So last week I wrote a kind of rambling post about my connection with Popular Culture in which I intended to tell my reader(s) about my favourite things in that realm. But that didn’t happen, so I’ll do that this week, starting with music. The problem with doing so, is you dear reader(s) will see just how cool I am not.

I mentioned last week that my favourite thing about music is singing along to it. And that’s really pretty embarrassing. You’d think that someone who sings all the time would realize he’s not very good. But I was not aware of that simple fact for the longest time. The scary thought is, what if I’d been one of those American Idol types who goes on national TV to find they’re absolute crap? I don’t think I’d have ever had the cajones to do that, but just the thought of it makes me cringe! But then again, I’ll do karaoke any time. So I truly do have no shame.

So what was I singing along to back in the early days? It’s not cool, but I started out with the Beatles and Elton John, who happened to be in my Dad’s record collection. To this day I know all the words to the songs on Let it Be and Hey Jude, the only two Beatles albums he had. This made me a life-long Beatles fan which isn’t really that uncool is it? What I suppose is uncool, is that I never really got into the Stones. I guess I don’t like Mick Jagger’s voice to be honest. But I will say this: I’m beginning to appreciate them more and more as time goes by. I still don’t love Mick’s voice, but “Keif’s” guitar is killer.

Anyway, they say your life-long musical tastes form at around the age of 14. I think that is partly true. Most of the stuff I liked then, I still like now. But by the time I got to high school, I definitely eschewed the music of my generation. I didn’t feel like I fit in, so I looked to another era. At the time, I wished I’d been a teenager in the 60s. I loved the Beatles and the Who (kind of a weird combination) and had my moments with Zeppelin. And I loved Hendrix. A lot of the stuff you’d call Classic Rock (ugh, I hate that term!). I even had my metal moment, mostly Black Sabbath and even Rush (well, they’re prog/rock, not really metal), but it wasn’t really me. And to be fair I did like some of the music of my generation, like Elvis Costello, XTC, Talking Heads, you know, that kind of stuff.

I got a late-ish start playing guitar at 19. At that point I was into the Blues. Stuff like T-Bone Walker, B.B. King, Albert King, Elmore James. And I wanted to be like Stevie-Ray Vaughan. What was not to like? His Hendrix/Albert King combination was pretty damned impressive. I haven’t listened to him in ages, but damn, he was good! And I do recommend a crash course in the Blues if you’re gonna start learning guitar.

But that thing about your tastes being set at 14 is only partly true. My tastes have definitely evolved. Playing guitar probably helped. I started to appreciate country guitar and then to appreciate at least some country music. Well, cowopunk, alt country and old stuff, mostly.

Burton Cummings’ Moustache,11″ x 14″, oil on canvas, 2019.

All this has nothing to do with art, but it did lead to my musical/comedy/performance art alter ego Stan Dickie. So maybe I’m not that uncool? At the same time, if you’re from Winnipeg and you like the Guess Who there are a lot of people who will think you’re uncool. But sue me, Winnipeg’s own Burton Cumming’s, Randy Bachman and the boys wrote some great songs. I don’t care if they’re cool or not.

Anyway, maybe I need to paint more of my favourite musical icons. Did I mention that I love Neil Young? Especially his less cool Harvest and Harvest Moon type stuff, but that’s me! Any musicians you’d like to see painted in my style?

Neil Young, 18″ x 24″, oil on canvas, 2020.