Can you stand another “best this” or “best that” for 2008? I promise mine will be different. But, like most of my stories, it’s kind of a long story … in fact, I’m going to post this preface to it now …
And, tomorrow, I will follow this blog entry up with my RAVE review (complete with pictures, links and video) of a new band that has totally rocked my musical world and hopefully, by this time next year, will be a household name like it deserves to be (consider this a teaser) …
So … Part One:
My daughter Dana tells me my mind is really closed when it comes to music. I’m not sure I agree with that. I think that, simply, I know pretty clearly what I like and what I don’t like, and at my age, life is too short to waste with music I don’t like.
Back when I was her age (you know, the prototypical Paleolithic era when we listened to albums and I collected 45s and I moved UP to 8-track tapes when I got my first car, a used ’72 T-bird with 100,000 miles, a sun roof and an 8-track player), I happened to be a fanatic …
My favorites, aside from the Beatles, were reasonably eclectic, especially after about 1974 when I got my first taste of WNEW-FM in New York and started working as an intern down at the WNYU radio station after school and during the summers.
In my teens, my tastes ran the gamut, artists such as Stackridge (see previous blog entry), Todd Rundgren/Utopia, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, NRBQ (though that was more of a college acquisition), the Stylistics, Aztec Two-Step, America, Stevie Wonder (especially the early 1970s albums like “Fulfillingness’ First Finale”), Lindisfarne, Steely Dan, Tim Moore, the Roches, Wendy Waldman and my favorite band of that era, Gunhill Road.
I knew every song on the Top 40 between approximately 1964, when I got my first transistor radio (Paleolithic alert) through about 1990, when I got pregnant and had a baby and all of a sudden my listening “me time” morphed into stuff like “Sesame Street” and Raffi’s “Baby Beluga,” a non-ending loop tape of Richie Havens singing “Indian Prayer” which always lulled her to sleep, and a few other made-for-the-wee-ones cassettes.
Don’t get me wrong, I still listened to a lot of my mix CDs, they just became more and more re-organized collections of my old favorite songs of the previous two-plus decades rather than constantly-updated new mixes.
It wasn’t until Dana took over the mantle of “expert on all things music” as a ‘tween that our household once again became an arbiter of modern musical taste to be reckoned with.
She makes me look like an amateur when it comes to sussing out new music, and I’m often the beneficiary of that: though I first played her Aimee Mann back in the mid ’90s, she took that and ran with it … Mike Viola and the Candy Butchers, Kate Earl, Jenny Lewis with or without Rilo Kiley, Jim Boggia, the Hush Sound, the Cardigans, possibly Fountains of Wayne (which I am convinced I discovered before she did but whatever) … all are songwriters/bands I might possibly have heard without her but it’s unlikely, that are among my very favorites now.
But Moxy Fruvous I found without Dana, and actually from my husband Wayne, who received the recommendation on my behalf from friends who knew my musical tastes and said something along the lines of “SHE HAS TO HEAR THEM.”
So from about 1998 until the band’s still-heartbreaking “hiatus” just after the turn of the millennium (ha) which I think I have to accept is a full-fledged breakup now, their music pretty much dominated my car CD player (OK, OK, tape player. I admit it, I came kicking and screaming into the technological era. But I DO have a car CD player now).
Occasionally without Dana but usually with her in tow as possibly the youngest Fruhead of that era, we saw the band at least 10 times in that span. Most of the shows were close to home (the Birchmere in Alexandria, the Herndon Festival which I believe was the last time we saw them, even at some Borders shows during their “Thornhill” tour) and others were a little farther afield (the dear departed Bottom Line club in New York on New Year’s Night in … well, I guess it must have been 1999).
Moxy Fruvous filled every hole in my heart a band needed to fill. Incredibly versatile musicians, terrific songwriters (all of them), four great voices which blended seamlessly either as leads or in harmony, with some of their best songs being a capella (their 1993 tune “Gulf War Song” may be the best song ever written though sadly I can’t seem to find a live version of their performing it on YouTube).
But to top it off they were perhaps the best live band I had ever seen (NRBQ might have given them a run for their money). You never knew what they were going to play, and they never played the same set (making the “stagedive” for their set lists a hard-fought battle and we have one or two in our scrapbook because no one wanted to tear it out of the hands of a 9-year-old). They had the most eclectic collection of covers their add to their huge oeuvre of originals, which is part of the reason why devoted Fruheads with the means and the wheels would go see them every time they played because each show was unique.
Plus their chemistry onstage, their “banter,” was mesmerizing. They were just musicians and artists having fun, riffing on the political and topical stories of the day, and each other, and the fans.
When they broke up I wondered if another band would ever come along that, in my opinion, could fill that hole, a young band that was fresh and fun and had fantastic songs AND versatile musicians AND great voices AND such an energizing stage chemistry that you would want to see them again and again and again …
And now I’ve found one …
That is my teaser for my top musical discovery for 2008, to be given the big reveal and tons of GotMiLB blog love here this time tomorrow …