Well, quite a nostalgia-fest of a week. I looked at the gig guide in the Guardian on Saturday morning to find that both Jefferson Starship and the Steve Miller Band were playing in London. What a dilemma! But Jefferson just don't cut it without Grace Slick. So it was down to the Roundhouse last night to see a 69-year-old Steve Miller, and a nifty band, deliver classy versions of a classy back catalogue, including such oldies as 'Living' in the USA', 'Space Cowboy' and 'The Joker'.
These guys can still groove. Miller himself is in great form both on guitar and as a vocalist. The songs are splendid. There's a touch of the Springsteen about Steve Miller - except where it comes to the lyrics. Any guy who can rhyme calculator, elevator, operator and alligator is, well, a bit of a joker. Coming to which, the chorus of that anthem goes:
Cause' I'm a picker, I'm a grinner. I'm a lover, And I'm a sinner
Playin' my music in the sun
I'm a joker, I'm a smoker, I'm a midnight toker
I get my lovin' on the run
It then gets even more peachy and politically incorrect. But then this was written forty years or so ago.
Jack Kerouac's On the Road, of course, is even older. First published in 1957. By the time I read it I guess sixteen years later, it was already a Penguin Modern Classic. I've still got the copy I devoured back then - I've never dared read it since. It was too special - too much of a moment, my moment. I didn't really get the jazz thing, but I sure got all the rest.
So I was a bit nervous about seeing the movie - but I enjoyed it, broadly true to the spirit of the book, brilliantly acted, and with some of the sadness and sourness which added veracity to what was in part a coming of age (or refusal to come of age) novel.
Now, I suppose I better make some attempt to discover worthwhile cultural artefacts more recent than the mid-1970s. I'll let you know how I get on.
Andrew Whitehead's blog
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