Lex on Tom Petty (The Heartbreakers / Solo)

•October 20, 2009 • 3 Comments

“American Girl.”

Some of my fondest memories as a kid was getting out of bed on Saturday late nights, sneaking into the family room and catching a music show called The Midnight Special.  There, I could see the acts I heard on the radio, and maybe see a new artist or band.  In 1978, I saw a performance by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.  The song was “American Girl,” and I went crazy.  When I crawled back into bed at 1:30 am, I could not get the song out of my head.

The following year, after discovering songs like “Breakdown” and “Listen To Her Heart,” I saw a promo clip (later known as the “video”) of a cool tune called “Refugee” on the Merv Griffin Show.  I was galvanized by the power of the song.  It was nothing like the songs that permeated the musical landscape at that time.  It was so not disco, that it made me dance and feel alive. It became the first record I ever purchased by Tom Petty.

I remember Tom’s sold-out performances during his week-long stint at the L.A. music club that mattered most, the Whiskey Au Go-Go.  Of course, I asked my mom if I could go and see him.  Her stock answer I already knew by heart: “So you can be surrounded by long haired, pot smoking weirdos? No.”

It was around this time that I decided not to return to AM radio.  Didn’t matter.  Petty and his crew crossed over to FM in a big way.  His band and music became a main focal point for me.  They looked like they were always having fun on stage.  Petty would jump around, like he was trying his best to levitate off the stage and into the air.  He brought humor back to music.  His songs were instantly memorable, and full of life.  And when the “age of the video” came around when I was a teen, his videos were the ones that I didn’t mind seeing a million times (so much more interesting musically and visually than A Flock of Seagulls or Duran Duran).

As I have stated before, there were very few artists from the 80s that I really cared for.  Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers could always rely on me to pick up a copy of their latest work.  And their work usually had me inside of my bedroom, learning how to play their latest songs on my acoustic guitar.  I remember their live performance at Live-Aid during the summer of ’85.  I was having my first phone conversation with a girl (Julie . . . wow).  As soon as Petty and crew came on my t.v. screen, I cut the conversation short with the words, “I have to go now. Petty’s on. Can I call you back?”  I grabbed a videotape, threw it in and captured the performance.

And I never called the girl back.  I was “too busy” studying the performance.  She got mad, and found another guy to like.  I got my allowance and bought a copy of Tom’s then-current album, Southern Accents.

One of the best concerts I ever attended was a show on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ Great Wide Open Tour.  I sat with my friend, Clover Club Larry, and enjoyed a wonderful night of music.  I’ll never forget the long encores.  Tom Petty invited a few of his friends to share the stage.  These friends? Jeff Lynne, George Harrison, Bruce Springsteen, and Ringo Starr.  I felt special to witness such a gathering of some of my heroes.  I still get goosebumps thinking about that night.  Wonderful.

The music that really captured a moment in time for me was his second solo album, Wildflowers.  At that time in my life, my mom was dying from ovarian cancer.  I would spend my time driving back and forth to the hospital, listening to a cassette copy in my car, crying.  Tom’s music gave me the strength to hold myself in check.  Emotionally, I was a wreck.  I knew that things weren’t going to be the same again, and I was scared.  My mom was my rock, and I was losing her.  Tom’s music reminded me that we must all keep moving, no matter what events shape your life.

Tom still makes great music, and I never miss a chance to hear his latest.  He is inspiring, and hero in every sense of the word.  Remember the public fights with his record company?  He took on the “big dogs” to restructure a horrible contract, as well as fighting them over the 9 dollar price tag for the band’s Hard Promises album at the beginning of the 80s?  That just wasn’t the norm in those days.  He’s championed musicians and music fans alike, and for that he deserves nothing but respect.

Tom, if you should read this someday, thanks for thinking about the fans.  Thanks for the great music, and thanks for showing us musicians who came later about ethics, integrity, and caring.  Damn the torpedoes!

(Lex Neon is also known as Alex Oliver, the quirky and often eccentric musical genius of “sunshine pop / rock” band Poppermost.  Check out their music and Lex’s rock rantings at http://www.poppermost.com/).

Note: Original release date of the ‘currently listening’ album below is October 19, 1979.

Currently listening:
Damn the Torpedoes
By Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

Lex on Pat DiNizio (The Smithereens, solo)

•October 19, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Especially For You.

