Monday, December 31, 2012

Hail Dropped Like Bullets (Rerun from Last Year)

Cold night air everywhere...

Carrie had a boyfriend. Someone she knew from High School.

We never saw him, but we heard all about him.

Then, one night, she showed up crying. He'd dumped her by letter. Couldn't even wait until they saw each other. Couldn't call her (although it was before cell phones, back when long distance still meant anything).

She waved the letter and we looked at it. It was filled with typos and grammatical mistakes. Someone said "he's an illiterate dope, you're better off without him." This made Carrie cry even more.

I took her for a walk. We went down the hill. To the statehouse with the big fluffy lawn.

I made her roll downhill on the lawn. This momentarily made her feel better.

And we walked back up the hill.

"I never thought we'd be together forever," she said. "But I thought we'd make it to New Year's Eve."

And she started to cry again.

I wanted to hug her, but I didn't. Instead I distracted her with a story about a girl I knew in High School.

It was a funny story. And it made her laugh.

But she would have rather had the hug.

When we got back to the dorms, she thanked me for the walk. Then she hugged me.

"Maybe you and I should hang out later," Carrie said.

And I nodded. I wanted that too.

But I didn't want to swoop in after she'd been dumped.

And it was right before finals.

So I didn't do anything about it.

And then Carrie started dating this guy named Marc. And whenever she saw me, she'd give me a sad smile.

A smile that seemed to say "you should've hugged me."

And I nodded. Because I should have.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Tis the Seasoning

Found on the Interwebz

Because, you know, Christmas.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Boxing Day Go Here, Read This, Listen to That, And Watch This Other Thing

Sometimes you box the day, sometimes the day boxes you.

Steven, from Stevenology 2.0, reports from the Graham Parker & The Rumour show in Santa Cruz.

Holly from The Song in My Head Today hips us to my new favorite Atheist Christmas song.

Hey Dullblog re-re-re-examines Magical Mystery Tour with links to a slate review that includes a link to the following "new" (or at least new-ish)documentary:

Watch Magical Mystery Tour Revisited on PBS. See more from Great Performances.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Two More Christmas Favorites

Because It's Just Not Christmas Without Them

John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" and Darlene Love's "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" are among my favorite Christmas songs ever.

Also in my top 5 Christmas songs are:


I've never quite been sure what to put in the 5th slot. Maybe that song by the Pogues. Or the Squeeze Christmas song. Or "Christmas Wrapping" by the Waitresses. Or "All I Want for Christmas (Is World Peace)" by Timbuk 3.

Whatever's on your list, here's wishing you a fantastic Christmas (or whatever holiday or non-holiday you celebrate) and an even better 2013.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

Another year over...

Watching Darlene Love on Letterman, I wonder which late night show would have John Lennon appear every year on the last show before Christmas.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Darlene Love is a National Treausre

And still sounds as good as she did 49 years ago...

I guess it started sparse back in 1986:

(Bonus for the Spuds Mackenzie ad, I guess...)

But it's gotten a bit more elaborate in the past 26 years:

May we all sound that good in our 70s....

Friday, December 21, 2012

On the Shortest Day of the Year

The Winter Solstice is not a time for mourning, it’s a time for celebrating.

Think of it as Yoga for the Earth.

Breathe in. Hold. Breathe out. Hold.

Align chakras up from the magma at the center of the planet to the highest mountain peaks.

Most of the year we're breathing in. Or we're breathing out.

Twice a year, we hold. In the holding, magic can happen.

In the pause, anything's possible. All over the world.

The Druids knew this. So they celebrated the holding.

After months of losing light, we pause. And in the pause we reflect light outwards. And then we start the long, slow process of gaining light, building back towards a period of growth. It’s slow at first and the progress isn’t always obvious from day to day. We gather, we collect. Later we plant. And grow. Then harvest.

We stop and change course during the pauses. And that's where the rules are thrown out.

In Iceland, there’s a town in the Westfjords that is technically below the Arctic Circle, but they have darkness through January because the sun never gets very high in the sky and a local mountain keeps the town in shadowy darkness. They celebrate the Solstice there – and celebrate “Sunshine Day” in January with a pancake breakfast attended by all townspeople the first day the sun peeks over the mountains. They pause. And then they eat. Pancakes.

While others lament the shortest day of the year and wonder where their sun has gone, the Druids knew this as a special time.

So they’d pause.

Yoga for the Earth. Hold the position. Breathe in. Hold.

This is a time when your stars are aligned. So go into the world.

And make your own magic.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

You Lived in Your Imagination, Briggs

Unless You Want Him Crawling Through Your Dream

She stared at me. "I want to travel," she said.

And I did, too.

"I want to drive everywhere. Take months. Take off. Just go."

And we talked about roads. And places. And states.

And other places. Countries we'd visit. Places we'd dreamed about.

You know the ones. The ones that don't even have names.

But we didn't go everywhere.

Except. Sometimes. Late at night.

In my imagination we're there. We're driving. And it's raining. Or snowing.

But we don't care.

It's right there -- it's a place I can almost reach. Can almost hear and see and smell and taste.

And I look over at her.

But she's not there. And, if I'm honest, I'm not there either.

On some days, I don't even know if she ever existed. I have flashes of memory (so many flashes of memory).

I have flashbacks and flashforwards involving her. And the car we were driving. Which, for some reason, was lime-green.

And her hair blew behind us in the breeze, riding up and down the hilly San Francisco neighborhood where neither of us has ever lived.

But in the moonlight, sometimes, I can see it. Clear as day.

Even if we're never going there again.

Even if we never were there at all.

Maybe not even in my imagination, Briggs.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Some Days, It's the Best You Can Do

Some days we're eloquent.

Some days we howl in the darkness, angry there's no moon.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Best Xmas Record of 2012

With bonus points for use of the word "coterie" in the lyric...

Steve Simels over at the Power Pop blog posted about what has to be my favorite Xmas record of 2012.

Go read what he has to say... or just give it a listen:

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Cold

It's Cold This Time Of Year.

But not like this.

This is more than we're supposed to get. Maybe more than we can stand.

This is the cold that starts at your cheeks and spreads downwards through your body.

This is the kind of cold that seeps into your bones.

And stays there.

The kind of cold that seems like it might never end.

No matter how many layers you wear.

No matter how many fires you're near.

No matter how tired you are. Or how much you eat. Or drink.

This is the kind of cold that gets under your skin.

The kind of cold that defies numbers, even when those numbers have a negative sign in front of them.

This is cold.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


I've Got to Follow My Heart

Do we get changed by going to other places?

Or do we go to other places in order to get changed?

When we seek out the new experiences and hope for change, sometimes we get what we hoped we'd get.

More often, we get what we didn't even know was waiting there.

And then, if we're lucky, we find our way home.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Miles Away

No Don't Shake Me

Why, yes. I'd love to go out drinking with you starting at 1am.


I'm not 22 anymore.

(And, to be honest, didn't do that even when I was 22.)

In fact...

To be honest...

Monday, November 26, 2012

All My Life

I've been walking in the rain just to get wet on purpose

She wanted to spend time with him.

I don't know what he wanted. If he didn't want to spend time with her then he was an idiot. But I don't know.

She didn't go out drinking. She thought that was stupid.

