Election 2020

Election 2020
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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Art On Track!

We participated in another enjoyably strange event last night. It was called "Art on Track," which was basically an 8 car el train, outfitted with all kinds of visual and perfoming art. Our good friends from The Peter Jones Gallery had their own car and some of our friends participated - Peter Jones,  the Puppet Bike, Elefant Foot Theater, and Alan Hicks.  The train circled the loop for 4 hours. Now in some quarters this would be a vision of hell - stuck on an EL car with a bunch of artistic crazies.  Endlessly circling.

Our group Black Forest (The Lovely Carla and I), dressed up and concocted a little traveling musical monologue called the "Thorn and the Rose." I attached a little Pignose amp to my belt and plugged in my old Telecaster, wore a gold shirt, and played the roving Electric Troubadour. The Lovely Carla had a retro-bathing suit, fishnet stockings, and a tray of little green plants, which she handed out to people as they got on the train.

We had no expectations, and that's usually best.  We got on the train late and exited early.  We were amazed to find the trains were packed with people checking out the art.  Another example where people seem to be desperately searching for off-beat creative stuff, off the grid, in this case, on the track.

So, anyway, it all went well. I played a long guitar jam and then The Lovely Carla recited a monologue and then she sang a song. We could have kept going, but then suddenly, improbably, my batteries in my trusty Pignose ran out. 

Man, oh man, isn't that just the ticket? Finally we have a large, captive, very inquisitive audience, and my batteries fail! Anyway, maybe sometimes less is more. We entered at Adams and exited after a couple loops around at Randolph. Sometimes just enough, is enough.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Baba Ghanouji!

The Lovely Carla and I are lucky to know some really extraordinary people. All walks of life. We had dinner last night with one of the most extraordinary, our favorite L.A. Artist/Clairvoyant Kris. We met at a classic Armenian restaurant just off the Magnificent Mile in Chicago. Just why is it magnificent? Lots of high class shops, lots of tourists from places like Iowa and Wisconsin, I guess.

If you have a hankering for Armenian food, Sayat Nova will not disappoint! Did anyone say "Baba Ghanouj!"

Anyway, we had one of those great, life-affirming conversations. Filled with laughter and love, tinged with the hard lessons of lives lived with eyes wide open. I guess sometimes we think if we close our eyes, things will be simpler, but it doesn't seem to work that way. You can't run, you can't hide. Or you can, but then you spend a lifetime of running and hiding and really don't escape or fool anyone but yourself.

So we talked about politics and families, and our work. But it was all on a much more psychic/energy level. So refreshing. Kris was our meditation teacher when she lived in Chicago and she sees the world through the eyes of a clairvoyant. We learned some great tools from her - how to ground, how "blow a rose," how visualize the world. Anyway, it's hard to convey just how great it was to see her, and talk with her again.


Friday, August 29, 2008

"Time for Them to Own Their Failure."

"It's not because John McCain doesn't care. It's because John McCain doesn't get it.

For over two decades, he's subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy — give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is — you're on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps — even if you don't have boots. You're on your own.

Well it's time for them to own their failure. It's time for us to change America." - Barack Obama

Here's the whole speech:

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Ghost of Tom Joad

Springsteen might be playing tonight in Denver after Barack Obama makes history (Is that how it goes, a man/woman "makes history," or history makes the man/or woman?). I'd like to see Bruce do this one. Check it out. Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine in a guitar duet with the Boss.

"Now tom said mom, wherever theres a cop beatin a guy
Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries
Where theres a fight against the blood and hatred in the air
Look for me mom Ill be there
Wherever theres somebody fightin for a place to stand
Or a decent job or a helpin hand
Wherever somebodys strugglin to be free
Look in their eyes mom youll see me.
Well the highway is alive tonight
But nobodys kiddin nobody about where it goes
Im sittin down here in the campfire light
With the ghost of old tom joad"

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wild Gift

I walked into the Starbucks at Damen & Lincoln last night looking for a hot chocolate. Waiting to meet up with the Lovely Carla. Pleasantly surprised to hear Mick Jagger singing "Moonlight Mile," from Sticky Fingers. One of the Stones all-time best songs off one of their top three albums. I took it as a good omen. I'm in the business of looking for good omens. And bad ones too.

