Gonna tie up a couple of loose ends here and go on my merry way.
As rockers age, we’re finding that more and more of them can’t sing like they used to. Billy Joel started transposing his songs down a step more than a decade ago; on Face the Promise, Bob Seger sometimes sounded like a slowed-down tape of himself; Elton John’s singing voice today sounds a lot like his pre-throat surgery voice of 25 years ago. And it’s not just men: Ann Wilson of Heart can’t pierce like she used to, either. Perhaps it’s a measure of my own aging to be pleased by a singer who still sounds like his old self. For example, Don Henley and Steve Winwood, both of whom tended to sing in a high register back in the day, can still hit most of their high notes.
So can J. D. Souther. The sometime Eagles collaborator has a new album called Natural History, on which he sounds just as he did in the days of “You’re Only Lonely.” He performs an unplugged version of that song on Natural History, and also unplugs for three Eagles songs that he co-wrote with the band: “New Kid in Town,” “Best of My Love,” and “The Sad Cafe.” The arrangements are stunning, making songs you’ve heard a million times seem brand new, but so is Souther’s singing: “Like an angel,” a friend of mine says. The links in this paragraph are to live versions of the songs, which are not quite as ethereally beautiful as the studio versions, but you’ll get the flavor nevertheless. And if you’re inclined to buy the whole album, you can get it at Souther’s website.
(We’ve been watching the third season of Thirtysomething on DVD lately, in which Souther has a recurring role as an environmental activist. Even if you didn’t know who he was in real life, you’d peg him as a rock singer, from the California cool of his late-80s look to the sound of his speaking voice, which is a dead ringer for Glenn Frey’s.)
On Another Matter: I’ve added another blog to my regular reading list. At 7 Inches of 70s Pop, Adrian does a remarkable job of something I have largely given up trying to do—saying interesting things about songs that are extremely familiar, from Gary Wright to the Knack to Engelbert Humperdinck to Carly Simon and on and on. It’s a blog that’s definitely worth your time on a regular basis.
That’s all I’ve got until tomorrow. Carry on.