I have been busy and I am back at this business of boring the world with the everyday experiences of my life. Some will be sorry but I suspect that most of them have not lingered long at this place anyway. If you are reading this, Thanks.
What’s Bob Listening To?
It’s A Brand New Day
I can’t remember the last time I played a new CD over again after listening to it the first time. I just fired up I And Love And You by the Avett Brothers for the third listen. I guess you know where this is going so beware.
On listening to the new Avetts CD it struck me just how aware these guys are as to where they are going. They know they have left some things and perhaps some folks behind. But that is what happens in life. You grow or you don’t and if you don’t then we all know what happens to you. So long. Farewell. Been nice knowin’ ya.
Much has been made of the new disc and how it’s just not those old boot flingin’, stompin’, shoutin” boys we have come to love so well. But come on now. It’s not really quite that way. There are banjos and shouting on this disc. What the hell is wrong with a piano and drums?
If I thought that all of this was a terrible thing for the Avetts, and I most certainly do not, I would still have to admit that the song writing is as strong as ever. These are not three chord progressions or sing-song bouncy love songs. The lyrics and rhythms are as strong as ever and there is more. There is much more. What we have is a clean representation of their ability as musicians and clean is not necessarily a bad thing.
The important thing to me is that they know very much that they are moving on. In the opening title cut they tell us so. They speak of New York and all that the big city means. They are heading north. They are going to the evil world and taking their banjos, cellos, guitars, pianos and yes, even the devils own instrument, the drums with them. The addition of piano and drums to the majority of the tunes is a compromise in some folk’s eyes, but to me it speaks of reaching out. It speaks of extending the warm hand of their talents to those who have a narrower view of the musical world. You know, the majority of dim wits that buy records. If you hate compromise then I can see where you might have a hard time swallowing this new Avett attitude but most people who are true artists want to share what they believe is of value with the rest of the world. Or at least a bigger portion than the fringe crazies that some of us belong to. They want to be successful if they can and we all need to let our ears grow just a little. This CD is a stretch in that direction.
I am blown away by And It Spread.
This is classic Avetts with the new twist of drums but still retaining that great bass and cello foundation. The stompin’ is there. The shoutin’ is there. And the poetry has never left. A+ in my humble opinion.
At bottom the whole idea that the Avetts have left their roots and abandoned those crazies who helped them reach this point in their career is why some of those good old folks out there are having a hard time swallowing this. I personally believe they have allowed their feelings to be hurt and are being incredibly selfish. No artist creates and then hopes that he will achieve a minimum of success and be happy with a small cadre of followers. Is there any sense in this? Check out the lyrics to The Perfect Space. This sounds like a production from Sgt. Pepper. Who are these guys?
“I want to have friends that I can trust that love me for the man I’ve become not the man I was”
Oh they know they are changing.
“I want to have pride like my mamma has and not like the kind in the Bible that turns you bad”.
And then we have Ten Thousand Words.
Everything in this poem speaks of self knowledge and the roads we take.
“We love to talk on things we don’t know about”. Yes. I know. That applies to this scribbling as well. In the end it makes no difference what I have to say about these simple men making simple art, but…. I gotta tell you that if this art is really so simple then why don’t we have more of it in the world? I’m crazy but I gotta tell you I think this is the stuff to be crazy about.
“Quick to point out our shortcomings”.
There is much more in this astounding music and inspiring self analyzing lyrics then I am capable of expressing. Listen to the CD. If you don’t like it fine. I personally find much to impress and inspire.
Kick Drum Heart.
The heart of the Avetts will probably always be connected to the kick drum that is such an important instrument in their live performances. That explosive electricity is key to what we all love about these guys but it can reside in their hearts and always be a part of their sound without holding them back. The screaming and the pounding rhythm will reside with them forever. But do not try to hold them back with the musical limitations of your ears. Turn your back on them if you must but they have made it quite clear to this listener that they will continue to venture forth, exploring new sounds and poetry as they see fit. We would be wrong to confuse breaking new ground with conforming to some mythical musical framework. Sure we have heard piano and drums before but nobody complains if Neil Young uses them, or Bob Dylan or any of the other giants who have turned their backs on their so called fans to explore new directions.
More than forty years ago a young and upcoming folk singer followed a musical whim and started playing electric music. In an apparent attempt to turn his back on his real fans he struck out in a new direction and took a lot of grief over the whole thing. The good news is that he is still making recordings and is a virtual god in the musical pantheon of America. God willing, some of us will still be listening to the Avetts forty years from now.
As always. You listen. You decide. I personally can’t wait to hear what they do next.
One thing I believe with all my heart is that they will be writing and performing music no matter how large or small their audience is. As a fan though, I have to admit that I would love to see them succeed.
“They say don’t take your business to the Big Time, I bought us tickets there”.
Don’t tell these guys not to change. They are going their own way and we will ultimately benefit from it.