She didn't smoke pot with the others. She'd tried it and didn't like it.

She wanted to spend time with him.

And he was not there. This was before cell phones. Before texting. Before email took off.

So there were long pauses. And long unpauses.

But mostly long pauses.

I know this. She told me.

She wanted to be with him. And he wasn't there.

And she smiled wistfully as she told me. And I answered. Truthfully. Before I could stop myself.

"Then he's an idiot."

And she nodded. Not because he was an idiot. But because she was sure.

She'd wanted to be with him. And he wasn't there.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

It Probably Went Something Like This

I wasn't there, but...

"So honey, I know there are a lot of problems in the world."

"So many problems that could use your thoughts and energy and hard work."

"Yeah. I couldn't decide if I should spend time on solving the energy crisis, cleaning up pollution, solving our political problems, or curing cancer."

"I know. Where do you begin?"

"So instead of doing any of that... I put all my time and energy into... this:"

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Songs of Thanks


A few songs of Thanks for Thanksgiving:


and, just for good measure:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

New Graham Parker and the Rumour

First New Album in 31 Years

And it's great. (Don't just take my word for it -- read what Holly has to say about it.)

The Rumour split up 31 years ago (although Parker has worked most of them individually since then). But this is the first new album they've put out as "Graham Parker & the Rumour" in 31 years.

The cover (even if it's meant ironically) is just... um... awful.

Oh... and they misspelled the band's name on the CD (but not on the cover).


Even 31 years later, GP's still not getting the respect he deserves.

But, as has been the case for his entire career, the music is still great. (And isn't that what's really important?)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Anything That's Rock and Roll

'Till The Sky Went Light

The skies shimmer.

Shake with light.

Shimmy. Almost.

And they float above the horizon.

Dancing. Almost.

And the people below watch.

Listen. (Because there's a sound.)

And marvel.

And then, from the edges of long ago, from a corner of my consciousness comes this. This long-ago song I'd play immediately. If only I could play guitar:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

This May Have Made More Sense 10 Days Ago...


Chris Stamey from the dBs, reminds you to Vote.

The best thing about this is that it sounds like it could have been recorded anytime in the last 40 years.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

James and the Royalty-Free Peach

Jump Right Over Your Down-in-the-Dumps Thing

In the early 1990s, Andy Partridge from XTC wrote and recorded four demos for Disney's James and the Giant Peach movie.

Disney reportedly offered him a buyout that gave them total ownership of the songs and didn't require them to pay any royalties on any of the songs.

He said no.

Disney replaced him with Randy Newman. Who is a great songwriter (and, as someone who both was a relatively big name and a vet of Disney movies, presumably was able to get a better deal from the Mouse).

But I still want to see the Andy Partridge-ified movie. And I still want to hear these songs fleshed out, given the full Disney treatment. I'll bet they'd still be identifiable as Andy Partridge songs. (And I'll bet that movie might have been a huge jolt for Andy, with or without XTC).

Instead, it's yet another alternate universe project that never saw the light of day on this side.

So... in honor of spending too much time on the phone arguing with insurance companies about something that was their fault nearly a year ago...

And in honor of all my friends who are going through difficult times lately.

Here's my hope for you, courtesy of Andy Partridge:

Monday, November 12, 2012

Can We Just Make Johnny Rivers the Head of the CIA

Seriously. Can we?

It's about time we had someone in Foggy Bottom who could play guitar...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Go Here, Listen To This, Read That

Post-Election Edition

Mr. Who, of the fantastic Any Major Dude with Half A Heart blog does an impressive survey of Right-Wing Pop-Songs. Wish I'd thought of it (or had the energy or knowledge to organize it this well). My only minor quibble: where's Neil Young from his pro-Reagan period? Go read now.

Hope Street celebrates voting through doodles on calendars (and, hey, why not?)

7 Inches of 70s Pop celebrates election day with Chuck Berry's only certified million-seller, the intensely stupid "My Ding-A-Ling." Maybe after all the racial persecution he suffered, it was just Chuck's way of flipping the bird to the suburban white kids who never gave him enough credit.

And finally, although it would be a huge stretch to call this post-election (not only for the content, but also because it was written weeks ago), here's a story I can't resist:

AM, Then FM tracks down the original owner of a vinyl copy of the White Album, bought in a used record store in Madison.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Monday, November 5, 2012

Wild Kind of Look to the Day

Talk Amongst Yourselves

In my lifetime, I've seen people literally give their lives for the right to vote.

I've watched Chinese students stand up to tanks.

I've watched Gorbachov take power back from the Army.

I've seen people willing to pledge their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor just to be able to cast ballots.

Compared to that, my petty concerns about waiting in line (or the incompetence of polling place workers) just seem ridiculous.



Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Telethon

In Case You Missed It

And donate a few bucks to the Red Cross while you're at it, okay?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Compare and Contrast

So if You Co-Wrote Both Songs, It's Okay If They're Basically the Same?

Speaking of SR-71, a reader pointed out that their song "Axl Rose":

has a lot in common musically and subject-wise... with Bowling For Soup's "1985" (co-written by Mitch Allan from SR-71):

Monday, October 29, 2012

Vast and Containing Multitudes

I've Been Hitting the Town and It Didn't Hit Back

Question: Is it possible for a bad simultaneously to sound more lightweight and edgier than Paul McCartney?


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Jenny Was Sweet

News is blue, Has its Own Way to Get to You...

I got a call. From Jenny.

We'd gone to High School together. We were friends, but not close. We hung around with the same group of people. I'm sure we talked from time to time.

We hadn't spoken in years. Many, many years.

And she contacted me. Out of the blue.

We had a long talk. She'd lived overseas. She had lots of stories to tell. She told me about her work -- which was interesting. Something I may have thought years earlier I could have done, but now have zero interest in.

It was a great conversation. We vowed to keep in touch.

Jenny told me that she'd always remembered something I said to her.

And she told me what the thing was.

I didn't remember it -- although I recognized it as the type of thing I would have said.

"I thought about what you told me every day for ten years," she said. "It inspired me and helped me make myself who I am."

Which I'm happy about.


I don't remember saying it. I'm sure I did -- but it didn't register for me.

Even though it clearly registered for her.

But that's not the worst of it.

I knew Jenny's name. I could almost remember what she was like.

But I couldn't picture her. I knew the associations. Knew the connections. Knew the people.

But I couldn't remember which one she was.

That part of the puzzle is a blank for me.

Like the words I said.

And I don't feel good about this.

Because it makes me wonder. What else I've forgotten.

And what else was vital to others and barely registered for me.

Friday, October 19, 2012

I Don't Have To Sell My Soul

Wanna... wanna... wanna...




The problem isn't the flashers.

It's the running.

* * *

The car broke down.

This wasn't an unusual event. But it was painful every time it happened.

And it only happened in the rain.

So the battery slipped. And the headlights drooped.

And the car rolled to a stop.

In a bad neighborhood. Surrounded by worse neighborhoods.

And she smiled. Because that always helped.

And she put her hand on the dashboard.

Closed her eyes.

Spoke softly. To the car.

Then told me to turn the key.

And it started. Immediately.

* * *

The car lasted longer than we did.

It limped and stalled and creeped into the next decade. The next century.

She moved into a bigger and better neighborhood. Drove a newer car.

