Clarence Clemons RIP

I’ve never been a Bruce Springsteen fan.

Whatever it is – or was – about him that tuned a fairly standard singer-songwriter into a major league stadium and festival star just seems to have eluded me.

In fact, I might go so far as to say that ‘The Boss’ is a bit of a turn-off for me, as I’m not too happy with his ‘I’m just an ordinary working Joe’ image. That’s terribly easy to do if you’re a millionaire many times over.

However, there is one Springsteen song that I absolutely love and that’s ‘Born to Run’.

With its Phil Spectorish production – it sounds like it was recorded in the biggest bathroom in the world – its uber- American lyrics, its ensemble playing, its complex structure with many sections and its sheer energy and drive, it’s pure rock anthem and one of the all-time classics.

It’s actually the only Brooce track I have in my vast collection of music…

One of the stand out features of BTR for me is the sax solo, played by Clarence Clemons, who died yesterday following a stroke at the age of 65.

Here he is, when Bruce and the E Street Band sounded as though they meant it.

Thanks, Clarence…

 

 

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Andrew Gold RIP

A few minutes’ casual surfing earlier this morning revealed that Andrew Gold died a couple of days ago.

I suspect that many people’s reaction to this would be “Andrew who?”, but if I mention a few songs that are associated with him – either as writer or performer or even both – then it might jog a few memories:

  • Lonely Boy
  • Never Let Her Slip Away
  • Building a Bridge to Your Heart (by Wax – a duo of Gold and Graham Gouldman, ex-10cc)
  • Thank You For Being a Friend (the Golden Girls Theme)

In fact, Andrew Gold was a hugely talented guy – as a composer, singer, guitarist, multi-instrumentalist and producer.

It was his guitar playing and arranging which made Linda Ronstadt’s ‘Heart Like a Wheel’ album one of my favourites, and this track a real stand out:

Gold is the bearded guy playing the cherry Les Paul.

He was all over that album…

Then there’s his songwriting – ‘Lonely Boy’ had great lyrics and a superb melody which combined to make, looking back, what I’d call early ‘powerpop’:

However, that’s not to trivialise what was a profound piece of lyric writing, albeit disguised within a very jaunty framework.

How about ‘Never Let Her Slip Away’?

OK, maybe a bit schmaltzy, but it’s still a well-crafted song and makes something like Chris de Burgh’s ‘Lady in Red’ sound like the 12th rate piece of maudlin shit that it truly is.

And here’s ‘Building a Bridge To Your Heart’ by Wax:

OK, maybe a bit 80s, but it was the 80s, dammit, and amongst some of the pop fluff, Wax stood out as quality pop. In fact, Gold almost became a member of 10cc at one time.

Here’s a nugget of quality Gold which reminds me a tad of Steely Dan, with some nice guitar – although I’m not sure it’s Gold himself. I suspect it is:

And here’s the ‘Golden Girls’ theme:

Not that everything Gold did was high profile, commercial pop…

In 1996, he released a strange album under a pseudonym – “Greetings from Planet Love” by The Fraternal Order Of The All – which parodied 1960s psychedlia in much the same way as XTC did with their Dukes of Stratosphere project. One of the tracks on the albums is a superb Byrds pastiche with amazing McGuinn type Rick 12.

If you have Spotify, please give ‘Space and Time’ a listen. I can hear at least 4 Byrds classics referenced in it and it may be the best song the Byrds never recorded.

So, a very talented guy, indeed, and more of a loss to music than I realised until I started renewing my acquaintance with him.

Indeed, I’ve been aware of Gold since 1974 with Linda Ronstadt’s ‘Heart Like a Wheel’, but as is often the case, when somebody like him dies, you don’t realise how talented he was until it’s too late,

Fortunately, it’s not too late to enjoy his legacy.

A few pints and then a kebab…

I had a vaguely strange but thoroughly enjoyable experience last Friday evening.

A new bar has just opened in the largest town nearest to us here – ‘La Fontaine’ in Pouance.

English-owned, it was rumoured to sell draught bitter, so after the day’s work was over, the two English guys who are doing the various major renovation jobs on the house, their wives, Mrs Shark and myself whipped over to see if those rumours were true.

Sure enough, amongst the Carling, Fosters and Leffe pumps was something a bit like this:

 

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It was indeed a Boddingtons pump which dispensed foaming pints (yes, pints) of Boddingtons Bitter.

Now, I didn’t come to France to be a Marmite-craving, mix with the Brits only, don’t make an effort to integrate, ex-pat, but that evening, sitting in the square of a sleepy French town, with the sun beating down (it was about 28 degrees) drinking English bitter, was a great experience.

Indeed, a minute’s walk from the square, down a sidestreet, was a kebeb house…so that was tea sorted.

A few pints and then a kebab…

…heaven…