Archive for the Music & Life & Sundays Category

“Smoke Bend” Dollar Bill Johnston (Sunday P.M. Punk Rock Gospel)

Posted in country music, I Heart My Love-Tribe, Music & Life & Sundays, politics, Republicans scare me, Spirituality & Religion, Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2010 by alphabetfiend

Now it’s winter on the river, and a cold swift swollen tide meets a warm southern breeze from the gulf of memories.  

Every year, around the 9th of October, I fall into a funk. This blue mood is a complete mystery to me until the part of myself that’s been trying it’s best to keep the date from me will lag,  inevitably exhausted, and it will hit me. Oh! Right. That. The day that my father left this lousy place for good. The day that changed everything. The day that was so swollen with uncontainable sadness that even now, all these years later, it still will not be contained.    

      

I have another tough week in the spring. Another mysterious doom. “So?” Steffe’ll ask, pensively. “How are you? You always get down whenever y’know… me too. I miss him too.” And then it’ll hit me. Oh. Right. That. The week that our friend Paul had a heart attack in Florida, while shacked up with another poet on a houseboat.     

   

Souls have a secret calendar of agony.  

The Robot fades to black every year ’round labor day. The holiday serves as a hard-to-suppress reminder of the weekend his cousin/ little brother/best friend put a gun to his own temple. He was drunk and fighting with his girl friend, suddenly desolate, momentarily stupid. Maybe he meant to mash the trigger, maybe not. Those kind of over-wrought emotional moments can color the future with what is really just a temporary explosion of too too much. I keep a close eye on RB as the holiday nears. He wouldn’t do something so drastic but still, the date itself is a reminder of how hopelessness can swallow a grown folk whole.  

Like a snake eats an alligator.   

The gator goes down easier than you’d think.     

   

(Though I did see a story where a python tried to eat an alligator and the snake exploded… so that’s oddly comforting.)     

These last few days, I was hit by another mysterious gloom. It began with three days of insomnia — I was amped & aimless, annoyed with TV, avoiding the computer –followed by 15 hours of boulder-like sleep. It was a sleep-monster Saturday: ’round 4, Robo put me down like a toddler in need of nap; I reluctantly dozed off at the approach of 6; woke up at 3am to finish/post the gospel but mostly spent 2 hrs staring vacantly into space; then came Gospel!? We don’ need no stinkin’ gospel!; at 10am the Robot woke me with my favorite breakfast. I’m still annoyed and considering sending him back for reprogramming. It wasn’t until I finally got online that I ran smack dab into the Oh. Right. That.     

 Katrina.     

   

There, on the wordpress dash sat a letter from a reader/ friend, bummed about the anniversary of Katrina and wondering where-o-where was the Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel? Ah. Arggghrr. (That’s an argh that becomes a grr.) In a split second of watery blinking, I decided to forsake my previously planned song in favor of another song which we played constantly in the wake of that fateful & fatal storm. Before too, but so so often after. This song has meant the world to myself and the loverman (why, he was just a little robot, maybe 8 or 9, when he first started reading The Times Picayune; wishing he could get into the city, good old Big Easy, to see Black Sabbath at City Park.)     

We played that record ragged. That album was our refuge in the storm. That smoking Piggie was a good gentleman friend to us. The song is “Smoke Bend.”  The album is The Gourds 2002 release “Cow Fish Fowl or Pig.”      

   

Yes, I know we’ve just done The Gourds recently but we’re talking about Katrina today and for me, there is only one Katrina song.     

 “Smoke Bend” by the Gourds with Dollar Bill Johnston.      

Dollar Bill Johnston joins The Gourds on stage

Dollar Bill is the father is the father of Gourd, Max Johnston (also of Wilco and Uncle Tupelo.)  Interestingly, Max’s sister and Dollar Bill’s daughter is singer/song-writer Michelle Shocked, who I love.       

        

They’re sandbaggin’ the levees     

They’re shovelin’ night and day     

It’s the year of ’27     

Gonna wash us all away     

 This song was not written about Katrina. Which in my mind, for my purposes, makes it better. Rather it’s about the ever-present worry that the levees might break and if so, then what?    

 The levee gonna bust     

On your side or mine     

A little dynamite on your side     

Help the river make its mind     

It’s about the day that you hope never comes. It’s about the risks we all take in life whether it’s living in the basin of New Orleans or loving even when you know know how much losing is gonna hurt.    

 Folks left that west bank town     

 Left it all behind     

 Start life on higher ground     

 Gonna get out just in time     

 I didn’t grow up in New Orleans, but I was worried by my own what-if’s.    

