Wednesday, February 24, 2010
SWIMMING IN SAND
Country rock music. I’m swimming in it right now.
New roots are digging downward into my California soul. The picturesque sand-meets-sea aesthetic is breaking through my cracked and thick east coast skin. But the beauty of this place is not without sacrifice. From above, all you see are the orange lights of an empty parking lot and the red and white highways at a bare crawl. You’re gifted the beauty, but you live in the mess.
What is this place? This place that has inspired so many. A destination for those who sought freedom from the expected life. The canyons acted as hammocks for the creative. Draped between peaks, artists lounged between Olympuses able to look down on the day-to-day world they so wished to feel separate from. They of course had to roll down the mountain from time to time if they wish to be known, but the dream was always waiting for them when they were done selling.
And what is this country shtick from the early 70s? These are intentional amalgamations. It’s not like a new art form was born without intention. These peace-seekers moved west to find a sort of post-hippie utopia. And they found it…sort of. They drank wine together. Took acid together. Slept together. Complained together. Commiserated together. And created together.
From my perspective, this was a very conscious collective. A group of motivated musicians immersed in consistent dialogue. The members took the psychedelic momentum of the 60s (Electric Prunes, 13th Floor Elevators, Chocolate Watchband) and applied it to a much loved country aesthetic rooted in love lost and love for place (Merle, Hank, Willie). The meeting of those two roads was where people like Gene Clark (and the Byrds), Gram Parsons and Moby Grape were all thumbing for a ride back to Laurel Canyon.
This new community was a big, incestuous, ultimately-creative melting pot that gave birth to amazing music. Music that seems perfectly applicable to my daily life here. I’ve had a good deal of love-related ups and downs, a number of anxietous (new word) reality checks relative to my career and daily drives with the windows inviting in the blue skies. All you need is country rock music. It’s the only thing that fits here. Everything else seems inauthentic and trying.
I’m so affected by the tone. The nature of the music. The peace that comes from creative community. The words above are a spur of the moment riff, not a composed scholarly piece. So take it all with a grain of salt from my sweaty, Californian skin.
I’m attaching three albums here –
Country Funk – Country Funk
John Phillips - John, The Wolf King of L.A.
and the obligatory Flying Burrito Brothers - Gilded Palace of Sin