22 July 2007
And so now we know it’s not enough to be in love…
A few weeks ago I wrote about one of the little things I do to make less of an ecological impact on this world – a smaller footprint if you will. For the most part I don’t buy new CD’s, it’s rare for me these days. Yes – I can write them off so the cost is not the issue so much as it is encouraging the world to produce more plastic. But there are artists whose work I deem to be extremely worthy of holding the jacket card and reading the liner notes whilst every word is in my hands as the music trickles through my ears for the first time. Suzanne Vega is one of those amazing artists.
For so many reasons I am in love with her music, in fact, she inspired me to be a songwriter, she’s a HUGE influence of mine and I’ve never hidden that from anyone. I have even met her a number of times – the coolest, or most insane time was the first encounter. It was after a show at Princeton University, someone had found out where her dressing room was so, with a little help from some nearby fellows, I climbed up to her window to say hello (this was no small feat if you understand how old and high the window ledges of that school are). It was very cool – she was very nice and she got a big laugh out of it.
I biked up to Virgin Records this week – her latest release, Beauty and Crime, came out this past Tuesday. I couldn’t wait. Sure, I could have gotten an advanced copy through her web sight (of course I’m on her mailing list) and waited for it to be shipped – but I wanted instant gratification and to hold it in my hands as soon as the cash left them. Oh boy….is this shit good!!! To be honest, I haven’t loved everything she’s done over the years and I definitely have my favourite CD’s. I fear, or perhaps I rejoice, that this could be in my top 3.
If you’re expecting a folkie album I suggest you go get a Dar Williams CD. This is not a folkie collection of tunes. This is a woman in love with her city, in love with her new husband and paying tribute to her late brother, Tim, to whom this CD is dedicated. Like her other writings she is adept at people watching, city watching and noticing the small things in herself that most don’t.
On “Ludlow Street”, she bears her soul showing a woman in pain as she walks her brothers old block noticing how empty it now feels as his presence is noticeably absent. “Love is the only thing that matters, love is the only thing that’s real, and when I think of you now love is the only thing I feel, this time when I go back to Ludlow Street I find each stoop and doorway’s incomplete without you there…” I can picture her walking in mourning trying to feel him one last time. I know – I’ve done it. Every time I go home to Connecticut or North Carolina I have tried to embrace the air hoping to catch my mother walking by. So yes, love is the only thing that matters and love lives on long after those we love have left the earth.
On another song, such as the above lyric/title for this week’s blog, “Frank & Ava”, we witness one of Suzanne Vega’s greatest traits. Her ability to write about other people and capture their essence is truly a gift (have yourself another listen to “Marlena On The Wall”). I feel like know Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner in a way I never have before hearing this song. Her inspiration came from something Ava Gardner said about how she and Frank fought – never in bed – but on the way to the bidet. It shows you that the genesis of a song can be something as simple as a first person account or something deeper as is her forte. You never know what this lady is going to say in her music. On this outing she also writes about Edith Wharton, Ruby, her daughter with Mitchell Froom, and if you want to hear one of the greatest love songs about New York City check out “New York Is A Woman”.
Overall this work harkens back to her first CD, Suzanne Vega, only instead of being a neo-folk collection this one is rife with some serious guitar and synthesizer licks. It’s more of a pop album – only of course deeper than your average lot of tunes that’s out there these days. With background vocals from KT Tunstall (one of the coolest new chicks in music) and her daughter Ruby – Producer Jimmy Hogarth took Suzanne’s music to another level. A very cool level. Die hard fans will love it for the depth and new fans will love it for the catchy melodies and pop production values. Ok – enough gushing – just go check it out!!! www.suzannevega.com
www.myspace.com/suzannevega or hit itunes!
As I’ve mentioned before I don’t drive much in this city. There are several reasons for this: a) everything I need is either walking or biking distance (though it could be argued that everything is biking distance if you are so inclined), b) in the last five years or so this city has gotten so crowded that rush hour nearly lasts all day and c) a lot of drivers out there are real jerks and don’t let shit go.
I heard recently that Miami has the worst road rage of anywhere in the U.S., since I’ve never been there I cannot attest to the truth of that statement, but I can guess that L.A. is a close second. I was reminded of this the other day when I drove to Santa Monica to hang out and get a change of scenery. I was coming upon a construction site and this guy in a ginourmous (I can use that word now since it’s officially in the dictionary) pick-up truck with huge wheels cut me off – he nearly hit me – so I went around him - he proceeded to pull up to my passenger window the first chance he got and yelled “Hey – you’re not gonna let me in?” – I retorted that he had cut me off and I drove away. Fine. Maybe I was a jerk, maybe I was being a little New York with my driving and asserting my way – besides – don’t these idiots know about the zipper affect? Why should I let him in just because his truck is huge and his, well – you know is probably smaller than an ear bud? Whatever. I just want to get to the beach.
Ten minutes later – I’m not exaggerating - and more than a few miles down the road he made a point to find me and pull up next to me. He wasn’t asking for Grey Poupon – not that he even knows what that is – he pulled up to yell at me again. I have an “I love NY” sticker on the back – he noticed this and yelled ‘NY F***** sucks!! Why don’t you go back you….’. I ignored him. I drove off cursing myself for not having rolled up my window in the 85 degree heat all the while thinking he was probably going home to beat his wife and just couldn’t wait. F***** looser!!!
Ok, not a bad story, right? That’s not even the worst because at least this guy did let it go, eventually. The worst thing, and maybe the scariest form of road rage that just won’t quit was this time Abby and I were driving down the mountain from Big Bear on an icy February afternoon. This lady in some wimpy fake SUV was tail gaiting me. It was dangerous and there was nowhere for me to go – there were a ton of cars ahead of me and she was in some kind of rush. I tapped my brakes a few times and she wouldn’t back off. This went on for forty - five nail biting minutes down a very windy road. Even if I’d let her pass she wouldn’t have gotten very far and would have done the same to another driver – or worse.
When we got to the bottom of the mountain where it stretches out and becomes a two lane highway I thought finally the antics were over. I was wrong, she continued tail gaiting me even when there was ample room, and another lane for her to go around. I pulled off the highway to get away from her, but no, she followed us. Not wanting to stop or endanger anyone else I jumped back on the highway. After a few more miles of this never ending nonsense Abby pulled out a pen and paper and showed her that we were taking down her info and calling the police – Abby actually dialed 911– the lady got scared and drove off. She could have killed us or anyone else on the road that day with those kinds of antics.
I have never experienced anywhere else this kind of attitude that people have – you piss me off – I’m gonna chase you down for miles and make you scared. Back east road rage happens but it’s over and done with as quickly as it began. A finger flies, nasty words are mouthed and you move on. Out here you better hope they don’t have a gun. To the outside word California comes across as an easy going, laid back place – but it’s just a façade like most things out here. Tell me, where is the love?
This time next week I’ll be in a tent somewhere in Wyoming so I wont be updating the blog – but I shall return the following week. Hopefully you’ll use this time to catch up on my entries you haven’t read. ENJOY!!
Thanks for tuning in…Until next time….CHEERS!!!