MCMLXXVI Rock and Roll Heart

Happy holidays! I am not very sure there is a great deal I could consider that hasn’t been investigated by different bloggers about how 2020 has been. It’s been a revolution.

Courts declared this week that Microsoft is defeated at the moment, in a lawsuit concerning the price of their systems and office software suites between the years 1998, and 2010. I don’t want to say the digital revolution was like 1995, or 1998, or 2010 or 2020 or any clearly-stated signpost like that. By revolution, I just mean it’s a lot easier now to be taking to the streets, with the Internet in place.

Photo by Kristin Hardwick from StockSnap

I trust your Christmas is a cheerful one this year. I experienced what has been like moments of rage this weekend (after I’d written the best part of this post).

I got to feeling torn up. I don’t know why.

One evening, the other day, I’d got to feeling, oddly, like how I did when I was an unfulfilled young person, feeling regret at letting time go, without, you could say, stopping to smell the roses.

Also this week, the YouTube channel for the Star Wars movies commemorated forty years since Episode IV The Empire Strikes Back made its premiere in 1980, although something tells me it was a springtime premiere. The next day the channel continued to remind people that Star Wars is a big tradition, VII The Force Awakens in 2015, VIII The Last Jedi in 2017, and, IX The Rise of Skywalker a year ago now.

Darth Vader and the Death Star

It was kind of weird to think about The Rise of Skywalker being in theatres an entire year in the past. Things have certainly changed.

Now, with Christmas right around the corner, Song Lyric Sunday is here, a great blog hop organized by Jim Adams, for like-minded bloggers. For Sunday, December 20, Jim’s prompts include a circle. https://jimadamsauthordotcom.wordpress.com/2020/12/19/the-shape-im-in-2/

Song Lyric Sunday is itself a circle, what I think of as a blog hop. A blog hop is when bloggers post at the same time on the same subject, like when college kids do a pub crawl, where they go from bar to bar, to have drinks.

Jim has blogged this year a little about the impact of a blog hop (versus what I’d term an award crawl). His thoughts were couched in the language of how it is that an award crawl can be a little useless.

By award crawl, I mean when bloggers nominate each other to share an award, and to express appreciation. It’s a phrase I’m using to describe how that is.

A blog hop is effective because it isn’t just commending one another. A blog hop is a social experience, a little fun if you blog.

About music, to be a famous musician is a powerful fantasy. I regard exciting music or any sort of expert musicianship. On Wednesday this week, Rolling Stone published an article saying that music journalism on TikTok might be more and more important in the future. Rolling Stone pointed out that Generation Z kids in 2020 listen to music on Spotify and TikTok.

Jim’s prompt circle reminded me of the late, great Lou Reed’s song Vicious Circle, on the album Rock and Roll Heart. In 1976, Reed’s first album with Arista Records followed the records he did for RCA after The Velvet Underground ended, and was kind of immediately enjoyable for a casual listener, though Reed seems to flirt again on Rock and Roll Heart with self-destruction, not unlike what a depressed but notable musician can be like. A couple of times I’ve watched a TV interview with Reed in Australia recorded 1975, not all that long before Rock and Roll Heart, where Reed seems unhappy.

Reed tries a joke about the tyrant Adolf Hitler, calling him a great organizer. The question energetically admonishes him. I think Reed was obliquely referring to Andy Warhol, who managed him as a musician before Reed made an album.

A few people can’t avoid that zeitgeist, and for me, also, it’s enchanting. Reed is a championed rock guitarist and singer who is seldom rivalled, given the influence of his personality.

He is gone, but when I was in college, one long-haired, heavyset history teacher taught us a little about him, calling Reed, “the godfather of punk.” In the library, I found a little book about subculture, music subculture in the nineteen seventies, and I put energy into understanding it.

Lou Reed’s New York

Because, with the impact of Warhol, in the nineteen sixties, of the acclaim of The Velvet Underground, that was after they ceased making music together, as a group, but, regardless, songs of theirs began to be popular.

When I went into the HMV store in New York City, HMV the chain of CD shops where you went if you wanted music, in the days when you bought music on physical media, the Velvets were well-advertised, as in giant letters the store announcing, “The Velvet Underground.” You knew it was their town.

Related

HMV owner’s dramatic Christmas warning: ‘Let’s all use high streets – or Amazon will be the last shop left’

https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-8972967/Use-high-streets-Christmas-urges-owner-HMV.html

Years before I was born, Lou Reed had a Top 20 hit, contributing to the new popularity of both Reed, and consequently the Velvets. The most popular song by Reed is a song I first heard on FM radio, cruising the streets of my town, probably for no particular reason, or for no good reason.