Anyway, The Lovely Carla arrived shortly after Mick finished up and we headed over to the Horseshoe BBQ. Now why on earth would we be going to a BBQ place late on a Tuesday night? Good question. For some unexplained reason we were booked to play music at 11:00 p.m. at the Horseshoe.The Horseshoe is a nice, funky, well-laid out C&W bar and restaurant.

The superb L.A. punk band X was on the box. Another good omen. We used to listen to their early discs all the time, way back in the early 80's. Back when the Lovely Carla had a perm, and I used to wear pink shirts. And after a good dose of X, next up was Hank Williams, and the Lovely Carla reminded me that she used to sing Hank songs all the time in the shower. "My Bucket's Got a Hole in It."

I noted that there is a logical continuum from Hank Williams to X. I never realized it until that moment.

So, finally 11:00 p.m. rolled around and we got up and played to a bartender, a waitress, and 4 dudes in tight britches with big belt buckles. We did a 40 minute set of songs. It was a tight, good sounding set, the sound-man did a great job bringing out the resonance of my acoustic guitar. We did our thing and finished up to some scattered applause. Another show under our belt. Tuesday night at the BBQ!

So this morning, I'm surfing, looking for some X on YouTube. Here's a glimpse of X in the studio recording "White Girl," from their album "Wild Gift."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"Emancipate Yourself from Mental Slavery..." - B. Marley

One down-side of reading biographies about dead people is that by the time the book ends, the person you are reading about is dead. I guess that's just assumed, I mean, they were dead before you started reading, it's a feature of the genre, but still there it is. You re-imagine, re-experience a life and then watch as it disappears. The finality of it all is a little disconcerting.

Anyway, I was raving about Timothy White's biography of Bob Marley, and I still think it's a very good book, but during the course of the book, Marley dies of cancer at the young age of 36, and it's a sad ending, and it's kind of like having the sun burn out suddenly. The book carries on for another 100 pages or so, (there's murder, extortion, lawsuits, recriminations) and it's slow going. The whole thing just sort of sputters out.

As I commented before, the early chapters are riveting, Marley's rise from out of what looks like insurmountable poverty and callous in-attention, is supremely amazing. Marley was one of the most creative, charismatic and musical people to come to the world's attention.

He is a giant that has to be ranked with people like Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Elvis, Lennon and McCartney. Someone who transcended music and made an impact musically, pop culturally and politically. Marley's political and even religious influence in (especially, but not limited to) Jamaica, is truly striking.

Finally though, we are left with the music. The story is great. The ending is sad. The music still speaks to us. Take it away Bob:

Monday, August 25, 2008

Chasing Moon Beams

My last Abbie post for this year. Nothing is ever the way you think it's gonna be. Sometimes. What I thought was a kind of "crappy time slot" yesterday afternoon, wasn't. Surprisingly, we performed our delicate little theater piece for a pretty much packed theater crowd. Some people actually came out specially to see us. Not expected by any means.

The Lovely Carla and I were doing a two-person scene called "Funky Spermatoza," a little poetic flight about one person who can "have it" and one who can't. Another in a long line of strange little pieces we've done over the years.

I can't help it, that's just how they come out. I cannot write a straight narrative thing, or an all out comic piece, it always seems I'm working on some other level, the comic elements sort of canceled or contradicted by the tragic, (I know that sounds ridiculous - and really it sort of is), which I can't really explain, and whether I ever actually hit the target I'm trying to hit is really a mystery, especially to me.