Even as a small child, my attachment to my father was so enormous that I was haunted by his mortality. This what-if stayed with me through-out my life. In college, laying in bed one night, I tried to picture the cruel day and could imagine no future for myself beyond it. I saw myself in my messy closet, tucked in the fetal position, refusing to come out. Ever. By the time it happened for real, that closet was long gone, and I was living in Austin, but I could still find the fetal position.     

It must’ve been crazy growing up in New Orleans in the shadow of what if?    

 After all, that’s was the place I wished to be.     

   

I’m a corn-fed midwestern girl (by way of A! I! Ohio!) so I’m not native to the south. But I wanted to be, oh I wanted it so badly, always, and I think that counts for something. It always made sense, jived with my version of self. I’ve kinda secretly way-down-deep-in-me thought of myself as the Delta Lady, the epitome of southern eccentricity. When I was very young, probably too young to long for such obscenity, I’d listen to Joe Cocker’s “Delta Lady” and think “That’s me! There I am! Standing wet and naked in the garden.”     

   

So it’s no surprise that this secret self-appointed Delta Lady found herself a mint julep of a southern gentleman.     

The Robot’s often spoke of the hurricane parties people have while weathering out the storm. They drink hurricanes, play cards and hope like hell. His stories were always punctuated with “Oh, you’d love it. You especially would love it!” ??? 

A hurricane party?     

   

It did sound like something I’d adore — the enforced play, the mandatory leisure; the tendency towards hedonism or at least too many hurricanes; the chaotic familiarity of community and iffy festivity of gatherings; kids running wild, adults divulging secrets; all that human energy, all that snap crackle pop, and over-top — the bristling electricity of sky & fear.      

But after Katrina, I dunno… it sounds too… scary.      

Robotboy grew up in Mississippi, just outside of New Orleans, so his family was hit. The eye of the hurricane passed directly over the family home. It was scary and it was scary even for us, waiting to find out if everyone was okay. They were. They lost a roof and few 100 year trees, a prized pecan, but our people were all very lucky. But then they weren’t depending on the levees…       

    

“Smoke Bend” is about the day that we hope will never come, and yet we know it will, and still that changes nothing.     

Now there’s mint juleps at Oak Alley     

  There’s poison in the air     

 There’s new dangers on the river     

 It’s so good to be from there      

    

We continue to love whatever it is we’re so afraid to lose. Once we’ve lost out, the love goes on. That’s another little something we can count on.     

{{MP3 17 – Part II – Smoke Bend}}   

Smoke bend 

CHORUS:

Now it’s winter on the river

And a cold swift swollen tide

Meets a warm southern breeze

From the gulf of memories

Missouri and clear Ohio

Give their currents to the tide

Now the river’s Louisiana’s

For the willow tree-lined ride

From cruel Angola down to Venice

Scatterin’ horseshoes everywhere

The river’s Louisiana’s

With no glory or bank to share

If the river had its way

The Atchafalaya’d be its home

Straighten out them horseshoes

Find another bank to roam

There’s cane fires up the bank

Of that horseshoe of Smoke Bend

The smoke was double thick

And the fog was rollin’ in

Tie your boat to a willow tree

Climb the bank so high

Above the blanket on the river

See every star in the sky

Smoke fog and family

Kept to that west bank town

Smoke and fog would burn and blow away

The folks they’d stay around

There was catfish with the Kingfish

And a culture spice gumbo

There’s coonass music playing

On a glowin’ radio

Klan and crackers on the side

At the Last Chance Cafe

Crawfish etouffee

Warm red river Beaujolais

CHORUS

They’re sandbaggin’ the levee

They’re shovelin’ night and day

It’s the year of ’27

Gonna wash us all away

The levee gonna bust

On your side or mine

A little dynamite on your side

Help the river make its mind

Folks left that west bank town

Left it all behind

Start life on higher ground

Gonna get out just in time

Now there’s mint juleps at Oak Alley

There’s poison in the air

There’s new dangers on the river

It’s so good to be from there

CHORUS

**************************************

Stay ahead of the snake, y’all, don’t get swallowed up cause really that’s silly, a gator in the belly of a snake, c’mon? Even a python! C’mon! And it’s not safe for the snake either. So just lift yer snout outta the swamp n’ hum a little cajun tune or maybe that one about the river, who did that one? The potatoes? The parsnips? The Gourds! With Dollar Bill Johnston!   

 So whaddaya say, alkies, got a hankerin’ for hurricanes? Well, why’ont you whip us up a pitcher!     

  

Thank’s to Mike — fellow Austinite, who grew up in Chalmette — for documenting his own (from afar & helpless) vigil during the storm and subsequent obsession with the recovery of his homeland. See his story and more of his storm photos (like above.) 

Immerse yourself in gourdy goodness at the band’s sweet sight, complete with wood round rekerd playa.   

