ISSN 1551-8086
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   poets list
   Francisco Dominguez & Aire Celeste Norell
   Marie Lecrivain & Angel Uriel Perales
   Sheikha A.
   Steve Abee
   L. Ward Abel
   Carl Abt
   Han Adcock
   Elizabeth Addis
   Aderemi Adegbite
   Adeolu Emmanuel Adesanya
   Neil Aitken
   M.I Akande
   Shahd Al-Shemmari
   Lynn Albanese
   Alaina Renee Alexander
   Scott Alexander
   Gwyndyn Alexander
   Nicole Alexander
   Inalegwu Omapada Alifa
   Maureen Alsop
   Rafael Alvarado
   Steven Alvarez
   Veronica An
   Zack Anderson
   Amy Anderson
   Kristine Anderson
   G.D. Anderson
   Lori Anderson-Moseman
   Grace Andreacchi
   Renae Andruse
   Arlene Ang
   Roger Angle
   Stephen Anstay
   Azure Antoinette
   Theresa Antonia
   Aurora Antonovic
   Maria A Arana
   Carlye Archibeque
   Joseph Armstead
   Feral Artist
   Baron James Ashanti
   Charlene M. Ashendorf
    Askew
   Gregory Austin
   Shawn Aveningo
   maeghanne ayers
   Goodness Lanre Ayoola
   John-Patrick Ayson
   Jim Babwe
   Sophie Bachard
   Vasile Baghiu
   Bridget Bagne
   song-hue bahk
   Michael Baker
   Prerna Bakshi
   Anna Balint
   David Banuelos
   Jared Barbick
   J. Mae Barizo
   Peter Barlow
   Matthew A. Barraza
   James Barros
   Jeni Bate
   Jonathan Beale
   Richard Beban
   Gary Beck
   Gary Beck
   Lytton Bell
   Hakim Bellamy
   Michele Beller
   Laura Bellotti
   Stefanie Bennett
   Hayley Berariu
   Lawrence Berger
   Kevin Berger
   Mike Berger, Ph.D.
   Tom Berman
   luis cuauhtemoc berriozabal
   Craig Berry
   Nick Bertelson
    Besskepp
   Mary Rose Betten
   Cheryl Beychok
   Gwendolyn Beyer
   François Biajoux
   Heitham Black
   Jarvis Black
   Beau Blue
   Rose Mary Boehm
   Bonnie Bolling
   Julie Bolt
   Lek Borja
   Cristogianni Borsella
   Gerald Bosacker
   Amanda Boschetto
   Wendy Bourke
   Jack G. Bowman
   Jennifer Bradpiece
   Bob Bradshaw
   Marcielle Brandler
   Peter Branson
   Sumiko Braun
   Adam Bresson
   Quiana Briggs
   Jack Bristow
   paulo brito
   Alan Britt
   Michelle Brodeur
   Lynne Bronstein
   Charles Brooks
   Deborah Edler Brown
   Adam Levon Brown
   Jason Sanford Brown
   zoey brown
   Leah Brown
   Bob Browning
   Sir Mark Bruback
   MC Bruce
   Jeffrey Bryant
   Kate Buckley
   Robin M. Buehler
   Ron Burch
   Graham Burchell
   Maria Rose Burgio
   Betsy Burke
   Matt Burns
   Richard Burrill
   Zachary C. Bush
   Tony Bush
   Elissa Calvin
   Joseph Camhi
   Neil Campbell
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Dana Campbell
   Velene Campbell
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Luis Campos
   Janine Canan
   Lyn Cannaday
   Pasquale Capacosa
   Joey Capone
   HélÚne Cardona
   Britton Laine Carducci
   D.J. Carlile
   Julia Carlson
   Alicia Carpenter
   Jonathan Carr
   Patricia Carragon
   Oscar Carrasco
   Jared Carter
   Michael Aaron Casares
   John Casey
   Lisa Castro
   Rachael Kelechi Caulker
   Nika Cavat
   Michael Caylo-Baradi
   Steve Ceniceros
   Michael Ceraolo
    Cerise
   Robert Cesaretti
   Cheryl Chambers
   Lita-Luise Chappell
   Shibani Chattopadhyay
   Lisa Cheby
   Beth Cheng
   Ralph-Michael Chiaia
   Juhi Chowdhury
   David Christensen
   Phil Clark
   Terry Clark
   Darice Clark
   Terry Clark
   Charles Claymore
   Jeanette Clough
   Kim Cochran
   Ed Coet
   Tobi Cogswell
   Megan Coker
   Bruce Colbert
   Karen E. Cole
   Merrill Cole
   Christopher Coleman
   Larry Colker
   Beverly M. Collins
   Christiane Conésa-Bostock
   David Concepcion
   Christiane Conesa-Bostock
   Brendan Connell
   Alice Constantine
