I’m stunned at the amount of love out there for this band.
The problem with writing about old music is those who remember do, and those who don’t don’t care. It’s a well-known fact that the Beatles and Zeppelin have survived, that Black Sabbath and the Doors have gotten an unforeseen renaissance, but so many of the old hit bands have faded into the woodwork, and I don’t think they’re going to radiate. But for those of us who were there…they inhabit a sacred place inside us, where we store all our memories, triggered by the sounds.
From the second LP, the one with the unexpected hit, “Your Mama Don’t Dance.” But as obvious a cut as that was, almost lowest common denominator, the album ended with this seven minute and forty second opus that has survived amongst fans longer than the hit, it was even an FM staple, all because of the PLAYING!
That’s right, the first minute and a half was a regular song, but then there began an extended instrumental passage, akin to the fourth side of “Fillmore East,” i.e. “Whipping Post.” And as heretical as that might sound today, back then music was a big tent, you could like everything and be proud of said fact. Actually, we’re returning to that era, today’s youngsters like hip-hop and pop and EDM and…just check the Spotify Top 50.
So, your mind is set free to drift and you’re nodding your head, this is a perfect marijuana song, if you partook of said substance, which was illegal, but widely available, and then… At the 6:45 mark the band lights up and the vocals come back in and…it truly is like that last moment of “Whipping Post.”
A tour de force.
LONG TAIL CAT
Just an album cut on the second LP, but it’s so endearing, so intimate, so heartfelt, from back before anybody could sing, before Auto-Tune. When being able to write and play were not only badges of honor, they were nearly a prerequisite to making it.
A Kenny Loggins song without wimpiness, back when we were all wearing hiking boots at the height of the Back To The Land movement. This played well in the cabin, by the fire. Or maybe you were picking your guitar on the porch in the snow, like Stephen Stills…
Actually, they spell it without the “e,” it’s WHISKY!
Did you see that article in today’s WSJ about daters evaluating prospects on spelling and grammar?
“What’s Really Hot on Dating Sites? Proper Grammar”
But most people had no idea of the true moniker back before the internet.
But one thing’s for sure, you don’t do ANYTHING mellow at the Whisky anymore. I was driving by last night and the headliner was Trixter. Really? They’re still together? Makes me feel sad that these bands still slog it out and don’t give up and do something else. Then again, you’re bagging groceries at Safeway, you’re practicing law and someone realizes who you are…that’d be hard to handle.
PATHWAY TO GLORY
From the third album, “Full Sail,” which was a return to form. Ultimately there was a hit single, “A Love Song,” but this is the best cut on the LP, another intimate Messina number. You’ll get it.
SAILIN’ THE WIND
You can hear the sailboat noises at the beginning, the spars, the ocean sounds, if you’ve ever been on the water, even on the dock, you’ll recognize them.
Another extended opus, “Sailin’ The Wind,” is mellower than “Angry Eyes” and not quite as good, but just as satisfying in another way.
We used to get bored, we used to be reflective. You’d put this on and lie on your couch and view the waning day and think about what once was and what still might be.
I love it.
TRILOGY: LOVIN’ ME/TO MAKE A WOMAN FEEL WANTED/PEACE OF MIND
From the spring ’74 live album “On Stage.”
I didn’t buy it.
Remember this was back when we had bigger eyes than wallets, we could not afford everything, so different from today. Back when every hit group went on a double live album victory lap after a few hits. And then there was the reverse, most famously “Frampton Comes Alive,” which followed four relatively unsuccessful studio LPs and ultimately graduated to monster success.
I’d hear this live album on the radio now and again, and I always liked it, but there were so many other records to buy, the seventies don’t have a great rep, but that spring saw the release of Aerosmith’s breakthrough “Get Your Wings” and Ry Cooder’s “Paradise and Lunch”…and I was still listening to Wendy Waldman’s debut from Christmas ’73, as well as Joni’s huge “Court and Spark” and…
And then comes the piece-de-resistance, the album with no hit singles, that I love best.
You see I was couchsurfing. We didn’t call it that back then, but that’s what it was. From apartment to apartment in West L.A. While I killed time before I left town to start my job at the Goldminer’s Daughter in Alta, Utah.
Only a strange thing happened a week before I was supposed to leave.
