Tags: music

Is there a whole region of the country I've missed?

Taylor Swift's video for "You Belong with Me" reminds me that I've been wondering if there's an entire region of the country designed differently from what I've known. Specifically, a land where high school boys and girls have bedroom windows facing each other, and they develop relationships through those windows, only to see those relationships blossom into romances.

I'm reminded of the first Tobey Maguire Spider-Man movie (2002) in which he and Mary Jane know all about each other's lives because they live right next to each other. Well, they don't really communicate with each other, but Peter hears all the arguments in Mary Jane's house, and knows exactly what's going on over there.

In The Girl Next Door (2004), a retiring porn star moves in next door to a geeky high school boy, and their relationship forms when he looks out his bedroom window and watches her undress, and then she catches him, and things go from there. He develops some coolth through being with her, and she softens to the idea of relationships.

In Paris Hilton's 2006 video for the song "Nothing in this World", she pretty much echoes The Girl Next Door, although she may not be a porn star.

Finally, there's Taylor Swift in last year's "You Belong with Me", turning around the story only to the point that she, the girl, is the geek, and the boy is cool one she's pining for.

None of my bedroom windows ever faced any other bedroom, let alone that of the gorgeous girl next door. So I'm wondering, is there an entire segment of the country in which relationships develop because boys and girls watch each other through their bedroom windows, or is it only in Hollywoodland?

Eric Woolfson (1945-2009)

Just found out that Eric Woolfson has died. He was one of the two men behind the Alan Parsons Project, which produced a lot of music I really like. According to the New York Times, he was 64. Woolfson was a songwriter and keyboardist, and newly minted manager, when he met Parsons in 1974. The two set out to form "a new kind of group that would emphasize the engineer and producer rather than the musicians, in the same way that auteur filmmakers were turning the spotlight away from stars and onto the director."

I first learned of them from the song "Eye in the Sky" (hey, my name, it sure sounded like they were singing about me). Sorry to see him go, even though Woolfson and Parsons split in 1990 (after ten albums).

Last night's Coney Island concert

It was great! Really great!

The park was packed: wall-to-wall people. We got there about 6:45 for the 8 o'clock show, and just managed to squeeze into a spot that could see most of the stage.

Unlike many of the concerts there, this one started promptly at 8, probably because they had three acts lined up for the evening. And other than a few people with no manners, there was nothing to detract from the evening (I just could not understand the two high school girls standing behind us. I can accept the fact that they didn't know who Borough President Marty Markowitz is, but to profess their ignorance so loudly and repeatedly was just bad form. What was worse was they didn't seem to know who Pat Benatar is, either, and talked, continuously, through her entire set. They were there, apparently, only to see Blondie ["But let's leave after like three songs," one said to the other] and to talk on their cell phones to other school mates they were meeting up with later. It can't just be the age, because to my left was another high school girl, apparently with her father, who was definitely there for the concert, and knew most all of the words. Anyway…).

First up was The Donnas, who I don't know very well. They played well, but did only four songs. I didn't get the first title, I think the other three were "Wasted", "Get Off", and "Take It Out". A good, hard-rock, girl group.

Then they reset the stage, and Pat Benatar and Spider (and band) came on. At first, I thought the bass was amped up too high (well, it was), drowning out the vocals, but I thought it might be on purpose, because her voice sounded a little husky. Eventually, they evened out the sound, and no, her voice is just fine. She can still hit all the high notes (though she did transpose a few phrases down an octave; made no difference, she's still great). And she looks great. Wearing long red hair, now. Spider, well, he was pumped, and I don't know why his back doesn't hurt (he is constantly leaning over while playing, so that his head is lower than Pat's). It was a really good set. They did "All Fired Up", "Shadows of the Night", "You Better Run" (which she introduced by telling us it was the second video MTV ever played [I didn't know that], but since the first group [The Buggles] didn't have a guitarist, Spider was the first guitar player to appear on MTV), "Somebody's Baby", "Invincible", "We Belong", "Hell is for Children", "Hit Me with Your Best Shot", and "Love is a Battlefield". Then, for the encore, they did "Promises in the Dark" and "Heartbreaker". Nothing much to say about any particular song: if they didn't sound like I was playing an album, they sounded just as great with the minor modifications brought about by playing live outdoors. A rockin' concert.

