Being intoxicated with art, or music,
emotions or ideas
is the gateway to the world of spirit,
to God and other dimensions
where the voice of the soul
–the writer in me
Here are the songs mentioned in DANCE OF THE ELECTRIC HUMMINGBIRD and the links to purchase them:
“Open” – Sammy Hagar**
**This song was released only on iTunes as a single. It is no longer available, however, there may still be some videos of it on Youtube.
Mike St. John of DRUMline with drummer Kenny Aronoff
In May, 2012, while waiting in St. Louis to interview Chickenfoot’s drummer Kenny Aronoff, Mike St. John of DRUMline interviewed me about my book DANCE OF THE ELECTRIC HUMMINGBIRD and Sammy Hagar.
St. John also wrote the following review about my book:
Music is transcendent – maybe it puts you in a better mood or reminds you of your past. Good or Bad, music has the power to move us emotionally, spiritually…even into action. In her book ‘Dance of the Electric Hummingbird’, Patricia Walker chronicles her spiritual journey to self realization sparked by a Sammy Hagar concert in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Walker, not familiar with Hagar at the time, is dramatically and spiritually moved during her visit to Hagar’s Cabo Wabo Cantina while on vacation with her husband. Maybe she leaves herself open to inspiration because the fun of being on vacation in a remote location and the power of music causes her to forget the rigors of daily life…being a wife and mother in Colorado.
Back in Colorado her life is consumed in the routine of preparing meals and getting the kids off to school…existing but not really living. On her journey, Walker opens herself up to feelings and reinforcing signs that life can be enjoyed as well as lived. Often the signs she receives are birds…symbolizing a spiritual presence accompanying her personal growth.
Walker’s transformation is extreme and she does encounter cynicism and questions the validity of what she has experienced. Each chapter opens with inspirational quotes which help open the reader’s mind to the possibilities being explored…although it’s gonna take a journey for anyone to change. One of my favorite quotes from the book is:
‘Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don’t live it, it won’t come out your horn.’ – Charlie Parker
Patricia Walker ultimately acknowledges the signs she repeatedly receives and decides to live a fuller more joyful existence. She doesn’t progress in a bubble, however, and invites the reader to discover the possibilities of fulfillment and joy. It’s an interesting and inspirational read (available on Amazon.com) and a challenge to live life to the fullest. Hey Patricia, did you know Charlie Parker’s nickname is ‘Bird’?
A HUGE thank you to Mr. St. John for the great interview and book review and no, I did not know Charlie Parker’s nickname was “Bird.” But after all the magical and mystical things that have happened to me on this journey, that does not surprise me one bit.
Please visit http://www.drum-line.net/blogtwo.html and http://www.drum-line.net/home.html as this is a wonderful and informative site dedicated not only to drummers and professional musicians, but to those of us who are music lovers as well. I am deeply honored to be included alongside such incredible and inspiring artists.
Posted July 1, 2009
There are so many things I should be doing other than writing about this, but the unexpected death of Michael Jackson has thrown me into a tailspin. Death does that to us. Just when we think we’re going on our merry way, thinking we need to make sure we put the trash out on Tuesday, or get the bills in the mail before they’re late on the 15th, suddenly we are body-slammed by something much more powerful, something that makes us realize how very precious each day is.
I was expecting Farrah Fawcett’s death, but it was still a tragic loss. What a beautiful lady she was; she had indomitable class and she presumably maintained those qualities right up until the end. I used to love watching her on “Charlie’s Angels” in the ’70s and my brother had her famous poster on the wall in his bedroom. Farrah and her fellow actors back then—Jaclyn Smith and Kate Jackson, showed us that women can be both sexy and strong.
Unfortunately Farrah’s death was overshadowed by that of Michael Jackson’s…
My youngest son came home from work and told me the news. As when I heard about the death of John Lennon, at first I thought it was a joke.
