Night Music: Television, “The Dream’s Dream”

I only saw Television live once, on New Year’s with John Cale and Patti Smith at the Palladium in NYC, in 1976. The neighborhood was plastered with fliers from Patti Smith promoting something called RAT/ART or ART/RAT. Those were lively days.

The thing about Television, the band, was they were arty rebels who had no intention of fitting in to rock forms, exactly, and yet they lived to rock. It was a dynamic fusion. They were CBGB’s jam band, and at the same time their music and tunes were as gritty and urban, as arty and essential as that of Blondie or the Ramones or Patti Smith. The band’s roots, which included Richard Hell, ran deep in the scene, and the songs mostly sounded like nothing else on the CBCB chart.

I saw Tom Verlaine, Television’s guitarist, as a solo performer a few times in the aftermath. He’s a great guitarist with a singular sensibility, but his solo tunes didn’t stick as hard. Maybe that’s because of the songs, or the missing intertwining of guitars with Richard Lloyd (a style I favor in many bands, from the Stones to the Allman Brothers), but I don’t know if that’s him or that’s me.

I can say that I love all of Television’s music unequivocally, and you should too. ¬†And there are rewards in Verlaine’s solo recordings. I just have to relisten to make recommendations.

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