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Archive for the ‘Music Monday’ Category

Before the year is over, I want to give a shout out to Sharon Jones. She meant a lot to me. I meant to post a tribute shortly after her death, but oh, that fucking election and trying to fight the DAPL going through and a new chemo regimen for me—it was all too much. I know tributes are needed though because every time someone lists the celebrity deaths of 2016 I generally have to look pretty hard to find Sharon Jones. Well fuck that.

I loved Sharon Jones’ music the first time I heard her on the radio. WHAT? I could hardly believe my ears–was this a song from the golden age of funk and soul that I’d missed? (and my mind’s ear always rings with the call letters and jingle from Detroit’s AM radio station: CKLW, The Motor City)

Her voice, her words, her power. She was funk, soul, political; old school.

When I found out she had cancer, I was concerned, angry, and sad. My cancer, her cancer, though different, put us into a club we never asked to be in, but I watched; I watched and waited. She performed like a BOSS without hair, in heels, in sequins, in fringed dresses, sweating and twisting and leading her own band, singing songs of the oppressed and of Black women’s struggles in the US. I know how awful chemo is but she was able to summon something from deep inside to continue to share and preach and tell a truth in a proud line of Black American soul artists. 

Her version of “This Land is Your Land” is best version of Woody’s song, hands down, I’ve ever heard (any time she sings it, it’s the best version). Back in the earlier days of my blog, I could link to a song from youtube, but this feature, no doubt due to copyright issues, has been taken away. So you do it. Go to youtube and look up Sharon Jones singing Woody Guthrie’s hymn to America.

We need her now, we need her fire and passion and intelligence and rhythm. Another great one gone. DO NOT FORGET her message, the heritage she calls on. This is political. Dang we need her. And for fuck’s sake stop omitting black women from the pantheon. Erasure is unacceptable.

Ciao, babies. Still a few more days of this year left. Let’s hope for a little peace before we say goodbye.

 

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As I age, the legions of celebrities who shaped the popular culture into which I was born will continue to die. Their deaths will increase in number and rapidity.

I never had the slightest idea that Lou Reed would be on this list. Yes, not even a foggy notion.

I probably came late to worship at the altar of Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground, but I don’t really remember. I don’t have any monumental story to tell you about the first time I heard the album Loaded or anything.

When I was in high school, I didn’t know about cross-dressing or what a transvestite was. Take a Walk on the Wild Side was a radio standby throughout those years, nothing radical about it.

I wasn’t raised Catholic where you dress up and attend funerals on a regular basis; in fact, I was purposely shielded from death by my parents who believed that it was appropriate to do so and it would keep me safe. I never saw a dead body until my own father died when I was 23. My first viewing of an open casket was several years later.

After John Lennon was shot (I was a mere 17), the possibility of any of the other Beatles’ dying became real. Lennon’s death was hard, but we had each other, we had the legions turning out in Central Park singing Imagine to help us through, and, like I say, I was 17, on the cusp of the wildness ahead of me and full of disdain for the adult world I was about to enter into in some small measure. I was woefully unaware of the process I now know as “aging.” Not only that, but the Beatles’ zeitgeist jumped generations and genres of music. There was so much to love about them—who even remembers that they pushed boundaries and people’s buttons? Their music’s universal appeal wiped out the shock of their long hair; the bed-in; the Jesus statement (which was willfully and ignorantly taken out-of-context anyway). 

Lou Reed and the VU captured the sound that was still alive when I was a student at Kent State University in the early ’80s. Attending any art opening had the grit and recklessness the VU sang about in the ’60s. There were drugs, fags, lesbians, cross-dressers, punk bands, hair dye, glam, 1950s vintage; and we were all sexy, every last one of us; all of this before Grunge hit the scene. By the ’90s, I had gotten sober, bought a house, started to settle into my life with my man.

I remember one particular thesis show where the artist had created huge, found-metal musical instruments and everyone who went through the exhibit spent the next 3 or 4 hours demolishing the sculptures by “playing” them with the flat, rusted metal strips left around on the floor next to each one.

I went to as many art openings as I could. I went for the free booze and the food and the scent of sex, but also to be on the edge of all of those real artists. I was an English major and didn’t have the stomach for that much radicalism or creativity. What I hear when I listen to the Velvet Underground is the sound of that time.

I knew a guy, a friend of another guy, who said if you looked up the word cool in the dictionary, there would be a little picture of Lou Reed next to it. That’s how cool Lou Reed was. I always loved that.

Lou Reed, your death belongs to my generation, too. Thanks for the trippy guitar, the sex and the drugs and the grit, the psychedelia, the poetry, your rich and soulful voice.

You were a light in the darkness because you didn’t deny the darkness and from that place you were one of its true voices.

Now if I could pick my favorite song, I’d post it for you right here. I’m dancing and singing along and you should be, too.