One that never had problems.

* * *

She called. She called and it rained.

And the car must somehow have known she called.

Even though it wasn't even the same car.

Maybe she has that power over all cars.

This time it wasn't the battery. The lights still worked. It just wouldn't start.

And I pulled it over to the curb. And turned on the flashers.

But she didn't call for that.

She didn't call to put her hands on the dashboard. Or whisper sweet incantations to the car.

And I listened. For a moment.




And I knew it wasn't the night to sit there.


It wasn't the night to call AAA and be calm.


It wasn't the night for quiet listening.




It was the kind of night --


When all you can do --

Flash --

Is. (Flash) Run.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Like a Thousand Times Before

This is the night

Ghosts haunt that street.

It's winding. And steep. Filled with vines. Places to hide.

Ghosts love that.

I walked there a thousand times. I think it was a thousand years ago, but it can't be. There were streets there. And houses.

And her.

There was her.

The winds blew through the trees back then. And the ghosts softly sang along. With the winds.

The sun was bright there. And hot.

But there was always a breeze.

The ghosts didn't care. They don't feel heat. Just cold.

And in the darkness, their cold would come up through the ground, in through the floorboards.

She knew they were there. But she didn't care.

Except when she couldn't sleep. Which was often.

The ghosts would move through picture window. Sliding through the slow-moving liquid of the glass.

They whispered as she slept. And she listened.

And they whispered when I was there. But I didn't listen.

Until she became one of them.

Cold. Lurking. Whispering.

Through the winding streets. And the houses. And the breeze.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Better to Burn Out or Fade Away?

So Neil Young is wrong...

There are a lot of things lately making me feel a lot older than I am.

Hopefully, that will happen for a great many years to come.

This Neil Young song is 33 years old. He was 33 when it came out:

"When you're gone," he sings, "you can't come back."

Then how do you explain this new video from the Rolling Stones?

The Rolling Stones are starting their SIXTH DECADE as a band. And even though their artistic peak may have been 40 years or more in the past... this gives me hope.

(And reminds me to use drop-cloths when painting...)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Imagine Peace Tower

Once More, Into the Sky

I wrote this three years ago -- and edited it just a little for today.

Today is John Lennon's birthday. If he'd lived, he would be 72 years old.

That's almost impossible to imagine. And out of all the celebrities who've died in my lifetime, I took his death the hardest. (I never met him, I didn't even like all his music, but there was something about his spirit that I connected with at a very deep and fundamental level.)

In the same way, I connect with Iceland in a very deep and fundamental level. There's something amazing and spiritual about Iceland and it's reflected in their lifestyle, their music, and in their amazingly beautiful scenery.

Every year, Iceland holds a huge music festival in October called Iceland Airwaves. Every year I vow to get there, but I haven't made it yet.

In 2006, Yoko Ono started construction on the Imagine Peace Tower, on a small island just off the coast of Reykjavik, Iceland. Since this project combined John Lennon and Iceland, I followed its progress closely.

The "tower" consists of a wishing well, on which is written the phrase "Imagine Peace" in 24 languages. Under the base of the wishing well are more than a half-million handwritten wishes Ono collected from people all around the world.

In 2007, the tower was unveiled. Each year on John Lennon's birthday, the monument becomes a "tower of light" as 15 searchlights are bounced through mirrors and prisms to create a beam of light that stretches more than 12,000 feet into the sky. The tower of light is kept lit each year until December 8 (the day John Lennon was killed).

If you can't make it to Iceland, you can see live streaming video of the tower here.

Visit the official Imagine Peace Tower website online here.

Or take a look at a great time-lapse video of the tower from 2011 (complete with aurora activity around 12 seconds in):

IMAGINE PEACE TOWER from Yoko Ono on Vimeo.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Sold My Soul For Less

In that long tunnel of time...

I loved this song the first time I heard it as a kid.

I knew there was something amazing and important about it. Even if it would be many years before I'd have the life experience to imagine what that amazing, important thing was.

And now, it's been more time since Jim Croce died than it was between his birth and his death.

Which makes the song seem more fragile and beautiful now than ever before.

Or maybe I'm finally old enough to understand.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Post-Debate Analysis

Yesterday on Facebook and Twitter, I put forward a suggestion.

Instead of standing behind podiums (or is it podia?), candidates will engage in Candidate Debarchery.

This is a combination of Debate and Archery.

So any time one of the candidates lie, his opponent gets to shoot him with an arrow.

Yes, it's a Hunger Games-y suggestion, but we live in Hunger Games-y times.

Then I saw the debate.

And literally all I can think of is this:

(Skip directly to 0:43 for the important part...)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Debate Prep

They Might Not Be Giants

There aren't enough rock songs that can double as hardcore history.

This may or may not be one:

In an alternate universe, John & John are the coolest teachers in a suburban High School somewhere outside of Boston.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Playing I-IV-V Chords Like Good News

Not Star-Crossed Anymore

"That's epic," she said.

And then she kept talking. And I stopped listening. I didn't realize that until much later; but that's what happened.

And it's not her fault. She was just using a word. A word all her friends use.

A word that used to mean so much more.

"Epic" shouldn't be just good. It should be astonishing, awe-inducing. It should aim for something impossible. It should be less craft and more art.

It should be rare. Something to strive for.

And she kept talking. As I thought about epics.

The ones that still resonate. And the ones that failed.

Monumental failures. Embarrassing failures. And the failures that were interesting not for what they achieved, but for the way they couldn't quite hit the target they aimed for.

I thought about Apocalypse Now, a movie so deeply flawed and endlessly compelling. Not always for what it achieved, but for the intent that it couldn't realize.

And still she kept talking.

And I remembered Harry Chapin. His best songs were transcendent. His worst were cringe-worthy. Who seemed obsessed with making a Great American Statement through music -- but was putting out records in the 1970s when the best American Statements seemed far in the past. A guy who'll be remembered less for performing hundreds of benefit concerts per year and more for a catchy song with lyrics that read like a first draft.

And then she stopped talking.

And I stared at her.

"I don't think you know what that word really means," I said.

She smiled. Because that's what she does. "It doesn't matter if I use the wrong words, as long as you know what I meant."

And I nodded. I knew what she meant.

But it would never be epic.

Because she wasn't even trying for epic. She was trying for adequate.

And I was looking for something else.

Something that aimed for transcendence.

Even if it ultimately failed.

This song is 35 years old. Older than the 34 that caused the song's narrator to make the song's narrator feel old when he realized he'd lived longer than Jesus and Moses.

And even if the attempt to interweave the decline of the U.S. with the decline of the music business doesn't quite work... and even if the lyrics sometimes seem a little strained... and even if the entire exercise seems impossible... the attempt is nothing short of epic.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Mirror hopping days of coarse reaction...

Shouldn't you be helping?

It's not my deal. It's not what I do.

No. Maybe not. But they need you.

There's plenty of others who could do it.

True. But they're not--

I know. But I'm not either.

So you're going to let them be.

It's not my place.

And not your problem.

Exactly. It's not my problem.

You've done this before.

Yes. Once. And you know how that turned out.

I do. But those were different times. You were a different person.

We all were.

They need you. I'm just saying.

So I do what?


Monday, September 24, 2012

If You Feel There's Something Missing

I've Been Waiting All the Summer... Waiting For the Winter to Come

It's officially Fall.

