Monday, June 07, 2010

Music Monday ~ Boz Scaggs

Boz (William Royce) Scaggs, has Sun in Gemini and a birthday this week. When I started researching for this post I knew next to nothing about him. The name was familiar from way back, but I couldn't have named a single hit of his. I had a vague image of some heavy metal-type dude. Wrong! By the end of my searches I'd ordered two of his most recent cds!

Many pop/rock/soul/rhythm and blues stars before him have daringly taken on the challenge of recording songs from the wonderful "American Songbook" of standards. It's filled with some of the best lyrics and melodies known to man, by such luminaries as Duke Ellington and Johnnie Mercer. Many have tried, few have succeeded with much style - for example: Robbie Williams and Rod Stewart.

Boz Scaggs seems to have just the right "vibe" and an innate understanding of this genre. His take, on two cds But Beautiful and Speak Low is the best by far, so far, in my opinion. With backing from a super jazz combo, Scaggs' smooth vocals don't overdo jazziness to the point of affectation, but stay mostly true to the haunting melodies, while still not singing the songs exactly "straight". For me, this is what "cool" means!

Boz (derived from a school nickname "Bosley") started his musical career as guitarist and vocalist with Steve Miller (of the Steve Miller Band), back in high school, later he travelled in England, Scandinavia and India, during the musically surging late 1960s. He had no spectacular musical success, he played for food and money enough to get by, looking on music as a meditation and escape rather than as a career. He returned to the US, California, during the psychedelic era, wasn't much impressed, by all accounts:

"I was coming from a different place," he explains. "I'd just come from Nepal and India. I picked up a Time magazine, and I saw people dressed up in costumes. They looked like cowboys and Indians. It was very American, and I was not feeling very American."
"Boz wasn't a hippie", remembers Jann Wenner, publisher of Rolling Stone, who then lived across the street from Boz in San Francisco. "He was smooth, sophisticated and elegant."
(July 1988 Interview, Dallas Morning News HERE)

However, by the mid-1970s Boz Scaggs had achieved solid recognition, many hits and a Grammy, with rock/soul/blues inspired material, such as Lowdown and Lido Shuffle. By 1980 though the pressure of the music business, a rapidly shattering marriage and bitter custody battle over his two sons must have contributed greatly to his decision to abandon his music career for a while - for 8 years as it turned out. He concentrated on spending time with his young sons, and running the Blue Light Café and a nightclub called Slim’s in San Francisco, as well as running a vineyard and developing his own line of wine. His musical career re-surfaced in 1988, when he resumed recording and touring. The two jazz-inspired albums, already mentioned, were recorded in 2003 and 2008.

In the July 1988 interview linked above, Scaggs had opened up quite a lot, about himself:
The most important thing in his life, he says, is nirvana. Music can be a source, he says. Love can't. Nirvana, he says, "is a time and a place. You walk around a corner and see a little red wagon, and it's a perfect photo and it's a perfect smell and it's a perfect day."
This state of "mental ease" just comes in fleeting moments, he admits. But there is hope for more.

"I think you can achieve it in a lifetime, and I think there is such a thing as learning to live gracefully. Grace is a state -- a deified state. It's sought for in every religion and every discipline. One time I was talking to a friend of mine . . . He asked me what my nature is, and I said that my nature was stealth. This is a rather odd thing to come up with, but it was the first thing off of my tongue.

"I go carefully and very slowly. In other ways, my life is completely haphazard and random. Anything can happen. But in another sense, I take it slowly and watch carefully. I'm always moving from one environment to another. I've always felt that my life's been transitional, from one small town and one small world into a slightly larger world. And that's what I do. I'm always moving carefully to the next stage. Once I'm there, I see my way around and move to the next one."

A student of Eastern philosophy, Boz believes he can get "very close to that state' of nirvana.
"I feel confident,' he smiles. "It's a real goal of mine to develop an inner grace and learn how to hold on to it."

On New Year's Eve 1988 Scaggs' son Oscar died from an accidental overdose of heroin (from Newsweek Magazine)

And my world is blown to smithereens. My son – this fine, beautiful, sweet young man – my Oscar is gone from this world. Twenty-one years old. Hooked on the high, the release, that place of no worry about pressures from family or school, or jobs not yet found. And I am trying to put together the pieces of my own life and of his. There are so many unanswered questions when one so young dies suddenly. So many parts of his life were in transition and unresolved. I hardly know how to begin.

Scagg's re-married around 1994. His remaining son, Austin is a music critic and a senior editor for Rolling Stone magazine

Born 8 June 1944 in Canton, Ohio, at 5:12 AM (Astrotheme)

He's very Gemini: Sun/Venus/Uranus/Saturn and Gemini rising! With a heavy dash of Leo and - surprise surprise, a Capricorn Moon....or maybe not so surprising after reading a little about his life and career. Versatility of style: rock, blues, pop, soul, jazz connects to Gemini's restless and ever curious mind, as does his songwriting. Leo clearly connects to his show-biz life in the spotlight. Mercury is the lone planet in Taurus, and on the degree of Fixed Star Algol, thought by ancient astrologers to be the most unfortunate of stars. If there is a connection, I see it here as probably being his son's death at age 21 - a devastating experience for the father.

Moon in serious, steady, sensible, business oriented Capricorn has been Boz Scaggs' astrological "rock" or anchor I'd guess. He had the good sense to withdraw from the spotlight when other matters needed his attention. He put his business sense to work to provide an alternative outlet for his skills in his restaurant, club and winery.

He describes himself as always moving slowly, stealthily from one stage of his life to another - this is Capricorn over-riding Gemini. All that Gemini of his would otherwise run around hell-for-leather, scattering valuable energies, but achieving little. There's a Yod (Finger of Fate) which beautifully describes this over-riding. It's formed by the sextile between Gemini and Leo planets respectively in quincunx (150*) aspect to Moon. Capricorn Moon is at the apex, drawing the best from the rather heady and showy sextiled planets and processing them through the steadiness of Capricorn.

One of his latest jazzy tracks


Wisewebwoman said...

Love his name and love his sound. I'd forgotten about his son, how totally sad.
Thanks for the post!

Diane said...

Always one of my favorites. I saw him at the Fillmore West back in the day and he's got the longest legs you've ever seen.

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ Yes, people say the worst thing that can happen to a person is to lose a son/daughter. I can well imagine that is true.

Twilight said...

Diane ~~~ Oh lucky you! LOL! about the legs. :-)