   Jack Cooper
   Flavia Cosma
   Rachel Coventry
   R. Paul Craig
   David Cravens
   William Crawford
   Natalie Crick
   Rosemarie Crisafi
   Carla Criscuolo
   Chris Crittenden
   Benjamin Crowley
   Susan Culver
   Joe Cyr
   Jim D Babwe
   Morgaine d'Abney
   Karen Corcoran Dabkowski
   Daniel Daian
    Dalton
   Catherine Daly
   Iris Dan
   Marie Lecrivain & Daniel Gallik
   Dan Danila
   Michelle Daugherty
   Piper Davenport
   Kathrine David
   Gareth Davies
   Holly Day
   Frank De Canio
   Gregory De Feo
   Steve De France
   J. de Salvo
   J de Salvo
   kumari de Silva
   Pijush Kanti Deb
   Shalla DeGuzman
   JD DeHart
   Diane Dehler
   Aurelius Demarco
   Darren C Demaree
   Gloria Derge
   Chris Derrico
   Lea Deschenes
   Maurice Devitt
   Theo Diamantis
   Mike Dias
   Martin Dickinson
   Edward J DiMaio
   Mark Dixon
   Peggy Dobreer
   Rosemarie Dombrowski
   Francisco J. Dominguez
   Linsly Donnelly
   Lisa Helene Donovan
   Kevin Doran
   Marvin Dorsey
   Marvin Louis Dorsey
   John Dorsey
   Laura A. Lionello & Douglas Richardson
   Doug Draime
   Donelle Dreese
   Dale Duke
   Jawanza Dumisani
   Henri Dumolet
   Max Dunbar
   t. joseph dunn
   Robin Wyatt Dunn
   Tyler Dupuis
    Durenda
   Walter Durk
   Ron Dvorkin
   Douglas Dvorkin
   Amitabh Vikram Dwivedi
   Alfie Ebojo aka alfie numeric
   Elisabeth Adwin Edwards
   Patricia J. Edwards
   Sabrina Edwards
   Miguel Eichelberger
   John Elison
   Julian Ellis
   Neil Ellman
   K. Eltinaé
   R.M. Engelhardt
   Margarita Engle
   Jon Epstein
   Sufi Erter
   Eli Eshaghian
   Michael Estabrook
   Alexis Rhone Fancher
   Richard Fein
   John Feins
   Emily Fernandez
   Melissa Fischer
   W.S. Fisher
   Jamie Asae FitzGerald
   Amelia Fleetwood
   Jake Fleshner
   John Jay Flicker
   David Flynn
   Arthur Charles Ford
   Liz Fortini
   Sesshu Foster
   Heather Fowler
   Clint Frakes
   Sarah Francois
   Amelie Frank
   Amélie Frank
   Alex M. Frankel
   Allie Frazier
   E.L. Freifeld
   M. Frias Frias-May
   Suzanne Frost
   Delia J. Fry
   Elliott Gabay
   Steven Gabriel
   Timothy Gager
   Daniel Gallik
   J Gamble
   Ishmael Garay
   Jerry Garcia
   Daniel Garcia-Black
   Gabriella Garofalo
   Vince Garofalo
   Yvonne Garrett
   Nelson Gary
   Donna Gebron
   Ulrike Gerbig
   Janice Gero
   Ursula T. Gibson
   Rebecca Gimblett
   Tony Gloeggler
   Steve Goldman
   Vesna Goldsworthy
   Melanie Gonzalez
   Jeffrey Graessley
   Allison Grayhurst
   Jeff Green
   Timothy Green
   Jeanie Greensfelder
   Rhoda Greenstone
   Amos Greig
   John Greiner
   John Grey
   Summer Griffiths
   Danielle Grilli
   Brian Grillo
   John Grochalski
   Wendy Grosskopf
   Andrew Grossman
   Ro Gunetilleke
   Kenneth Gurney
   John R. Guthrie
   Debashish Haar
   Erik Haber
   Hedy Habra
   Tresha Faye Haefner
   Matthias Hagedorn
   James Hall
   Tom Hamilton
   David Harrington
   Matt Harris
   William Harris
   Dawnell Harrison
   J. Alana Hauenschild
   Kari J. Hayes
   KJ Hays
   Ann L. Healey
   Eloise Klein Healy
   Jessica Healy
   Jim Heavily
   Dan Hedges
   Paul Hellweg
   Samantha Henderson
   Jack Henry
   David Herrle
   JD Heskin
   Kenneth Hickey
   Jerry Hicks
   Marvin R Hiemstra
   Ed Higgins
   Carlos Hiraldo
   Sherri Hoffman
   Guy Hogan
   Ali Hosseiny
   Dave Houston
   Eric Howard
   Nate Howard
   David Howard
   Bryon D. Howell
   A J Huffman
   Hunter Lee Hughes
   Roger Humes
   Trista Hurley-Waxali
   Elizabeth Iannaci
   Thea Iberall
   Armine Iknadossian
   Gedda Ilves
   Alegria Imperial
   Victor Infante
   Victor D. Infante
