Timothy B. Schmit at the Saban Theatre

The Sunday before last, I saw Timothy B. Schmit play in the tiny, art deco Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills. Although I’ve waited a while to write about it, I want to do so now. It was a sweet, lighthearted show, uplifting in a way I didn’t realize I needed.

Timmy1

Timothy B. Schmit, famous as a member of my favorite band, the Eagles, was a member of Poco, another favorite, before that, and, as I learned at the concert, his solo work is just as good as anything else he’s done. He played songs from nearly every era of his career, including favorites like the Eagles’ “I Can’t Tell You Why” and Poco’s “Keep On Tryin,'” new favorites like “All Those Faces,” and songs that, for inexplicable reasons, are not inordinately famous, like “White Boy From Sacramento.”

Quick note on “White Boy From Sacramento.” This song made a guy across the aisle from me intensely, vocally angry. I’m guessing it was the line “I dig surf music ‘cuz it’s so bitchin'” that pushed him over the edge. But this song and Timothy Schmit’s performance of it, as he pokes fun at himself with such good humor, is a great example of what I mean when I say this concert was sweet, lighthearted, and uplifting.

Timothy is funny, and he seems to know it. “You guys’ll laugh at anything,” he said, eliciting another laugh. There’s more to it than that though.He has this effusive, positive energy, and he’s a light on stage, kicking his feet, all but bouncing, bringing smiles to my face even when he wasn’t being funny. If this concert was anything to judge by, Timothy B. Schmit really enjoys what he does for a living, and his voice is just as pretty as ever.

This concert made me remember what I love about live music. Even after Eric Clapton’s iconic performance in September, I was letting the more stressful elements of my life wear down my enthusiasm for music. This concert made me happy again; it let me escape from my life for a few hours, and isn’t that the beauty of music?

It was sweet, as well, to see Timothy Schmit’s relationship with former Poco bandmate Richie Furay, who opened for him. Timothy seemed so grateful to have Richie open for him and humbled, as he put it, to have his former mentor open one of his shows. As the show wrapped up, Timothy had Richie come onstage again, respectfully giving Richie the honor of closing the show too.

After the show, in a move that is far out of character for me, I went up to the stage and asked the stagehands for a setlist. The lesson I learned from this experience is that when you ask for a Timothy B. Schmit setlist, if the first person says no, you just have stand there for long enough, and someone will eventually rip a setlist off Hank Linderman’s amp and hand it to you.

November Record Finds

After a solid six months or so of constant record purchases, between the autumn of 2016 and the summer of this year, my record collecting has slowed significantly. In addition to downsizing my collection slightly this year, I’ve become far more selective about what I buy. For now, I’m trying to only buy albums that are on “my list.” However, my lists and resolutions aside, I’m not above impulse-buying a mint-condition Elton John album for five-dollars only to decide to resell it. Here’s what I bought this month:

IMG_8062

Joe Cocker’s With A Little Help From My Friends, The Soundtrack to The Graduate, Elton John’s Madman Across the Water, The Doors’ Self-Titled Debut Album, The Beatles’ Best Of 1967 – 1970, and Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band’s Live box set. (Check out the playlist at the end of this post for my favorite songs from these albums!)

IMG_8033

This Joe Cocker record has been on my list for what seems like a very long time. Lin has been keeping an eye out for it for months, and he finally found it for me at a local record shop. This is one of those albums that I happened upon in a very roundabout way, via another Joe Cocker album whose title song is a Jackson Browne cover. With a Little Help From My Friends struck me immediately when I heard it for the first time, and it’s been a favorite since then. Every song is so good.

This Beatles album, similarly, is something I’ve had my heart set on finding. The later years are my favorite Beatles era, and this album has every single one of my favorite Beatles songs except “Dear Prudence,” “Blackbird,” and a couple of songs off the Let It Be record. Despite my love for The Beatles (especially you, Paul), this is only my second of their albums. Abbey Road and Let It Be are at the top of my elusive list.

