I Wouldn’t Call it Love

Well the human race keeps ticking
But I don’t know how
I’d have thought we’d have killed
Each other by now
Yet there’s more of us
Then there ever was before
I wouldn’t call it love
But it’s more powerful than war

There’s a creation myth
That some believe
Out of the Garden
God cast Adam and Eve
Which leads me to bring up
A dangerous rumor
I wouldn’t call it love
But God’s got a sense of humor

Got a map of the universe
And no illusions
I’m not looking for order
In all this confusion
I know there’s no reason
I know there’s no rhyme
Just the random chance
There’s someone out there tonight

My baby she likes chocolate
And strawberry wine
Movie stars
And astrology signs
I’m getting older now
But I still like them young
I wouldn’t call it love
But it’s only just begun

This is one of my favorite No Show Ponies songs I have ever written.  It didnt make the current album, A Manual for Defeat, because we haven’t gotten the three piece arrangement right yet.  But it will be on the next one for sure.

The Folly of Man Vol. 1

Sometimes I view war as science fiction.  That does not mean that one part of my brain does not feel empathy for the suffering and horror that goes on.  In fact I think war should always be a last resort. 
However, if you view it in a certain way a great deal of absurdity arises.  Certain wars, when they are fought between civilizations at different levels of development are again almost like science fiction.  When we fight people in the hills of Afghanistan it is almost like people from two different time periods fighting.  Some strange portal opened up and people with space aged weaponry are fighting a bunch of ancient tribes over a barely inhabital landscape. 

I was reading about the Vietnam War in the van today.  I was reading about the folly of our use of helicopters in that war, something that has been confirmed to me by several vets.  I want to return to that theme when I get home as it is really interesting.  Anyway, I read something I hadn’t heard before.  Apparently the Vietminh would hide in tall grass with large bows and arrows in large numbers.  They would lie down, put their feet on the bow, and pull the chord back with their hands.  They would fire arrows with heavy tops that had things like rope and twine attached as low flying US helicopters would pass.  These objects would get caught in rotors and bring the helicopters down.  Sometimes as many as fifteen at a time.  This was during the early part of the war. 

Now imagine the billions we poured into state of the art helicopters during that war.  Then imagine them being brought down by primitive weapons in the hands of peasants.  I can only think maybe the Greeks got the gods right.  Maybe a group of supernatural beings were up on high finding themselves highly amused at such a situation.  Watching the hubris of the strongest most technically advanced nation brought low by a bunch of peasants using the same weapons that Robin Hood used.   We should have never gone into that country.  Either the gods were having a laugh or our leaders were really stupid and corrupt.  Maybe both?

Touring Again and Mountain Minstrelsy

Going on tour this weekend with Shinyribs in North Texas.  You can check our schedule at http://www.shinyribs.org.  Will most likely be off the grid till Sunday, though as always, I hope to get some posting in at some point.  

I am really excited to listen to the new Marah record while I am out on the road.  For those that don’t know Marah is one of best bands of the last 20 years.  No matter what style they work in, and they have played things from beautiful folk music to blistering rock, it is always filled with intelligence, wit, and heart.  A true rock n roll spirit informs everything they do, no matter what genre.  There isn’t a band on earth I would recommend more highly.  Personal favorites are Kids in Philly, 20,000 Streets Under the Sky, If You Didn’t Laugh You’d Cry, and Life is a Problem.  Their lead singer Dave has one of the great modern rock voices.  

Their new album is actually billed as Marah Presents: Mountain Minstrelsy of Pennsylvania.  This is a collective of Dave and Christine from Marah with local residents of Millheim, Pa.  Milheim is a one traffic light town in my former home state.  I had the pleasure of meeting Dave and Christine from Marah after the Shinyribs show in that town last year.  

For this new album they found a book of old folk song lyrics and wrote an album around them.  Then they recorded it live to tape with the local residents of that town in an old church.  The story is much more interesting than that, but I’m running out of time before I hit the road.  You should check out Dave’s own words on it at http://www.marah-usa.com.  

I hope to write a full review of the album when I get back.  It’s one of the releases I’ve been most excited about lately.  If you live in North Texas, perhaps I shall see you there…


Science Fiction Theater of the Absurd

I have finally succumbed to Doctor Who lately as my late night escapist entertainment.  I started with the 2005 series, but I know there is much more out there.  I have only watched about five episodes so far.

At first I felt guilty, like I had crossed some science fiction nerd border that there was no coming back from.  But then I realized when you can go from aliens to Charles Dickens in one episode, it’s like getting high without really having to.  You can dive into the world of free association without drugs.