   Augustus Invictus
   Susan Irvine
   Alexandra Isacson
   Natalie Itzhaki
   Amber Jacob
   Scott Jacobson
   Larry Jaffe
   Sonika Jaggi
   Emmanuel Jakpa
   Matthew James
   Andrea Janov
   T.A. Jennings
   Ivan Jenson
   Dani Jimenez
   Alex Johnson
   Michael Lee Johnson
   Strider Marcus Jones
   Lois P. Jones
   Tao Jones
   Georgia Jones-Davis
   Jasmin Jordan
   Quentin Josephy
   Liu Jue
   Ruth Juris
   Gary Justice
   Gene Justice
   Pete Justus
   Mikel K
   Scott C. Kaestner
   Sheema Kalbasi
   Peycho Kanev
   Rachel Kann
   Jay Kantor
   Paula Sfier Kattan
   Russ Kazmierczak
   James Keane
   Gretchen Keer
   Aaron Keller
   Collin Kelley
   Kamuran Kelly
   Bernard Kennedy
   Raud Kennedy
   Kathleen Kenny
   Stephen Kerr
   Hari Bhajan Khalsa
   Just Kibbe
   Jerome Kiel
   lalo kikiriki
   Ashley King
   Robert S King
   Franklin Lafayette King
   Sofia Kioroglou
   Rusty Kjarvik
   Kenny Klein
   LeAnne Kline
   Deborah P Kolodji
   Tracy Koretsky
   Edith Kornfeld
   George Korolog
   Dimitris P. Kraniotis
   Thomas KrÀmer
   Mark Krewatch
   Chris Krueger
   Amanda Krut
   Gerard Kuc
   Christopher Kuhn
   Donna Kuhn
   Len Kuntz
   Craig Kurtz
   Tammy Ho Lai-Ming
   Daniel Lambert
   Anthony Langford
   Donald Langosy
   Ray Lanthier
   Phillip Larrea
   Phillip Larrea
   Kasandra Larsen
   Wolf Larsen
   Ethan Latham
   Lisa LaTourette
   Marie Lecrivain & Laura A. Lionello
   Marianne LaValle-Vincent
   Kevin Lavey
   Judith A. Lawrence
   Eric Lawson
   Richard Leach
   Anne Lecrivain
   Marie Lecrivain
   Noah Lederman
   Pete Lee
   Kevin Patrick Lee
   Emma Lee
   N.M. Leepsa
   Alexandra Leggat
   Laura LeHew
   Gary Lehmann
   Sharmagne Leland-St. John
   Kevin LeMaster
   Michal Lemberger
   Kim Leng
   Roland Lesterin
   Tiffany Lettieri
   P.A. Levy
   Martin Lewis
   Cheyenne Lewis
   Anthony Liccione
   Cynthia Linville
   Laura Lionello
   Zachary Locklin
   Jessica Lopez
   Harold Lorin
   Tess. Lotta
   B.D. Love
   Adam Lowis
   Ron Lucas
   Andrew Lundwall
   Rick Lupert
   Suzan Lustig
   Radomir Luza
   Stosh Machek
   John MacKenna
   Sarah Maclay
   Stefanie Maclin
    Magdalena
   Gary Maggio
   Holly Magill
   Anthony Magistrale
   Marieta Maglas
   Suvi Mahonen
   Donal Mahoney
   Robert Maiolo
   Kelly Ann Malone
   Michael Malota
   Shahé Mankerian
   Angela Consolo Mankiewicz
   Chris Mansell
   H.E. Mantel
   April-May March
   Rick Marlatt
   John Marshall
   Agnes Marton
   Francis Masat
   Lee Mason
   Hyatt Mason
   Anthony Mason
   Johnny Masuda
   Mira N. Mataric
   Ellyn Maybe
   Michelle Mazzetti
   Mary L. Mazzocco
   Ted Mc Carthy
   Austin McCarron
   Terry McCarty
   Paul McConnell
   Brendan McCormack
   Deborah McCreath-Akbar
   Catfish McDaris
   Bray McDonald
   Karen J McDonnell
   Matt McGee
   Allen McGill
   Afric McGlinchey
   Terance James McGunigle
   Cat Angelique McIntire
   David McIntire
   david mclean
   Isobel McQueen
   Fernando Meisenhaulter
    Mephistopheles
   Corey Mesler
   Melissa Michaels
    Mike the Poet
   Robert John Miller
   Scott Miller
   Richard Lee Miller
   Hany Haggag Abdl Mobdy
   Richard Modiano
   William Mohr
   Sonnet Mondal
   Jason Monios
   Leslie Monsour
   Amanda Montei
   Patrick Mooney
   Greggory Moore
   Carl Moore
    Albert Lee Moran
   A.J. Morelli
   Christopher Mulrooney
   Frank Mundo
   Barbara-Marie Mundt
   Augusto Munoz
   Mark Murphy
   Craig Murray
   Kristine Ong Muslim
   JL Nathan
   Nimah Nawwab
   Leslie Maryann Neal
   Jason Neese
   Raghab Nepal
   Robbi Nester
   Mindy Nettifee