And to a lot of people, apparently it is a joke. While I was in the grocery store the other day, I overheard a man at the check-out telling jokes to the clerk—jokes about Michael Jackson’s and Farrah Fawcett’s deaths. I can take a joke with the best of them, but when I heard what he was saying, something cold and slimy seemed to crawl up my spine. I wanted to say, “Have some respect for their families, will ya?” but I knew if I opened my mouth, I’d be inviting trouble with a man who had already passed judgment on a person he didn’t even know.
The fact remains that none of us will ever know what really happened with Michael and the boys he was accused of sexually molesting. Sure, like O.J. Simpson, he was acquitted. But I have a different opinion of the O.J. case and I won’t go into that. Michael, on the other hand, was a different story. While he was obviously an eccentric person, I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt about the molestation. (I am in no way condoning his behavior however.) Not because he’s dead, but because from what I’d seen on television and the news, Jackson was robbed of his own childhood. Because of this, he seemed to spend his entire life searching for it. I remember seeing an interview with him once. Michael climbed up in a tree and the reporter on the ground below him asked, “You’re 45 years old, Michael, aren’t you a little old to be climbing trees?”
“It’s fun!” Michael chirped, “you should come on up!”
Eccentricities aside, Michael Jackson was and always will be an icon. I saw him carry the huge responsibility of being frontman for The Jackson 5 when they first appeared on TV with their huge afros. How cool that was! He was the same age as me when they became famous. I can only imagine the immense burden this role would be on anybody, much less a child. And he went on to change the world; Michael truly did bridge a gap between races. His music appealed to all; his dancing talent inferior to none.
What makes someone a celebrity in the first place, is the fact that their personification reveals a part of ourselves many of us have a hard time getting in touch with; it doesn’t matter if we like them or not.
And whether one feels disdain toward him or awe, the name of Michael Jackson has affected us all. Let us not dwell on the negativities associated with his name, especially since the worst of his accusations was never proved. Perhaps it is our own insecurities and inequities that produced the sad and lost soul that tormented him in the first place. Let’s heal his wounds right now by not carrying them, in the form of our judgments, any further. Let’s remember the man for the gift of love and immeasurable talent he gave the world.
May you rest in peace, Michael, thank you for brightening my life with your music.
May you rest in peace, Farrah, thank you for showing me that true beauty can also be strong.
Aug. 11, 2009
Author’s note: I wrote the following over a week ago. It has since become news that Aerosmith’s lead singer, Steven Tyler, fell off the stage at the Buffalo Chip Campground during their concert in Sturgis, SD on August 5, 2009. According to www.rapidcityjournal.com, Tyler was reported to have broken his shoulder and sustained stitches in his head.
Godspeed and healing, Steven!
(Aerosmith stage curtain photo by maduarte)
* * * * * * *
My sons say I’m out of the loop and that may be true to some extent. During the late ‘70s and most of the ‘80s when others were enjoying rock ‘n’ roll, I was busy trying to survive as a single mom, so I missed out on a lot. But I’m making up for it.
I guess there has to be a first time for everything, and Aug. 1 was the first time I’d seen Aerosmith in concert.
They played with ZZ Top at Fiddler’s Green in Denver. The ticket price was outrageous, but I’d been reading a lot lately about the many injuries the members of Aerosmith have sustained during the past few months so I figured I’d better go and see them. It may be my last chance to experience one of the legendary rock bands of my generation.
Lead singer Steven Tyler had recently had a bout with pneumonia and pulled a muscle in his thigh, warranting the cancellation of several scheduled stops on this tour. You can’t very well replace a lead singer with a voice and face like his. Bass player Tom Hamilton survived throat cancer a few years ago and is currently recuperating from “non-invasive” surgery. David Hull, who played with Aerosmith in the past, is now covering for Hamilton. Guitarist Brad Whitford hit his head and had to have emergency surgery, requiring him to sit out several shows. Lead guitar player Joe Perry had to have knee replacement surgery twice.