Speaking of favorite bands who remain noticeably absent from my record collection, this is my first Doors album! I can’t speak to the causes of this phenomenon, but it’s been almost impossible for me to find even somewhat clean Doors albums for less than forty dollars. As someone who deeply loves Jim Morrison, this is deeply disappointing to me, but I’m happy to finally have this one. After all, their debut album is one of The Doors’ best.

The Graduate soundtrack is a great record too. The film is one of my all-time favorites, and the fact that Simon & Garfunkel did the soundtrack only makes it that much better.

Madman Across The Water, of course, was this month’s impulse-buy, but how could I say “No” to a mint-condition record, with the original lyric booklet still attached? Although it wasn’t on my list, it’s hard to say definitively that this was just an impulse buy. Some of these songs are so good. I may keep it.

And then there’s Bruce Springsteen. This box set has been on my list for a while. I don’t remember how I learned that this set existed, but I when I found out about it I immediately decided I wanted to own it. This album feels iconic: Bruce Springsteen’s best songs, played live over the span of a decade. I’m not even a huge fan of Bruce Springsteen’s music. However, I’ve been interested in Bruce Springsteen as a person, since I saw him on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last year when his book, Born to Run, was released, and that interest in him as a person has developed into a growing love for his music. Best of all, though: the box set I bought is pristine. I mean, to die for. Beautiful.

Eagles Anniversary

This week I’m celebrating my Eagles anniversary, the approximate time of year that I started listening to the Eagles, two years ago.

The Eagles were the first band I truly loved. Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon, Randy Meisner, Don Felder, Joe Walsh, and Timothy B. Schmit were the first band members whose names I learned. Desperado and Henley’s Building the Perfect Beast were the first records I bought. They’re the reason I learned who Jackson Browne is.

I remember the distinct feeling of being glad I didn’t know the lyrics to any of the Eagles’ songs when I started listening to them, because that meant I could appreciate their music, uninterrupted by my compulsive habit of singing along when I do know the words. I remember hoping that I’d never learn the lyrics, so I could always bask in the glory of music I swore I’d never heard the likes of before. Of course, I learned all of the words, to almost all of the songs, but even now I often find myself quiet, listening, totally awestruck.

The Eagles changed my life. I mean that, genuinely. I had listened intermittently to The Beatles and Fleetwood Mac and Creedence Clearwater Revival, but it was the Eagles who truly opened my eyes to an entire era of music I needed in my life.

All that to say, they’re still my favorite band, and I can’t believe it’s been two years since I listened to them for the first time.

 

Happy Birthday, Jackson Browne!

As anyone who’s ever had more than a few conversations with me knows, I love Jackson Browne. I know for a fact that even some people who have never had a conversation with me know I love Jackson Browne.

He is absolutely my favorite musician and songwriter. He’s one of my favorite people. I love seeing him in concert and am patiently waiting for him to make his way to California again. I’m hesitant to get my first tattoo, only because I can’t decide which of the words Jackson has written I want attached to my body forever. Honest to God, I’d drop out of school to be one of the people who tour with him. I love Jackson Browne.

And, because it’s his 69th birthday today, I wanted to type up a brief post and share some of Jackson’s songs that hold special value for me.

 

“Rosie” is the song that made me love Jackson Browne in May, a year and a half ago. The melody of that line, “Rosie, you’re all right,” is what did it. And the genius of the understated feeling in the lyrics.

“Rock Me On The Water,” as I mentioned in this post, was the first song I heard Jackson play live, at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles August, a year ago. I’ve seen him twice since then, but that first show has a special place in my heart, as does this song.

Jackson played “Something Fine” at the most recent concert I went to. It’s the song I’ve always wanted to hear Jackson play live. It’s the song I was humming, while I waited for my first Jackson Browne concert to start last year. I was so happy to hear it, at last. I think a part of me was always waiting for it.