   Martina Reisz Newberry
   Beth Escott Newcomer
   Peter Nezafati
   Scott Nichols
   keith niles
   Dave Nordling
   Aire Celeste Norell
   Steve Norwood
   Laura Nye
   Charlotte O'Brien
   Toti O'Brien
   Suzanne O'Connell
   Katie O'Loughlin
   Peter O'Niell
   Tom O'Reilly
   Akor Emmanuel Oche
   A.J. Odasso
   Rita Odeh
   Kirsten Ogden
   Daniel Olivas
   Maurice Oliver
   Marc Olmstead
   Philip ONeil
   Nzingah Oniwosan
   Chika Onyenezi
   Nina Orlovskaya
   Sergio Ortiz
   David Ishaya Osu
   Scott Thomas Outlar
   Holly Painter
   Lizbeth Palma
   Heather Palmer
   Greg Patrick
   Miss Natalie Patterson
   David E. Patton
   Tim Peeler
   Steve Pelcman
   Angel Perales
   Alice Pero
   Angela J. Perry
   Helen Peterson
   Brenda Petrakos
   Adam Phillips
   James G Piatt
   Rebecca Pierce
   Gareth Pike
   James Pinkerton
   Rob Plath
   Kushal Poddar
   Contributors to poeticdiversity
   Meg Pokrass
   Traian Pop Traian
   Bethany W Pope
   Wayne E. Popelka
   Elisha Porot
   Adrian Potter
   Ren Powell
   Frank Praeger
   Kristena Prater
   Luke Prater
   Shannon Prince
   Stephany Prodromides
   Hattie Quinn
   Octavio Quintanilla
   Beverly J. Raffaele
    Raindog
   Catherine Rajca
   Steve Ramirez
   Mauricio Alejandro Ramos
   Vishnu Rao
   Ingrid Rattay
   James Rauff
   Kasey Ray
   Bili Redd
   Brian Redfern
   Marie Rennard
   Luivette Resto
   E.W. Richardson
   John Richmond
   Francisca Ricinski-Marienfeld
   Kevin Ridgeway
   Lillian Ridgeway
   Dee Rimbaud
   Elijiah Rios
   Cat Risinger
   Ariel Robello
   Ebi Robert
   John D Robinson
   Paula Rodriguez
   Nydia Rojas
   Daniel Romo
   Emily Rose
   Rina Rose
   Diana Rosen
   Poet-broker Rosenthal
   Alison Ross
   James Robert Rudolph
   Walter Ruhlmann
   Gina MarySol Ruiz
   Cody Rukasin
   Cody Rukasin
   Ashley Rumery
   David W. Rushing
   Maryann Russo
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   Howard Sage
   Russell Salamon
   April Salzano
   Bryan Sanders
   Lisa Marie Sandoval
   Cecile Sarruf
    Sasparella
   Ethan Sassouni
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   Lorraine Sautner
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   Peter Schwartz
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   Sondra L. Scott
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   Lisa Segal
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   Anthony Seidman
   Oleg Semonov
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   Dahn Shaulis
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   June Shiitake
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   Rishan Singh
   Durlabh Singh
   Kalpna Singh-Chitnis
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   Lee Sloca
   Carol Smallwood
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   Clinton Smith
    smzang
   Kate Soto
   Ghetto Speare
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   Karr Stratynberg
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   Annette Sugden
   J. C. Sullivan
   Dee Sunshine
   Mani Suri
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   Jonathan Taylor
   Mark Taylor
   Allen Taylor
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    The Unarmed Man
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   Lynne Thompson
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   Sarah Thursday
   Ilona Timoszuk
   Tim Tipton
    TJungle
   Chrys Tobey
    tolbert
   Imani Tolliver
   A. TOMIC
   Anthony Torchia
   Mary Torregrossa
   Evan Traiger
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   Ryan Tranquilla