See what I mean? So I paid the $150 per seat ticket price and went. A man sitting next to me said that his friend had done sound or something for them years ago. “Even the Grateful Dead said they’d never seen anyone who did as many drugs as Aerosmith,” he told me. I guess it’s a miracle they’re still kicking.
Anyway, I won’t critique each song or style because I’m not intimately familiar with their music. However, I will give you a first-timer’s perspective.
ZZ Top opened the show and they always rock. I’ve seen them before and it never ceases to amaze me that a three-piece band can put out such a big sound.
Aerosmith came onstage when the sun was going down. They played most of my favorites: “Sweet Emotion,” “Dream On,” “Rag Doll,” “Walk This Way,” “Dreamweaver,” and “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” They sounded great although Tyler and Perry seemed winded much of the time. It was the altitude in Denver, I’m sure. Not an out-of-state singer’s best friend.
Every live show I’ve seen recently has had one aspect that really stuck out for me. This time it was Steven Tyler. He has to be the consummate rockstar—the very embodiment of the word. At 61, he still looked and sounded fabulous. He was dressed in silver, glittery tight pants that accentuated his tight ass and his lean, toned body. He wore a black tank top with the Aerosmith logo on it in rhinestones and had about 10 bracelets on each wrist. His fingernails were painted with a strip of black down the center of each one.
Now I’m not normally one who thinks men who wear makeup and nail polish are sexy, but I have to admit, Steven Tyler is sexy.
He knows how to hold his body and his long thick hair just right to create maximum effect. He has all the rockstar moves down to a science—perfect spins, suggestive poses, hip thrusts, and a special mic stand which he hauled everywhere. It had his initials painted on it and was decorated with sheer and glittery scarves that hung to the floor. He used them to slide back and forth between his open legs or wrap around his face throughout the show. Several times, he demonstrated his proficiency on harmonica and once on drums.
The lighting was the most elaborate setup I’d ever seen. No wonder this concert cost so much! Colored lights on huge sections moved up and down above the band, there were smoke machines and fans to blow the performer’s hair and clothing just right, even a fake fire flaming around Joe Perry during one solo. Above the stage were four large screens that moved up and down and played various scenes or showed close-ups of the concert. My favorite was when each screen had huge moving flames on it. Combined with the music, the smoke and the red and orange bars of lights and single lights whose beams crisscrossed across the stage, I felt like I was in rock ‘n’ roll hell and it was heaven!
Joe Perry did an amazing job. Like Tyler, Perry is another consummate rocker—he has that refined, rock star attitude. The tour was called “Guitar Hero: Aerosmith Presents Aerosmith,” and was a combination of the game and Perry playing live. He had a duel with his Guitar Hero caricature after which, he asked the audience: “Who won the match—me or the cartoon?”
Of course there was no comparison.
At one point, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons came out for a jam session. It seemed that touring with Aerosmith has affected “That Little Ol’ Band from Texas,” because they brought out an extra amount of spice from one another. And Gibbons’ voice, well, like Tyler’s, is legendary. Uh hm, hm, hm…
From the opening blast, where the stage curtain dropped to the floor, revealing thousands of shooting lights, the sparkling performers and the thunderous music, I was so glad I went. These boys may be getting up in years, but you’d never know it to see them; they still have it. And they’re doing it up in a big way—rock ‘n’ roll that pounds the “Sweet Emotion” out of you the way it should be!
Aug. 22, 2009
Melissa Etheridge is one performer I’ve always wanted to see live in concert. Since the late ‘80s, her raspy Janis-Joplin-vocal-style has always fascinated me.
I’m not one who’s normally impressed by singers with harmonious voices that sound like the trickle of water in a backyard pond as it slides over carefully-polished stones (although I love Bocelli). My soul is stirred by the ones who scream from deep down in their personal torments of love, anger, frustration, elation, and blow those sweet, meticulously-placed rocks to bits.
Melissa does this. Has always done this.
