Legacy

I’ve been thinking lately about the legacy of some of my favorite bands.  I’ve recently started following Art of Noise on Instagram, who are currently at the planning and prepping stages of an upcoming tour.  The other week I downloaded the new album by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.

This year we’ve seen new releases by The Godfathers, Daniel Ash, The Feelies, Wesley Stace (aka John Wesley Harding), Peter Murphy, Depeche Mode, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Wire, Clan of Xymox, Robyn Hitchcock, Slowdive, Blondie, Erasure, The Charlatans UK, Alison Moyet, Ride, Cheap Trick, Public Enemy, KMFDM, Sparks, The Waterboys and Living Colour.  And there’s still three-plus months to go in the year, with more new releases by classic bands coming up.

It occurred to me that many of these bands are from the first generation of 70s and 80s rock and its multitudes of subgenres, or their slightly younger siblings.  We still have some musicians from the original rock wave of the 50s and 60s — Ringo Starr has a new album coming soon, and Paul McCartney is still on tour, for instance, and recently-passed Chuck Berry had a new album out as well.  One has to remember that rock music as we know it really is a young genre compared to other popular and fringe music out there.  We’re still seeing it grow and evolve.  We’re also still seeing some of the old vanguard putting out albums.

My fascination here isn’t just that many of these bands were my favorites when I was in high school thirty years ago, and that I’m just reliving my youth in my own pathetic way.  I’m also fascinated that these bands are still going strong, still providing their signature sounds, still touring, still releasing.  Some of them may have taken an extended hiatus for various reasons (Ride’s last album was in 1996, for example, and they split almost at the same time it came out), but upon their return, fans both old and new rejoiced.

I’m fascinated by the legacies of these bands, because I’m living during their tenure.  I’m watching and listening to their history as it happens.  It’s that ‘I was there’ moment — it’s my own Woodstock remembrance, in a way — and I love that I’m a part of it in my own way, as a listener and as an owner of their recordings.

Musical Moments: Meeting a Favorite Band

So I found out the other day that one of my favorite bands of the late 80s, The Church, is going to be doing an in-store appearance at Amoeba here in San Francisco.  Most of you already know that their 1988 song “Under the Milky Way” is my favorite song of all time, so this little meet and greet is somewhat of a big thing for me.  If they play it live (I’d be surprised if they didn’t, considering it’s one of their signature songs), I’ll be absolutely over the moon.  I already have their new album, Further Deeper, which I downloaded straight from their site late last year, but I may just buy it again to get it signed.  I’m that much of a fan.

Meeting a favorite band or music is always an interesting experience.  I went to one or two in-stores back in my college days, but it wasn’t until I started working at HMV that I was able to get on the list, stick around and meet the band after local shows. I’ve gone to a few signings here in SF as well.  The guys from Travis are all wonderful, very friendly Glaswegians, and I had a really good long chat about recording and bass playing with their bassist Dougie.  The guys from the Verve Pipe were reserved but very nice guys (and Brian Van der Ark really is that tall!).  Karl Wallinger of World Party is a lovely guy and was absolutely tickled to see people there.  Then there’s the George Harrison moment, of course–the one time I was actually shaking afterwards.  There were a few others I’ve met, where they hid behind a bottle or a few beers, or where they felt just as uncomfortable as I did at that moment…those sometimes happen as well.

One of my favorite things about meeting my favorite musicians, especially once I got over being starstruck, is that they’re all the same as us fans.  They’re just regular people who are amused, maybe even a little bemused, that they have this kind of following.  Sometimes you can talk to them on Twitter or Facebook like you do your buddies, sometimes you’ll get to know them well.  Maybe not as close friends, but as acquaintances.  Your job is pushing paper, their job is writing songs and touring.  But the human interaction is the same.

It’s one of the many joys of being a music fan for me.  I don’t demand anything of them, though I may ask for an autograph if they’re willing. But I truly enjoy meeting them face to face, and thanking them for doing what they do, letting them know I love their art.