Sunday, March 12, 2017


FreeThinke said...

BRAVO! Much finer arrangement the the Simon & Garfunkel original, which I always found tedious.

Hope to hear more from the excellent singing group.

FreeThinke said...

Full of subtle harmonic changes and imaginative, expressive counterpoint completely absent in the original.

Great composers like Bach, Mozart and Beethoven frequently took simple folk tunes, or drinking songs of their day, and fashioned them into wonderfully wrought sets of variations or inserted them as a theme in a movement of one their symphonies. The more banal the tune, the greater the challenge –– a challenge they always look up with relish.

This fine group does something similar with the S&G original.

Jersey McJones said...

Ah, Paul Simon...

Ya' know, FT, the version you referred, that's not
how Simon wanted it. The studio added (too much) "sound" (electric guitars, hard drums) and the song was tedious and messy. But when played right, it's a beautiful song. Personally, I think these guys went a little corny with it.

I used to cover him quite a bit! But not that song. Not sure why. But a whole bunch of others - Me & Julio, Still Crazy, Loves Me Like a Rock, 50 Ways (I made a heavy metal comedy version of that one called 50 Ways to Beat Your Lover! LOL! No, not PC!), just so many.

I remember one time, I was hanging out in Washington Park, waiting for some friends to go hit Bleecker, I was still a kid, and there was this dreary-looking, I guess early Grundge, band and they had their guitars out and were practicing and they were just terrible. Just a turd in the stream of consciousness, and it was annoying me. So, never being one to follow the protocol of musicians, I say to one of these guys, "Hey, let me see that guitar," as it was a nice Ovation 12 string (that may as well have been a ukulele in his hands). So the guy, very nervously says, "Okay," and hands me this guitar. Meanwhile, there's this middle-aged black guy, thin, worn, but strong, watching me and this scene and digging it and laughing and goading them to let me play the guitar. So, I say to these guys, "This is how you do it..." and I play "Keep The Customer Satisfied" (, my personal rockabilly version, and rocked the shit outta the park that day. The black guy, immediately recognizes the song, and starts street dancing and singing along, and he's amazing, and a big crowd gathered round, and clapped along and laughed and sang and had a great ol' time. I'll never forget that day.

Then there was the time I was lying on a table, not very long ago. The tech was scanning me with an ultra-sound and it was, let's just say, not fun. I was a mess. So, she asks me some questions about myself, and I mention I was a performer when I was younger, and she says, "You know, sometimes it helps if you try to sing. Think of a song you really like, and sing it while I do this, and it will help." So, at first I'm not into it. But my wife's at my side, and she says, "C'mon, just sing," and I can't say no to her, so there I was, bare and suffering on a table, and I sang "The Boxer" ( It was the first thing that came to mind. I still know it like my own face. It really made me feel better. Like I was still a child in bed, my mom playing that song on guitar and singing for my brothers and I to put us to sleep. I wound up living that life in that song. It was something. And the fighter still remains. ;)

Thanks, guys. That really, really helped me just now. And FT, thank you, my friend. ;)


Jersey McJones said...

Oops! Washington SQUARE Park! (fro those unawares)


Thersites said...

Great song choice Jersey. I love the sign-posting in Paul Simon's verses:

I am just a poor boy
Though my story's seldom told
I have squandered my resistance
For a pocket full of mumbles, such are promises
All lies and jests
Still a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest

When I left my home and my family
I was no more than a boy
In the company of strangers
In the quiet of the railway station
Running scared,
Laying low, seeking out the poorer quarters
Where the ragged people go
Looking for the places
Only they would know

Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie

Asking only workman's wages
I come looking for a job
But I get no offers
Just a come-on from the whores
On Seventh Avenue
I do declare
There were times when I was so lonesome
I took some comfort there, le le le le le le le

Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie

Then I'm laying out my winter clothes
And wishing I was gone
Going home
Where the New York City winters
Aren't bleeding me
Leading me
Going home

In the clearing stands a boxer
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders
Of ev'ry glove that laid him down
Or cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame
"I am leaving, I am leaving"
But the fighter still remains, mmm mmm

Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie

Thersites said...

ps - Yes, Washington Square Park/ Bleecker... my daughter graduated from NYU.