I broke my leg in a freak ski accident.
A long story. Driving to Big Bear in the push-button Valiant of a German national the car’s transmission caught fire on the way up the hill (which is long, winding and steep). A fire truck serendipitously came by and put out the flames but then we were standing in the middle of nowhere with no transportation. So what did we do? HITCHHIKE! And thinking no one would have a ski rack in early November, and that my 207 Dynamics wouldn’t fit inside anybody’s car, I took along the shorter shop skis which had bindings which would not hold and ten feet in the air, in the middle of a jump, one ski came off and I landed with one foot in the snow and the other foot on its ski and I twisted and tumbled and I didn’t experience extreme pain but I knew something was wrong.
They had to carry the basket over dirt, I had x-rays, my fibula was broken. They set it and I rode back to town in the back of a VW bug, with the distressed extremity lying over two other people in the back seat.
And therefore I was in L.A. during Christmas, unexpectedly. So, jonesing for music I went with my sister to Licorice Pizza with my dad’s credit card and purchased eight albums, one of which was Loggins & Messina’s “Mother Lode.”
And when my college buddy John Hughes showed up after losing his job on the Ford assembly line, there was a recession going on, he had his cassette deck with him and I taped each and every one of those albums and they were the soundtrack to my driving for the whole next year, to Utah and Mammoth and points beyond.
Like Ketchum, Idaho, otherwise known as Sun Valley.
I was on the interstate in a raging snowstorm. Yes, I had snow tires, I wasn’t an idiot. Studded, actually. Driving through southern Idaho towards Twin Falls the cassette in the Blaupunkt was “Mother Lode” and it was so scary I couldn’t risk scrounging for another tape to insert so I just listened to “Mother Lode” over and over and over again. Not only was it the soundtrack to that trip, it still is. I think of either the drive or the tunes and then I think of the other, they’re intertwined.
Imagine yourself on a gray winter day, snow blowing sideways, in the middle of nowhere, no sun in sight, alone in your automobile, with no cellphone, no outside communication…
And then play this record.
My second favorite Loggins & Messina song at this point (number one is “Same Old Wine”), “Changes” is a tour de force with an indelible guitar sound, changes as fast and furious as any ride at Disneyland and the memorable couplet…
Turn around there’s Uncle Sam
He’s got his hand down in your pants
Some lines just stay with you, these are at the front of my brain. But they’re part of a longer verse…
You work yourself to death
So you can have a home
You put your money aside
To call it all your own
You finally save enough
And you’re thinking you’re gonna advance
Turn around there’s Uncle Sam
He’s got his hand down in your pants
In the internet era, we romanticize the days of yore, the old record business.
But the truth is the old record business was a killer, this was long before Don Passman’s book, acts were unsophisticated and regularly got ripped-off. And even if you were on the road, tickets were only a few bucks. The ten dollar ducat was years off.
Yes, being a rock star was hard…
You give your life away
For what in return
A chance to see your name in lights
While you learn
Your manager he’s home
And a-workin’ away
To keep you on the road
And a-movin’ from day to day
This is another quiet Messina number.
All the pieces are here.
Incredible playing, listen to that mandolin in the left ear, yes, I’m listening on headphones. Great lyrics, changes and vocals.
I want to get away and live my life
In the rivers and trees
I want to spend my days making wine
And be free, and be free, and be free
Actually, I always thought it was “making RHYME,” but all the lyric sites, even Spotify itself, say otherwise.
But what difference does it make?
I graduated from college and went on a two year journey of discovery. Skiing the world’s best powder and getting the world’s worst case of mononucleosis.
Nobody does that anymore. Not anybody who graduates from a good college. You’ve immediately got to start your career, money is most important.
But it wasn’t back then. Developing yourself, experiencing life, those were paramount. And the music instructed you to do so. Who you were as opposed to what you owned was key. Sure, a nice car and a nice bod helped, but they weren’t everything, we could see through those.
GET A HOLD
It starts around the bend, over the hill, and then comes into view.
Incredible guitar picking, never mind great horns.
Back when Kenny was still credible, great voice, and…
We were all trying to get a hold of ourselves, constantly.
When we weren’t letting go.
