Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Colorado

Colorado,

Land of Red Rocks, the most famous 'Live At' this side of Budokan.

I was actually pretty surprised by the depth and breadth of Colorado's popular music history, although I likely shouldn't be considering it's geographical location, it's multicultural history, and it's balance between urban, suburban and non-urban communities. Colorado, much like Missouri is a microcosm of the whole of American experience in a disturbingly sound geometric package...

Before looking deeper into it's history, the only thing I knew for sure about Colorado music, is that native son John Denver would be in the running for the solo spot, even though I'm not a big fan of his works... After all, he's John Denver, the man was the walking embodiment of all things Colorado. From his birth in New Mexico to his formative years in Texas John Den...


Holdonthere, pally...


John 'Rocky Mountain High' *Denver* ISN'T from Colorado? He wasn't born there? He didn't grow up there? What the hell??

Turns out Mr. Denver was actually born John Deutschendorf in Roswell, New Mexico. His father was in the Air Force, so John and the Deutschendorf family bounced around different Southwestern military bases in typical military-fam fashion. John was in Arlington, Texas when he finished High School, and was known for his pickin' on a 1910 Gibson guitar in the local clubs.

Now as it happens, folks at various clubs didn't think Deutschendorf was the best stage name unless you're planning on leading your own Reich, so John decided on Denver, the capital of his favorite state.

Hence, John Austin's.... Err... John Santa Fe's.... err... John Denver's long and varied association with Colorado. He wasn't born there, he didn't really grow up there, he didn't tragically lose his life there, that was in California, but he sure did like it a whole lot.

That may be good enough to have been named Poet Laureate, but it's not enough to make my states list... Besides, I might need to keep John on file when I hit New Mexico later on...

Enough about the faux-'Denver' let's find out what Wikipedia has to say about the fine state of Colorado...

- Citizens of Colorado are known as Coloradans, and I thought that was the official title of Crayola's crayon namers...

- Denver is the capital, and largest city in Colorado, yet the city itself still has a smaller population than last-posts' puzzler, San Jose... I still just don't get that...

- The state of Colorado is described as a geoellipsoidal rectangle. A uniquely boring geologimetrical feature it shares with only Wyoming. If only they'd share some of their musicians... That's going to be a tough one...

- Feel free to reuse Geologimetrical and claim it as your own.

- Nearly half of the state of Colorado is completely flat. This is the half we don't talk about, and the half the other half makes fun of.

- Much of Colorado is defined by the Rocky Mountains. Population centers are located at the base of some of the highest peaks making for natural weather breaks, the Continental Divide bisects the Rockies, leading the water west of the highest peaks flowing west to form the Colorado river, and water to the east funnels east to join the Mississippi. The point is, there's tall mountains here, and lots of them.

- Colorado, like the earlier mentioned Arizona, is one of the 4 corner states. Mathmagic tells us we've got two more of those to go...

- You cannot claim Mathmagic as your own. It belongs to Donald Duck.

- Colorado, like California was not admitted into the union as a state until somebody figured out they had gold... Hmmm... I wonder why THAT mattered...

- Colorado was admitted to the union 28 days after the nation's Centennial in 1876, earning it the nickname 'The Centennial State'

- On November 7th 1893, Colorado became the first state in the union to grant women the right to vote. On November 4th, 2008 Colorado voted properly for the first time in 16 years.

- The Chevrolet Colorado is a pickup truck that has very little to do with the state of Colorado, and isn't even sold only in red.

- Colorado is a Spanish word meaning 'red'... Just in case I lost you back there...

OK, FASCINATING... Now on to the music... Remember earlier in the post, like, up at the top of the page, before all the Wiki facts, I was talking about the rich and vibrant history of Colorado's music scene? Yeah, well it turns out that it wasn't JUST John Denver that Colorado stole and called their own... Earth Wind and Fire, Gov't Mule, Soft Machine, The Dave Matthews Band, Colorado is trying to steal all of them... Sometimes from whole other countries, not just neighboring states. Missing your wallet? Colorado probably has it...