Thersites said...

pps - Keep up the good fight! You'da a made one hell of a boxer!

Jersey McJones said...

LOL! Thanks! And it's funny, like Simon, it's not that I had to live some crazy lifestyle, and play rock music, and experience all that, but I wanted to. Life can be whatever we want it to be, and we shouldn't disregard the rest. The "lie" in the song is actually just a sing-a-ling. It had no meaning, but people read a lot into it. I always thought of it as how reality is a thing of our personal making and has no "truth" to it. But that's just me. ;)

And I'm keeping the fight up! I'll be okay! Thanks, man! :)


FreeThinke said...

You guys are really Smething Else! I earned one of my graduate degrees at NYU, and spent lots of time in Washington Square Park on my way to and from the then-brand-new Bobst Library –– one of the few pieces of "modern" architecture I really like.

Washington Square, itself, –– for me at least –– has always had a timeless feel about it –– a Direct Connection to Old New York before the skyscrapers were built –– before all the streets were paved, and everyone either walked or rode in horse-drawn carriages, and Central Park West was still Virgin Territory.

I'm sorry, but I just cannot relate to the kind of music you guys seem to love and adore. Must be a generational thing, although having mastered the art of non-electronic keyboard playing (piano, organ and harpsichord) and made a close study of harmony, counterpoint, form, analyst and composition I believe I know WHY I dislike most of the Pop Music that came along since Elvis arrived in 1955. I see all of that as a series of GIANT STEPS BACKWARD toward musical primitivism. The difference being that the unlearned, unsophisticated sounds are now greatly amplified through the CURSE of electronics. //&^%$#@!$)%(!?:\!~/@$%#!!

I could make a facile comparison with Muslims who live a barbaric eventh-century lifestyle enhanced with modern technology and weaponry, which I think remarkably apt, but I am fond of you guys, even though I can't live in "your" world, and I don't want to insult or antagonize you. I just can NOT understand WHY this to-me godawful stuff appeals to you as it obviously does.

Jersey McJones said...

Well, maybe American music is a little primitive and common, but America is kind of a new thing, Americans, American culture. If you were 80 today, for instance, when you were born, the United States was only about a century-and-a-half old, and the population was about half what it is today. Most of the people that came to this country, the ancestors of most US citizens came here from the middle of the 19th century on.

As well, the vast majority of Americans are the ancestors of relatively poor people, people who were never exposed to a lot of classical music like their social betters (from who they were often fleeing). American music became an amalgam of the different, mostly poor and uneducated, people's folk music of these various groups, with a heavy influence of rather simple and sparse church music, mixed with Afro-Caribbean "hollers" and dance music. This became blues, jazz, country, rock, rap, and so forth. And it took the world by storm! Because most of the world is just regular folks like our ancestors, they can relate to this universal music that came together here in this new strange land where the people mostly came from everywhere else.

Elvis just took black blues with a mix of hillbilly folk, and bango - rock. The black blues came from the "hollers" which were mostly spirituals that came from a mix of simple white church music and Afro-Caribbean music. Jazz came from the blues also, but with more complex, often classical influences. Then the British had their "Lost Generation" and found their sound via our Rock and the Beatles changed everything. Pop music as we know it today came together during this period, and as racism began to fade and commonality became acceptable to the point of chic, by the late 70's, popular music as we know it today was pretty much where it is and has been since.

Music is a reflection of culture, of course, and Americana is a rather simple and base culture, and yes it an be course and grating, but it can be beautiful too. Most importantly though, it is honest. It is who were are. We are not courtly and aristocratic. Heck, that's what our ancestors were fleeing. We are a course and base people. But hey, look at what a bunch of course and base people have done! We made the greatest nation history has ever known! So, we can't be all that bad, and neither can our music.

