Thursday, August 22, 2013

Two more oral histories

Oral histories -- they're everywhere now!  I singled out these two mainly because of the one interesting factoid in each that sort of blew my mind.

First, an oral history of Maxwell's in Hoboken, NJ.

The good: Makes you feel as though you were actually there.

The bad:  An incomplete, all too brief history, they skipped the middle of the story and presented just the beginning and the end.  It seems they could have elaborated more on what they had -- how many more gold nuggets like the Korn story are left to be told?

The factoid: Bruce Springsteen filmed the video for "Glory Days" at Maxwell's!  I had no idea, but it makes perfect sense.  Go Bruce.

Second, an oral history of "Be My Baby" on its 50th anniversary.

The good: Not a whole lot.  A lot of the key figures in the story have passed away (or are in prison), so perhaps we should be thankful to get any stories at all.  It's a little sad to present an oral history with only three interviewees, one of whom had no connection to the original recording.  Maybe that's the best thing to come out of this -- I listened to Eddie Money's "Take Me Home Tonight" about five times in succession after reading this.  Great tune, awesome chorus, and I hadn't realized it was his biggest hit.  So there's that.

The bad: The article revealed absolutely nothing that we didn't already know.  I've thumbed through Hal Blaine's autobiography and this interview was just more of the same, in short, how can he be so dispassionate about everything he's done in his career?  He's played on literally hundreds of legendary rock songs, but to hear him talk about it, everything was just a gig, they did the jobs they were hired to do, the Wrecking Crew were pros, etc.

The factoid: The "By My Baby" beat is the same rhythm as that on Sinatra's "Strangers in the Night" (which Blaine also played on)!  It's sped up and played with more emphasis, but it's the same!  I couldn't believe my ears -- this is up there with the "More Than a Feeling"/"Smells Like Teen Spirit" riff stealing that nobody notices or even suspects until it's pointed out to you.

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