Those of you who had progressed beyond teething rings and Cookie Monster by the tail end of the Seventies will probably recall the musical and sartorial splendor of Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks. In hindsight both are somewhat cringe-inducing, though to this day I maintain a soft spot for Tusk — it’s the brass section, I guess.
Honestly, guilty pleasure though the record most certainly is, it really gets the solo dance party started, at least after a few Saturday night Sazeracs anyway. Don’t believe me? Toss a couple back and have a look at Mick Fleetwood getting his groove on courtesy of the USC marching band. See if you don’t feel the urge to shake a tailfeather.
Anyways, if it’s all too far back in the murky past for you to recall, let me remind you that along about 1979, platform shoes, flowing raiments, floppy hats, tatty lace and Rapunzelesque locks were already a bit out of date, except on Steven Tyler and the occasional tranny, but our gal Stevie held on to them all well into the next decade, for better or worse.
Now owing to some “personal issues,” Stevie had largely disappeared from the musical/celebrity scene by about the mid to late Eighties, effectively ending her solo career, which I think we can all agree was really for the best. So imagine my surprise yesterday when I was out and about, shopping for suitable attire for an upcoming social event that’s not really formal, but just a little bit dressy — you know the kind of thing, and all I could find were Stevie’s cast off Welsh witch twirly skirts, princess-on-acid maxi dresses (no foundation garment possible with these) and impossible platform shoes.
Apparently after all these years girlfriend has assumed control of the fashion industry! Rehab must have included some mixed martial arts training, because she has somehow managed to kick Anna Wintour’s bony backside to the curb, replacing the tasteful Jackie O sheath with the crochet mumu or mini as every gal’s must have wardrobe staple in the process.
Unfortunately, Stevie redux (the sequel) doesn’t look quite as fetching on the middle-aged frame as it did on the teenage one; however, lace minis and swirling maxis were literally all I could find that were fashion forward without being a little black dress, and so I came home empty-handed and more than a tad frustrated.
I ask you, why is it women over 40 (who are not Demi Moore) must choose between dressing like the Olsen twins or Duchess Whatsername Mrs. Prince Charles? Is there no middle ground?
And why can’t I find a pair of dress shoes that weigh less than fifty pounds? Owing to my lack of stature, I have had to get used to walking in a very high heel, and more often than not I do just fine. But these newfangled platforms are like cement mixers. Have you ever tried dragging a pair of them around? Sure they build up your calves after a couple of days, but really, I have time to separate my workout from my leisure activities, and I prefer to do so whenever possible. Who wants to feel the burn while walking from the table to the ladies room, I ask you?
The final injury is the hats. If the ladies at Bloomingdale’s are to be believed, we should all be topping off our hippie costumes with big floppy hats, a la Rachel Zoe, whom I now believe to be in cahoots with Stevie. Or maybe she IS Stevie. Have you ever seen them together? Think about it and get back to me.
Confession can be good for the soul, man
Forgive me Father Elvis, for I have sinned. It’s been thirty-five years — give or take — since my last confession, and as such I can’t really tell you how many times I’ve slipped or exactly what I’ve done. Given the timeframe we’re dealing with here, it’s probably safe to assume I’ve committed all of the seven deadlies at least once, though I’m pleased to report I’ve been almost completely mortal sin-free since we last spoke. True, I’ve been a little lax on the blasphemy front, but otherwise I think I’m pretty solid.
What’s that? Specifics? Well OK, if you insist.
I’d just like to begin by saying that I started out really well. The Sixties were chockablock with great music, and my parents were young and hip. We even had a big old stereo with lots of records – Yourself, the Stones, the Kinks, the Beatles, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, a little soul, a smattering of R&B. The usual. Tasteful, interesting stuff. Hard to say how I strayed from the garden path.
