Song of the Day – “Serenade” by Steve Miller Band

Paddington Bear fucking LOVES this song!

No wait… that’s MARMALADE he likes.


But first… isn’t the world of Winnie the Pooh a little ridiculous?

This is more like it.

Anyway, this song really takes me back.  Back in 1992, when I started listening to “Classic Rock”, Steve Miller was among the first artists to get my attention.  Of course, everyone has heard the songs that comprise his “Greatest Hits”.  Most of them are taken from two albums.  Fine, fine albums.  A little to polished sometimes, but great stuff.

The sound he had at the time was the result of recording everything at home and being able to spend as much time as he wanted doing overdubs, re-recording things and generally perfecting his records.  “Fly Like an Eagle” and “Book of Dreams” were the results.

Here’s my version of Stevie “Guitar” Miller’s story:

  • Started playing Blues-Rock around San Francisco, where he had moved from Texas.  It was 1967, so no one gave him a hard time about it.
  • Formed the “Steve Miller Blues Band”, shortly shortened to the “Steve Miller Band”.  He was always the center of attention, even when Boz Scaggs was doing his thang in the band.
  • Released not one, not two, but four amazing psychedelic blues-rock albums.
  • Released a great blues-rock album while his band disintegrated.
  • Watched as his record company slapped together some barely finished tracks and jams with a side of live jamming and called it an “album”.
  • Recorded an album, and watch as his record company “finished” it for him with outside musicians so they could profit from his name.
  • Came back with a big “Fuck you, here’s how it’s done” and released an amazing album.
  • Got into a vehicle accident and broke 3 vertebrae.
  • Moved back home to Texas to rest and recover and crafted two of the most listenable, singalongy, dancealongy albums known to man, where damn near every track was a #1 hit or at least got a hell of radio play.
  • Released albums during the 80s, which were required (by law, apparently) to sound fucking terrible.
  • Had one final kick at the can and released his final studio album in 1993, with out of tune vocals WAY too fucking loud and drums barely detectable.

I’d fix that last album if I could.  If I had access to the master tapes, I’d get his vocals autotuned (you can do it so that it doesn’t sound artificial, just in tune.  see: every major fucking Top-40 “singer” today) get them lower in the mix, pump up the drums, removing the reverb from them, and give it a final, cleaned up mix with everything louder than everything else.

That last line is an inside joke.  See: “Made in Japan” by Deep Purple.

So if you’ve ever been interested in some Steve Miller, get the 60s and 70s stuff only.  The 80s stuff has its moments… but my god, some of it is goddamned atrocious.  From that time on is when he insisted on having his “past-his-peak” vocals mixed way too fucking loud on every album.  In the 70s, he could sing.  Especially in the late 70s, he could whip almost anyone’s ass in that department.  I think he was just out of practice in the 80s.

That’s when he started to go out of tune.


Those two albums I mentioned above, the ones the record company finished for him, have never been released on CD.  As far as I know anyway.  There might be bootlegs of them, but not officially.  I do however have them both on CD and on my iPod.  You see, I have a record player!  And I have a sound card in my computer!  And I have audio editing software that can remove all kinds of noise and make those records sound damn near CD quality.

Some of those tunes ain’t half bad.  They could have made one fucking HELL of a 4-song EP out of those two albums.

Maybe 3 songs, because one of the killer tunes, the best one on either album, is kind of long.

Here’s an edited-down version.

So, as usual, I’m not even discussing the song.  It’s an incredible tune.  it just chugs along.  I get the impression of big gear wheels slowly but inexorably turning constantly around.  The song has everything you’d need for a pop song, and nothing else.

Most of his singles from the late 70s are like that.  One of them even has a whole crate of papaya.  A whole crate!

For some reason this song makes me think of eating BBQ steak and drinking beer.  Ah, my youth.  I miss both elements.  I fucking love the taste of beer.  but I’ve had enough.  Bring on the steak!