And in Nome, Alaska it snowed this morning. (The snow started to accumulate, then the sun came out and melted it.)

Perhaps coincidentally, there are exactly 12 hours of daylight today in Nome.

They're losing 6 and a half minutes of light per day. It's a long way from the summer, when there was 24 hours of light (and almost 24 hours of sun) per day.

And it's a long way from the end of December, when the sun will peak out over the horizon, stay low in the sky for less than 4 hours, then slide down as if it's giving up.

Fall is a quick season in Alaska. The last gasps of summer soon give way to snow. And the cold that hung around for so long last year moves back into the landscape with a quickness that can be frightening.

And if the song above is too silly and nonsensical for you, if the summer already seems like a distant memory, I'd like to recommend a little of this:

Saturday, September 22, 2012

If That's What You Demand

More Utopia

Here's a weird little video I never knew existed until a reader (thanks Steph) mentioned it.

This was the closest Utopia ever got to a hit single, getting up to the high-30s on the Top 40 chart.

And it wasn't sung by Todd Rundgren, it was sung by bassist Kasim Sulton. With the rest of the band standing against greenscreens pretending to be newscasters.

Ah, the 80s.

(And am I the only one who feels weirdly nostalgic for news anchors who held actual sheets of paper, then placed them face-down on the desks in front of them?)

Friday, September 21, 2012


We're Going Crazy And We're Going Today

She hated this song.

She told me one night. Dressed in a flowing skirt and a t-shirt from a bar in what once was Yugoslavia.

We drank tea.

And talked about dreamcatchers.

And the streetlights in Prague.

And her friends in Munich.

And the close calls in Turkey. And London.

The long walks in New York. The work that took her all over the continent. (And my inability to remember now which continent it was.)

The insomnia in Tokyo. The insomnia in Chicago. The insomnia in Miami.

And I told her something sad.

And she reached out. For a second.

And held my hand.

And I knew I'd carry that touch with me always.

Even when she wandered. Off again.

Because that's what she did.

Because that's her life. As a Gypsy.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Till Morning Brings You Light

Let 'em laugh -- they never knew

"You've still got all the old records. That should be enough."

And maybe it should be.

But it's not.

And on the cold nights when the wind whips past the buildings and the streets are relatively empty, the possibilities line up like aircraft circling above, waiting to land.

The weight of what might have been.

The static charge of electricity in the air.

Which almost glistens in the side of your consciousness.

And you look up. Suddenly transported. Transfixed.

By the glimmer. By the possibility.

Of something that never quite came together. But was always right there.

Something that always existed, waiting to be plucked from the ether and made real, brought into the lives and minds of millions.

And then...

... it just shimmers.

And is gone.


Contrails of an alternate future.

That never quite happened.

There's no stopping the daily rush forward. But every once in a while the past nips at your heels, makes you turn, and then laughs at you for seeking out things that never were.

Still, the old records ought to be enough.

Except for the longing for the newer old records -- the ones that never quite existed, but should have.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Busy Banging Out a Headache on the Kitchen Door

And All the While Graham Dreamed On...

Who couldn't use a little XTC for a Monday morning?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thank You For Being a Facebook Friend

Stranded Dirty & Branded

A couple of years ago, I became Facebook friends with Andrew Gold.

(I'd never met him, but one of my real-life friends was friends with him, so I sent him a request and a note about how much I always enjoyed his 1980 album Whirlwind. I guess people usually only talked to him about "Thank You For Being a Friend" or "Lonely Boy," so maybe whenever anyone knew anything else about him, he was thrilled. But really, his career was pretty deep. He played nearly all the instruments on Art Garfunkel's cover of "I Only Have Eyes for You" in 1975 and 4 years earlier, helped engineer Joni Mitchell's Blue. In any event, he accepted my friend request. He may even have written on my wall.)

And then, he died. A little over a year ago, in June. In his sleep, at age 59.

And a few weeks later, I logged onto Facebook. Which told me that 4 of my friends had a birthday. So I wrote messages on 3 walls.

But the 4th was Andrew Gold.

And I literally stopped still in my tracks, trying to figure out what the proper etiquette is for the Facebook wall of someone whose work you admired, who accepted your Facebook friend request (perhaps in a moment of weakness), but whom you never knew, and now he's dead.

It's a First-World problem for the digital age.

By 1980, Andrew Gold's days of being a chart-topping solo artist were pretty much over. He was invited to join 10cc, but couldn't for business reasons. So he later joined a group with Graham Gouldman of 10cc called Wax.

You could argue that Gold should have stayed with the soft-rock singer-songwriter stuff he was known for. You could say he should have just silently admired New Wave music without feeling he had to try the style himself.

You could say all that.

And you could be right.

Still, years later I heard this song. In the middle of the night. Playing on a college station. While I was driving through New Hampshire. And I found a phone, called the station, learned who it was, and hunted down the record.

Sure, the lyrics are a bit strained. And the production has that early 80s gloss that hasn't aged well.

But every time I hear it, I'm right back in New Hampshire. At 3:00am. Looking for a phone booth.

But Facebook has no emoticon for that...

(Bonus points for the loud needle drop and surface noise on this clip)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

More Than All the Derelict Cars

Somewhere in Grow-A-Mustache-Land

Paige played drums.

We were supposedly in love. (We didn't know what that meant -- we were 8.)

So we did what all eight-year-olds did. We started a band.

Paige would play drums, of course.

Danny would play bass. (I'm not sure why.)

I'd play guitar. Electric guitar.

There was someone else, but I don't remember who it was. (We were 8.) Or what they played. If anything.

Now, Danny didn't know how to play bass. Or even what a bass was.

And I certainly couldn't play the guitar. (Did I mention we were 8?) Even if I could play guitar, my parents never would've gotten me an electric guitar -- they barely let me turn lights on and off and would've convinced themselves I'd electrocute myself when I plugged in the amp.

But we had a name. It was a stupid name -- a pun on the name of the town we were from.

And we had a logo. Danny drew it and it looked really cool. (Well, cool for when you're 8, anyway.)

Paige wanted to paint the logo on her bass drum. But her Mom wouldn't let her.

She thought we should learn songs first. Or at least get instruments.

Her Mom was officially no fun.

More importantly, we were 8.

And who knew at age 8 where the hell you even go to get an electric guitar.

The band broke up the next year. Over artistic differences. (Paige decided she wasn't in love with me anymore. She was in love with Danny. Danny was in love with playing baseball.)

If only we'd stayed together, we would've been huge.

If we had instruments. And learned to play them. And were any good.

Huge. (Or whatever the 8-year-old equivalent is.)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sunday, September 9, 2012

And Starring Martha as the Dog

Where the Holy Sheepdogs Go

Can't get this song out of my mind today:

This song always seemed unfinished to me. Great hook, but sections that he never bothered to flesh out.

Yet that song got released...

And this one stayed in the vaults:

Go figure.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Your Antidote to the Political Conventions

Whether you lean left or right, I hope you can rock this hard when you're 73:

(And judging from the synthesizer, I'm guessing Ian wants to pick Pete Townsend as his running mate...)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

End of Summer Rerun

[Edited slightly, first appeared in 2009]

It must be summer, cause the days are long...

