Category Archives: 2001

Of Concerts Past: Garland Jeffreys at the Tin Angel, Dec. 14, 2001

img_0459And so it’s finally come to pass: the Tin Angel closed its door on Feb. 4th, a fate expected since the announcement of the building’s sale last fall. The plan, according to owner Donal McCory and booker Larry Goldfarb, is to re-open at a different (and larger) location by the end of the year.

Diane and I saw many shows at the intimate 115-seat venue through the years, from the early 1990s to last year. One memorable concert: Maria McKee in 1998. Another: Garland Jeffreys in 2001.

The Brooklyn-bred singer, songwriter and reggae-infused rock artiste has been making music since the 1960s, but most folks likely remember him from his remarkable run in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, when he released a string of excellent albums, including Ghost Writer and Escape Artist, and was frequently heard (in Philly, at least) on AOR radio with such songs as “Wild in the Streets,” “Cool Down Boy,” “35 Millimeter Dreams,” “Matador” and his cover of “96 Tears.”

This Wikipedia entry goes in-depth into his career. If you read through it, you’ll know that he took a break from music for much (though not all) of the ‘90s; and then re-entered the music arena during the summer of 2001.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention another salient point: Diane turned me from a radio fan to an actual fan. It was she who discovered he was playing this specific show, in fact, and convinced quite a few of our friends to attend it, too.

garlandtinangelAnyway, my memory of this show, which saw Garland accompanied only by longtime guitarist Alan Freedman, was that it was hypnotic. I don’t recall many of the specific songs performed, unfortunately, though I imagine they included the ones featured above. What blew my mind: an extended excerpt from a psychodrama-like musical play he was writing at the time, Spook House. The protagonist was named Bolden; and the extended scene, if I remember it correctly, involved Bolden and his departed mother. It was powerful, dramatic and spine-tingling.

I also remember this: a sterling rendition of “New York Skyline” closing the show. That was but a few months after 9/11, of course, and I’m sure my – and everyone’s – reaction to it was colored by the emotions of the time. It was jaw-droppingly beautiful.

In the years since, we’ve seen Garland more times than we can count. He’s released two excellent albums – The King of In Between (2011) and Truth Serum (2013) – and has now embarked on making a PledgeMusic-backed documentary and album.

Today’s Top 5: #Remember911

wtc82Every other day of the week, month, year and decade began the same as it did that Tuesday morning. I rolled out of bed, communed with the cat, made and drank coffee, and hopped online for a spell. That meant, at the time, checking my email, reading the latest digests from the Rust List and Lee Shore (Neil Young and CSN email groups), and then scanning the headlines on MSNBC (now NBCNews), CNN and the Philly Inquirer. It’s a routine I still keep, actually, though the email groups have been replaced by Facebook and, some days, Twitter.

Weather-wise, it was a nice late-summer/pre-fall day in the Delaware Valley; by the time I left for work, a few minutes before 9am, it was in the mid-60s. The car radio was tuned to KYW-1060, the all-news radio station; I hadn’t even backed out into the street before learning that a plane had crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. It was thought to have been a tragic accident involving a small plane. Minutes later, news broke that another plane had crashed into the south tower.

My main memory of the day: watching the tragedy unfold on a TV in the chief assignment editor’s high-walled cubicle office. It was beyond comprehension. It still is.

For today’s Top 5: #Remember911. The first four videos come from the America: A Tribute to Heroes broadcast, which aired 10 days later. The last comes from U2’s halftime performance at the 2002 Super Bowl.

1) Bruce Springsteen – “My City of Ruins”

2) Alicia Keys – “Someday We’ll All Be Free”

3) Dixie Chicks – “I Believe in Love”

4) Neil Young – “Imagine”

5) U2 – “Where the Streets Have No Name”

And two bonuses (also from America: A Tribute to Heroes)…

6) Mariah Carey – “Hero”

7) Sheryl Crow – “Safe and Sound”

Paul McCartney: Wingspan Documentary

wingspanIt seems like a lifetime ago. And, in many ways, it was. In 2001, I worked for TV GUIDE in its listings department – we wrote the descriptions that the whole world (or, at least, some in the U.S.) read. We also wrote in-depth Close-Ups (or, at least, as in-depth as 500-600 characters could be) for the magazine; and longer essays for the TV GUIDE Web site. For whatever reason, likely my love of music, I was the designated backup writer for the Music Guide, which was featured in the black-and-white section every week. The late Fred Mitchell – as good a guy and colleague that I’ve worked with – was the primary.

