“I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen.”
In 1974 music critic Jon Landau made this bold claim.
Well, I’m no Jon Landau nor have I been visited by any Dickensian Ghosts but I do believe I’ve just seen rock and roll past…and it resembles the Yeti…in white.
The missing link between Stevie Wonder ’72 & James Murphy ’05
Here’s the song that blew me away when I heard it a few months ago:
Part soul man, part funk meister, this anti-hipster from Richmond, Virginia knows how to pay tribute to the greats without ripping them off.
And if White resembles any part of the future of rock and roll circa 2015, I’m in.
THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD.
For about 10 years between 1997 and 2007 there was no activity I spent more time on than reading about music. But before we go there, a brief history…
I came into pop music consciousness in late 1980, early 1981. I clearly remember listening to John Lennon’s (Just Like) Starting Over climb up Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 shortly after his death.
One too many “long distance dedications”
If the warmhearted DJ was also a big part of your youthful weekends, you might enjoy Casey’s little studio meltdown (warning – contains explicit language): Meltdown
Eventually my love for the iconic countdown waned, but not for music.
I spent countless hours practicing my fall-away jumper to the sounds of the Thompson Twins and The Doors blaring out my bedroom window.
In defense of my 14 year-old self, I recently heard the Twins’ If You Were Here and was amazed by how good it was…but that could very well be a case of nostalgia clouding judgement. Any thoughts?
Music was front and center of everything I did through high school, college and beyond.
What changed around 1997 was the reading part.
Sure I’d picked up the occasional Rolling Stone in high school but it wasn’t until living in Far East Asia in the mid-90’s that I learned to appreciate the written word…
Finding an English book or magazine in Inchon, South Korea in 1995 was like finding high-speed internet in Siberia during a snowstorm.
However it was in a tiny shop close to the DMZ where I picked up an indie sampler CD featuring two artists that would change my life forever.
Jeff Buckley’s Grace would go on to become one of my favorite songs of all-time and Wonderwall, well, more on Oasis later.
A few years after my stint on the Korean border, I landed in the more pop-friendly city of Matsuyama, Japan.
Matsuyama even offered a full-fledged Tower Records where I made regular purchases of CD’s and magazines. The year was 1997 and the Union Jack was everywhere.
Faster than a cannonball…
It was at this time I picked up a copy of The Beatles newly released Anthology 3 “warts and all” collection.
It should be noted that in addition to the comprehensive BBC Anthology series, the Gallaghers had played a big role in the renewed interest in the lads.
So while buried in Brit Pop at its drug-addled peak I was discovering late-period Beatles, beards and all.
Lennon’s suit look familiar?
It also happened to be the first time in my life I was living alone. I cooked, read, even exercised in the confines of my tiny flat, making for an intense listening experience – every word, every note, every joke intimate.
Here’s one from Paul Ramon, Winston Legthigh and mates circa ’68: Los Paranoias
The listening had suddenly shifted from dorm room passive to Cracker Jacks box active – a familiar setting from my childhood.
A few years later I’d be living in a new country, no longer alone but with the reading part at full throttle. There was even a point at the dawn of the new millennium when I found myself subscribing to three music magazines at once.
Needless to say, there wasn’t a whole lot of work getting done at the breakfast table. But after years of intense listening I was starting to connect some big dots…
“So before the Stones, Ronnie Wood was with The Faces…and before he was a Face, he and Rod Stewart played with The Jeff Beck Group…and what about that first band that turned into the Faces, those little guys? They were damn good”…and so it went.
Incidentally, the music I love most today was crystallized through all that digging.
As long as I’m alive I’m convinced that pop music will never be better than The Beatles between ’65 – ’69, The Rolling Stones from ’68 to ’72 and a handful of other greats during those same years – many of whom you just might hear in White’s humble musical output.
HEY HO, LET’S GO.
But rather than take my word for it, let’s play a little game.
It’s called “The Matthew E. White Tribute Challenge”.
Here’s how to play:
- Watch video, listen to full song (eyes closed if helpful).
- Which artist and song does White’s track remind you of (more than 1 answer possible)?
- On a scale from 1 – 10, how do you rate his song/tribute?
- Challenge #1: Steady Pace
- Challenge #2: Rock & Roll is Cold
- Challenge #3: Feeling Good is Good Enough
Please share your answers with me in the comments below and I’ll let you know if they match mine. Happy listening!