest hits during that period with Somebody’s Baby.

Lives In The Balance found the singer/songwriter fully embracing his activist instincts with an album whose lyrics, for the most part, had political overtones. The first single, the bracing For America, was a wake-up call and if the song and its parent album weren’t as well received as his earlier albums, it still sounded great on radio.

Running On Empty had become one of Browne’s signature songs nearly a decade before Lives In The Balance and the full-throttle track was already a rock radio staple when For America was becoming his final Top 40 hit.


Nothing Like The Threat Of Armageddon To Stoke An Appetite*

November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving, like the once annual airing of The Wizard Of Oz used to be, is an event.

Yeah, some people make it out to be dysfunction junction (and for them, maybe it is), but getting to watch football all day on a day which usually would be spent slogging through work is a brilliant concept.

And, of course, it is a chance to feast.

It’s like being king for a day.

Bring me gravy! I shall gnaw on this turkey leg in a slovenly fashion as these superhumans on the television perform amazing feats for my amusement!

OK. It’s not necessarily that dramatic and, as the Lions always play on Thanksgiving Day, the feats are not always amazing in a good way.

(though I cannot imagine how empty a Thanksgiving without the Lions playing the early game would be – it would be like a Halloween without a visit from The Great Pumpkin)

One Thanksgiving was spent living in London, eating some take-out pizza in an ice-cold flat.

And, in a cruel twist, my favorite team was making a rare Thanksgiving Day appearance. They would lose, in overtime after a bizarre coin toss snafu to begin the extra period.

It was a game that would have been maddening to have watched and it was maddening to miss.

Thanksgiving hasn’t been brilliant every year, but that year – no food, no football, no heat – is really the lone one I recall as being truly miserable.

As a kid, our parents dragged us off to mass. I mean, you have the day off school and can sleep in and lounge on the couch; the last thing you want to be doing at an early hour is trudging off to church.

When I was fifteen, the priest decided to use his sermon to rattle off a laundry list of accidental nuclear exchanges between the US and USSR that had been narrowly avoided.

(this was 1983 and two months earlier there had been all of the hullaballoo surrounding the television movie The Day After)

I kept having images of an extra crispy bird and excessively dry stuffing.

It was a bit of a bummer.

It was also a year when my favorite team had a Thanksgiving game. Detroit bottled them 45-3.

I had forgotten (or blocked it out) and had to research who played that season.

But, global tensions and football smackdowns aside, I have no doubt that the food was good.

That autumn, I was still listening to a lot of Top 40 stations, but Q95, an album rock station out of Indianapolis, had caught my attention as well and 97X was exposing me on a semi-regular basis to modern rock for the first time. Some of the songs on the radio that Thanksgiving…

Survivor – Caught In The Game
from Caught In The Game

Eighteen months or so after Survivor unleashed Eye Of The Tiger, the band returned with the follow-up to that album. There was hoopla with one of the stations promising “the premiere of new music from Survivor.”

And then I heard the title track. It was no Eye Of The Tiger.

Caught In The Game obviously had no chance to duplicate the monster success of Eye Of The Tiger and the song is rather generic. Of course, when it popped up on shuffle not long ago, it made me smile and prompted a second listen, so, there is something that I dig about it.

Human League – Mirror Man
from Greatest Hits

I actually don’t know if any of the stations I listened to at the time played Human League’s follow-up to (Keep Feeling) Fascination. 97X might have, but really I only recall hearing it on American Top 40 and it wasn’t there long.

Too bad as I thought Mirror Man was very cool, much prefering the song to the better known Human League hits Fascination and Human. The background vocals of Susan Ann Sulley and Joanne Catherall gave the song warmth and the song has oft been described as “Motown inspired.”

Culture Club – Church Of The Poison Mind
from Colour By Numbers

Though I wouldn’t have trumpeted it at the time, I quite liked Culture Club’s first two singles – Do You Really Want To Hurt Me? and Time (Clock Of The Heart) – and, now, I’d call both of them brilliant pop songs.

(there was no excuse for I’ll Tumble 4 Ya, though)

I thought that Church Of The Poison Mind was well done, too, but some of the production dates it in a way that keeps it from having the timeless vibe of those first two songs.

Blue Öyster Cult – Shooting Shark
from The Revölution By Night

I heard Shooting Shark sporadically and could never catch its name or even knew who sang it, but it mesmerized me. It was mysterious and trippy.

I eventually discovered that it was Blue Öyster Cult.

I knew a couple of songs by BÖC but a lot about the band’s lore as a friend had been an unwavering champion of the group since third grade.

He disavowed The Revölution By Night upon its release, but I made it the first album I ever owned by Blue Öyster Cult. It might not have been their best album – I’d opt for Fire Of Unknown Origin – but I still am mesmerized by the mysterious, trippy Shooting Shark.

*reposted – with some alterations – from Thanksgiving ’09