The Centre Of The Heart

I’ve come to learn that I’m not the only person who holds "Ten Years Gone" close to their heart, who ranks it as their favorite Led Zeppelin track.  Its magic is the weeping, almost acoustic guitar.  It’s the mood.  It doesn’t exist on the usual continuum, it’s not something you ever heard on the radio, just something you discovered on the third side of "Physical Graffiti".  It was there for you.  It took you away, to a mental place as distant as Kashmir.

What if I were to tell you I’ve got a track with the same magic.  And it’s by Roxette.

I thought Roxette was an evanescent pop band, that wasn’t necessary to pay attention to until "Joyride".  Which was a veritable CARNIVAL of sound.  With drums akin to a nursery schooler banging as hard as he possibly could and a guitar like a buzzsaw.  How could this music be made by SCANDINAVIANS??

In this pre-MP3 era, I had the label send me the CD.  And you remember how it used to be, you didn’t only play the single, you had a belief that there might be something more on the disc.  And, unless you remembered to hit single play on the CD player, it ran into the next tracks anyway.  And that’s how I eventually discovered "Watercolours In The Rain".

There are so many great songs on the "Joyride" album.  Stuff like "Spending My Time" and "(Do You Get) Excited".  But the apotheosis is "Watercolours In The Rain".  It’s like Per Gessle listened to "Ten Years Gone" and came up with a tribute.  Like he filtered the essence of Zeppelin and merged it with his own sound.  It’s magical.  It made Roxette a band I will always defend.

But after "Joyride", Roxette was done in the U.S.  They only made it here by accident anyway.  Already stars in Sweden, an exchange student brought their record back to the U.S. and got a radio station to play it and they had a hit.  Remember those days?

And then came "Joyride".

And then everybody running the company that broke them, EMI in America, was fired and Charles Koppelman now oversaw the label.  And they weren’t a priority for Mr. Technotronic.  And they disappeared.  They had one album released under Charles’ watch, and that was it.

But they carried on on the continent.

But it used to be that the continent was a world away.

Now that’s no longer the case.

It started last night on Nordic Roc.  They’ve got all these specialty shows on Sirius.  And I wouldn’t have been interested in this one, wouldn’t have sought it out, except for the fact that the song coming out of my speakers was GOOD!

And then there was a guy talking.  You know that Scandinavian accent, so perfect, but clipped.  And I realized, they were talking about Roxette.  This was THE GUY FROM ROXETTE!

It was like being in a time warp.  As if we’d been separated at birth.  How old was this guy now?  Was he still alive?  He was still making music in Sweden?  Oh, what a fascinating country, so small, so cold, yet so advanced.  And then Per announced a track.

A synth sound started bubbling in my speakers.  And then those repetitive, almost disco vocals and the expansive, all-encompassing ocean string synth that NOBODY uses anymore.  Then the track broke down and Marie started to sing.

It wasn’t revolutionary.  It was like nothing I ever listen to.  But there was no way I was going to switch the station.  And then there was a CHANGE!

That chorus, that STARTED the song, it came back, and then a RAFT of na-na’s.  And then back to relative quietude.

We believe only Americans can have talent.  That foreigners are second-class citizens, that they can’t nail it.

But this guy.  He seems to be able to write catchy material, that makes you feel good all over, EFFORTLESSLY!

I came home and fired up my P2P app.  And eventually I found a chap in Sweden who had "The Centre Of The Heart".  And the connection was FAST ENOUGH that I opened up his hard drive, to see what was inside.

And what I saw was a PLETHORA of Swedish acts I’d never heard of.

This wasn’t some lame American with acts in his library I disdained, had no interest in.  This was peering into a whole new WORLD!

This is the modern world.  Where we’re all connected.  Where we in America can get turned on to the world’s music, where we don’t only EXPORT our wares.

It’s so exciting.

And this is exactly what the powers-that-be hate, want to eviscerate.  They want to keep the world big, they want no connections, they want to keep things the way they’ve always been, they don’t want to lose CONTROL!

But they’ve already lost control, and that is a GOOD THING!  Free people to explore and then not only do you have a happy society you make a ton more money.  Because people want to own all this new stuff, A LOT OT IT!  Not for a buck a track, maybe just the equivalent of a nickel or a dime.  But imagine if the whole world were music crazy, think of the revenue POSSIBILITIES!  But rather than harness new technology, the old farts with no knowledge of computers want to keep the music locked up, want to SUE to keep it locked up.

Totally fucked.

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