Home > Uncategorized > It he’d only kept playing

It he’d only kept playing

It’s early. Well it’s early for me. Barely midnight. All I’ve got for company as I write this is Mark Knopfler’s new double CD called Privateering….which seems plenty. My internet has been up and down (mostly down) for the last 3 days. Even since the guy came out to “fix” our phone and ended up breaking just about everything else that goes along with it. A new guy showed up today and installed a new modem, which worked perfectly until his truck pulled away. Then it started to re-set itself every 10 minutes, just like the modem he replaced had been doing. I had to call a third time, and now the company is gonna send another electronic genius out to the house on Tuesday, to kick the tires or something. All of these guys are nice, respectful, and work hard. The issue is most of the time they have no fucking clue with the problem is, so they grab whatever band aids they have in the truck and slap ‘em on. Then they bolt and hope that when I call back it’s not them that has to come visit again and put up with my withering stares. By the way, when I called to schedule visit number three, not 2 hours after visit 2 had ended, I had to remind the person on the phone that our original issue, our phone sometimes dropping out for 5 or 10 seconds, has now morphed into us not being able to use the phone at all. So not only have they not fixed what appeared to be a minor problem, they’ve managed to make it about 50 times worse. And people wonder why when I hear the word “corporation” I sneer and start spewing profanities. I swear things would be better if I lived in a tree and learned to play the flute.

Recently I was at a gathering where I was the only person not wearing tie dye, the only person not dancing in front of the band like Grace Slick on acid, and the only person not baked on the kind of weed that can make eyeballs switch sides. In short, if it wasn’t so dark I’d have been taken as a narc for sure. But I still felt like it would be a nice place to escape to. Living up in the mountains dressed like Ritchie Havens singing “Freedom” to all the Garcia disciples…keeping the world at bay with spliffs, a sleeping bag in the backseat, and a guitar in the trunk. You think these people give a fuck about Paul Ryan? They’re more concerned with Che Guevara, who even though he’s been dead for 45 years is still more intelligent than a neo-fascist like Paul Ryan, with his Ipod filled with Rage Against the Machine tunes…which is the equivalent of Deadheads sitting around a campfire swapping songs with Ted Nugent. Perhaps a good “Friend of the Devil”/”Wang Dang Sweet Poontang” medley would ease the chasm, that is unless Ted was armed and decided the spray the place first with automatic weapon fire. To be uber patriotic.

Stream of conscious stuff perhaps. I’m not happy with the way things are going, and my non-stop battles with the cable company is just like somebody with a black sharpie filling the margins of my favorite book up with mindless graffiti. Another pain in the ass that seems bigger than it is ‘cause it reminds me that most of the friends I thought I had now treat me much the same as the cable company does.

The people I thought I could trust I can’t trust anymore, for a variety of reasons. I suspect I’ve burned some bridges, and even incinerated others, but my patience, something I usually hide well, is pretty much vacant. I’ve reached out and helped lots of folks when I could. Lately I’m the one who has needed a few hands to help me off the deck, and the airwaves have gone silent. This is when I get real shortsighted and start wiring the roads.

I want music to save me. I still think it can, but my chances are being picked off like pigeons in Hegins.

I made what I still think is a great rock and roll record. It has gone exactly nowhere. A few glowing reviews, a few initial sales…that’s been that. I can’t get the band booked because we haven’t done any shows. Oh we’ve tried. Our first gig was canceled when the guy walked out of his club with the key and never came back. Our second gig was a whopper, a TV show in HD quality. An hour set of all original material that was canceled a week before it was scheduled, forcing me to deliver the bad news to the band and to all the folks I’d badgered into coming. There’s some great PR there for a band willing to sell its soul for 10 minutes of “My Generation” just to show these “established bands” that we’ll destroy them on a level playing field. We’re like the horse that gets crammed into the starting gate……and when it opens takes 5 steps and snaps its leg. And all the while I’m thinking to myself (and others are saying)….”I’m/You’re too old for this shit.”

