Sunday, August 24, 2008

Barack Obama, Train to Nowhere

Not everyone's drinking the Kool-Aid these days.
Larry Carlton, a guitar player's guitar player, happened to be doing a series of shows in the Village this weekend, at the Blue Note.
He played masterfully for an hour and a half, with a pick-up bassist (apologies -- can't recall his name) and drummer (Billy Kilson, "one of the world's best," according to Mr. Carlton) . It was a rather smoothy-jazzy affair, without the ass-kicking solo work I'd hoped to hear, but after all it was a Sunday night, 8pm show (for those unfamiliar with Larry Carlton, he's the ace that played the great solo on the great "Kid Charlemagne" by Steely Dan).

At one point, Mr. Carlton, who is called "Mr. 335" after his signature axe, but could also just as fittingly be called the nicest guitar player alive, encouraged a little audience participation. He asked us to think of a name for the tune they were about to play.

Mr. 335, Larry Carlton.
Now let's set the context. It's 2008, an election year. It's New York City, but not just New York City, it's Greenwich Village, the hipster capital of the world. In order to get to the place, I had to walk past a half-dozen tattoo parlors, sex-toy shops and a movie theatre playing something called "A girl cut in two," in addition to the usual assortment of chic-ee bistros and sidewalk eateries. Every single one of these places was milling with people on a Sunday eve. If Texas has a polar opposite, it might be right here.

You wouldn't be too surprised, then, if you were in the audience and heard the first suggestion for the name of the song: "Barack Obama's Running for President Song!" Oh. My. God. I've often said life is like a "B" movie. There's one of it's lines. I was aware of a smattering of applause.
A couple more names were offered as Mr. Carlton bantered with the audience. "Train to Nowhere" was suggested.
"Oh," said the guitarist. "So, if I put this together with that, we've got, "Barack Obama, Train to Nowhere!"
Through a great, big, charming smile, he assured us, "Oh, I'm only kidding..." The nicest guitarist alive, and not afraid to tell it like it is. Right there in the Village, a few of us clapped. Really loud. It's not all bad, the Village. Although it did feel like the very butch doorman was projecting unfriendly vibes in our direction for a long moment afterwards.
May I humbly suggest calling it "Train to Nowhere," and dedicating to Mr. Obama?
Rock on, Larry Carlton.
[edit: it's actually in Greenwich Village.]


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