Archive for the ‘Musical War Stories’ Category

Musical War Stories: Dance, Franny, Dance, or the only time I’ll ever stump Deke Dickerson

May 2, 2013
Deke can do the work of four men onstage.

Deke can do the work of four men onstage.

(C) 2013, Fran Fried

Deke Dickerson is not only one of the true godlike figures of modern guitar — started in a surf band, graduated to rockabilly and vintage country and just about anything good and decent in between — and he has an encyclopedic knowledge of music. And one of the best senses of memory and recall I’ve ever seen.

I’m talking titanium trap here — not quite as absolute total-recall as Marilu Henner, but pretteee damn close. I mean, I’m blessed/cursed with a stellar memory, but he makes me seem as if I’m senile — which, my friends will tell you, is pretty huge. His talent for recall might be even better than his guitar playing, and that’s world-class.

I’m living proof of that. At some points of my life, he has simply floored me. But there was one night — and there will, indeed, be only one — where I was able to stump him. Just barely.


Musical War Stories: Open Up Your Door (to the garage)

March 25, 2013
This was the song that started it all.

This was the song that started it all.

(c) 2013, Fran Fried

It was a Friday night, late winter 1983, the last semester of my senior year on the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University. (I thought it was mid to late February, but my usually reliable memory might have been off; I remember that Sunday being the launch of the United States Football League, which would’ve made this the first Friday of March.)

I was wiped out after a long week, and, without a car and with nothing huge going on that I knew of on campus — and it being pretty damn cold for late winter — I did something unusual for me: I took a nap after dinner. Just flat-out crashed on my bed in the Nassau Hall room (123) I occupied all four years there. (Yes, I got out with my diploma in four.) Right on top of the bedspread.

It had been a pretty blissful Z session — at least until the phone rang. And the black New York Telephone-issued phone anchored to my wall was pretty fucking loud by anyone’s standards. And even louder when you’re asleep.

I mumbled something along the lines of “Who the fuck’s calling me?” and stumbled off the bed and to the phone and slurred in my best groggy voice, “Helllllo?”

I keep hearing there are no coincidences. And this call — entirely out of the blue, from an acquaintance who had never called me before — would take me on a trip that did nothing less than change the course of my musical tastes for the next … well, rest of my life.


Musical War Stories: Lou Reed

March 12, 2013

lou-reed-sizedOct. 27, 2013

Editor’s note: Lou Reed died this morning. I never did get the Musical War Stories category too far off the ground — between job hunting, finding a job and job hunting yet again — but I’ll let this stand as kind of an obit to him.

March 12, 2013

By way of introduction to a new category in this here blog, Musical War Stories

Got a call this afternoon from my old pal Tom Hearn, who lives in the neighboring town of Cheshire. Tom, a tall redhead who wears glasses like the ones my father wore in the early ’60s, is so low-key and unassuming that you’d just never know, unless you knew him, that he has done some pret-teeee cool things in his life.

Tom is the oldest childhood friend of the man who gave punk its name: Eddie “Legs” McNeil. He’s also the frontman for a band of local renown, The Big Fat Combo. (They have chops. And I’m proud to say I made my recording debut with the combo 10 years ago — under the name Fran Fried & the American People — cutting a tune called “(All I Get Is) Letters” for Let’s Get Furious, a two-disc tribute to that quirky, beloved and longtime New Haven duo, The Furors.)

Tom Hearn, front and center, with The Big Fat Combo.

Tom Hearn, front and center, with The Big Fat Combo — March 2, 2013, the Old Dublin, Wallingford, CT. Coincidentally, Lou’s 71st birthday.

And Tom’s also a photographer extraordinaire. He shot a great many photos of the early days of the punk scene — lots of Debbie Harry, lots of Ramones — and some of his shots wound up in Punk, the magazine started in 1975 by fellow Cheshire refugee John Holmstrom and Legs to chronicle a Lower East Side music scene that didn’t have a name … at least until it came time to figure out what to call the magazine. Mr. Hearn, oddly enough, was so low-key about his work that it didn’t occur to him to get around to showing it until about seven years ago.

Anyway, Big Red called to ask me if I want to contribute any stories, musical lists, etc. to, the website whose nucleus is Please Kill Me, the acclaimed 1996 oral history of punk by Legs and Gillian McCain. Several writers are contributing items to the site.

Yeah, I know, another non-paying thang. But at least it’s people I know (or at least know of), their hearts are in the right place, and they’re not getting paid, either.

Anyway, I cobbled these first tidbits together a week and a half ago — grabbed them from some fold in the memory bank — the day Lou Reed turned 71 and originally posted them as two separate items on my Facebook page. So anyway, whether Please Kill Me picks this up or not, this might be the start of something new on my blog. I figure hey — Lou was the cover boy on the first issue of Punk; why not start this new trip with Lou as well?