wooping in on icy winds, certain of the displeasure of ancient gods, Robin Trower’s “Bridge of Sighs” is a very long way from the warm glory of a Venetian lagoon.
Powered as much by bassists James Dewar’s growly vocals as Trower’s warbling and sailing, “Bridge of Sighs” has always seemed longer to me than its actual length of just under five minutes. Perhaps it is the song’s ability to transport me to imaginary places—places where Conan fought; where hobbits thwarted dragons; places where imagination is real, and reality doesn’t matter.
As a teenager, I discovered the science fiction of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, and J. R. R. Tolkien about the same time I discovered a new kind of rock and roll. While songs I knew by the Beatles, Buddy Holly, and others would have been welcome by the generation before me in many cases, it’s unlikely that my father would have ever cozied up to Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Procol Harum (with or without Trower) and many others who provided the soundtracks for my many sunny summer afternoons, lying on my bed, immersed entirely in stories of Carson of Venus, Conan the Cimmerian, Bilbo, Frodo, Gandalf, and others.
After years of wandering and wondering, I’ve maneuvered things back around to a bit of that simplicity. Once again, I know it’s okay to lie on my bed on a sunny afternoon, reading pure fantasy, Robin Trower raging in the background while Tolkien and company transport me to other worlds. My Best Beloved understands; I know she does, because she’s seen those other worlds in her own way and knows how special they are to us both.
udy writes concerning my mention of Robin Trower:
“I thought I’d never meet another Robin Trower fan! I’ve got a half dozen of his (vinyl) albums. He’s one of many great Toronto acts I was exposed to on local radio, and if any of them made it to bigger fame, I didn’t really take note (no pun intended), I just kept listening.” — rudy
rivia question: the drummer on Steve Miller’s “My Dark Hour” is listed in the credits as ‘Paul Ramon’; what’s his real name?
Hover here for one hint
Some random thoughts regarding the tunes I listened to on my way to work today:
- “Hush” – Deep Purple – Jon Lord once said, “I think my organ playing has something to do with the sound of the band.” In stand-up comedy, we call this ‘humor by understatement.’ While many of the band members were extremely talented it is Lord’s performances on a Hammond B3 organ which typify this band’s sound for me.
- “Quinn the Eskimo” – Manfred Mann – No, not the wimpy studio version (and please, for your own sake, avoid Dylan’s original; a classic example of bad arranging.) Side two (did I say that? well, on vinyl, it was side two!) has three tracks, two of them live, which show what a powerful rock band this was. The closing track is a huge keyboard extravaganza. After the opening verses, the pace becomes frenetic as drums, guitar and keyboards all try to out-intense each other. Chris Slade should have stayed with the band. His drumming is almost machine-like in its precision, but there’s too much feeling to ever mistake it for anything electronic.
- “I Still Miss Someone” – Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, and the Foggy Mountain Boys – Lester Flatt was a great singer. No, his voice isn’t polished and refined, he doesn’t reach up to those impressive high notes; instead, he made simple tunes about human emotions sound genuine. When Lester was happy, you were happy; when he sang a sad song, you cried. While Earl’s banjo was the flashy partner, Lester’s voice is what I miss.
- Commercial music?
- “(Outside the Gates of) Cerdes” – Procol Harum – Robin Trower occasionally got ahold of Keith Reid’s lyrics before Gary Brooker got to them. While Brooker tended toward the beautifully orchestrated pieces, Trower is a bluesman. “Cerdes” opens with a bass line I just can’t resist, and includes some fine guitar work by Trower. As usual, Reid’s lyrics hover somewhere between confusing and bizzare.