on such a winter’s day indeed. As though on queue, old man winter shed some flurries on the Windy City to provide the backdrop I’d imagined for this collection of albums from a long ago time in a land every so far. Oh, but wait, I’m assuming people have a clue what I’m discussing. Apologies.
About a year (or so) back, I was discussing or, better yet, decrying the fact that folks so rarely listened to albums from start to finish. This to me seemed a bit of travesty that need remedying because there are so many great albums that work as a collective whole rather than as snippets of singles that one can slot into a mix. So, I started inviting friends over to my apartment to listen to what I believe were great records as a whole. After this idea was met with positive responses, I continued hosting these evenings of listening to albums and started to create “themes” (e.g. soul classics, indie-rock concept records, etc.).
…And so now we are up to speed. The theme for this evening is (as referenced above) “California Dreamin'” featuring classic bands and albums from the Western Coast of ‘ye old U.S.A. circa 1960 to 1970. (If you want to know why these records, just read the Note below.)
This evening’s program will include the following (if you’d like to follow along at home or revisit, here’s a playlist):
- the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds
- the Jefferson Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow
- the Grateful Dead’s American Beauty and Workingman’s Dead
A Note on the records and music…
Our modern conception of American Rock music was most likely born as result of the folk revival movement in Tin Pan Alley as well as the classic recording sessions at Sun Studios in Memphis, TN. However, the defining image of American classic rock, I’d argue, is drenched in sun, tie-dye and peace signs. California, for many the promised land of better things to come and new beginnings, was a melting pot of people running to and from opportunity. Not surprisingly some of the most iconic and influential bands of the era found a spiritual and literal home in the valleys and cliffs along the Pacific Coast. These records celebrate three singular sounds that helped shape and arouse a generation to a new vision of America. From the oft-maligned, yet angelic harmonies of the Beach Boys to the blues-infused psychedelic mind trips of Jefferson Airplane to the Americana-Folk Rock of the Dead, these bands represent three unique and at times seemingly divergent strains of Rock that have endured and continue to inspire many musicians today.
Let the Stylus Drop,