Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Best One-Sided Conversation I've Ever Had.

Thank God for insomnia. I get a lot done in a few hours' time: I read about some of Bob Dylan's electric albums while listening to Music From Big Pink by The Band.

Two things: One, The Band still does absolutely nothing for me. An album later, I was underwhelmed and literally yawning. I will admit, the song "Chest Fever" is pretty cool...but what do you know? The lyrics were made up on the spot, and the song itself functioned as a way for organist Garth Hudson to show off his chops...

From this, you could assume they were some bad-ass proto progressive rock act. Nope. While it's easy - and fun - to dismiss it as lazy hillbilly music that should have just stayed on the back porch, there were some nice qualities to it. One is Garth Hudson's sense of tone, though at times the "cutting edge" synthesizers he was using in 1968 now sound like Nintendos.

But yeah, on the whole, very dull...Zappa used this phrase to dismiss Dylan's Blonde On Blonde, but it works here: "cowboy music." That's what it is. I just don't relate to it. Then again, neither did they, nor anyone not from a century earlier.

The conclusion: I'm still not enthralled by The Band the way so many other rock/music fans are. It's weird, being a Neil Young fan, a Dylan fan...but not liking The Band. I don't know, I guess the issue of authenticity paired up with what I consider a rather monotonous sound puts them in a lower regard.

Then again, I'm not afraid to give a record a second listen. I really ought to sit down and come up with the "Albums I Initially Hated, But Now Swear By" list. You'd be surprised both by the artists and the albums that made it.

Second, I regret not getting into Dylan earlier. In all fairness, I spent 8th and 9th grade delving into The Kinks, Zappa, The Clash, The Sex Pistols, and The Ramones. In 10th grade it was Cheap Trick and shitty 80's music because The Gill and I came up with a movie script we never quite got around to - probably for the best - called Cortland Vice. (See what I mean?)

I had a big Bowie kick the summer of 2003, mainly Diamond Dogs and bits and pieces of Aladdin Sane...though it wouldn't be until May 2005 that I finally picked up what I contend to be two of his four sublime efforts, Low and "Heroes." (The other two being - duh - Ziggy Stardust and Diamond Dogs. And though I've had it since fall of 2005, I've still not listened to Hunky Dory. Guess that shows you what a rush I'm in.) After Bowie, though, it was The Rolling Stones.

Curiously, at the beginning of my senior year, I picked up both a Stones album (the dreadful Black And Blue) and a Bowie album (Scary Monsters, which I rank in the "good, not great" category that most albums tend to fall into), as if to signify the passing of the torch to...Marilyn Manson. I know.

And the weird thing is, I still like him. Once I actually have two nickels to rub together, I will pick up his new album.
"We're From America"

But I was too self-righteous. Too serious...on the other hand, maybe Dylan wouldn't have helped. The first year of college I was too focused on getting laid and then later mellowing out with Shelley - and showing her the music I already had - to do much in terms of expanding my collection. The Smashing Pumpkins made a brief - but probably not brief enough - rotation, as did Nine Inch Nails. Sophomore year of college is was HIM in the fall, and then Frank Zappa came back in a big way. This lasted right up to the spring of 2008 when I met The Residents and Captain Beefheart. This school year it's been Neil Young and The Kinks, the latter for obvious reasons.

So...maybe it was perfect timing.

Maybe I needed the unique - to some, grating - vocals of Billy Corgan from the Pumpkins and Neil to prep me for Bob. Getting acquainted with those ancient blues, folk, and country recordings in Z385 and Z201, along with developing a tolerance/acceptance level for said musics by way of Neil Young that got me ready for the wheezy harmonica and the country/rock/Biblical strains of the magnificent John Wesley Harding, which I may have blown off a year ago. (Forrest, I think you'd like some of this stuff. Neil, too.)

My current situation involving parental units - I won't say whose - only made the defiant "fuck you" of songs like "Maggie's Farm" and "On The Road Again," both off Bringing It All Back Home...well, bring it all back home for me. Of late, the phrase "I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more" has entered my lexicon...and not as a lamentation of my hatred for agrarian-level servitude.

