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Bummer's Monthly Musings

Bummer, who's an ABATE institution, writes one of the most widely read articles in the Outspokin' each month. Now he's also right here on the web! Welcome to the Computer Age, Bummer! ~ Enjoy!

 

 

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Shootin’ the Breeze 

 December 2003

by Bummer

Email: bummer@abate.com

  Those of you that have been reading my drivel for a while know that sometimes I write about whatever happens to be passing thru my headbone at the time. This is one of those times.
I heard a great song on the radio the other day. The artist was Alex Harvey, and it occured to me that I never heard him on the radio before. I was exposed to him over 30 years ago by a madman drummer I used to play with. After hearing old Alex one more time I came up with the idea that I need to start a music club for the express purpose of conserving and promoting classic rock, especially classic rock that ya never hear on the radio. I have a pretty big musical library and sharing it is half the fun.
In the old days it was said that rock n’ roll would never die. Well it’s still alive, but barely. Some new bands kick ass, but the problem is they’re overshadowed by other music that kinda stretches the definition of the word “music”. I know I sound like an old fart, but I have the right to ‘cause I am.
Regarding “Classic Rock”, I’m afraid that it’s gone the way of our parent’s music [Glen Miller, etc.]. Some radio stations play it, but so much of the old stuff has been forgotten. I mean I love “Turn the page”, but come on! Some people forget anything was recorded except by Creedence, Led Zepplin, Seger, The Doors and ZZ Top; great bands, but there were so many others!
My idea is to get together with like minded people and go to Blues bars, concerts and places like the Rock Hall of Fame and to discuss and share music by bands like The Kinks, Uriah Heep, the Yardbirds and too many others to mention.
I remember thinking to myself that music of the 60’s and 70’s would be around forever, and it is. The problem is you only hear what was most popular because the programming directors of your local radio stations are probably too young to remember the rest of it or never heard it the first time around.
 

By the end of the 60’s music had gone beyond the AM “Top 40” stage with the introduction of Rock to the FM format. In fact a new concept of Album Oriented Rock [AOR] began. For the first time some artists released entire albums without one hit single on it. The focus was on the entire album. The FM stations would at last play songs that lasted more than 3 minutes, or had content that was too risky for AM radio.

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Bummer's Shootin' the Breeze Page!
 

slayings are. I have no idea what that all means, and quite frankly I gave up trying to understand it. I’m just surprised it’s lasted as long as it has.
Interspersed thu the 90’s were “Grunge”, “Techno”, “House”, and many more including mindless “Pop“ written for pre-pubescent teenagers; forms of music, but not exactly my cup of tea. “New age” was soothing, but too hypnotic. Made me feel like a damned cow waiting to be milked. If I’m offending anyone out there, just remember I have a right to an opinion also, I just get to write what mine is. Call it one of the perks of the job.
About that same time something else weird happened....Country music started sounding like classic rock! Once again I don’t know what that means, but Porter Waggoner used to give me a headache. Now I don’t mind country. In fact a lot of it is actually pretty good stuff [once again in my humble opinion].
As I’ve said in a past column, John Lee Hooker, Mozart, John Coltrane, Hank Williams and Billie Holiday are artists from the past, yet nobody should ever say their music is old. Good music is timeless, unless it’s some kind of fad, in which case it probably isn’t good music.
Classic rock needs to be preserved. And I’m not talkin’ ‘bout the “Top Ten” hits. This music is not just nostalgic, it’s history. And a lot of it would be just as fresh today as the day it was recorded, if you could only hear it.
Next time ya get the chance, why don’t ya call up yer local radio station and ask for something ya really want to hear. Dig back into yer memory and make the DJ do his job! Stand up for yer rights! Call yer congressman! Write a letter...uh, excuse me I forgot what the hell I was talkin’ about.
I miss the old days when ya never knew what you were gonna hear next on some FM radio stations. It might be a lunch time live session of visiting musicians or some folk music that a DJ dug out of his archives. Now, I usually listen to public radio for variety. I get tired of all the commercials on other stations. When they’re not tryin’ to sell ya somethin’, they’re selling how cool they are. It seems ya listen to more b.s. than music! In fact most of it sounds just like AM radio used to, only it’s stereo and the signal comes in better.
Music, and art in general, is what separates humanity from other life forms, whether it’s a far out paint job on a set of tanks, a tatoo or a great song. Good music can make a beautiful day shine brighter. It can make the blues bluer. It can make ya jump up and dance, and it can make yer heart bleed. I can’t help but feel sorry for so many people that are missing out on the pure emotion of it
I almost forgot! Merry Christmas! If yer stumped about what to give somebody, give ‘em music. It is the gift that keeps on giving. Also make sure yer cool on New Year’s Eve.
I just wonder what the hell I’m gonna blab about next month,

         That's me, dammit!~Watch here for next month's installment!

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The major music corporations would never promote an album unless they could make singles out it for quick bucks, but artists were writing great music that wasn’t commercial and some new, smaller labels were willing to sign these artists up. Before, a lot of tracks were put on albums just to take up space, but at last music was heard that didn’t sound like filler or snappy singles.
How many times have you said, “Wow! I haven’t heard that song in ages!” Sometimes yer even surprised that anyone but you has even heard it before and you identify with those that have, like yer sharing something personal.
Now I know a lot of you are probably asking yerselves, “What does this have to do with motorcycles?” Well, I dunno. I just write this column, do ya actually think I have any control over it? If I had control over what I do my police record would be a lot better and I wouldn’t have so many ex wives.
Anyway, gettin’ back to it.....
By the mid 70’s fusion rock began. There was country rock, jazz rock, folk rock, funk rock, reggae rock, blues rock and even classical rock. The old rigid classifications were breaking down. Even hippies were listening to people like David Allen Coe and Waylon Jennings. Out of nowhere the Eagles and others were singing about cowboys and cheatin’ hearts.
By the late “70s” they even came up with an AM stereo format, but that never floated. The GM plant I worked in sold a few cars with ‘em, but the idea never caught on and that was a dead end.
Next thing ya know ya started hearing rock on television! Commercials selling cars and washing machines were using music that people used to listen to as they broke the law! TV series began using rock and by the 80’s a show called Miami Vice appeared with a dynamite soundtrack that was selected and directed by Jan Hammer, formerly of the jazz rock fusion band Mahavishnu Orchestra. Rock ‘n roll was everywhere. Elevator music went from Lawrence Welk to Pink Floyd!! Then something weird happened....
As is always the case the younger generation rebelled against the older generation. The music of the “Hip” became too outdated for those who were looking for their “own” musical identity. An angry and negative “Punk” phase rapidly emerged, then just as quickly diminished. There’s still some punkers around, but not as many as there were.
Following the advent of “Punk”, “Rap” seemed to take over and was even angrier and more negative. Music of love and philosophy, of joy and heartbreak and social commentary disappeared from the top of the charts and was replaced by songs about booty, ghetto life and how cool gang

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