Some People Call Him the Space Cowboy

Some people just call him Maurice.

“Him,” of course, is musician Steve Miller, the self-styled pompitous of love.  Those of us of a certain age will recall a period in the 1970s during which Miller almost continually had a song (or two) on the pop charts – familiar songs like “Jungle Love,” “Take the Money and Run,” “Rock N’ Me,” “The Joker,” “Jet Airliner,” “Swingtown,” ”Fly Like an Eagle,” and others.  A recent article in the New Yorker explains that those songs were anomalies in Miller’s career, that for the most part his music was Texas blues, not pop rock, and that before the hits that’s what Miller performed and after the hits that’s the music to which he returned.  Miller didn’t disappear from the music scene so much as he stopped making the kind of music to which most people listen.

The New Yorker also reports that after more than 30 years living in Idaho and amassing a collection of more than 400 guitars, including some that are collectors’ items and others that are custom-made, Miller married a musicologist and moved to New York City, where he started sharing and donating some of his instruments and getting involved in the city’s music scene.  Included in that involvement was an appointment to the visiting committee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Department of Musical Instruments and, more recently and after meeting and becoming friends with jazz star Wynton Marsalis, an appointment to the board of jazz at Lincoln Center.

Of the latter appointment the New Yorker notes a particularly trenchant observation by Miller:

“I walked in and said ‘Jesus, this is a real fuckin’ board.  That’s the guy who built the building.  That’s the guy who raised the twenty million.’” And now there’s the guy who wrote “Ab-ra-ca-dabra/I wanna reach out and grab ya.”

And with that memorable understanding of his place in the world and his willingness to articulate it, The Curmudgeon is now a Steve Miller fan.


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