There’s a great line in High Fidelity where John Cusack says, “What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?”
From movies to cartoons: There’s a great scene in The Simpsons Episode 1014, titled “I’m With Cupid,” where Homer Simpson, Moe Szyslak, Dr. Hibbert and Chief Wiggum meet Elton John in an airport and tell him that they are inducting him as a Knight of The Grand Concourse. When he asks why, Chief Wiggum eventually says, “for teaching us to love again."
While this is a funny anecdote, if we believe John Cusack’s character in High Fidelity and subscribe to the notion that sad breakup songs make people “miserable” and sad, then we must certainly believe Chief Wiggum when he tells Elton John that his songs, such as “Your Song” and “Someone Saved My Life Tonight,” taught him “how to love again."
Take that quote one step further and listen to tracks by artists like Ambrosia ("The Biggest Part if Me"), Toto ("Rosanna"), REO Speedwagon ("I Can’t Fight This Feeling"), Journey (Open Arms) and Foreigner ("I Wanna Know What Love Is"), and realize that it might be possible that the best mainstream love songs of all time were written in the mid to late '70s and very early '80s!
This revelation really hit me in May 2011 when my band and I had the unbelievable opportunity to support what Jimmy Fallon refers to as a “Yacht Rock” band ...
... but what I refer to as truly one of the mast killer bands I’ve ever had the pleasure to play with: Ambrosia.
Listening to tracks like “How Much I Feel," “The Biggest Part of Me” and “You’re The Only Woman" every night made me want to write nothing but groove-oriented long songs. In addition, even though I heard these tracks every night live on the road, I still found myself popping in their CD on the way back to the hotel and in between every gig. he tunes just don’t get old!
Now, you may wonder why this whole chain of thoughts is running through my head at this moment. Was I watching the infomercial for Solid Gold Seventies at 4 a.m.? Nope!
But I was driving home from the last date of my April Acoustic Run in Maryland when I got the word that I will be bringing my band on stage in Stamford Connecticut on Thursday, August 4, and supporting one of the top 10 classic rock bands of all time (according to Neilsen Soundscan Ratings) -- Foreigner!
I had to stop at a record store immediately and pick up a Foreigner greatest-hits album for the rest of the ride home.
Tracks like “Waiting For A Girl Like You” and “I Want To Know What Love is” reminded me of the other great late-'70s-era love songs and the aforementioned quote from Chief Wiggum.
I got a little nostalgic listening to this record all the way home and truly realized how timeless this music is. And while I have tons of other stories to tell you from my performance at The New England Music Awards in March and my April acoustic run from Vermont to Maryland, I’ll leave you for now with this video of one of my new tunes, “Monsters In The Hall,” performed during my February Acoustic run with a couple of my good friends joining me on stage. Hopefully this song will “teach you how to love again”…
Frank Viele started playing at the age of 3. His infectious style of guitar-playing and soulful rock voice are key elements to the success of his band Frank Viele & The Manhattan Project. But his solo shows bring the same raw energy and crowd-stirring excitement to audiences across the country. His sound has been compared to John Fogerty, Otis Redding, and even Dave Matthews but it’s the authenticity people hear most. A soulful stew of rock, pop, blues, and jazz are ever present. Being so well versed in so many styles means that Viele can deliver an incredible performance to any audience. “I started out doing the acoustic singer-songwriter thing, so this is really my first love. Having such great bandmates, I’m lucky to bring a few along sometimes to add another level of energy and funk to the shows,” Viele explains. Performing solo allows him to give his songs a different spin. “When you’re in a band, your songs take on a different life sometimes. It’s great to be able to revisit them. It allows the tunes to really stand and speak on their own,” he elaborates.