Bring it on.  Let weirdness reign.  Ever since they closed the Enchanted Forest in Austin I have felt like the city’s Keep Austin Weird motto was declining in currency.  (The Enchanted Forest was like some kind of weird mutant hippie rave in the woods with bizarre art installations, music, late night movies, burlesque dancers, and booze and drugs.)  Leslie, our city’s famous transvestite, has passed away.  There are still things to see, but it’s not quite what it once was.

At least now, even though it’s not even close to the real experience, I can drift away into a science fiction theater of the absurd for an hour or two a night.  Though with the news these days it is often, alas, more real than reality.

Billy Cox Allows Hendrix to Transcend

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about Adam Clayton and how his bass playing, despite often being deemed simplistic, is actually essential in creating U2’s sound.  While I was out on the road this weekend I was diving deep into the music of Jimi Hendrix, whom I have always loved, but haven’t listened to with this kind of focus for a couple of years.

Anyone that doubts Billy Cox, Jimi Hendrix’s bass player from Band of Gypsys on, only needs to listen to First Rays of the New Rising Sun.  There are some serious deep pocket grooves and some sixteenth note work that is especially challenging if you understand the bass.  He was much more of a traditional bass player than Noel Redding, whom I also love for different reasons.  Billy Cox had a thicker sound and a deeper pocket.  He filled up a great deal of space while Noel Redding played with a more frantic style that worked great for the early part of Hendrix’s career.

Anyway, I have been listening to Machine Gun lately from the Band of Gypsys album.  In many people’s opinion this is one of if not the high point in Hendrix’s career.  Hendrix was able to capture the imagery of the Vietnam War through the sound of his guitar.

Overall, the bass line is pretty simple compared to some of Cox’s other bass lines.  Although he occasionally branches out and jams, at around 7:25 minute mark for instance, but for the most part he lays down relatively simple deep pocket bass lines that hold the song together.  The most memorable one is the descending bass line that he starts the song with and employs throughout many of the songs twelve plus minutes.

First of all the bass line is very memorable.  If you listen to the song the part that will most likely stick in your head is this hook line that he plays on bass.  Also, even though he is playing somewhat simply he is playing with great tone and feel.

However, I again want to state that this main part of the bass line, and the bass line for most of the song, is pretty simple.  I am pretty sure it is something I could have played early on in my career.  But just because it is not extremely technically challenging does not mean it is not brilliant and functional.  Again, it is very memorable.  But what is most important about it is that it provides the glue and the foundation of the song.  Because of this foundation that Billy Cox creates it allows Hendrix the freedom to play transcendentally.  Hendrix doesn’t have to worry about holding the song together.  Cox does this and because of that Hendrix is free to let his imagination run rampant.

I stated in that post on Adam Clayton that someone has to stay home and block.  Someone has to hold a song together.  It is often the bass, but it can be any instrument.  Having someone in a band that is willing to subdue their ego is so important.  It doesn’t mean that they subdue their creativity, just that they are not concerned with having a staring role at all times.  Unless is it is AC\DC, Crazy Horse, or punk music, I’m not a fan of the simple root note style of bass playing.  I do want to hear some creativity.  I want to hear someone do something unique.  One should never confuse simplicity with lack of ability or lack of creativity.  Also one should always realize that when someone is onstage getting their moment to shine, it is often because someone else in the band is laying down a foundation that can be built upon.

Beating Ted Cruz

A Texas friend of mine said the following after seeing Ted Cruz’s picture on the cover of Texas Monthly:  “Even if Ted Cruz was awesome and believed in all the right things, wouldn’t just the site of him make you want to beat the piss out of him?”  Alas, I agree.  He just looks smarmy, like he just climbed out of the primordial ooze with the intent of stealing your grandmother’s pension.

Put Down or Backwards Compliment?

Julie Burchill is, of course, not loveable, and has pitifully late middle-aged legs.  Her naked body probably kills off marine plankton in the North Sea…Unchained from the cellar Burchill will make sure that you remember her…I shall be honored to attend her funeral and i might even jump into the grave.

Morrissey on Julie Burchill in Autobiography.  Burchill is a music journalist who once worked for the NME.  I know from living in the North East that you often rip on the ones you love as sort of a loving past time.  I get the sense North England, and Manchester particularly, is quite the same.  However, with Morrissey you can never be quite sure when he is giving someone a backhanded compliment and when he is slinging arrows at his enemies.  Just don’t ever accuse him of not having a sense of humor.