Essays and rock & roll. Looking and listening. Nostalgia versus skepticism.
Sunday, October 12, 2014
The Fleshtones are singing songs about living. Who's listening?
Since I published Sweat: The Story of the Fleshtones, America's Garage Band in 2007, a number of people have asked me, half in jest, half earnestly, if I'm working on a second volume. In a way, the Fleshtones have been doing that work for me. In surprisingly autobiographical songs on 2008's Take A Good Look and this year's Wheel Of Talent, the Fleshtones are telling stories about what it's like as borough veterans to be living in a changing New York City, to be aging while watching young hipsters abound, and to be survivors, playing in a rock and roll band for nearly forty years against great odds. From regrets about blowing off high school, pride in re-defining conventional success and maturity, and baffled hostility toward gentrification to pridefully and affectionately remembering Ground Zero of U.S. Punk ("We were there," they crow from the stage) and dealing with dysfunctional family politics and the bittersweet lure of memory, the Fleshtones are proving that they aren't just a "party band" anymore. They've endured and have stuff to say. How did Pete Townshend define rock and roll, that it's fun songs about sad stuff? Turn it up, live and learn: