Archive for the ‘Fleetwood Mac’ Category

Although the final stats will have to wait until New Year’s Eve, it’s safe to say that 2016 has been a banner year for the Old Grey Cat blog: 500+ more visitors and 2100+ more page views than 2015. Wow! Thank you to everyone who has stopped by from time to time.

Anyway, this week, I thought I’d look back at the Old Grey Cat’s 2016. First up: my most-viewed (new) posts of the year, along with one featured clip from each. (I’ll post a roundup of my favorite posts on Thursday.)

1) Today’s Top 5: August 1984 (via Record Magazine): Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul – “I Am a Patriot.”

2) Diane Birch – Nous: “Stand Under My Love.”

3) Today’s Top 5: Songs of the Seventies: Fleetwood Mac – “Rhiannon.”

4) Today’s Top 5: Saturday, 6/25/2016: Rylie Bourne – “Mary Ann.”

5) Bruce Springsteen in Philly, 2/12/16: We Have Met the Future and It Is Us: “Prove It All Night.”

And what would one of my Top 5s be without a few bonuses?

6) Today’s Top 5: Blake Babies: “Temptation Eyes.”

7) Today’s Top 5: September 1983 (via Musician): The Plimsouls – “A Million Miles Away.”

Today’s top 5 tackles the most Freudian of topics: dreams. Except I’m expanding the topic to include conscious musings in addition to the Dali-esque adventures that come with sleep. Of the former: If I ever win the Powerball, in addition to retiring, Diane and I plan to rent a concert hall and invite our musical favorites to play for us, our family and friends. Of the latter: The other morning I found myself on an uncharted desert isle reminiscent of Gilligan’s.

I don’t remember much, mind you, beyond this: a tiger observed me from the edge of a clearing. And then I awoke… and found my ferocious feline splayed beside me, fast asleep.

Anyway, onward…

  1. Bobby Darin & Petula Clark – “All I Have to Do Is Dream”

2) Dusty Springfield – “Come for a Dream”

3) Paul McCartney – “Country Dreamer”

4) Fleetwood Mac – “Dreams”

5) Sandy Denny – “I’m a Dreamer”

And a few bonuses…

6) Blondie – “Dreaming”

7) The Jam – “Dreams of Children”

8) Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – “Runnin’ Down a Dream”

9) Neil Young – “Dreamin’ Man”

10) Duffy – “Distant Dreamer”

The 1970s were an odd time in America, beginning with tumult on the streets and college campuses and ending with the closest thing to a whimper this country has ever emitted. Post-Watergate and post-Vietnam, the nation sputtered sighs that mixed relief with resignation, and a recognition that—for the first time since the Depression—the American Dream might just be out of reach. The post-WWII economy that birthed the middle class and suburbia was flailing from oil embargoes, inflation and unemployment. Times were tough, in other words, and best articulated by Merle Haggard in his classic “If We Make It Through December”.

In fact, despite his many misdeeds, and there were many, my hunch is that the Watergate scandal never would’ve gained traction if President Nixon had handled the economy with the same verve as he did, say, detente with China. Instead, inflation gradually increased; and, by his last year in office, 1974, it averaged 11 percent. While there’s only so much a government can do to lessen economic woes, perception plays a pivotal role. People expect the president to address their concerns; and Nixon never did.

Of course, when they do address them, they need to do it right. With little letup in the intervening years, President Jimmy Carter lassoed the elephant in the room with his “malaise speech” of 1979: “It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation.”

Unfortunately, the message wasn’t what Americans wanted or needed to hear. Carter would’ve been better off saying: “Times are tough, and getting tougher, but we’ll get through this. Here’s how,” and then ticking off his six-point plan, instead of hectoring the American people. Leaders lift folks up, and never chastise them about “self-indulgence” and “consumption” when, for most, such extravagances aren’t options.

Looking back, one can see why the decade’s music veered hither and yon, moving from fluff and escapism to grit and certitude. Saturday Night Fever, the movie, is a good encapsulation of the need, at times, for fluff and escapism: Tony Manero (John Travolta) leads, on a day-to-day basis, a dreary life. He doesn’t live to dance, but dances to live.