I’ve had 2 people visit just about every live music venue in the area…armed with pretty incredible reviews of the record…..and the record itself. And offers of discounted gigs. Acoustic gigs if you don’t have the room. A set list to die for. (Who, Kinks, Clash…some ravers that’ll make your ass levitate. This is not kid stuff. This band is the real deal.) Number of call backs? None. Meanwhile, in trolling bars checking out our competition, I’ve heard enough ghastly music to last the lives of my new cat. After a while all I can do is try not to intentionally drive into a brick wall on my way home.

I don’t feel too old. I only feel old when I’m not holding a guitar….because the guitar is the real fountain of youth. Search your whole life looking for it in foreign lands. Go ahead, wash yourself in every stream you can find. You may be squeaky clean but still infested with gray and bent over from arthritis. You’re gonna feel stupid when you find out you can buy this fountain of youth at a Wal-Mart for $125, and this includes the little amplifier to announce your regression to your neighbors. I would suggest a place like Wades World or Guitar Center, but I know most of you don’t get out on the fringes all that much.

This guy or that guy. There’s been so many “this guy or that guys”. All want something. All have grandiose plans. Some follow up, take from me what they need to get started, and I never hear from them again. Others will say, “I’ve got a great idea. We’ll do this, that, and the other thing”. And I’ll say, “sure man….I’m great at this that and the other thing. But I’m tired of driving the fucking bus while everybody else gets to drink the beer and fondle the groupies. So you call me when you’re really serious, which I suspect you rarely are.”

Geez. How many of those calls am I still waiting on? Maybe I offend them with my honesty. I’ll lie about tons of things but music ain’t one of ‘em

So what do you got at the end of the day when the support around you has crumbled? What do you got when you can’t even trust the guys you have to trust anymore. This all seemed like such a good idea at the time. But more and more when I get close to it I feel like I’m trying to push 2 magnets together.

From what I can see we’ve got one more chance. And even if we tear the house down, what will we get out of it? It’s a biz filled with territorial tightasses. There is no “community”. Anybody tells you otherwise is a liar. They have what you want. We want what they have. A calendar is a finite thing. To get on it you need to be certified cool first. Being perennially pissed off and armed with a photographic memory for slights won’t get you to the cool kids table.

I’m writing songs again. I’m going to record them in my basement with just my guitar. I’m going to make the best record I’ve ever made in my life. I want a legacy. I don’t want my songs in drawers. I’m going to tell stories. I’m going to be characters. I’m going down swinging. I don’t care if anybody listens or not. I’m doing this one for me. And then I’ll decide what comes next. I’m pissed off so I intend the songs to be as well. Pissed off songs work for me. When the blues get a grip on me….I see red. The “black dog” Churchill called it. Lincoln referred to these dark places as “the tired spot”. When it hits it doesn’t bludgeon. It’s more like being waterboarded. If you think you know what it’s like to be in this place, then you don’t know what it’s like.

Writing is therapy, of course. I can’t write the blues out of my system, but I can control them within a song…..if the song reaches the height its supposed to. Nick Drake was a miserable little English twit who rarely left his bedroom in his parent’s house. But when he wrote and played and sang on his “Pink Moon” record…..for a little less than a half hour he managed to escape the hellhound on his trail. This was white blues music every bit as powerful as what Robert Johnson had put down. I can’t help thinking that Drake was incandescently happy until the last notes of “From the Morning” drifted away. Then he went back into his room…..self medicated…..and went to sleep and never woke up again. If he’d only kept playing.

You can’t stop. ‘ Cause that’s what they want you to do. One of Drake’s last songs was “Black-Eyed Dog”…..an almost impossibly creepy song about “growing old” and “wanting to go home”. A song about dying. He captured the moment when he gave up and decided to frame it in 3 and a half minutes of raz0r sharp fingerpicking and a voice above it all fighting not to shatter like a glass on the bar. If there’s a scarier song in the english language I’ve never heard it. Robert Johnson was running from the devils…..women/drink. Drake was entirely alone. He fought himself. And lost.

I don’t want to stop. I don’t care…..but I still don’t want to stop.

Who can you trust? Who is there for you? Who’s got your back?


In a bit..


Categories: Uncategorized
  1. February 8, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    I occasionally read your entries here, and have read quite a few of them, but never came upon this one until now, and all I can say is, you have basically summed up the way I feel about the music scene around here. And how feeling that way relates to life and music in general. Incredible man.

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