Alright, let's soldier on and find some Colorado natives to flesh this thing out...

Solo Artist: Jill Sobule

She was born in Denver, and she kissed a girl, before Katy Perry kissed a girl. That sounds like a good enough resume to me... Jill, you're hired.

Ms. Sobule's Wiki page tells me her folk inflected compositions alternate between ironic, story driven character studies and emotive ballads. I liked the girl kissin' song, and her Supermodel track from the Clueless soundtrack, sounds like I've got some new music to buy...

I think this pick says more about me than it does about Colorado. When all else fails, I'll always go to the mid-90's one hit wonder. These are my people, the tunes I grew up with, the long forgotten artists still toiling for a follow-up to that one single that charted some 10 to 15 years ago. I feel and understand their pain. I mean the closest I can come to hitting the top of the charts is snarky blog posts...

I wish the best for you Jill Sobule, and here's hoping that my karmic blogthoughts lead to a renewed Renaissance for 70's inspired idiosyncratic guitar women the world over.

Band: Big Head Todd & The Monsters

So remember earlier when I was talking about how if all else fails, I wrap myself up in a security blanket woven from flannel shirts, Doc Martin's, mix tapes, and corner coffee houses? Yeah, I've crawled into my 90's hole... Again... Only this time I pulled out a band that not only came from the 90's, but that I'd totally forgotten existed until I enlisted some help from The Rocky Mountain News. Todd, his enlarged dome, and the monsters he surrounds himself with are all Colorado residents, having formed their fuzzy grunge-pop sound machine at Columbine High School, before it was COLUMBINE HIGH SCHOOL...

The band was a highlight act of the early HORDE Festival, once again proving their 90's band cred, and the released a cover track on the Led Zeppelin Encomium tribute CD, cementing them in the 20th century's final decade.

BHTatM scored three chart singles off their debut studio release Sister Sweetly and damned if I can;t recall a single one of them. If you possibly might, the tracks were called Bittersweet, Circle, and Broken Hearted Savior.

OK... Watched this and I TOTALLY remember this song...

I don't remember this one... But it's not bad...

...and I might remember this one, or I might just think I do...

A quick check of my iPod confirms my suspicions with my artists list jumping from Big Audio Dynamite, to Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, through Big Country, and eventually landing on Bill Haley. I owe you an apology, Colorado. Apparently you do have artists. Artists that seemingly I would enjoy listening to, but I simply ignore the fruits of your snow-capped loins. I am not worthy of your sharply symmetrical borders or your rugged and impassible peaks. Alas, I'll still BS my way through an 'Honorable Mention'

Honorable Mention: The Fray

They sing that 'How To Save a Life' song that all the folks who love medical dramas are all ga-ga for.

OK Fray, I've acknowledged your existence. You're now free to fade away into obscurity just like the 'You Had a Bad Day' guy has been kind enough to do.



kthanksbye...


Next time, catch up with a state that has at least one true born artist who I actually enjoy, the small but compelling land of Connecticut...

4 comments:

Michael Doss said...

You were one post early with Jello Biafra - he was born in CO, and actually lived there for a while.

I saw Jill Sobule in September. She tours around with SNL's Julia Sweeney going to Atheist conventions, and they sing songs together. I couldn't have made that up.

I personally would have given honorable mention to Glenn Miller, but that dude is OLD.

OCKerouac said...

You are correct on Jello, but since I went Dead Kennedys, who were formed in CA, I have broken no rules... I just screwed myself out of a good Colorado option... I really should plan ahead...

Glenn Miller would be a good call... If my grandpa was writing this blog...

OCKerouac said...

Oh, and honoring Glenn Miller would have taken away my opportunity to berate The Fray...

CSD Julie said...

The Fray and Glenn Miller make good music.

And no, I'm not some Emo Grandpa.