It was the 1980s, and I hated most of the then “uber-hip” Top 40 crap that I heard on the radio.  There were only a few bands that I thought were worth their weight and gold: R.E.M., the Police, U2, the Replacements, the Clash, and a few others.  It was a short, lonely list.  Aside from these bands, I didn’t hear too much of anything that could be called music.

And then I heard the Smithereens.

I don’t remember much about the first time I heard a song by the Smithereens.  Maybe it was the video for “Blood and Roses,” which appeared on MTV (when it was still “all music, all the time”).  It was enough for me to borrow a copy of their first full-length album, Especially For You, from Clover Club Larry.  At the time, Larry was known for his distaste for what he called “modern pop crap.”  He was ahead of the times and looked towards “alternative” music to feed his musical hunger.  So I borrowed his copy of the Smithereens’ album, took it home, and dropped the record player needle on the vinyl.

And I was hooked.

From the opening song “Strangers When We Met” to the end song “Alone After Midnight,” I heard something that was both simultaneously new and familiar.  There was something in the band’s collective soul that saluted the heroes that I admired from the 60s (the Beatles, the Who, the Kinks), but re-tooled for the modern musical world.  When I heard Pat sing “Crazy Mixed-Up Kid,” I thought that these guys were the musical saviors of my generation.  With other stand-out songs, like “Groovy Tuesday” and “Last Cigarette,” they made me believe that truly great songwriting and performance was not a thing of the past; it was still very much alive and breathing through their own music.

And Pat’s writing pushed me further into exploring the world of songwriting.

I learned most of the songs from Especially For You by ear.  I got to know the songs inside and out, and started copying Pat’s choice of guitar chords, his vocal style, and his knack for writing short, sharp, accessible power-pop tunes until I could find my own voice.  When I started working with kids at the Boys and Girls Club of Hollywood, I would bring in my guitar and play “Crazy Mixed-Up Kid” or “Behind The Wall of Sleep” for the children who’d dare me to pick up my acoustic and “play something.”

And I have to say, that “Behind The Wall Of Sleep” hooked me instantly.  I was forever falling in love with bass players who happened to be girls (a quick nod to Kathy Valentine of the GoGos – I still love you, girl!).  I understood.  I got it. And those lyrics hit me hard!

I continue to buy music by the Smithereens, and Pat’s solo stuff.  There is a craftsmanship in his writing that I cannot describe.  I can say that there is something in his voice, words and melodies that seem so effortless and direct.  Pat is one of the guys from my “awkward teen experience” that still resonates as clear as a bell.  Thank you Pat, for 25 plus years of amazing music and for the inspiration that ultimately culminated in me having the balls to find my own power-pop muse.  I love you, man!

(Lex Neon is also known as Alex Oliver, the quirky and often eccentric musical genius of “sunshine pop / rock” band Poppermost.  Check out their music and Lex’s rock rantings at http://www.poppermost.com/).

Note: Original release date of the ‘currently listening’ album below is listed as 1986.

Currently listening:
Especially for You
By The Smithereens

Lex on Paul Simon

•October 19, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Lex on Paul Simon
Current mood:  artistic
Category: Music

“Mrs. Robinson.”

It was ’79 or ‘early 80.  I was watching a rerun of the television show “One Day At A Time.”  A couple of the characters starting singing “Mrs. Robinson.”  I can’t explain the sensation I got when I heard the opening lyrics, “And here’s to you . . . ”  Somehow, I knew the words.  We didn’t have any Simon and Garfunkel in the family music library, so the song must have been in the banks of my memory.

On a weekend trip to Record Retreat, I scoured the 45 RPM single section and found a re-issue of the Simon and Garfunkel tune.  I paid a dollar and took it home.  I played it, and it was like I knew the song backwards and forwards.  After playing the song, I flipped it over and played the re-issue’s B-side.  It was a song called “Old Friends / Bookends.”  The sombre tone of the song, along with its really great orchestral backing, held me spellbound.

Turned out that Paul Simon had not only written these songs, but was also resposible for a couple of songs from my not-so-distant AM radio past.  I had heard “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover,” “Slip Sliding Away,” “Kodachrome,” and “Mother and Child Reunion,” but didn’t make any kind of connection between his solo material and the songs written while Paul was one half of what would become my favorite singing duo of all time.

