I always like the blues played by Fleetwood Mac when Peter Green was in the band. It’s primitive in a really charming way. Half of the songs feature the same riff being played over and over again. The recording is distorted. When you hear blues bands out so many of the times they are what I call bow tie blues, where they are kind of clinical. It’s blues music for white men that listen between golf rounds. Or you sort of get the inspired by Stevie Ray wanking off blues. Stevie Ray was a one of a kind and had his thing, but most people that copy him just ape him or water him down. I like when blues music is kind of shitty. I like when someone is choking a guitar and you aren’t quite sure they know what they are doing, but somehow they get the feel and the rhythm just right.
Storms never come when you want them to. We had a horrible storm here in Austin, that lead to the worst flooding I have ever seen here. I was desperately hoping that the rain would go away, not only for my sake, but for those whom lost their property or had it damaged. (I live on the side of a hill and was in no way even close to getting flooded.) However, I remember a time when I would have prayed for a flood, even one of Noah’s Ark proportions.
I used to work in sales for a moving company that was run by a couple. (That no longer exists.) It was the stupidest place that I ever worked. Often I would show up for work and the boss would be passed out drunk on the back couch. The movers would be running around out front of the building in what looked like the USO scene from Apocalypse Now. The owner got hit with a DUI and got a breathalyzer put on his car, so at night he started driving the moving truck to the bar. When he finally went to jail, which was inevitable, the bar he frequented called the office and told us that he owed them a thousand dollars! In all my years of drinking I have spent an untold amount at bars, but I never owed a bar money, nor even knew it was possible to owe a bar that much! Onetime the female boss disappeared for days on a drug binge. When she returned, I actually saw a coworker fire his own boss, only to have the male boss get soft and allow her to return. None of these stories even tell the half of it. Insanity went along with daily defeats. All they seemed to talk about around the office was American Idol, except when they were occasionally mentioning the Bible. Anyway, as you can imagine it was not the greatest of work environments. One should never be in the position of trying to meet sales numbers for drug addicts that believe in angels.
One day I showed up for work and the business next store had burned to the ground. All of the workers stood in the field next door and looked at what was left, and what was left was cinders. I remember looking out the window wistfully, hoping that I too would some day be blessed with such an event. Floods, plagues, and fires became the stuff of Tuesday morning daydreams. Sometimes I would let my thoughts go into the realm of fantasy. I remember one day thinking how great it would be if a werewolf came through the front door and just started dismembering people. I was willing to go down too, with whatever horror came through that door, as long my imaginary werewolf friend took out my bosses first. Hey, what else is there to think about when one is facing skull crushing boredom and mind numbing stupidity?
So whenever you here a politician talk about the nobility of the small business owner, I call bullshit. I’ve seen things. Small business owners, like everyone else, are a mixed bag. Some dream big and treat their workers well, and some DUI moving trucks in endless circles around town.
Anyway, I hope my fellow Austinites are able to recover from the flood. My parents home in Pennsylvania have faced minor flooding before. I know even a little water can be an absolute nightmare to deal with. I wish that upon no one. But there was once a day when I did wish it upon myself…
“I wanna dream lover so I don’t have to dream alone” – Bobby Darin
When I was in Oklahoma a couple weeks ago I noticed, while we were driving through a commercial zone, that there was a car wash named after an Indian tribe. I don’t remember what tribe, but it struck me as both tragic and comic at the same time. Oklahoma was once the home of many tribes, including the Kiowa, Pawnee, and Shawnee. (There are obviously still Native Americans in Oklahoma, but not as they once were of course.) The white man came into Oklahoma, killed or displaced its indigenous people, and now uses their images and names to promote cheap commerce. It would be like Germans deciding to paint the faces of Jews on the inside of beer halls, just to provide some quaint atmosphere. Oklahoma is not alone, by any means, in this kind of behavior, it is just where the idea crystalized itself in my mind. People commit genocide and then name some tacky businesses after the victims. If that’s not insult to injury I don’t know what is. Next time you go to a family restaurant with your kids, make sure to tell them that the Indian on the wall was probably killed right there! That will add some interesting vibes to an otherwise drab family occasion!
In honor of Memorial Day here are three songs that deal with those who went to war, both those that came back and those that didn’t. All three of these songs feature great writing, with lived in characters that are fully formed. There is no mindless flag waving going on here. They all treat veterans like people, not like political imagery. In the first two there are even some short injections of dark humor.
Johnny Cash – Drive On
Marah – Round Eye Blues
Bruce Springsteen – The Wall
On a personal note I feel mixed emotions on Memorial Day as I scan the headlines. In our country we are always told to “support the troops”. But usually after the fact, after we have sent them out to be broken, after we have sent some to the final place they will see. Nothing to me says support the troops more than not sending them into war in the first place unless absolutely necessary. On Memorial Day you often read in the news about people getting easily offended over some kind of symbol they find disrespectful or something someone said. But where were these people when we allowed our leaders to send our young men and women to places they should have never been? Many of them were waving flags blindly. There are real lives that are damaged, families broken up. I’m for all kinds of healthcare, etc., when our troops come home. However, the best way to support the troops is through peace.
Jesus Christ! I haven’t seen this many freaks and mutants in one place since The Monster Squad! Do you really want one of these men to be the next president? Is this the best the GOP can do? This is the flab of the American Empire. When you have to pretend that you don’t believe in evolution, that climate change isn’t happening, and that the free market lifts all boats, this is the kind of crew you end up running with. These guys look like they should be salesmen down at CarMax, not the leaders of the free world. Swirl unfettered free markets and backwards religious ideas in a jar and this is what leaks out. America, so much to answer for…
I wrote briefly about The O’Jays earlier. They are one of my favorite soul groups. I always thought this song was fantastic. Dealing with the haves and have-nots long before our current economic situation, the song addresses the increasing greed of the 1%. However, that’s only a part of why I love this song. The production and playing on it is ridiculous. It’s like everyone is on space coke, flying as fast as possible towards a dark star. And we won’t even mention the insanity of their Travelin’ At the Speed of Thought!
People have been talking about Dylan playing on Letterman’s second to last show. This is an interesting article about Dylan’s first Letterman gig, when he was struggling in the 80’s, around the release of Infidels.
I’ve always loved Infidels. Dylan’s lyrics are amazing on that record. I also like the oddball combination of him with Sly and Robbie, the great reggae rhythm section. Another Dylan 80’s album I really like is Empire Burlesque. There are many that will bemoan the 80’s production, and I understand that urge, but the songs themselves are largely fantastic. Most Dylan fans will mention Dark Eyes, but Emotionally Yours, later made great by the O’Jays, is a fantastic ballad. Tight Connection to My Heart is also an excellent pop song with great lyrics. In some ways I feel like the 80’s production at times, if you can do away with your prejudice, makes lyrics like, “They’re beating the devil out of a guy who’s wearing a powder-blue whig”, even more insane and absurd, heightening the comedy.