On August 15, 2009, she performed for Bohemian Nights 2009 in Fort Collins, Colorado, as part of her “Live and Alone 2009” tour. She took the stage with just her guitar, but then played piano during a rendition of a Joan Armatrading song. She also played harmonica, telling the audience that a solo performer sometimes needed a harmonica. Nice reference to Dylan.
Etheridge, who is a breast cancer survivor, said that she now sees life in a new way, and one of her most passionate songs was “I Run for Life,” about that very thing. “I run for the truth, for all that is real,” she sang. The message that came through was the unselfish need to be there for others, to remind them that the “C” word is not a death sentence. I can’t think of a better purpose for a song than to inspire others.
This was powerful and her sincerity contagious.
She also played a lot of my favorites: “Chrome Plated Heart,” “Like the Way I Do,” “Bring Me Some Water” (which has always been my favorite Etheridge song), “Come to My Window,” “I’m the Only One,” and “I Want to Come Over,” in which I could feel her longing for understanding pounding out with every syllable.
Melissa’s appeal is her honesty. I heard so much angst in her songs—the kind that flows in the veins of great rock music and merges with the chords like a potion that heals from the inside out. Her music is clearly a yearning for self-understanding—isn’t that what we all long for?
She also sings a lot about angels and love, but not in a soft way. Melissa’s got rock ‘n’ roll boots and she’s going to stomp you with them!
Like most out-of-state musicians, she seemed a bit winded due to the altitude, but toward the end of the show, she really kicked it into gear: hair flying and literally beating the notes of out her guitar. For an encore, she did a Janis Joplin tune “Piece of My Heart.” I don’t know a whole lot about Melissa, but Joplin had to have been a very big influence for her musically.
Toward the end of the concert, a college-aged girl next to me in the crowd was jumping up and down, pumping her fist in the air and screaming at the top of her lungs, causing those near us to stare. She kept apologizing to me, saying: “I’m really sorry; I swear I’m completely sober. Melissa is my very favorite!”
I just smiled. “You don’t have to apologize. You’re supposed to have a good time. That’s what it’s all about!”
And that’s also the difference between a person who merely gets up onstage and plays a guitar and someone who makes you feel it!
I was even lucky enough to get one of Melissa’s guitar picks. (I collect them.) On one side, it says: “The Dreams We Create” —another positive omen for me, I take it.
Oct. 22, 2009
Sammy Hagar recently celebrated his birthday at his Cabo Wabo Cantina in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico with five days of rock ‘n’ roll, commencing on October 7 and culminating with his birthday “party” on October 13. You’d never guess by looking at him that he’s 62; he looks at least 20 years younger and has more energy than most 30-year olds—still touring around the world with his latest band, Chickenfoot.
The final concert of the birthday bash was almost cancelled due to the rain, which fell nearly every day and flooded the streets. Luckily it held off long enough for the show to take place, resuming its incessant misting (it doesn’t really rain down there, it mists heavily) by the time all was said and done.
I was fortunate to be able to acquire tickets to each show, a feat that’s becoming increasingly difficult to do. This is because the requirement for getting tickets is having to wait in line all night on the cobblestones of Mexico’s cockroach-ridden, dusty sidewalks, and this time there was an added bonus—it was raining.
Each year my body convinces me that I won’t do it again next year. And yet I do. Why?
Because there is something magical about Cabo. And because in Cabo Sammy lets his hair down a little more than he does while on tour. And also because you never know who might show up to jump onstage and join the party. In the past, there have been such music legends as Ted Nugent, Jerry Cantrell, Billy Duffy, Toby Keith, Kenny Chesney, Chad Kroeger, and many others. This year the bash was in full swing as Sammy and Michael Anthony (former bass player of Van Halen) repeatedly snagged other people’s drinks off the trays of passing waitresses and helped themselves to a swig. They then replaced the drinks, but not before refilling them with tequila from the bottles chilling in the buckets onstage.
The first two concerts were laced with some of Sammy’s older songs: “Plain Jane,” “Your Love is Driving Me Crazy,” and “Turn Up the Music.”