We had all kinds of technical glitches, missed light and music cues, and I did some "in the moment," editing. I jumped a line which meant that our little opus was trimmed by a couple pages. The Lovely Carla realized what I'd done, but couldn't figure out how to bring the ship back on course. So we hurtled along, at a breakneck pace.

Our costuming was great, (I was in a pale white face which gave me a truly ghostly aspect), we performed way over the top and got a wonderful response from the audience. It was an inspired performance, (The Lovely Carla was superb!), but when it was over I realized what we'd (the blame is all mine), done and my spirits sank like a stone. We've never really been able to do this piece justice and that's just kind of disheartening.

Sometimes this theater thing is like chasing after moon beams, shooting for some kind of transcendence, which may be (probably is) an overreach, but maybe it's the chase that keeps us going. We've had glimpses, but we never quite get to hold the light in our hands.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

"Goofing on the Cool" - Lord Buckley

Abbie Fest XX has to be one of the best ever. Some of the best theater I've seen in a long time. One day left. We perform this afternoon. Hope somebody shows up to watch - we kind of got a crappy time slot.

The last two days have been extraordinary. Seems theater is not dead. In fact, looks like people are looking for alternatives to the mass market culture shoved down their throats by the big corporate money fucks.

The fest is a little island of creativity, no-budget, homemade work. Love, cooperation, dedication. These are the words that come to mind after immersing in this world.

Here are some photos I took from Friday's march.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Wee Hours

Yesterday was the kickoff of the three day Abbie Fest. I went into the city met the other Festival marchers under the shadow of the Piccasso statue and made the two and half hour trek up to the theater. Nice afternoon, big crowd of marchers, great vibe, the city was alive.

I watched lots and lots of theater. Until the wee hours of the morning. The outpouring of talent and creativity on display at the fest is always amazing. I don't think there is anything quite like the Chicago theater scene (I'm talking about the no money, little company, fringe scene) anywhere else in the country.

I took many pictures. Will probably post a few later. Today we rehearse and tomorrow we perform our little piece in the afternoon. I love this crazy, tripped out, kooky, human thing.

Friday, August 22, 2008

This Ain't No Picnic

You can find the coolest stuff on the web. Here's Mike Watt's tour diary. He's on the road, playing bass with Iggy Pop and the Stooges.

Watt is one of the all-time great characters in the history of rock and roll. He founded the Minutemen with that lost gonzo genius, D. Boon. Check out the documentary We Jam Econo if you ever want to see the story of one of the great lost bands and the amazing souls who made it all happen. Or check out the excellent book "Our Band Could Be Your Life."

The diary is great, Watt talks about Walt Whitman and Iggy, he recounts his experiences on the road. He tells the heart-breaking story of getting all their equipment stolen (even his beloved "little bass.") in Montreal.

I also found an old Minutemen video. I did not know that they were in mortal combat with Ronald Reagan.

"It was a helluva explosion...and well... I guess that's all sir."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bee Vs. Moth

WWSP played a set last night at the Red Line Tap. A funky neighborhood bar on Glenwood. We had a great time, the sound was good. We were without our drummer (he had been called to London at the last minute), so it was just guitar, bass and vocals.

We kind of felt a little naked, no hiding, but overall a pretty good showing. We were on the bill with a cool band from Austin, Texas called Bee vs. Moth.

What a unique, quirky collective. Think Ornette Coleman and Charles Mingus, with a little Art Ensemble of Chicago, crossed with the Tijuana Brass and maybe Sonic Youth. No vocals. The horn players actually read charts. Sarah, the drummer, acts like the conductor - even if no one is watching her (except the audience). She and Philip, the bass player compose the majority of the music.

They were funny, thrilling, noisy, impressive. Totally unique. What a rare treat.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ecstasy in the Grooves

I've been reading this Bob Marley biography and it is totally captivating, engrossing, enlightening. Made me think about all the great reggae records I used own on vinyl.