   Alain Marcel Treadaway
   Pedro Trevino-Ramirez
   Ben Trigg
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   Maja Trochimczyk
    Troy
   The TruthHearse
   Tatiana Tulskaya
   Yelena and Roman Tunkel
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   Gene van Troyer
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   Brenda Varda
   Luis Rubio Vargas
   Carmen Vega
   Ms. Veronica
   Papa Vic
   Clee Villasor
   Ajise Vincent
   Curran D. Vinson
   Jason Visconti
   Anca Vlasopolos
   Daniela Voicu
   Claire Walker
   toren wallace
   r.k. wallace
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   Sharieff Walters
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   Cindy Weinstein
   Denise R. Weuve
   Rev. Dave Wheeler
   Leigh White
   Megwynn White
   Kelley White
   J.T. Whitehead
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   Patrick Williamson
   Martin Willitts, Jr
   Jessica Wilson
   Robert D. Wilson
   Amye Wilson
   Alicia Winski
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   Terry Wolverton
   Nina Womack
   Seth Woolf
   Kirby Wright
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   Julie Yi
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   Gregory T. Young
   Omar ZahZah
   Mariano Zaro
   Michael Zeltser
    
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G. Murray Thomas
December 2009
   

 

Mid 70?S: Musical Doldrums

    The year 1976 and the first half of '77 were pretty much a musical wasteland, for me, and for rock music in general. Sure, looking back we can find plenty of musical highlights in that period, but most of them were bubbling under the surface at the time. On the surface, there was mostly shlock. For example, the big debuts (as measured by sales and press attention) were the first albums by Boston and Heart. Decent albums, yes, but if they were the best new music, we were in trouble.
    My own musical universe was further restricted by my decision to take a year of leave from college. My stated reason for this was that I wanted to dedicate the year to writing a novel which was going to form the basis for the next part of my education (and sample what I imagined to be the life of a writer).
    The truth of the matter is that I had found myself a bit of a social misfit in college, and I wanted to take some time, in a more familiar environment, to, well, learn how to socialize. Part of the problem was that, in high school, I had a ready made identity -- I was the smartest kid in my class -- and, at the least, I could relate to my classmates through that identity. But in college I found out that everyone had been the smartest kid in their class, and I was no longer sure of who I was, where I started from. So I took some time off to try to discover that.
    In any event, Im sure I would have been exposed to a greater variety of interesting music had I stayed at Hampshire. Rochester itself was a musical wasteland, and living there during such a dead period in rock music compounded the problem.
    Not that college life had really done that much for my musical taste that first year. In the spring of '76, the two most popular albums on campus (or at least among the people I was hanging out with) were Jackson Brownes Late for the Sky, and Jimmy Cliffs The Harder They Come, both of which I, frankly, could not stand. I realize that this probably says more about my musical tastes at the time, which were still somewhat narrow, than about the music available around me. But there certainly was not much which fit my taste.
