01 December 2005

Fripp - the Genius

We're having fun tonight. We have a ton of music on computer. We have finally figured out how to play music on the TV (using the subwoofer etc) through the airport. So we have the music up loud and the TV virtually off. It's like being back at a concert! We've listened to Deep Purple, Ten Years After, Evanessence, Eric Burden and the Animals, Jimi, Grand Funk, Cream, Foreigner, Pink Floyd and a plethora of others. It has been such fun going back to those times. Reviewing concerts and remembering all the different bands we saw together. You see, I married my high school sweetheart, and we spent most of our dating years going to concerts.

One concert that stands out in my mind though is King Crimson. It was held at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. Incredible is how I remember it. Crimson played the longest concert they had ever performed on that night. Fripp was in rare form. He came out prior to beginning the first set, and yucked it up a bit. Well, as good as he could. It went something like this: The crowd is revved. They can hardly wait for the band to hit the stage and begin with the best progressive rock available back then. They chanted stuff like rock on!, boogie!, Fripp, Fripp, Fripp! So out comes Robert. Grabs a mike and a hush fills the auditorium. Everyone was waiting for wisdom from the great one. He says, "what the hell is this 'boogie' shite? He pronounces boogie like boojie. And does a little dance kicking his feet in a marching gait and waving his arms above his head. "boojie, boojie!, he laughed, but you knew it wasn't a laughing with you kind of laugh. It was a laughing at the idiots in his presence laugh. Then he says, "If you came to boojie, you can just leave. I don't boojie, never have and never will. What I play is music. If you want to dance, get the hell out!" Then they proceeded with the concert. Of course, Eric Clapton showed up, and played a set, Marc Bolan, too. Everyone wanted to be around King Crimson. Well, Eric seemed to show up at every concert we went to that summer. It cracked me up, I wondered if he just couldn't get a gig on his own and just kept crashing everyone else's. Still it was great.

The drum cage was amazing. The big guy, being in a band, always took note of the amps, guitars, anything that was used to produce a sound. The drum cage was something never before seen. Ever. It had an actual cage around it made of metal. From the cross bars were all types of percussion instruments. He had two drum sets, and every other drum available. It was incredible to see and even more amazing throughout the evening he used every instrument on the cage. Of course, we went home and encouraged the drummer to build such a cage for himself. Wow.

I didn't appreciate until far later, the genius that was Fripp. He was lightyears ahead in his thinking of manipulating music and stretching the limits and boundaries. Most group were satisfied to break out of the mold safely, using a moog, or a fuzz pedal, rotosound strings on a bass for a real thumpy bass-y sounds or any other safe way of getting groove sound. But it was the Fripps of the world that brought along anything and everything. You listened to him and his band and realized you didn't know jack about music. He was the professor, leading the others, still seemingly in elementary school, out of their comfort zones and trying new and foreign musical techniques. His lyrics rivaled the greats also. He said the stuff everyone was thinking, but were afraid to voice. All bands back then were tired of being used by their company's corporate desires. No one wanted to lose that contract though and didn't come right out and say the obvious. They masked their disgust in clever lyrics. Fripp just said it, Floyd followed suit, then others. Fripp, was, the master.

A sampling of those lyrics:


I guess I tried to show you how
I'd take the crowd with my guitar
And business men would clap their hands
And clip another fat cigar
And publishers would spread the news
And print my music far and wide
And all the kids who played the blues
Would learn my licks with a bottle neck slide

But now it seems the bubble's burst
Although you know there was a time
When love songs gathered in my head
With poetry in every line
And strong men strove to hold the doors
While with my friends I passed the age
When people stomped on dirty floors
Before I trod the rock'n'roll stage

I'll thank the man who's on the 'phone
And if he has the time to spend
The problem I'll explain once more
And indicate a sum to lend
That ten percent is now a joke
Maybe thirty, even thirty-five
I'll say my daddy's had a stroke
He'd have one now, if he only was alive

I like the way you look at me
You're laughing too down there inside
I took my chance and you took yours
You crewed my ship, we missed the tide
I like the way the music goes
There's a few good guys who can play it right
I like the way it moves my toes
Just say when you want to go and dance all night...

At the end of the evening we were all stunned, amazed and satisfied. The tickets cost us somewhere in the nieghborhood of $6.00. A great night's music. History had been made. Crimson never again played a show of that length. It was late. We left the venue and headed home. On deserted LA freeways - yes, empty freeways. I remember mentioning to the big guy, that the only people we were sharing the freeways with were probably stoned.