Down Pat

Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius By

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Deciding on the University of Miami, both because of its above-average music department and its willingness to go to whatever measures were necessary to insure a football team that would not embarrass the alumni, Pat commenced towards his inevitable rendezvous with the remainder of this article.

Not long into his college career, it became obvious that Pat was not your ordinary freshman music major. Already accomplished as a performer and composer, he made a stunning transformation from student to teacher (with the use of make-up techniques first pioneered by the great Lon Chaney) and, at 18, was the youngest teacher in the school's history.

At the end of his first year at Miami, he was discovered by vibraphonist Gary Burton who quickly offered Pat the chance to teach at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. Ironically, Pat had originally wanted to attend Berklee, but was dissuaded from doing so by his father, who convinced him that attending a college with no athletic program would cause him to be one of those embarrassing bandwagon fans who latch onto a successful institution with fanatical devotion despite the fact they probably couldn't find the actual campus with a GPS. So then. Once in Boston, Pat's music career kicked into high gear. He was gigging left and right, making important connections, and most importantly, learning how to walk in those ridiculous Earth shoes that jazz fusion musicians were expected to wear back in the seventies. It wasn't long before Pat was in New York, joining his friend Jaco Pastorius in Paul Bley's band. Now, see if you can say 'Jaco Pastorius in Paul Bley's band' five times in a row without grinning like Buck Owens.

Funny I should mention Buck Owens (is it?), since he and Pat both share the same birthday. Which happens to be the very day I'm writing this stretch, August 12th. Freud said that there are no coincidences, but he died 30 years before Hee Haw premiered, so what the hell does he know?

Finally, in 1974, Pat joined Gary Burton (remember him, from earlier?) and his band of veteran musicians who he had recruited from VFW halls all over the tri-state area. It was here that Pat's style began to coalesce, playing with the talented guitarist Mick Goodrick. Pat also gained valuable experience in the processes involved in recording an album, such as where to stand during the cover photo shoot so as not to be obscured by the title graphics. This was of critical importance in the seventies, when staring at the album cover while listening to the record was a popular pastime and greatly influenced an artist's popularity. In fact, much of Linda Ronstadt's esteem among males can be traced to the cover of her Hasten Down the Wind album, which was responsible for the occurrence of more carpal tunnel syndrome among members of my generation than any album in history with the possible exception of the Go-Gos' Beauty and the Beat.

Moving along.

While performing with Bley, Pat formed a trio with Jaco and Bob Moses and recorded his first solo album, Bright Size Life (after the original title, Pat Metheny and Two Other, Different Guys failed to carry the vote with 1 for, 1 against, and 1 abstention). The album was well received, by Steelers' wide-out Lynn Swann who caught it for a 26 yard gain and a first down on the Browns' 35.

No, wait.

Following the success of his first solo album, Pat contemplated leaving Burton's band and starting his own. The sentiment grew in urgency when he met pianist Lyle Mays, with whom he formed an immediate artistic bond. Well, almost immediate. It's always a good idea to let artistic bond stand for 24 hours to insure maximum adhesion. It is also important to make sure that both artists are clean and the surfaces to be joined are free of any impurities (tattoos, etc.). Artistic bond may be removed with acetone or the right amount of money. Leftover artistic bond must be stored in a well-ventilated area, away from open flames. Use only as directed, keep out of reach of children and/or Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez.

Finally leaving Burton's band in 1977, Pat formed the Pat Metheny Group with Mays, drummer Danny Gottlieb, and bassist Mark Egan. For the next two years, the group toured constantly. Racking up over 150,000 miles per year in their van, they played anywhere and everywhere they could. Leaving no corner of the nation ungigged, no venue was denied. From enthusiastic crowds of hundreds in clubs and colleges to a stone-faced audience of four at Mt. Rushmore, the PMG (as they are still known among the hip set, and the remaining members of the Hapsburgs) performed constantly in a valiant attempt to keep the American peoples' minds off of the fact that Jimmy Carter was at the switch.


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