“Love Needs A Heart” features, arguably, my favorite of any of Jackson’s vocals. I happened to set this song as my alarm one morning, a while ago, and I remember waking up to it, drowsy but overwhelmed by the beauty of Jackson’s voice on this track. I heard this one live recently too.

“These Days” is the song I mention when someone asks me what my favorite Jackson Browne song is. Granted, that doesn’t happen often, but, when it does, I have my answer.

“Hold Out” is the song (and album) that surprised me. I waited a long time to listen to it and regret waiting so long now. There are some really beautiful songs on the album, in addition to this one.

“My Opening Farewell” is the song I’ve been listening to on repeat this week. It shuffled in while I sat in my car, listening to music over the weekend, and it struck me as more beautiful then than it had previously. “There’s a world, you know,” he sings, “We’ve got a ways to go.” Indeed, we do.

Happy Birthday, Jackson.

It Was Kind of Cold That Night: October 2, 2017

When I saw Stevie Nicks last December, she talked about Tom Petty. She talked about how much she loved him as an artist, and she admitted that she wanted to leave Fleetwood Mac for the Heartbreakers in the late 70s. Then she introduced “Stop Dragging My Heart Around,” and that, unfortunately, is as close as I will ever get to hearing Tom Petty in concert.

Photo of Tom PETTY
Source

I am heartbroken over Tom Petty’s death; far more so than I would have anticipated. I would never have claimed to be a great Tom Petty fan, but his passing hurts.

Although I love his enduring hits (especially “American Girl” and “Breakdown”), it took his death to make me realize what an icon he was, and I think that’s what gets to me.

I regret not appreciating him while he was still living. And I regret not seeing him at the Hollywood Bowl a couple of weekends ago. I could have bought tickets to that show. I thought about buying them every time TicketMaster reminded me they were still available. I remember thinking: “Maybe I should. It’s Tom Petty.” But I didn’t.

Now, in honor of Tom Petty, if at any point I think, “Maybe I should. It’s [Insert Icon],” I’m going to. Because, as I’ve listened to the Tom Petty Anthology on repeat today, I’ve realized that, even if he’s not my favorite artist, I would have enjoyed the hell out of that concert, and the memory of having seen it would have been a source of joy and peace and comfort to me, now that he’s gone.

Rest in Peace, Tom Petty (1950 – 2017).

Eric Clapton at The Forum

Slowhand Clapton plays the last seconds of the sweet, acoustic “Tears in Heaven.” He stands, as the applause fades, and his acoustic guitar is swapped for an electric. With no comment, no story, no introduction, Clapton steps up to the mic again. Because my familiarity with his discography is made up of just bits and pieces, I’m startled by the first verse of “White Room.” And I’m excited. The man is damn good live.

IMG_7344

I waited a long time to see this concert. I bought my ticket nine months ago for a show Eric Clapton was supposed to play at The Forum in March, which was postponed when he fell ill a few days beforehand. Luckily, whoever’s in charge was kind enough to add a couple of shows to his September visit, and I got to see him play Saturday night.

When I bought these tickets last year, I had never listened to Clapton. But, working off the questionable concept that since I had heard of him he must be worth listening to, the knowledge that this was a 50th anniversary show, and my memory of being awestruck by Jeff Beck’s 50th anniversary show, I bought the ticket. Then I started listening to his music, and, lucky for me, I found that I love it. Granted, there’s still a lot of Clapton I haven’t heard, but there were only a few songs at the concert I wasn’t familiar with.

Jimmie Vaughan, followed by Gary Clark Jr., opened the show. I hadn’t heard of Gary Clark Jr. before, but he was so good that, until Eric Clapton walked on stage, I thought Eric Clapton wasn’t going to be the best part of his own show. One of my favorite moments of the whole night happened during Gary Clark Jr.’s set. As he covered The Beatles’ “Come Together,” the entire audience sang along to the chorus, and it made my heart stop.

