I was driving to work today listening to my latest CD purchase, The Very Best of Jackson Browne, when the song “Lives In The Balance” came on. Jackson Browne was inspired to write that song by the political events of the Iran-Contra scandal in the mid 1980’s. As I listened to the lyrics I was struck by how a song written 18 years ago was so appropriate for today. In particular, the final verse is especially relevant for 2004.
So it was about time for the evening news and I turned on the television. The first thing I saw was the Superbowl pregame show. Not a regular pregame show, but a hyped-up, rock and roll pregame show. At halftime there was another hyped-up, rock and roll show (and with the exposed breast incident, the hype continued long after the show was over).
Every so often, older music that I own winds up in heavy rotation on my current play list. An older album that I’ve been listening to a lot lately is Mermaid Avenue by Billy Bragg and Wilco. On this CD, they took some lyrics that Woody Guthrie wrote years ago (which were never set to music) and created their own music for them. My favorite song on the album is One By One. They lyrics (and music) are perfect for a cool and cloudy autumn day like today.
Earlier this week I got together with an old friend I’ve been neglecting, my guitar. It was the first time I took it out of its case since I moved to my condo last October. Since then I’ve had it out on four different days and thanks to Tab Robot (a search engine for guitar tabs and music), I’ve even learned to play some new songs.
Many years ago I went through some personality testing when I had consulted a career counselor. After examining the test results, one of the things she told me was that I needed to be involved with music in some way or I would not be happy. Having my guitar in my hands this week reminded me how important making music is. It’s funny how when your life is busy and hectic, you can actually forget about the things that make it worth living.
I am definitely behind in my blogging. I blame it on the winter. It certainly isn’t MY fault. [grin]
Short days and long nights in bitter cold temperatures bring out the hibernator in me. I find I sleep more in the wintertime and I spend more time curled up on the couch with a good book (and maybe a blanket). Of course the lack of snow doesn’t help. Looking out the window and seeing a winter wonderland of brown can be a bit depressing.
I’m as dark as December.
I’m as cold as the man in the moon.
All I hear is that lonesome sound.
The hounds of winter, they follow me down.
– Sting, The Hounds Of Winter
A few weeks ago the musical world lost a legend when Joe Strummer passed away. Formerly of the Clash, Joe and his band mates revolutionized music in the late 1970’s with their blend of punk rock and reggae music.
I never got the chance to see The Clash live, but I was lucky enough to see Joe Strummer perform a few summers ago. It was my favorite show at Summerfest that year. Along with songs from his latest album, he also played some classic Clash songs with all the raw energy that I imagine he used when he played with his old band.
If you don’t own the Clash’s classic album London Calling do yourself a favor and go out and get it. If you’ve got that one, my next pick would be Joe’s solo record Rock Art and the X-Ray Style from a few years ago. His newer releases stand up well next to the albums he made with the Clash.
Goodbye Joe, and thanks.
I feel a little obligated to post something today, although I certainly don’t want to be part of the media onslaught of disturbing accounts and images from one year ago.
I suppose each of us must remember, mourn, contemplate and pray in our own way. That’s what I choose to do. My father told me that he will do things today that feed his soul and touch his heart. Good advice. I’ve always found solace in music and I’ll be listening to a lot of it today. Here’s a quote from a song I know I’ll be listening to:
Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do.
Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too.
Imagine all the people, living life in peace…
You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.
I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will live as one.
– John Lennon, Imagine
I’ve discovered that as I get older I have some seasonal rituals which I always do. Okay, the word ritual might be a little strong, maybe I should call them traditions. Anyway, today I performed one of my Spring rituals. Usually on one of the first warmer, sunny days of spring, I head out the door for a long vigorous walk with my walkman attached to my belt and the headphones in my ears. The album I always end up listening to on this first walk of Spring is African Shadow Man by Johnny Clegg and Savuuka. It’s a definitely an album to listen to in the springtime with its blending of African and Western pop music styles. In my mind, it’s not Spring until I listen to that as I breathe in the fresh air and walk along the parkway with the sun on my back.
Rock and roll can change your life. Thanks to the band Wilco (and a link on their site) I recently discovered Glorious Noise. A site that “contains some essays, stories and rants about how rock and roll can change your life.”
They also keep good current links to commentaries, news and other stuff on the net. Well worth a spot in your rock and roll bookmarks.
Snow Update: I guess it helps to whine a little. After my previous post about a lack of winter here in Wisconsin, yesterday we got 3 inches of snow. Not enough to snowshoe in, but it’s a start. Keep it up, Old Man Winter.
It’s been three months since the terrorist attack, and the ruins at ground zero are still smoking and smoldering. I certainly don’t want to appear to be an ignorant American, but it just boggles my mind that people can have so much hatred as to cause that kind of devastation. To quote U2 (from their latest album):
Peace on Earth, we need it now. I’m sick of all of this hanging around.
Sick of sorrow, sick of the pain, sick of hearing again and again,
That there’s gonna be peace on Earth.
Hear it every Christmas time, but hope and history won’t rhyme.
So what’s it worth, this peace on Earth? Peace on Earth…