The single of “Mrs. Robinson” prompted me to purchase other Simon and Garfunkel single re-issues, such as “The Sound of Silence” backed with “I Am A Rock;” “Bridge Over Troubled Water” backed with “Cecilia;” and “Fakin’ It” backed with an esquisite piece of rock poetry called “The Dangling Conversation.”  I was convinced – I had to have their albums.  I bought them one by one, starting with a greatest hits collection.  I played the vinyl until the surface of the record started to fade.  My tune, for the longest time, was one that Paul claims not to like very much, “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy).”  It was short, poetic, and made me want to really learn how to play the acoustic guitar.

Such was my love of Paul’s music that I coaxed my friend (and school choir mate) Jason into learning the entire “Greatest Hits” album so we could sing the songs until I properly learned to play them on piano or guitar (whichever came first).  I must say that I really enjoyed singing with Jason.  He had a lovely high tenor that reminded me of Art Garfunkel’s own voice.

Around this time, Paul Simon had yet another solo hit with “Late In The Evening.”  Its funky, infectious rhythm and Latin horns had me dancing.  Paul was my guy, and for the first few years of learning to play the acoustic guitar, he was my inspiration.  I purchased the “Evening” single, plus his Greatest Hits, Etc. album.  Although I was probably too young for a lot of the mature themes in his songs, I was bowled over by the emotion conveyed in them.

Album after album, song after song, Paul made me want to learn to write music.  A lot of the songs I wrote in my early teens were based on Paul Simon’s songs.  Most of these “lost gems” were overly poetic, made little sense, and sounded a lot like the songs you’d find on those Simon and Garfunkel albums.  They were terrible, if you want to know the truth; but it was Paul’s songs that gave me the inspiration to write.  His words touched me, like those of Lennon and McCartney and Dylan.

The years have flown by, but I never lost the love that I found for Paul’s work.  Musically wonderful and lyrically brilliant, his work (both solo and with Garfunkel) has been a huge inspiration and influence on my life and my own work.  For me, he is the voice of “everyman;” his words and music a still life water color of a now late afternoon of my life, dreams, and wishes.  Thank you, Paul.

(Lex Neon is also known as Alex Oliver, the quirky and often eccentric musical genius of “sunshine pop / rock” band Poppermost.  Check out their music and Lex’s rock rantings at http://www.poppermost.com/).

Please note: Original release date of this album was April 3, 1968.

Currently listening:
Bookends

Lex on Bruce Springsteen

•September 28, 2009 • 2 Comments

“Thunder Road.”

That is the title of the first Bruce Springsteen song I ever heard.  Back in the day, the Los Angeles airwaves were a live with the sound of artists that were not only creating the soundtracks of life, but inspiring legions of young musicians to get serious about their craft.  Radio was all-transforming.

I’ve written before about 94.7 KMET, aka “the mighty Met of southern California.”  On the immediate right on the radio dial was 95.5 KLOS.  KLOS’s format was a more rigid than KMET’s, but they had great deejays.  And the station had a bitchin’ commercial – a thirty second spot composed of 2 second film clips of great rock bands, framed by the stations racing track logo.

The last clip in the commercial is of Bruce Springsteen, who is seen giving it his all at the lyrical end of “Thunder Road.” He screams into the microphone, as if his life depended on it:

It’s a town for losers
We’re pulling out of here to win!

When I finally saw the clip in its entirety a year or so down the road, the entire clip hit me hard.  I wanted to be Bruce.  I wanted to pick up a guitar and sound like that.  I wanted a band to make my music sound big and great, like his.  If you ever see this clip, you will “lose it” . . . completely!

My first Springsteen record was “Hungry Heart.”  I heard it on Top 40 when it was new.  I thought it was an “oldie” that might have slipped through the waves.  I only had to hear it once to want it; to own it for myself.  When I hustled over to Record Retreat, I asked the resident “music guru and hippie” Marshall if he heard of the song.  “Heard it?  Heck, I’ve been playing it all day.  Would you like that copy with or without the picture sleeve?”

I took that record home and played it so much that the vinyl started turning gray!

Weeks later, Bruce was in town playing the L.A. Sports Arena.  Like a bad television rerun, I once again asked my mom if I could go to a concert.  Very much like the requests to see Led Zeppelin, Queen, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles, my request was shot down.  But in the following allowance I found extra cash that my mom gave me – to buy Bruce Springsteen’s then-current album, The River.

Bruce-mania was in full effect in Los Angeles, and I had my souvenir album, which I played . . . well, until the vinyl turned gray!

