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Posts Tagged ‘music’

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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1. this song

2. I will, from now on, call writing poetry, poeming, without apologies and without explanation and even in submissions: Dear Editor of Journal I Will Likely Not See My Work Published In Ever: I have been poeming for x number of years. Kiss my ass.

3. not really. I will NEVER do that.

4. kiss my everloving tattooed ass hip

5. when I am alone driving, driving and crying go hand-in-hand

6. (to drive is to cry)

7. The Silos were a great band. Too bad about their lack of making it big. DAMN.

8. You know that month where people write a poem a day? It is called NaPoWriMo. I will probably never do that. I am one who falls into the camp of not finding prompts or deadlines or challenges particularly necessary or helpful for my writing though they can be fun and somewhat useful. But I have decided I will submit one batch of poems per day for 30 days. Started yesterday. Kiss my ass.

9. More Silos. No visuals, just the song. Listen to it before it gets copyright-infringed. Then buy the tune for your iPod. Don’t be a cheapskate. Our friend once categorized their music as “Domestic Rock.” Pretty accurate I’d say.

10. I had to have my necklace/bracelet (it is long enough to go twice around my neck and 5 times around my wrist) repaired because I never took it off. I wore it in the shower, to sleep, in the ocean, to yoga class, on bike rides, on hikes, in the bath tub. I was too hard on it.

11. I wrote hard on and I’m pointing it out to you as if you hadn’t noticed. How juvenile of us. But really, can we help it?

12. If I write kiss my ass in a post, I feel I owe a debt of gratitude and recognition to Erin O’Brien. Every time. As if she made up the phrase which I don’t think she did, but if someone told me that she did, I would totally believe it.

13. I get a lot of hits for “ass tattoo.” But mine is really on my hip, as you know. My acupuncturist knows.

14. I can’t find a good photo of my beautiful necklace (made by none other than Rebecca Rose), but you see it in many of my photos. I am going to post a photo of a gemstone from Amherst College that has roughly the same color blue as my necklace:

15. Okay. I have written a few “poems” lately. But what a mess.

16. It’s getting late. I gotta go so I can submit.

17. Ass Tattoo on Hip:

I know there’s a funny little bruise on my mid-section. So strange. And this is way before my cracked rib.

18. Consignment belt I love ♥! All those studs make me feel a. hip and b. skinny and c. tough

19. pink

20. Should I stop? Probably time to submit my poems. I hate this already.

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In honor and preparation of the upcoming Wilco show in VT. Inspired by all things Top 10, including our 2010 Christmas card.

If I do nothing else right as a mother, taking my kids to 2 Wilco shows in one week should carry them to unknown places full of heart anyway. And the week after that? GOGOL BORDELLO BABY!!! I’m hoping Eugene’s pants are a bit looser than the last time we saw them.

1. Misunderstood (how long can Jeff hold an unresolved chord?) Here’s a recent live version, the opening number from a concert down in Alabammy this May

2. I Am Trying to Break Your Heart

3. Handshake Drugs (best-ever version was pulled from the youtubes, copyright infringement being what it is)

4. Radio Cure*

5. Airline to Heaven

6. Passenger Side

7. Born Alone

8. One Sunday Morning

9. A Shot in the Arm (you might also like to look up the live version in which Tweedy dons the Gram Parsons tribute suit)

10. California Stars

*Radio Cure

Cheer up, honey, I hope you can
There is something wrong with me
My mind is filled with silvery stuff
Honey, kisses, clouds of fluff
Shoulders shrugging off

Cheer up, honey, I hope you can
There is something wrong wit h me
My mind is filled with radio cures
Electronic surgical words

Picking apples for kings and queens of things I have never seen
Oh, distance has no way of making love understandable

Cheer up, honey, I hope you can
There is something wrong with me
My mind is filled with silvery stars
Honey, kisses, clouds of love

Picking apples for the kings and queens of things I’ve never seen
Oh, distance has no way of making love understandable
Oh, distance has no way of making love understandable
Oh, distance has no way of making love understandable
Oh, distance the way of making love understandable
Oh, distance the way of making love understandable

Cheer up honey, I hope you can

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Hubby, my older daughter, and I went to see Gogol Bordello in Boston last night. I figured out a little bit more why this is the best live band I’ve ever seen, and, when you go, the best live band you will ever see. It is their interaction with and inclusion of the audience in every move they make on stage. That’s not the only reason, but it’s one of the overarching ones.

