Sunday, November 9, 2014

Music I

   What matters more than rock n roll?
  I mean when you're there, inside, listening to it live. When you're in a place, a bar, a club, a concert hall and you can feel it, literally, happen in your heart, when you turn around, look at your rational self and say, "See ya, brother."
   You've been standing there for an hour.
   You walked down the street to get there, shaking your head at guys your same age dressed back up in their 20 something selves from 1982. 
   You walked past the door and went on 3 more blocks so you wouldn't have to stand in line with them and their "dates". 
   Your life is a clotted mess of failing joints and greying hair no one notices, misguided attempts to find a mission, and the occasional outburst people are either inspired or bored by.
  You're middle aged.
  You don't fall for it anymore. You know "it". You knew "it". You stood by "it". On rare occasions you were "it". It suckers you no longer.
  You watch. You appreciate. You think, "Now how could I spin this into a story worth selling?" cause in this day and age selling and telling have become the same.
  The club's an old church from a working class section of the ex-working class city you were born in. It's been gutted, the stain glass removed, the pews long gone and flanked by a 50 foot bar. Like the Orthodox, you stand for the show.
  People you can't recognize but know you knew say long hellos. They hold their gaze. You can't place the faces. The bald. The sag. The waddle. Counting out tips like grandmothers in a diner, they're wearing tour shirts like kids in college wearing their college hoodie.
  The band starts. If ever there was a band that was "it" back "then", this is them.
  They look like they wanna sit down. The lead singers so far off key she's using cyrillic. You don't recognize the guitarist. He's one of the most famous guitarists in the world. No. Can't be him. It is.
  Their first song sounds like a recording of their first song underwater. You can't hear the words. The volume is bearable which was once anathema to this band. Unforgivable. You remember seeing them in Rhode Island, Pawtucket, and when the guitarist warmed up he emptied a swath in the stands before his amplifier. He ruled. He stood on high. Love's gonna hurt, he told us all. So's hearing the truth.
   You're leaning against some sort of temporary barrier keeping the underage from the aged. Women approach you and stash their purses behind it. They look at you like you're gonna keep a secret, like you work there. And then they don't dance.
  The beer that was trendy then is again trendy now. Pretending to be hip is easier.
   You look down at the half empty floor.
   You look around and see teenage children ask why did you bring me dad?
   You look up behind what was the altar, and the windows -which once held saints and archangels- have been slitted out with steel panels admitting a shaft of light cut like the bar's logo. There is marketing even in the ether.
  "Why am I at a concert when the sun's still up?" you ask. The answer? 
   You can barely hear it anymore.
  "That's entertainment. Ever felt like you've been swindled? Eat the rich. There's too many of us. I wasn't born so much as I fell out. Let's start a war. Ask what your country's been doin to you! We're desperate. Get used to it. How you gonna come? With your hands on your head or the trigger of your gun? Ohhh way to go Ohio……"
   All that, all that you were told, and this is where you are? What you've become? A two bit marketer and marketing tool letting the anthems of your youth roll over you like they were just…..lyrics…..?
  You're tapping your foot, sure, keeping a steadier rhythm than most and making sure everyone notices but you're not moving up to the front of the stage and you don't mind that people are talking texting analyzing replaying rearranging liking sharing and repurposing something before it's even happened. Nothing's happening to them anymore if their friends don't know. "That's okay", you say, "that just leaves more of what's left of the now to me."
  That's the peace you've made.
  And then you hear the other lead singer do something funny. He changes key to keep the harmony he and the other lead have had for years working since she can't hit her old notes. He bends the song and lo and behold the song holds it. And you see him laugh. The guitarist who rarely even acknowledges the lead looks over and nods. Was that appreciation? Was there just some detente in their mutually brilliant disdain for each other? Like the old days when they were kids?
  You lean a little farther forward. The music rises up and you realize they're so good they're covering themselves. They're not rushing through songs they can't stand anymore a la the Stones turning Brown Sugar into Husker Du. They're rebuilding what they still buy in the songs of their younger selves and making them new. The lead takes a whiskey from someone in the audience and then points at the sound mixer- Turn it up. He says it twice. 
  You stop tapping your feet. You jump. You dance for them. You sing back. You know every word.
  And that's it. 
  I could try and put words to it, to what happens next, but that's really the point of these words, and of all music, and that's that words end at a certain promontory in the world of our selves. They cannot follow. They tell a great tale when we come back but there are rooms in our lives, their are whole bloody fields of experience you shouldn't worry with language.
  The thing is, music shudders into life some dormant spirit in our chests- some amplified heart carried over by the 10 millennia of our species that thrived and died before we ever wrote anything down - this vestigial organ that still lives and plays in our bones and in our tapping feet and humming selves- and when that spirit takes off it can fly right out of you. If you're lucky its talons or its coattails or the golden dust vibrating in its wake catch hold of some part of your body and drag you into the air where music has no gravity, no historical time, no reason. And rock n roll lives right at the place where that spirit takes wing, gains lift, finds its most dangerous velocity. It can't last, by Dionysian definition it never does, but oh the power of mortality when it forgets it's mortal.
  You melt away in the sonic shock wave-
the welcome suicide of your socio economic self- and what's left is maybe something you loved but didn't have a name for at 18 at 23 at 29. 
  You were delivered? You were transformed? You were elevated? 
  In truth it wasn't you, it was some sort of "us".   
  The gift of rock is its hovering truth that is only true as long as the music lasts but that no one afterwards would say was a lie. It just …only ever... lives…in there.
  You had to be there.
  You have been.
   Rain on me……….