There was also a nice mix of his more recent work, such as “Cosmic Universal Fashion,” and “Loud.” A real treat was Sammy’s performance of “High and Dry Again.” I had never seen this performed live and for me, it was one of those rare moments where I couldn’t help but let go and become completely lost in it.
They played a lot of Van Halen tunes during the last two shows: “Best of Both Worlds,” “Poundcake,” and “Dreams,” a few tributes to Led Zeppelin and a bit of Sammy’s more famous songs such as “Rock Candy,” “I Can’t Drive 55,” and “There’s Only One Way to Rock.” Of course no Hagar concert would be complete without the performance of “Mas Tequila” and “Cabo Wabo,” and this week’s bash was no exception.
Another highlight for me was “Let Sally Drive.” I guess this is why I also love the music of Janis Joplin—there is something so animal and soul-baring-raw about the screams.
During show #2 on Oct. 8, The Wabos, Sammy’s band consisting of Hagar on vocals, Vic Johnson on guitar, Mona on bass and David Lauser on drums, started out with an unusual version of “Rock and Roll Weekend,” with Dave and Sammy switching places: Dave sang lead and Sammy took up the drumsticks. It wasn’t long before Sammy announced, “I don’t know how you do it!” and Dave handed the mic to Sammy while asking the audience if they wanted to hear the song done right. The Wabos had been on “hiatus” while Sammy toured with his new supergroup, Chickenfoot this summer, so I’m sure it felt good for them to be onstage together again.
The most memorable show of all was when Chickenfoot took the stage on October 10, with Joe Satriani on lead guitar, Sammy on vocals, Michael Anthony on bass and Chad Smith (drummer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers) on drums. That afternoon, the gift shop suddenly had “Puttin’ the Foot Down at the Cabo Wabo” tee shirts for sale and the fans were asked to wear their Chickenfoot gear because the show was going to be recorded.
Chickenfoot’s performance seemed less passionate compared to the two previous shows I’d seen, (see my concert reviews dated May 20, 2009 and Sept. 15, 2009). Even so, I love the heaviness of their sound and the sheer power it puts forth to the audience. My favorite Hagar songs are like that too, the ones with a darker feel, like “Serious JuJu” and “Psycho Vertigo,” where there’s a deeper, cutting edge. It’s music that bites you in the ass—hard—and leaves its mark on your soul. Chickenfoot accomplishes this with every note.
Between songs, Satriani smiled and sipped his waborita while Anthony chugged tequila straight from the bottle. Chad Smith seemed a bit tired and he didn’t interact with the audience like I’d seen him do in the past, but he managed to pound the drums with the exuberance he’s famous for, and he tossed out a few drumsticks into the crowd.
“Get it Up” was by far the best performance of the night—the vocals and the relentless explosion of the music was a throbbing, intimidating force.
“Oh Yeah” also seemed to be a favorite, as the band had the entire audience singing along, cheering and raising their drinks above their heads.
Throughout the show, Joe just stood there so cool, so collected and cranked out a storm, like Tropical Storm Patricia that was wreaking havoc outside that night. At one point, he started to play Robin Trower’s “Bridge of Sighs.” Mikey and Chad joined in, with Mikey singing lead. They only played a teaser of this, but it sounded magnificent—psychedelic and rich, and I desperately wanted to hear more. I swear Satriani can play anything; and he makes it look as effortless as breathing.
During the show of the 12th and 13th, drummer Matt Sorum, from Guns ‘n’ Roses, The Cult and Velvet Revolver stepped in, joined the party onstage and played drums for a few songs. Way to go, Matt!
On the 12th, as Sammy consulted the six foot long setlist taped onto the stage speakers, Mikey quickly jumped in and began to play the opening bassline to “Runnin’ with the Devil” with his teeth. The Wabos soon joined in, but Sammy didn’t seem too pleased as he stood in the background with his arms folded across his chest, allowing Mikey to sing lead for the duration of the song.
“I think I pissed him off!” Mikey said afterward with a huge grin.
