Styx and Stones and No Broken Bones

December 22, 2016 at 2:34 am (Waxing Nostalgic)

Multnomah County Library is always coming through for me. Being low of budget and even lower in patience when it comes to finding new music, I was thrilled to hear that the Rolling Stones have a new blues album out. While it isn’t on the shelf in hard copy, I can stream it to my phone and play it through my TV, or the cute little speaker Rain gave me. It’s the size of a tennis ball and fills the room. (Great for jazz, Slipknot not so much.) While trying to connect phone to television, I saw David Spade and Angus Scrimm from Phantasm playing Come sail Away.

angus-scrimmdavid_spade

Oh wait. I’m watching Styx.

Back in my misspent youth, before weed and alcohol even, I had a couple Styx albums. They rocked about as hard as it gets on AM radio, and I liked their mystical side. For some reason I was allowed to study Greek mythology in grade school, and I knew what Hades was thanks to a Jehovah’s Witless upbringing. I’d often dreamed of swimming the river Styx and playing with the dog Charon. I discovered Jim Beam about the time The Grand Illusion came out, and it was “my album” for a year or so. Pieces of Eight followed, and I scooped that right up. My musical tastes were shifting from pop to heavier stuff. Led Zeppelin, Rush, Judas Priest, and of course all the “devil music.” Mom liked the ethic preached of in Blue Collar Man, so she left Styx alone.

I’d never bothered to see Styx in concert. Over time their focus shifted from hard rock to power ballads and poor attempts at rock opera. By the time I could afford Styx tix, they had broken up. The two albums previously mentioned seemed the pinnacle of their appeal to me, and if I wanted to hear them, all I had to do was switch on KGON-FM. Lady, or Lorelei can be heard once a day, and Renegade still gets played almost hourly after dark. And of course, the staple Come Sail Away

So when I saw them playing on TV, I watched out of morbid curiosity. I cringe when I see a lot of the rock stars of my generation, but these guys were doing all right. Tommy Shaw’s nose hasn’t fallen off from coke abuse, and his hair appeared to be his own. James JY Young, the Phantasm caretaker doppelganger, rocked his business suit, and later in short sleeves. Hitting 60 doesn’t mean you have to go to hell. Topping it all, he was having fun! Getting paid to have fun is what it’s all about.

So I’ve been on a Styx kick the past week or so. Castle Walls echoed in my head, reminding me of the snow storms of 1978 when I worked at PCC and stared off toward the icy mountain tops. I can still taste Jim Beam when I hear some of the songs.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was when I clicked on Crystal Ball. I’d forgotten that song. I heard three different versions before selecting this one. The boys were just boys then; now they are grown-ass men.

Thanks MTV for that random week of nostalgia. Now I can get back to that new Rolling Stones album. It’s called Blue & Lonesome, it was recorded in two days, and it kicks ass.

I just got to hear that song one more time…

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