So, for today’s Top 5: Songs of the Seventies. There’s a decade’s worth of material to pull from, of course, and much that I could (and probably should) use, but these five songs – mainstream all – spoke to the hearts and minds of millions of people at the time, and have spoken to many more in the years since. They articulate the dreams and desires of and for escape, however temporary, and do so in a timeless manner while eschewing saccharine sentiments.

1) Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band – “Born to Run,” 1975.

2) Jackson Browne – “Running on Empty,” 1977.

3) Linda Ronstadt – “Someone to Lay Down Beside Me,” 1976. (Video from 1977.)

4) Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band – “We’ve Got Tonight,” 1978. (Video from 1980.)

5) Fleetwood Mac – “Rhiannon,” 1975. (Video from 1976.)

And one bonus…

The Eagles – “Hotel California,” 1976.

tickets_large_x2The first concert I attended: the Kinks at the Philadelphia Spectrum on May 21, 1983. I was 17, less than a month away from high-school graduation. The cost of the ticket: $8.50. My memory tells me it was a first-level seat, as we had an excellent view of the stage, but it may well have been the second – wherever 40Side, Section R was.

According to the Labor Department’s nifty CPI inflation calculator, that $8.50 equals $20.37 in today’s money – about what fans still pay, give or take 10 bucks, for many (though not all) smaller shows. For instance, in a few weeks we’ll be seeing Garland Jeffreys, Marshall Crenshaw and Jonathan Edwards in a round-robin format at an area venue; tickets were $30 each prior to the “service” charge being tacked on. All things considered, very reasonable.

For an arena-sized act, though, a comparable ticket will set you back about 20 to 30 times what I paid to see the Kinks  – and such was the case for Fleetwood Mac, who we saw at the Wells Fargo barn in South Philly in 2013. I’m still in sticker-shock now, two years-and-change removed from the experience. Our two first-level seats – Section 112, Row 15 – clocked in at $299 before the “service” charges upped the tally by $50.

We’ve seen other expensive arena shows, mind you, but Diane and I try our best to avoid them. Besides the outlandish price of entry, many fellow attendees (especially, it seems, those in our vicinity) seem intent on downing and/or spilling as many beers as possible while gabbing away with like-minded pals. No, give us the smaller venues with equally fine artists. People scream, shout and dance about (or clap, tap their feet and sway in their seats), to be sure, but also shut up during the songs – unless, when appropriate, they’re singing along.

Which is all to say: the Fleetwood Mac show surprised me. For a change, the audience around us was well-behaved – primarily middle-aged folks like us, a few with their teenage children in tow. And the band was just plain incredible.  I commented somewhere at the time, I entered a Stevie Nicks fan (and still am), but left a Lindsey Buckingham convert. Despite watching this YouTube video of “Rhiannon” dozens of times –

–  I perceived him as a studio wiz-auteur, not a gifted guitarist and showman. This song, in particular, blew my mind:

The set also featured all the tunes one would expect to hear from Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, and even one (“Don’t Stop”) of the absent Christine McVie’s classics. (She rejoined the band about a year later.) One highlight was the spellbinding “Sara.”

Another was “Gold Dust Woman.”

I did have some quibbles, however. Stevie’s vocals took a while to warm up, as evidenced by a nasally “Dreams,” which fell a mere four songs into the night, and the slightly better, but not-quite-there “Rhiannon,” which came two songs later. The performance of the latter also lacked the frenzied intensity of yore – understandable, perhaps, given the years between then and now, but disappointing all the same.

The set: Second Hand News/The Chain/Dreams/Sad Angel/Rhiannon/Not That Funny/Tusk/Sisters of the Moon/Sara/Big Love/Landslide/Never Going Back Again/Without You/Gypsy/Eyes of the World/Gold Dust Woman/I’m So Afraid/Stand Back/Go Your Own Way//World Turning/Don’t Stop/Silver Springs///Say Goodbye