Saturday, December 31, 2016

Hanging on to hope.

I've posted about this song before, but some five years ago, it was about a moment, not the song. Shuffle got me that December night, and the moon.

I guess those are two things that are and have been constant over the last five years: music being moving, and the moon, too. 

They probably will continue to be, as the new year begins. George's music will be. When you think about it, he had every reason in the world to continue to write merry pop songs about love and longing after 1985-87. He was pretty, the songs were pretty. But there was something deeper going on under that face and physique, something that the later leather-jacketed, all-model videos and exploding jukeboxes couldn't cover up. A thoughtful, timeless soul who got well down into the thorns of relationships and love and sought to remind us of having faith in yourself.

I'd put this song on par with any 70s Lennon ills-of-the-earth shouter.

I wouldn't have listened to it the last few days of this exceptional year, had he not passed. But he did, and here I am, and here it is.

I'll keep looking for the moon in the trees, and hoping.

These are the days of the open hand
They will not be the last
Look around now
These are the days of the beggars and the choosers

This is the year of the hungry man
Whose place is in the past
Hand in hand with ignorance
And legitimate excuses

The rich declare themselves poor
And most of us are not sure
If we have too much
But we'll take our chances
Because god's stopped keeping score
I guess somewhere along the way
He must have let us all out to play
Turned his back and all god's children
Crept out the back door

And it's hard to love, there's so much to hate
Hanging on to hope
When there is no hope to speak of
And the wounded skies above say it's much too late
Well maybe we should all be praying for time

These are the days of the empty hand
Oh you hold on to what you can
And charity is a coat you wear twice a year

This is the year of the guilty man
Your television takes a stand
And you find that what was over there is over here

So you scream from behind your door
Say "what's mine is mine and not yours"
I may have too much but i'll take my chances
Because god's stopped keeping score
And you cling to the things they sold you
Did you cover your eyes when they told you

That he can't come back
Because he has no children to come back for

It's hard to love there's so much to hate
Hanging on to hope when there is no hope to speak of
And the wounded skies above say it's much too late
So maybe we should all be praying for time

Friday, October 21, 2016

I don't wanna rule the world, just wanna run my life

Was ctrl-c ctrl-v pasting a lot of stuff today so decided I needed to hear this.

Actually, was command-c -ing on the Macbook. But that works just as well for me, too.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The champion of the world.

This may be no one's favorite but mine. For me, it's the reason why.

Bob Dylan

Pistol shots ring out in the barroom night
Enter Patty Valentine from the upper hall
She sees a bartender in a pool of blood
Cries out my God, they killed them all
Here comes the story of the Hurricane
The man the authorities came to blame
For somethin' that he never done
Put in a prison cell, but one time he could-a been
The champion of the world

Three bodies lyin' there does Patty see
And another man named Bello, movin' around mysteriously
I didn't do it, he says, and he throws up his hands
I was only robbin' the register, I hope you understand
I saw them leavin', he says, and he stops
One of us had better call up the cops
And so Patty calls the cops
And they arrive on the scene with their red lights flashin'
In the hot New Jersey night

Meanwhile, far away in another part of town
Rubin Carter and a couple of friends are drivin' around
Number one contender for the middleweight crown
Had no idea what kinda shit was about to go down
When a cop pulled him over to the side of the road
Just like the time before and the time before that
In Paterson that's just the way things go
If you're black you might as well not show up on the street
'Less you want to draw the heat

Alfred Bello had a partner and he had a rap for the cops
Him and Arthur Dexter Bradley were just out prowlin' around
He said, I saw two men runnin' out, they looked like middleweights
They jumped into a white car with out-of-state plates
And Miss Patty Valentine just nodded her head
Cop said, wait a minute, boys, this one's not dead
So they took him to the infirmary
And though this man could hardly see
They told him that he could identify the guilty men

