Thursday, January 26, 2012

Some new tunes

Time to dust of the blogspot and make a genuine attempt at scribbling some notes. Having recently returned from California, in the Bay Area, I was reminded of a couple of tunes, coincidentally with my format of one old and one new.

Of course, San Fran is not new to music. Every aspect of American music has had some time in the city by the bay (Journey, "Lights"). One does not have to more than just sit on the dock (Otis Redding) overlooking the golden gate bridge, to see some of the wonderment that led many a lyricist to wax rhapsodic on this town. And although it has been claimed to be built on rock and roll (Starship, "We Built this City"), it was the flower power days of past for which places like The Haight became synonymous with the entire music scene of the 60's.

So, with that in mind, I will promptly ignore pretty much all of the above genres for the two selections and proceed in a common non sequitur manner!

The story of Johnny Mathis' "Yellow Roses on Her Gown" is true. It was written by a man who grew up initially in the Bay area, and his father had to move out of town, because of his work. If the internet research is to be believed, the Father was a lawyer who had been defending individuals accused of communist activities during the McCarthy days. Again, if the internet is to be believed, this move caused his mother to be unable to go on. Even without the backstory, this is one of the most beautiful storytelling pieces of music ever written, and my favorite of Mathis' songs.

The next tune is new, and appears on an album released in 2011, called Map of the Forbidden City. The musician, however, is far from new, although he has had a near two decade absence from the music scene. The American audience, for the most part, never really got into Thomas Dolby's storytelling style, instead seeing the facade of the mad genius of synthpop, which became part of the roots of techno. In this album, which is a diverse as can be, Thomas crafts an alternative world full of fantastical songs, and shows that he has surely matured as a songwriter. He works with a British colleague of his on this tune, some guy named Knopfler. It is a wonderful bit of songwriting, and one of my favorites of 2011. The tune is not available online very easily, so for those of you with Spotify, may I send you here.

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