It's too hot to be completely coherent... so here we go...

I've seen quite a few blog posts this past week about the best songs from the summer of 2009. Out of dozens of different songs posted, I think I've heard one or two. This depresses me (and not just because it's yet another sign that I'm not as hip as I was -- or at least as I thought I was).

Back when people listened to the radio all the time, you couldn't get away from certain summer songs -- they were everywhere and they served as an unconscious soundtrack to the time. (This isn't a post about that, because... well, even if I could be bothered, the catchiest thing I've heard all summer is the jingle on that stupid Accu-Chek Nano commercial.)

Rather than dwelling on songs from this summer (or the best summer sons of all time), here's a list of my favorite songs that have the word "Summer" in their titles.

5. The Lovin' Spoonful -- "Summer in the City"
An edgier sound (well, edgy's a relative term with the Lovin' Spoonful) that brings me back to growing up on the east coast with 90% humidity that makes you sweat through every last stitch of clothing. (And dig the funky "promo film" or what the kids today call a "rock video.")

My first apartment after college had no air conditioning and I remember one night coming home after work and finding the temperature inside was over 100 degrees. So naturally I sat in the tub for a long time listening to an oldies radio station (which played this song twice in the same hour).

4. B-52s -- "Summer of Love"
It might be hard to imagine now, but for a few shining moments, the B-52s were rock stars.

Or maybe they weren't rock stars, they were rock lobsters.

3. The Ataris -- "Boys of Summer"
The Ataris kick Don Henley's song up a notch, from the great So Long Astoria album.

Some would argue that changing the lyric "Deadhead sticker" to "Black Flag sticker" destroys the irony of the song, but I'd argue that just having that argument is (in itself) ironic.

2. Ben Folds Five -- "Where's Summer B"
(Sound is a bit tinny on this video) From the first Ben Folds Five album, a perfect amazing slice of power pop that emerged so fully formed and so completely out of touch with what was popular at the time.

A friend from work gave me a cassette tape of this when it first came out; she said she thought I'd really like it. Knowing her musical taste, I assumed it would suck and didn't listen to it for several months. When I finally listened, I didn't stop listening to it for several months after that. It's just that good. (And still sounds great today.)

1. Fountains of Wayne -- "It Must Be Summer"
(Again, sound's not great on the video, but you get the idea). From the great album Welcome Interstate Managers, a great example of the I'm-chasing-this-girl-and-she's-oblivious sub-genre of power pop.

Although, come to think of it, if you get rid of the I'm-chasing-this-girl-and-she's-oblivious sub-genre, half of rock 'n' roll would vanish into the ether.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Under Mats of Flower Lava

Kids are going back to school already.

Long before Labor Day.

In the time of year when we would have tried to squeeze a few last adventures from the waning days of summer.

In the time of year when we would have cursed the "back to school" flyers that started to appear -- seemingly earlier and earlier every year.

Wanting those long days of warmth. The sound of friends laughing. Everything on the move.

The knowledge that it was ending adding an urgency to whatever we did.

And the certainty -- which we'd later recognize as a lie -- that we'd always have the chance to do it all again the next summer.

None of this seems right.

But I can't do anything about it.

All I can offer you is this:

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Twin Sons of Different Songwriters

Sitting Alone with Time to Reflect On All That's Come To Pass

This goes back around 10 years.

Okay, 11 years. And 9 years.

So it goes back an average of 10 years.

Squeeze broke up. Again.

But this time, it looked permanent. Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford stopped speaking to each other.

And Tilbrook wrote a bunch of songs without Difford and put out a great little album called The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook... which included this:

Two years after that, Chris Stamey of the dBs released a pretty great album called Travels in the South, that contained this song:

I didn't hear either of these songs when they first came out. I wouldn't hear them until a few years later, when I discovered both of these albums on the same day.

And they both were revelations. Fantastic albums by songwriters that came out decades after they first burst onto the scene.

Fantastic albums that would've been huge in a better universe.

Albums that should have sold millions.

But albums that relatively few people heard.

And more than that... these songs are basically the same.

Yeah, they sound nothing alike. And their lyrics are totally different.

But they both look at the intense longing of memory. And the vivid memories that places can bring up.

Memories of places that once meant love and the promise of the future.

And now signify all that was lost in that love. And in that promise of the future.

Two songwriters tackling the exact same subject.

Two songs that nail that subject perfectly.

Exactly the same. But totally different.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Another Great Day

True Story

Me: What's that song on the Chase Sapphire commercial that sounds so much like Paul McCartney? I mean, it can't possibly be McCartney, so it's clearly someone who spent a lot of time listening to McCartney and wants everyone to know it.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The More Famous Song Mentioning Peter Brown

Christ! You know it ain't easy.

A double-whammy for Christian grammarians -- taking the Lord's name in vain and using "ain't" unironically.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Apple Records #1

But Peter Brown calls me and tells me it's true

And then there's:

More info here.

(And I guess if you're Ringo in the 1960s, you can do stuff like this...)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

These Are the Landmarks On My Map

Just What I Always Wanted

On Thursday, the amazing and wonderful Julia Fordham performed a fantastic birthday concert in Los Angeles.

There were a bunch of special guests -- including Mari Wilson, with whom Fordham toured as a backup singer in the early '80s.

They sang this song as a duet and it was just as retro, cool, and amazing this week as it was 30 years ago. (And seeing the two of them do the goofy dance moves was an expression of pure joy...)


Monday, July 30, 2012

Found a New Religion Based On You

I'm on a deadline... please talk amongst yourselves.

PS: Is it just me or do these guys sound a lot like the Ataris?

Friday, July 27, 2012


And then there's this:

In the spirit of The Beatles' Love, someone remixed and recombined a bunch of Rutles songs... and...

I'll let him tell you:

During a layover between flights in 2000, Stig befriended the founder of renowned square dancing troupe Circle of Hay. Over beers in the Concourse bar, they discussed the idea of doing a new show using Rutles music but lost touch after Stig's retirement. With the blessings of Dirk and Barry, who were easily reached, work began on recombining classic Rutle tracks in ways that could support a show and give this semi-legendary band another lunchtime.

They made the Sixties what they are today, and we hope we have helped make them that again.

The Circle of Hay/Rutles collaborative production of LUNCH ran for 3 shows at Tulsa's Central Community Center, February 29-31 2010.

I'm sure there was a good reason I missed this important show. But I can't recall what it was; better check my calendar!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Dig, Deep

Can't Start A Fire Without A Spark

Elena read her story in class.

It was about something I can't remember. Some barely disguised version of herself going on and on about some trivial event from her childhood.

It didn't ring true. No one wanted to tell her. Because we all liked her.

But this piece was horrible. It didn't mean anything. It felt like a huge monument to nothing.

But no one wanted to tell her.

When we went around the room, no one spoke.

So the professor had to sum up what we were all thinking.

"I know it has a lot of meaning to you," he said gently. "Because you bring all your experiences, all your feelings, all your past, into it. But the rest of us... we're outside. And from the outside, it doesn't seem important."

She bit her lip. "But this is what happened," Elena objected.

"Dig. Deeper," he said.

She turned away. "You could be on the verge of something. Something important. But you have to make us see it. Make us feel it."

Her eyes teared up. She seemed opened her mouth to speak. But nothing came out.