Four in the mornin' and they haul Rubin in
They took him to the hospital and they brought him upstairs
The wounded man looks up through his one dyin' eye
Says, wha'd you bring him in here for? He ain't the guy!
Here's the story of the Hurricane
The man the authorities came to blame
For somethin' that he never done
Put in a prison cell, but one time he could-a been
The champion of the world

Four months later, the ghettos are in flame
Rubin's in South America, fightin' for his name
While Arthur Dexter Bradley's still in the robbery game
And the cops are puttin' the screws to him, lookin' for somebody to blame
Remember that murder that happened in a bar
Remember you said you saw the getaway car
You think you'd like to play ball with the law
Think it might-a been that fighter that you saw runnin' that night
Don't forget that you are white

Arthur Dexter Bradley said I'm really not sure
The cops said a poor boy like you could use a break
We got you for the motel job and we're talkin' to your friend Bello
You don't wanta have to go back to jail, be a nice fellow
You'll be doin' society a favor
That sonofabitch is brave and gettin' braver
We want to put his ass in stir
We want to pin this triple murder on him
He ain't no Gentleman Jim

Rubin could take a man out with just one punch
But he never did like to talk about it all that much
It's my work, he'd say, and I do it for pay
And when it's over I'd just as soon go on my way
Up to some paradise
Where the trout streams flow and the air is nice
And ride a horse along a trail
But then they took him to the jailhouse
Where they try to turn a man into a mouse

All of Rubin's cards were marked in advance
The trial was a pig-circus, he never had a chance
The judge made Rubin's witnesses drunkards from the slums
To the white folks who watched he was a revolutionary bum
And to the black folks he was just a crazy nigger
No one doubted that he pulled the trigger
And though they could not produce the gun
The D.A. said he was the one who did the deed
And the all-white jury agreed

Rubin Carter was falsely tried
The crime was murder one, guess who testified
Bello and Bradley and they both baldly lied
And the newspapers, they all went along for the ride
How can the life of such a man
Be in the palm of some fool's hand
To see him obviously framed
Couldn't help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land
Where justice is a game

Now all the criminals in their coats and their ties
Are free to drink martinis and watch the sun rise
While Rubin sits like Buddha in a ten-foot cell
An innocent man in a living hell
That's the story of the Hurricane
But it won't be over till they clear his name
And give him back the time he's done
Put in a prison cell, but one time he could-a been
The champion of the world

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Unearthed from the 80s: You know you'll always thrill me

Perfect for the day that fall sends silvery, slender, cold drabs of water down into your sun-drenched eyes from a leaden sky. Autumnal stabbing into your heat-baked, flowery heart.

Who broke my heart? Autumn? No. It has to arrive.

It was summer. For leaving. Leaving all of a sudden.

Monday, September 05, 2016

And now you find yourself in '82

There's not a specific memory tied to this. Like the too-many notes in the song, there's a tumble of images, sounds, smells. The dank lockers, the rusty corners, the glub-lb-lub-lb sounds when underwater, the smack of a back flopping off the board, the screams, just general screams of delight edged with terror from the deep end, and the specific shouts MARCO POLO POLO POLO AAAAAIIIIEEEE, my eyes burning as the shadows deepened, the dense grass squeaking under my bare feet while crossing to the snack bar, the feel of wringing out a sopping towel, the tautness of sun-dried skin, wrinkled finger/toe pads re-wetted, a whistle on a lanyard whipped one way, then the other, around the lifeguard's finger, all of my own freckles, the worry someone noticed you farted in the water, the sun boring into my skin, shoulders, neck and scalp, the parts most often out of the water, then my hair and suit dried by the air across my aunt's red MG, because the top was down, always down, but my eyes didn't dry because they were behind glasses and trying to keep seeing what I saw all summer at the pool.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Don't you want to stay til there's no one else around?