One of my favorite all-time reggae songs has to be Toots and the Maytals "Pressure Drop." Check out the little spinning 45 rpm. There is ecstasy in those grooves!

UPDATE: I'm thinking Dumps usually gravitates to those dark, doomy, naval-gazing, apocalyptic type tunes. And Sunny, well he just likes to dance!

Put em together and well what do you get? Gloriously Confused!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Death Machines in the Sky

The Abbie Fest usually happens the same weekend as the Air and Water Show, but this time, they landed one week apart. This last weekend was the Abbie Fest barbecue, which always proceeds the festival and which is always a strange interlude.

So while the barbecue grills were raging, the brats and burgers and dogs roasting, the actors and directors kabitzing - the big Death Machines designed and maintained by the U.S. Air Force were roaring overhead.

Am I the only one who thinks that this martial display is not for our entertainment, but is instead a show of force? Not just a reminder of where all our tax dollars go but also a reminder that these toys could just as easily be unleashed on us.

While another hot dog bit the dust, the death machines were ripping through the sky.

I can't help wondering what it would be like to be in a land where these machines were doing what they were designed to do, namely devastating some poor civilian population, dropping their ordinance on their targets, wreaking unholy, hell-fire vengeance and scaring the bejesus out of the survivors?

Anyway, maybe it's the ghost of Abbie Hoffman that makes my thoughts drift in that direction - visions of Kent State and Tiananmen Square.

What happens if the natives get really restless? What if people massed in Washington D.C. and other big cities throughout the land and shut those cities down? How long before the tanks and planes and guns would be brought down on the people? Do we really think it can't happen here?

Now maybe our population is too docile, too fat, too happy - I mean, marching in the streets is so passe. Government sanctioned torture doesn't rile anyone up. Stolen elections? Nope. High crimes in high offices? Boring! Unjust wars started on lies? Brother, that is old news.

And anyway those big shiny death planes look so cool. And they are ours - we paid for them with our hard-earned cash. Big death planes burning up jet fuel - now that's entertainment!

Monday, August 18, 2008

What Happens Next

Is it just the fringy little circles we circulate in, or is it a larger fact that everything has evolved (or devolved) into one Grand Freak Show?

Is there something in the water, or the air? Has some renegade comet blasted us with an extra-terrestrial chemical concoction that has kind of re-arranged our cellular structure?

Yesterday, we (the Lovely Carla and I - it seems we are joined at the hip), pin-balled from one odd scene to another, sort of like getting stuck in a late sixties Godard movie.

And no one gave us a script. And it was all in another language.

At one point, in the subtly seductive madness, we turned to each other and just laughed.

Sometimes, I guess, it's best to just hold on tight and see what happens next.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Tip of the Iceberg

Acting, I highly recommend it. The Lovely Carla and I having been rehearsing a little play-let that we will perform next week at the Abbie Fest.

There is something so liberating about sinking into another character, assuming another identity, learning lines we'd never normally speak.

It is like a great clearing.

I recently read an article about the brain, (my brain just can't get enough brain!) it seems our brains know much more than we do. Our conscious mind is just the tip of the iceberg.

Those "aha" moments that we experience are when the great cloud of unknowing in our grey matter (or actually the great cloud of knowing, just didn't tell us yet!) opens up a door and gives us a glimpse to something we didn't know we knew.

There is a lot we don't know we know. You know?

It's weird, seems we are not as smart as we think we are, and we're not as dumb as we act. And we have this great instrument in our skull plugged into a vast universe. What could we do with it if we put our minds to it?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Natural Mystic

I just started reading Timothy White's masterful biography of Bob Marley, "Catch a Fire." I'm kind of amazed it took me so long to get to it. I'm sure I'll have more to say after I finish it. It's so good, reads like a great novel. Surely a great achievement.

I actually saw Marley and the Wailers play the Auditorium Theater in Chicago in 1976.

