The Felice Brothers - "Frankie's Gun!"
Sometimes I tell people about this blog and they might think, "Wow, you must love music." Then they might read the blog and think, "Wow, you must hate music."
I'm 38 years old. Over the last decade, my musical life has revolved pretty much around artists that came and went before I was born. It's all Napster's fault: who among you will forget that glorious six-month period in 2000-2001 when Napster was at its height of popularity, when its broad network not only made it possible to find virtually any song you could think of, but thanks to the introduction of low-cost broadband, you could download all of these songs faster than you could listen to them?
It was during this period that I gave up listening to radio. Even forgetting the interminable commercial breaks, why would I listen to songs some other guy had selected when, waiting for me at home, were three Aretha Franklin albums I'd never heard before? I mean, why take a chance on some programming director's taste in music? Aretha in Paris might not be the best album in the world, but it was almost certainly going to give me more pleasure than any random hour of music I would hear on the radio.
Aretha led to the broad soul scene of the sixties, and Napster helped me discover journeymen singers like OV Wright and James Carr. Sixties Soul led me to the "hard" gospel groups of the fifties, and Napster once again stepped in to point me in the direction of singers like Inez Andrews and Dorothy Love Coates.
And believe me, once you hear Dorothy Love Coates belt out You've Been Good To Me it's hard to go back to the more sedate fare that has ruled the airwaves in this century.
A few years ago friend of the blog Ron Littlejohn posed a philosophical question to me: when was the last time I was into a band that was new and hip at the time I was into them? I had to think — I really dug Public Enemy, but I didn't get into them until the mid-90s, 5 years after it was hip to be into them. I loved Tom Waits and Bruce Springsteen, but I don't think it was ever hip to like these guys. I loved a lot of local bands at a time when it was hip to like them, but I think it goes against the spirit of Ron's question to answer with no-name bands. Finally, I answered with The Black Crowes, whose Southern Harmony and Musical Companion represented the band's musical high point in 1992.
That's right: I haven't been into a new band since 1992. For someone who was raised on the glory days of top 40 radio, who got to hear Prince, Van Halen, Cyndi Lauper, and Run DMC all on the same station, this was depressing.
Today, however, I come to you with news. No longer shall I hang my head in shame. For I have found a band whose music excites me in ways I feel a little funny about discussing in public. I don't know anything about The Felice Brothers, but their song "Frankie's Gun!" had me smiling like a ninny when I first heard it. Smiling not only because it is a truly great song, but also because I proved to myself that I haven't completely closed myself off to new music.