Walk On to the New Frontier

It was a morning for music in my head. I think I may have been delirious since I didn’t turn on my fan last night. I didn’t realize it until the room was starting to grow lighter that something was amiss. I had tossed and turned for a bit and after stickily making my way to the bathroom, came back to discover the fan button was firmly off. I flipped it on for a bit and stretched out for a few more minutes before starting the day, proper.


Dionne Warwick’s version of ‘Walk On By’ is so sunny, despite its content. I envision checkered wool suits with short skirts, mules or short heels, and purses clutched in elbow crooks, or pencil thin ties and ankle-pinching sharkskin suites as gaggles of women and men stroll purposely down wide boulevards.

However, Isaac Hayes’ version is gritty. The opening bass and guitar lines make my veins and arteries vibrate like strings. I used those bars before he starts singing as a sample once but never completed a tune with it, but I still hear it occasionally … It’s unique and powerful, invoking images of night life in my mind.

The Hayes version also brings thoughts of leaving things behind. I’ve been doing that a lot lately.


Walking away should also suggest walking toward, and that brought to mind Donald Fagen’s ‘New Frontier’. I first saw the video above while still living with my parents and on what I often thought was an underground station out of Maryland. It popped in at weird hours and I usually found it by carefully manipulating the Tuning ring so that UHF channel finder was actually between numbers. The station, whose call letters are now lost to the annals of time in my memory, was the first place I saw non-mainstream music videos. I remember snickering when those videos showed up on MTV, sometimes a year or so later and sometimes not at all. Those videos encouraged me to explore the stacks when my parents made the trip to the Shore Mall; I spent many a dollar in The Rio Mall record store, which was closer to home and somewhere I could get to reasonably on my own. However, the shop in the Shore Mall had an Import section, where I went completely and joyfully into debt buying music that I couldn’t get anywhere else — some of which was by artists I’d never heard of at all. I would buy the albums (and eventually cassettes) because of the cover or if I had extra time, because I gave them a quick listen since there were turntables there for ‘sampling’.

Day by day, I walk on, sometimes whilst looking back at fond memories and at other times forcefully on, with gritty determination toward a new thing.

At some point, I’ll be able to reprise James Brown to say ‘Momma’s Got a Brand New Bag’.

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