Thursday, June 11, 2015


I should here state I generally, to my shame, disapprove of the idea of Thin Lizzy, their cocky swagger always offending my carefully nurtured metrosexuality. Yet, dammit, the songs are so catchy and the twin guitars so darn effective, pop it on the playlist and I'm there, singing along and air-guitaring like a good'un. And I hate them for that. And love 'em, all the more with the doomed 'romance' of an early death, that crazy plus factor in the madness of rock and roll.

Wide boys out on the town is a recurring theme in Lynott lyricism, from Jailbreak to simply wild nights out on the lash. What group of drink-fueled youths cannot fail to feel the bigger and better for an anthem celebrating their empty celebrations of optimistic and all too often dashed hopes? When all there is left after the swagger and the bluster is the camaraderie of going home alone.

Phil Lynott seems to me the archetypal "lad," perhaps having to big his way in 60's/70s Dublin, where his background and complexion may have insisted on a rebel stance, otherwise facing an ostracism from the Irish Catholic orthodoxy and conservatism. Maybe he embraced that outlaw chic too hard, but it worked, it worked. Until.

The song was originally on the Jailbreak album in 1976, and was the lead single and opener for side 2 of the LP. Reaching 12 in the US charts and 8 in the UK, it was a resounding 1 at home in Ireland, being named, just, within the original Rolling Stone best 500 songs. (499) Another accolade came later, when British music magazine Q placed it 38 in the 2005 list of best ever guitar tracks, as the song is undoubtedly propelled by its dual riffing, adding verve to its already spunky vocal delivery.

Catnip for any band wanting to show off an edgy gang mentality, even if ironic, there have been a number of covers, notably the Happy Mondays and Bon Jovi . For all that, my favourite version is that by Sofia, on 'Search and Destroy, a Punk Lounge Experience,' in 2008, which transforms the song into the perspective of a maybe wistful witness, perhaps one of the the hideously dated "chicks" in the lyric.
Guilty pleasures abound.

Reunions: Mother-In-Law

Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr.: Mother-In-Law [purchase]

It’s too bad that the Reunion theme didn’t follow the Wedding theme, but I’m actually going to work in both of those, plus the Water/Wet theme that snuck in between them.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended part of my 33rd college reunion. Although not a major reunion, a hardy group of my classmates were there, some because their kids were graduating, others to march in the alumni parade (the “P-Rade”) with their parents or grandparents or spouses who were celebrating major reunions, and others, like me, just for the hell of it. I’ve written before about my 30th and 31st reunion, so I won’t get too deep into it, but what is fun about showing up at “off year” reunions is that you get to talk with classmates who you might not at a major reunion, because everyone spends time with their closest friends. And, you get to see friends from other classes, especially the ones celebrating their major reunions.

Then, last weekend, my wife and I went to a wedding in New Orleans of the daughter of one of my wife’s college friends. Including my wife and the mother of the bride, there were 8 Smith classmates in attendance (and a few other Smithies from other classes, too). So, it was a different kind of reunion, because all of them were friendly in college. In the nearly 35 years since graduation, each of them had stayed in touch with each other, to different degrees. As an outside observer, it was interesting to see how they sort of fell back into behavior patterns that I bet were similar to when they were in college.

It was a fun time. We had some good food and times with her friends, and explored New Orleans, a city that neither my wife nor I had been to (not counting my overnight business trip to Metarie). We wandered and toured some of the city, learned some history, ate well, and saw great music, from the Cajun/Zydeco Festival in Louis Armstrong Park, at Preservation Hall, to incredible street musicians at Jackson Square and on Royal Street, and in a bar on Frenchmen Street.

The wedding was fun, too. The reason that the wedding was in New Orleans was that the bride and groom were both medical students at Tulane and were going to be doing their residency there. Almost none of the guests were from the Crescent City, and the families decided to make the weekend a celebration of the city. There was a crawfish boil (with pulled pork sliders available for the non-seafood eaters, like me). We had cocktails at the elegant Windsor Court Hotel. After the ceremony, we second lined behind the Kinfolk Brass Band to dinner at Antoine’s, the oldest family run restaurant in the country, for French-Creole food. After dinner, we danced to the zydeco flavored music of Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr. & The Zydeco Twisters, who virtually blew the roof off the place. And the following morning, we had lunch at local landmark Dat Dog.

Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr. is the son of the legendary Rockin’ Dopsie, and took over the band when his father died. They said they had never played a wedding before, and that’s too bad, because they were, probably, the best wedding band I’ve ever heard. They mix in classic cajun/zydeco music with soul, blues, rock and funk, with an incredible energy that had elderly women standing on chairs, and reluctant dancers (me!), boogieing away (after a fashion). Now, we left before they finished, so I have no idea if they played the featured song, a cover of a classic written by the great Allen Toussaint and made famous by Ernie K-Doe, who lived off the song, and its fame, the rest of his life, including as the owner of the Mother-In-Law Lounge, now owned by more recent New Orleans musical icon Kermit Ruffins.

I needed a way to tie the Reunion theme to the wedding weekend, and I wanted to use a Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr. song, and this one seemed to be the best choice, based on the title alone. But the lyrics are about a very bad mother-in-law. Very, very bad. So, I don’t want to look unkind, or unappreciative of the generosity of our hosts and all that went into making the weekend so memorable and fun. Therefore, I want to make it abundantly clear that I know that my wife’s friend, who is a truly wonderful person, and the mother of the groom, who I met and who seems like a great woman, will be the exact opposite type of mother-in-law to the one that the song discusses. I repeat—they will NOT be like the mother-in-law in the song. And let me also make it clear that I have a great mother-in-law, too (who recently celebrated her 60th college reunion).  My wife would also like to close the loop by stating that she, also, has a great mother-in-law.

I promised that I would also tie in the Water/Wet theme. Of course, New Orleans sits astride the Mississippi River, is bordered by Lake Pontchartrain, sits in great part on land reclaimed from swamps, is crisscrossed by canals and bayous, and, of course, was memorably and tragically flooded by the effects of Hurricane Katrina (amplified by some bad human decisions). So it is hard not to think about water when you are in the city. And, on our way to the airport to leave, it started to pour rain. There, I did it.