Beautiful, just beautiful:

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Lately, when I look in the mirror, I see that the furrows and signs of age won’t be departing my face any time soon.

There are many rock anthems, the best of which have multi-generational appeal. When songwriting is this good, it feels like it is about me and the years between me and my teenage-self fall away.

Just when I’d gotten Fake Plastic Trees out of a weeks-long loop in my head, my kid played it in the car. I belted it out along with Thom Yorke and now it is re-lodged in my neurology. I don’t mind though; this is why I love rock n roll. This is why I understand why I was born when I was born. This is one reason I love men and don’t mind terribly much sometimes that rock n roll is dominated by them.

Sometimes I dig a cover of a really good original tune when it is Jeff Tweedy singing it and hitting the nail on the head. I love this rendition, his fealty to the original, his obvious love for the song, and the humility with which he plays it–no fancy tricks.

 

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each day

the whetstone.

a writer,

the words.

pen to paper;

fingertips to keys

wrists see

*

who visits my dreams

tugs at my ankles, ruffles my hem

I do not know why, for whom
I write this

corseted

record

*

Hell yes!

***

Okay, so it’s not a real mash-up, but a twinkly-style mash-up and that’s how I roll….

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Y’all know I am not a fan of The Grateful Dead and enough said about that.

But several years ago, I picked up a CD of Not For Kids Only, with Dave Grisman and Jerry Garcia. It was then that my classical-guitar playing friend said how much he liked the Grateful Dead. I was fairly shocked, WHY? He said Jerry’s playing and singing is soulful; and finally, I too found it to be so.

My kids grew up listening to this CD pretty frequently. Thinking about Freight Train of late inspired me to dig it up. Right away, my eldest started playing the CD over and over. I used to sing some of these songs as lullabies and I asked the girls if they remember them very well. Yes, of course.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, sometimes as a parent, you do something right.

CD or no, the music is in them.

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Dig that funky organ. Girl.

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magnolia pods

beautiful horsetail (an ancient plant, reproduces by spores like ferns do) hedges landscaped into a rock-and-water garden in front of a (multi) million-dollar ocean-front home

jade hedges; rosemary hedges; bougainvillea spilling out over garages and porches and clay-tile roofs; hummingbirds; shore birds; harbor seals; cormorants and the white streaks of their excrement all over the rocky cliffs on the beaches in La Jolla; the black-crowned night heron fishing off of the ropes at the Maritime Museum; the beautiful black-and-white spotted feather with a bright-orange rachis that I brought home with me but still haven’t identified (anybody?)

ship’s ropes

I got all fancy-schmancy and used the digital switch-over function for b & w, something to which I’ve always been quite resistant. With my old Retina camera, b & w was de rigeur, but with digital, it always feels like cheating. What is wrong with me? Am I so pretentious that only 35mm b & w photography is good enough? Yeesh.

dummies in the ship museum (who still uses these guys? CREEPY and his hand looks bloodied!)

same dragon, different angle:

You know I’ve said I think boy pee has a stronger odor than girl pee, due to the testosterone and all. That was before I visited one of the San Diego airport’s women’s bathrooms at 9 pm on a Saturday and one of the Atlanta airport’s women’s bathrooms at 6 am on a Sunday. These loos smelled very strongly of pee, BOY pee. YIKES!!! Maybe our hormones are equal to and/or greater than theirs? (I’m baiting you, you know).

if this were a b & w photo, you might be confused as to who should use this john

They may talk big in the South about manners and all, but let me tell you, they don’t seem to know how to clean a bathroom.

Today’s song has nothing to do with So Cal except that our pal George sort of half-played it for us and we sort of half-sang along (as if we could it at all because the Feelies don’t really sing their lyrics, they sort of mumble them)

In Coronado, an uber-white, wealthy (or just wanna-be wealthy, for the clueless tourists?), tacky, less-cultured-than-La Jolla (if that’s even possible), gazillions-of-SUVs type community, there are a few places on the sidewalks and at the curbs where quarters are glued to the pavement, I kid you not.

First, it’s illegal (not to mention un-American) to deface American coins. How is it that in one of the most Republican counties in the US, this is allowed?

Second, it’s cruel. What, Coronado, you have so much money, you sit around on your xeriscaped patios watching the lowly plebians try to pick up quarters all day? What about the little barefoot ragamuffin getting run over in the street as he tries to pick up that coin he needs to buy a can of beans for his family’s supper? Have you no mercy?

So, Coronado Beach, keep your money glued to the sidewalks. We don’t need your stinkin’ quarters.

Look what this little New England street urchin found, not glued to the sidewalk:

Look what I saw when I came home:

I know this is not a great photo, but at least I didn’t make it b & w, right? I never saw a sunset like this in So Cal. Chalk one up for New England!

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