Music comes in all types, and diversity is wonderful and welcome (though it’s woeful in its lack of real variety these days). YMMV according to your tastes, so this Topic is for “the oldies” and the intrepid younger adventurers still seeking out classics from the past to fill in the huge gaps between genre-fied blobs of our more-mundane popular culture (such as it is) ;-)
So: great news for fans of music as it used to be rather than as it is today (in other words merely (mostly) Product). Based on the success of their appearance at Neil Young’s Bridge School Benefit Concert last year, Buffalo Springfieldhas agreed to their first tour in 43 years! Wow, that’s older than most people reading this, most likely LOL And, as a decidedly delicious bonus, Gillian Welch is slated as the opening act! Before we get into the Springfield archives, here’s a Gillian Welch sample to whet your whistle, performing “Elvis Presley Blues” with her musical partner David Rawlings. It’s quite likely that without the influence of Buffalo Springfield (and The Byrds’ Roger McGuinn and Gram Parsons among other notables), we probably wouldn’t even be listening to it:
Buffalo Springfield PLUS Gillian Welch? Now this is a show that I’d pay to see! There aren’t many acts that I can say that about anymore what with the insane ticket prices, uninteresting and incurious artists performers more concerned with flash over substance, and a general lack of interest in partaking of “the concert experience”, which I’ve done to death already. To put things somewhat in perspective: I have a Buffalo Springfield concert poster from April of 1967 for a date at The Rock Garden in San Francisco that would’ve cost about $2.50 to get in. Shows used to run from around 8pm to 2am in those glory days, usually with three groups doing two sets each. Bill Graham’s Fillmore Auditorium/Winterland and Chet Helm’s Avalon Ballroom were my temples of glory , and there were some glorious shows!
I can’t even estimate the number of concerts I’ve seen; my first ones were free weekly outdoor concerts in Golden Gate Park during the (Spring and) Summer of Love, 1967. My first indoor concert was in March 1968, with Cream, Blood Sweat and Tears (awesome Al Kooper version), the James Cotton Blues Band, and Jeremy & the Satyrs (an early obscure fave). I’ve seen Pink Floyd something like sixteen times :-O My most recent show was probably Kevin Ayers (ex-Soft Machine) in a small club in 2000, and Daevid Allen’s Gong sometime around the same period. Nothing since (that I can remember), due to various (mostly financial) reasons. But I never was able to catch Buffalo Springfield live. AND THEY’RE COMING TO WHERE I LIVE ON JUNE 1ST!!! But… I probably won’t be able to afford to go (With two months to work on it though, I’m sure gonna try!)
Too bad that it’s impossible to recreate the impact of hearing music as different as that new acoustic-based Sound was from all that had come before, or in relation to the times when it came out. Despite so much musical diversity at a time where most everything was fresh and new, the countryfied-yet-asskicking Buffalo Springfield Sound was a needed and sobering counterpoint to the the psychedelic scenes of the day; a bridge between protest-folkies and peace-and-love revolutionaries. The quality of their playing and lovely harmonies combined with the songwriting and sheer talent of five (and later six!) very individual musicians provided a unique voice amongst all of the different sounds of the times.
A blast from the past: a B.S. Smothers Brothers clip featuring a lip-synced version of FWIW over footage of The Riots plus other live Springfield clips:
Naturally, “For What It’s Worth” is their best-known hit; it was one of the first protest songs to popularize the youth struggle against conformity that was raging in those days, namely the riots on Sunset Strip, and later on in the Haight-Ashbury and in Berkeley and so on. But the song that really captured my ear was Neil Young’s “Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing”. When I first heard it I didn’t know which artist it was, as it wasn’t announced, only that I wanted that song, that sound, that voice, and that feeling as expressed in it. AM radio had “FWIW” playing quite a lot, but at the time I was listening to KMPX-FM (in San Francisco), and became hauntingly enchanted the first time I heard “Clancy”. When I finally bought the first Springfield album on November 27, 1967 (yes, I’ve kept records of my 2, 172 records!), I wasn’t expecting to hear “Clancy” and was thunderstruck upon hearing it. The Thrill of Discovery!