Chef Emeril Lagasse opened the show on October 13 and also played percussion for a song or two.
At the end, as everyone sang “Happy Birthday” and balloons floated down from the catwalk above the crowd, Sammy’s face was shoved into a chocolate cake, which he then proceeded to fling, whole, into the crowd. I was glad I wasn’t within firing distance.
I would like to have been able to provide you with a more comprehensive concert review, but I didn’t take notes during the shows. As it was, Sammy already scolded me for taking pictures while everyone else was clapping to the beat, saying “Put your f—ing camera down and clap your hands, dammit!” with a big smile on his face. So I guess taking notes would have been out of the question. I know, I know, I know, who takes notes during a rock concert? Um, writers…
Great music, great party, as always.
Nov. 2, 2009
We arrived at the theater early so we could get a good seat. I thought we’d have to wait in line forever. I thought the place would be crammed with fans wearing one white glove, Michael tee shirts and holding “I love Michael” signs.
This alone made me sad.
Maybe it’s my age, I thought. Or perhaps it’s where I live—maybe a lot of people have espoused the belief that Michael Jackson was a pedophile.
I’ve posted my feelings about that before, so I won’t go into it here. See my entry of July 1, 2009 if you’re interested.
Whatever the reason, there were only a handful of people in the theater. Too bad for those who didn’t make the effort.
I have one word for this film: SPECTACULAR.
It wasn’t about Michael Jackson’s plastic surgeries, “Neverland” or the allegations brought against him in the past. “This Is It” was about the man’s musical genius. Period.
And he was. He transcended gender. He transcended race. And in this movie, he transcended the ultimate performance.
I have never been what you would call of fan of Jackson’s. I don’t even own any of his albums, and as my husband and I walked out of the theater the other night, I realized why. It’s because Michael was like my brother. I didn’t need to buy his music, he was just always there; I grew up with him. He and I were about the same age and I distinctly remember seeing him on TV way back in the ‘70s, wowing audiences as he outshined his brothers as lead singer of The Jackson 5—with their loud, striped, bellbottom pants, puffy ‘fros and all. I was rooting for him way back then, like a sister on the sidelines.
“This Is It” is footage from the long-anticipated Michael Jackson tour that never happened. It shows dancers auditioning and working tirelessly to give a perfect performance. It shows the sound people, musicians and special-effects crew. The sheer volume of people involved, not to mention the amount of money and props it must have taken to put on a live show of this magnitude is something I’m sure I could never comprehend. There were life-sized bulldozers, giant spiders, a cherry-picker, a black and white mini-film with Jackson spliced into Humphrey Bogart movies for “Smooth Criminal,” a complete theatrical graveyard scene for “Thriller,” a short jungle piece showing all kinds of animals and a little girl with a dream for a new world, and pyrotechnics to blow your mind. These are just the ones I can remember, and each one was a separate production of its own, done sparing no expense in any aspect. Everything was over-the-top perfect plus another 75 percent.
And then there was Michael. Looking extremely thin (I’d read somewhere that he weighed about 130 lbs. when he died), he was dressed in sequined jackets and layers of shirts, soft-spoken and rather timid, repeatedly telling people “God bless you” and “I love you.” But when he sang and danced, I realized that Michael had to have been the most talented performer the world will ever know. Even though these were only rehearsals, his moves were so spot-on precise, they seemed almost computerized. How could anybody dance like that? The film showed clips of “Human Nature,” with Michael bathed in pink and purple lights singing “Why? Why?” and it brought tears to my eyes. His intensity, his thirst for perfection and the depth of his soul was nearly palpable, and he wasn’t even giving it all he had; he was saving his voice and strength for the real performance yet to come.
There were a few shots of the Jackson 5 on a split screen, dancing and showing their explosive beginning. There were clips of Michael singing “I’ll Be There,” and it really moved me—the sound of his velvety voice with just the right amount of vibrato, combined with his complete command of his body—a finely-tuned instrument in kind, was amazing.
