Thursday, January 26, 2017

They also served

Having successfully gotten through the first couple of weeks of January unscathed, I foolishly thought to myself something like, well, at least it's not like last year. And now, as if on cue, we have lost in quick succession Maggie Roche, one of three sisters who recorded as The Roches, and Jaki Liebezeit, best known as drummer for the German collective Can. (They say bad news travels in threes. I'm a bit alarmed as to who might be next.)

First, condolences, obviously, go out to friends and family members. I don't ever feel entirely comfortable putting these kinds of posts out in the public sphere, and yet I also feel that, in the case of people whose work has had a profound effect on me, it would be nice to say a public thank you.

I imagine that most of you think of Can when you hear the name Jaki Liebezeit. Okay, I do, too. But his tentacles stretch much further than that. I think I would be right in saying that my first exposure to the man would have been on the "Snake Charmer" EP, from 1983, a kind of evil twin to Robert Palmer's "The Power Station" from a year or so later. It wasn't until I belatedly tumbled down the Can rabbit hole, many years later, that I made the connection. Curiously, it turns out that "Snake Charmer" was also the point at which, again unknowingly, I made my acquaintance with Arthur Russell, who wrote the lyrics for "Hold On To Your Dreams" (which, I know now, is a *very* Arthur Russell song title). It may not be the strongest advertisement for the drumming talents of Jaki Liebezeit (for that, I would probably send you to "Halleluwah"), but it's a pretty dank piece of music, and Jaki is right there with you.

Maggie Roche, on the other hand, holds a place in my heart on account of one song. Many have been the days when "The Hammond Song", by The Roches, has been the only song that could help me navigate my way through this strange and confusing world. It was produced by Robert Fripp, whose otherworldly guitar anchors it, but really the song is all about the voices. I hope you enjoy it. (I suspect I may be drawing from the well of this song quite a bit over the next four years.)