Then, again, the stage had to be reset, and Blondie came on. Debbie Harry came out wearing sunglasses and a billowing jacket (remember, she didn't take the stage 'til 10PM, and I thought she looked kind of old. It was costuming. She lost the sunglasses by the second song, the sleeves of the jacket by the third, and the rest of the jacket in the fourth or fifth. Her face may be a little rounder than it was in the '80s, but other than that, she looks great, too. She did more songs I didn't know (also, I prefer Benatar's stage presence: she moves a lot more; Harry is all about the singing, with very little movement). She opened with "Call Me", and then went to "Hanging on the Telephone", and then went to two songs I didn't know, and couldn't even get enough of the lyrics to find the titles. But she was good. Then, she moved to something newer, with "Maria", and then another I didn't know. Then "The Tide is High", and then another I didn't know. I was enjoying myself (and the crowd was on its feet), but I was surprised there were so many songs I didn't know. Then "Rapture", with the longest interstitial section I've ever heard on that song. Good, but long. And finally, "One Way or Another". They did a three-song encore: another I didn't know ("Havana"?), and then "Heart of Glass" and finally "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough" (that's a cover, yes?).

The concert ended just after 11 (felt like Blondie'd been on stage more than an hour, but it was good long), and then we made our way out of the park with the crowds. It was a great evening! I'm only sorry I didn't remember about it earlier, so more of you could have joined us. Next time.

Top 40 question: does Kelly Clarkson equal Josie and the Pussycats?

All right, here's a question for the probably two friends of mine who also listen to Top 40 music (the rest of you: so sue me, I have broad musical tastes):

Kelly Clarkson's new song, "I Do Not Hook Up" reminds me fiercely of a Josie and the Pussycats song, but listening to the Music from the Motion Picture soundtrack, I can't find it. Is it just a great similarity in styles? Or are there really some phrases lifted from JatP in the song (which was, apparently, written by Katy Perry)?

Curious ears are stumbling and want to know.

Starship and Peter Frampton in Coney Island: what a concert!

Last night, Kit and I went to the free concert at Coney Island. It was a good time.

The show started with Mickey Thomas and his new version of Starship. They did some of the songs everyone expected, along with a few we didn't. It was great to hear those classic tunes, and Thomas seems on his game. The girl he's got singing (sorry I don't remember her name) looks a little like Grace Slick, and when she belted out "Go Ask Alice," sounded a bit like Grace, too. Impressive. It was a good, ten-song set, followed by a one-song encore ("We Built This City", because how can he not do that one).

After the intermission to reset the stage, Peter Frampton came on. And that's when I realized Starship was just okay; Frampton was great! There was a bit of a shock seeing him: as many times as I've seen pictures of Frampton recently (see the Geico commercial, for instance), every time I hear his name, I picture the cover of Frampton Comes Alive, with all the hair. The current look is much older and balder, but man can he play guitar. He did a great set, about 13 songs, followed by another three-song encore. And while I can't remember the order of the tunes, I know he played all the classics we expected, along with a few from his newest album (a couple of instrumentals). And what was best about his performance was that he really seemed to be enjoying it himself, like he could have stayed on stage another hour or three.

The only bad part of the evening was that it ended about 11, and then I had to go home and work before getting up early in the morning for work, so I'm pooped. Nevertheless, I'm really glad we went. And I was surprised the park was so empty—there was a lot of room to sit comfortably without having to push other people out of the way or peer over their heads.

We're going to the concert in three weeks: Huey Lewis and the News. This time, it'd be neat to find a bunch of other people who are also up for it. I'll post more details closer to the date, but for now, consider this your invitation to join us in Asser Levy Park on 21 August. We got there about 7:30 last night, and Starship went on at 8. Next time, we'll try to be a little earlier to make sure we've got a good spot. If you want to come, bring a chair or blanket to sit on, munchies to munch on, beverage to slake your thirst, and your '80s attitude. Feel free to e-mail me if you want to be sure I'll let you know all the details.