Friday, January 6, 2012

The Richard Ashcroft Effect: He Makes Me Wanna

My mama didn't raise no fools. Well, maybe she did (if you're reading this, Mom, just kidding), but I wasn't one of them.

I wouldn't jump off a bridge just because everyone else was doing it. I mean, who would? Okay, I know there are some people out there who are born followers, and would do ridiculous things like jump from a highly elevated point just because their friends are, but I'm not one of them.

Still, Richard Ashcroft -- formerly of the Verve, sometimes solo, and recently of RPA & The United Nations of Sound (which was really just a pseudonym for "A Richard Ashcroft Production") -- has a way of getting me to do things. He's had this strange effect on me since 1993 when I saw him and his on-and-off-and-on-and-off-again band the Verve in concert in a little hole-in-the-wall dive somewhere in New York City's East Village shortly after the then-quartet had released its debut album, A Storm in Heaven. It was the first of my three live Richard Ashcroft experiences, one of which involved me going to see Oasis, a band I always kind of hated, at Madison Square Garden, a venue I always kind of hated, because Ashcroft was opening for them with a special acoustic set.

Five years after that storm in heaven, or rather, in that East Village watering hole, I saw the Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony" video for the first time. It made me want to walk down the street and bump into people -- on purpose. Admit it, you wanted to, too. He was such a bad ass in that one.

In 2006, "Break the Night with Colour," from Ashcroft's great, underrated third solo album, Keys to the World, made me want to fall in and out of love and take up piano all over again. It even made the idea of being behind bars for a few hours seem kind of romantic, which, in a couple of years, I would learn firsthand it's anything but (a shocking story, one I can now laugh at, for a future post)! I think his New York City stop on that tour may have been the final concert I went to before moving to Buenos Aires.

And "Why Not Nothing," the opening track from the same album, made me wonder, "Why not nothing?"

Today, I'm jet lagged beyond belief, too tired to sleep, too exhausted to stay awake, and still, the video for "Are You Ready?" (more religious questioning, this time with a question mark), Ashcroft's 2010 single released under the name RPA & The United Nations of Sound, makes me want to get up off my butt and go... running. (You may have caught it in the 2011 film The Adjustment Bureau, which I didn't go to see the night my friend Marcus invited me to go with him and his friends to the cinema.)

Maybe not today, but the next time I hit Melbourne's "Tan" (tomorrow?), I know what's going to be blasting from my iPod!

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