Lou Reed a Life by Anthony DeCurtis

I didn’t know who that singer was, on the radio, until I heard the song again, as though it were still 1972, in some kind of Doctor Who-type parallel universe. I still didn’t know whom it was singing like that, but eventually, a friend of a friend listened to me describe the song, and he knew who it was, given a moment (between thought and reflection).

I was in a circle, then, being a kid in high school, dealing with pressures that are specific to what I think is most kids’ experience. It wasn’t vicious, by the way, just sayin’.

The song Vicious Circle could be about having social pressures, like specific patterns ingrained in you to run up against a wall. The song is less uptempo than most of the songs on Rock and Roll Heart. I am not sure the better part of Reed’s listeners would embrace music like his, if they didn’t feel, at least from time to time, that the intrigue about the music was coming from a place touched by despair.

There are stories about Lou Reed, when he was the frontman of the Velvets, like that he played Woodstock in ’69, but nobody could hear the sound. I don’t think the Velvets did play Woodstock. They broke up amid tension.

The third and fourth of the Velvets’ records were more straightforward as rock albums than the first and second albums. I believe in 1968 they performed in Hamilton, Ontario, but that might have been the Velvet Underground’s only show in Canada. Even though you may not know I’m Canadian, I in any case get spellbound by performers who made it (or said they did).

Lou Reed’s hit in 1972 includes the B-side Vicious (not Vicious Circle). Four years after that, after Reed was through with RCA Records, Reed with Vicious Circle was possibly pointing to his choice of making a livelihood as a rock singer, because Vicious Circle points to the song Vicious, and the 45 itself is circular in shape, music being on vinyl discs, records. There is a hint of weariness in Vicious Circle.

There is a Bowie song, too, with the word circle in its title, and I know there’s a reference about him in the title of Vicious Circle, in all likelihood, but how can I know for sure?

Reed had a great sense of humour, I read in college, the Velvets’ drummer Moe Tucker remarking on that about Lou Reed.

Photo by Jens Mahnke from StockSnap

Reed expounded on experience transparently in his music, including thoughts about sex and culture. Reed did much of his very best music with the Velvets, who were John Cale, Sterling Morrison, Moe Tucker, and Doug Yule.

Everything Lou Reed did music-wise is very acceptable, I think. The Velvet Underground is a legendary band. Many an amateur rocker knows whom the Velvet Underground are, and get feeling good about songs like What Goes On, and Sweet Jane, west coast surf type stuff.

God knows I’m not a resident. I used to wonder what Reed intended for the fate of his music.

I think with Rock and Roll Heart Reed was trying his hand at again being a straightforward rock musician. I would venture to guess that he was a pretty hot musician, having just conquered AM Radio with Coney Island Baby, but had simultaneously conveyed the ability to fail with his 1975 noise opus Metal Machine Music.

Metal Machine Music sort of seems easier to take all these years later, as an experimental ambient noise album, but I take it fans of the artist would have wanted more rock songs, not something altogether weird like Metal Machine Music. Wikipedia says, “In 1979 Reed said ‘Saying ‘I’m a Coney Island baby’ at the end of that song is like saying I haven’t backed off an inch. And don’t you forget it.'”

Photo by Emanuele Bresciani from StockSnap

I have a theory that if Reed had clear success with Metal Machine Music, it would have meant a lot of change as far as music fans’ interest in what’s viable goes. Enough about that for now.

Reed lived a long life, until October 27, 2013, passing away at the age of 71. In college, I didn’t believe Reed’s image as a street-weary rock musician, compared to who he was. I don’t have any acquaintance with it all, however.

Thanks to Jim Adams for the December 20 word prompt circle. Have a great Christmas, Jim, and to everybody who sees this ahead of Christmas. You’re welcome to like my post, to comment and/or to follow my blog.

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Vicious Circle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VfceMTlEq7s

You’re caught in a vicious circle
Surrounded by your so called friends
You’re caught in a vicious circle
And it looks like it will never end
‘Cause some people think that they like problems
And some people think that they don’t
And for everybody who says yes
There’s somebody who’s staring, saying don’t

You’re caught in a vicious circle
Surrounded by your so called friends
You’re caught in a vicious circle
And it looks like it will never end
‘Cause some people think that it’s nerves
And some people think that it’s not
And some people think that it’s things that you do
And others think that you were cold, when you were hot
They think that that is what it was about

You’re caught in a vicious circle …

Surrounded by all of your friends

MCMLXXXIX

I liked to read when I was a young kid.

