We have the convergence of Saturday, when I generally write about music, and March 7, which is my birthday. Save for the obvious, there is isn’t much I play every year.
Now there WAS a song I played on March 8, a lot. Have a Good Time from my favorite Paul Simon album.
Yesterday it was my birthday
I hung one more year on the line
I should be depressed
My life’s a mess
But I’m having a good time
I’ve been trying to remember what music I have received on my birthday. A couple years back, I received an album of Odetta singing Bob Dylan. A couple of those tracks appear here.
There was an album I got on my 16th birthday called Who Knows Where the Time Goes by Judy Collins. I wrote about it back in 2008, but somehow all the YouTube links got mucked up. So here it is again.
I was thinking about a particular song from the album, The Story of Isaac, written by Leonard Cohen. It’s because my Bible guys have been rereading the book of Genesis. Specifically Genesis 22, when Abraham is tested by God.
In 1977, I was in Charlotte, NC, crashing on my parents’ sofa. What I wanted for my birthday was the album Scheherazade & Other Stories by Renaissance. I played it. Don’t think my family appreciated as much as I did. So it goes.
Anyway, 67 suggests sixes and sevens. Chaos. Or at least that’s how I’ll remember how old I am.
Perhaps my enthusiasm made them think it would be more in keeping with what they would like.
In my recent prog rock post, I ended, “I own albums by FM, Electric Light Orchestra, Kansas, Renaissance, Supertramp, Genesis, and Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, but not the ones listed.”
Then Arthur commented:
I don’t have most of the albums you talk about…, BUT the ones you list at the very end of this post, I want to know more about your connection to those. That’s because I had something by most of the bands you list, but you’re the only one I know who’s ever listed Renaissance. (I have two of their albums on vinyl and chose to bring them with me from America when I had to leave so many other things behind)
Let’s start with the group Renaissance. I must have heard them in New Paltz during my college days.
1977 was pretty much, from an emotional point of view, my annus horribilis, graduated from college but directionless. In the first months of the year, I was crashing on my parents’ sofa in Charlotte, NC. My birthday was coming up in March, and all I really wanted was Scheherazade and Other Stories, the 1975 album by the British group.
I received it, and I played it. I sensed a really unenthusiastic, albeit mostly unspoken, response from the family, especially my father, who said something like “Hmm” in that particular way he did when he was displeased. He had heard a variety of musical genres, Beatles, Stones, Young Rascals, Led Zeppelin on my turntable.
Yet, I got the clear impression that this particular group was just – I don’t know, how do I put it? – Too white? Too weird? Perhaps my enthusiasm made them think it would be more in keeping with what they would like. Or something; in any case, the rejection was a bit soul-crushing.
I played it all the more for that, but at the same time, it sucked much of the joy out of listening to it. I hadn’t heard it in years until I found it on YouTube. LISTEN. My, I love it all over again, especially side 2. I mean, the second half, which literally made me weep, as I anticipated movements I had not heard in three decades.
Anyway, less than two months after my birthday in 1977, I hitchhiked out of Charlotte, unannounced, and continued my wanderings. Did I take the LP with me, or did I have them ship it to me subsequently? I have no idea.
Coincidentally, this is an album that the Wife – even younger than YOU, Arthur 😉 – was familiar with, because her college roommate Alison played the music of the group incessantly.
Other prog rock groups
FM – I misremembered; I have a couple by a duo called AMFM, at least one of which I got from a Kickstarter sale by their label, Polyvinyl.
Electric Light Orchestra – A New World Record on CD, plus extra songs. Also, a greatest hits CD. Saw Jeff Lynne’s ELO perform a song from Alone in the Universe, the 2015 album, on CBS This Morning Saturday in November.
Kansas – just a greatest hits CD.
Supertramp – Crime of the Century and Breakfast in America on vinyl. Had to burn a copy of the latter onto CD, because I LOVE that album.
Genesis – I own none of the Peter Gabriel-era Genesis, though I have a LOT of solo Gabriel. Abacab (1981), Genesis (1983), Invisible Touch (1986), We Can’t Dance (1991), the latter two on CD, plus the greatest hits.
Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention – Vinyl: Fillmore East – June 1971. CD – Jazz from Hell, You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 1 (show from 1974, released in 1988), the compilation album Strictly Genteel, the single Peaches en Regalia, and a greatest hits album.
Arthur also asked:
I’ve since had time to follow the link and saw there were a lot I’d never heard of. Which made me wonder, Roger: How many of those, if any, had YOU not heard of?