So she ran out of the room. And dropped the class.

Years later, I ran into her. Randomly. In a coffee shop.

And we had a nice talk.

Eventually circling back to that day in that class.

And all she could remember were the details of her story. Which still meant nothing to me.

And all I could think about was her biting her lip. And starting to cry. And running out.

One event.

Two frameworks.

Each one sticking with a different person. For different reasons.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Two Sides of the Same Coin

Twin Songs of Different Mothers?

Is it just me...

Or is this song by Kaiser Chiefs...

...just another way of expressing the sentiments of this song by Dogs Die in Hot Cars?

Happy Monday everyone...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Falling Off the Sky

From New York, North Carolina, and all over the world

There's a new dB's album out called Falling Off the Sky.

It's their first album in 25 years, their first with the original lineup in 30 years.

They've been recording it (slowly) since 2005.

And when I heard about it, I hoped.

But I didn't let myself hope too much. I didn't want to be disappointed.

After all, how many reunion albums by once-vibrant bands arrive with a noisy clunk. You listen once or twice, then wish they'd never gotten back together.

That's what I was afraid of.

The new dBs album has no reason to be good.

No reason to be as good as their classic records from long, long ago.



It is.

They sound just as good as they ever did. But somehow also have the wisdom of their experiences over the past 30 years.

So, courtesy of Bar/None and the dBs, enjoy these tasty tracks from Chris Stamey, Peter Holsapple, Will Rigby, and Gene Holder (with some help from producer/guitarist Mitch Easter):

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

All The Way Through History

Man Machine No Mystery

I wish I'd made this up:

Tween #1: I like that band XTC. My dad listens to them.

Tween #2: When were they popular? The 90s? The 80s?

Tween #1: I dunno. Sometime before we were born.

Tween #2: Yeah. They had that big green record with the horse, right?

Tween #1:I think so. Hey wasn't that the first album that used an electric guitar?

Tween #2: Must have been.

I fear for the future.

Monday, July 16, 2012

She Came Out of the Past

I've got special powers that render me invisible to everyone but you

Tara rolled down the mountain.

In an old car. With bad brakes.

She rolled down like the fog rolling in. Like an old memory that jabs your brain in the middle of the night, waking you from a sound sleep.

She came into town with a vengeance. With memory banks armed to the teeth.

She had information. Some of it true, most of it not.

Years earlier, she'd been one way. Then she'd changed.

I could spend hours speculating about what happened. Hours explaining it.

But that's all it would be -- speculation.

Which rolls under doors like the fog. Or the old car with bad brakes gunning down the mountain pass.

What exactly was this? Dread? Anger? Guilt? The thawing of long-frozen engines?

"Tara's coming back," I told a friend.

"I hope not," he answered.

I told a few other friends. They all had the same answer.

"Isn't she the one who tore your still-beating heart from your chest, ran it up a flagpole, and shot missiles through it?"

Yes. Not literally, of course. But if she'd had the power.

"What makes you think anything's different?" a friend asked me.

I don't know. I don't know how to answer that.

"What makes you think anything's the same?" someone else said.

I don't know that either.

All I know is the feeling. Hard to put into words. Hard to distinguish from memory. Or anger. Or fantasy.

Tara's coming.

So it shouldn't have been a surprise when her text appeared: "I am storming the Bastille of your heart."

Days late. Or maybe years.

I wasn't sure when. I wasn't sure where. I was definitely not sure why.

But one thing was certain: Tara was coming back.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Jettin' Out to Rio

And some other sunny spots

I was listening to the rerelease of Nick Lowe's first record Jesus of Cool (retitled Pure Pop For Now People for the U.S. with a few track changes). It's a great two-disk set... although for some reason I couldn't find the second disk.

If I left it in a rental car in Alaska and you find it, please send it back to me.

This song mentions three of the major record labels from 1978.

Of the three:
  • CBS (Columbia Records in the U.S.) was sold to Sony in 1988
  • Arista was sold to a German company (which also bought RCA) that rechristened itself BMG. Arista operated as a label until it was eliminated in 2011 in a corporate reorganization, which Detroit staffers refer to as "going to the big Pontiac in the sky"
  • Only Atlantic still exists -- and that's probably because it already sold out to Warner Bros. in the late 1960s.
Funny how the world changes...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Just What the Truth Is I Can't Say Anymore

I rolled my eyes. I didn't want to hear it again.

Because I grew up listening to FM radio. And if I haven't heard it a million times, it's probably in the tens of thousands.

And it's overblown. And overwrought. And has that line I've never been able to figure out. (I look it up every few years, then instantly forget it.)

"There's a reason these things are classics," she said to me.

And I sneered. (Inasmuch as I can sneer.) "Yeah," I said. "Because people years ago had no taste."

"Just listen," she said. And she lowered the needle onto the vinyl.

And I closed my eyes. And I forgot all the tens of thousands of times I'd heard it.

Forgot the early girlfriend who loved the song. And the later one who hated it.

I let go of all the associations.

And just listened.

"I know," she said when it was over. "I know."

And while I certainly don't need to hear it a million more times, I get it now. Again.

I understand why it's a classic.

Flaws and all.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Day in the Life Surprise Ending

Yeah, might have seemed a bit too hippie-ish.

Still... this ending is appropriately cool.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Everybody Wants An Egg

How did it last this long?

"These days," she said.

And I waited.

"These days what," I wondered. But I waited patiently.

"These days it's hard to see," she said.

And she sighed.

And gestured at a pile of newspapers. Or maybe the TV.

I nodded cautiously. These days it's hard to tell how to deal with her.

She sat slowly. Sinking her long legs into the couch.


Taking a sip of herbal tea.

"These days," she said. Again.

And I waited. Because often she'd say something insightful.

But not that day.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Hey Babe, It's a Summer Rerun

Happy Independence Day

[Originally published July 4, 2009]

For a few minutes in the 1980s, guitarist Billy Zoom left the band X and was replaced by Dave Alvin of the roots-rock band the Blasters. Alvin had previously played with X's D.J. Bonebrake, John Doe, and Exene Cervenka in the acoustic-country collective the Knitters.

Alvin wouldn't last long in X, but he did bring in an amazing song he wrote -- a sad and poignant look at the City of Angels that's worth revisiting more than once a year.

And another version (sung here by Alvin himself) for your holiday listening pleasure:

Ironically, by the time X got around to releasing the song, Alvin was already gone (replaced by guitarist Tony Gilkyson) and X itself would soon be gone (although they'd resurface and vanish again several times in the 1990s).

For years, one of my favorite radio stations would play this song every July 4th at noon. They played it from vinyl and the record was filled with clicks and pops that perfectly amplified the song's story of disappointments and the sad shimmer of hope. A few years ago, that radio station upgraded all their equipment and their library. When they played the song at noon on the 4th of July, the sound from a shiny, newly remastered CD free from surface noises.

It just wasn't the same.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Louder Than a Big Bass Drum

Salivate Like a Pavlov Dog

"Don't tell me," she said.

But I did. I couldn't help myself.

It didn't help. I should've known it wouldn't. But I had to. It was a compulsion.

Looking back, I know the problem wasn't hers. It was mine.

Briefly, she attracted men like flames attract moths.

Until they circle, drawn in by the light and heat that blinds them.