This one was at the beach. The pool is the Atlantic. I don't remember the house, it might have been the weird triple-story one that had seen better days. I was stung by a jellyfish, not a blob but a badass one that had tentacles that left heavy red welts across both of my legs at the knee, welts that lasted well after vacation ended, because I was showing them off to friends back home. I was clinging to my canvas raft, going woop-woooo over the waves, facing the horizon, imagining we could head out there. Occasionally we'd turn around and try to ride a crest to the shoreline, and when you caught it at the right time, bounced and hurled forward on its foam, it was the best, happiest, and most slightly-dangerous thrill. Maybe it was one of those times, turning from east to west that the jelly brushed past me, I felt it passing, and then fire. Pain, fire, that I can't remember now how it felt but I remember that it hurt, more than anything, more than scraping both knees in a single tumble at summer camp, from which I still have scars. The jellyfish welts have disappeared.

I was rescued by my dad and ministered by relatives and a lifeguard who poured ammonia from a jug he had at his chair just for this reason.

I didn't go back in the water the rest of the week, but I still wanted to stay, stay oceanside forever. Til there's no one else around.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Well, I can dance with you, honey

Going to the pool was PURE EXCITEMENT and then you're IN it and this song comes on and you want to sing and shake a little to it but, you know, you're in the pool. But it's the big YWCA pool, so maybe no one will notice if you make up a little showtune-type dance to it, it being so MUSICAL, like a musical, with multiple voices high and low, soft and loud then all chiming in a big crescendo when you don't know crescendo means, but also with a guitar riff, even though you don't know it's called a RIFF.

Not to mention the POINT of it, lyrically speaking.

Friday, August 26, 2016

I'm in another world

At the pool of family friends who lived out in the Kentucky country for a big cookout party. They had a big in-ground one, and we who had once played effortlessly as kids found ourselves teen-awkwardly posing around the thing rather than wearing ourselves out with fun in it. When I (finally?) got in, this played.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

You're moving in circles

The words made no sense, but it sounded so good against the color of the water and the sky and the hot pink (or was it blue striped?) bathing suit, like someplace different, someplace far away--a place that actually sprang from inside a machine, a Yamaha DX1 or 7 or other. Machines have always changed the way we work and play and think, and the sound of progress is especially set in relief when it hits your ears while you're going around and around in what's simply an outdoor box of water.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

You let your mind out somewhere down the road

This one comes directly from the indoor/outdoor pool at the YWCA on Cross Keys Road, the week-long day camp that my cousin and I attended thanks to the largesse of my grandmother. There was this song on some tinny transistor or other, and (somehow?) the chance to see the That pool was enormous. Want to swim inside? Cool. Want to run and jump in in the sunshine? You got it.

I can't remember ever going in the winter, though we could have.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

I heat up, I can't cool down

Summer at the pool. This crinkles out of the lifeguard's AM/FM Panasonic over the 3' - 5' area of the pool, the long part of its L shape. The sky and the water are the same color blue and when the breeze shifts, fryer smell wafts over the water, which you stay in from one whistle blow to the next. Enforced breaks, goose pimpled and sun-scalded skin, fryer smell now in your hands via a tray of perfect golden spears, maybe a Sprite. The towel is hot, the deck chair is hot, the concrete surface is hotter.

There is no better time, nor place.

Monday, June 20, 2016

[Summer madness]

Since I don't know how to type out that synth sound for the title of this post, I'll just say "right on, man," revel in how g-d jazzy Kool & the Gang truly was, and hope I hear Herb Kent the Cool Gent play this on an upcoming summer Sunday afternoon. Long afternoons stretching into evening by the lake, Herb laying this out there. Yes, honey. Yes.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

I'm actually thinking about yesterday.

Another loss. My age, my experiences, some of them, anyway.

I always dug this track more than their name-maker. This second single is just as lush, but tinged with loss.

I think Mike taped this one for me. On side two was something dissimilar, like Big Audio Dynamite. Or maybe that's not so different. It sounds like summer to me, the end of that first free summer of mine in 1991. It sounds like the distant blue line of lake and sky I'd stare at day after day, as much as I could.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

I always thought you'd be by my side

Me Now: How come u didn't go to the Purple Rain tour when you could have?