If you’re in love with “Smoke Bend” (and you should be) the song can be downloaded for 99 cents. A great song for the price of a candy bar. The album “Cow Fish Fowl or Pig” available on amazon.  If you’re not ready for the I couldn’t nor wouldn’t begin to suggest where future aid should be sent so I open comments to suggestions.  

*************************************************   

Today’s edition of the Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel is dedicated to everyone who saw Nola through that storm as well as to those who continue to be with her now. To those who lost lives, loved ones, homes, schools, churches, haunts. To those still healing and still helping in the aftermath.     

My heart aches for all of you, for your families wherever they may live, and for every one who had their heart mangled by that hurricane (even if “only” in an an empathic human way)  

Today was hard for people, people’s hearts are still hurting. Even those not directly affected by Katrina, even those hearts are clenched like angry fists. In a strange sad way, Katrina became a shared trauma, a throbbing dated ache that yearly seizes up. Katrina blew through our TV screens and flooded our family rooms. Which is not to diminish the unfathomable experience of being in New Orleans both during and after that storm; nor the losses borne by other areas hit by Katrina.

Hedwig’s “Origin of Love” (Sunday A.M. Punk Rock Gospel)

Posted in Fur Reals, Goof & Glamour, Intuition & Gut Intelligence, Movies & Movie Stars, Music & Life & Sundays, Psyche & Sexuality, punk rock, Rock & Roll, Romance, Romance & Relationships, Spirituality & Religion, Style & Fashion, Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel, Technicolor Pop, The wisdom of the universe with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 22, 2010 by alphabetfiend

Last time I saw you, we had just split in two.
You were looking at me. I was looking at you
.

We are always finding something once lost or newly discovered: some elusive idea, fragment of self, new friend, old friend, tribe member, ally, totem, trickster, co-inventor, muse, fellow hero, soul mate.

This search may be the very point of being born to this planet, of being given this skin.

Life is a lost & found.

We have our third eyes pealed, on the sacred look-out for our fellow mutants. We piece our lives together like legos. We sew the tattered bits of our selves into a kaleidoscopic crazy quilt. We wait to meet the pieces we lost. Our owies are eased as things fall in place. Everyone is engaged in this secret vision quest, everyone one is on alert. We’re hoping to heal the mysterious hurt. 

On the look out, always.

Origin of Love

When the earth was still flat,
And the clouds made of fire,
And mountains stretched up to the sky,
Sometimes higher,
Folks roamed the earth
Like big rolling kegs.
They had two sets of arms.
They had two sets of legs.
They had two faces peering
Out of one giant head
So they could watch all around them
As they talked; while they read.
And they never knew nothing of love.
It was before the origin of love.

The origin of love

And there were three sexes then,
One that looked like two men
Glued up back to back,
Called the children of the sun.
And similar in shape and girth
Were the children of the earth.
They looked like two girls
Rolled up in one.
And the children of the moon
Were like a fork shoved on a spoon.
They were part sun, part earth
Part daughter, part son.

The origin of love

Now the gods grew quite scared
Of our strength and defiance
And Thor said,
“I’m gonna kill them all
With my hammer,
Like I killed the giants.”
And Zeus said, “No,
You better let me
Use my lightening, like scissors,
Like I cut the legs off the whales
And dinosaurs into lizards.”
Then he grabbed up some bolts
And he let out a laugh,
Said, “I’ll split them right down the middle.
Gonna cut them right up in half.”
And then storm clouds gathered above
Into great balls of fire

And then fire shot down
From the sky in bolts
Like shining blades
Of a knife.
And it ripped
Right through the flesh
Of the children of the sun
And the moon
And the earth.
And some Indian god
Sewed the wound up into a hole,
Pulled it round to our belly
To remind us of the price we pay.
And Osiris and the gods of the Nile
Gathered up a big storm
To blow a hurricane,
To scatter us away,
In a flood of wind and rain,
And a sea of tidal waves,
To wash us all away,
And if we don’t behave
They’ll cut us down again
And we’ll be hopping round on one foot
And looking through one eye.

Last time I saw you
We had just split in two.
You were looking at me.
I was looking at you.
You had a way so familiar,
But I could not recognize,
Cause you had blood on your face;
I had blood in my eyes.
But I could swear by your expression
That the pain down in your soul
Was the same as the one down in mine.
That’s the pain,
Cuts a straight line
Down through the heart;
We called it love.
So we wrapped our arms around each other,
Trying to shove ourselves back together.
We were making love,
Making love.
It was a cold dark evening,
Such a long time ago,
When by the mighty hand of Jove,
It was the sad story
How we became
Lonely two-legged creatures,
It’s the story of
The origin of love.
That’s the origin of love.