Clapton played a few songs from the Derek & The Dominoes album, including one of the songs I was hoping to hear: the bluesy, acoustic version of “Layla,” which always strikes me as being sort of brilliant. “Sort of brilliant,” of course, doesn’t really do Eric Clapton justice, all things considered. And when I say, “The man is damn good live,” I mean, “The man is damn good live.” He turned 72 this year, and I’m sure you couldn’t tell if you were just listening. He’s still got it.

I don’t think he said more than five words all night, and four of those were “Thank you,” twice. He walked on stage and played a fourteen-song set, one right after another, intermittently changing guitars, playing songs from different eras of Slowhand, letting the music speak for him and itself.

He ended with “Cocaine,” and exited amidst applause that echoed loudly back and forth across the auditorium. We applauded, waiting for an encore. And we kept applauding. And waiting. And applauding. And waiting. And just when I thought he actually wasn’t going to come back, he walked on stage again to play “Before You Accuse Me.”

IMG_7402

This is, allegedly, going to be Clapton’s last tour. Who knows? I’m glad I went. As I’ve told everyone who’s asked: It was fucking amazing.

Thanks, Paul McCartney

Earlier this week, I was spending time with my friend and record dealer, Lin, looking at a few albums he had picked up recently to resell. On top of the pile he showed me was Wings’ live, two-record album Wings Over America. As always, I reminded Lin that Wings Over America was the first record I bought from him. I followed with, “We have Paul McCartney to thank for our friendship,” which may or may not be true. Thanks anyway, Paul.

Even if Paul McCartney isn’t the reason I love Lin, Lin is certainly one of the reasons I love Paul McCartney. My appreciation for The Beatles has grown exponentially in the last two years, but I didn’t appreciate Paul McCartney as an individual until I heard Wings. And, if I love The Beatles now (I do), I love Paul McCartney.

IMG_7241

Last week, I picked up Rolling Stone‘s Special Collectors Edition Paul McCartney issue. The newest addition to my small collection of magazines is part photo essay, part retrospective, and part recycled Rolling Stone articles reprinted for the benefit of my generation, who weren’t around to read them when they were published.

In the last pages, Rolling Stone also makes arguments for what they believe are Paul’s 40 best solo songs. They start with “Maybe I’m Amazed,” which I won’t fight them over.

And I don’t know how I didn’t know this before reading this issue, but Paul McCartney came up with the tune to “Yesterday” in his sleepI like his explanation for it:

“I have this sort of theory that all the time you’re inputting your computer with information from the world and one day it prints out for you. I think in the case of ‘Yesterday,’ it was an involuntary printout. On the other hand, it might be God. I’m not ruling that out.”

FullSizeRender-2

I’ll admit that the photos included are a huge motivation for buying these special edition magazines, but, as I read the articles collected in this issue, I had a sense of being given a glimpse into the mind of a creative legend, yes, but of a genuinely intelligent, good-natured, and positive human being, as well.

While I’m sure that being a McCartney fan in the ’60s had its perks (for example, Lin will always be able to talk about seeing The Beatles live at the Hollywood Bowl in ’66), I’m happy being a McCartney fan now. Paul McCartney has aged into a damn cool 75-year-old, and I find his thoughts on aging and critics, among other things, incredibly uplifting.

Unsurprisingly, The Beatles are mentioned in every article. In an article called “With the Beatles,” the author, Simon Vozick-Levinson, writes, “After all these years, thinking about what it was like to be a Beatle can still make [Paul] smile. ‘Yeah,’ he said. ‘It’s really quite a cool feeling.’” I bet it is.

In other articles Paul talks about his life philosophies (“Ah, let’s try and enjoy ourselves”), his religious beliefs (“I believe in a spirit, that’s the best I can put it”), and a message from the maharishi that he took to heart: “Radiate bliss consciousness.”

FullSizeRender-3

I’ll end with a quote from Paul, that I am taking to heart: “Just be cool and you’ll be all right … That’s rock & roll religion.”

Thanks again, Paul.