  1. "...the welcome suicide of your socio economic self...."
    Nicely crafted. It resonated with me.

    1. Yeah a little much but I thought What the Hell. The whole piece is about "MUCH". Thanks

    2. Yep, That phrase worked to support the "much." I struggle with your use of contractions at some points, though. Made it harder to read, didn't flow as easily to my eye. It is apparent that you want it to sound like spoken language, particularly in the middle descriptive part, but your power of description and vocabulary are both strong enough to evoke the reader reaction.
      Not that you asked. Sorry. I'm not a good writer, but I am a good reader, so I thought I'd pass it along.

    3. True, on a previous post of yours David, I did type in the comment field something I'll try to avoid right here... Queen of never-ending sentences, am working on this to make texts easier to read, which is a nice exercise and also allows you to play with punctuation. Now of course, nobody would bother Flaubert or any other writer like him with this type of consideration (long sentences, etc.) BUT... these long paragraphs all have a reason to be, often the same: description. Describe the atmosphere, the set (if you allow me to use this word), the interactions...
      This helps the reader getting into what's exposed - so to say it.

      All I can tell you, from a non-native speaker point of view, is that each of your post is taking us to a journey, should you mean to share a tour of Pittsburgh or take a dive into human emotions...
      Your texts are rich and have the right rhythm - ok you take rock & I'll go to swing dance, deal?

      You hit your goal.

      So thanks and keep on feeding us ;-) Hey, you got us hooked up now! (smiling? good)

      BTW- quick note on theater... Something tells me you'd be an amazing Benedick in "Much ado about nothing" :-D
      Too far away to offer you to play it but you'd be a great one

      Sorry for the Shakespearian detour...

      Have a great day! Yours -
      A Shakespeare comedies (too often forgotten) "fan" ;-)

    4. Happy to read you again Hermia since a long time!

  2. Royal Blood - Altar Bar - December 3
    Just two lads (bass & drums) who boil that rock thing - securely based on its blues roots - down to the essence . "Figure It Out" is a good first listen. They are amazing live.

  3. TOOL. Something about listening to Maynard, live, surrounded by the anti-matter of the masses...the people who don't choose to wear black, it chooses them. Me, will, I wore pink the first time but simply because it was the only clean tank top I had. Rock has the ability, unlike any other genre, to make you feel like a team in your personal choice of tunes. Everyone in, say, Group A, likes rap but Timmy, well, Timmy likes Kid Rock to be different, to be "cool"...except in his attempt at being different, he just looks stupid because he probably doesn't even know any if his lyrics lol. Rappers kill each other over their musical differences. But can love a wide spectrum of artists in the genre and be loved even moreso because of it. One can go to a day event and listen to all the performers and instead of feeling distant in their preferences, instead feel all the closer because of them.

    Yuck. I couldn't sleep and I'm typing this on my very fussy Nook HD so I can only hope that at least some of that made sense!

  4. Hi David. Know you are busy, but looking forward to more of you intense, entertaining, complex, whimsical, and "call it as you see it" stories.

    I have started a "Blogger" of my very own... Not much on it yet. Many stories in this head of mine. Gonna try to start one in a bit... more of a life story but will be written as if it is about someone else (but really about me)... Anyway... Hope to see more of your work, and just maybe, you will see some of mine someday. I would value your impressions and opinions as much as you value our opinions of your stories. Cheers!

    1. P.S. I hope everyone here enjoys healthy and happy holidays! : )

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  6. "If a man is the same at 50 as he was at 20, he has wasted 30 years" or so a great man once said, I'm paraphrasing, obviously. I don't hate the young, but I do get annoyed. But that's with people, I always say if a book or movie or song is good then does time ruin it. If a song or band is classified as classic rock wasn't it always great. I love going to shows, but I no longer linger in the front. At ACL I was one of many who set up camp in the middle of all shows and didn't move. Well, I thought I would leave early until M&M came on and somehow I couldn't walk away and left only after his second encore because he did totally rock the house, but I never went passed the crowd. I don't mind knowing that is for the young, I paid my dues, I like middle age. But, I don't ever believe that music goes out of style. I love Cyndi Lauper and always will, Ratt and Michael Jackson and all the music trends through out history, they have lifted everyone at one time or another. I'm grateful for those moments that I'm completely caught up in it, those moments don't make me feel young they make me feel rad, which to me is timeless.