I think that’s why Paul McCartney’s Wingspan fell to me, though I could be wrong. Prior to its DVD release, it aired on ABC here in the States; and the general rule was that the same writer handled every aspect of its coverage. It was featured in the Music Guide. Received a Close-Up. And was picked for a longer essay for the Web site. Thus, I got to interview the director of the documentary – Alistair Donald, who was Paul’s son-in-law at the time. (He’s now an ex-son-in-law.)

Anyway, in those days, editors held much sway at TV GUIDE; and different editors had different philosophies. Some changed every word. Others made minor corrections. I cannot remember who handled this particular essay and, in many respects, it doesn’t matter – this was my final draft. So, regardless of who edited it, or how it was edited, this is how I intended it to be. That said, I do remember the editor sending a note justifying my use of the “f” word to a higher-up; it may well have been the first, and likely last, time the “f” word was used in any TV GUIDE product.

With all that said, here ’tis is:

“You tend to forget the bad moments,” says Paul McCartney of juggling a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle with raising a family. That also doubles as a deft definition for Wingspan, a wonderful travelogue that celebrates his and wife Linda’s flight through the 1970s (11 albums; 10 tours; four children) via home movies, concert footage, TV clips and recent conversations between McCartney and his daughter Mary. “It’s a film of the family by the family,” notes director (and Mary’s husband) Alistair Donald. “It’s how they put together this musical piece and raised a family. It’s [told] through their eyes.”

The overview picks up in 1967, when rock photographer Linda first met Paul at London’s legendary Bag o’ Nails club. “The band was Georgie Fame & the Blue Flames,” they both recall—

And therein lies one of the most charming aspects of the film: Linda’s remembrances. “The idea was that they’d both be interviewed,” recalls Donald. Her untimely passing, however, led him to search for an alternative method to add her voice to the proceedings. “We read an article written in Melody Maker that was written in 1973 while they were on tour with Wings. It was just an article done on Linda. We got in touch with the journalist and [asked], ‘Listen—you didn’t record that interview, did you?’ He kind of went up into his attic and got this old tape.” That and the other archival interviews add an insight to the film that is as touching as it is bittersweet.

For instance, following the dissolution of the Beatles, Paul and Linda retreated to a remote, dilapidated farm in the Scottish countryside. “It was a three-room house with rats in the walls. It was derelict, it was at the end of nowhere. It had no hot water, anything. But, it was some of the best years of my life,” reflects Linda. As she speaks, a home movie fills the screen; McCartney’s “Heart of the Country,” from his Ram album, filters in—and you’re suddenly thrust into their lives, seeing it through their eyes. For a moment, he’s no longer “Beatle Paul” and she’s no longer the “American divorcee” who helped breakup the Beatles. They’re simply a husband and wife, very much in love, who dote on their kids—like so many other young married couples.

Of course, one of the major criticisms of Wings centered on Linda’s involvement in the band—a topic broached here. “It was a very gutsy thing for her to do,” reflects Paul of her decision to play keyboards. And, as she intimates, the barbs did hurt. “It’s like sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will break my heart. So, who listens?” For the record, it should be noted that Linda did in fact contribute to Wings’ success—the infectious reggae break in Wings’ smash single “Live and Let Die”? She wrote it.

Another frequent criticism directed at Wings centered on the music. While Wingspan doesn’t address that issue head-on, give a listen to the songs that accompany the visuals. Many are, indeed, certifiable hits—“Maybe I’m Amazed,” “Live and Let Die,” “Jet,” “Band on the Run,” etc. As often as not, however, the soundtrack features such off-beat treats as the rollicking b-sides “Oh Woman, Oh Why” and “The Mess”; and overlooked gems “Back Seat of My Car” (from Ram), “1985” (from Band on the Run) and “Call Me Back Again” (from Venus & Mars). They more than back up the statement that daughter Stella McCartney made, via her shirt, when she accompanied her father to his (overdue) induction into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1999: “About f-ing time.” In other words: give the man, and his music, his due.