I guess I’d have to say my most frequent transgressions have been the singers who can’t sing. It started innocently enough with Bob Dylan: Mr. Tambourine Man, Blowin’ in the Wind, Highway 61 — you remember, don’t you? He’d scratch that guitar and wheeze into his harmonica and we all thought it sounded, well not exactly good, but cool. By the time we got to Blonde on Blonde, everybody was hooked. From there it wasn’t much of a trip to buying Neil Young records. Hell, after that, Tom Petty sounded just fine, and Bono seemed kind of smooth. I know it looks bad (and sounds even worse), but in my own defense, I’d like to point out that that Robbie Robertson album was a one-shot deal and I never even considered buying anything recorded by Bjork. That’s got to count for something.
What’s that, sir? More? Yeah, there’s more, and since we’re both already here, I guess we should talk about the Eighties. You know, it wasn’t all New Wave pablum. I did go to several Ramones shows, and I saw The Pretenders more than once. I also seem to recall an Eric Clapton/Muddy Waters double bill, but the details from that particular night are a little hazy. I know you’ll understand where I’m coming from on that.
Pardon? Depeche Mode? Aw c’mon man, I was living in England at the time and given the omnipresence of Top of the Pops it could have been a lot worse. You do remember Culture Club? How about Rick Astly? Never even got near either one. No, I think my little flirtation with New Wave hardly even qualifies as venal.
Of course, I can’t say the same for the chick singers. Though I’m more than a little ashamed to admit it, I did buy Sheryl Crow’s first album, but it was a Grammy winner and even though it contains that uber-stinker Strong Enough, there’s also Leaving Las Vegas and a couple of other reasonable efforts, though I can’t really recall them at this point. How was I to know she’d go all save-the-planet and start dating Lance Armstrong? And remember, I have always been a big Patti Smith fan, which I’m thinking should counterbalance that unfortunate Sheryl Crow business.
There is one thing I do need to get off my chest though. That’s right, you guessed it: Stevie. Not Wonder, Nicks. I bought a Stevie Nicks record in college for reasons I still don’t understand. Maybe it was the adenoidal warbling (bad singers — see above) or the platform shoes. Hell it might even have been the twirling. All I can say is I am really really sorry, and I have already repented in my heart and at length, so I hope you’ll go easy on me. I mean, we’ve all got our guilty pleasures, right? Grilled peanut butter and banana sandwiches ring any bells? How about In the Ghetto?
Yeah yeah, I know we’re talking about me now. Listen, I realize it looks bad, Sir, but before you hand out penance, I’d just like to remind you that I have a deep and abiding love for the high quality stuff — Nirvana, the Foos, Lenny Kravitz, Elvis (no the other one, Costello. Loved the country album. I know, right? Who’d a thunk?)…Oh, well thanks. I try to stay current.
Act of contrition? Really? I know my record is hardly unblemished, but doesn’t my consumption of tasteful, worthy music count for anything? OK, OK, no need to shout. Let me get a pen. Alright, shoot.
Three Half Breeds — Cher! You don’t fool around, do you?
Three Lost in Loves — Air Supply? I’d hardly have thought they’d be on your radar, but it’ll be good and painful.
Twice all the way through We Built This City — Tough to listen to Grace Slick doing that, but you’re driving this bus. It’s harsh, but I can handle it. Check.
So, we done here?
WHAT?! Piano Man!?! You have got to be kidding me! Quite possibly the worst song from the worst album ever recorded. Just the mention of it gives me an earworm. If I listen to it even once, it’ll be stuck in my brain for a week. C’mon, anything but that. Please?
Alright, alright, I’ll do it — relax. And no, you do not have to assign the entire record. I mean it’s not like I tried roller disco, or bought Guns ‘N Roses tickets or anything.
Pardon? Six weeks from now? Couldn’t we stretch it to six months? I’ve got Punch Brothers tickets coming up and Sir Paul’s supposed to be playing in the City again. Of course, I’ve also heard Fleetwood Mac may be touring…I’ll see you in June.