A couple of days ago, I received notice from the website of the band, America, that they'd just released a new album, Back Pages, a compilation of covers of some of their favorite artists, including oldies Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, The Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, James Taylor, and Mark Knopfler, as well as some relative newbies such as Fountains of Wayne, New Radicals, and Gin Blossoms.
I gave it a listen as I trudged through my three-mile walk today, and I was amazed. I'd never thought of America as studio artists in the same vein as Brian Wilson, but the arrangements were enough to have made George Martin proud.
As the music downloaded, I checked their website, and was dismayed to see a posting that former member of the band, Dad Peek, had died this week, peacefully, in his sleep. Peek, by his own admission was the "bad boy" of the group, living the rock 'n' roll lifestyle to the hilt. But somewhere around the group's fifth album, Peek left, and his life went in the opposite direction.
I've always wondered about such gear shifting. The only thing I can rationalize is that extreme people go to extremes, whatever the direction. But you'd never know that about Peek by his music. Songs such as "Don't Cross the River," "Lonely People," and "Willow Tree Lullaby" were some of the sweetest, most beautiful pop songs of that era.
Well. R.I.P, Dan, and thanks for your music. My most sincere sympathies to his wife, Catherine, and their family.