New Records

This week I picked up a couple of new records for my collection: Cosmo’s Factory by Creedence Clearwater Revival (which I mention briefly in this post) and Jackson Browne’s self-titled debut album (sometimes referred to as Saturate Before Using, due to the phrase’s appearance on the album cover).

I’m currently going through a period of perfecting my current collection. For me, part of that process is getting rid of albums I don’t love or don’t listen to. The other part is buying the records I do really love when I find them, which is why I bought two new albums, while technically trying to downsize my nearly hundred-album collection.

As I mentioned in the End of Summer Playlist post, Cosmo’s Factory is a pretty recent discovery for me, but I love it now and couldn’t pass up this copy. I’m pretty sure it’s an original pressing, and it’s still in near-mint condition, aside from the slight cover wear. Jackson Browne I’ve actually owned for a long time. I purchased this copy, because the cover is in much nicer condition than the cover I’ve had ’til now. As the sixty-something fellow-collector who convinced me to buy this copy said, “It’s all about upgrading your collection.” I bought both of these at Antique Stores in Old Town Orange, which is a great place to go, if you want to spend hours digging through crates of records.

IMG_6995

Jackson Browne (1972) is more acoustic overall than Jackson’s later albums, which makes it a great go-to album for times when I need mellow background music (this was the album I listened to when a professor let the class listen to music while writing our in-class essays). This album is actually a go-to in general, for me. When I don’t know what I feel like listening to, I put on Jackson Browne.

If I can convince you to listen to the album, please appreciate the fact that, as an incredibly poetic 24-year-old, Jackson wrote the entire album. He also wrote the music, and played piano and acoustic guitar for most of the album.

Although this is not usually the album that comes immediately to mind, when someone asks me what my favorite Jackson Browne album is (I usually say The Pretender), Jackson Browne does have some of my favorite songs. Not only does “Rock Me On The Water” have a special place in my heart, as the first song I heard Jackson play in concert, I also think it has some of his cleanest and prettiest vocals. “Looking Into You” is another favorite, especially recently because the lyric “Now I’m looking in my life for a truth that is my own” has resonated with me so much this year. I also love and recommend “Song For Adam” and “Jamaica Say You Will.”

 

IMG_6998

Cosmo’s Factory is groovy as hell. One of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s later albums, it was released in 1970. The album runs from bluesy to folksy and from lighthearted to wistful, there are upbeat songs and breakup songs, some of it sounds like earlier ’50s rock and some of it sounds more like late ’60s rock, but it never feels disjointed. It’s a good example of the career CCR sound, which was the result of being influenced by a handful of musical movements.

I actually have a hard time writing about this album, because, as I listen to it, all I want to do is close my eyes and feel the music. My favorite song on the album, “Who’ll Stop The Rain,” was on the End of Summer Playlist. I mentioned “Long As I Can See The Light” in that post as well, but my other favorite is actually “I Heard It Through The Grapevine,” which is worth the eleven minutes, in my opinion. “Ramble Tamble” is another favorite from the album, wait for the pause and the incredible instrumental interlude two minutes in.

 

So, there’s a look at what I bought this week feat. some photos taken on my iPhone. If you’re looking for something new to listen to, I would absolutely suggest both of these albums.

Stag Bar + Kitchen, Newport Beach

I spent some time in Newport Beach with my visiting parents on Friday and stumbled across a bar just around the corner from the Newport Pier. Stepping into the dim bar from the bright, beach street, you get a sense of the bar pretty quickly. It’s old school, without being too heavy handed. On one wall, deer antlers hang above a photo of the bar in the 1930s, which also features hanging antlers. On another wall is a quote that’s been widely attributed to Benjamin Franklin: “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” Granted, we ended up in the bar at 1P.M. on a Friday afternoon, so I assume they get a bit busier, but this bar was so chill.