I first saw Hedwig & The Angry Inch on stage — at The Shim Sham Club in New Orleans — and it was absolutely, indisputably magical.

Even the Robot loved it and he mostly loathes musicals.

We were so impressed by that Hedwig-Live experience that we were skeptical of the film. At first. But fear not, the movie managed to keep the magic intact.

“Sometimes grace and hope come in surprising packages. The title character of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, a would-be glam-rock star from East Germany, undergoes a botched gender-change operation in order to escape from the Soviet bloc, only to watch the Berlin Wall come down on TV after being abandoned in a trailer park in middle America.  Writer-director-star John Cameron Mitchell packs an astonishing mix of sadness, yearning, humor, and kick-ass songs with a little Platonic philosophy tucked inside for good measure. A visually dazzling gem of a movie.” (Bret Fetzer)

If you get the chance to see a stage version, jump at it. Even if it’s put on by 6 year olds. Especially if it’s performed by 6 year olds!

If you haven’t seen the film, well, you really should schedule some inspirational “me” time.

Mix up some cocktails. Rat your best wig. It’s high time for Hedwig. 

Have fun!

The film Hedwig & The Angry Inch, with John Cameron Mitchell (writer, director & star) is  available on amazon. So is the soundtrack.

Authors note: This is not the real punk rock gospel for this week. It’s a repost meant to reward you for your support. It’s merely meant to tide you over until I can post today’s intended PRG, which mysteriously disappeared from the screen at 4:28 am. I was writing the PRG (more of a love letter really) when we went off line. While waiting to get back online, I tweaked the sucker for 2 hours and ended up with a fabu finished product. Which I was liable to lose if I couldn’t get back onto wordpress. (I know! I know! I need no lecture. I get it. I waz the stupidz. They don’t call me the Lusty Luddite for nothin’!) Craving wi-fi, I crept out into the dark sreets — a vamp-cyber gently carrying an open computer to the parking lot of a shuttered coffee shop. Hooray! Houston, we have contact. I uploaded an image — something I’ve done countless times — and every bit of text just escaped into the ether. WTF?? Is it due to wordpress’ brand spankin’ new image/gallery widgetty whatucallits? What the hell happened??? No sign of it in revisions either, only an early draft. It’s just gone. Oh, I’m bummed. And stunned. Anyway, I’m gonna go back to the key board! But it will now have to wait until Monday. In the meantime, let Hedwig heal your irk (and mine) with her spiritual, romantic fairytale. *Originally posted on October 12, 2008*

Last time I saw you, we had just split in two.
You were looking at me. I was looking at you.”

*Painting By Genevieve Crotz.*

via Cream Scene Carnival

Sunday Morning Coming Down (Sunday A.M. Punk Rock Gospel)

Posted in country music, Friendship, I Heart My Love-Tribe, Music & Life & Sundays, Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2010 by alphabetfiend

On the Sunday morning sidewalk, wishing, Lord, that I was stoned.
‘Cos there’s something in a Sunday, makes a body feel alone.

Some sad-sacks say this song is depressing but not me.   I say it’s breathtakingly beautiful. 

 

A feeling doesn’t have to be “happy” to be worth something. 

A Sunday doesn’t have to be “joyous” to be well, a SUNDAY.  

I think this song — this “sad” song — is very life-affirming, very human, and very very AUSTIN.   It’s everything I’ve come to know and love about my life in this stony Texas town: Saturday nights spent with people I adore, music that moves me, drunken 6th street hugs as we all disperse after a great show.   

Maybe in the morning you will feel achey or godless or lonely but that’s okay because you are an Austin punk-rock darling who loved Saturday too much and now Sunday is giving you the cold shoulder.  

Have a smoke, eat an egg, enjoy being alive.  

Make amends with Sunday.

Now go pick a handful of yer neighbors posies and see how easily Sunday forgives. 

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Well I woke up Sunday morning,
With no way to hold my head that didn’t hurt.
And the beer I had for breakfast wasn’t bad,
So I had one more for dessert.
Then I fumbled through my closet for my clothes,
And found my cleanest dirty shirt.
An’ I shaved my face and combed my hair,
An’ stumbled down the stairs to meet the day.

I’d smoked my brain the night before,
On cigarettes and songs I’d been pickin’.
But I lit my first and watched a small kid,
Cussin’ at a can that he was kicking.
Then I crossed the empty street,
‘n caught the Sunday smell of someone fryin’ chicken.
And it took me back to somethin’,
That I’d lost somehow, somewhere along the way.

