Monday, June 19, 2023

Peter Galperin: “Tomorrow Seems Like Yesterday” (2020) CD Review

This country went horribly wrong in 2016, and in some ways it feels like we are still stuck in that year. After all, Donald Trump has not yet been imprisoned for any of his many crimes. Sure, it seems like we’re closer than ever before, but, look, the guy is 77, and he’s been a deceitful, racist bastard for all of those 77 years (yes, even as an infant, the guy was probably awful), and hasn’t once felt any consequences for his behavior. So I am not holding my breath. Hell, he’s still the Republican front-runner in the 2024 presidential election. That goes to show you that entire party is rotten. So we are stuck. Peter Galperin’s Tomorrow Seems Like Yesterday, one of my favorite album titles ever, was released during the final year of Trump’s time in the White House. It was at the beginning of the pandemic. Remember that? In some ways, it seems like ages ago, but that is because even time has been acting rather peculiar lately. Though it might seem like May of 2020 was another lifetime, the songs on this album speak strongly to how things are right now. For, as he tells us, tomorrow seems like yesterday. Peter Galperin plays guitar, mandolin, piano, organ, mellotron and harmonica on these tracks. He also wrote all the songs. Joining him are Patrick Carmichael on drums and percussion and Leo Smith on bass and backing vocals, along with a few guests on certain tracks.

The album opens with “Nature Of Your Kind,” which begins with some rather sweet work from the horn section that joins him on this track. That’s Bradley Madsen on tuba, Benjamin Hankle on trumpet, and Alexander Jeun on trombone. That tone changes a bit with Peter Galperin’s cheerful whistling, and the song begins to build from there. Here is a taste of the lyrics: “Accusations fly left and right, but you never take the blame/You put on a show of indignation each and every time/That’s just the nature, the nature of your kind/Your only talent is to hide the truth from ever seeing light/And you act as if your innocence is a goddamn given right.” Those lines have not aged at all in the intervening years. The way the song builds, particularly in relation to the drums, reminds me a bit of how Billy Bragg’s “Waiting For The Great Leap Forward” progresses. I love the bright, cheerful vibe of this song, with those “la-da da-da” vocals and the horns. Kelsey Madsen is on backing vocals. And Peter Galperin promises, “You’ll finally get what you deserve and we’ll toast to your decline.” Yes, let’s hope it happens soon. It has been far too long in coming, and I have my bottle ready. I love this song, particularly how it feels like a celebration before the end.

“Never Too Young” is delightful, and it gives the album its title in the line, “The years are flying by, and tomorrow seems like yesterday.” This one is about aging, something that has been on my mind more and more lately. “My energy’s not nearly what it used to be/We’re all running out of time, but I never thought that would happen to me.” Those lines certainly ring true. And again, the music has a rather cheerful sound. So many of this song’s lines make me smile, such as “I realized with age you need to get more rest/‘Cause by the time I hit 45 I wasn’t looking quite my best” and the lines about thinning hair (mine abandoned me quite a while ago) and “Even life’s big winners eventually lose.” Smith Curry plays pedal steel on this one, and Andrew Schlesinger is on keys. I highly recommend checking out this song, even if you think you’re young. After all, the main line is “You’re never too young to start feeling old.” And it’s coming for you too. “Never Too Young” is followed by “Digital Friend,” which has some whistling right at the start. There is a humorous bent to this one. It is about someone whose life is posted online, whose popularity has dubious origins. “Even when it’s dark and gloomy, you’re always out in the sun/There must be a reason there’s a special glow around you/It might be just the lighting, but I like everything that you do.” There is particularly funny moment in the middle, where the song turns to a bit of dialogue in which he admits his weakness. I still find it somewhat disturbing that we refer to people that we occasionally associate with online as “friends.” Kelsey Madsen joins Peter Galperin on vocals again on this track.

“Don’t Need To Know” begins with him listing things he might never know and places he may never visit. And these lines are striking: “I’m just trying to remember the best way to get back home/Because everything I recognize will soon be gone.” Again, life is short, so we have to recognize, or choose, our priorities. He mentions politics as an example here: “I try not to listen to the politicians/Screaming and shouting in my news feed/They’re all part of the problem/And that’s never going to change/It’s just a bunch of white noise that I don’t need.” I went nearly a month without looking at the news, and I felt so much better. Last week I started reading the news again, and am once again frustrated and anxious. This track includes some nice work on harmonica. “But one thing I’ve learned is how to tune the world out/Because not being in the know is kind of nice.” Indeed. There is whistling at the beginning of “Another Drink” too, and I wonder if he’s happy and trying to spread that happiness, or if he’s trying to convince himself that he is happy, or if he’s whistling as a way of maintaining a sane outlook in a disturbing world. This song also addresses aging: “Don’t say I’m confused upstairs/I’m just a little slow on my feet/The years have really added up.” And I love this line: “I’m not dead yet, just in a general state of decline.” And yes, I appreciate the whistling that comes in again soon after that line, reminding me a bit of “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life.”  Kelsey Madsen joins him on vocals for the song’s chorus.

In “As Good As It Gets,” Peter Galperin sings, “May we never have to look back with regret/And be true to each other and kind to those in need/Knowing this life is as good as it gets.” This song provides a reminder that in general we are all looking for the same things in this life, that we all have basically the same needs, the same desires. And this song touches on the damage we have done to this planet. Sometimes it feels that it is beyond repair, particularly when I see those images of mountains of plastic and realize that many people don’t even care. Are our similarities enough to help us bridge the chasms between us and make the necessary changes? The disc concludes with “Won’t Let Go,” a positive, hopeful number. Though really, all of these songs have an optimism running through them, which I appreciate. I also appreciate that good work on harmonica. “We’re hanging on, but I don’t know how much longer/Time might be running out for all of us today/But I won’t let go/While hope’s still in my heart.” May we all hold onto such hope.

CD Track List

  1. Nature Of Your Kind
  2. Never Too Young
  3. Digital Friend
  4. Don’t Need To Know
  5. Another Drink
  6. As Good As It Gets
  7. Won’t Let Go

Tomorrow Seems Like Yesterday was released on May 13, 2020.

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