In the office, I am to Horslips what Roger H is to The Beatles.
And so it was that Sunday evening I was on my way to the City with Roger to see Sean Lennon at the Great American Music Hall. Now I went mostly to have a good time and to see if the kids are alright (they seem okay) and how Lennon Og grappled with the family legacy.
And, interestingly, even though his own music was squarely in the style of today's sophisticated, dense, neo-psychedelic, alt-indy what-you-will, there were undeniable traces of a paternal influence. "It's the chord progressions!" I said to Roger after a song or two. "The key changes and whatever is going on in the tonal structure."
But it struck me that this still did not separate his music from his contemporaries or stigmatize it as derivative, but rather that they ALL have absorbed something from a primal source. Indeed, one album in particular.* So on the turntable today: Magical Mystery Tour.
Another surprise was Sean's easy-going relationship with the audience. "Great album!" someone shouted. "Whose album? Houses of the Holy by Led Zepplin?" he batted back. "That's a great album." This led to a few quick runs of signature Led Zepplin riffs to cheers and hoots. "Yeah, that shit's rad." he concluded. Another extended discussion with the front of the room on the subject of Maxon Crumb, holy madman and street sufi of the City. Then a shout-out to sister Kyoko in the house. Finally, the obligatory honoring of the locale. "Is it true this was a place of sin?" Sean asked, hand sweeping out to indicate pillars, balconies, bars, and dancefloor. Indeed. Cat house, opium den, rat-gambling pit, Shanghai floor saloon, or church: there isn't a nineteenth century structure in San Francisco without sin. The audience affirmed Sean's question.
"Well I'll tell you," he said. "It's a beautiful place to get a blow-job in."
And from the back of the house, male voice, booming: "Where isn't?"
*I already had an inkling of this when I went to see The Decemberists two years ago (at the very same venue) and one of their opening bands did a trance-electronica take on Blue Jay Way. It was pretty cool, actually.