Marley was such a force unto himself. There were/are other great Reggae stars - Toots and the Maytals, Jimmy Cliff, Burning Spear, Peter Tosh, Bunny Livingstone, but really none could quite match the incandescence of Marley.

Marley is certainly the most famous Rastafarian that ever walked the planet. He re-defined "world music," and gave voice to the voiceless living in Concrete Jungle and Trench Town.

He made the trek from a one-room shack in the Jamaican hills, to the slums of Kingston, to a world stage. Improbable. Magic.

Check this out. A great version of Concrete Jungle. It begins and ends with a wobble! Superb!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday's Prophecy

It is time to get a little biblical. I'd like to be able to conjure a rain of angry frogs to kind of put an exclamation point on it, but unfortunately this is low budget prophecy - all I got is words. Words will have to do.

Still some things cannot be denied:

The lying douche-bags (high and low - they know who they are) will be exposed. They will fall. Hard.

The Truth will out! Oh Happy Days!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Trent Reznor - Authentic?

This post by my favorite needle-worker the Lovely Paula G. about Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails really set me off. Paula makes the case for Reznor and his ability to honestly examine his feelings of despair, loneliness, and pain in his music. The Lovely Siobahn thinks he's a spoiled little rich kid who doesn't really know pain and suffering.

Melissa comments that Reznor seems "juvenile and angsty" in comparison to some of the novelists she admires. I flail about in the comments section, weighing the concept of Reznor's "authenticity."

Afterwards I couldn't let it go. I spent most of the rest of the day in some weird internal dialogue about genuine-ness, authenticity, sincerity etc. How do know what's in a man's soul? Isn't that why implements of torture were invented - the wrack, the screw, water-boarding, etc.? And of course that doesn't get us to any kind of truth - it only leads us to the gates of hell.

I think when it comes to art, anything goes. It really comes down to the work - does it speak to you? The intentions (or the origins or financial state) of the artist don't really matter (except maybe to them). Reznor may be a spoiled rich kid. He may be "full of shit," and still his work can work. He can make art that lives. Or not. And I guess it's kind of up to each of us to decide.

What if Reznor is just playing a role? What if he's playing a juvenile, angsty guy called Trent Reznor. What if he sings about pain, suffering and loneliness just because he finds those subjects a kick? And what if it's all a ruse? What if Trent is actually a happy go lucky dude without a care in the world? Would that make our appreciation of what he does increase? Would there be more "art" in his method?

Does the ruse make his songs less valid? Couldn't he still be examining some basic human truth? That touches us? Or not?

Some of my favorite musical artists on some level seem in-authentic - I think of Dylan, of the Stones, Madonna, Sonic Youth (Sonic Youth's songs always seem to be about insincerity - although they seem to be totally sincere in their insincerity!). They are wearing masks, playing a role. There is artifice (definition: ruse, a deceptive maneuver, especially to avoid capture) in their art. One of the reasons I admire these people, they play, pretend, create. What they create has some human-ness, some basic human connection is revealed, but sometimes it's done under the cover of fiction - art is the lie that reveals the truth.

I worked with a great actor way back when I just started my little theater group. I was amazed by not only how he totally sunk into his role, at the same time, he came to every rehearsal, every performance and gave 100%. No complaints, no doubts, no back talk. I wondered how he did it. Every time. When I asked him how he did it, he looked in my eyes, a half-smile on his face and said, "Acting!"

Even if he wasn't into it, he made it look like he was - it was a complete performance all-around. He was playing the role of a completely committed actor. Now that's what I call manufactured authenticity! And there is art in there.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


John Robb at Global Guerillas gets to the nub of the Russian Bear: "Russia is, for all intents and purposes, a corporation with the trappings of a nation state."

Isn't it pretty much the same story here? Maybe it's easier to see from a distance, but it's obvious that especially in the last 8 years, USA INC. is a blustering oil-based, oil-addicted, oligarchy too.