During “Billie Jean,” someone in the theater behind me actually shouted “Woo hoo!” and it made me smile. Jackson moved his body like ocean waves, flowing from the bottom up and the top down, and the way he looked right into the camera at one point, gave me a glimpse into his soul. What I saw was beautiful.
Throughout the film, I kept trying to think of how I could describe the power, the beat of his songs—so different from what I usually listen to, but larger than life, like Michael was. For lack of a better term, it was professionalism and sheer talent above and beyond, and it pulled me into its heart the way great music does. And I thought too, about how he had become a puppet for our amusement, with a sad and serious face who only smiled once. (I realize these were rehearsals for his big tour, and that’s serious business, but from watching this, I didn’t get the feeling that Michael was happy.)
I thought Aerosmith put on a high-tech, high energy concert, but every live show I’ve seen, now pales in comparison to what Jackson was doing.
I had no idea.
After watching “This Is It,” all I can say is that I desperately regret that I had never seen Michael perform live at least once. It made me realize too, how short and unpredictable life is and that I should do more of the things that make me happy and do them more often.
If you’re in the least bit inclined to go see this movie, DO IT NOW while it’s still on the big screen for another week or so.
June 7, 2009
Recently released June 5, 2009! Click on CD cover above to purchase, or go to www.chickenfoot.us/ to download the MP3 version for only $3.99!
* * * * *
I can see where many have prejudged this album. Based on the short teasers on Chickenfoot’s website, I was initially guilty of the same. Portions of “Soap on a Rope,” “Down the Drain” and “Oh Yeah” were available before the album was released and I have to admit, when I first heard them, I was disappointed. I thought: “I wanna be your hoochie koochie man?” what kind of lyrics are those? Immediately there came visions of Charro… scary.
And the teaser of “Down the Drain,” caused me to think: here we go again, he’s singing “I need love in the morning and I need love first thing in the evening.” Come on, give me some substance…
It was the same with “Soap on a Rope.” When I first heard it, I thought: oh, no, not another song about sex and drinking…
Well, I was wrong. After seeing Chickenfoot live in San Francisco, I was truly wounded. In a good way. In a fantastic way. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it was not the caliper of what I got that night. I wrote a review of the show, so I won’t repeat it here. Check out my post of 5-20-09 if you’re interested.
As for the album itself, I have to say that this is one of the best rock sounds I have ever heard. Yep, right up there with Zeppelin. The surprising changes in these songs are one thing that makes them exciting and memorable. Just when you think this is gonna be a slow song or it’s gonna go this way or that way, it changes and lights up into something completely different. It’s a pleasure to listen to, an honor, really. The songs showcase each of the musicians to their fullest. They really sing. Each of them, although not always with their voices.
The intro to “Avenida Revolution” slithers like a forbidden snake up your spine. Chad’s drums grab you RIGHT NOW. Sometimes the drums have a Native American feel. This song is an unexpected explosion with a dirty, nasty, dark, heavy rock beat. Sammy’s scream at the end, buries it deep. Satriani, Smith and Anthony all have small solos which highlight their outstanding talents.
The shining moment for me in “Soap on a Rope,” is when Joe’s guitar quakes with riffs reminiscent of SRV (Stevie Ray Vaughan) and is accompanied by a bend uuuuuup that takes you up with it. Also during one of the guitar moments, there’s a point where I can’t tell if the sound is created exclusively by Satch’s guitar or if Sammy is moaning along with it. If it’s just the guitar, I’ve never heard this technique before and it’s brilliant. “Soap on a Rope” bounces with a happy beat. It makes you feel good.
In “Sexy Little Thing,” Sammy will be criticized for his songs about drinking and sex, but it wouldn’t be Sammy without that. Although I was initially guilty of thinking the same, “Sexy Little Thing” is one of those tunes that makes you have to move your ass; you can’t sit still. The guitar starts out sounding a bit like a mandolin and then kicks into gear. It’s a catchy tune and a lot of fun.
