Watch This Now! “Live From Daryl’s House” Aug23

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Watch This Now! “Live From Daryl’s House”

It probably happened by accident. I couldn’t have known quite how good things could get. My memory of it is this: I happened upon a YouTube tutorial on how to set up an electric guitar given by Joe Walsh. “Setting up” a guitar means servicing it so that it’s ready to play and will perform reliably. I knew this guy. Where’ve I’ve seen him before? He’s some ageing rocker who speaks with a  slight slur. Wasn’t there something about a career of drug abuse and near-death experiences? I think curiosity led me to his performances on a show hosted by Daryl Hall of whom I was only peripherally aware theretofore. He was half of one of the most successful songwriting duos of all time, Hall and Oates, who’ve had a plethora of their own hits and have written for other people too. They did “Out of Touch,” “Maneater,” “Private Eyes” and “Sara Smile.” There is a lot more.

It turns out Joe Walsh was in TheEagles for about a decade until the band spit up. He’d had success before that with James Gang and some solo stuff. When The Eagles broke up he spent about fifteen years drinking heavily (vodka) and taking drugs (cocaine). His other vice was Camel Light cigarettes. And here he was in a room with Daryl Hall on YouTube playing songs from his new album like “Wrecking Ball” (a welcome rival to Miley Cyrus) and old ones like “Funk #49” (a must listen for anyone but especially for fans of guitar).

It wasn’t all about Joe. Daryl Hall invites people to come and play, some legendary artists and lesser-known ones. They all get in a room and they play. It’s a simple formula but utterly compelling. There’s the talent for a start. Hall himself is a virtuoso, an extraordinary talent who plays piano and guitar, sings and writes and just oozes charisma even if he does look a little too much like himself. No, it wasn’t all about Joe for sure but the performance of Rocky Mountain Way makes it hard to think about anything else. Joe comes in and is introduced to the band. Joe and Daryl know each other, kind of, but everyone in the room knows who Joe is and it’s clear they’re in awe of him and you can see why. When the song ends Daryl Hall can’t contain his glee: “Ho ho maaaan!” he gushes, a huge smile of wonderment on his face. And it was then I got it, or got it again – the gift of music and the almost unbearable excitement experienced when witnessing something truly special. Then they play again and the gift just keeps on giving. There’s a point in the performance of “Wrecking Ball” where Joe gets to a place where he’s untouchable by anything negative or harming and he’s a little boy; he becomes inseparable from that contentment.

There’s a clip of Joe talking about the state of the music industry, music to the ears of anyone who remembers analogue (not digital). He says that music nowadays is free because of downloads  and so artists can’t afford to record in the way they did in the past. As a result the tracks are being laid down separately and there are multiple producers and writers and it all happens very quickly. There’s not any longer any “testifying,” or playing true, living true, coming up through the difficult ranks of artistry, experiencing the rite of passage, suffering for your art I suppose.

Other artists like Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top, American punk band Cheap Trick, Patrick Stump (what a vocalist!) come and play and again and again it gets better and better and at the centre of it all is Daryl Hall. Watch guitarist Shane Theriot’s reaction to Billy Gibbons’ run on La Grange. Check out Company of Thieves performing Take Another Little Piece of My Heart; it’s clear, to me at least, that singer Genevieve Shatz’s game is raised by Daryl Hall’s and vice versa perhaps.

Regular TV just doesn’t do it anymore. It’s all advertising and programmes about ordinary people and their ordinary problems. We’ve enough of that. Lift us out of the murk. Play on, Daryl!