03.26: Steven Tyler was born on this day in 1948. Steven, Steven, Steven. Whatchya doin', man? You've reigned over hard rock for the nearly four decades, with your cohorts in Aerosmith. You've had some serious ups and some serious downs, and we thought you'd learned your lessons. Guess not. Really? Really? You're gonna quit the band, strike out on your own, and put out a solo album? How high were you when you made those statements? Pretty damn high, we think. Maybe that's why you came back a few days later, telling everyone what they already knew, that you were pretty whacked out on some "stuff." We're glad you realized some things about yourself, about your addictions, about how you need Aerosmith in your life because it doesn't get much better than a downright dirty and rocking Aerosmith show. Then you had to go pull a Paula Abdul on us and join the circus. Maybe you're just bored with the whole rock star bit. Maybe you wanted to put Aerosmith back in the minds of the whippersnappers of today (then go out on tour again, wink, wink, nudge, nudge). Maybe you just don't care anymore. Whatever the reasons: Happy Birthday, Steven! 03.27: Jerry Garcia was pulled over for speeding on the New Jersey turnpike on this day in 1973. Apparently, Jerry was on his way to a drug convention or something because the fuzz found marijuana, cocaine, and LSD in the car. (Might be one of the reasons his nickname was Captain Trips.) Yeah, they took him to jail. He spent three hours in the hoosgow and was eventually given a suspended one-year sentence. Jerry, as always, during the initial arrest and the subsequent court appearances, greeted everyone with a smile, shaking hands, beaming with his inimitable and amiable nature. The arresting officer is quoted as saying, "He was such a nice guy, we hated to bust him." We love Jerry. His music. His storied life. Most of all, though, we love his laugh. We would've loved to hang out with Jerry, listen to his stories, listen to him pick out some tunes on a guitar. We just wouldn't want to drive anywhere with him.
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03.18: On this day in 1965 The Rolling Stones cemented their rock 'n' roll image when Mick, Keith, and Bill were each fined £5 each for urinating in front of a public filling station after a concert in Essex, England. How very rock 'n' roll of you, fellas.
03.20: Never, in the history of rock and roll, has more vitriol been spewed at one person, more bad language been spent cursing that person's name, and more nonsense been heard than when certain people talk about Yoko Ono and what said people perceive to be her role in the break-up of The Beatles. The truth of the matter is that the only thing that broke up The Beatles was The Beatles. They were ready to move on. They'd conquered the known world, in a time of world conquerors, had evolved with a speed that would've turned Darwin's head, gone from mop-topped teeny bopper band to a psychedelic powerhouse that challenged the way music is made. They'd done it all in less than a decade, so what more was there to do? Say "so long" and move on to other things, that's what. Why, oh why, do we bring this up? Because this day in 1969 marks the anniversary of the day John Lennon and Yoko Ono married in Gibraltar. Though The Beatles were officially still together at this point, they hadn't played live together for years (save for the rooftop concert, which, in our opinion, rocks, but wasn't a real show) and didn't even record together, instead choosing to record their parts separately for Abbey Road. And it wasn't Yoko's fault. Far from it. Business got in the way of friendship and the guys had had enough. We can mourn that they didn't put out anymore albums together, especially in the wake of their last two magnificent (aren't they all, though?) albums, Abbey Road and Let It Be, but when we are left to look at the Beatles cannon today, we can say that it is amazing and complete and an incredible journey from Liverpool to a dingy club in Hamburg to The Ed Sullivan Show to Shea Stadium to the known world. And John loved Yoko. So, blah to all you people who think she broke up The Beatles. You are wrong.
03.12: Who does the phrase "singer/songwriter" make you think of? Bards wandering the English countryside, singing tales of yore and adventure? Itinerant musicians going from dustbowl town to dustbowl town during the Great Depression, singing for their supper, spinning tales of despair and loneliness? Yeah, us neither. To us a singer-songwriter is someone like Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie and our good friend James Taylor, who, coincidentally enough, is celebrating a birthday this week. Born in Boston on this day in 1948, Taylor went on to become the most sensitive of all the sensitive singer-songwriters, sensitively singing sensitive songs, such as "Fire & Rain" and Carol King's "You've Got A Friend." Taylor was to the '70s singer/songwriter what Lil' Wayne is to the '00s rapper. That is, ubiquitous, über-talented and on top of his game (though not doing time for illegal gun possession). Happy Birthday, Sweet Baby James!
03.12: On this day in 1969 Paul McCartney married Linda Eastman at Marylebone Registry office in London. And so began one of the great rock 'n' roll marriages. She, the incredible photographer, and he, one of the biggest musicians on the planet, joined forces and became romantically, financially, and spiritually entwined. Bucking the rock 'n' roll trend, from then and now, of short marriages, spotted with ego problems and infidelity, Paul and Linda were one in the same for nearly three decades, until her death at the much-too-young age of 56 from breast cancer. A devastating end to one of the most enduring loves in rock. We like to look to the happy times, though.
03.05: Sadness, yet again, as we lament the passing of another seminal singer before their time. On this day in 1963, a private plane carrying Patsy Cline crashed in severe weather, on its way to Nashville, where Cline wanted to be, so that she could get back to her kids. She was 30 years old. That Patsy portended her own death only adds to the sadness for us. She'd been telling friends for months that she felt her end was near, that she sensed doom on the horizon, that she'd already survived two bad car accidents that nearly killed her, so a third accident would be the end of her. She began to ask close friends to take care of her kids if anything ever happened to her. She tended to her estate, getting her things in order. Yes, this was weird then and it is weird now because maybe she did have a sense of her own death, a sense of the end of her time on this earth. It is unnerving to think that someone can know this. It brings into play so many other questions without answers and all leads back to one place for us. That is, we are not in control of our own destiny. Yes, heady stuff. But that's what Patsy's death brings out in us, beyond the sadness of a life gone too soon. She offered so much to the world, to women in country music, and to women everywhere. She showed everyone that women could play with the good ol' boys in Nashville and beat them at their own game, that women could put out hit after hit and hold their own within the male-dominated country music scene of the early '60s. From "Walkin' After Midnight" to "Crazy" to "I Fall To Pieces," Patsy's emotion and assertiveness comes across loud and clear. She was a wonder to behold then and to listen to today. That she chose collaborators of exceptional quality and chops further cements, in our head, at least, her intelligence and tenacity in seeking out something that hadn't been heard before in either country or pop music. She bridged the two genres, accompanied by gorgeous orchestration and arrangements, showing the world what it'd been missing all along. That she died so young probably added to the adoration which is heaped upon her, even 50 years later, but this is the way it always is with those who've died young, at the top of their respective games. Their lives are stuck in amber, frozen in time for all to see, for all to wonder what could have been, to marvel at what was, and mourn the passing. Today, however, as with all such days, we choose to celebrate their lives. Today we raise a glass to Ms. Cline.