|You're never too old...|
Kim Fowley wrote and produced this song as a single in 1978. By that time, he had already had his fingerprints on the face of rock and roll in his position as a producer, songwriter and manager. Amongst the long list of people whose career he had helped along or revived are The Soft Machines, Kiss, Helen Reddy, Gene Vincent, Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers and Kris Kristofferson. Hell, he would be honored by me solely for his role as a co-writer on Warren Zevon’s first solo album. Perhaps his biggest claim to fame was seeing something in five aspiring female performers and putting them together as The Runaways. Now don’t get me wrong--Fowley didn’t create the fivesome of Jett, West, Curie, Ford and Fox out of altruism; he had already been looking to form a female band to be his mouthpiece and was unsucessful until he met Joan Jett, but the impact that little act had is undeniable.
Given how this is the guy who wrote songs for the prototype for Riot Grrl, it’s surprising how gentle this song is. In this song, Fowley is pretty much trying his hardest to channel Bob Dylan with his kinda wavering vocals and simple acoustic guitar composition; I have to wonder if the opening lines ‘The King of The Gypsies is on my radio/he said goodbye to rock and roll and I kept saying no’ is a direct reference to Dylan himself. And to be fair, there are a couple of moment where those vocals border on parody. But the song itself, probably written as Fowley was contemplating the move he was going to make to Australia to search for the next Beatles, is kind of a cool mission statement. He talks with some passion about how the future of rock is happening right now somewhere out there, ready to be discovered. It’s a hopeful song in spite of its mournful pace, as he says that he can hear the new heroes of rock ‘who I’ve never heard of/and who have never heard of me’ in his garage. I just get this picture in my mind listening to this song of Fowley sitting back in his office popping cheap cassette tapes one after the other into his deck, leaning back and marveling at some of these new sounds coming from these small spaces all across the country.
Fowley is still out there--he was integral to bringing the story of the Runaways to the big screen in 2010--hosting a radio show on Sirius Satellite Radio.
You can here the song here.