The All-Time Best Introductory Album for a Rock Group?
Welcome to the big time!
For an introduction, some of the better lyrics from Matchbox 20's debut album;
"Baby, it's 3 a.m. I must be lonely"
"Well, i'm sorry 'bout this attitude i need to give when i'm with you, but no one else will take this shit from me. And, i'm so terrified of no one else but me, and i'm here all the time, so i won't go away. Yeah, it's me! But I can't get myself to go away."
"Reach down your hand in your pocket, pull out some hope for me, it's been a long day, always, ain't that right."
"She said I don't know if I've ever been really loved, by a hand that's touched me."
Opening salvos from a band with nothing but the stars in front of them, Matchbox 20 swept the rock and roll scene by storm in the early 1990's. With frontman Rob Thomas writing the lyrics, the music and choreography for the shows, a statement was being made. But, what was this statement?
Please check out his first big hit, about when his mother was being treated with cancer - but everyone out there thought it was about a rather slutty girl at a bar, late at night, trawling for her night's companionship.
The rock and roll version of 3am;
The acoustic version (which gives you more feeling towards the lyrics and what they actually mean);
Matchbox 20 debuted their first album by going on tour for 2 years, doing bars and such small establishments. As they saw how their fans reacted to their music, they subtly changed certain styles and chords. The enigmatic leader was soon jet-setting with the likes of Carlos Santana, who asked Rob if he would be willing to do a duet with him (is there a rock and roll group/player who would say no to a request to join Santana, for Christ's sake?), and the still poignant "Smooth" was recorded. Carlos gave the final editing and most of the creative lyrics to Thomas, with his haunting "My Spanish-Harlem Mona Lisa" reverberating his description of what a typical Puerto Rican beauty represents.
Please have a listen to "Smooth" with Carlos Santana and Rob Thomas here;
Okay, so that's the basic introduction of Matchbox 20, and their meteorically quick jump into the supergroup status.
Now, let's see how I met the band and, well, enjoyed what each had at the time.
What does this symbol mean now?
The year; 1997
The location; Ottawa - specifically, a bar by the name of Barrymore's (named after Lionel Barrymore), which is a revamped strip club (they used to have mixed strippers - a male dancer, then a female, then a male, etc. - and occasionally, later at night, some rather risque performances by groups (no, this is not an Emmy precursor).
The scene; Myself, my house-mate (a friend since we were 17) and our best buddy, Wayne. We were out back of Barrymore's, smoking some Afghani Puck and Pakistani 20-20 (the two most potent and sought-after types of hashish out there!).
We were smoking in front of some big bus, which hid us from the side street off of Bank St., where Barrymore's is located. We hear the door open (to the bar) and some guys come tumbling out. We had no idea who they were or where they were headed in the music scene, but when Rob asked if we would care to join them in the bus and share our wealth with them, we readily accepted. It was just a rental tour bus provided by their record label, as they were on a promotional tour for their first album.
Now, i may have gone to school with Bryan Adams, Kim Mitchel and Tom Cruise, but I never really knew about that until they made it to the big time. The difference here was that in the presence of Rob Thomas, you knew you were talking to someone who was on the way to things that most can only dream of.
When he talks to you, you feel like you've known this guy for years and years. He makes you a part of the conversation, asking more about you than telling you about him, which is vastly different from most musicians. This guy is just loaded with talent, and, at the time, well, just loaded!
After tasting what it was we were smoking, and finding out what it was, the back stage passes were handed out and the evening became a real party. Since they all had serious relationships, they got the real pretty wanna-be's to come back and party with us, and introduced us as his pals from Florida. An epic night was had by the three of us (me and my buddies, not the musicians - they dropped us off at our home in the west-end of Ottawa (a rather large farm house type of residence with a few acres of land).
A full year goes by, we hear nothing of or from this band that just blew us, and the entire audience away with their clean, energetic lyrics and sound.
