Feedback Therapy

Someone I Love Dearly (SILD) is a newly-revealed heroin addict and I am a newly-discovered codependent and in dealing with all of this I find it very lucky that I love so much aggressive and feedback-laden music. Something about feedback, played loud enough, can smooth the roughest of moods. These songs have been particularly soothing of late:

  • Bullet With Butterfly Wings – Smashing Pumpkins
  • I Was Wrong – Social Distortion
  • Hey Hey My My – Neil Young w Crazy Horse
  • New Day Rising – Husker Du
  • Revenant – Distillers
  • Institutionalized – Suicidal Tendencies
  • anything by X
  • anything by Sex Pistols

Additional recommendations welcomed.

33 RPM With a Font

Saw a statistic today about how rapidly brick and mortar bookstores are dwindling in numbers. I confess that overall nowadays, I prefer reading a screen to reading a page. But I would hate it if there were no bookstores. Wandering among books is such a great pleasure.

I think printed books will turn out to be like vinyl records. Simply too good to go away.

A Shout Out about Kelly Joe Phelps

Kelly Joe Phelps is one of the great guitar players of our lifetimes.  He clearly lives to play music, he tours continuously, and my guess is that music is what keeps him alive and keeps his many demons mostly under control.

He has just announced cancellation of his current tour dates on two continents because he is suffering from something called ulnar neuropathy, which prevents him from using his right hand.

For all of the reasons stated above, I fervently wish him a fast and full recovery.

Most people don’t know about him. One of the few good and lucky things about the years I lived in Oregon (long and other story) was my discovery of Phelps there, shortly after his career started, back when the locals nicknamed him “Cujo”. As a fan, I’ve strayed over the years, because sometimes he is just too much for me. But I’ve always come back.

If you want to check him out, here are some facts and links:

  • He has nine albums. My personal favorite may be Shine Eyed Mr. Zen.
  • He made one fantastic album with Corinne West, Magnetic Skyline, then, tragically, they broke up.
  • He combines elements of jazz, delta blues, folk, and spiritual music.
  • He is dark and strange and sad and deep – and can be really, really funny.
  • He has been called “the Coltrane of slide guitar” although he does more fingerpicking nowadays.
  • He has lots of stuff on Youtube. His most recent YouTube videos are from his new album. I especially like “Hard Time They Never Go Away”.
  • He has a website that can steer you to the various places to get his music.
  • He has a sanctioned, fan-operated Facebook page.

“Never Pass Up the Unrepeatable Experience”

This is something a friend of a friend once said. Every time I recall it, I think these are words to live by. Then I forget about it again.

I remembered it tonight, half way through one of the best concerts I have ever attended (and that is saying something). Live music is always an unrepeatable experience. Tonight was the Punch Brothers. Even if music reviews were my thing, I wouldn’t know how to describe them. Alt-punk-bluegrass. Brilliant musicians who play with virtuosity, wit, and occasional sarcasm.  Such a great band. This was my fourth time seeing them. I hope for 100 more. We bought the tickets months ago and had fantastic seats…

…but come concert time, we had to take one of our cats to the emergency clinic and we were still at the clinic when the opening act took the stage. Pessimistic, son tried to sell our tix on Craig’s List. Fortunately, there were no buyers. We got to the concert late but still got to enjoy more than 1.5 hours of it and I cannot believe that I considered giving up and staying home. Don’t give up and stay home.  This is a lesson that I have to keep re-learning. (Wonder why that is?)

Never pass up the unrepeatable experience. I’m thinking that life counts as one.

My Unrequited Career as a Musician

I have had so many jobs, and quite a few careers. Writing is my calling, so that has persisted through change after change of day job. But if I could have just one job – and if I got my choice – I would be a musician. I guess I would need to be a musician who writes songs, as I’ll always need to write.  Yes, that’s a plan I could live with.

The only problem with my being a musician is that I’m no good at it. No talent. No vision. Incredibly average voice. Skill that rarely breaks past the rudimentary barrier. My best hope of being a musician was back in the early days of punk,when desire trumped ability. I don’t know why I wasn’t in a band back then, say a goof of a band like Heather once had in my novel Scar Jewelry. I suppose I lacked the right kind of cojones.

All four of my novels (three completed, one in progress) have musicians in them and two of them have music as a focus. I only just noticed this as a pattern. Sometimes the author is the last to know.

Also, Rock On!

For my birthday, a friend gave me a book about the Replacements (my all-time favorite band). With the book came a card that read

Happy birthday.  Also, rock on!

Now, this has a certain poignancy, because she and I are both getting pretty frigging old by this point. But I mention it here simply because I so love the way she put it.  Also, rock on!

P.S. The book is The Replacements, All over But the shouting: an oral history by Jim Walsh.