“Oh Yeah” has a dark sort of feeling to the middle of it. It tastes a lot like the chord progression in the Beatles song “Because,” which is one of my all-time favorite songs ever. It builds and explodes, then falls back down, rising again with a guitar solo.
“Runnin’ Out” is a political statement about the struggle to hold on to hope. “Long after the mud has settled, you left us with a dirty man…” and “we’re running out of heroes” is a clear message about disenchantment with the Bush administration.
“Get it Up” has a melodic, rolling bassline that really stands out. It’s so full of energy, you can’t escape its impact. I love the repeated references to the word “round.” Even Joe’s guitar seems to convey the feeling of swirling in some places during the song. Chad gets a chance to wail on drums and Mikey can clearly be heard screaming his distinctive backing vocals in this song, giving it all he’s got.
Without doubt, “Down the Drain” captures Chickenfoot’s unique sound from the first note. I love the lyrics “do me when I’m dirty;” that really seems to express the voice of this band. It’s their statement. This is another song I had misjudged based on the small sample on their website. I thought this song lacked substance. I wanted more than what I had initially heard. Well, this song is loaded with substance. Maybe not in the context of the lyrics, but in the music itself. The music here is so phenomenal, it doesn’t lack for anything. Chad and Mikey’s contributions to this band are forefront in “Down the Drain.” And Sam’s scream at the end just seals this song, wraps it up, seals it nice!
My least favorite song on the album is “My Kinda Girl.” It’s not a bad song; it just doesn’t stand out for me.
I already wrote my impression of “Learning to Fall:” “There is something beyond the words here, beyond the melody. It drifts just below the surface and weaves itself with Joe’s guitar and the beautiful flowing harmonies. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Sam’s voice contain so much depth. It reveals something intimate about him that he feels compelled to share and yet wants to guard because maybe it’s just a little too personal to give away—and would they get it even if he did? But it shines through anyhow; he can’t help it, and it glides and caresses like fine cognac slipping down your throat and warming your insides.”
This is by far my favorite on the album. My only criticism is that I wish they would have given me time to recover from “Learning to Fall” when they played it live, before they went into the next song. I missed the first half of “Turnin’ Left” because I was so taken with “Learning to Fall” that I couldn’t tear myself loose from it!
Joe’s remarkable guitar skills are in their glory in “Turnin’ Left.” This is a heavy-hitting, hard-driving rock song that moves fast right from the beginning. Again Sammy and Mikey’s combined screams give this song power, accompanied by the hammering beat and music. Is that a scream combined with the squeal of the guitar or just a perfect blend of musicianship? Great high-energy piece.
“Future in the Past” begins rather funky, then turns the corner and takes on a middle-Eastern flavor. It spins like a belly-dancer’s flowing silk veil, taking you in different directions, then climbs into a hard rock bend. This is another favorite for me. There are a lot of twists here. I think the lyrics contain more meaning than they originally exhibit.
“Bitten by the Wolf” didn’t grab me at first. But when it did, it became another of my favorites on this CD. I heard things in Sammy’s voice I’d not heard before, except perhaps a taste in Van Halen’s “Apolitical Blues.” Sammy can sing the blues. Only a singer with this much depth of soul can pull this off to this height. Some strategically-placed emphasis on certain words like “muddy,” demonstrate his talent beyond doubt. With the gravelly soul sound of a raw blues singer, it goes through me like a jagged shock of lightening.
Sammy said this song was about vampires; I didn’t get that impression–except for the lyrics “we gonna live forever,” which I couldn’t figure out how that had to do with New Orleans.
There is not a bad song here.
Chickenfoot has single-handedly revived rock ‘n’ roll! This album is destined to become a classic.
P.S. Their performance on The Tonight Show with Conan did not adequately convey the authority of Chickenfoot. While they did a good job, something seemed off. Perhaps Joe’s and Mikey’s mics were turned up too loud and it distorted the sound because this was not the raw power of the band I witnessed in San Francisco or the extraordinary talent I hear on the CD!