Are you ready for The Gangster of Love? If so, you must be high
Some people call Steve Miller the Space Cowboy. Some call him The Gangster of Love. Most call him the man who made music for college kids to listen to while smoking cigarettes or weed as they pretend to study in their dorm rooms.
Yeah, as Miller heads to Houston to play the House of Blues tonight, I think I'm going to call him that last one.
With the exception of only Bob Marley's classic compilation, Legend, perhaps no artist's greatest hits set has been more widely purchased by students of higher learning (no doubt, courtesy of government loans or mom & dad's Visa card) than The Steve Miller Band's Greatest Hits 1974-1978.
Here we are, over 30 years after its release, and right at this moment, there are 17-20 year-old future leaders who can't name two songs by the Beatles (or point out where England is on a globe) but who can recite every word to SMB classics like "The Joker," "Jungle Love," and 'Swing Town." Give them an extra sixer of Pabst Blue Ribbon and a little more bong resin and they might even be able to warble "Rock'n Me" or hum the melody to "Jet Airliner."
(Side note: No one knows the actual words to "Jet Airliner." Not even Steve Miller. I remember as a teenager I saw a comedian on late-night TV who sarcastically said that the songs chorus was, "Bingo Jed with the light on..." At the time I didn't understand the joke. I thought those were the words to the song. I didn't even know it was called "Jet Airliner" until I saw the CD liner notes years later.)
It's not surprising that The Steve Miller Band appeals to college kids and burn outs (in many cases, the only difference between those two groups is a few textbooks and a gas credit card). The mix of early seventies west coast blues-rock (that would be "The Joker" or another greatest hits gem, "Take The Money and Run"), combined with a penchants for 1960s psychedelia (take a listen to the instrumentation on "Fly Like An Eagle" again. That's pure freedom rock, man) makes for a natural anti-authoritarian soundtrack.
Personally, I can't listen to Greatest Hits 1974-1978 anymore for the same reason I can't eat meatloaf: I had it forced down my throat to many times as a child. My groovy brother and sister had it in heavy rotation from the time I was a toddler until high school. They passed the baton to my college roommate who played it and Boston's 1976 self-titled first album so often that I had to hide them to save my sanity.
And this was in the 1990s when these songs were already around two decades old!!
That shouldn't stop you from reliving some fond memories of past THC-hazes at Steve Miller's show Friday night though. Go have some fun at the House of Blues before you gotta see the kids (or grand kids) this weekend.
The Steve Miller Band, 8:30 p.m. Friday at House of Blues