Steve Miller is one of the best songwriters ever.
For my money, he doesn’t get the credit he deserves. His show Thursday night at the pool at Talking Stick Resort was way more entertaining than I thought it would be, and that is not to say I was expecting to be disappointed. I expected to hear great songs, and I did. What I didn’t expect was how subtle changes to old classics like “Take the Money and Run” and “Space Cowboy,” for example, would breathe new life into the songs, or deeper tracks and cover songs by Steve and his excellent band would leap over my expectations and take the show to even greater heights.
In fact, as a semi-professional songwriter myself (and, yes, I even use the term “semi-professional” loosely), the show was so inspiring that I immediately went home to work on my own album based on the experience of seeing the Steve Miller Band. It was Steve’s introduction to the band’s cover of The Clover’s “One Mint Julep,” actually, to push me over the edge, as he talked about how the pre-rock 'n' roll song (originally released in 1952) helped push him into the songwriting business himself.
My record is completely based on the experience I had at the show, influenced by the audience, the venue, and, of course, the Steve Miller Band. The title (and opening) track, I think, will have to be “The Pool (with the most feet in it wins).” This power ballad is devoted to the large pool in the middle of the venue, which at one point, probably had more bare, strange feet in it than any other body of water in the Four Corners area.
Track two will be called “It Sucks in the Beginning,” a boogie-woogie rocker about the shitty sound at the beginning, which just about ruined opening track “Jungle Love” but pulled it together by the third song, “Abracadabra.” One of the cool things about Miller and his band as well is how they could pull themselves out of some slightly sloppy playing with ease at several times during the set. They are truly comfortable in their own groove and exude confidence.
Moving on to the psychedelic rocker, “Champion Mullet” for track three, which is probably completely self-explanatory, but I did come within a few feet of the best mullet I have maybe ever seen at the poolside show. It was majestic in its combination of a tightly weaved hair helmet that flowed into a — well, "mane" is the only appropriate word I can use to describe it. The party was truly in the back and the owner definitely seemed to be enjoying the show.
The cleanup hitter, track four, could only be titled “The Great Surprise.” This is a straight-up heavy rock 'n' roller that comes out of nowhere, much like the highly enjoyable yet unexpected treats from the band’s 20-song set. The aforementioned “One Mint Julep” was stellar, as was “Dance Dance Dance” and “Blues with a Feeling.”
The only way to follow up a nice surprise, though, is with something truly magical, which brings us to track five and the start of side two, “Tiny Twin Cops.” In the vein of Miller’s seminal “The Joker,” which totally got the crowd going, by the way, “Tiny Twin Cops” celebrates the incredibly diverse tribal police department, which was on full display during the show. The chorus of this one, “Yes it’s all true, in the blink of an eye, they’re underneath you” paints a delightful picture.
Super-jam song “Dancing Guy in the Pink Button-Up” will fill about 11 minutes in the middle of side two. This gentleman also contributed greatly to my night, as his body fell victim to the funky bass line in “Abracadabra” and then again throughout the Latin-themed “Shu Ba Da Du Ma Ma Ma Ma.” At one point, I had no idea how he could get the upper part of his body moving one way and the lower part doing something completely different. Superb, really, and I hope the song does him justice.
The final track, “My Boobs Are Moist,” really sums up the elephant in the cabana for the evening in the best way. This was something I overheard in the audience and I’m sure was said more than once during the evening. Let’s face it: Outdoor gigs in most of central and southern Arizona are just not a good idea in the summertime, no matter how big the pool is, and the amount of moist boobs (both male and female) was definitely in the thousands Thursday night.
Last Night: The Steve Miller Band
The Crowd: Almost as entertaining as the band, to be honest. Pretty diverse, in terms of age, and for most part, looking like they were having a good time. Most amazing was the number of couples holding each other tightly in the 100-plus degree heat. True love (and moist boobs).
Random Notebook Dump: "Steve Miller’s pulse rate is probably about 15 beats per minute. He’s got to be the most laid-back man on the planet."