Me Then: I liked him, but I had to spend my money wisely--on L'Oreal eye shadow and Duran Duran import 12-inches.

Me Now: Gah---gackkk--ah. DUMMY!You liked Purple liked it a LOT.

Me Then: Yeah, but I didn't buy it. Taped it off the radio...

Me Now: One lousy dime!!

Me Then: But none of my friends were going. I think. No, they weren't.

Me Now: You couldn't find a way to go?? I mean, you had to figure it out sometime. How else would you finally see U2 for the 45 (50?) dollars no one else was gonna pay to go with you?

Me Then: Yeah, but the concert was on a Saturday, and we had a speech tournament that day. We had to have. Or I had to work (and then go directly to Record Bar and buy another 12-inch).

Me Now: Just...just watch this:

Me Then: Goddamn.


Friday, April 29, 2016

Just tell the D.J. to play your favorite tune

I don't remember everything about the two "Welcome 2 Chicago" Prince shows that I witnessed in 2012 at the United Center.

But I do remember a moment of anticipation, standing in line at one of the fancypants bars on the upper concourse, listening to the preshow playlist, and letting this groove get me to move:

I like to think, now, with everything that's changed so drastically in just one noon hour, that he put that preshow list together, selected the songs to feel the spice of life, together, before he brought us together even more.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Honey, I know, I know

I feel every stroke of the guitar solo in “Purple Rain.” I hated to hear those mournful opening chords at the high school dance, it meant stopping the ecstasy of dancing and sitting on the sidelines for eight minutes watching others pair off and shuffle in the dim light. Eight minutes of being alone, watching the couples nestle into each other and trying to understand what that might feel like and wanting it at the same time, and knowing, somehow, that this song itself ached and mourned for that very moment.

Later, after I had learned about those moments, I stood alone, but not alone in the United Center and felt the love for us, all of us, from the small man with great stature. The song became a moment of love, peace and unity that I hadn’t felt and will never feel from another artist again.

I won’t post the song here because that’s one that is still not up.

And you know it already, don’t you.

Love will conquer if you just believe

Haven't been able to do this yet. First was shock, then the wild dancing, then put in about 15 out of the 26 hours of listening to the catalogue via (kind of) Alphabet Street, then more dancing, then foiled attempts at a jukebox wake during sportzpucker playoff season.

This all sounds more flippant than I intend it to. It's hard to process. Nothing lasts, not even him. But he and I remain, every time he turns me on.

It feels insurmountable, this knowing that from here on it's going  letting go, always letting go of things, places and people. The first, easy. The second, can't control. The last, something to cross, again and again.

But it's only mountains...

[9] pRiNcE - "Mountains" by mke-coleman

[two videos, because they are all flooding back, with our tears and many memories]

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Maybe that's why you're around.

Spring's arriving, emerging from Bowie-mersion, and finding I'm sort of becoming addicted to Tusk.

It needs to be mobile--on the iPod.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Time is truly wastin'

"Ernie was taken aback that Ron had uttered 'bullshit.' When asked why he said the word, Ron simply replied, 'because it needed to be said" and "it's what people want to hear.'"

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

But you're not really here

The way that Karen sings "long ago, and so very far away" pierces my soul, somehow, transcending time and sending me back to the long carpet, record burbling on the stereo. Maybe it's the first song I could grasp as "song." But it's also that the voice, the voice is supernatural, it is the aural explication of yearning. It expresses and explains longing at all the same time.

Those three words immediately push out tears from I-don't-know-where.

I should add that this is what I assume to be one of the rare times Karen is seen playing drums, which was something she loved to do.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

I chase my vinyl dreams to Boogie Wonderland

Thank you for reminding us of "universal love and harmony." It wasn;t just in the words, it was in the joyous, joyous sounds. I've heard this song thousands of times and EVERY TIME my heart rises.