One of my favorite things last night happened after the concert. We were driving back home on I-90 and we stopped at a rest stop to grab a bite to eat (I try, I really do. I had a cooler and food bag packed with healthy stuff, but McDonald’s fries and coffee won out in the end). While waiting in line, a 20-something man noticed my [new] Gogol Bordello t-shirt and asked, “Were you at the show?” He was in a state of bewilderment, wide-eyed and slack-jawed, a halo of bliss above his head. I answered that yes, I’d been at the show. We began to chat. It was nice to see the reverence in his face, the gears clicking in his head trying to figure out how it was possible for such a band to exist.

I also struck up a quick conversation, still in line at McDonald’s, with a teenage girl (14-years old, maybe) who had the same happy, dazed look on her face.

“Did you just come from the concert?” I asked.

“Yes. Weren’t they amazing?” she asked.

“Yes.” I answered, and: “Had you seen them before?”

“No, have you? Does he tour a lot?”

It was all so endearing.

♦ ♦ ♦

Just 2 hours ago, I bought tickets to see Gogol Bordello on Lake Champlain for a mid-August concert. This time, I’m going for it. Up in front of the stage with all the pretty young women and raving young men. RIGHT UP FRONT. That’ll be me backstage, the only sober person in a throng of groupies trying to share a bottle of wine with the band. Maybe Eugene will let me massage his hands. Or forearms. Or the twisted erector spinae muscles of his back. Yeah, that’s how fantasies work around here: me massaging famous rock stars.

It’s like my kid, clucking at me to Stop it, Mom when I was bounding, fleet-foot, up the aisle last night, dancing around, twirling my new t-shirt in the air. Nobody cares, Violet. Nobody cares what I am doing. They are not looking at me. She danced next to me the whole concert, her face glowing and carefree, safe with her parents, buoyed up by the good will all around her.

I’m here to be happy, to fill the empty spaces with energy and heat and vibration. Just like that band up there, biding our time and asking everyone to join in the ecstatic moments.

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In 1983, I was a sophomore living in the dorms at Kent State University.

Some time that year, we got the diagnosis that my father had colon cancer. Now that I come to write about it, I realize I don’t have many details. He had surgery to remove part of the colon and when they opened him up, they found that the cancer had metastasized to the liver.

My parents were living in Sylvania, Ohio at the time.

Some time in 1984 or ’85. Our good family friends in Southfield, Michigan, lent me a giant, dark-green Ford so that I could commute back and forth from Kent to Toledo while my father was dying. I spent the summer drunk, screwing a number of non-boyfriends, dancing to reggae bands upstairs at Mother’s Junction (above Ray’s), and going to see the Numbers Band at JB’s down.

I can’t remember what job I held. I do remember the heart-wrenching misery of driving to Toledo every Friday night and returning every Sunday. The long dark road, I-80, where deer/car collisions were a regular occurrence and the tail-end of the Appalachian range flattened completely by the time you’d reach Northwest Ohio. Some damn ugly land. I remember how everything in me screamed not to go. If I didn’t go home, would he not die?

Richfield, Ohio, Kita Lyons’ property. I had written in my book that this is July 13, 1985, 2 days shy of my 23rd birthday. One of the necklaces I’m wearing belonged to my Tante Nelli, but she died in May 1986. I wonder if she gave me some jewelry earlier than I remember.

My father died in August 1985.

