Eric Thompson - The Life of a Blues Man
Eric Thompson's down home cookin' release, "Manic + Organic," is an impressive release. His bluesy earthy tones gets you nice and loose, just like kickin' back at a dimly lighted nightclub. Like a nice refreshing drink to soothe you, Eric's music takes you away from it all.
I felt the heavy blues influence of Thompson's music, however, the artist sees himself as being all over the map musically. He does have preferences but they are they not huge ones, though, he can completely be fixated on something for months, and he has. Take Buddy Holly for instance, whom was the first songwriter/performer that he ever really listened to intently. He discovered the great around the time that he started learning to play guitar. He watched the Buddy Holly Story 20 times when it first came out. Picking up a Buddy Holly Songbook and learning everything he possibly could was the beginning of a love affair with the six-string. Feeling that Holly's music was way ahead of its time, he became captivated with the artist and his music.
Van Morrison and The Rolling Stones came up as favorite artists of Eric as well. Feeling that the Stones were responsible, as we all do, for laying down the bread crumbs that lead us back to the source, is the reason why they have had (and continue to) so much impact upon music and culture. Thompson commented, "Just because we come at it from different ways, that does not mean we do not all realize we are honoring the same traditions. The Stones, on any given night are still the greatest Rock n' Roll Band in the world. More than that, they did their job. They did what they set out to do."
RealAudio: "Metamorphic Blues"
Thompson, like many artists, finds himself returning to the basics, in almost every aspect of his life, but none more so than music. He has a deep abiding respect for time-tested legends like Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. Seeing Willie Nelson at the Fillmore earlier this year was one of the highlights of his life. Eric was in up front, just hanging over the metal railing watching Willie do his thing for two and a half hours. Willie never stopped or talked, he just played. Witnessing a man in his essence was awe-inspiring and a night to remember, for Eric and for anyone else present.
When asked the question, "What is great music?", he recounts a story that his father told him. The first time dear old dad ever heard "Satisfaction" was 1965, when he and his friends were all up at Yosemite camping and they had this little AM radio that scratched out some kind of reception. If you can imagine five 18 or 19 year olds all huddled around an AM radio in the middle of a campground in the Sierras, all of them struggling to hear this song - which sounded like no song before it ever had - that became his personal image, or eternal snapshot if you will, of what great music should be defined as.
The same kind of feeling overcame him while listening to a cut off Bruce Springsteen's new album. The song was fading in and out, as he was coming over the Golden Gate Bridge, but he just kept turning it up louder and louder. Most people riding along side of him in the midst of traffic thought that he was crazy, listening to static... but all he heard was the melody... like a butterfly in a storm. It was sheer beauty to his appreciative ears.
I mentioned to Eric that "It's A Guy Thing" is one of my favorite cuts off his new album, "Manic + Organic," because it reminded me of the great 60's song "Hot Rod Lincoln." Eric responded, "Son, you're gonna drive me to drinkin' if you don't stop drivin' that hot... rod... Lincoln - very cool tune. I guess its true, and I appreciate the comparison. I didn't have that particular song in the forefront of my mind when I was writing '...Guy Thing,' but then again, I'm never really totally aware of where the lyrics are coming from anyway. In reality, the song is a story song, which I guess is where the similarities start."
RealAudio: "It's A Guy Thing"
He wrote the lyrics to "It's A Guy Thing" on a plane flying home from a long trip. At the time, he was really taking stock of his life, reflecting upon what it meant to be a man. Contrasting that with all the imagery and expectations (good or bad) that men are always being held up to, and thinking of the men in his own life, including his father, grandfather, uncles, and his little boy (the man of the future), led Eric down a path to writing the song. Stirring visions of all his quixotic pursuits, failed marriages, and what Hemmingway wrote about and how everything changes in the nighttime when the lights are out and you are alone, are some of the thoughts and feelings he had while writing the lyrics. Then after the sway of emotions become played out in the song, the facade of bravado deserts you.
When I told him that I felt that he put his heart and soul into every song and he agreed. Whether it's heart and soul, love and fear, or rage and sympathy, he isn't sure, but he would like to think it's heart and soul. He added that he knows himself too well to ever think that for artists with his drive, it becomes apparent that it's all about pushing one self, never settling for a half-assed effort. His father once told him that if you're going to do something, do it right or don't do it at all. Those words have stuck to him for a lifetime. When he is playing, when it is all happening, Eric likes to think that he leaves pieces of himself behind with every song. The difference with his music is that he is never fighting anything. Somehow, he can surrender himself to it. The music transports him to completely unknown, unexplored places. Places that are a comfort zone and are not resisted during his processes of creation. Music is the closest thing to total happiness that Eric has ever known. Closing his eyes, this man cannot picture anything he would rather do.
Album Review: Manic + Organic
"Manic + Organic" is a pertinent title for Eric Thompson's amalgamation of music. Thompson's raw from-the-belly raspy vocal style will remind you of old blues singers like John Lee Hooker and country legends like Johnny Cash. I think diversity and color are the key words in describing what this entertaining CD offers. This is such an assorted collection of songs that I really must classify it as roots music. It's just so flat out down to earth and emotive, I don't know how else to explain it.
"It's A Guy Thing" is a real hoot. It reminded me of the great 60's song "Hot Rod Lincoln," complete with the monotone vocal take and spot on humor. The lyrics are so true. If you're a man you will relate and laugh all the way through the song while tapping your feet and slapping your knee. I really appreciated the way Thompson jumped all over the musical freeway, changing lanes with every song, and he doesn't do the speed limit either. "Turning On" is a hell-bent-for-leather rocker that may just catch you off guard after hearing some of his lazy kick back picking-with-a-grin type of musical atmosphere. I found it a nice change, and it helped me to appreciate what he was trying to accomplish on the album. "Metamorphic Blues" pretty much says it all right in the title, and it is a showcase for Eric's talents as a blues singer and down home picker. The curtain closes on this musical kaleidoscope with some flair and taste with two superb instrumental reprises called "Pierre & Mademoiselle" and "Three Souls." It shows how emotional he can be with his music even if it doesn't have words.
The main attraction here is that you have a man that is able to convey his innermost feelings and emotions through his music, and also able to adjust his sound to fit the lyrics. That my friends is what real talent is all about. He keeps your attention focused for the entire run of the CD, and then if that isn't enough, the longing that's left in your heart when it's all over will make you want to hear it again. Yup, this one got me addicted, and it will hook you to. And you know what? You will love every minute of it.
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