On the Sunday morning sidewalk,
Wishing, Lord, that I was stoned.
‘Cos there’s something in a Sunday,
Makes a body feel alone.
And there’s nothin’ short of dyin’,
Half as lonesome as the sound,
On the sleepin’ city sidewalks:
Sunday mornin’ comin’ down.

In the park I saw a daddy,
With a laughin’ little girl who he was swingin’.
And I stopped beside a Sunday school,
And listened to the song they were singin’.
Then I headed back for home,
And somewhere far away a lonely bell was ringin’.
And it echoed through the canyons,
Like the disappearing dreams of yesterday.

On the Sunday morning sidewalk,
Wishing, Lord, that I was stoned.
‘Cos there’s something in a Sunday,
Makes a body feel alone.
And there’s nothin’ short of dyin’,
Half as lonesome as the sound,
On the sleepin’ city sidewalks:
Sunday mornin’ comin’ down.

***********************************

I’m on the road, heading back to Austin from my dog days in Mississippi. I hate to go. I hate like hell to be separated from Thing 2, my baby niece who is at the cutest age (almost 2) and will grow too much before I’m back. We’ve forged quite the juicy bond. Uncle Robot sez, “She loves you! Your name is an exclamation of joy to her. Dia! Dia! She says ‘Dia’ like most folks say ‘hooray’.”

Who wouldn’t miss that?

Anyway, back to Texas I go and so I have chosen this post ( another repost* “Sorry” gulps the gasoline gypsy) because it was a love letter to Austin and I need to feel some of that love. But it’s also a love letter to Saturday nights and Sunday mornings, wherever you may be, and an ode to the punk rock good life.  

*An inferior version was originally posted on the 21st of September 2008 as one of the very first punk rock gospels. Back when the idea still had wobbly newborn legs. Back when I tried to keep things brief. Do y’all prefer a shorter gospel? Let me know! 

If you’ve read this before, don’t despair. Check back in the next couple days for I hope to post a brand new special “Belated-Birthday” edition in honor of my Dad’s August 9 birth. So you know it’ll be a good one, being as I am a daddy’s girl who loves that man more than books. Fur reals.

Alphabetfiend is Dia VanGunten — a writer & wanna-be circus freak living in Austin, Texas.

“Joy” by Citizen Bird aka Silverbullit (Sunday A.M. Punk Rock Gospel)

Posted in I Heart My Love-Tribe, I Heart Robots, Music & Life & Sundays, Psyche & Sexuality, Rock & Roll, Romance & Relationships, Sexuality, Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel, The wisdom of the universe with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2010 by alphabetfiend

It’s just a simple thing that you call joy. It’s leaking out from every pore. I feel joy now I feel joy!

Thanks for tuning in (“and turning on?” she asks, eyebrow arching.) This is a very special hip hip hooray Happy Birthday — to the RobotBoy! — edition of the Sunday A.M. Punk Rock Gospel.

Today we’ll be musing on the magic of love, on the mystery of dreams, on the JOY of music, on the brink of ecstacy.

Be patient while I goo-goo mew, for who am I but a love struck girl? 

This is just what I been lookin’ for! This is just what I been lookin’ for!

Before I met the real-life RobotBoy, he starred in several very vivid dreams.

It’s been a theme through-out my life, this “sensing” of an important someone before they’ve arrived.

My parents say it’s cause I was born with a veil (the amniotic sack, known as “the caul”, usually breaks away but when a baby comes out still hooded or “veiled” they’re said to be extra-sensory.) I say it’s cause I pay attention, plus I have the patience and the pesky urge to record my dreams rather than let them be lost to the ether. But perhaps it can be chalked up to a childhood spent on hyper-alert, always anticipating, neck craned and waiting.

This is just what I been lookin’ for! This is just what I been lookin’ for!

Maybe the universe just wanted to make damn sure I noticed that southern gentleman in the Hyde Park laundromat who would probably have been too shy to strike up a conversation, never mind ask for my number.

Eleven years later and the conversation I started continues. Sure, he’s shy but give him a beer and he’ll start talking; give him another and he’ll revert to the dense Mississippi drawl that slays me with sexy.

The RobotBoy and I have loads to talk about.

Being from the same mystical tribe makes for good conversation.

It’s especially important for weirdos (mofo freaks, genius odd-balls, jukebox poets, mutant mavericks) to find fellow tribe members with whom they can share their lives. This isn’t easy. Nothing great ever is.

But how could someone like the RobotBoy be with a woman who, I dunno, thinks like a mind-numbing Normal? Who sez “a man’s place is the workplace? Who voted for Bush? Who doesn’t give head? Who forbids fun in any form? Who freaks out over pot, porn, punk rock? Whose idea of music is Miley Cyrus? Who can’t rock and roll? 

Hell no. I know this man and he wouldn’t waste a moment with that woman.