One day, late 1994 (i think that was the year), there was a package on the mat in front of the door to our house. It was labelled, simply, "Hope you're the right guys". Inside? 6 back stage passes for their "Matchbox 20" tour, again at Barrymore's. This time. however, we were in the owner's suite, with free booze and all the best looking girls in the audience that we wanted in there with us - the room was for us, the band, and whomever we wanted to invite in there to join us (not one girl said no, of course, at the chance of meeting the guy on stage who was blowing them away).
When they met us inside the room after the final sound check, hand shakes and all went around - but, get this - they actually remembered our names, and didn't get them mixed up. And, they remembered what we brought to the table the last time they were here, as their girlfriends were with them this time, and they had been told of "this amazing hash we smoked with these dudes in Ottawa".
Morals? Really? I thought you knew me by now!
I don't know, folks, sometimes i think you expect too much of me! Morals? Ha!
Okay - so, the moral of the story?
You just never know who you're going to meet when you happen to have a friend who is an Air Canada pilot, who frequently flew to Pakistan and Afghanistan! And remember, these were the days of the "Friendly Skies". when pilots and other crew were not subject to customs searches - they were simply and truly trusted to be honest, law-abiding crew members! Again, Ha!
Anyone else, you ask?
Yes, as a matter of a fact there were...
I smoked some Afghani Puck with Jeff Healy (the blind blues guitarist) out back of a very small (15 tables, 20 stools or so) blues bar on Spadina Ave in Toronto.
Smoked some really potent pot while talking with Sir Meat.... Meatloaf, outside of a bar in Brampton, after his comeback tour for "Bat out of Hell" (about 1988-89 or so - gads! the dates get all confused - wonder why?) - Mr. Meat didn't partake, he actually told us that he'd never smoked in his life - then I asked him "not even while filming The Rocky Horror Picture Show", with which he heartily laughed and said no, but he was sure tempted! Again, this was in a very small, intimate bar, where he and his backup singer were in the middle of the small dance floor, on chairs, and the band was where the "good seats" were located. I think there were about 200 tickets to this show, and i was first in line at the bar the day they went on sale. I showed up before midnight the day the tickets went on sale, and there wasn't another person in line until about an hour or so before the tickets went on sale at noon the next day! People, come on! That was Meatloaf, for god's sake, in an intimate bar setting! Paradise by the dashboard light done acoustically!
Living in Ottawa's far-east end community of Orleans, me and my brother smoked some Peanut Butter hash with Carol King, who lived on our street, the last street before the woods that bordered the Ottawa River about 5 miles from the infamous Petrie Island (this was about 1981-82) - funny thing here - my father, a Hercules and Lancaster pilot for the RCAF for over 28 years, and very square (though he did like "Paperback Writer" - very risque for him) was the one who told us that it was, indeed, Carol King... She owns/owned (this was early 1980's here...) a home in Ottawa and liked staying there in the spring. A very friendly and welcoming lady, always ready with a smile and a wave.
As an aside here - it is always best to just treat famous and infamous people just like you would a family member or one of your better friends. Just don't act like you're in awe, and don't go asking for autographs and whatnot - me and my brother were the only people i ever saw her with in her backyard, and we walked our Golden Retriever by there every day on the way to the river.
And, me and some buddies i grew up with smoked with Kim Mitchell and Dave Myles from Max Webster outside of the bar at Algonquin College's Woodroffe Avenue campus, in Ottawa. Talk about a school of higher learning!
A non-smoking funny one was when i was watching the "Tall Ships" along with the "Bluenose ll" sail into Halifax Harbor for a springtime festival - right in front of me, and i really only noticed because of her trademark giggles, was Goldie Hawn - she of many of my wet dreams as a young teenager! (Oh, come on! All guys have 'em when we're young!)
Those are the ones that I remember, and the ones that I know about. Who knows who else i've smoked with? When you smoke hash that smells sweet and potent, you draw people in! And, it really is amazing when you smoke something that smells sweet and tantalizingly special in a public place how many people try to make friends with you!