I love classical music too. I was lucky to have parents who made sure I was thoroughly immersed in higher culture as well the folk. And personally, I hate and detest most popular music. I only really like a relatively small slice of our American music menu. But it's stuff I can relate to. I can relate to Billy Joel and Paul Simon, the guys from Black Sabbath and the Beatles. I can relate to New York Jazz, I have a thing for Bluegrass, I like The Clash. They have meaning for me. Even with classical music, I relate more to the vibrant German sounds than the more dour Slavic sounds or the often richly ridiculous Italian sounds.

Eh, it's all subjective. ;)


(((Thought Criminal))) said...

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

jez said...

I'm not sure the classical composers deliberately sought out banal tunes to develop -- the likes of Bartók and Grieg, for examples, appeared to be sincerely devoted to the form.

FreeThinke correctly identify rock and roll as a primitive form. Thanks for noticing. But is that necessarily a bad thing? It's an aesthetic choice, isn't it?

I do not reject the primitive. I hope I never grow so sophisticated that I forget how to enjoy a good melody (or lyrics, or "groove") performed simply. That's not to say that most simple music is not banal; it is. As is most "advanced" music. I enjoy thematic development too, but that's not the only way for a piece to be "good".

Gert said...

I much prefer the 'wall of sound' original, TBH...

FreeThinke said...

Thank you for presenting an astute, well-phrased analysis Jersey. I think you may know more about the background of American "pop" music than I, since I turned away from poplar music in 1955, and have focused almost exclusively on learning as much as I possibly could about the vast vast VAST area that comprises what is rather stupidly known as "Classical Music."

"Classical Musc" never WAS "popular," at least in the sense the term means today, and it wasn't particularly MEANT to be popular. That does not mean, however, that the great composers were "snobs" or "looked down" on the lower classes. IF read right, much of the enormous body of work contains passionate seeds of rebellion, protest, scathing criticism and denunciation –– but its couched quite subtly in DECOROUS terms –– a factor that only ADDS to its appeal to a fellow like me.

Much of what you and Jez seem to accept as "good" in your statute summation, Jersey, I regard as "tragic." but then it's not up to either of us to resolve the cultural clash and consequent battle for men's souls in which we are enmeshed right now.

MY only wish has never been to see ANYONE "put down," but to have more and more people be ELEVATED to the point where they could see, hear and fully appreciate what I have been privileged to enjoy all my life –– a joy that only grows stronger and a mystery that only becomes more fascinating and engrossing as I regretfully but resignedly move toward senescence. };^[>

jez said...

"'s not up to either of us to resolve the cultural clash..."

I believe it is up to you to recognise enjoyment of classical music does not entail a rejection of popular or rock music. IIRC Jersey, Farmer and I have all made this claim, do you disbelieve us?

FreeThinke said...

As always, Jez, you either deliberately choose to misunderstand me, or you are unable to.

Given your high level of intelligence, I cannot believe it could be the former.

It is not incumbent upon me to support anything I, personally, find foolish, degenerate, repugnant, or just plain butt ugly. Neither do I have any right or obligation to try to shame, insult, bully or otherwise harass or coerce anyone into accepting MY cultural preferences as de rigeur.

We all have a right to our opinions just as we all have the right –– or SHOULD have the right –– to "pursue happiness" in the way that appeals most to our instincts –– as long as it doesn't interfere with the rights of others to pursue pleasure and satisfaction in THEIR way.

I do most strenuously object to the INESCAPABILITY of music I consider distasteful being FORCED on me everywhere I go, but having tried to fight that for nearly half a century I realize the battle was lost many years ago –– to Society's great detriment..

FreeThinke said...

__________ The Boombox __________

Nestled in a quiet glade so still
One could hear a fluttering sparrow’s wing,
Immersed in prayerful thought, I’d like to kill that
Squawking, howling, growling, thumping thing
Engrossing –– eating up –– my sacred space,
Projecting Social Cancer at my head.
Overtaking prayer it chokes like mace.
Like mace it stings then stuns. My mind, well-fed,
Leaps to battle the Invading Force,
Usurping all my rights to meditate.
The minions of the militantly coarse
Idolize the fiends who violate
Our right to think and feel from deep within
Negating all that’s good with fearful din.