    Most of what I got out of my first year at Hampshire, musically speaking, was the opportunity to explore some classic rock albums I had, more of less, missed out on until that time. Among these were Layla by Derek and the Dominoes, Dylans Blonde on Blonde, Hendrixs Electric Ladyland, The Stones Let It Bleed, and The Who Sell Out. All great albums, but Im sure they helped plant the idea in my mind that the best rock music was all in the past.
    My musical tastes werent totally restricted. That spring, I saw three concerts: Leslie West, Arlo Guthrie and David Bromberg. The last two indicate some broadening of my taste -- I could appreciate at least some folk rock (even if not Jackson Browne).
    Interestingly, I was most disappointed by the Leslie West concert, seemingly closest to my hard rock heart. While impressed by his guitar playing, I wrote in my journal, The most dishonest performance I have ever seen. By that I meant he spent most of the show pandering to the audience.
    David Bromberg impressed me the most, with a powerful blending of musical styles (what would today be labeled Americana), and several virtuoso side musicians. It was a show of stellar musicianship, and not so much showmanship.
    Lets stop here a second to consider just what my musical taste was at this point. i keep saying hard rock, but thats not completely accurate. Although much of what I listened to was hard rock, it wasnt all that I liked. Further, not everything which was hard rock appealed to me. For example, Led Zeppelin, the epitome of hard rock, did not interest me very much. What did I like in music? Energy and originality. (And lots of guitar.) Preferably both, but either in sufficient quantity would do. I liked swing music for its energy, Frank Zappa for his originality.
    To review some of the music from that first year of college: The classic rock albums all fit my criteria, on both counts. Leslie Wests problem was a lack of originality. David Bromberg showed both energy and, to a certain degree, originality (or at least what he played was new to my ears). Jackson Browne lacked the energy I sought; he was way too mellow for me. As for Jimmy Cliff, he was too funky, and at that point, funky was a dirty word to me. It took the Talking Heads to teach me to appreciate funky, but thats getting way ahead of the story.
    There was one more factor which was becoming increasingly important to me. It could be classified as a subset of originality -- just plain weirdness. Frank Zappa introduced me to this concept, and I found I liked it more and more. And the music I heard in the mid-70s just didnt have enough of it for me.

            ***********

    But then I was back in Rochester, where I found even less music which appealed to my tastes. One indication of this is how few concerts I saw that year. Im sure there plenty in the city, but I only saw a handful -- two BOC concerts already discussed, Lou Reed, and Heart (opening for Dave Mason). In June of '76, shortly after I arrived back home, I had tickets to Summerfest, a big concert in Buffalos Rich Stadium, featuring Peter Frampton, Johnny and Edgar Winter, and Todd Rundgrens Utopia, but couldnt get a ride. Im sure I was more interested in the big concert scene than in any of the bands, because I dont recall being overly disappointed at not going.
    Lou Reed was a disappointment, but thats because I was expecting RocknRoll Animal, and he had something else in mind, something much mellower and more introspective. He didnt even have a guitarist with him. That is one concert I wish I could revisit with older, wiser eyes and ears. Im sure I would now find it much more interesting. He did have an clever stage setup, with a solid wall of TVs as the back of the stage.
    Heart was much better. The concert (in early August, shortly before I returned to Hampshire) was in Syracuse, the next city over; I had to take the bus. Heart rocked hard; I especially liked how they encored with Zeppelins RocknRoll and Nilssons Without You. I had to leave in the middle of Dave Masons set to catch the bus back, but I was fine with that. He was boring (or at least, boring me).
    I did also see Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee in a small club, and thoroughly enjoyed that. I did like old time blues. Not that I had any deep appreciation of them, but I did enjoy them.
    Otherwise, there were a smattering of bar bands in various clubs (I spent a lot of time in bars that year -- the drinking age in New York was still 18), but I didnt enjoy very many. My journal is filled with rantings about typical commercial rocknroll.
    One bar band which moderately impressed me was Talus, solely because of their bass player, Billy Sheehan, who later went on to play with David Lee Roth, Mr. Big and Steve Vai. I was blown away by his playing, but still bitched about their choice of material.
