Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Highway 61 Revisited Revisited

From I'm Not There - Just a preview - Tomorrow is covers day on Ear to the Ground....

Night all!

Charlie Parker

This is a poem I wrote which is part of a here-to-fore unpublished novel called Shadows and Revelations.  Jerry Gilchrist is a character in my novel.

A poem by Jerry Gilchrist – circa 1991
my room
my place
Charlie Parker on my cd player
and a frozen glass – filled
with rum from the freezer
leaving a ring
on my bedside table
staring up
almost drunk
but it’s not enough
weight pulls
the weight of too much time
of loss
of fear
and the crushing weight
of having to live my life
in my skin
concert posters – taped
on the wall
my desk in the corner –
my poetry littering the top
outside my window a night
of promises – unfulfilled
Charlie Parker wonks for me
and I thank him silently
for the notes
sometimes I feel
like such a fake
living my life
as though I were not this
miserable soul
who lies on his bed
drinking rum
shirt off
listening to
dead jazz men
and trying to figure out
where it all went wrong
it began with Ethan
but that is not
the whole story
after Ethan
the pier
and college
and the city
and Shadow Man
and highways
and beaches
and Gana
and Kevin
and Joey
but all of that seems
a fiction to me now
Kevin lives nearby and
I see him fairly often but
things aren’t the same
Gana is still mad
about our last
and Joey
is off being
I wish I were
I think suddenly
and remembering
my love for Ethan
wonder if perhaps
I am
but then I decide
I would be
as miserable
gay as I am
my room spins
more insanely
and I don’t dare
stand up
the rum is almost
and the cd is nearing
the last track
a tickle on my cheeks are the
and now sobs
wrack my body
my phone mocks me
with silence – I take the
receiver off the hook
and drop it on the floor
the dial tone turns into
a fast signal of alert
I ignore it
I feel myself going into blackness
I wish it were death
perhaps it is
my stomach lurches
to let me know
I am still alive
I imagine dying
choking on my own
what a punk rock
thing to do
Kevin would be proud
morbid thoughts
and I know it’s not
what I want
my life to be
morbid thoughts
and I know tomorrow I will
wake up
put on a happy face
and go out into
the world
I close my eyes – big mistake –
the sense is I am
on one of those playground
and I now I think I
might puke
take the last sip
of my rum
now warm
room temperature and
watered down by the
condensation from the glass
I cry
but the ghost
who once haunted me
is silent these days
as if ashamed to see
what I have become

 Copyright 2005 Joe Wolfe-Mazeres

It’s the End of the World as we know it...

All this talk about the end of world (coming Saturday), got my (decidedly) non-linear mind thinking about this book which I bought sometime in the late 80s or early 90s. 

Lester Bangs is in the litany of alt-pop culture names dropped in R.E.M.’s iconic song referenced in the title of this post.

Lester Bangs was a rock critic who died way too soon. He raised the craft of writing criticism about popular (and not-so-popular) music to a high art form.   You can google Lester Bangs to find out more about him.

The articles collected in this book are funny, trenchant, irreverent, off-color, sublime and off-kilter. It is a great read just as pure literature, a (slightly) twisted look at late 60s & 70s music, and a must have if you need a book with “dung” in the title to complete your library.

Next up?   Leonard Bernstein or Lenny Bruce?

Bob Dylan Wrote Propaganda Songs.... (A pre-70th Birthday Shuffle)

Shelter from the Storm – Blonde on Blonde

Chimes of Freedom – Originally from Another Side of Bob Dylan (from Playlist – The Very Best of Bob Dylan: 1960s)

Drifter’s Escape – John Wesley Harding  (from the 2010 Mono Version)


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Deal o' the day

What is it they say about things skipping a generation?

Speaking as a child of the 80s....

I came of age musically speaking during what is widely called the Post-Punk era.  The bands I liked everyone from U2, R.E.M., The Alarm, and Violent Femmes was informed by, inspired by or a reaction to punk.  By the mid-80s, many of the original punk bands who had survived had moved into a definite post-punk phase. X trended into the burgeoning Alt-Country/Cow Punk/Americana/whatever movement. Arguably it wasn’t as far of a leap as some might think.  But, I digress....


Time is funny.  In the early/mid 80s, Punk seemed like it happened a million years before. In reality, it had all gone down less than 10 years before.  I guess when you are 16-17 years old, 10 years really is a long time. What was it like? We wondered.