~ FreeThinke The Sandpiper - Spring 1995

jez said...

I'm not asking you to like it, and I sympathise & agree with you regarding background noise.

But it really does look like you believe that popular musicians are somehow opposed to classical music, and you seem to overlook us telling you that we like bits of both.

FreeThinke said...

I'm sorry, Jez, I try to be clear, but seem often to be speaking a foreign language these days.

Here is my viewpoint in the subject.:

I believe that anyone who feels sufficient interest in "classical music" to explore it in considerable depth –– not from an academic or analytical aspect, but simply because he finds it fascinating and intoxicating, genuinely loves it and is eager to hear more and learn more about it –– that an all-consuming passion would virtually OBLITERATE interest in lesser from of musical expression.

That's what happened to me. Ever since I got hooked on Mozart and the others, the compulsion to learn more and EXPERIENCE more became an all-consuming thing.

When i was a tiny tot and up to age twelve I loved the Big Bands, the Andrews Sisters, Ted Weems, Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Patty Page, Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Rosemary Clooney, Dina Shore, Teresa Brewer, Spike Jones, and the music from Broadway Shows. I still like those things, but realize how trivial they are in comparison to Bach and Mozart, and so came to regard that stuff as basically juvenile. I still feel a sentimental attachment to it, because it was part of my childhood, but I grew beyond it.

FYI I do like Jazz, Cabaret Music, Noel Coward, Anna Russell, and such musical presentations as The Fantasticks by Schmidt and Jones, Stephen Sondheim –– even Leroy Anderson! ;-) But I believe I see those things in proper perspective to the magnificence of Beethoven & CO.

I do reject the late-twentieth century politically-correct notion that we must regard ALL levels of taste and interest, ALL predilections, ALL forms of "expression," and virtually ALL cultural manifestations as "equal." I find that absurd.

Thank you for understanding that having "music" of ANY kind literally FORCED on me in public places is abhorrent. Portable radios and "boomboxes" and the like have virtually destroyed outings at the beach or picnics in the park. I don't believe anyone should have the "right" to INTRUDE on others quiet enjoyment of Nature or quiet conversation with family and intimate friends.

For the record I had to give up eating at a very good local Italian restaurant, because they INSISTED on treating their customers to marathon recordings of Enrico Caruso, Mario Lanza, Carlo Bergonzi, Luciano Pavarotti, Jose Careras, and the like –– EVEN Andrea Bocelli! (;-c –– singing arias from Italian opera TRIPLE FORTE! It made their excellent Antipasto, Veal Scallopine alla Marsala, Osso Bucco, and imported Gelato completely indigestible.

i suppose I sound like dreadful old stuffed shirt. Perhaps i am by the dissolving standards of today, but I still believe we ALL should have a right to enjoy ourselves AS WE WISH ––– as long as OUR enjoyment doesn't spoil anyone ELSE'S good time.

Doesn't that seem fair to you?

jez said...

Thanks for the clarification.

It may be of no interest to you, but thanks to this I can now pinpoint our disagreement with greater precision: "... an all-consuming passion would virtually OBLITERATE interest in [everything else]..." -- this is not my experience! My deep love for one type of music does not dilute my enjoyment of others, especially when they belong to very distant genres -- there's no chance of, for examples, an atonal mood piece, a 20 minute funk sweat-down, and a biting satirical lyric, stealing affection from one another, at least for me. I couldn't even start to rank them (I think this is what people are getting at when you hear them say all forms are "equal", what they mean is that "better" or "worse" are not defined), they do different jobs and no matter how well they them, they do each others' jobs poorly.

BTW, yes, your penultimate para is perfectly fair.

-FJ said...

I would merely say that an "exhortation to virtue" is the proper way to achieve your ends, FT, and that exhorations need not "necessarily" be accompanied by the disparagement of alternatives, just as tragedy is "best served" in the absence of comedy. It's best to serve the sacred and profane on different days of the week. ;)