Here’s a live version from their reunion last year (you may need motion-sickness meds while watching some of these Bridge clips though, as they’re a bit shaky):
So Neil became my favorite member of B.S., but the other guys were nearly as talented and creative. Drummer Dewey Palmer and bassist Bruce Palmer provided a solid bottom and seamless unobtrusive playing, but the stars that shone brightest were guitarists Young, Stephen Stills, Richie Furay, and later Jim Messina. I remember being almost continually upset about their bickering and semi-regular breakups over their short career, and saddened at their eventual falling-out. But afterwards we were rewarded with great music from each one of them as they embarked on stellar careers in quality groups like Poco, Loggins and Messina, Manassas, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, and many many solo albums. Buffalo Springfield, like few groups before or after, seeded so much music to come that the sum of the parts were far greater and more productive than the output of the whole. The original Springfield (including kinda-latecomer Messina) were groundbreaking visionaries in pop-rock, country-rock, alt-rock, and top-notch players and composers. Even the jazzy “Everydays” and the ethereal “Expecting to Fly” presaged the more adventurous environmental and orchestral experimentation to come.
And, as it turned out, Neil Young became one of my few musical gods! These are artists with whom I share a particular sympathetic vibration attuning of mind/heart/soul with; who, in one way or another, are reflections of Me. I dunno how else to put it; suffice to say that they’re as rare as I am I’ve bought everything of Neil’s up until the point I couldn’t afford it anymore. Heck, I’ve even got Trans. So.
That whole Buffalo Springfield experience was awesome while it lasted, and the three albums released each are classics in their own right. Another song that received a LOT of KMPX airplay was a nine-minute version of Bluebird (an acetate, IIRC) that was mostly 6 minutes of searing, blistering guitar duels and solos between Young, Stills, and Furay. This was the version I was expecting on their second album, and was very disappointed at the new version on it; it simply banjo’d its way to a fade-out rather than jump into the guitarring. Now, I don’t have any problems with banjos per se, but… it ain’t a three-guitar shred! For months I’d anticipated it and was crushed to hear this “alternate” take. I searched for years trying to find it; eventually a compilation album was released that contained it, and while a bit dated, it was just as awesome to hear as it was the first mind-blowing time!
Here’s an eleven-minute clip of both an extended (acoustic) “Bluebird” and their Neil Young hit “Mr. Soul”, again from the (mostly-acoustic) Bridge shows; Joe Vitale and Rick Rosas replace the sadly-deceased Martin and Palmer, respectively:
Now that I think about it… most all of my early fave groups had three guitarists featured: B.S., Moby Grape, Love, Fleetwood Mac, and The Yardbirds (sort-of). Long ago, when we were young, glory days, and so on…
Here’s a clip of two excellent songs, Neil’s “I Am A Child” and Richie’s “Kind Woman”, one of my all-time favorite songs. All that’s missing from the latter is the delicious pedal-steel provided by Poco’s Rusty Young on the album, but Neil’s piano is just as tasteful (if not quite as wistful):
As tempting as it is, I’m not going to show the whole reunion; that’s for you to check out! And while I’m at it, please consider donating to Neil’s Bridge School charity, it’s such a worthy cause! Happy listening; lots of anticipating to do
In light of the calamities facing Japan, it’s hard to consider any personal hardships in the same light, or even a similar one. Nevertheless, my lengthy three-year period of tumbling down this hill (or down-mountain, more like) has presented just as dire a threat as to anyone anywhere facing homelessness, starvation, and termination. All of these I face, and am facing in the near-future. Yet I still have a shaky faith that I will be provided for, or that I will provide for myself. Still, I feel a kinship with those suffering so much more dramatically overseas, yet find myself unable to dwell on my own emergencies here. I should just say that if there is a protracted absense on my part from this page, then this is why: I’ve hit rock bottom, and will take some time to dig out, if I am able to. But, enough about that; I’m not there yet. This is intended to be a post for both of us and to all others who might need it: a message of Hope, and Faith that things will work out…
I never thought I’d end up like this. I did know that it was a risky chance I took when I decided to “drop out” (again) to write my novel, separating myself from everyone and everywhere I’d known, losing all contacts and networks in my move to a safe haven a thousand miles away. But I was on a mission; one might even say that it was divinely inspired. I knew that creating it was what I was put here to be doing: telling a wonderful story. When I was writing it, at 10-18 hours a day, it was as if I were truly in heaven; it felt so effortless, I felt so connected with my Muse, whom I named “Lily” for her devotion to me and our story, that it left no doubt as to the correctness of my choice. The lights along my Path were bright, and warm.
