(Cross the) Heartland: Pat Metheny Group, “(Cross the) Heartland” (1979)

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For me, it all started here, so this short story bears repeating. I was hanging out with a cousin, doing the usual late 70s thing. That is, listening to music, playing backgammon, and wondering if we’d ever get laid. I was staring up at the Styx Grand Illusion poster on the wall, wondering if I should ask my cousin just what the hell was this wimpy crap he’d just put on the turntable, and could he put that Deep Purple record back on?

I had no idea at the time just how important the moment was. Andy had put on Pat Metheny’s Ameridcan Garage…and my entire musical future changed. With the possible exception of certain Steely Dan records, I had no experience with modern music that didn’t pound you over the head with amplifiers set on stun. This particular Metheny record was indeed loud, but didn’t try to smash the listener about the head and shoulders.

Metheny’s early ensemble combining chiming melodies that were punctuated with heavy (ish) rock vibe. It wasn’t Deep Purple, but it wasn’t trying to be. I asked my cousin to hand me the album, because I just had to know more. In just a couple of minutes, my perception had change from mild annoyance to fascination. My years as a jazz snob had just begun.

Because of this sort of “transformation experience,” American Garage has always held a special place in my heart. I don’t want to say that this is my favorite Pat Metheny album, but on the other hand, my life would be very different without it.

Up next: Airstream

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Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Mark Saleski
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