KEEP ME IN MIND
Written by Messina, but sung by bass player Larry Sims. Imagine that! Sure, John & Paul let Ringo sing their compositions, but by the seventies, everybody was starting to look out for themselves, ultimately the coke exacerbated this, made everybody paranoid.
“Keep Me In Mind” is only three and a half minutes long, but it plays like one of the band’s extended numbers, with a dreamy, yet nefarious solo section.
They don’t make music like this anymore. It’s seen as wimpy, we want in your face.
To our detriment.
SAME OLD WINE
In a brand new bottle.
It was 2005, Loggins & Messina had been broken up for decades. Kenny’d had his solo success, but then…
He was dead in the water, he turned once again to his old friend, they went on the road…
Five or seven years too late. All the seventies bands whose members were still alive had already reunited, new sounds had come in, this would have been a much bigger deal before Napster, before the internet destroyed the past.
The shows were so satisfying!
This recording comes from the beginning of the tour, and it’s good, but it was part of the promotion for the gigs, I’d love to hear a recording from deeper in the journey.
But having said that…
I saw the band at the Greek.
They came on when it was still light, usually anathema, the mystery, the ju-ju, is absent, and then they started to play…WHEW!
And sure, they played all the hits.
But it was the album cuts I came for, and they whipped out those too, like “Same Old Wine.”
It’s the same old wine in a different bottle.
Trump is no Ross Perot, but he gets even more press.
The Republicans keep telling us trickle-down economics will work.
The only difference is the musicians are on the wrong side, they’re no longer leaders, just suck-ups to the corporations. Free-thinking? HOW AM I GONNA GET RICH!
That’s what everybody wants to know, how they can become wealthy, as if they’re entitled, as if that’s life’s highest purpose.
But we baby boomers who lived through the era know…
That’s not the case.
You might drive a BMW, you might live in a five thousand square foot house, dine at the finest establishments, drink $100 wine, but you still remember when… We were all in together, rich was not a billion, not even a million, and no one you knew had it, when there weren’t even any scalpers, who’d pay that price, when you went to school to learn, as opposed to get a job.
That’s what it was like back then.
And I’d say the music rode shotgun, but the truth is the players were our leaders, religious icons.
They wore street clothes on stage, playing well was more important than looking good, and they could say no… They weren’t begging, but delivering.
As did Loggins & Messina in their not quite ten year reign.
And like I said up top, I doubt I’m gonna make any converts here.
Kenny’s got a lightweight image and Messina’s been all but forgotten and having had hits the band is not hip but…
I had a good friend sometime ago
We had a good thing and we let it show
Oh, I was a fool, I let him go
Oh oh oh, how I miss him so
I miss the old days.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, I love the internet, my mobile phone, it’s the greatest antidote to depression and loneliness ever invented, even better than Prozac.
But I remember when music was king, when you couldn’t get a ticket to the show, when we had to go to communicate with the band, to make our lives complete as opposed to a badge of honor.
Forget the charts, they’re irrelevant.
As was AM back in the day.
Music was in the hands of the people, that’s where it lived. It was as important as water and power, the first thing you did when you moved was set up the stereo, and believe me you had one, with as good a set of components as you could afford. Forget the death of record stores, how about the death of stereo stores!
Music was my good friend.
Actually, it still is.
And I like some of the new stuff. But it’s not quite coming from the same place. You see, music used to be part of the revolution, it was us against them.
And we were winning.
We’re losing now.
But you never know, the good times could come back.
I certainly hope so!
Spotify A Little More Loggins & Messina
Thank you for your kind mention and generous observations.
I would enjoy sending you (if you wish) an album I recorded entitled JIM MESSINA “Live” at the Clark Center for the Performing Arts. I am in the process of mixing another Live album I just recorded at the Lobero Theater in Santa Barbara.
These days… for me… it’s more about performing live in small theaters and small performing art centers. An intimate evening at an venue where my audience can come to listen to the music I’ve created over the years, sit back and enjoy a glass of wine at a reasonable volume level,and be out of a concert no later than 9p or 10p is the name of the game. It works for me!
In fact…I just did that last night myself. My wife and I hired a baby sitter for my 9 year old daughter Josey and went to see the “Time Jumpers.” They, in combination with Vince Gill, are one phenomenal group of musicians and singers! If you have never seen them live… you are in for a real surprise.
Again, my deepest appreciation and kindest regards,