I’m listening to the new Marshall Crenshaw album. Is that what they’re called still, “albums?” Or do I have to say I’m listening to the new Marshall Crenshaw CD? I don’t think that’s right, in this age of downloads. I think album is one of those words that not only describes what it is (or in this case, was – a round, usually black disc that you placed on a turntable and dropped a needle on), but also what it represents, a collection of songs taken together as a whole. Not sure what else you would call them if not album.
Anyway: Crenshaw. He’s probably my favorite rock musician. I can go on and on about how the music of Sinatra and Dean Martin and standards and soundtrack music have taken over as my personal favorite, but when it comes to rock music I’m going with Crenshaw. I really can’t think of another artist who does it all for me: the songwriting skills, the voice, the guitar chops. And what he sings about is exactly the stuff I like to hear about in my rock music. I was thinking the other day that Crenshaw’s music is America. His voice is somewhere between big city pop and country, his lyrics are about matters that everyone can relate to, and his music manages to be almost…jazzy? But his music still has its roots in 50s and 60 rock.
His new ALBUM is titled Jaggedland, and while I’m not sure what the title means, I love it. And it’s my favorite album of his. Field Day used to be my favorite, but it was probably my favorite because of a certain time in my life, with certain things happening that I associate with the songs. And it’s still one of my favorite albums of all-time, but somehow Crenshaw has gotten even better. Go to iTunes and download “Right on Time.” It’s fun, it’s jazzy, it’s rock, and somehow it even manages to be something you can dance to (the solo version is here on YouTube – it’s slower than the album version but really nice). It has become my favorite song of his. “Passing Through,” “Stormy River,” “Eventually,” and “Live and Learn” are gorgeous too.
I interviewed Crenshaw years ago, around 1990-91, when he was on tour for Life is Good. I remember having a great conversation with him over the phone, talking about our favorite music. He was on the floor, talking to me while going through his ALBUMS and telling me what he loved and didn’t love. I asked him about having lyrics on the ALBUM sleeves and he said he wasn’t a big fan of them, because he wanted fans to hear what they wanted to hear. I was listening to one of his songs from the 80s called “Crying Out For Love (At Crying Time).” It has this verse:
All those days that seemed like years
The silence roaring in our ears
And at night the ticking sound
The time bomb of a life we’d found
I watched her leave my heart in flames
Fanned by all her other lovers’ names
And I can feel my restless mind
Calling out for love at crying time
Not sure how it translates without the music, but, again, that’s why God made iTunes.
I haven’t read that interview in a long time, but I know it’s from the last issue of the magazine friends and I did out of our apartment back in the early 90s. I’ll have to print up that issue one of these days.
OK, that’s it for this weekend. It’s humid and stuffy and I’m exhausted. See you in August. That is, Monday!