Thursday, October 1, 2009

shooting stars and piano tuners

detail from a photograph by norman snyder.

I was looking for this photograph by veteran New York photographer - and 'Time-Life' art director - Norman Snyder. I found it in a second hand hardcover I've had now for many years.

Sadly, said copy is a survivor from those pre-internet days when I would scour and pillage all manner of source material, scalpel in hand. The mutilating window I sliced a couple of decades ago has all but rendered the original quite unusable, but here it is; minus hand-tooled boots on grit.

True grit. That all three of his subjects made it is something of a happy accident. I don't remember what originally captivated me on the reverse side of the page.

Harper Simon is a resident of Los Angeles. The long rider this song is culled from is scheduled for release October 13th. Curiously, he refers to his CD as an "homage to the LP".

Snyder died in Manhattan on May 28th this year, age 72. Last month, I gather, they held a memorial service for him on Amsterdam Avenue and 76th Street. All over, they are dropping like flies. In later years he made the transition into piano tuning and restoration - an altogether more genteel profession. Music must have been very dear to him. The smell of varnished wood and the echo of countless fingers on ivory keys.

The song made it into my mailbox earlier this week. I almost missed it. I'm glad I didn't. There is something in it which makes me recall Nick Lowe working at a distance. Or Neil Young at his least abrasive. The eloquence of populism with an emphasis on pop.

If you can't wait until mid October, Harper Simon's homage to the glory days of 33 1/3 and the odd necktie party is available for immediate download via iTunes.

Oh, and my wife thinks he is "cute".

HARPER SIMON: SHOOTING STAR from "Shooting Star" LP (Vagrant Records) 2009 (US)

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