Saturday, March 19, 2016

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night...

Brooklyn, New York, 1992. Photo by Ann Arbor.
In advance of the Fleshtones' 40th anniversary this year, I've been thinking about the many places where I've seen the band play since 1983: Washington D.C.; College Park, MD; Baltimore, MD; New York, NY; Buffalo, NY; Hoboken, NJ; Jersey City, NJ; Detroit, MI; Chicago, IL; Berwyn, IL; Sycamore, IL; Columbus, OH; Cleveland, OH; Athens, OH; St Louis, MO; Austin, TX; Iowa City, IA; Green Bay, WI; Madison, WI; Mankato, MN; Minneapolis, MN; Chapel Hill, NC; and probably a few places I'm forgetting. Common to each show—from the Reagan Era to the Obama Era, from Friday nights to Tuesday nights, from 4-star hotels to 1-star Mom & Pop's to friends' and promoters' floors and couches, over countless thousands of miles in vans and on planes—has been the band's commitment to deliver a memorable, fun, spontaneous, and sweaty experience, whether in front of a packed house or a ragged handful.

Few Fleshtones songs capture the ups and downs of life in the World's Most Unusual Blues Band more graphically than Ken Fox's "I Want The Answers" from 2005's Beachhead (a song produced by Rick Miller, himself a road-tested testifier).

I wanna know why money doesn’t just fall down from the trees
I wanna know why fame doesn’t just blow in with the breeze
Why do the bad things feel so good
when the good things find another neighborhood?
Why does the upside always bring me down
while the downside finds me lifting off the ground?

Give me, c'mon and give me, just give me the proof
Give me, c'mon and give me, just give me the truth

'Cause I want the answers, just give me the answers,
I want the answers and I want ‘em right now

I wanna know why if I’m so good I didn’t die young
I wanna know why, maybe then I’d have me a Number One
Why does everybody wanna steal my act
and then I waste all these years, I’ll never get ‘em back
Why does everybody wanna bow at my feet
when I can’t earn enough just to make ends meet?

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