Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Time Has Told Me Not To Ask For More

You do the same things now as you did before, just with somebody different.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Me Me, Me-me-me, Me Me

When I get stage fright--or its far-worse precursor, writer's block--is what I worry will happen.

Friday, November 25, 2011

In Two or Three Editions

Lyrically, the metaphor here is not apt. Titularly, it is.

I just want to write. If that can include making up words, even better.

Will did it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

She's Just A --

No, don't ground Questlove over this! Brilliant.

Give It Time

Twenty-five years ago, I'd never have imagined that I'd see this performance.

Twenty-five years ago, I would have either had to be in Germany, or acquire access to videotape of this performance, or, more likely, I would be able to view photos of the performance. I would have had to purchase an imported magazine in a plastic sleeve, with the price tag in pounds still affixed, delivered to Turfland Mall Record Bar by truck from a warehouse from a jet misty from Atlantic rainclouds. Then, twenty-five years later, maybe the Saturday after Thanksgiving, I would have had to hold that magazine in my hands as I squatted in front of a tub filled with scribbled notes and mimeographed play programs and Happy Meal toys that once meant something and decide if I needed to keep it and transfer it to another, more decorative receptacle, or just throw it away.

Today, I am staggered by alpine heights of cultural detritus available to me. I can touch that mountain of ephemera in keystrokes, in seconds.

Today, the matter doesn't even have to be something that held meaning for me. It can be a song by a band that some of my friends might have liked that I'd considered buying recordings by but never got around to it because back then, when the mountain was real and unassailable, you had to set priorities, at least fiscal ones.

Now I can queue whatever that mountain yields to my keyword combination and look at it while I send emails to people, many of whom I have never spoken a single word to in person.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

One More Night.

You've Got to Learn to Grit Your Teeth and Smile

God, I love a tuba in a rock song*. Those sonorous, farty notes are so...unexpected. Swollen. Emphatic. Merry. And mournful. Like you musically captured the character of Falstaff.

A tuba brays, "For-get. For-get. For-or-get."

Kidz, if you really want to replace the bass, try a tuba. You get someone playing that big brass tulip and squatting and pitching on your stage, you got a show!

I'm reminded suddenly of whatever band or other--or stray members of a band--I encountered one night at the Uptowner bar in Milwaukee years ago. It was one of those moments when you walk into something that's in full monkey-swing. We opened the door and the bar, typically full, was chattering, but its din was muted by the duo in at the back of the room. One played a drum, standing up, or maybe guitar, and the other was just singing into the mike, I think, wearing an industrial barrel that he'd cut open at either end and that had the words C*NT LUBE scrawled in paint across its broadest part.

When I first recall that, whatever that was, I think they were playing a tuba. Only they weren't.

*see also: Chewing Gum by Elvis Costello on Grooveshark

Friday, November 11, 2011

Must Play Loud: I Ain't Waiting

The last five minutes of this song whip me into a meringue of subversion and escape. I can't stop listening to it. I want to kick out the office windows. Or, more likely, stand on a sticky concrete floor with a beer perched on my leg and feel this. Even without the contextual layer of Television's quote-unquote importance and their trailblazing mix of this and that, this is jaw-dropping awing. Since I'm typically late to the party when it comes to Television, I did read about them first. At that time, five, seven years ago, I was busy getting into contemporary things--things that I find myself today, while endlessly streaming (I had typed "spinning") "Marquee Moon," thinking, huh, I was already hearing this. Kind of. (Though I'm not keen at all about this version; live this track gets a bit too tweety [har] and anthem-y and makes me remember all the yo-bros at the later concerts I attended, raising their fists above their baseball caps in joy during particularly "sweet" crescendos...).

It's Friday night. Symmetrical, angular grooves, then the unexpected bright coda. LOUD.

There's a crow haw-hawing outside the office window right now. It might be poetic fancy, but do I hear guitar in his rasp?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wondering Where to Begin

This explains where I am lately.

Not the soulless commuting or harlequin antics. I do think tomorrow is going to be better.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Every Day I Look at the World from My Window

Oh, my goodness. There's not much better than this song, which I've been listening to daily since I heard it two weeks ago.

