Any Major Dude Will Tell You

Yacht Rock

This must be just like living in paradise.

And I don’t want to go home.

Yesterday all my numbers were in the zone, other than glucose, but I hadn’t been fasting, and this is the first time since I was diagnosed with CML Leukemia back in 2009, but to tell you the truth for the last year I haven’t been taking the Gleevec, that’s a new policy, you can go off until the leukemia comes back, which could be up to two years, but as short as…tomorrow.

And this has been a great boon. Primarily because my hemoglobin is in the normal range, and it hasn’t been in a decade, and for a while there it went so low I thought twice about climbing stairs.

And when I was done, I checked in with the map programs, and they all agreed to go up Roscomare instead of taking the 405 from the hospital, so I did.

Now cell service is notoriously spotty up there, so I switched to my music library, because I wanted to hear my WAZE prompts via my new head unit, and while I was cruising up the hill, I heard this David Lee Roth song, my favorite from his solo career, you remember the rock climbing video, or maybe you don’t, but during that era Steve Vai replaced Eddie Van Halen and his guitar screamed, but it…still wasn’t Eddie.

But David Lee Roth is one of the great frontmen of all time, and he’ll tell you so, and he carries this track. And “Just Like Paradise” is rock par excellence, you know, you crank it up and it squeezes out the rest of the world and makes you feel good.

And I was feeling good. It was not only the numbers, it was the weather.

Now fall in L.A. is not like fall on the east coast, the light changes, it gets a bit colder, and that’s it! Those November days, those rainy days, they don’t exist! Forget summer, if you really want to get the L.A. bug come in the fall. And cruise up and down the canyons. You’ll be closed.

And yesterday driving through the twists and turns I was feeling like nothing could mess with me, I was only a speck in the world but inside my automobile everything was groovy.

Now I’ve been listening to Yacht Rock on SiriusXM, Richie Beilenson, the man with the hookup, told me to check out the stations in the 300s, which I could now receive.

There’s a cool cover channel. Another one featuring the music of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but the station I’ve been listening to the most is…

Yacht Rock!

You know, that music which has been denigrated, made for wimps, unlistenable to hipsters.

But this is not the way it used to be, once upon a time most of these acts were revered with hits. Then again, not Starbuck and Rupert Holmes, but the Doobies…

And Steely Dan.

I was driving down the 405 on my way to UCLA and I heard “Any Major Dude Will Tell You.” And suddenly the words were clear, even if they weren’t fully comprehensible, but I loved when Fagen sang them. This is the antithesis of the pejorative. If Steely Dan is yacht rock, sign me up for a cruise.

Actually, today, on the Yacht Rock channel, I finally got Pablo Cruise’s “Love Will Find A Way.”

Now dedicated readers will know I love “Watcha Gonna Do” and “A Place In The Sun.” Actually, I had to buy their third album, also entitled “A Place In The Sun,” just to hear those two numbers.

I can wax rhapsodic about “A Place In The Sun,” but I already have. There’s the flourish in the opening, like the gates are being opened for the queen. And then that guitar picking, all this is in the intro, the vocal doesn’t even begin until a minute in, and then Bud Cockrell sings with exuberance! Actually, the number appears in “An Unmarried Woman,” the Mazursky movie starring Jill Clayburgh, she’s now alone but her mood is turning, she’s dancing around the kitchen with her daughter, to “A Place In The Sun.”

And “Watcha Gonna Do?” follows “A Place In The Sun” on the LP, a one-two punch I never got much beyond, yup, I loved those Pablo Cruise cuts, but nothing more, I found “Love Will Find A Way,” too sappy, an effort in search of a hit, but today…that guitar got to me, just like in “Pretzel Logic.”

Yup, when I got home I put that album on.

I didn’t buy “Can’t Buy A Thrill.” Nick had it, I’d play it every time I went to his dorm room, I could not hear “Do It Again” enough. But the LP was on ABC and I only had so much money and…

The second album has only been considered a classic in hindsight, it didn’t have a big radio song and it looked like the act was over.

And then came “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number.”

It’s that intro, after the spacy bass. We’re instantly in the groove, and Fagen starts to testify. As if he was in your dorm room after midnight telling the story, and you were privileged to hear it, since he was so much cooler than you.

And stunningly, “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” became a hit!

Yup, that was the criterion back then, placement on the AM. Not everybody had an FM tuner in their car, crossing over made you gigantic, before AM cratered and MTV saved the music business.

So I bought “Pretzel Logic.” Because it was one of my bonus records from the Record Club of America, which made no sense to the point it went out of business shortly thereafter.

But the LP had so much surface noise. Now the Record Club of America had the right to press its own discs, so was that the problem? Then again, ABC records always sounded trashy too.

And “Rikki” was the only hit from “Pretzel Logic. And the rest of the numbers didn’t sound like anything else, literally. And the album was so short, 34 minutes when everybody was going longer, and I can’t say I loved “East St. Louis Toodle-Oo,” it was just too jazzy for me, but the rest of the numbers had a place in my brain.

Got to tell you, the first track that resonated, other than “Rikki,” was “Barrytown,” which I’ve never ever heard anybody talk about.

And then “With A Gun.” and “Night By Night.” Remember when that happened? You liked a song on a side and you let the album play through to the point another track ultimately revealed itself to you.

And “Any Major Dude Will Tell You” was smooth and in the pocket and could be played on the radio, but I never heard it, even though it was the b-side of “Rikki.”

But what gripped me listening to “Pretzel Logic” was the title tune. Oh, I always liked it, it’s the groove, which has your body moving immediately. But listening on Deezer Elite through my Genelecs all these years later, what gripped me and tossed me over the top, was the guitar playing. I figured it was Larry Carlton, he plays in this style, every note articulated and clear and then running together, but with soul.

My whole body was moving, it’s moving now, remembering that era when you played an electric guitar as opposed to working the turntables, and we knew the players and they were exalted.

It turned out to be Skunk Baxter!

I really had no idea he was this good. I mean I knew he was good, but he’s so right, so perfect, you’ve got to put him in the top tier! And then he switched to the Doobies and ultimately took a complete left turn into defense consulting. I’ve got to give Skunk credit, he was self-taught in this area, and to be accepted at the elite level, that’s quite an achievement, but we’ve lost an axeman of the highest rank, then again, there’s no place for these gunslingers anymore.

Except on Yacht Rock.

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