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E r i c... A n d e r s e n

beat avenue
Eric Andersen
Beat Avenue

(2-CD set, 2003)


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track listing

1. Ain't No Time to Bleed itunesbuy
2. Before Everything Changed itunesbuy
3. Salt on Your Skin itunesbuy
4. Song of You and Me itunesbuy
5. Shape of a Broken Heart itunesbuy
6. Great Pyramid itunesbuy
7. Under the Shadows itunesbuy
8. Rains Are Gonna Come itunesbuy
9. Runaway itunesbuy
10. Stupid Love itunesbuy
11. Still Looking For You itunesbuy
12. Feel Like Comin' Home itunesbuy
1. Beat Avenue itunesbuy
2. Blue Rockin' Chair itunesbuy

Asked to define himself, Eric Andersen says simply, “I’m a song poet and a singer and player. I’ve been labeled a folksinger, but I don’t consider myself one.”

On Beat Avenue, Andersen continues his genre-defying creative evolution, in which the only constants are his motifs of love, lust, and the loss of innocence, exotic travel and a yearning for home, the constant motion of trains, rivers and time itself. No singer of pleasant, conventional folk songs, Andersen is an original, unpredictable and timeless artist of major stature.

Accompanying guitarist/keyboardist Eric on most of this double-disc are such A-list musicians as former Hooters guitarist Eric Bazilian (who wrote Joan Osborne’s hit, “One of Us”), vocalists Phoebe Snow and Lucy Kaplansky, multi-instrumentalist Robert Aaron (longtime member of hip-hop star Wyclef Jean’s band and session man for David Bowie, Laurie Anderson and Mary J. Blige), jazz-fusion bassist Mark Egan (Pat Metheny Group, Ornette Coleman), powerhouse drummer Shawn Pelton (of the “Saturday Night Live” house band and sideman to Shawn Colvin, Billy Joel, and Sheryl Crow), and The Band’s Garth Hudson on keyboards, accordion and sax. Other musical contributors include Eric’s singer-songwriter daughter Sari on duet and supporting vocals, and violinist/solo artist Joyce Andersen (no relation).

The new set’s first disc contains 12 new Andersen compositions encompassing the various musical styles Eric has absorbed, expanded or pioneered. His poetic, sensual lyrics are married to electric and acoustic instrumentation with rock, folk, country and blues-flavored arrangements. There is an apocalyptic urgency and musical edge that propels songs like “Ain't No Time to Bleed,” “Rains Are Gonna Come,” “Great Pyramid” and “Before Everything Changed,” a spooked unease to “Under the Shadows” and “Feel Like Comin’ Home,” and smoldering desire mixed with regret on “Song of You and Me,” “Salt On Your Skin” and the howling “Stupid Love.” “Shape of a Broken Heart” and “Runaway” exemplify the troubled tenderness of Andersen’s best ballads.

The second Beat Avenue disc contains only two songs, neither remotely fitting the “folk troubadour” tag Eric’s earliest work inspired and has long since outgrown. The 26-minute title track is, in Eric’s words, “part of an ongoing personal ritual of trying to break and burst the borders of the usual safe singer-songwriting approaches.” The song, which Eric has worked on for the past fifteen years, is a hypnotic, cinematic account of a watershed day in world history – November 22, 1963. Combining spoken and half-sung vocals, programmed musical atmospherics, and real instruments, “Beat Avenue” recounts the day, night and immediate aftermath of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination as experienced by the then-20-year-old Andersen, who had hitchhiked to San Francisco to meet and mingle with his Beat Movement heroes.

“‘Beat Avenue’ was originally written as a companion piece to the songs ‘Ghosts Upon the Road’ and ‘Trouble in Paris’ as another long, cinematic narrative, employing a new, unconventional concept of songwriting that I was exploring,” explains Andersen. “But the reasons for its delayed appearance were twofold: the length of the track, which we solved by making a second CD, and finding the right soundscape and beat to carry the distance and hold the listeners' attention for 26 minutes. Robert Aaron created the backing track using a similar approach that we used in recording ‘Memory of the Future’.”

Multi-instrumentalist Aaron (woodwinds, bass, guitars, keyboards, sax and trumpet) set the song to a low-key, atmospheric jazz/blues accompaniment. His musical relationship with Eric includes session work on Eric’s last two Appleseed CDs, Memory of the Future (1999) and You Can’t Relive the Past (2000).

“I was happy to finally hear the finished version,” says Eric. “After 15 years, it was very close to what I imagined it to be, a dream turned into a reality. I tried to paint a feeling and a picture for people that brings them there with me, on the streets and the rooms.

“Until Sept. 11, for most Americans, there had been two watershed events in their history – Pearl Harbor and the death of Kennedy. That ‘Beat Avenue’ was recorded soon after the time of the twin tower tragedy was a complete and mind-boggling coincidence.”

On the night of President Kennedy’s death, Eric attended a poetry reading in the Haight-Ashbury by Beat mainstay Allen Ginsberg, then joined Ginsberg and fellow Beat poets and writers Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Michael McClure, David and Tina Meltzer, and Neal Cassady at a post-reading gathering at Ferlinghetti’s house in the San Francisco hills. Shock, somber conversation, and marijuana smoke eddied through the building, as did a naked Ginsberg, the ever-amped Cassady, and an impressionable and wide-eyed young Eric.

The kaleidoscopic “Beat Avenue” is followed by “Blue Rockin’ Chair,” an earthy, carnal 12-minute country blues akin to some of the tracks on You Can’t Relive the Past that Eric recorded in Mississippi with several blues musicians associated with the Fat Possum label.

Working within and without traditional song frameworks, wielding a vivid poetic skill, a fearless approach to songwriting, and muscular musical backing, Eric Andersen has created a masterpiece on Beat Avenue that should explode forever the folksinger pigeonhole that has confined his popular reputation for too long. He is a unique and enduring artist who has earned a broad and ageless audience.

Click here ---- to read the lyrics for the Beat Avenue songs.



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You Can't Relive the Past
You Can't Relive the Past

The Street Was Always There

Blue Rain
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The Songs of Pete Seeger Vol 2
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