Except, we don't have the goods any more. So we are a failing, flailing oil power. How to remedy the situation? Well, the executives of this corporation turned to war, to torture, to lies of every shape and form.

We watched it all happen. And kind of let it fly.

But as Malcolm X once so famously said, "the chickens are coming home to roost."

One of the lies I live with: the Truth will out, the truth will set us free. I do think finally some hard truths will clobber us over the head, and once we recover from the shock of it all - a new day dawns!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Life: The Questions

This line...

(Actually, I'm not really sure if it's only a line, or much more than a line - although, if you extrapolate and say that yes, it is much more than a line, then I guess this line could be a philosophy or maybe even a way of life.)

... occurred to me yesterday:

Life is too short for answers, we have time for questions only.

And if this pithy (or badly constructed) little line is true, (whatever that means!) then the quality of a life rests on the quality of the questions with which one wrestles.

A thin reed on which to base a life, but I suppose it could be just enough.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Be Like Conor O.

"One of the recurring themes in my life, and I think on the record too, is just the optimism of changing scenery. It's escapism in a sense. But it's not running from something so much as it is: 'I wonder what's ahead. I wonder what better thing I can find in the next place.' " - Conor Oberst

Wonder. It is a great word. To keep our sense of wonder alive even after we think we've seen it all...

Here's a video of Conor fronting his band Bright Eyes. This is funny - Bright Eyes plays and the audience throws trash. No pogo-ing, no body surfing, no adulation. Makes you want to buy the album? If so many are so wrong, something must be right, right?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Blue Vibe

I suppose it was a good omen. The Lovely Carla rented a car for the weekend. She picked out a Pontiac Vibe. A little blue Vibe. So we were riding the Vibe to our show last night.

We found that you can get one dazzling female vocalist, one weathered male guitar player, one very small, very limber female bass player (with boots and red cowboy hat) two guitars (electric & acoustic) one bass, two amps, and one music stand into a Vibe pretty comfortably.

Add a couple of CDs into the mix (Television, Joe Strummer, Wilco) and you are ready for a trip into the good night. Beautiful August evening in Chicago. We ended up in the South Loop. It's a hard neighborhood. Still down on it's luck.

Reggies Rock Club and Music Joint is a little r&r oasis in the middle of the urban grit. And surprisingly it was alive with rockers. The Music Joint is a great room, hardwood floors, plush booths, nice old wood bar, excellent sound. Good food and drink. People were there. Some came specifically to see us, some were just hanging out.

Our drummer was the last to arrive, but he assembled his kit quickly, and then we put on one of our best shows to date, (the Lovely Carla gave us a B+ and she does not grade on a curve!), and that is a good thing. We actually won over a couple new fans.

Satisfying. A great feeling. A cold Stella Artois cannot hold a candle to that feeling of satisfaction. Sometimes success can feel like failure, and sometimes success can feel like success. This one was like the second kind.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Reggies Music Joint

I don't want to jinx our band WWSP, but I can't help but blog about our great rehearsal last night in preparation for our show tonight at Reggies Music Joint. Some how, some way, we scored a prime time Saturday night show tonight at one of the hottest music clubs in Chicago.

So we all gathered at the drummer's house last night to run through our catalog of songs and see what really flies. We have almost 20 original songs now that we can pull out, but depending on the tides, the alignment of the stars, or whatever, some come across better than others - it depends on the collective vibe!

We're figuring on playing some of our more rocking out type numbers. Come out blazing. The Lovely Carla has a stream of consciousness narrative called "Crow," that lets the band sort of vamp behind her with maximum groove. It all came together last night. We're gonna open with that one. Wonder if we can catch lightening in a bottle again?

Anyway, last night's session was some kind of breakthrough. Bass, drums, guitar, vocals we were all there in the moment and it was powerful. What a beautiful alchemy.

UPDATE: Here's a little bit of Carla's "Crow."

