Thursday, May 17, 2007

Fifteen / Forty-five

So I recorded this "DirecTV Exclusive" concert thingie, featuring Heart performing their 1976 album Dreamboat Annie in its entirety -- all of us thirty years older now, of course. Oh my, my, my. As it turns out, I still do have pretty much every note of this album memorized. This music was magic for me when it first came out, when I was fifteen... I don't know what it was about it. There was something about the blend of acoustic and electric guitars, the delicate plucked melodies pushing up against the muscular, driving bass and drums -- and of course the voices of two women singing in harmony, something you didn't hear a whole lot of on the radio back then. For that matter, you didn't hear a whole lot of women singing rock back then, either -- there were folkies, and there were disco divas, but women really rocking? That was something new and awfully exciting. It took me exactly where I wanted to go. Where I needed to go. In a way, I think it helped me figure out how to write, gave me permission to find the power in my own voice.

I loved all of Heart's albums from the mid-seventies through the early eighties: Little Queen, Magazine, Dog & Butterfly, Bebe Le Strange. But Dreamboat Annie was always home for me, in a way. It sounds kind of funny now; I think the music that we love when we're fifteen or sixteen, I think we love it in a different way than the way we love music as adults. There's more at stake, somehow. I don't know.

There were other albums I loved in those years. Fleetwood Mac's Rumours (as well as the duo album Stevie Nicks & Lindsay Buckingham made before they joined Fleetwood Mac, called Buckingham Nicks). Patti Smith's Easter. Bruce Springsteen's Darkness on the Edge of Town. Jackson Browne's The Pretender. Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles. I'd hole up in my room all evening burning incense and listening to records (you know, vinyl...) and writing poems. I wrote so many bad poems inspired by all that music! Well, some things never change, heh. :)

It's funny. Listening to this music now, the girl I was then seems so far away from who I am now -- and yet not so far away at all. How I live now, who I am, isn't so very different from who I wanted to be and who I kind of expected to be, whether I admitted it to myself or not. Working in a library, living alone in a little old house with two overly affectionate cats and far too many books, writing poems, making little pilgrimages to the ocean whenever I can? Yeah, fifteen-year-old Anne would have been just fine with that.

Forty-five-year-old Anne is fine with that, too.

What have you revisited? An album, a book, a poem, an old friend? Tell me about it. I'd love to hear.


Peter said...

I saw part of a Heart concert on cable recently, and it was really terrific. They ended the show covering two Led Zepplin songs and The Who's "Love, Reign O'er Me" from Quadrophenia. I loved that album when I was in high school. I had to dig it out to play it again, and it really is fantastic: the four musical themes, one for each guy in the band, the story, the lyrics, great stuff.
"Theme Albums" were big back then.

Charles said...

You know, it's funny, but I lately I keep going back to Hole's Live Through This, which was sort of my power album in my last year of high school.

It was out of character for me to be so into Hole—it was so grunge, so hard, so edgy—but I love love love that album so much. It has so many layers to it; a tenderness that you might not first realize; a sense of foreboding and realease:

"Live through this with me, I swear
that I would die for you
and if you live through this with me, I swear
that I would die for you..."

Garbo said...

I've been putting together some mix CDs for my daughter's school, which they can play during the Field Day activities. I've been sneaking in a few of my childhood and teen favoritres -- "Him Dandy" by Lavern Baker (I knew the Black Oak Arkansas version, of course), "The Little Old Lady From Pasadena" by Jan & Dean. I went wild and snuck in some Theolonius Monk (live version of "Well You Needn't"). I followed up the jazz with some Parliament and some Cheap Trick so the kids won't think I went all artsy on them.

Lyle Daggett said...

Just last night I listened again (for the first time in years) some of "The Mason Williams Phonograph Album" by Mason Williams, which includes his great "old" instrumental piece "Classical Gas," one of my favorites back when it first came out (I was in junior high and high school in the late 60's and early '70's), also his deeply pining "Long Time Blues."

Apart from Mason Williams, lately I've been listening to a lot of early Judy Collins, somebody I didn't really listen to a lot of when the songs were first coming out though of course was aware of her and heard her songs from time to time. -- And, lately, have been re-reading a little of this and that from Kurt Vonnegut here and there.

Pamela said...

Bette Davis--Now, Voyager. I wanted to see the smoke.

Anne said...

Peter: Sounds like the same concert I saw! They performed all of Dreamboat Annie, then took a break and came back & performed "Mistral Wind" and a bunch of covers of the songs that inspired them in the seventies -- Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, the Who. I loved it! Funny that poetry is now in sort of a "theme album" phase, eh? :)

Charlie: I never would have pegged you for a Hole fan! Funny.

Garbo: Thelonious Monk followed by Cheap Trick? Whoa...

Lyle: I loved Mason Williams way back when! My dad had a book of his poems that I remember enjoying, probably in the early 70's or so. And when I was playing guitar, I kept trying to figure out how to play "Classical Gas."

Pamela: I've actually never seen that, but I think I should. There's a bookstore in Provincetown named after that movie!

Collin said...

The new Stevie Nicks greatest hits album has been getting lots of play. Actually, the DVD that comes with it has gotten more. It's so strange to go back and watch all those vids and listen to Stevie do a running commentary over the making of the clip and the inspirations for the song. I highly recommend it.

I've also been listeing to some of my old Joan Armatrading on vinyl. Her new blues CD is fab!