Got together with an old friend from high school, that I hadn't seen for 30 years in-between, for the second time a couple of weeks ago. The uncanny thing the first time we re-met was that we were able to pick right up where we left off. The weird thing this time was that in the interviening years we had developed so many similar tastes. Perhaps it's no so strange. After all, we'd been together through our formative years. Why wouldn't we follow paraelle paths in the years later? But the thing is- we've had different carreers, different love lives, different interests. I traveled all over the world, he stayed close to home. I was prone to small groups of close friends, he was more outgoing and social. I developed odd ideas about the world that sometimes it seems only I subscribe to, he is funny, charming, and relatable. Even my girlfriend thought he was more immediately accessable than I am (she was privy to most of our last get-together) and she's every bit as odd as I am. (In fact, I often think of her as the female version of me since we are so much alike. And realize that when she annoys me it's just Karma paying me back for how much I must have annoyed everyone around me for all these years.)
But the thing we seem to have paraelled more than anything else was our taste in music. Perhaps that isn't surprising. We were both musicians in high school. We loved going to concerts (rock, classical, big band, marching band, whatever...). But I was surprised to hear that he didn't like Steely Dan so much in high school but came to appreciate their music in later years (just as I had). So I turned him onto a song from another band that I love who makes music just as pop and yet as complex as Steely Dan did.
Toy Matinee made only one album. Like Steely Dan it was the brainchild of a pair of musical geniuses: Kevin Gilbert and Patrick Leonard. Unfortunately, Gilbert died before a second album could be made. Their music was a combination of pop, progressive, jazz, and fusion, that dealt with political and intellectual subjects (the first album contains songs such as Remember My Name about Vaclav Havel and Turn It On Salvadore about Salvadore Dali) while being filled with great gituar and keyboard riffs, lush productions, lyrical complexity, and catchy pop melodies. I found them when a radio station started playing this tune while I was in college.
Enamored with the Steely Dan combination of great musicianship, provocative lyrics, layered production, and catchy pop hooks, I sought out the album and in the interviening 20 years it has become the most played album in my life. It simply never seems to get old as I find new newance in the melody/countermelody, rythmic changes, key changes, and catchy tunes. Other standouts from the album include:
Turn It On Salvadore
wow, just...wow. The first lyric references everything from UN CHIEN ANDALOU (drag the bound priest across the floor) to "death and a Gala Premere". Gala was, by the way, the love of Salvador Dali's life and the muse for most of his great works of art. It has nothing to do with a gala premere with the "a" having a long a sound.
This is just scratching the surface of why these guys made ART while most pop bands make SHIT.
Let's go back to the definition of ART: (well, at least my definition of ART, but I have yet to find a better one. If you know one, please clue me in.) Art is that which is complexly satisfying. Art is something that touches the brain and the heart. Art is something that makes you want to learn something while it makes you FEEL something. If you feel something visceral (if you get a chill, it sturs your loins, it frightens you, it moves you) while it makes you want to know something (it stirs your curiosity) then you have found a work of art.
Toy Matinee does that for me.
But, like so many artists, they didn't stick around on this world too long. Next time I'll talk about their successor: Third Matinee
In the meantime, go buy their album...