If I hadn’t come along he’d have lived his life as a punk monk.

This is just what I been lookin’ for! This is just what I been lookin’ for!

Back in those days, before I met my Bot, I was still hyper-disciplined about recording my dreams (in an ever expanding series of tiny notebooks) and so those loverbot dreams can be returned to for re-examination whenever curiosity strikes.

We constantly marvel at all the little things those dreams foreshadowed.

In one of these dreams, he was known as an “R2D2” or “someone capable of inter-dimensional travel.” R2D2. Hahaha. It took years before I got the joke but I eventually laughed my ass off. In another prescient dream, he rose up from a smoky stage, surrounded by musical instruments, like a “Bradbarian Amadeus.” (No shit, that’s a direct dream journal quote.)

So it’s no surprise that music (real music, not Miley) has been such an enormous part of our love affair. 

Music — and the times we’ve shared within its clutches — has made “us” into a whole new thing, having given us a curious kind of form & function. It has also brought us a most immense, intense JOY.

This week’s featured song is “Joy” by Citizen Bird. They’re actually a Swedish band known as Silverbullit who had to change their name here in the states so as not to be confused with Bob Seger, er, I dunno, some other Silvery Bullety bunkos. I like the band by either name.

We first fell for Citizen Bird aka Silverbullit after seeing them live at CBGBs. They opened for The Soundtrack of Our Lives, more Swedes and one of our all-time favorite bands. (I Heart Ebbot Forever!) We saw both bands again the very next night at The Mercury Lounge. Despite impatience and preoccupation with our beloved Soundtrack, Citizen Bird blew us away.

Since then our love for them has only deepened.

The song “Joy’ is about just exactly that kind of love. 

I love to listen to “Joy” cranked up loud. Louder than yer mama can stand! Louder than yer doctor recommends!  Loud ass loud, my friends. I love it loud at the dusty gray, the very start of day, before the sun has risen, as the blackness fades. This sound, that gray, with the day & the highway curving up ahead.

It’s just a simple thing that you call joy. 

What is it? Well, you call it joy.

But maybe it’s more, maybe it’s an ecstatic rumbling from deep inside the cerebellum. Maybe it’s a giddy vibratory jumble of goodness in all it’s guises. Maybe it’s a wondering, a tumbling, an awe-gasp plundering and then a sudden eye-pop hiccup of hell yes. Maybe it’s a coming clean yanking free making way kinda thang? Maybe it’s a beat happening! In the left foot of Venus. Hard to say really.

It’s simple but it’s sacred, it’s easy but it’s pure.

A melody and a couple of chords.

Maybe people fall in love with music because Music will never leave –there will always be someone somewhere ready to rock out with their cocks out. Count on that. Sure, Music can and will break yer heart (happens all the time) but it’s the rumble-chest rib-wrenching feel good kind. Music can kick the living shit outta you, sure, but it’s always there later to kiss the boo-boo. 

For your pleasure, I have provided two very different videos. The first was directed by The Designers Republic for some bullcrap coke thing (ugh) but the video fulla throbbing hearts & cartoon pine trees is psychedelic, pulsing and kinda perfect.

Despite the sweet perfection of  The Designers Repub vid, I still feel compelled to share another. “Joy” set to a 1968 short film by German experimental film director, Lutz Mommartz. (“Weg zum Nachbarn”) Pardon my excesses. Really, I couldn’t resist. It’s super cool and crazy sexy. Right up a Robot’s alley! Plus, the artsy dark-haired hottie with the soft expressive (cum)face is just exactly the Robot’s type. 

Mmmm. I’m in the mood for a mind-bomb orgasm. You?

Now that’s a hell of a way to spend a Sunday! Calling out to God overandoverandoverandover.

Later, lovers.

JOY

Just a simple thing and nothing more.

Just a simple thing and nothing more.

Melody and a couple of chords.

Just a simple thing and nothing more.

Just a simple thing and nothing more.

Just a simple thing and nothing more.

It doesn’t hafta be any more.

Just a simple thing and nothing more

*

It’s just a simple thing that you call joy.

It’s just a simple thing that you call joy.

It’s leaking out from every pore.

It’s just a simple thing that you call joy.

It’s just a simple thing that you call joy.

It’s just a simple thing that you call joy.

It’s just a simple thing that you call joy.

I feel joy now I feel joy!

*

This is just what I been lookin’ for!

This is just what I been lookin’ for!

A melody and a couple of chords

This is just what I been lookin’ for.

This is just what I been lookin’ for.

This is just what I been lookin’ for.

I feel joy I feel joy I feel joy now I feel joy!

