Friday, June 19, 2009

Freedy Johnston and My Guitar

Here's a list of some of my top songwriting influences (no order):

1. Simon
2. Lennon / McCartney / Harrison / Starr
3. Stipe / Buck / Mills / Barry
4. Linnell / Flansburg
5. Johnston
6. Hitchcock
7. Siberry
9. Waters / Barrett / Gilmour / Wright
10. Vega
11. Wang / Thomsen / Brooks / Westcott / Vais / Armenti / Padellero
12. Schlesinger / Collingwood
13. Dylan
14. Costello
15. Partridge / Moulding
16. Knopfler

Last night I went to a concert by one of them, Freedy Johnston. I've seen Freedy a bazillion times. I even opened the show for him once and hung out with him afterward. Even helped him up from a spill on the icy streets of my little town. Last night, I lent him my guitar. That makes three times I've lent guitars to people whose songs I have grown up listening to and learning to play. I brought my acoustics down to The Iron Horse last night for Freedy and he chose my good ole Guild. That's the one you see me always playing. The red one. In previous years I lent my Telecaster to both Robyn Hitchcock and Jane Siberry. In all cases, I could tell the artists not to worry. My guitars were already used to playing their music.

The show last night was another classic Freedy show. At first I thought maybe my guitar was giving him trouble but then I remembered in previous concerts how he gets all scattered and tunes constantly between songs. He played a really nice rounded set of old favorites and some songs from his upcoming album (due out in the fall). It seemed like you could tell which of his songs he had the most respect for. He sort of rushed his way through his biggest hits, Evie's Tears and Bad Reputation, switching up the melody and sometimes even speaking lines. But on others, which felt like he held them in greater esteem, he slowed down and carefully, emotively played them. Songs like The Mortician's Daughter and Emily and the new one about Central Station were just perfect.

He also played three covers. He always plays covers and it always seems funny to me, him being such a wonderful songwriter, but then again, the covers are always welcome and he sings them in that way that only he can. Last night he played songs by Marshall Crenshaw, Todd Rundgrun, and Matthew Sweet. Not bad.

Freedy's playing tonight in Brooklyn, maybe if you are around there you can drop by with a guitar. His was just destroyed in air travel. Maybe he should have driven. Just like the song says.

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