In hindsight, I think that my decision to return to my Bay Area roots might have been a mistake, or at least to this crucial point it seems so. Let us just say that, for the sake brevity, that it may have been a fatal one. It is truly hellish. I could elaborate to prove my words, but really… I don’t subscribe to the “pics or it didn’t happen” brigade. To the cynics and disbelievers I say believe me or not; I don’t care: I have no reason to lie or exaggerate. (Do not feed the trolls: Good Advice.) Feels like hell, anyway…
I’ve been following the sad and unsettling news from Japan since the quake hit, and have been profoundly moved by the prayers and support from the genuinely good and unselfish people from around the world. But to see those directly affected by the disasters stepping up to the plate and cheering on their countrymen-and-women is truly touching. Some days ago a gathering of anime voice talent came together to provide a seiendan (“seiyuu cheering party”) for those suffering and in much need of good wishes. The following clip is in Japanese, but you don’t need to know the language in order to understand the message:
(This Anime News Network article contains the clip and a little more in-depth information, here.)
My story, and Lily’s story, has been a Grand Experiment in “keeping the faith” and following your heart. Since the telling of it is so involved, and your time is valuable, I’ll just keep things as general as I can here. When you’re crawling around the deepest burning pits, platitudes and homilies seem hollow and pointless, so it’s hard to remain convinced that those nuggets of wisdom might be true. Nevertheless, they are so because they are true! I’ve seen it, and experienced it, and so it’s been proven to me. One must also keep an eye open for opportunities to help others in need, and consider the consequences of one’s more self-centered actions in order to maintain a healthy balance on the Road. Presently I am falling down after losing my own, but still watching for that signal of support to grasp; a signpost on the path to bring me back… even some words will do:
(Such a lovely song, with vocals courtesy of Jon Anderson of Yes.)
I’ve consistently found the work of Mike Oldfield to be highly uplifting and always wonderful to experience. Maybe it’s because we’re near the same birthdate; I’m one year and five days older than he, both Taurean to the bone! Here’s a sample of the title track from his “Crises” album; somewhat pertinent considering today’s headlines. It’s a four-minute instrumental excerpt over video of… skiing??? Yes… skiiing! If you stick with it, you might even see something you’ve NEVER SEEN BEFORE!
But the most significant discovery in my life to date has been Kate Bush. In her creative work and approach to Life, Being, and Feeling I found a like-minded soul, at least insofar as I could determine. I’ve never come across anyone so similar, I’ll just say that. When I say that anime has been my second-most important discovery, it’s no small feat or mean comparison! Both (in different ways) manage to convey the keenest emotions, the deepest sentiments, and moving sense-of-wonder that is truly rare these days, especially in these pessimistic times.
(And thanks as always to Symphonyofflowers’ great videos!)
I always had a firm idea of how I wanted Lily Godwin to Be in our story; the character really wrote herself and I simply Paid Attention to her whispers and suggestions. When The Sensual World LP came out in 1989, Lily’s character was going by the temporary placeholder name of “Dee”. But at this very early point of her creation, her Being was still coming to vibrant life; when I saw Kate’s video for The Sensual World, I “met” her visually for the first time: the Essence of Lily… and they took my breath away!
