I hate having this space, wanting to do something with this space, and not being able to figure out what to do with this space.
I don’t have a ton of interest in modern pop music (although I still am more engaged than the average person my age, I guess?), and the patience required of me to listen to an entire album and then review it is fleeting. Plus, I think I’ve hit a stage where I’d rather listen to an album and enjoy it without the expectation of writing about it, which I’ve had for fifteen years now. On top of all that, I’ve pledged to do away with overt snark when I write. There’s plenty I could say about, say, that God-awful “7 Years” song, but the internet is already filled with negativity. Why devote (much) space to it?
I do want to write though-and while most of the past few months have been spent finishing up The Jheri Curl Chronicles (we’re almost there, folks), being on social media and having an actual life, I’m going to try to make an effort to post more often, even if some of my posts are on the short(er) and sweet(ish) side. Someone smack me in the back of my head if I don’t live up to my end of the bargain here.
Anyhoo, I’m recently back from PopCon, which is pretty much like Music Journalism All-Star Weekend in Seattle. I’m feeling creatively energized, even if I’m physically exhausted (jetlag sucks). While folks that write about music can be awkward (as I am sometimes) and anti-social (which I am most definitely not), I got a great vibe from most of the folks I met and spoke to over the course of the conference. It’s a great feeling to connect with people who are, truly, your people.
I also got to witness presentations by some of the most intelligent and music-nerdy minds in the world, including a panel on Daryl Hall & John Oates presented by Alfred Soto, Tom Erlewine and my friend and occasional collaborator Thomas Inskeep.
(their presentations are linked in the paragraph above. I urge you to read them.)
I’ve been a huge H2O fan since my “cousin” Sharon (who was very likely not a relative at all, but a boarder at my grandparents’ house) played the “Sara Smile” 45 for me at some point around 1980. This coincided with what Inskeep dubbed Hall & Oates’ “imperial” phase, during which they pretty much owned the pop charts. The panel brought up some interesting points, is causing me to re-evaluate 1979’s X-Static (which I bought on CD just two days ago and now officially own, years after stealing it from some file-sharing site), and also led me to give some thought to what my favorite H2O non-single is.
While I’ve got to give props to tracks like “Have I Been Away Too Long” (which features some of the most bonkers vocal riffing on any song I can think of), “Open All Night” and the (much) more recent “(She) Got Me Bad“, I’m gonna have to settle on 1978’s “Melody For A Memory”. Not only does it stick out like a sore thumb on a decidedly average LP (Along The Red Ledge-which also features the aforementioned “Away…”), but it jumps from smooth soul to borderline prog-metal freak out pretty seamlessly. Daryl and John share vocals for most of the song (a fairly uncommon occurrence once the guys dropped their folkie act), so “Melody” somehow manages to encapsulate everything that makes Hall & Oates great in less than five minutes.
There. I wrote something. Now what?