I decided to make my pilgrimage the following year. My mother bought me a used, silver Toyota Corolla/Tercel, a model that they made for only a short time. I think it cost 4 thousand bucks. I have no memory of how many miles it had on it. I do remember going to someone’s house to check out the car, how their driveway looked, dark black asphalt. I would pay my mother back from my aunt’s estate when I received that money. My father’s only living sister, Nelli Landau. She died 9 months after him. I know it was a broken heart, for she loved my father and had no husband or children of her own.

I decided first to drive east. I would be staying mostly in youth hostels, but also had a few connections to stay with people I’d never met. Friends of friends. I miss that spirit. I miss it.

I am not sure any more all of the places I stopped. Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where I stayed in a governor’s mansion because my friend’s friends were the caretakers. The wife was a New England blue blood, going back several generations. She was a fiber artist, had a studio set up in the house.

They steamed mussels we picked up fresh from a little fish shack in town. I’d never eaten mussels before. I learned what a Widow’s Walk is. I toured the rose arbor in the back yard. The wife’s name was Sydney. This is how people name their children in New England.

One night, we drove past oceanfront mansions, stopped on the damp ocean beach, got high, and watched the sunset.

I next stopped in Cherryville, Maine, the famed place of an annual blueberry harvest which gathers hippies, loafers, stoners, and other back-to-nature types for seasonal farm work. Now I realize that there must be real migrant workers who go there, not just the educated white children of middle class families.

The hostel was really an old hippie commune. My first of so many things, again. I used an ATM machine in the quaint town. I got poison ivy (sumac?) on my legs. I stood in a circle with a couple dozen other people, stoned, holding hands, swaying, singing om om om. I learned what a Clivus is and determined that some day I would have one.

Maine, Bar Harbor, a little boat trip around some of the islands where I saw seals and puffins. The first time I heard the word shoal. Acadia where I walked on some barnacled rocks for a few hours, did nothing else, and left. I met a guy at the youth hostel. I remember eating a meal, walking around the town. Saying Bah Haba like the locals over and over, laughing, tschoke shops, lobster everything everywhere. I gave him a ride to the Greyhound station in Boston. A kiss in the rain. I didn’t even like him, but he was friendly. Dark hair, not too tall.

One very clear memory is of driving on the interstate in Massachusetts and the giant granite rocks on either side, with their trees and lichen, roots, gray and yellow stains. I think of it still when we go to Boston on I-90. I remember.

I started this post thinking about every car I’ve ever owned because my 2000 Toyota mini-van is up near 160K miles and creaky.

Let’s call this Installment One of Old Girl, the story of the first half of my cross-country trip after the death of my father.

♦ ♦ ♦

Hey, I’m not saying I like this, but I went to see them live a lot back in the day. The first video is kinda shaky to start, still good to see them looking good and playing after all these years.

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Forget about dropping acid, this is as trippy as it gets

props to pt dismal who put this on a tape for us many years ago. I spent many road trips rewinding so I could hear this again and again. Remember cassettes?

 

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Somewhere in the middle of my morning, the universe gathered itself beautifully and came to me, the threshold of my breath.

I dropped Violet off at the soup kitchen downtown, so that she could volunteer there, at the behest of her friend.

We walked into the church, a room where I used to attend AA meetings, and into the kitchen. I was overcome when I looked at the industrial-size baking pan filled with fresh-scrubbed new potatoes, tiny red gems still wet from washing.

I teared up right away at those potatoes. Sometimes I am weak in the face of abundance and unbound hearts.

On the way out, I read a plaque on the wall about MLK, who was described as a “drum major for justice.” When I got into my car, I heard the new Jay Farrar song New Multitudes (the title track from a new collaboration album in the same vein as Mermaid Avenue, Vol I and II by Wilco and Billy Bragg), words by Woody Guthrie, to my great surprise, delight, and awe.

Sometimes I believe there is enough for all, that the world is good.

(props to Hubby over at Happy Valley News for his recent resonant post)

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