But does anyone else think the primary guitar chords and melody sound like the verse in "Laughter in the Rain" by Neil Sedaka? I mean, I admit it: that is the first thing I thought when I first heard "Waterloo Sunset"--which was, I admit, two weeks ago. Although maybe it grazed my ears before when I wasn't paying attention. To me, the Kinks were always the smart old guys playing New Wave with "Back Where You Started" or "Come Dancing," which I also connected somehow with Tracey Ullman. Her "They Don't Know" was a bouffant-haired throwback in a similar way that "Come Dancing" echoed a gentler, poppy era, but Ray Davies' nostalgic return to his childhood is actually a bittersweet ode: the sister, eighteen years his senior, who "always did" come dancing at the local Palais suffered at the hands of an abusive husband and collapsed and died--no shit--while dancing.

Where was I? Oh, and "Lola."

Anyway: I really need to pay more attention to what I am hearing. That's where the good stuff is -- whether it's a seminal Kinks record I didn't know about and that I'm now also playing non-stop, or a transcendent song's similarity to subsequent schmaltz. Or, in other words, a boundlessly pleasurable discovery versus an ironic footnote to my parents' stereo turntable circa 1975. 

And by the way, it seems like when I find a heretofore unknown or long-ago gem of a song lately, I also stumble across a cover of it by Elliott Smith.

More on that later. I don't want to wander...

Look Straight Ahead

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Take A Sad Song and Make It Better

The skies were gaping and gushing when I closed and locked the door to my house today. As I walked north to the corner, my legs were soaked. It was only a block. Then the bus roared past, just twenty feet from my feet.

I cursed for two minutes. A quick navigation on my device showed that the bus wouldn't arrive for another ten minutes. My shins were getting wetter. Four minutes later I hailed a taxi. We sped southeast down Milwaukee, and the rain did not let up.

The radio was off inside the cab, so I heard the sound of the rain drumming in cascades on its roof. I watched people dash and hop, dash and hop, or trot under umbrellas, or huddle in late 19th-century doorways, too tall and shallow, really, to provide shelter. The rain came straight down.

By the time I re-opened my umbrella and stepped outside the cab, twenty feet from work's front door, my legs had dried.

I just now remembered it's not Monday, but Tuesday.

Monday, November 07, 2011

So Why Should It Stop Me?

I'll conquer and stay free.

ps. I never realized until four minutes ago that his album's name was taken from this song. 

I love this man even more, if that is possible.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Reach Your Hands Inside This Dream


made me think of this.

If I was putting these out into the world for wider public consumption, I would pair them.

The water's clear. There's water all around me today, beating insistently on my shoulders, at my windows.

What's it trying to tell me?

I am not in the mood today to align themes and analyze British musical provenances. This is about simply listening to what I hear.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

...I Wish I Was

You're Going to Wind Up Where You Started From

I don't know how someone can sing the way I feel, not merely enunciating words and announcing ideas, but appealing with the soul. He can. Whoever he was/is.

I feel the power growing in my hair.

I just visited his website and listened to some of his more recent work, including his 2009 album Roadsinger. His voice seems amazingly untouched, plangent and insistent as ever. The music didn't necessarily grab me. He had already returned to performing live, worldwide in the early/mid 2000s. He had, as he described in a press release that officially announced his hitherto gradual re-emergence, come full circle. 
After I embraced Islam, many people told me to carry on composing and recording, but at the time I was hesitant, for fear that it might be for the wrong reasons. I felt unsure what the right course of action was. I guess it is only now, after all these years, that I've come to fully understand and appreciate what everyone has been asking of me. It's as if I've come full circle; however, I have gathered a lot of knowledge on the subject in the meantime.

I often remind myself--and I don't recall from whence this directive sprang--that when I don't know what yet to do, do nothing yet. When you are uncertain of the course of action, wait. It always, eventually, becomes clear. .

In the case of Yusef Islam, I'll probably remain guilty of my usual musical m.o.: indulge in the old stuff at the expense of exploring the new. I can't be blamed entirely since the new is often a shadow of what came before. In this case, though, I think it's a continuation of the journey, one that continued and continues whether we listen, or get to hear it, or not.