The mermaid-robot is from the crazily amazingly entertaining comic site Nataliedee.com

“Robot Love — Take Two” by Munster; “Robot Love is Forever” by graphic designer extroidinaire Scott McLean ; “I love you, Robot” is available as a t-shirt on shirtoid; Sad Robot is available as a tee at threadless.

View “Weg zum Nachbarn” in full at http://www.archive.org/details/Mommar…

For more on Cit-bird/Silverbullit see the Silverbullit website or the silverbullit myspace page.

The Citizen Bird album is available on amazon.

“Cracklins” (Sunday P.M. Punk Rock Gospel)

Posted in country music, I Heart My Love-Tribe, I Heart Tricksters, Music & Life & Sundays, Mythos, punk rock, Rock & Roll, Spirituality & Religion, Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 26, 2010 by alphabetfiend

I gotta find some weed and some wine! I just got to find some trouble sometime!  

They’re called The Gourds. They say their music is for “the unwashed  & the well-read.” I’ve oft-referred to them as “Austin in a can”…frothy, cold and startin’ to sweat straight outta the icebox. Pop the top and out comes the sound of Austin in a musty, malty swoosh.  

The Gourds are (left to right): Max Johnston, Claude Bernard, Jimmy Smith, Keith Langford and Kevin Russell.

Goof-damn, there’s been so many good gourd-carved memories!  

Hearing ’em live for the first time ever at the tiny Cactus Cafe, a room as big as y’all’s den; dancing with Leah at Antones, on one of her last A-TX visits before she got married and became Sophia’s momma; flirting with Cha by the lake at twilight as The Gourd’s tore it up cuntry-style.  

Then there was that sticky sunset, driving into El Paso on my way to The Unified Science of Consciousness Conference in Tucson (University of Arizona.) After a long blistering day on I-10, I celebrated crossing the Texas border (finally!) by repeatedly cranking “El Paso.” Cigarette on a rumble seat, drive all day got nothing to eat. I’m Drivin’ all day,  got nothing to get me to where I’m going to. El Paso I’m going to, El Paso I’m going tooo….  

Let’s see? What else?  

Ah, the annual New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball. One in particular, at The Parish. I wore my elaborate indian headdress & daisy yellow tights under a black mini-dress (trusty LBD of the day) and all night long I played the hell outta my tiny toy accordion! We passed a bottle of bubbly (my prize for best-dressed) and we sputtered laughing cause it was just the kinda New Year’s Eve that you expected to have as a kid, while all the Grups were out partying and you stayed home to watch the ball drop with Grandma. The RobotBoy had a robot mask and we danced all night –rung in the new year right.  

Yep, so many of the gourds-soaked memories are romantic: like “Hallelujah Shine” on the radio those days, those nights in a dark dash-lit car, when the Robot and I were first falling in love.  If you want to meet the Jesus, you gotta go down there brother. If you wanna meet Muhammad, you gotta get in the water. If you want yer hallelujah shine, you gotta go under. You gotta go under Jordan’s mighty waters. This hallelujah shine is mighty dark & old!

If we ever get married — the ‘bot and I — we’d love to have an old-fashioned country carnival: snake-charmers, burlesque dancers, fried chicken and gin-soaked watermelon. RobotBoyLoverMan would don a seer-sucker suit and candy-striped socks. My dress would be all sweet & kicky; something shorter, since a long train would collect grass-stains. Instead of flowers —  as my “bouquet” — I’d tug a swaying, bobbing bunch of balloons. My bridesmaids would sparkle beneath paper parasols, six gorgeous faces shadowed from the Mississippi sun. Speaking of that sun! Let the sucker set! As the sun melts like a butterscotch, The Gourds’ll kick off a raucaus set with “Cracklins!” (Maybe later they’d indulge with a cover of Cohen’s “Dance Me to the End of Love.”???) 

(At this point, after 11 loyal years together, it’s worth waiting until gay marriage is legalized or until we have the budget for The Gourds.)
 
  
I’ve only  just arrived back here in Podunk, Mississippi, having come from Austin, Texas (at this point, I call both cities home… each one homey for different reasons) and after a long roadtrip, I’m thinking damn if it isn’t high-as-hell time that we featured “Cracklins” by The Gourds as a perfectly punk-ass Punk Rock Gospel selection. 
 
The song makes me wish I was a wicked cracklins connoisseur but no. I’m no fan of real-life pork skins. They’re stinky and they’re furry. I prefer my snack foods to be hairless. But hey, I got nothin’ but good things to say ’bout some weed and some wine and some trouble some time.
 

 

“Cracklins” is about recovery, reinvention, redemption! 

Reincarnation! Resurrection!! 

“Cracklins” reminds us that “living out loud” (as G*word would say) is a joyous & good thing — a great big noisyness, a holy ruckus, a prayer the gods are sure to hear!!!
 
