Don’t try to revisit the places of your youth. The old home, the old school, they've been ruined for you by their new owners. Your old downtown will either be burnt out or horribly gentrified, so stay away. The books and movies of youth don’t hold up well either. But music seems immune to rust and moth. I searched out one of my first albums, Smokestack Lightning, I thought by the Kinks, and could not find it When I realized it was by the Yardbirds I found it easily. The original album had 12 or so songs. The offering on Amazon was a mash up of two cds with all the songs mixed up. I flicked through the songs listening to each a few seconds and recognized nothing till I got to the first of two live versions of Smokestack Lightning. There they were, pure and pristine. There are many songs out there about trains and you say there’s the whistle or the click of the rails, but this song is all train all the way with the boys going full out. It’s a six minute howl of unrequited love. How do I know? In my age I now take time to listen to the words. And elemental words they are . The poor slob is calling for the pretty baby to stop her train so he can go for a ride. But he has to ask where she went last night. Not a good sign. Soon he’s bidding her farewell. He knows it’s hopeless. This train is not stopping for him, with the sparks like lightning blowing from the stack. There’s a couple of weird thirty second stretches of slow hammering on a hanging rail. Mournful like.
Hearing they say is the last thing to go. And music will go with it.
Bye-bye pretty baby.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Certain people are blaming the president for the mess we're in. Let's get certain things straight. On Inauguration Day the president was responsible for zero per cent of the mess. He who must not be named was responsible for 90% and Bill Clinton gets credit for 10%, just because. Now, two years on, Bill Clinton continues with 10%, hwmnbn has had his blame reduced to 70% and the president is now responsible for 30%. Thirty per cent of this per cent is due to errors and foibles of his own and 70% is because it's such a terrible mess no one could really be expected to fix it in just two years. These percentages total 110% which takes into account the inaccountability of life: the wicked fluff that keeps us from getting along. With the enemy within the gates, all the president can hope to do is get his share down to 10% by the time he joins Bill and George in the Hall of Blame.
My solitary road trips go like this: first no radio, only my own thoughts. In desperation I soon turn on public radio, but this also is disturbing and repetitive, and I return to my own thoughts, but not for long. I am now far from home and search the local channels, mostly new loud country, but for every ten stations there is a voice. Now the voice of one speaking for the Lord. Now the morning radio show hosts. How do they fill the long minutes in an hour? Primarily, they leave long pauses between their pronouncements. They repeat themselves often. Next they do a few ads, a few public announcements, and the braver ones allow callers. The rare callers praise the hosts for their righteousness or bring up a point the host agrees with. If anyone is disagreeable, the host has a big knob he dials down to get rid of this pest, with "Sorry, we have to break for a word from our sponsors."
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Driving around big cities and small towns you see almost no kids out playing. People my age say that it's because their parents are afraid they'll be kidnapped. But if kids wanted to be outside, they'd find a way to get around their all too indulgent parents. No, kids just want to to be looking into a screen, a pool of light. And that may be all right. This may be the next stage in our evolution. Just a milllenia ago the old folks were saying to one another, "You never see kids out spearing squirrels anymore."
Not to make Greyhound look bad, but if flying was a bus...it's name would be Allegiant. An airline no one has heard of unless he wants to fly dirt cheaply from an obscure place to a more famous one. You're flying by the seat of your pants. And if your pants are gone when you get there, well what do you expect for dirt cheapness?