Stag Bar + Kitchen, est. 1908, is the oldest bar in Orange County, according to the plaque outside the door. The focus of the menu nowadays is pizza, with choices like Another One Bites the Crust (white sauce, mozzarella, herb chicken breast, pancetta, mushroom, & leek) and Meat Coma (tomato sauce, mozzarella, prosciutto, pepperoni, capicola, & sausage). And they serve brunch on the weekends!

My parents and I split a couple of pizzas: The Dirty Hippie (habanero pesto, mozzarella, fresh red pepper, artichoke heart, mushroom, olive, heirloom tomato, & arbequina olive oil) and the Hot & Bothered (tomato sauce, mozzarella, sausage, jalapeño, olive, & wild mushroom). Both were delicious.

As cool as this bar is overall and as good as the food and beer was, my favorite part of my experience at Stag and one of the only reasons I’m posting about it is their crazy-amazing 21st century take on a jukebox. It’s called TouchTunes. And I love a real vintage jukebox as much as the next person, but there is something to be said for a digital jukebox that allows you to choose from an almost unlimited selection of songs.

As soon as I realized what the shiny screen on the wall was, I was standing in front of it stuffing in dollar bills to play “Magic Man” by Heart, “One of These Nights” and “Peaceful Easy Feeling” by Eagles, and “Running on Empty” by Jackson Browne. When the songs I had chosen weren’t playing, the playlist was still solid. Mötley Crüe got the most plays, but Stevie Nicks’ “Landslide” was playing as we walked out.

IMG_6850
Here are some photos I took on my phone.

IMG_6851IMG_6855IMG_6852IMG_6854IMG_6853

Despite my impending move to Long Beach, which I am incredibly excited about, I’m planning to get back here as soon as possible. I honestly loved this bar. How mad do you think they’d be if I paid to play every Jackson Browne song in the catalogue in one sitting?

A Classic Rock Playlist for the End of Summer

I’ve been working on this playlist for a while, keeping track of the tunes that I’ve played and loved the most this summer. As my summer wraps up, I thought it was a good time to share this one. It’s a melancholy mix, perfect for the end of a groovy summer.

Summer of ’17:

 

Eagles’ “Lyin’ Eyes,” Jackson Browne’s “Sky Blue and Black,” and The Doors’ “Waiting for the Sun” are old favorites that I listened to a lot in the last three months. However, I’ve discovered a lot of incredible music recently. If you like this playlist, I recommend these albums that I found over the summer:

Simon & Garfunkel’s Wednedsday Morning, 3A.M. — This mellow folk record was the soundtrack to most of my summer. Simon and Garfunkel’s harmonies on this album are incredible. I had listened to the album half a dozen times within the first day of hearing it. After “Bleeker Street,” listen to “Wednesday Morning, 3A.M.”

Lana Del Rey’s Lust for Life — Granted, Lana Del Rey is not a classic rock artist, but she’s very heavily influenced by classic rock. Lana is one of my favorite young artists, and this record, which she released on July 21st, does not disappoint. After “Tomorrow Never Came,” which features John and Yoko’s son Sean, listen to “Beautiful People Beautiful Problems,” which features my love, Stevie Nicks.

Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Cosmo’s Factory — I’ve listened to and loved Willy and the Poor Boys for a long time, but I was missing out on this album! I’ve fallen in love with the bluesy rock sound lately; this album has some great examples of that. After the two included songs, listen to “Long As I Can See The Light”

Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young’s So Far — This is the band’s “Best of” album, a good mix of acoustic songs and heavier hits. I knew I liked Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, but this album made me realize just how much I like them. Those harmonies! After “Helplessly Hoping,” listen to “Woodstock”

Jackson Browne’s The Naked Ride Home — Some fans are willing to throw away most of Jackson Browne’s later work, but this is a solid record from my favorite artist, which I hadn’t listened to before he played “The Naked Ride Home” at a show I went to in July. After “The Naked Ride Home,” listen to “Don’t You Want To Be There” and “My Stunning Mystery Companion”

If you haven’t had a chance, read my introductory post, here.