Until it kills them.

And I had to tell her this.

I don't know why.

I can't imagine what effect I imagined it would have for me to speak these words. To tell her this truth.

She denied it, of course.

I can't think of anything else she might have done.

And I stood back. Watching. The moths circling.

The words lingering, sizzling around the flame.

Too late to take back.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Weeping Statues, Elvis Sightings

Every Day Someone Gets a Sign

So I'm dogsitting for some friends who are out of the country.

And the dogs and I are walking around the neighborhood... and we see this:

Yeah, that's Elvis. (Click on the photo for a larger version -- with hips carefully hidden because this is a family-friendly blog.)

Or at least a wooden statue of Elvis.

On a balcony on a house in a residential area of Los Angeles.

How I wish I could've been a fly on the wall for that conversation.

"Honey, I've got a really fun idea. I'm going to buy (or carve) a full-size wooden statue of Elvis. And we'll put it on the balcony so people will get freaked out when they walk past. And we'll laugh so hard. Except for the 99% of the time when we're not around. And then we'll just laugh more on the inside."

PS: No dogs or people were struck by lightning in the writing or posting of this blog.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Supreme Court Song

I wasn't going to post this, but at the last second (by a 5-4 vote), I decided I would.

Get Well Soon from on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Three Things

...And Made Arrangements...

There were three things he kept with him.

Three things he loved.

Three things he'd never be seen without.

And he loved them. All three.

Two sincerely. One ironically.

He kept a Time magazine from the week he was born. Said it was the world back then.

It wasn't the world. It wasn't even a great map of the world. But it revealed many things. Not so much in the articles. But the word choices. The stodgy page design. And the absurdly out-of-their-time advertisements.

He kept a pack of matches. From a bar that long since closed. Where he met the first girl who tore his heart still beating from his chest and stomped on it with four-inch heels. Wouldn't let anyone touch the matches. Would never strike one.

The bar was called "That Place Around the Corner." Only it wasn't. It was on the end of a cul-de-sac. And out in front of the bar (and on the book of matches) was a large statue of an English Bulldog. Although it was not an English Pub.

And he kept a photo. Of the house where he was born.

It was wrinkled. And black and white.

And looked exactly like a million other houses.

But he kept these things. All three.

And he had them with him. When he died.



When people said "you can't take it with you," he never quite believed it.

And he loved them. All three.

Two with sincerity.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Go Here, Read This, Listen to That

I'm under the weather this weekend and drowning in work...

But here are a few things that have sparked my musical interests:

Apparently, the Paul McCartney song "Jet" was written about a dog. Or a horse. Or it's just nonsense. Or it's about David Bowie.

Any Major Dude with Half a Heart covers Carole King's Tapestry -- meaning the cover and cover versions of the tracks. Check it out here.

Andrew Sandoval and the For the Love of Harry blog share some cool unreleased Nilsson tracks.

Catch you tomorrow...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

No One Knows Where they Came From

Duncan Was His Name...

I thought Summer Solstice was always on June 21.

Apparently that's not true. It varies from year to year from June 20 to June 22.

Another mystery lost in the fog of time and space.

Happy (belated) Summer Solstice.

It's all downhill and losing light from here...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hard to Be A Nice Guy All the Time

You Got a Lot of Nerve

She walked in from the cold.

Dripping snow. Ice covering her hat.

Flung it off, shook out her long hair.

Scanned the room, trying to see who was there.

Who was waiting for her.

Who would be her next victim.

No one looked up. No one wanted to see.

She quickly catalogued her activities from the past week.

Drunken encounters. Casual pain inflicted on anyone unfortunate enough to be in the blast zone.

Lying. Theft. Bigotry of various stripes.

Then she stamped her feet. Took a deep breath. Put back on her hat.

And walked out. Muttering to herself "but I'm a good person."

When the door swung shut behind her, the mood lightened. The crowd relaxed.

Delight rushed in to fill the space she'd just occupied.

And she went off to spread her chaos and carefree destruction somewhere else.

Monday, June 18, 2012

You Say It's Your Birthday

Sir Paul McCartney turns 70 today.

I'm just gonna let that idea sink in for a while...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Backwards Forewards Square And Round

One of Those Kind of Weekends

Lots of movement, raising up a cloud of dust.

Not really sure if it's going anywhere.

But some weekends are like that.

How was yours?

Friday, June 15, 2012

In Response to the New Tom Cruise Movie

"Rock of Ages"?

No thanks.

I'll stick with "Rock of All Ages":

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Storm is Breaking or So it Seems

Tell Her I'll Be Waiting in the Usual Place

I have a theory.

I can guarantee it's wrong.

Don't you want to hear it first?

No. I don't need to.

Here it is:

I really don't need to hear it.

All of the women. The women in these stories.

Uh oh.

I have a theory about them.

Here we go.

What if they're all the same woman?

They're not.

But what if they were?

Is this literal or metaphorical?

I'm going to say yes.

It's ridiculous.

Is it?


Maybe not all of them. But some of them.

I don't want to discuss it. It is what it is.

I'm taking that as a yes.

You always do. Even though it's not. Even though it's a "No."

It's just a theory. It's not my fault that it's true.

But it's not.

Or it is?

No. It's not. Definitely not.

It is what it is. That's all you need to know.

And yet...

I'm just going to play the song now.

The song that proves they're all the same woman...

I hate your theories.

I know.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Rules for '80s Movies

After careful consideration, here are the Top 5 Rules for every movie ever made in the '80s.

5. It's not the size of the gun, it's the cleverness of the quip.

4. The dorky guy will get the hot girl. Just once. But he'll get her.

3. Any computer problem can be solved by typing one or two lines.

2. Dancing solves all problems. As does wearing absurd clothes and having a mullet.

1. The most popular song of all time (at least in '80s movies) is:

Monday, June 11, 2012

Hitchcock Tilbrook Bonus Tracks

She's So...

A friend just pointed this out to me:

Robyn Hitchcock from Mojo Presents Abbey Road Now!:

And from the same record, Glenn Tilbrook with Nine Below Zero:

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Playing to the Gallery

57 Things She's Never Gonna Use

The story that goes with this song is long. And complicated.

But the song is short. And simple.

Given the choice... I'm going with the song.

Because the story never made sense back then.

And it certainly doesn't make any more sense now.

But the song's only gotten better.

And isn't that what everyone wants from a song?

Friday, June 8, 2012

By the Butcher's Shop with the Sawdust Strewn

Observe the Blood, the Rose Tattoo

There's an alley behind the apartment.

I waited there one evening.

And waited.

And the night grew colder. But I kept waiting.

She was supposed to come home. And talk to me.

But she didn't think of that. Or got busy. Or didn't care.

So I waited. And it started to snow.

I wasn't dressed for snow. Or to hang around all night.

I was dressed for the short walk. For her being home when she said she would.

And as the minutes turned to hours, I knew I should leave. I knew it was making things worse to hang around. I was getting angrier and had already long past the point where I wanted to talk to her anymore.

My friends told me to forget it. They wouldn't want me hanging around in the alley. By her apartment.

Watching the snow accumulate. Get higher. Not hearing the sound of her car.

And the hours kept accumulating like the snow.

Until I thought I heard something. It wasn't her. It was the trees moving.