A holistic practitioner of sorts--New Age-y, if you will--once explained to me that when one dances, one's spirit literally rises up above the physical self. Or something like that.

That is exactly what happens when I hear EWF. And likely what Maurice was going for.


Monday, February 01, 2016

Oh yeah!

This is in mind primarily because someone tried to break into my work office today -- but it somewhat describes the current, discouraging political health that's getting fevered starting today

Sunday, January 24, 2016

And nothing has changed/Everything has changed


Because it's a prayer. Hear the key change at 2:19. "As on wings." Straight-up, old-school church hymn.

I'll call it a chant for peace in the middle of uncertainty.

If anything, he has captured the anxiety of entering the 21st century, before we separated from each other and became cynical.

Monday, January 18, 2016

I'm already standing on the ground.

Here we are again.

Another who constructed sonic wallpaper of my growing up is gone.

This is my first true love -

But this is Glenn in his earliest glory. Not his song, but he took it and made it, gently, his own.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

I can see where I am goin’.

I didn't cry again all week until I watched this. Unexpected.

And this--conceived, created, costumed, not a rote revival, not a wink-and-give-'em-the-hits. A creation for this moment. Theatre. Life.


December 15, 1979.

I have listened to this song at least 35 times this week alone.

And last December, only "The Man Who Sold the World" performance was screened within David Bowie Is at the MCA Now, straight from the poodle's mouth:

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Sail over heartaches.

Because this is when I really, really liked him, but he was not vital. And because I can't even touch Ziggy Stardust or Heroes yet...

Seemed like pop fluff at the time, but it resonated with me more a little less than 30 years later on Saturday (January 9, 2016) as I listened to my handmade Bowie playlist whilst cleaning the bathtub. And it apparently was a very thoughtfully-crafted song, too, not a trifle churned out to add to a film soundtrack aimed at getting 80s summer airplay, and one that marked a turning of a corner for Bowie's craft.

If our love song
Could fly over mountains
Could laugh at the ocean
Just like the films
There's no reason
To feel all the hard times
To lay down the hard lines
It's absolutely true

Monday, January 11, 2016

Just like that bluebird.

This changes everything.

These words mean nothing, but: move. brave. death. art. death. create.

"Just go with me"

"Just turn on with me/And you're not alone"

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Careful where you tread

Saturday Cheeze (that I actually heard yesterday):

This has it all: headbands, keytar, rock duck lips, a first verse sung sotto voce and wide-eyed, a wind machine, sunglasses inside, a wall of amps indicating ROCK and awkwardly choreographed movements amid columns.

This was the beginning of the end for Jefferson Starship--during the recording of the follow-up album to Winds of Change, Paul Kanter kidnapped the master tapes for a few days to protest the band's changing sound. I like the single off of Nuclear Furniture, but when I watch the video, I can't say I blame Kanter for his shit-fit.

And it just keeps getting better. Until we reach the second single from Knee Deep in the Hoopla, "Sara," which is a synth-pop ballad that reeks of '85--right up my alley.

By this album, though, they aren't even writing their own songs, with newcomers like these--hence Kantner's departure, probably. And Peter Wolf (not that one) arranged/played on other 1984-86 singles that, come to think of it, sound a lot like "Sara."

And now we've come full circle: more duck lips, sotto voce first verse, band playing amid columns, and wind machines.

I'm going to have to revisit my copies of memoirs by Slick and the Wilson sisters. I know for a fact that Slick had quite pretty stream of sarcasm for (Jefferson) Starship after 1980. Funny how the raw and authentic sound and personalities of the 70s got swept up in the hairspray-and-electronic-drums turbine of the 80s.

Monday, January 04, 2016

And I'm wondering what I'm doing in a room like this

Some brittle music for the start of the brittle time. The world is white and the wind is unforgiving.

Still, there's some life under the ice glaze, and away from it, inside.