Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Flower Furnace - Hitting My Musical Sweet Spot - Again

Light show and all, the Furnace rocks the Bistro
Today, I read a long article in the November 26, 2012 issue of the New Yorker on the music of the Grateful Dead. In Deadhead - The Afterlife, Nick Paumgarten recalls when he first discovered the band in the 1980s as a teenager. Describing his strong attachment to that period of the Dead's output, he says, "People say that the music you liked when you hit puberty is the stuff that sticks with you." He's so right.

That's why I love the Flower Furnace. Their music, ranging from 1965 to 1975, hits my sweet spot--and a little more. In 1965, I was 12, and glued to the radio, where I absorbed Motown, the British Invasion (led by the Beatles, Stones, Dave Clark 5, the Who) and the American hits by the Beach Boys, Four Seasons, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Paul Revere and the Raiders and many more.

I have what I consider a "phonographic memory" for songs from 1964 to 1968 (and maybe 1969 too)--my middle school and high school years. I know all the words and can nearly always sing along. It does help that I started playing the guitar in 1967 and was actually strumming some of these songs myself, but no other period of my life contains music that affects me this deeply.

Watching and listening to the band at the Bistro in Hayward, California (for the second time -- read my first post here) just reinforced this. How wonderful to be able to absorb the Jefferson Airplane's Somebody to Love -- the Furnace's opener-- LIVE! 1967 is the epicenter of that 60's musical earthquake that happened in San Francisco, and that song is about as emblematic of the way I felt then as it gets.

What about I am the Walrus--the band's finale? Not even the Beatles played that one live! And although the Fleetwood Mac, Peter Frampton and Kansas songs the Furnace knocks off so meticulously are not in my golden period, I owned those vinyl albums too. I just couldn't sing along quite as easily on Saturday.

The Bistro crowd responds to these songs, and cheers the musicians on. Three powerful sets delivered the goods. The show went 20 minutes past midnight, and I'm sure we would all have stayed another couple of hours if they had kept playing.


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