Saturday, April 20, 2013

You Could Make It All Worthwhile

Scott Miller 1960-2013

That's a picture of Scott Miller onstage with the Loud Family that my friend Ana gave me in 1998 as a birthday/housewarming gift to hang on the wall at my new place (now my old place since I've lived here for fifteen years).  It was a framed photo until two weekends ago, when the frame broke while I was cleaning and the picture fell. I know enlightened people are not supposed to believe in superstitions about black cats and broken picture frames and whatnot, but after the news came down this week that Scott Miller had died, my mind kept thinking about the broken picture frame.  Probably just a coincidence.

Admiring papers on my wall

For the last fifteen years, that photo of Scott hung above a framed concert poster of Game Theory (Scott Miller's 80s band) playing with Robyn Hitchcock & the Egyptians and the Fillmore. This was a gift from another friend for letting her and her boyfriend (now husband) stay with me for a Loud Family August 1998 homecoming show at the Bottom of the Hill (as documented on the What If It Works? live album.  This was the first Game Theory show I saw I saw and the one that turned me from casual fan to obsessive fanatic.  The only show Scott Miller played at the Fillmore.

On my bedroom wall, there are three Loud Family promo posters on my wall (Plants, Interbabe, Days For Days), four Game Theory album covers (RN through Two Steps), and a setlist from a 1995 Loud Family show. Here's a photo of my 'Scott shrine'.

 (are there any effects pedal settings besides "1" and "4"?).

That setlist is from a show in Santa Rosa that is important to me because it was the first time I ever had a long and deep conversation with Scott Miller. It was the first Loud Family show after the original band had more or less fallen apart, so it was a crossroads of his career, his first show with their new bass player, and the debut of a bunch of new songs from the album that would become Interbabe Concern.

The North Bay wasn't a hotbed of LF fandom so there were only a dozen or so people there, and I was the only SF Bay Area loud-fan who'd made the trip. At that time I knew Scott as a casual acquaintance, and had chatted before and after shows ("hi", "nice show", etc..), but he greeted me at the Santa Rosa show like a long lost friend. "Steve!, It's so great to see a familiar face". Hey, Scott Miller remembered my name!
I asked him how the new album was going with all the band upheaval. He said they he'd started recording by himself, and wanted to get everything right because "these are some of the best songs I've ever written". And they were.

I told him I liked the Hollies cover ("Look Through Any Window") that had recently come out, and Scott said they'd been asked to do a song for a Badfinger tribute and was looking for a good one to do. I suggested one of the later ones from Wish You Were Here or something from the post-Pete Ham era. We got on this long debate about the merits of post-Ham Badfinger (he didn't think there were many) and which obscure songs would be a good fit for Scott and the LF. In an interview a few months later, Scott described his core fanbase as "out-of-it pop obsessives who own every Badfinger record". "Out-of-it pop obsessives" like me!

The song the Loud Family ended up covering for the Badfinger tribute was "We're For The Dark", one of Pete's songs from the first album (Magic Christian Music was an Iveys album). I hadn't thought about that conver a few until someone posted the song to Facebook a few days ago.

"It's not enough to live, if you've gotta take then you have to give". Scott Miller singing Pete Ham.
Very poignant, very powerful, but something I did not need to hear this week.

I've been a dedicated fan and friend of Scott Miller for the past 25 years and all he's given me is a dozen albums with some of the best pop songs ever written, nearly a hundred live performances across the country that I've documented on many live tapes and discs (compact and mini), possible video stardom (cameos in the "Don't Respond" video and LF Live 2000 DVD), a title for this blog, and a bunch of longtime (and hopefully lifetime!) friends that I've met through the loud-fans mailing list.

Scott Miller has been an important piece of my life for a long time, and I feel like I've lost a member of my own family. So long Scott. You made it all worthwhile and your music endures forever.

(I don't update this blog very often so this might be my last post ever -- sh)