Crow you been fumbling with the flowers of faith
knocking down a path along that shivering corridor
For God’s sake Crow, you of all had good reason!
When the leaky blade entered the steel grave
When the soldier's trance monkeyed with the ghost,
you had to enter the wisdom vision

Friday, August 08, 2008

Ping Pong

Our ethically-challenged Prez is in Bejing lecturing the Chinese about human rights. Human Rights? I wonder why this seems incongruous? Bush lecturing anyone on anything is kind of laughable in a totally unfunny way. Is this all just some kind of media driven torture?

I don't have Olympic fever yet. I am interested to see if the air quality of Bejing brings any athletes to their knees. I'm hoping the scrutiny of the world doesn't make one large, up and coming, nationalistic country "lose face." I don't care what any one says, vegetable chop suey is truly a gift to mankind and I'm so glad Ping Pong is a sport of Olympian proportions.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

"I Don't Want to Spoil the Party" - Lennon & McCartney

Back to the subject of cover songs. I've been looking for songs for my band WWSP to cover. Not easy. Yesterday I went through the complete Beatles chord book and realized that there is really no song in their catalog worth covering. Nothing worth adding or subtracting. They did those songs so definitely (I mean, definitively!) - there's just no point. I think it's pretty much the same with the Stones and the Who.

I know a few Dylan and Neil Young songs, but I play them mainly for the hell of it, I love their songs so much, it's okay with me if I do them sort of lamely. But our band will not be adding them to our set lists any time soon. I'm on the hunt for some obscure gem that we could give new life.

Anyway, I'd like to add another one of my all-time favorite covers to my previous list. It's Jeff Buckley doing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." Buckley makes the song his, completely. It's absolutely beautiful. Here's a stunning live version that will make your heart skip a beat.

Now for a contrast. Here's Leonard Cohen doing the same song (he wrote it) on a European TV show sometime in the late sixties or early seventies. Unintentionally (I think) hilarious.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Everything That Happens Will Happen Today

David Byrne and Brian Eno have a new album of music coming out soon. It's called "Everything that Happens will Happen Today." Eno composed the music, David wrote the lyrics and sings. You can download a free track from their work here. It seems like a pretty good deal. Nice song. Easy to download. Free.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Imaginary Chihuahua

I guess I'm like a lighthouse. A beacon for all those lost ships. Or maybe I'm just an easy mark. A sympathetic ear. A kindred spirit. Whatever.

Anyway, it seems the people, the strangely gifted ones, the ones the Lovely Carla affectionately refers to as "the nut jobs," are always attracted to me. I could be standing in a crowd and they will zoom in right on me. Pick me out of the herd. Maybe I look like the weak one. Easily devoured.

I guess I sometimes like the feeling of camaraderie. Maybe they will impart some kind of wack wisdom. The Lovely Carla tells me there's no telling where the answers may lie.

Yesterday, one them came up to me on the Red Line train and started up a long rambling rant. I listened, nodded. Acted as if every word was a pearl.

The gifted one, the nut job, looked down at my shoes and then this came out: "You should get a chihuahua. You need a chihuahua. There's all that blood around your shoes. You need protection. Get a chihuahua."

Blood? I looked at my old running shoes. They were kind of ragged, torn and frayed. But no blood.

I de-trained thinking something important just happened.

There's blood and then there's blood. We could be talking about another dimension, another realm. And if there's imaginary, invisible blood, well what's wrong with an imaginary, invisible chihuahua?

Maybe I'll call him Ray...

Monday, August 04, 2008

Mind is a Battlefield - Who Wins?

I heard this story on the radio over the weekend about epilepsy patients who for some reason had their brains severed into two parts. It was some kind wack experiment.

At first, no one noticed any obvious effects. Then it became clear that the two hemispheres of the brain were actually in conflict. A patient would open a book to read, and then they'd slam the book shut. One side of the brain wanted to read, the other didn't.