In the early 2000s, the Internet, a frontier, the first blog I wrote was on MySpace. A girl I’d met in school said it was a brilliant site. It was a real long time ago.

These days, all these years later, I was looking at the post-https://jimadamsauthordotcom.wordpress.com/2020/10/03/no-rules/ -when I got an idea. Jim suggested that fans teach specific insights into the songs they enjoyed.

For the eleventh of October, Jim suggested a few prompts, such as the word Hold, which reminded me of Hold On, on the Lou Reed album “New York,” a good album. The idea of the prompt is to identify a song with a specific word in the title, or the lyrics.

The late Lou Reed was a singer and guitarist whose album “The Velvet Underground & Nico” made a name for himself. Over twenty years later, the song Hold On, on the record New York, was more of Reed’s art-rock, ostensibly intellectually-minded rock music, if you consult a definition of art-rock. Art rock features elements of a classical style, as in, with Hold On, the stand-up bass instrumentation by Rob Wasserman, who played the bass parts throughout the album.

1989

Now Rhino has presented three entire records to expand upon the original album. They’ve presented the same songs as on the 1989 album, now also in live recordings of the songs, and also alternate versions characteristically called rough mixes. The new edition further includes a DVD edition of the concert film for the New York record.

The song Hold On speaks, it’s clear, to life in New York City. The lyrics seem to recall news stories about the city, as in, for example, the first verse of the song recalling the twentieth of December 1986. That’s when a racially charged beating by the police, of two African-Americans, in Howard Beach, contributed to tensions throughout the city.

I think Reed was guardedly optimistic that the problem of racism in NYC would change, as black people continued to be less compromised by race and social class.

I also think Reed could have been thinking of the impact Warhol made on the art world, with lyrics for Hold On like, “Something’s happening here.” I think beyond singing about the flavour of life in the city, and it’s a powerful song, there’s a theme how Warhol’s art had reverberated mightily, so the idea that something’s “happening,” a word tied to Reed’s shows with the Velvet Underground, and the dynamic of the art-rock he wrote while managed by Warhol must speak to that, I take it. A “happening” was the style of Velvet Underground shows under Warhol’s direction, including projections of Warhol’s films, strange light, and the loud noise of the band.

Photo by Dmitri Popov from StockSnap

There is evident power in Reed’s voice, in the song. The Tompkins Square Park revolt happened on August 6–7, 1988, the year before, in Tompkins Square Park, situated in the East Village and Alphabet City neighbourhoods of Manhattan.

The Big Apple

I think, without art, people don’t have the same legacy they have had, ever since cavemen drew pictures. I also think the creative components of social media draw in many artistic people. Look, here are the lyrics to Hold On.

Thanks to Jim Adams for the prompt “Hold.” He does not agree with my point of view, but I see he has a good command of writing prompts.

Hold On

There’s blacks with knives and whites with clubs
Fighting in Howard Beach
There’s no such thing as human rights
When you walk the N.Y.streets

A cop was shot in the head by a 10 years old kid
Named Buddah in Central Park last week
The fathers and daughters are lined up by the coffins
By the Statue of Bigotry, hey

You better hold on
Something’s happening here
You better hold on
Well, I meet you in Tompkins Square

The dopers sent a message to the cops last weekend
They shot him in the car where he sat
And Eleanor Bumpers and Michael Stewart
Must have appreciated that

There’s a rampaging rage rising up like a plague
Of bloody vials washing up on the beach
It’ll take more than the Angels or Iron Mike Tyson
To heal this bloody breach, hey, hey

You better hold on
Something’s happening here
You better hold on
I’m gonna meet you in Tompkins Square

A junkie ran down a lady a pregnant dancer
She’ll never dance but the baby was saved
He shot up some China White and nodded out at the wheel
And he doesn’t remember a thing
They shot that old lady ’cause they thought she was a witness to
A crime she didn’t even see
Whose home is the home of the brave
By the Statue of Bigotry, hey

You better hold on
Something’s happening here
You better hold on
Meet you in Tompkins Square

You got a black .38 and a gravity knife
You still have to ride the train
There’s the smelly essence of N.Y. down there
But you ain’t no Bernard Goetz, ah
There’s no Mafia lawyer to fight in your corner
For that 15 minutes of fame
The have and the have nots are bleeding in the tub
That’s New York’s future not mine, oh

You better hold on
Something’s happening here
You better hold on
You better, something’s happening here
Hold on, ooohhh, babe

Hold On