I would finally get to see Bruce Springsteen and the E. Street Band during the fall of ’85, when Bruce was winding up his Born In The USA tour.  And for this great occasion, I was lucky enough to have fellow Bruce “head” Curt with me; he won tickets from KLOS, and invited me along.  What a long show!  Three and a half hours of relentless rock from “the Boss.”  Only one complaint – the band didn’t play “Rosalita” that night.  They played it the following night, for which Curt won another pair of tickets.  To be fair, he took his then-girlfriend.  Was I jealous? You bet I was!

Over the years, Bruce has turned out extraordinary music.  And like all of the greats before him, he followed his artistic muse.  Sometimes the music wasn’t that “commercial.”  Sometimes it was the sound of a man growing up, growing older, and taking his fans down musical paths where very few artists are willing to go.  Happy birthday, Bruce.  You still mean the world to me.

(Lex Neon is also known as Alex Oliver, the quirky and often eccentric musical genius of “sunshine pop / rock” band Poppermost.  Check out their music and Lex’s rock rantings at http://www.poppermost.com/).

Lex on Barry Gibb (The Bee Gees)

•September 1, 2009 • Leave a Comment
I used to make fun of the Bee Gees.

In the late 70s, it was easy to imitate and poke fun of Barry Gibb’s high falsetto.  It didn’t care that I pissed off my aunt Angie, who was (and still is) a devoted Bee Gees fan.  They were, after all, not the Beatles.  Angie played the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever with absolute fervor.  While she danced and sang along, I imitated Barry and Robin, and scorned Maurice (the one that looked “funny”).  I hated disco, and that’s what they represented to me.

At some point during their heyday, they issued a double live album.  Alongside their more contemporary hits, they performed some older material that struck my brain in a funny way.  These songs included “New York Mining Disaster 1941,” “Gotta Get a Message to You,” “Run to Me,” and “Massachusetts.”  All of a sudden, I wasn’t imitating them anymore.  The songs got me right in the heart, as if I’d heard them before.

Suddenly, there was an album in Angie’s collection called Gold, which covered 60s Bee Gees’ pop song brilliance.  Songs like “Words” and “World” oozed from the speakers, and I couldn’t get enough.  The song that floored me then (and still does to this day) is “To Love Somebody.”  Barry wrote this after meeting with one of his idols, Otis Redding.  The Bee Gees’ manager told Barry to write a song for Otis to perform, and Barry’s response was this classic pop tune.  I still get goosebumps thinking about the first time I heard this song in its entirely.

So, for a while, I could tolerate 60s Bee Gees, and the soundtrack they provided for the Alan Parker film Melody.  There is something heartbreaking about Barry’s “First of May” that makes you want to cry.  His “Give Your Best” is one of the most fun songs to listen to; it reminds me of old friends and the folly of being young.

But that didn’t stop me from loathing the whole disco era Bee Gees phenomena – until Clover Club Paul showed me the light.

On a trip to his house to get more gear for a Clover Club jam session, Paul played “How Deep Is Your Love” in his car.  I groaned aloud, something to the effect of “Man, not this.  Why this?”  While waiting for our red light to go green, he said, “Listen to that clean, simple production.  The melody stays in your head when you’re not thinking about it.  The vocal harmonies are inventive and crisp.  How can you not like this song?  When you get a chance, listen to it as a piece of music, not as disco.”

Paul, of course, was right.  I bought the sheet music and discovered that it was inventive, and a complete bitch to learn (it took me weeks to figure it out).  Once I did, I couldn’t stop playing it because it was fun.  I played it on acoustic guitar at some shindig my ex-girlfriend dragged me to, and the girls at the party could not get enough of that song.  Seems that girls really dig love songs for some odd reason.

Not long ago, I purchased a DVD called This Is Where I Came In, which documents the Bee Gees’s history from the late 50s onward, just before Maurice’s untimely death.  I guess the old saying is correct; it’s never too late to learn new lessons.  I learned that making fun of my aunt Angie’s beloved Bee Gees was just ignorance on my part.  I also learned that Barry Gibb and his brothers provided a soundtrack for millions of people for decades.  Not many artists can claim this, but it holds true for the brothers Gibb.  I learned that there are road maps to greatness buried in their songs.  Every songwriter should study the writing of Barry Gibb.

Thanks, Angie!  I will still send you original 60s and 70s Bee Gees vinyl when I locate them.

Happy birthday, Barry.  It finally came into focus for me, but it took 30-plus years to realize that you’ve been a part of the soundtrack of my life all of this time.  Your songs are awe-inspiring and classic.  How would you like to work together on a song sometime?

