Saturday, December 1, 2007

It Happens Every Night

It was something Mark Prindle said.

Dave and I were fortunate today to be joined by Internet Rock Reviewer Par Excellence, Mark Prindle over at John and Dave's Pop Culture America (heard every Saturday at 12 noon Eastern on blogtalkradio.com). Visit Mark's top-notch, high-quality website by clicking here.

We were doing a year-end Best Of Music wrap up and Mark mentioned the large amount of music that he hasn't heard this year, which made me think about the even larger amount of music that I haven't heard this year.

I'm long past deluding myself into thinking that I'm "hip" or "hep" or whatever the hep term for hipness is these days, but I thought I did a pretty good job keeping up with the stuff I like.

Wrong again.

Music has grown so diverse and there's such shear volume of it today, even narrowing my focus to some pretty slim niches doesn't guarantee I'll catch everything.

And here's the thing that frustrates me about that: I know that somewhere out there is the music I've been aching to hear. Somewhere out there right now is my favorite. And I haven't heard it.

It happens every night. I envision it this way:

Snotty underage punks unload an unreliable van and drag their gear through an alley entrance into a smelly, dimly lit bar. They're bored and semi-literate but they've had plenty of time to practice as a band because they stink at sports and the girls want nothing to do with them. The bar owner checks their fake IDs, recognizes them for what they are and shrugs. Who cares? They're cheap.

They set up their own equipment in full view of the handful of patrons; another slow Saturday night. Once they're done, they look at each other, roll their eyes at the lameness of it all, and get ready to play. The singer announces the band name -- a name that doesn't seem half as funny now as it did when they first thought it up. They launch into their opening number.

And something happens.

It's hard to put a finger on it but something is different. The song's familiar. But everything is clicking suddenly. Moves that, not long ago seemed beyond them, now flow out and pass with ease. Riffs and solos and beats are executed flawlessly, passionately and unconsciously. It's like that feeling when you arrive home and can't remember any of the driving.

It doesn't stop. Song after song falls effortlessly into place and the band finally realizes just what's going on here: They are tearing it up. They are raw and crazed and even the mistakes seem to serve the song. This must be what it was like at the Cavern Club or CBGB's. At the Whiskey-a-Go-Go or the Fillmore East or maybe even at Newport.

The eighteen or so people in the bar clap dutifully, and then go right back to the serious business of drinking. They don't realize it but they've witnessed something remarkable, because for that one night, the band in the smelly bar was The Best Band in the World.

And I missed them. And it eats at me.

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