Thursday, January 16, 2020

Some thoughts on Steve Martin Caro, RIP, singer for the Left Banke.

Much like the band that he fronted, Steve Martin Caro was a comet that burned quickly across in the sky, and then spent much of his travels moving through the darkness, as many of us remain blinded and amazed by his brightest moments. The original span of that group, the Left Banke, was three years, made up of musicians that were in their teens for much of those days. It is somewhat of a miracle that their first single, “Walk Away Renee” exists at all. Thankfully it does, an enduring testament to a group of people that loved and fought each other with equal measure, yet created a body of work that speaks to them, and for them better than they could ever verbalise.

When the spirit moved him, Steve knew no boundaries. He and bandmate George Cameron co-wrote the first two songs that the band recorded, “I Haven’t Got The Nerve” and “I’ve Got Something On My Mind”, laying down the template that fellow bandmember and writer Mike Brown would take further. He co-wrote with Brown on some of the band’s best songs. That’s Steve on drums on “Goodbye Holly”, bass on “Bryant Hotel”. He played guitar, marimba, any instrument that he got his hands on. All with one of the best voices of the 1960s, a sound that melded with one of the era’s best harmony vocalists, Tom Finn. A sound that never left him, even when he spent decades retreating from the world. 

I never got to meet the man born Carmelo Esteban Martin Caro. For those of us around the Left Banke orbit, Steve was a Godot-like figure. Always discussed, but never to arrive. I made many attempts to reach him through his precious few longtime friends. Perhaps I was never supposed to meet him. Perhaps he had said everything there was to say. Be it those transcendent first two Left Banke albums, or those precious few recordings from the 1970s on. Some of which has been heard, some of which hasn’t. I hope that it all is heard, someday. Sooner or later, the passing conversations fade away, and we are left with a life’s work. And through that prism, the music of Steve and the Left Banke lives forever. 

To Steve, I say, safe travels. And thank you. To Mike, George, and Tom Feher, who now welcome Steve to the great highway, I say, continued travels. Just close your eyes, and they will be there. 

-Daniel Coston
January 16, 2020

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