Monday, July 30, 2007
On 7/15, I saw John Doe at a place called Abbey's Pub. Often times you tolerate the voice of a singer-songwriter if the songs are good. Other times, I suppose, you tolerate a so-so song if the singer is really good. But John Doe just delivers and delivers. He is a kind of a crooner, but without any slickness of course. His voice is not _meant_ to be seductive or sexy, it's simply his natural, unaffected voice, and in fact it's a very convincing vehicle for the sad and/or angry songs that he writes (often with a sense of humor), but that's why it's seductive all the more. In his lyrics, he handles the subtleties, sounds, and ambiguities of language in a way that pushes the limits of a rock/country/blues/whatever song format without ever exploding it. His whole approach seems to me like a perfect combo of respect for and irreverence of (music) tradition.
On Friday the 13th of this July, I saw Sonic Youth perform their 1987 album Daydream Nation in its entirety at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago's Union Park. I know the album by heart, which came in handy when it turned out that the sound was bad (muted, low), so I was able to fill in, from memory, the stuff that didn't reach me from the stage. I soon forgot that the sound was bad: they performed with much nerve, muscle, tendon, cardiovascular system, etc. I danced and sang, and afterward, as I rode my bicycle back home, propelled by the music-induced adrenalin, I still sang the songs along the emptied streets on my route--Ashland, Jackson, Halsted, 18th.