    My friend Greg turned me on to a band called The Good Rats, which played around town regularly. Yet somehow I never managed to see them throughout that year. Still, their album Ratcity in Blue was one of the musical highlights of the year for me. The Good Rats definitely showed their bar band roots, playing everything from hard rock to jazz to country. And not by playing covers, it was all original songs. Ratcity in Blue featured some fine guitar work (my weakness, as you know by now), especially the dual guitar solo in the title track.
    But the point is those musical highlights were few and far between. Overall, I was very disappointed in the music scene. There didn't seem to be anything happening except disco, which I hated. (At some point I bought a Disco Sucks T-shirt.) I couldnt really explain what was missing, but I knew something was. I was primed for what was coming down the line.
    I did buy a lot of records that year. Living at home, working full time, I, for the first time, had plenty of spending money. My primary expenses were books, records and alcohol. And most of the records (and books, for that matter) were used (or else bootlegs). I only bought a handful of new releases that year -- the aforementioned Heart, Boston, and Good Rats; BOCs Agents of Fortune (which I found overly commercial, and therefore disappointing); and a couple more Ill get to in a moment.
    I probably should mention some albums which came out that year which I didnt buy, but which were significant. Two of the top selling albums of the year were The Eagles Hotel California, and something or other by Fleetwood Mac. You can probably guess where I stood on them, although I did like the song Hotel California. Less commercially successful were Bowies Low, and Pink Floyds Animals. I pretty much ignored both. I still hadnt forgiven Bowie for his disco phase, and Pink Floyd hadnt captured me yet (despite Dark Side). Also, at that time, both were critically considered low points of their respective careers. Of course, I love both albums now, which is less an indication of my changing taste than of finally giving them a good listen.
    I bought a lot of used records. I would spend hours in my favorite used record store, leafing through their bins. Im not sure how many people today (except for a few audiophiles) can truly appreciate the charm of a used record store. First there was the visual appeal, all that vinyl in the bins and on the wall, all of it new sounds waiting for my ears. I have always had an appreciation for chaos, so the fact that most used record stores were just a little bit dirtier, and a good bit less organized, than new record stores added to the charm. Finally, there was the factor of randomness. You never knew what might be in stock, what you might discover. Every visit became an adventure.
    At the time, my purchases seemed very random, determined mostly by what happened to be in stock. But now I can see a definite pattern. I did buy some unsurprising albums, random Beatles and Stones for example. I picked up all the Bowie albums which featured Mick Ronson, plus Ronsons two solo albums. And I got The Velvet Underground, MC5, Stooges (an old copy of Funhouse for $1.50, and an unopened copy of the first album for $20, which I promptly opened), and Roxy Music (I found three Roxy Music albums -- the 1st, For Your Pleasure, and Siren, in the cut-out bin where I worked, and spent the next few weeks immersed in them).
    See where this is going? I was ready.
    One of the new releases I bought that year was Iggy Pops The Idiot (theres more on that in my column on Iggy). It actually was not a record I took to easily, but any Iggy album was a beacon of hope in that bleak landscape.
    And then there was... well, let me digress a minute. One of my guilty pleasures has always been overproduced pop music, especially with female vocals. The Phil Spector sound. Except I wasnt really familiar with Phil Spector yet, didnt realize he was responsible for that sound, or that I could just pick up a Spector collection and satisfy my itch. So when I heard something along those lines, I grabbed onto it. Perhaps the best example was the Tubes Dont Touch Me There, a marvelous, and sexed-up, satire of Phil Spector girl groups, which I couldnt get enough of it.
    Then one day in a record store I heard an even more perfect take on the Phil Spector Wall of Sound. One which was a true tribute, and not just a satire, and yet also had some rock edge to it. It was A Shark In Jets Clothing off the first Blondie album. I dont know why I didnt just grab it up right then, except I did have some limitations on my budget. But as I reflected on what I had heard, I knew I needed that album. And once I got it, it didnt leave my turntable for a month.
    It was now the summer of '77, and things in music were rapidly changing. Stuck in Rochester, I was still removed from most of these changes, but the hints flowed in rapidly. I picked up a copy of Hit Parader magazine, and, after reading through it, wrote in my journal, Iggy Pop is back. Television is the best American band in ten years [despite the fact I still had not heard a note of them], and the British punk scene has revived the idea of garage bands with true feeling and energy that is crucial to rocknroll.
    In another month Id be back at Hampshire, and in the middle of the punk explosion. In others words, in heaven.

copyright 2009 G. Murray Thomas