(Lex Neon is also known as Alex Oliver, the quirky and often eccentric musical genius of “sunshine pop / rock” band Poppermost.  Check out their music and Lex’s rock rantings at http://www.poppermost.com/).Readers:  Be advised that Best of Bee Gees was originally released in June 1969

Currently listening:
Best of Bee Gees
By The Bee Gees

Lex on Jerry Garcia (The Grateful Dead)

•August 23, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I was 16 years old, and could replicate familiar guitar lines by Hendrix, Page, Clapton, and Van Halen with pretty good accuracy.  I was always practicing, and watching as much footage “classic rock footage” that I could get my hand and eyes on.

Via FM-TV, one of the hipper, early video shows, I saw a vintage ’72 German TV performance of the Grateful Dead performing “One More Saturday Night.”  I was riveted.  The band’s inter-connected rhythm really hit my musical heart in the right way.  When Jerry started his solo, I thought, “I gotta learn to play like that dude.”

Jerry didn’t sound like any other player I’d ever heard before.  Jerry’s tone was like a lonesome wolf’s howl in the middle of rhythmic grace.  I thought that he looked like an evil Svengali-figure with a heavy beard.  Through the clip, I wrongfully got the impression that he was “just the Dead’s guitar player.”

When I started to study the Dead, one of my first starting points was, fittingly enough, a German vinyl pressing of Skeletons From The Closet, the first Dead “greatest hits” compilation that belong to a friend.  One song that quickly became a favorite was their version of “Turn On Your Lovelight,” the Bobby “Blue” Bland song.  When Garcia hits that first solo in the song, I felt the hair on my arms tingle.  It had the steam and weight of a freight train, and it rambled on in an organized chaos of sound.  For a long time after, it was “my” song to tackle.

When I picked up my guitar to attempt to follow Jerry’s solos, I instantly found myself bum-fumbling all over my fret board.  My automatic assumption was that “since they’re a rock band, they’re based in blues, too.”  To my surprise, only a fair amount of what Jerry was playing was blues.  His style was cut with other types of music, such as country, bluegrass and folk.  The combination created a weird musical “psychotic reaction” in my head.

(Sidebar:  Note to Tex:  I know you don’t like the sonic ambiance of the recording, but get past that.  It’s all about the fun, camaraderie, and music in “Love Light.”  And how can you resist two drummers? Hmm?)

As a young player, this lead me down musical paths that I hadn’t thought of exploring.  I also found that trying to replicate Jerry Garcia’s skills as a soloist really put blisters on my young fingers.  But that’s okay.  He was all about “making it up as you go along.”  His telepathy between his musical soul and his fingers is still a wonder to behold to this day.

I’ve recommended a lot of Dead albums in other blogs, but check out Skeletons From The Closet.  It’s a fun introduction to Garcia and company.  It’s got just enough of the first 6 or so albums to get you hooked.  It’s even got that smokin’ live version of “Love Light” that contains the solo that was a real, live musical lesson:

Don’t be afraid to attempt to play any genre of music.  If you really love music, it will come to you.

(Lex Neon is also known as Alex Oliver, the quirky and often eccentric musical genius of “sunshine pop / rock” band Poppermost.  Check out their music and Lex’s rock rantings at http://www.poppermost.com/).

Note: Original release date of the Skeletons From The Closet album is February 1974.

Lex on Mick Jagger (The Rolling Stones)

•July 28, 2009 • Leave a Comment
Although I knew about the Rolling Stones from my uncle Will (who blasted “Miss You” on his car stereo system during the latter half of ’78) and the film Apocalypse Now (17-year-old Laurence Fishburn dances on a gun boat to “Satisfaction”), it was Casey Kasem who truly flipped the switch for me around 1980.

Kasem showcased the top musical acts of all time on a special edition of his “America’s Top Ten” television show.  At number two sat the Stones.  He presented a clip of the Stones, circa ’64, live in concert belting out a version of the Chuck Berry classic “Around and Around.”  There, I saw a youthful Mick Jagger holding court.  He belted out the lyrics to the song in a zombie-like state, staring down the screaming girls in attendance.  When the musical break in the song came around, it happened.

Jagger started jumping around like a mad man, dancing around and clapping his hands, while the band kept the rollicking rhythm of the song in check.  I was glued to the television, and couldn’t take my eyes off the screen.  Young Jagger was what I wanted to be – even at this early point in his career, he was a star.

For me, he was the first “real” authentic English rock and roll star.