By 1993, it had become time to give Lily her name. “Lily” means “devotion” and since (a) Lily Godwin is devoted to Will, her charge, and (b) Lily-Muse was just as devoted to me in keeping our story alive throughout the then-current tribulations, and (c) it’s such a cute and fitting name, that’s what I chose for her. Within DAYS (if not the very same day, which it might’ve been) I bought The Red Shoes which contained, to my utter delight and surprise, the following song:
To borrow a phrase from my fellow Kate-fancies and Lovehounds, I was gobsmacked! An aversion to spoilers prevents me from comparing elements of this song with my novel, but… wow. Truly a Phenomena of Strange proportions (sic, but do your homework)! You can see why her decision to issue her “Director’s Cut” using these two albums is so significant for me! We don’t know which tracks she’s redoing at this point, but that’s kind of secondary to me; I’ll love whatever she puts forth
I’d like to finish with a couple of quieter yet equally-as-powerful ruminations for those in need of a calmer, if melancholic, medicine: the magnificent “Hello Earth” and the sublime “A Coral Room” done up in a Special Presentation of sorts…
A CORAL ROOM (music and lyrics by Kate)
There’s a city, draped in net
And in the half light, in the half light
It looks like every tower
Is covered in webs
Moving and glistening and rocking
Its babies in rhythm
As the spider of time is climbing
Over the ruins
There were hundreds of people living here
Sails at the windows
And the planes came crashing down
And many a pilot drowned
And the speed boats flying above
Put your hand over the side of the boat
What do you feel?
My mother and her little brown jug
It held her milk
And now it holds our memories
I can hear her singing
“Little brown jug don’t I love thee”
“Little brown jug don’t I love thee”
Ho ho ho, hee hee hee
I hear her laughing
She is standing in the kitchen
As we come in the back door
See it fall See it fall
Oh little spider climbing out of a broken jug
And the pieces will lay there a while
In a house draped in net
In a room filled with coral
Sails at the window
Forests of masts
Put your hand over the side of the boat
Put your hand over the side of the boat
What do you feel?
Copyright 2005 Noble & Brite
Piano and Vocals: Kate
Solo Vocal: Michael Wood
For more reliable Kate info and study materials, please see the excellent Gaffaweb!
In parting, let me simply say that we are all Citizens of the World, all in the same Boat despite that damnable Tower of Babble (sic)! Anime has taught me this well: emotions, desires, and aspirations are common to us all, no matter our language or culture; our stories and struggles are similar and familiar. We pull for these animated characters as we pull for our own friends and families; the only differences are so marginal. We pull for and root for those souls suffering on Japan’s shores as equally as for those of our own, on our own. We are all our own, and not as alone as we think. We all linger on the shore of this island Earth, dipping our toes in and shivering the same. We should take the time to build a bonfire on the sand, and sing songs of cheer and positivity, a seiendan for us all. There is Hope: hold on to that tremulous Faith; there is Love… can you feel it? Because:
“Put your hand over the side of the boat; what do you feel?”
In Kate’s own words from the liner notes of her first album: “Please feel it.”
By feeling, by empathising: this is how we live well on (and in) this Sensual World, because we really are Spirits in a Material World. This is how we grow, and continue to do our best, as we Journey back to that one true Source, somewhere away from the Here and Now, above the Earth and beyond, through Time and Space, returning to our Spiritual Place, wherever that may Be
Thank you for reading, and please feel free to leave a comment as all opinions (opposing views included) are welcome, except trollish/hateful garbage which shall be shot on sight. Click on “Comments” beneath the headline to leave one; several Visitors have remarked having difficulty seeing the link!
What a nightmare. I hope that everyone reading this will say a few prayers for the people of Japan. Such awfully heartbreaking news; the video footage is truly horrific. Please send aid through the channels that will grant them relief, and don’t let another news cycle pass this story up without keeping in mind the suffering going on over there. I wanted to write more but am very much occupied with my own survival issues and don’t have the time at present, but there will be more time later, I hope. In the meantime, let us keep them in our thoughts and hearts…
UPDATE: Anime fans in particular may be interested to note that the Anime News Network has news updates, places to send donations, and anime industry personnel check-ins, so please go there to help in any way, and check-in on our favorite creators. And, in light of the nuclear disasters, let us pray… and not forget the victims of the quake as this story develops.
on the water
"When early youth had passed, he left his cold fireside and alienated home to seek strange truths in undiscovered lands. Many a wide waste and tangled wilderness has lured his fearless steps; and he has bought with his sweet voice and eyes, from savage men, his rest and food." (from 'Alastor, or, The Spirit of Solitude', by Percy Bysshe Shelley,1815)
For info on our novel UNBOUND, please see our website in the Blogroll!