Wonderous Stories, 2012

Today we honor Chris Squire with the Rock File’s review of Yes live in 2012.

July 28, 2012
St. Augustine Amphitheatre
St. Augustine, Florida
Yes fans are a special breed.
They are the aging hippies smoking Borkum Riff in wonderfully smoked and deep-wooded pipes who turned on early to the radical cross-pollination of classical music idioms with the rock revolution of the late 60s.
They are the corduroyed college professors (maybe even the same aging hippies) waiting for tenure but not really caring as long as they can continue to teach The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and How It Might Have Gotten There.
They are the geeky teenage guitar nerds who studied the riff to “La Villa Strangiato (An Exercise in Self-Indulgence)” rather than studying the girls field hockey team during warm-ups.
They are the ones who played “21st Century Schizoid Man” on the flute at the high school talent show without irony because well, this was pre-irony.
They are the ones…

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Good Night, Chris Squire

The music will suffice…

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Where Were You When You First Heard Swordfishtrombones?

The first time I heard a Tom Waits record I wasn’t prepared. In fact, I distinctly remember not liking it.
At all.
It was 1988.
I was working the late shift at the Empire State Building, shuffling tourists around the observatories, trying to keep the peace between the Excitable Italians and the Pleasant Australians. Every once in a while I’d spend the day riding the elevators, just to get away from the madness and the questions about why there weren’t any public toilets on the lower floors of the building.
Why were there no bathrooms down there?
I made friends with a fellow tourist-wrangler who was a music obsessive like me. Bo was about ten years older than I was, so his frame of reference was broader, deeper. We bonded over the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, and he’d routinely lend me tapes of bootleg Beatles sessions, or Hendrix jamming at Electric Ladyland with Band of Gypsies. We spent the dead hours of our shifts discussing the venom in Lennon’s voice on “Mother” and the sting of Jimi’s guitar on “Machine Gun.”
After my shift at The Building I’d take the 12:15am Metro North train to Pelham, stopping first at the platform bar-cart to grab a few Foster’s Oil Cans for the ride home, and the come-down after a long day of banging heads with tourists. Once home, I’d head up to my attic room where I’d commence a nightly ritual that involved drawing, playing guitar and finishing off the remaining Aussie lager.
I was doing my best to live the life of an art school student.


One day my buddy Bo hands me a cassette and says “check this out, give it a few listens.” I guess Bo felt I was ready for something a little different.
So I’m digging into my routine—I remember this moment very clearly—and I load the cassette into the tape deck, pop that second oil can, dip the crow quill pen, and…
They’re alive
They’re awake
While the rest of the world is asleep…
Bang, boom, clank.
I thought the cassette was damaged—the tempo seemed off, the sound garbled—so I popped the tape out and stuck my finger in the tape ring to tighten it up. The tape wasn’t shredded, it seemed fine. After another whirl I realized this is what this guy sounds like.
I was annoyed, uncomfortable, a bit creeped out.
The next day Bo asked me what I thought. I honestly didn’t know what to say. After years of listening to music and analysing every aspect of it, I had no way to describe how this cassette made me feel.
But I kept listening.
All that stinking, hot summer, cramped in an attic with no A/C and no fans, I listened to Swordfishtrombones. Just me and the bleeding oil cans and my shittly little tape deck and an album that sounded like a guy rumbling around a garbage dump talking to himself.
What kind of world was this, and who the hell was this guy?
I got hooked on its primitive surrealism, its blacker than black humor, and its back from the grave instrumentation.
It was a revelation.
I still listen to Swordfishtrombones regularly. Mostly when I need a jolt from the everyday. It reminds me of that feeling when you stumble across something essential, something you knew you needed but had no idea what it was, or where to find it.
And I still have no idea what a Swordfishtrombone is.


Photos by Michael A. Russ
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Joe Popp Jumps!

Joe Popp–Rock File contributor and Punk Rock Godfather–has been known to jump off an amp or two,
and his rowdy stage presence is ledgendary and heartfelt.
Popp turns fifty on June 11, so we’ll celebrate his passion for the Rock & Roll Lifestyle with some classic
photos of Joe in action.
Happy Birthday Joe Popp!
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Dancing with the Moonlit Knight, 1973


The Rock File is preparing for a trip to the United Kingdom next week, so what better way to get psychedelic than watching Genesis trip out at Shepperton Studios in 1973. Painstakingly restored by The Genesis Museum, the film sparkles with brilliance.
A masterpiece of prog sound+vision.

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Good Night B.B.

An American Master.
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This Is The Land Where The Pharaoh Died, 1971

This Polaroid is believed to be one of the last known images of Jim Morrison, gazing out his Paris apartment window, in 1971. The image is out of focus, ghostly–much like Jim’s final months in Paris.
The photo was tucked away in one of the spiral notebooks Jim carried around Paris. Other photos from this time show him clean-shaven, and he had no beard at the time of his death, on July 3, 1971. So the photo may actually date from around the time of his arrival in Paris, in March of ‘71, which would disqualify it as a definitive final image of Jim Morrison alive.
No matter.
It’s one of the more enigmatic photos of a man who was widely photographed, and whose oversized myth is built upon recognizable, iconic images. This intimate, off guard, lesser-known image holds other mysteries, and alludes to the strange circumstances surrounding Jim’s death.
Read what you like into the Polaroid, it’s all there…possibly.
There’s an alternate version of “The Changeling” on the 40th anniversary edition of L.A. Woman that was recorded less than six months before Jim died. It’s a passionate run through and has a claustrophobic, haunting feel. Jim introduces the take like this:
I hate to spook anybody, but this is my favorite number.”
And that’s just what Jim does…spook people.
Just look at the Polaroid.


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