Tuesday, April 10, 2012

i want to title this with a bad pun using the word "street," but i can't come up with the right one

I got an invitation to a house concert at the end of this month. Not big news in and of itself, except that the performer will be Janey Street. To most people that might not mean anything. "Janey who?" But to me...

It was my sophomore year of college, and I was the music editor for a campus newspaper. One of the review albums I received from Arista Records was Heroes, Angels and Friends, the debut album by Janey Street. I still remember the letter from the publicist -- it noted that Janey was a Queens native (which was a tie-in because I was at Queens College).

I loved that album from the first spin. There was no getting-to-know-you period, or it-has-to-grow-on-you phase. This was a consciousness-changing reaction I had. I've only reacted that way to records a handful of times at most. Dave Edmunds' D.E. 7th and the Beat Farmers' Tales of the New West are the only ones that readilly come to mind.

I haven't heard the record in quite a while, but I still can remember lyrics (forgive me if I make a mistake -- this is from memory):

From "Say Hello to Ronnie":
Say hello to Ronnie.
Send my love to Sue.
Give my best to Bobby.
And here's a kiss for you.
I'm working on the night shift.
I need to survive.
Living from day to day
Keeping my dreams alive.
From "Jimmy (Lives in the House Down the Street)":
Jimmy lives in the house down the street
He's got a smile and a hold on me (yeah)
Jimmy's got a girl for each day of the week.
I know he's kissing them. Why not me?
Street's songs reminded me of Springsteen, in that she sang of ordinary blue-collar folks and their lives, coaxing drama out of the humdrum. Her songs did show more optimism than Springsteen's, and her music didn;t quite have the same power as his. But I saw her as a female Springsteen. It also didn't hurt that I developed a bit of a fanboy crush on her.

There was a single, "Under the Clock," that dented the Billboard charts, and a video:

I was a little surprised at the choice, since I thought "Under the Clock" was the weakest song on the album.

Anyway, time went by and there was no followup album.

Years later, I tried to get a copy of HA&F on CD, but couldn't find it. I tried to copy my vinyl to CD, but found a skip in one of the tracks. So I really wanted to get an official CD. I found Janey on CDBaby, as she had recorded and (I assume) self-released another album. I listened to a few samples. The music was more mature. But it didn't move me the way the first album did. I didn't buy it, but I emailed Janey through CDBaby to ask if I could somehow get the first album on CD. She wrote back, but to say that the first album wasn't on CD. Oh, and I should buy the new album. She's sure I'll like it.

So that's been that for a few years. I keep toying with the idea of copying my vinyl onto CD, but the issue of that scratch keeps holding me back.

So now I got this invitation. The natural question is how? Well, I was, for one year, a member of Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI). And I still get occasional emails related to the group. Janey, at this point (in addition to performing and songwriting) does a variety of music-related jobs -- running songwriting workshops, lecturing, and working as a song evaluator for NSAI.

Well, the latest NSAI-related e-mail was a notice that she will be in New York, offering mentoring sessions for songwriters, and performing at this house concert. I don't think I'll sign up for a mentoring session, but I'll definitely go to see her perform. 

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