erik lundegaard

Music posts

Saturday May 19, 2018

Still Crazy After All These Years

Paul Simon Homeward Bound

Went with my friend Jim to the Paul Simon “Homeward Bound” concert at Key Arena last night. Not sure what else was going on, but Lower Queen Anne was packed. I met Jim at 6 PM outside Toulouse Petit, thinking we'd head into their first-come-first-serve Happy Hour pit; but we talked to a guy, next in line seemingly, who'd been waiting 20 minutes. Peso's was even worse. So we wound up across the street at the Tin Lizzie Lounge, a bar/restaurant associated with the Mediterranean Inn, which was also overwhelmed and/or understaffed. Orders never arrived; drinks took forever. But it was pleasant enough, and for whatever reason there were some astonishingly good-looking customers there. It felt a little like that secret club on “Seinfeld.” I felt like George, who somehow snuck in. 

The show at Key Arena began just as we were taking our seats. Paul opened with “America,” and talked a a bit about the current state of America, without really naming names. His voice, at 76, started rusty but soon hit its stride. Can't hit the highs (no “You can call MEEEE ... AL”) but skated through the middles. He's also in astonishingly good shape. Dude's got guns. Did a lot of fluttery hand movements throughout—like his version of Elvis' latter-day karate poses. I wondered if the movements began as physical therapy. When you do one thing all your life, your body often rebels. 

His backing band was great, and he did a lot of favorites, but he mostly has favorites. Is there a more fun-filled all-American song than “Me & Julio Down by the School Yard”? It's nearly 50 years old now but feels contemporary, and I thought of the video versions I knew:

I also flashed back to an argument I had in junior high with my best friend Pete and his brother John. It was 1977, we were in their basement, and for some reason we argued over who was better—Paul Simon (me) or the Bee Gees (them). I wound up storming out and we didn't speak for months. I was that odd junior-high kid whose favorite musician was Dick Cavett's favorite musician. 

What didn't he play that I wanted to hear? A few thoughts:

I also would‘ve liked to hear more from his first solo album, Paul Simon, or his second, There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, both of which feel underrated to me. But what are you going to do? There's so many.

Here's his set list for the night, 25 songs in all. A third encore is mentioned, but in truth, after the four songs of the second encore, he dismissed the band, stayed, and played the final two, including “The Sound of Silence,” with just himself and his guitar on stage. A fitting end: A poet and his one-man band.

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Posted at 08:51 AM on May 19, 2018 in category Music
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Wednesday March 28, 2018

This Wrecks Me

Mark Harris posted this video on Twitter yesterday and I watched it once, was impressed, assumed it was a guy singing about a girl. Then I read that it's from the annual MisCast gala, in which Broadway performers sing a song for a part they wouldn't be cast for. I was like, “Why wouldn't he be cast for this? Oh, it's from ‘Waitress’? And it's the title role singing? Oh, about herself? She's singing to her younger self?”

Then I listened again. And lost it. Heartbreaking. And what a rendition from Jeremy Jordan. 

Here are the lyrics from Sara Bareilles:

It's not simple to say
That most days I don't recognize me
That these shoes and this apron
That place and its patrons
Have taken more than I gave them
It's not easy to know
I'm not anything like I used be, although it's true
I was never attention's sweet center
I still remember that girl
 
She's imperfect, but she tries
She is good, but she lies
She is hard on herself
She is broken and won't ask for help
She is messy, but she's kind
She is lonely most of the time
She is all of this mixed up and baked in a beautiful pie
She is gone, but she used to be mine
It's not what I asked for
Sometimes life just slips in through a back door
And carves out a person and makes you believe it's all true
And now I‘ve got you
And you’re not what I asked for
If I'm honest, I know I would give it all back
For a chance to start over and rewrite an ending or two
For the girl that I knew
 
Who‘ll be reckless, just enough
Who’ll get hurt, but who learns how to toughen up
When she's bruised and gets used by a man who can't love
And then she‘ll get stuck
And be scared of the life that’s inside her
Growing stronger each day ‘til it finally reminds her
To fight just a little, to bring back the fire in her eyes
That’s been gone, but used to be mine
Used to be mine
 
She is messy, but she's kind
She is lonely most of the time
She is all of this mixed up and baked in a beautiful pie
She is gone, but she used to be mine

It's the “mine” that really nails it. “She used to be me” would be ordinary. “Mine” puts it on another level. I think I've listened/watched 20 times now. Your turn. 

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Posted at 09:08 AM on Mar 28, 2018 in category Music
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Saturday December 09, 2017

'Man Shot, 1 West 72'

I should've posted this yesterday, on the ... which was it ... 37th anniversary. Almost as many years as he spent on Earth.

NY Daily News on the day John Lennon was killedWhat an inspired way to write the column, telling of the lives of the cops who picked up the body and brought it Roosevelt Hospital in New York. Part of it is brutal reading: another body, but not another body, in the violent country he desperately wanted to live in, on the cusp of our most violent year. He didn't even get an ambulance? Just cops picking him up and carrying him into the backseat of their patrol car? And still alive. And still aware. “Are you John Lennon?” A nod and a groan. The intersection of these cops' lives with the man they brought in. And that brilliant last line that feels more relevant than ever:

And Jim Moran and Tony Palma, older now, cops in a world with no fun, stood in the emergency room as John Lennon, whose music they knew, whose music was known everywhere on earth, became another person who died after being shot with a gun on the streets of New York.

Rest in peace, John. Rest in peace, Jimmy Breslin, 52 when he wrote this, 88 when he died earlier this year. 

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Posted at 09:13 AM on Dec 09, 2017 in category Music
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Thursday July 13, 2017

Trump Protest Songs: Elvis Costello's 'Sunday's Best' (1979)

It's from 1979 but ain't exactly dated. It begins this way:

Times are tough for English babies
Send the army and the navy
Beat up strangers who talk funny
Take their greasy foreign money

And it ends this way:

Put them all in boots and khaki
Blame it all upon the darkies

Add it to the list. Crazy what you could've had. Crazy what you could've had.

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Posted at 11:11 AM on Jul 13, 2017 in category Music
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Tuesday June 27, 2017

Dear 'Dear Evan Hansen'

I first heard about the musical “Dear Evan Hansen” from my hairdresser Todd, who returned from a trip to NYC a few months ago raving about it above all other Broadway musicals he'd seen there—including, believe it or not, “Hamilton.” Then he began posting videos from the show on social media. Then “Dear Evan” won the Tony for best musical and for Ben Platt, its young lead.

Here's Platt singing “Waving Through a Window” on “Late Night”:

This is how it begins:

I've learned to slam on the brakes
Before I even turn the key
Before I make the mistakes
Before I lead with the worst of me

Give them no reason to stare
No slipping up if you slip away
So I got nothing to share
No, I got nothing to say

I totally identify. It feels like an update of Thoreau's “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” It reminds me of this line from a “Mad Men” episode a few years back that hit home:

“I have been watching my life. It's right there. I keep scratching at it, trying to get into it.”

It's a lesson most of us have to keep relearning, apparently.

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Posted at 07:03 AM on Jun 27, 2017 in category Music
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