I had to see him up close.  With a little luck, some lying, and a $13 ticket, I conned my way into seeing the Stones up close and personal when their ’81 concert tour brought them to L.A. to play at the Coliseum.  I sat through the Clash, Santana, and Prince (who had bottles hurled at him during his performance).  The Stones were fashionably late, played for 2 hours, and took off via helicopter during the fireworks display at the end of the show.  Not wanting to go home afterwards, I hopped the fence of my old elementary school and slept on the outside lunch tables until it was “safe” to go back home.  I had a new band, and I was in musical nirvana.

Besides the more recent “Emotional Rescue” and “Start Me Up,” I spent the rest of that year buying as many singles as Record Retreat held in their bin of classic 45 RPM records.  “Paint It Black,” “Ruby Tuesday,” “Street Fighting Man,” “Honky Tonk Women,” “Happy,” “Get Off My Cloud,” and “Jumping Jack Flash” all seemed fresh and new to me, even though the songs were written and recorded shortly before my birth.  I moved on to the albums, one by one.

It was inspiring, collecting the albums one by one.  The band’s early output was mostly covers of music written and made famous by black rock and blues legends.  By the time ’66 rolled around, they were a great pop band on the same level as the Beatles (check out Aftermath and Between The Buttons for proof).  By the time they hit their classic period (’68 – ’72), they were a rock band in every sense of the word.

Proof that they just might be “the greatest rock band in the world” hit me in the ear with their classic album Let It Bleed.  If you want to hear what sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll was all about, you have to hear this particular album.  It sounded more dangerous than a band of gangster hoodlums coming at you brandishing stilettos and guns.  You’ve probably heard the most well-known tunes off the album (“You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” “Gimme Shelter,” and “Midnight Rambler”).  But if you explore further, you get such rock gems as “Live With Me,” and “Monkey Man.”  You even get to take a little trip up the country with great tunes such as “You Got The Silver,” and “Country Honk,” a country-fried version of their classic single “Honky Tonk Woman.”

The momentum kept up with Sticky Fingers (“Brown Sugar,” “Bitch,” and “Can You Hear Me Knocking”) and Exile On Main Street (“Tumbling Dice,” “Rocks Off,” and “Happy”).  They’d reach another peak in ’78 with Some Girls (when I first became aware of how good they were), and yet another peak with Tattoo You, which turned me into a Stones fanatic (“Start Me Up,” and “Little T & A”).

I got to see a lot of Stones footage, thanks to the advent of home video systems.  Jagger’s voice and mannerisms would always be a source of inspiration when I was a teen musician and songwriter.  In interviews, he would always compare himself to a “stripper, just dancing around and taking off bits of clothing.”  It was always much more than that to me.  He expressed raw intensity and emotion in his vocals and his dancing.  He and his band introduced me to the music of my own culture.

Mick Jagger and company made “rock and roll” dangerous.  They made it glamorous.  They made it druggy.  They made the dream of performing every night to screaming fans the dream of millions of young kids, including me.  Jagger is the consummate front man.  His performances pulled you in, and made you think, I want to do that.  His lyrics were the voice of every kid in the street who needed to express himself through wild gyrations, keen and sharp lyrics, and memorable riffs.

For visual reference on this great rock frontman, check out the films Ladies and Gentlemen, The Rolling Stones (1974), The Rolling Stones: 25 x 5 (1989), and the great documentary of the infamous free concert at Altamont called Gimme Shelter (1970).

On July 26, Jagger celebrates another birthday.  I just want to say that I love the man, and his work.  You can look at all facets of contemporary rock and pop music, and there is NO ONE who comes close to being his equal.  At 40, I look with a jaundiced eye at what Jagger has accomplished and wonder, “Who could do better that that now?”  Thanks, Mick.  Thanks for a thousand dreams and inspirational moments.  Thanks for making me take charge of my teenage life, and contemplate growing up, and growing older.  You are truly a “one off,” and I just love you.

And just for the record, Rolling Stone magazine often sites “Satisfaction” as the number one single of all time – I disagree and go with “Get Off My Cloud.”

(Lex Neon is also known as Alex Oliver, the quirky and often eccentric musical genius of “sunshine pop / rock” band Poppermost.  Check out their music and Lex’s rock rantings at http://www.poppermost.com/).

Note: Original release date of the ‘currently listening’ album below is November 28, 1969.

Currently listening:
Let It Bleed
By The Rolling Stones
Release date: 2002-08-27