Sunday, May 16, 2010

Daily Update #1: "Stone Free"

Perhaps in order to remind myself that I...
1.) Have a blog.
2.) Need to update it periodically with medium-length posts rather than two borderline hypergraphic posts once every four weeks...
...I should start writing daily. Nothing too grand, just treating it the way I've been treating my little black book.

No, not that kind of little black book; I'm no Casanova, nor would I want to be. Trust me. What I'm talking about is my planner.

After Shelley and I broke up, for the sake of my own sanity and to make my days feel less empty, I would write what I did that day, each day and every day. I even write a short summary of my week at the top of the page, mainly characterizing it by the weather and whether (shit, homophone NOT intended) or not my week was hectic/busy or fun and easy.

Kind of like Twitter, except not incredibly stupid and limited to 160 characters. I'll also try to give some sort of song/album title as an indication of my mood. "Stone Free" is a Hendrix tune, the flip-side of "Hey Joe."

Right now, I'm listening to Roxy And Elsewhere while I work on my Philosophy of Music paper. The focus is "Sensory and Intellectual Beauty in the Works of Frank Zappa." Since the first two-thirds of the class centered around a book by a close-minded curmudgeon named Peter Kivy, discussing only "pure" or "absolute music," that is, music without words or a programmed story...for him, it doesn't get much better than Beethoven...I did dedicate half of my paper to Zappa's prowess as a composer of instrumentals.

I've gone on to discuss songs that he released in versions both with and without lyrics - "Strictly Genteel," "The Duke Of Prunes," "Outside Now," and "Inca Roads" - which were all first heard with lyrics, and "Holiday In Berlin, Full-Blown" and "Amnerika," which both came out initially as instrumentals. Of course, I cheated a bit with "Amnerika," because the lyrical version hasn't been officially released. Either way, it would have been part of Thing-Fish. I still think he could/should have made time for it on that album...90 minutes for a triple-LP set is a bit short. One of those platters actually runs only 27 minutes - what the Hell is that, an American Beatles or Stones hack-job? Shit...

Anyway, the second half is about Zappa's sensory "beauty" (using that term loosely - he wasn't exactly a cheery lyricist) and intellectual beauty. The former covers songs like "Dinah-Moe Humm" and "Carolina Hard-Core Ecstasy," which is such an overlooked but wonderful piece of music. Great harmonies, and Bozzio rocks the SHIT out of it. (I phrase my aesthetic assessment of the song a bit more delicately in my paper.) I use these as examples of "sensory beauty" because they're essentially expository pieces, with a lot - and I mean a LOT - of detail.

There's also a quick detour to "Village Of The Sun," where Zappa shows his sentimental/nostalgic side. Imagine if I wrote a song about a Friday night in Seymour, Indiana, back when I was in high school. It's THAT incongruous, and yet it's magnificent and heartfelt.

Another big point I make regarding all these songs with words is that Zappa, ever the grump, went so far as to say in his autobiography that "aside from the snide political stuff," most of his lyrics were written simply because the records wouldn't have sold otherwise. A statement like that is bullshit...first of all, it trivializes the songs in question; second, he's actually a really clever lyricist. I mention how those above-listed songs follow the basic construction of popular song - verse/chorus/bridge, etc. - and that if they were ever done sans lyrics, they would prove redundant without the primary melody.

On the other end of the instrumental spectrum is this "snide political stuff," songs like "Trouble Every Day" and "Dumb All Over" (one of the greatest verses ever written, and I mean ever!), wherein the music is actually quite static and riff-based. Both songs feature vocals up-front and center in the mix. An instrumental version of either of these would be almost uninteresting, and due to Frank's vocals being more spoken than sung, a melodic replication of his intonations would be monotonous.

I'll end with "Jesus Thinks You're A Jerk," a song that is both musically and lyrically interesting.

Now that I've bored you all to sleep with this clap-trap about a musician whose fan-base is generally a bunch of obsessive musical dorks, I can slip this out under the radar...

I've actually gone on a few dates. There's a girl I'm really hitting it off with, but I'm going to wait before I think about getting serious with anyone. Assuming no one I know is reading this - and that this will just be one of many entries that is little more than me marking time and procrastinating - there is someone I'm holding out for. Don't know how she feels about me, but her grandparents are friends with my parents...and I've been told that she talks about me to her grandmother.

Look, when it comes to women, I can be really stupid. (An understatement - have I told you about some of the monsters I associated myself with before I met someone decent and almost married? I know we weren't meant to be, but Shelley was sane and doesn't have a malicious atom in her body! Maybe sometime I'll write about Katrina...Jesus God, was she fucked in the head.) When my mom told me all this, I blew it off as, "Oh, she's probably just mentioning me because it's a person they have in common." I also added that she would think I was weird.

But then I told all of this to a friend of mine - a woman, ten years my senior whom I met at the St. Louis conference - and she told me this:

"I read that as a definite "she digs you" sign. Why? Cause when you dig someone, no matter how well you know them, you always find ways to mention them in conversation."

So, yeah, nothing gets past me! My older brother might be dead-on when he says I'm the "dumbest smart person" he knows. Anyway, I've messaged her that we should get lunch or coffee sometime. I'll see where it goes and try my damndest to pick up on any signals. Stuff like that gets me borderline neurotic. Mainly because I don't like to waste my time or that of others, I really think that whole "will they/won't they" dynamic only works on television. If it hadn't made for such great entertainment, I would've been bothered that Jim and Pam didn't get together the moment he came back to Scranton.

And now I'm talking about The Office. Wow. Anyway...we'll see. Frankly, I still remain skeptical. If I just wind up making a really good friend out of this situation, that's fine, too.

"The suspense is killing me! I hope it lasts!"
- Willy Wonka

Weird, a year ago I actively despised having such uncertainty in my life. All I really know for sure is that I don't plan on moving anywhere anytime soon. Everything else - going straight into a PhD. program, finding Miss Right and whether or not I've even met her yet, whether or not I'll be working at three different schools in the city as an adjunct - remains to be seen.

I kind of like this. Never thought I'd say that, but hey, I guess people's attitudes can change.


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