Blue Cheer at 10 Years Old. What is the Allure of Music for Some People?

I found this little piece by Chuck Klosterman blared on a Twitter feed and it made me ponder that same thing: Why do we like the music we like?
For the life of me, I cannot figure out why seeing Blue Cheer playing “Summertime Blues” on a Saturday afternoon television show in early 1968 sent me running across the field behind my house to a department store to buy the single. I was all of 10 years old, but that music sang to me like no other. The brutality of it seemed so artistic. Again, this hit me like this as a pre-teen.
Klosterman lists a number of passages in songs that make him crazy for them. For the most part, he likes what I consider crap — hair metal, pop divas, bad new wave – but the way he crafts his story is excellent. I can think of passages that move me to this day, as can he.
For example:
The first 26 seconds of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds doing “Babe I Got You Bad,” before the vocals come in and Mick Harvey pushes that keyboard just a little bit;
Nearly halfway through the song “False Jesii Part 2” by Pissed Jeans, all the instruments come together just before it all stops for an eight count and resumes – the crescendo is a perfect spot of noise;
The typewriter solo on “China My China” off Brian Eno’s Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy. I always stop everything when that hits.
On the version of “Silver Paper” off Mountain’s live Twin Peakslp, at 5:10, Leslie West sings one last verse after the monstrous roar of his guitar has enveloped the entire song. But when he sings again, it feels so spare and simple, which the song is, that West delivers the song at the end of the bombast. Bob Mann’s keyboard helps it along;
When Mark Lanegan begins to sing, that moment, on “Ode to Sad Disco” from Blues Funeral, he’s got the whole song wrapped up in three lines, a longing, lush voice amidst a, yes, sad disco beat;
Keith Richards singing background on any song from Exile on Main Street. I had a rental car and Exile on CD one time and had to make a long drive. The stereo was cheap enough that it only played parts of the songs, and those parts were always the backing, blasting upper registers of Richards behind songs like “Loving Cup,” “Torn and Frayed” and “Sweet Virginia.” I learned one more thing about Exile that day – Richards made the whole thing; Lou Reed’s band comes back with full on guitar blare at 3:58  on “She’s My Best Friend” from Coney Island Baby. As a teenager I first realized that was the coolest thing ever.  Still do. The guy who made it happen was Bob Kulick, a studio musician who later put some touches on albums for Kiss and Meatloaf. I must like those kinds of dynamics, the show of power;
Led Zeppelin was born to create perfect lines of music. Where to start? The opening to “Song Remains the Same”; the entire guitar track to “Rock and Roll” performed live at Madison Square Garden in 1973; the point, at 3:20 on “Ten Years Gone,” where the solo, which is actually pretty weak, trails off and the vocal kicks in with Bonham behind it, pushing the song forward. It never goes back to tame again after that; the unnamed instrumental guitar meanderings of Jimmy Page on one of those multi-disc bootleg collections.
When the Kills do “Fuck the People” on Keep on Your Mean Side, the chorus never leaves you, when she sings “Hey, fuck the people.”
There are tons of these perfect tunnels of sound. I can never figure out why I may have had a seed that grew into a love of music. Sure glad I never grew up in that way.

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2 thoughts on “Blue Cheer at 10 Years Old. What is the Allure of Music for Some People?

  1. Anonymous

    Dizzy by Tommy Roe [or Row?] set me off, gee what does that say about me! Same thing though, had to run out and by it [at about 10 years old].


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