The birth of the internet, my shift from print publications to a music site. The late ’90s/early ’00s were a glorious time to be a music journalist. Coming home after working and finding half a dozen padded manila envelopes with a rubber band holding them all together, all holding CDs that publicists were hoping I’d review. I guess I shouldn’t complain – these days, instead of the daily mail call, it’s the daily email call and I likely get more links to stream/download new releases (even though I barely write anymore) than I got CDs.
I somehow ended up on a few Christian label mailing lists despite not being religious nor focusing on Christian artists. That said, there were some real gems that landed in my mailbox, perhaps my favorite being Aaron Sprinkle’s 2000 album The Kindest Days. That thing was on repeat for months, maybe even a full year. The blog I ran before this one (Swizzle-Stick) is long gone and while some of the content can still be accessed by going to archive.org, my “Favorites of 2000” list may just exist in my memories these days.
For some reason, got to thinking about Aaron Sprinkle tonight and remember just how much I absolutely love this song. I’ve had it on repeat the past 20 minutes and it holds up 20 years later. SO GOOD.
YouTube served up the Eagles‘ “I Can’t Tell You Why (Official Video)” this morning. I’ve watched it before, nothing I haven’t already seen but I sat through it again because it’s just a damn good song. Like every Eagles hit, I’m sure this was a staple of my childhood – I don’t remember my parents owning any Eagles albums but their songs are as familiar to me as any Beatles songs so I must have heard them on the radio. Side note: When I saw the Eagles in 2018, I thought for sure there’d be songs I didn’t know in the set list but, to my surprise, I knew them all and every time they’d kick off the next song, I’d think, “Oh yeah, how did I forget about this one?”
Anyway, back to “I Can’t Tell You Why” – it’s the epitome of soft rock, the opening keys that sound like an intro to a TV drama (Law and Order, St. Elsewhere, Hill Street Blues, etc), the deep bass accompaniment and then Timothy B Schmit‘s vocals which, when they kick off, always make me think this could have been a Bee Gees song. Reading on Wikipedia, Don Henley and Glenn Frey gave it an R&B feel after Schmit presented it to them. That’s the first time I’ve heard this described as an R&B song and I can hear it now.
The guitar solo is understated, nothing flashy but full of character. Glenn Frey recorded it but in the video, Don Felder is seen playing it. As I was listening, the guitars reminded me of what Nels Cline has brought to Wilco – though the solos aren’t interchangeable, I was reminded of Cline’s work on “Impossible Germany” which got me to wondering (though I was pretty sure I knew the answer) – “Has Wilco ever covered the Eagles?” In my surface level internet sleuthing, I don’t believe they have. So, no time like the present, right?
Give this a listen, close your eyes, imagine Jeff Tweedy singing Schmit’s part, John Stirratt covering Schmit’s bass parts, Pat Sansone playing the electric piano and Nels Cline ripping the Frey solo. It works, right?
I mean, you find something like this and you’re like, “Oh no, these poor kids are going to embarrass themselves” but then you hit Play and you start thinking, “I should have learned to play an instrument when I was a kid.”
Saw a social post that Alex Dezen quietly released a new track, “Modern Life”, in the midst of the pandemic. After listening to it 3 times in a row (sounds mildly Damnwells-ish to me), I let Spotify serve up other genre-related songs. Pretty good job, Spotify.
I’ve never owned a Jellyfish album and, to my knowledge, have never even listened to one in passing. And now, listening to the first single from The Lickerish Quartet – which is 3 members of Jellyfish (Roger Manning Jr, Tim Smith, Eric Dover) – I realize how stupid I’ve been as, even back in the mid-90s, this wonderfully melodic pop sound is something I’ve always been drawn to even if my preferred genres changed over time. It’s pretty easy to say nothing more than “a mix of the Beatles, ELO and Cheap Trick” when describing this track – if I read that description, I’d click a link in record time. I’ve always been a fan of bands like Redd Kross, Enuff Z’Nuff and the Posies and while “Lighthouse Spaceship” won’t be confused for songs by any of those band (or will it?), I’d happy toss this into a “Power Pop” Spotify playlist (in fact, I think I’ll start that playlist now so that I can continue to add when I run across other cool tracks).
What I’ve learned by listening to this song on repeat for the last 20 minutes is that it’s time to go back and dig into the short Jellyfish catalog because I imagine I’ll hear a lot of music that I really dig.