Coincidentally, my friend Bob from Dodger-town (unless I'm mistaken and they refer to it as Clipper-ville) became obsessed with Forbert as well. When I visited LA that summer, in between multiple playings of Weezer's The Greatest Man That Ever Lived, we pumped the Steve Forbert. Thirty years after it was released, it was again the song of the summer.
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When I asked my dad about him, he admitted he had not played that record very often. When I slipped the vinyl out of its cardboard prophylactic, it looked like it had just been pressed. This thing might as well been shrink wrapped. It was PRISTINE.
As soon as Going Down to Laurel began, it was clear this album sounds best on vinyl. All the warmth and brightness of the guitar and harmonica are sweetened perfectly. Just enough to offset Forbert's lyrics, which seem benign at first, but several listenings reveal a muted melancholy.
going down to laurel, it's a dirty stinking town, but me i know exactly what i'm going to find.
little girl, i'm going to see, she's a fool for loving me. but she's in love, and love's a funny state of mind.
Like Jack Nicholson in Five Easy Pieces, Forbert's that quietly talented, world-wearied troubadour stuck in an industrial American landscape. There's a sense that he's above it all, laughing at the triviality; but knowing at the same time that Laurel and this girl is all he's got. As Bonnie Prince Billy would say, "There I see a darkness."
Give it a shot. Let me know what you think in the comments. For me, this album is timeless. It's Alive no matter where or when it Arrives.
Try it HERE.
Buy it HERE.