Bygone days…



I have a real soft spot for the music of thirties — and there was, of course, a great leap forward in technology between the scratchy records of hte twenties and the relatively good sounding records of the 30s. Also, the advent of affordable amplification tubes took record players from the all-acoustic stylus-to-cone system to something that could entertain a room full of people.

But recording was still pretty documentary, at that point… multiple mics and mixers could spotlight instruments and help achieve creative blends and “moving” mixes (instead of having soloists literally move closer to the recording cone for solos during the earliest days of all-acoustic recording).

Now… some great recordings were done in the 50s (particularly in jazz and classical)… the fi was finally hi… toward the end of the decade, people started tracking with an eye toward stereo.

But — and the fact that I came more or less of age during the decade undoubtedly is not coincidental — for me, some of the most creative arrangements and recordings came out of the 60s.

Multitrack technology was still somewhat limited. Most pop was tracked to 3 or 4 tracks (and much of it was still recorded with little thought of stereo mixes)… but there was a burst of arrangement creativity that exploded across pop music… everywhere you turned, people were mixing it up, stylistically. Folkies snuck in electric guitars and keyboards or went the other way with (often quite creative) string and woodwind arrangements. Jazzers adopted some rock elements but also reached outside traditional ways of looking at jazz — and even music itself — adopting composition techniques from orchestral avant-gardists… and rock… rock/pop absorbed it all and mixed it up even crazier.

The creativity extended into the 70s, of course, but that was also the era when the suits started really getting scientific about how to coopt and manipulate musical and social trends… the early 70s “underground disco” scene which had seemed so cool, even subversive, all but died out but eventually was K-marted into the Saturday Night Disco Fever Era… Within a decade, the outrage and provocation that had been the original punk rock was being marketed in mall stores targetted to supplying off the rack punk wear to “disaffected” suburban youth. (“Disaffected” from any meaningful culture, I might say, cynically.)

There’s been plenty of cool music since, of course, I’ve enjoyed a lot of hip hop over the years, I liked the electronica scene during the 90s, I liked the new blues movement where hip hop and other postmodern elements reinvigorated some beloved but shopworn forms, I appreciated the return of roots consciousness to the periphery of the country music scene.

But… you know… I was almost a teenager when I first heard the Beatles… I was an angry young man when I got into the political bands of the era like the (old) Jefferson Airplane or MC5… I was a questing outsider listening to Jimi Hendrix or Bitches Brew… I guess it’s kind of predictable that I’d be drawn to the music of the era when I really came alive as a music listener and began to think that maybe I, too, might find some way to make music.

And now… completely unrelated… a song I wrote a few years ago…

Who’ll Stop Lorraine?

Internet Archive page for this recording
May 11, 2006 version
December 16, 2005 version

I’ve known Lorraine since we were kids
and I’ve always been amazed
Every time she went too damn far I thought
Who’ll stop Lorraine?

I saw her hunt down Billy Jim
he was doomed from that first day
I saw her rip his heart in two and thought,
Who’ll stop Lorraine?

From the hotel bar to the airport lounge
Everyone knows her name
Over and over I ask myself,
Who’ll Stop Lorraine?

Finally one day I’d had enough
I sat her down looked her in the eye
Lorraine I love you, girl, but straighten up,
’cause, Lorraine, you’re wreckin’ people’s lives

From the hotel bar to the airport lounge
Everyone knows your name
Over and over they ask themselves,
Who’ll Stop Lorraine?

I never thought Id see a tear in her eye
I never thought I’d see into her soul
but since that day she’s come so far
and God I’ve come to love her so

From the hotel bar to the airport lounge
Everyone knows her name
Over and over they ask themselves,
Whatever became of Lorraine?


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