Penelope Spheeris (Wayne’s World, Little Rascals!, Beverly Hillbillies!!!) made two films which have shaped how I see the punk era. One is a documentary, one is not. 
 It's all about the L.A. punk scene – X, Germs, Black Flag etc. – it’s a brash, harsh and at times heartbreaking film. Realizing that many of the musicians featured here did not survive. At once, the film made me want to slam dance, cry, laugh, destroy something, form a band, stay in school, cut my hair, rip my jeans.  I will never truly know what it was like to be a part of that scene, but Decline of Western Civilization is an excellent reference point.

Suburbia:  It’s got Flea (from the Red Hot Chili Peppers), TSOL, The Vandals and D.I.  It’s about The Rejected (T.R.) a group of small m misfits roaming around the L.A. punk scene just a few short years after Decline... It’s got all the elements of a true cult classic (which it is). Memorable lines (Later Days has been a part of my vocabulary ever since I first saw it), dodgy acting (a character calls Flea’s Character “Flea” at one point) , cheesy villains (don’t trust anyone over 25????).  Not to be mistaken with Richard Linklater’s 1996 film, Suburbia is a must see.


What kind of music do you like?

I get asked this question sometimes.  Actually, I have probably asked it, too.  The real question (I think) behind this is something like; “Is music something we can talk about”.

I’m ashamed to admit it, but sometimes (especially in the past), I have tried to tailor my answer to what I think the asker will want to hear.  Nose piercing? I’ll name the most punk/indie band in my collection.  African American? I’ll tout the face that I have “The Message” in my player (and Howard Melvin & the Blue Notes).  Wearing a cowboy hat? I’ll mention my Hank Williams, George & Tammy, and Porter Waggoner songs. 

Maybe on some level, there isn’t any thing wrong with this.  I mean, yeah, it’s stereo-typing, but you know, maybe it beats the alternative, where I purposefully try to put the asker off by doing the exact opposite.  Nose piercing? I’ll mention that I have Rhianna or Taylor Swift in my player.  African American?  I’ll tout the fact that I have the Dixie Chicks or Dan Fogelberg.  Cowboy hat? I’ll mention GAYNGS or Erasure. You get the picture.

Sometimes this approach can have unexpected results. Stereotypes are sometimes way off...

Another approach I take is to say, “I like good music.”  But, really that sounds kind of snobby to me. “I like all types of music.” Sounds like I don’t really care about music.

So, what is the best answer to give when asked this question?  

Shall we... (morning shuffle)

Monday night is when I typically load new (for me anyway) music into my MP3 player, and so every Tuesday, my morning shuffle comes from the playlist containing the current months new downloads.

This morning with the refreshing sunshine and the mild frustration of life not unfolding on my schedule, I shuffled my May 2011 playlist (which currently contains 80 songs).

  1. Grown Ocean by Fleet Foxes from Helplessness Blues
  2. Police by Stomacher from Sentimental Education (a band that found me on Twitter)
  3. Plan ‘B’ by Shabbadoo from There You Are (a band that features Joey Pegram who is from my hometown and who currently resides on the other side of the world).

Bonus:  My favorite morning d.j. Mary Brace was off today, but her replacement played Jesus, etc. and Fleet Foxes “White Winter Hymnal".  Also, I heard Green Day on a Brand X station during a commercial break on Lightning 100.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Pages and Pages of Music - Jonathan Lethem

Every now and then, I want to write about books I’ve read that are relevant to the subject of music.  The first author that came to my mind is the amazing Jonathan Lethem.   Start with his novel Fortress of Solitude.  This incredible story of two friends growing up in a gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood is awash in musical references.  In fact, there is almost literally a back beat to this novel.  Soul, Hip-hop, Punk, Brian Eno and “Play that Funky Music, White Boy” all play a major part in this epic and wonderfully written coming-of-age novel.  For another view of Lethem’s Brooklyn also read Motherless Brooklyn.

Fortress of Solitude:

The great thing about Jonathan Lethem is that he continually defies expectations.  If you follow-up  Fortress of Solitude with You Don’t Love Me Yet, you may feel like you are reading an entirely different author.  You Don’t Love Me Yet is the story of a fledging west coast alternative band – it is light and funny.  Lethem has said that intended the novel to read like a romantic comedy movie. I would add a very hip romantic comedy. 

