Monday, December 20, 2010

Pledge Night

I turned on PBS the other night, discovered it was a fund raising night, and witnessed the  creased likes of  Vanilla Fudge and Iron Butterfly performing truncated versions of their respective hits.The judgement of history is that the Vanilla Fudge's hit version of the Supremes standard "You Keep Me Hanging On", with it's  slowed, grinding pace and well selected bits of bombast, holds up after the decades have rolled beyond the band's better days. Their arrangement , it seems, has become the standard, as seen with Rod Stewart's mastering of the song from his otherwise negligible Footloose and Fancy Free album. This was a case where the song found a singer, and hopes arose for a revitalization of Stewart's skills as a singer; a promise deferred.  The verdict on Iron Butterfly's ironically iconic ditty "Inna Gadda Da Vidda" is harsher, a tragic rendition of  a song that was tragic, awful, banal, grinding, monotonous, pretentious, stupid and obnoxious when it was first unveiled. Remember that attention grabbing egocentric in high school who dominated the social scene in class, assemblies, parties, dances and the like but sheer force of an overbearing and under talented personality? Remembering running into that guy in a store or a reunion and experiencing the shock of seeing the fool aged thirty or forty years and yet remaining the same grim slice of unjustified self-confidence? This song is that guy.
 It reminded me why I've come to prefer straight ahead jazz in my later life.-tb

Pledge Night

Let’s remember that 
we’re strangers here ourselves
as we consider the years 
we’ve had the same phone number,
the answering machine
is full of salesmen 
stumbling over their scripts
and toll free exchanges,
get an extra room cleaned
for free and God, do I want a smoke.
None of us
who still have hair
believed our music would age as badly 
as an ice cream flavor
involving spinach and Brussels sprouts, 
all the guitar licks
leave an after taste 
of hashish, a stench of love beads
doused in petuli oil, 
what was sleek and smooth
is now grey and creased
like paper that’s been
folded and unfolded over many years,
yes, I tell my barber,
roll down my ears; 
give me a buzz
the equal of a shot and a beer.

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