As if whispering.

Asking me what I was doing in the dark. In the alley.

"Time to go," the trees said.

And I turned. And I left. And I didn't look back even when I heard a car driving up.

I should have left right away. I shouldn't have waited.

What would it matter to her? I thought. And the answer came from the trees: "Nothing."

And I knew the trees were right. It was time to go.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

No There's Nothing

By Request

Frequent reader (and infrequent commenter) DK wanted more Roxy Music. "I don't even need a story about the music," he wrote.

My sarcastic side wants to send him off to YouTube to listen to everything he wants.

But my helpful side wants to be... you know, helpful.

So here's one more Roxy Music song:

And another:

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

With the Rhythm of Rhyming Guitars

I turn to the sounds in my car

More than 15 years ago, she said this to me: "If there's anyone who can capture the slow, steady ache of nostalgia and loss better than Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music, I don't know who it is."

And I remember the conversation.

I'm nostalgic for it.

And, once removed, for the nostalgia that prompted it.

A Moebius Strip of yearning.

With this as the perfect soundtrack:

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

And So Begins the Task

Cut My Hair and Shine My Shoes

She wanted the experience. The full artistic assault.

She got the experience. The full assault.

It was late. Later than it should have been.

The guys were drunk. Drunker than they knew.

And the road was steep. And winding.

The aesthetics brought her here.

Others came for the drugs and the surf. She wanted the aesthetics.

And the winding road was the price she paid for the view.

Which might ordinarily have been enough. But not that night. The night with the crash. And the cops.

And the ambulance. Which got there too late.

"What the hell are you on about?" she asked me.

I shrugged.

"Is this about a particular person?"

I nodded.

"But you're not going to tell me who it is?"

I shook my head. I wasn't going to talk.

Wasn't going to make it any more or less than it already was in the end.

Epistles. Just epistles.

From the hippie era.

(Thanks to Whiteray, for the nudge.)

Monday, June 4, 2012

How Does Your Light Shine

Wash Away My Troubles, Wash Away My Pain

I had a dream last night.

A strange dream.

I was on the top of an enormous vehicle, hundreds of feet tall. The base was just a few feet wide.

And the driver wasn't looking. Wasn't paying attention.

So we stopped short.

And the momentum at the bottom stopped the tires. But the momentum at the top kept me going. And I bounced off tall buildings trying to slow down, knowing the entire structure was about to tip over.

Then I was at a meeting. Or a performance. I'm not sure which.

Trying to get the attention of someone I needed to talk to. Someone I wasn't sure saw me.

And the feeling was just as intense as the momentum tipping over the vehicle hundreds of feet tall.

Certain risk. Uncertain reward.

Thus is the way of dreams.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Missive from the Edge of the Water

Here in Status Symbol Land...

There's something about self-important, self-absorbed people with an inflated sense of entitlement that makes you want to belch Shakespearean sonnets in their faces.

Or is it just me?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Clouds and the Light

Clouds Are Here

Mostly, in the dark
The light shines from above
Without us realizing it.

But sometimes there are clouds
Big puffy clouds
Small whispy clouds
And they reflect the light
Photons bursting around us.

Is it an illusion
When the light reflects back
Reflects bright and red
Looking holy
And otherworldly?

Friday, June 1, 2012


That's Enough, Pig

Welcome to June.

Please enjoy this alternate-universe smash hit single from the early 80s -- Joey Ramone with Holly Beth Vincent (from Holly & the Italians):

Happy Birthday

Funny, you don't look 45

Happy Birthday, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, released 45 years ago today after almost 5 months of recording.

And even if there are parts of it that haven't aged well (and there certainly are), the amazing accomplishment of this record is hard to calculate.

And it was recorded on four-track.

And mixed lovingly down to mono.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Instant Amnesia

Yang to the Yin

There's something about this song.

It always seemed half-finished to me -- incredibly catchy, but not quite coherent. Not quite all there.

Like the difference between a great song and a classic song.

And whenever I find myself thinking things like this, I wonder if I'm asking too much.

If this song came from anyone else, I'd be thrilled. I'd remember it fondly and tell you a story about a girl who loved the song.

But the bar is higher for some musicians.

And that's not fair -- I know that.

We shouldn't judge someone harshly because they caught lightning in a bottle more than once and created true classics that will last for generations.

Maybe we should just concentrate on the feeling and try to capture the zen essence of things, letting the rest of it just blow away.

And yes, if you've been watching, there has been a new post up on this blog every single day in May -- plus a bonus of 2 posts on the 21st. There's no particular reason for this -- I just wanted to post more frequently this month and gave myself a challenge of putting up a new post every day.

Thanks for hanging out.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Yep Roc

Lots of cool things happening in Yep Roc land

Yep Roc, one of the coolest record labels that still exists, is throwing itself a 15th anniversary party with concerts and special events October 11-13 in Carrboro, NC.

Concerts will be held over three nights at the Cat's Cradle featuring Yep Roc artists like Robyn Hitchcock, Fountains of Wayne, Dave Alvin, John Doe, Nick Lowe, the Sadies, and John Wesley Harding.

In addition, the label is giving away free unreleased music from its vaults every month between now and October.

How cool is that?

For more info, click here.

The first free Yep Roc giveaway is from Robyn Hitchcock, a beautiful song called "There Goes the Ice" that you can download for free here.

Robyn's description of the track:
"There Goes The Ice" was written in October 2008 off the coast of Greenland on board the Grigor Mikheev, the Russian ship chartered by Cape Farewell to take a collection of artists and scientists up to Disko Bay where we visited a region of the imperilled Arctic. The photographer Chris Wainwright, had just filmed me spelling out Here Comes The Sun in semaphore, silhouetted on deck against the sunset. Surrounded as we were by icebergs 'calved' from the rapidly melting Arctic ice-cap, I found myself writing There Goes The Ice as a mournful echo of George Harrison's song.

I took the song fresh to KT Tunstall and her husband Luke Bullen in the cabin next door: KT obligingly sang harmony and Luke recorded us. Back in England the following June, Luke recorded KT and I performing this version, in their tent. KT also plays guitar on this and appears here courtesy of EMI/Virgin records.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Run Run Run Run Away

Because, really, what's more punk rock than a tuba?

Presented for your approval, as they used to say in the Twilight Zone, via "Pittsburgh's finest ukulele/tuba band. With dancers, too. And an accordion. And a saxophone. And a banjo."

Monday, May 28, 2012

Live from Triceratops Park

Cult Figures

Sometimes you discover a band or a singer that just speaks to you.

And that singer or band has a strong cult following.

But seems on the verge of breaking through.

And you think for years it's about to happen.

Meanwhile, if you're lucky, the singer or band, releases a shit-ton of amazing music. (And if you're unlucky, the singer or band flames out.)

Robyn Hitchcock should be a superstar.

He's been putting out fantastic records for more than 30 years.

For a lot of that time, it seemed like he was weeks (months at most) from being a superstar.

But it hasn't happened. Not yet anyway.

And at this point it seems unlikely.

Which sucks. But at least we have 30-plus years of great music. And, in this universe, that might have to be enough.

Robyn Hitchcock from the unaired Jon Brion Show pilot:

And Robyn Hitchcock & Grant Lee Phillips covering "Across the Universe" (audio only):