You Don’t Love Me Yet:

Rave On Buddy Holly - June 28, 2011

This one looks like a must have!

Music related movies - These go to eleven edition

Start here - it's a parody, but man those guys can play - for real.  So many classic moments.  I was fortunate to have seen Spinal Tap live on their comeback tour in the early 90s.  It was funny, yes, but it was also one of the best rock shows I've ever seen.

Cheekwood Nights :: Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art, Nashville, TN

Makes No Sense at All


Makes No Sense at All

Monday morning shuffle – head in the clouds edition

  1. Over the Hills and Far Away – Led Zeppelin    

  1. Makes No Sense at All – Hüsker Dü   

  1. Allison – Elvis Costello          

  1. Ziggy Stardust – David Bowie   

Deal of the Day


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Jungleland and Walk on the Wild Side

Here are the links to the albums which contain the two songs mentioned in the previous post:

Turning Point

There exists this point in time when a casual interest in music blossoms into a true love (read obsession) with music.  For me, there may have been a number of points along the road, but the first was on a night way back in the depths of my high school/junior high years, and I was listening to the local college radio station, and specifically I remember hearing Springsteen's Jungleland and then Lou Reed's Walk on the Wild Side.  Suddenly, it was as if music lost it's limits.  Jungleland made me realize that Rock 'n' Roll could be epic and poetic and beautiful.  Walk on the Wild Side showed me that music could be dangerous and could show me a world beyond the limitations of my current situation. Later, they re-released the Velvet Underground albums and that sent me to a whole new level, but that's another story for another day.

A Sunny Day in Nashville

Just as a better sample of my writing - here an old Facebook note from this past January:
 Took a walk at lunchtime to take photos and basically just enjoy a rare nice winter day. Walked from my office at Sixth and Charlotte down Deadrick Street to the Public Square Park. Just outside my office building, I took a couple of pictures of a pigeon. Took some pictures of the relatively new public art pieces.  Went to the top of the observation deck.  When I got to the top, this guy was up there sweeping.  He was saying something, but I had my earphones on and I didn’t hear him, and anyway he didn’t appear to have been talking to me. A couple (man and woman – smartly dressed and young – by my standards) came up right behind me.  I took pictures of buildings downtown, the river and back toward my office etc. The couple left before I did. As I was getting ready to go back down, the guy who had been sweeping said something, so I took off my earphones to listen to him.  He said (referring to the female half of the couple), “She was fine wasn’t she.”  I agreed. He said he had been furtively checking out the woman. He didn’t say furtive, but he mimed it.  Then he asked if he had scared me but then realized I had had my earphones on. He said he thought he had scared the couple.  He  said he had yelled “Goodbye” to Jeff Fisher toward the stadium.   I walked back down to the surface, crossed over and walked down to First Avenue. I took some pictures of the Cumberland River and continued along the sidewalk down to Fort Nashborough. Backtracked to Church Street and started back uptown from there. Took a few more pictures. A man in a truck asked how to get to the Stockyard Restaurant. Christy and I used to eat lunch there sometimes when we were first dating, but I haven’t been in years. I directed him in the right directions (he had a print out he was following). Continued back up Church Street to Printer Alley. Took some pictures as I walked through the alley and over to Union. Walked up Union. Finished up a Starbucks gift card with a Latte – ran into a friend and co-worker at the counter. Returned back to the office.

On my walk, I was listening to songs from my Covers playlist and here’s the list:

  1. Yacht covering X
  2.  Jason & the Scorchers covering Hank Williams
  3.  Sister Double Happiness covering Roky Erickson
  4.  Jason & the Scorchers (again!) this time covering Neil Young
  5.  Johnny Cash covering Steve Earle
  6.  Ernie Isley covering the Cars
  7.  Johnny Cash (again!) covering Neil Young (another song)
  8.  Chris Isaak covering Bo Diddley
  9.  Michael Feinstein covering Joni Mitchell
  10.  The Telescopes covering The Velvet Underground
  11.  Marshall Crenshaw covering Richard Thompson
  12.  Todd Snider covering Peter Case
  13. R.E.M. covering Roger Miller

The person who can name the most songs wins a prize...*

*prize in this context is more of a conceptual thing really… odds of winning are .000000001/100000000000000000

Mumford and Sons