So back in the Seven­ties, if you were a col­lege stu­dent and it was sum­mer, you’d sit around smok­ing weed and then some­one would say “Let’s go to the record store.” And in those days the peo­ple who worked there knew all the coolest mu­sic. So in the mid­dle of the head-banger er­a, you’d float in­to the record store and there’d a fast bril­liant jazz-guitar in­stru­men­tal, and you’d sud­den­ly find you’d be­come a fan of Pat Metheny.

Path Metheny Group As Falls Wichita

Phase Dance was that song on that sum­mer day, from his de­but Pat Methe­ny Group. It’s not his mas­ter­piece (more on that lat­er) but it’s a fast bright shiny cheery piece of mu­sic with a nice bass-line and it moves right along and is nev­er bor­ing. You can treat it as pleas­ant back­ground noise or lis­ten in close to what the band is play­ing and you may find your eyes widen­ing.

There are lots of good Methe­ny record­ings once you get past the de­but, and since I ran a Bowie num­ber a cou­ple days back, I have to men­tion that Methe­ny backed him on This Is Not Amer­i­ca (Spo­ti­fy, iTunes, Ama­zon), a love­ly tune.

But Metheny’s mas­ter­piece is a 1981 out­ing, As Falls Wi­chi­ta, So Falls Wi­chi­ta Falls, and es­pe­cial­ly its ti­tle track, which is a 21-minute sym­pho­ny that flows through mul­ti­ple slinky dream states un­til it builds to a crush­ing cli­max, one of the best records ev­er to turn up re­al loud. But 20-plus-minute mood epics with no live video are just not Song Of The Day ma­te­ri­al. Wel­l, if you want to get the feel­ing, here’s live video of Septem­ber 15th from that record.

This is part of the Song of the Day se­ries (back­ground).

Links · Spo­ti­fy playlist. This tune on Spo­ti­fy, iTunes, Ama­zon. Nice live video (and there are lots more out there).



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From: Paul Veverka (Mar 11 2018, at 23:55)

I was fortunate enough in the late 1970s to be exposed to Pat Metheny by a friend of a roommate. Even more fortunately, we saw the group live in early 1980 in an acoustically excellent performance space on the University of Maryland campus. The evening started with "a little piece we've been working on" that became "As falls Wichita...." That night and a later performance by the group that I caught at University of Arizona were both marked with palpable joy radiating from the stage. One of my favorite groups.

As far as their masterpiece is concerned, I'd suggest 1997's "Imaginary Day," especially the track "The Roots of Coincidence." I see it as a concept album, so it may be best to enjoy start to finish in one sitting.

By the way, I have the same friend to thank for turning me on to Bruce Cockburn! I'm really enjoying your Song of the Day series. Thank you!

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March 09, 2018
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