Long story short, "Positively 4th Street" is a perfect summation of the death of my friendship with Gill. As of this week, as far as I'm concerned, the dream is over. He did acid and then asked ME for the number to the local Buddhist temple.
"Positively 4th Street"

You got a lotta nerve
To say you are my friend
When I was down
You just stood there grinning

You got a lotta nerve
To say you got a helping hand to lend
You just want to be on
The side that's winning

You say I let you down
You know it's not like that
If you're so hurt
Why then don't you show it

You say you lost your faith
But that's not where it's at
You had no faith to lose
And you know it

I know the reason
That you talk behind my back
I used to be among the crowd
You're in with

Do you take me for such a fool
To think I'd make contact
With the one who tries to hide
What he don't know to begin with

You see me on the street
You always act surprised
You say, "How are you?" "Good luck"
But you don't mean it

When you know as well as me
You'd rather see me paralyzed
Why don't you just come out once
And scream it

No, I do not feel that good
When I see the heartbreaks you embrace
If I was a master thief
Perhaps I'd rob them

And now I know you're dissatisfied
With your position and your place
Don't you understand
It's not my problem

I wish that for just one time
You could stand inside my shoes
And just for that one moment
I could be you

Yes, I wish that for just one time
You could stand inside my shoes
You'd know what a drag it is
To see you

On the subject of God, I've developed this paranoid, irrational fear of death. It's bubbled under the surface for about a year - namely, if there isn't a God, is it really just lights out? Like that scene in Terminator 2 when the T-800 robot is lowered into the liquid steel, where everything just goes black and THAT'S IT?

I couldn't bear the thought of that. The atheists have a good argument, and in all honesty you could do far worse than a man like Richard Dawkins as a spokesman. He's intelligent, he is a master debater (masturbatory pun not intended!), and he's British. Dawkins is like C-3PO in human form, but with an agenda, unlike that war-supporting lush Chris Hitchens. Science. It's all about science...if we can't see it, it cannot be, right? If its existence cannot be scientifically proven, it doesn't exist, right?

We can't see air. But we know it's there because we can feel it...even if it's completely still outside, without a touch of wind, we still acknowledge the presence of air.

Subatomic particles exist...but only in theoretical predictions. Quarks, mesons, etc.

The conditions that exist for this planet to sustain life are too spot on for it to have just been an accident. Our universe had a definite beginning, suggesting the role of a Creator. Whether it was the "Big Bang" as read or a "Big Bang" in the sense that, like the origins of the Earth, took eons to occur is up for debate. It is also unknown.

And yet we can all agree the universe exists, can't we?

Desperate last Friday night, I found myself turning where I thought I would never return. I don't even know why I still have it, but I cracked open the Bible. I read part of Habakkuk and part of Nahum, which respectively address why bad things happen to good people and that the Almighty handles the "smite the deserving" department quite well, in turn rewarding the righteous.

It didn't even answer my initial query on death and the afterlife, yet it still proved to be a solace.

I'm writing this for you on the assumption that
a.) you aren't my parents, and
b.) you won't breathe a word of this to them.

I wouldn't want them to think for a second that their "Oh, he'll come around" mentality had anything to do with this. Because before I turned to the Bible, I read some of the Bhaghavad-Gita. Dull, but worth a second glance, for sure. They ever find this out, in typical Christ-like fashion they will rub it in my face. Besides, their church is boring. I don't like the songs. That and I feel I need to investigate God further before I go into re-investigating the main star of the New Testament.

One more time for the world: this was all me.

For the first time in a long time, I prayed at great length. Just to be extra safe, I did it on my knees, facing east.

In light of the past, present, and future, I asked for guidance, patience, and strength. Guidance that I be assured I am doing the right thing. And if not, that it be revealed to me what to do differently. Patience...ah, patience...something I don't have much of, ever. I'm too hasty. I'm ready for it to be the end of August, yet a lot must be done before then - a wedding to attend, an apartment to hunt, etc. Strength? Um, hello? Have you met the people I'm up against?

A seven nation army couldn't hold me back...but I wouldn't mind having the strength of a seven nation army to back me up in this battle of wits.

I'll provide more details later - I've not slept.

So much for being out of the ditch. Oh, well. I might still be in the ditch, but at least I'm further enough up the proverbial road to cope with it, understanding just why it's going on, and ready to work my way out or die in the process.


"All Along The Watchtower"

There must be some way out of here, said the joker to the thief,
Theres too much confusion, I cant get no relief.
Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth,
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth.

No reason to get excited, the thief, he kindly spoke,
There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.
But you and i, weve been through that, and this is not our fate,
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.

All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too.

Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl,
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.

1 comment:

Forrest said...

Your wrestling with "The Band" sounds much like my wrestling with new country music. I just can't bring myself to like it no matter how much others try and justify it.

Heck, "The Band" is more country than half the new shits who flood the radio with their tripe.