Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks

With apologies to my family and friends, this year I think I'm most thankful to have discovered that this brave new world has such creations as this in it.

I've got to be free...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Such a Long Way To Go

If there was ever an award given called, "The Greatest Six Word Backing Vocal Line For a Hideously Bad Song In Music History," I think it would be this right here.

(I have watched this about 5 times now and I cannot stop laughing. The way he runs in there? The way he looks straight up at the mike and so earnestly belts it out? The soundless argument with the engineer? God SCTV was funny!)

Seriously though. Christopher Cross gets a backup singer as great as Michael McDonald in the studio to somehow help to help rescue this musical equivalent to a bowl of stale mayonaise, and all he asks him to do is SING SIX FREAKING WORDS???

What a waste. And how amazing is it he makes it in there for that final time? Thought for sure he'd miss it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Bob Dylan and Election Day

For a number of years now I have tried to make it a point of listening to Bob Dylan on Election Day. Not that Bob (to the best of my knowledge) has ever really come out and injected himself into political races. But something about the way he writes, something about the universal iconoclasm of what he’s been doing for half a century just makes me want to listen to him when each major election roles around. It makes sense because even decades detached, Dylan seems to get the sheer brilliant chaos that accompanies this country around every corner. And on Election Day, for me, it works.

In 2006 it was just as personal as it was political. I was in my 10th year of working in politics and I felt the oncoming need for a change. And the same time the country was starting to make a change as well; the Senate and House went back to the Democrats that night and the repudiation of the Bush/Cheney years was beginning to take hold. So with all of this going on I put on his transitional masterpiece Blood on the Tracks.

In 2008, knowing that full level of change was about to be realize with the election of Barack Obama as the nation’s first ever black President, I went lo-fi and obvious, listening to The Times They Are-A Changing.

In 2010, with things swinging back to the right and the Tea Party entering a period of full-bloom, I went back to Bob’s beginnings and listened heavily to The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. The album is an odd but lethal cocktail of whimsy, nihilism and pure prescience, and I used it as a chance to re-ground myself in this latest new reality. And one song, well, stood out amidst all the madness of the day. “Down the Highway.” For me it was wistful hopefulness.

Well I’m bound to get lucky, baby,
Or I’m bound to die tryin’.

Alas…no. Didn’t help in the end.

This year I dug back into vintage mid-60s Bob again, playing bits and pieces of Another Side of Bob Dylan and Bringing in All Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited to get myself primed for the historic night. And various disparate lyrics stood out to me.

One struck me when thinking about voting and the absolute necessity of that right:

Striking for the gentle, striking for the kind
Striking for the guardians and protectors of the mind.
— "Chimes of Freedom," 1964

One about the President, facing his last ever Election Night:

Even the President of the United States sometimes must have to stand naked.
— "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)," 1965

And even one about the challenger:

You try so hard but you just don’t undertstand
What you’ll say when you get home.
Because something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is,
Do you, Mr. Jones?
— "Ballad of a Thin Man," 1966

And today, with the election once more behind us and a decisive victory at hand, I specifically wanted to hear one song. One somewhat buried track from the magnificent Bringing it All Back Home.

The rumbling blues of “On the Road Again.”

Where Dylan captures the sheer indescribable madness all around him and wonders how in the hell anyone can put up with it.

I wake up in the morning there’s frogs inside my socks,
Your mama she’s hiding inside the icebox,
Your Daddy walks in wearing a Napolean Bonaparte mask.
And you ask why I don’t live here?
Honey, do you have to ask?

Your grandpa’s cane, it turns into a sword,
Your grandma prays to pictures that are pasted on a board,
Everything in my pockets your uncle steals.
And you ask why I don’t live here?
Honey, I can’t believe that your for real!

Well there’s fistfights in the kitchen, they’re enough to make my cry,
The mailman comes in, even he has to take a side,
Even the butler, he’s got something to prove.
And you ask why I don’t live here?
Honey, how come you don’t move?

That is the vibe I got last night from watching the returns come in and the Electoral Map got bluer and bluer, and Senate candidates who actually made lame excuses for acts of rape and called legitimate dissent un-American and allowed millions and millions of nameless, faceless “dark money” to be spent on their behalf with little regard for the truth kept losing and losing.

And I thought, “Why are they all losing? Why is America saying no to them?”

And my answer, inside my head? “Honey, do you have to ask?”

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Great Writing

And here we have a perfect example of outstanding writing: it gets right to the point, says its piece, and gets out. Kind of like a Miles Davis solo. 

No wonder Miles and Teo worked so well together.