The conclusion was that this kind of conflict is always with us. But a normally functioning brain is able to sort of referee the conflict between the two hemispheres. Now as I write this, I think, "Did I really hear this story on the radio over the weekend?"

One side of my brain says "Yes you did." The other says, "This is total B. S. you are conjuring a tale!"

I could probably Google it - and in fact one hemisphere is lobbying to Google it right now, the other is saying "Forget it. Get yourself another cup of coffee and move along."

I opt for the coffee.

Does this explain that bi-polar phenomenon everyone talks about? Maybe, maybe not. Is there a pattern here or is everything disconnected?

Yes, no, whatever, nevermind.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

A Song

When I first saw this guy, on Austin City Limits, I just thought he was the long time missing member of the Band. He sort of looks like Richard Manuel or Rick Danko. I'm thinking he would have fit right in at that old house in Woodstock, Big Pink.

Anway, Ray, just reminds us that it comes down to a song. A voice, a guitar, a song. It's kind of eternal. Men and women will come and go. Songs will come to us and fade away.

But sitting down with an instrument and expressing something alive will be with us even on the day the sun burns out, or the planet spins out of orbit, or whatever big time fate awaits us.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Dreaming of Iceland

August. The dog days. I'm dreaming of Iceland. Our little air conditioner is over-matched. Friday afternoon, how to beat the heat?

I end up over at the coffeehouse, with an iced coffee, sitting in the shade in the sidewalk cafe out front, strumming my guitar with another player, an old-timer named John. John is 67 but you'd never guess it, his Chinese Leopard tattoo, bright colors, fine detail, is just a little over a year old, and his little silver ear-ring flags him as a hipster of the first degree. John is not an old guy.

John has a dog named Homer and he sits quietly at John's feet. If someone told me Homer wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey I wouldn't be surprised. Homer is a totally mellow, supremely dignified little critter. He doesn't call much attention to himself. He looks at you with those bright, world-weary brown eyes and tells you with his self-contained silence that he has seen it all.

John has brought a pile of songs with him. Most of them are written by Johnny Cash, but there are a bunch of songs by Hank Williams, June Carter, Waylon Jennings, The Kingston Trio, Bob Wills too. Most of them are in the key of E or C. All major chords. The lyrics are specific and funny, and all so human.

These songs, even if you took each page and burned every one, or took every recording and tossed them in the ocean, these songs would live. They are burned into us. This folk music, these country and western tunes, these funny sounding songs are inside us. John does most of the singing, he sings low, kind of whispering to the strings, his voice is kind of sweet. Not at all what you think would come from this gruff dude.

We play for a couple of hours. I mean it seems like we're sitting for a few minutes and later I look at my cell phone and realize the afternoon has flown the coop.

"Now I taught the weeping willow how to cry, cry, cry
And I showed the clouds how to cover up a clear blue sky.
And the tears that I cried for that woman are gonna flood you Big River.
Then I'm gonna sit right here until I die." - from Big River by Johhny Cash

Friday, August 01, 2008

Anywhere in Albion

Hey I read newspapers. And in the papers, this guy over in England, Peter Doherty is just a wreck. Always being picked up for drugs. In and out of rehab. Hanging out with Supermodels. The same old hum-drum cliche rock and roll story. Blah, blah, blah.

Doherty used to be in a band called the Libertines, (they were and are quite good) and now he fronts a band called Babyshambles. What I didn't know is that Doherty is quite the lyrical singer-songwriter. He may be a wreck, but he's got an undefinable something. Nice voice, a doomy, poetic sensibility. Here's a beautiful song called "Albion." I kind of like the way the guitar goes badly out of tune at the end of the song, I like the rough edges. Nice.

"We'll go to Bedtown, Oldham, Nunthorpe, Rowlam, Bristol Aaa-nywhere in Albion Anywhere in Albion Anywhere in Albion Anywhere in Albion Anywhere in Albion..."

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