Friday, July 26, 2002


Came across a Jaguar ad in the newspaper, with a contest and all sorts of deals. "London Calling" is the name of the luxury automobile's promotional program. Wonder if The Clash were approached for their song. (probably). Wonder what they said. Probably "slog off," but one never knows. If Jaguar wanted to promote a contest called "Anarchy in the U.K.," the Sex Pistols would've sold them the tune in a Big Ben second.

Sunday, July 21, 2002

Memory Takes Root, Lucinda Makes Route, at the Planting Fields

by Wayne Robins

I went to my first concert since retiring as a full-time rock critic some years ago. My wife's cousin, who we hardly know, was getting married at a black tie gala at a Manhattan hotel Saturday night. On the same evening, our old friends Nathan and Darlene Jackson, with Nathan now representing the Long Island Summer Concert series at the beyond-bucolic Planting Fields Arboretum, asked us if we--Maureen as well as the Waynettes--could join them for a Lucinda Williams concert under the stars. We said, yeah. When I found out that Chuck Prophet my new favorite of all favorites, was the opening act, we said, Hell, yeah!

The Planting Fields, in the North Shore estate region of Long Island near Oyster Bay, has for generations been the most idyllic place for both tree huggers and psychedelic adventurers alike. In high school circa 1967, I saw god there once, I really did. In the process of actually experiencing this vision of a higher power, I saw the relentlessly morose, muscle-bound hood (greaser/drape/tough guy/thug) who'd long threatened to extinguish me and friends. My trip began taking a sour turn as he approached, growing bigger and more menacing like Ted Hughes' Iron Giant.

As my nemesis closed in for the kill, I looked for the familiar glint of hatred in his eyes. They looked a little bloodshot. "Hey, Wayne," he said, coming at me. (This was weird, because he always referred to me as "Robins" when not calling me "dirtbag" or something stronger). I braced for the shock of a right to the jaw, or perhaps a broken nose that would really, really mess up my mushroom-made god experience. Instead, he stuck out his right hand, and said, "Sorry about all that old shit. Wanna smoke some hash?" We sat in a circle, and smoked the peace pipe. God was good.

It was pretty beautiful Saturday night at the Planting Fields. Though there are reserved seats in the tent, where the music is loud and the band is close, the real experience is bringing blankets, lounge chairs, and coolers, and laying out on the lawn. You can't always see so well, but the sound is pretty wonderful. Many people bring fine wines and chilled glasses, and dine on their own cold lobster salad. Others bring beer and sandwiches. We brought iced tea and homemade subs. Nathan and I smoked cigars--many of his clients smoke cigars, so he accumulates them.

Chuck Prophet played a generous set with his tight but rambling band. His latest album, for New West, “No Other Love” seems guaranteed to be in my year’s end ten best.

He writes ballads (“After the Rain”) like Tom Petty, zen blues (“What Can You Tell Me”) like Tom Waits. "Summertime Thing" is already a perennial in my mind, like Prophet found the antidote for the “Summertime Blues.” And I swear I heard “Run Primo Run” on a radio that plays only on Highway 61.

Lucinda was Lucinda, bringing us down with exquisitely enunciated but singularly depressing songs from "Essence" and turning us around with the unmatchable songs and more varied emotions of "Car Wheels On A Gravel Road." When her band stretched out, it sounded like Crazy Horse, and Lucinda herself seemed as moody as Neil Young. After about half an hour, though, she sounded like she was mailing it in: One senses a once-beloved underdog is going the way of the diva.

(c) copyright Wayne Robins 2002. e-mail:

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