I just gotta find a little trouble sometime.
 
When Blood of the Ram first came out( in 2004) I played “Cracklins” for my friend Mary Knott and she thought I was nuts! Especially when I started crying at the end — weeping really, like a stone statue of Mary. All overwrought & goof-touched. All giddy & awe-struck.
 
It’s been years and “Cracklins” still gives me chills.
 
Them Mississippi state police chased me, Pascagoula all the way to Metarie. I robbed a federal bank with a rack of ribs. A jar of sauce, some white bread and a bib.
 
“Cracklins” is an anarchist psalm & a trickster yodel. A holy hell holler & a crooked halo.

An ode to the outlaw! 

A sly nod to all that’s mysterious & mischievous & miraculous about the human spirit.

 Hot DAMN! 
 
Come all ye holy hedonists, this shit’s for you!

  

Listen up! 

Don’t read the lyrics until you’ve listened to the song or you will spoil the surprise at the end which is the very best part and the reason why “Cracklins” makes for good gospel.   

   

Cracklins  

31 days my fingers feel like rain. 

This jail was built on cracklins and cocaine. 

Policemen knocked me down and then charged me, 

With smokin and inciting vagrancy,

yes ‘ey did, yes ‘ey did. 

***

Chicken sneezed, eatin’ my cracklins. 

Buttercup, bloomin in the badlands. 

Kaboom kaboom, piss on the curses. 

Hospital, kiss all the nurses. 

I got to find some weed and some wine. 

I just gotta find some trouble sometime. 

***

Them Navasota troopers ran me down, 

Escorted me right out of town, 

For cherry pickin’ squirrels and feedin’ dogs, 

And dreamin of Jamaica in a fog.

Yes I did, yes I did.

***

Chicken sneezed, eatin’ my cracklins. 

Buttercup, bloomin in the badlands. 

Kaboom kaboom, piss on the curses. 

Hospital, kiss all the nurses. 

I got to find some weed and some wine. 

I just gotta find some trouble sometime.

***

Them Mississippi state police chased me, 

Pascagoula all the way to Metarie. 

I robbed a federal bank with a rack of ribs, 

A jar of sauce, some white bread and a bib.

Yes I did, Yes I did.

*** 

Chicken sneezed, eatin’ my cracklins. 

Buttercup, bloomin in the badlands. 

Kaboom kaboom, piss on the curses. 

Hospital, kiss all the nurses. 

I got to find some weed and some wine. 

I just gotta find some trouble sometime.

Time, time. I’m gonna find ya, I’m gonna get it.

*** 

I was eatin cracklins as the Feds were closin’ in. 

They watched the water as my car went rollin’ in. 

They dragged the river and notified my next of kin. 

But brother, pigs do fly and so can a man! 

When he’s full of fried pork skins!!

Yes, sir! 

Whew!

**********************************************************   

Love love love! 

How ’bout a talisman to honor The Gourd’s teachin’? By PaganGypsy, only $5 bucks on etsy.  

 

In the mood for pork cracklins? See Emeril Legasse’s recipe for homemade cracklins!  

 Go thee to the gourds website  

TBA/Quintron & Miss Pussycat Holdover (Sunday PM Punk Rock Gospel)

Posted in Dork Alert, I Heart Funny Fellas, I Heart Funny Femmes, I Heart My Love-Tribe, In Celebration of the Absurd, Music & Life & Sundays, punk rock, Rock & Roll, Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel, Technicolor Pop, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2010 by alphabetfiend

Mornin’ lovers… I bow my head before you, blue curls a blur of bedhead bedlam.  I am thunderstruck, drowsy….contrite.

Did you notice the PM in today’s title?

Ah. Blame it on the road, on the lure of the highway, on gas stations, on rainbows in oil puddles!  

Blame it on Hruskas (hybrid bakery/chevron) for making delectable yum-yums that had us rearranging our return date not once, not twice but three times. These suckers sell out fast and getting the really good stuff is some sort of competitive sport. Seriously! But oh it’s worth it. Egg sandwich — ooey gooey goodness — on fresh-baked croissant with a home-cut off-kilter slab of ham. And then there’s the cherry cream cheese kolaches that could maybe make a nympho nun cum.

Blame it on the baby with a sticky face, calling my name loud & clear from across the room; who later cried and cried until I untied my cupcake apron and offered up my lap as safe harbor. Blame it on the tears that dissolved into hiccups as I read about the pigeon who wanted a puppy but then met a real life slobbery pup and decided a walrus was a more practical choice.

Blame it on my own pups, let loose in the country, romping in the warm green Mississippi grass.

Blame it on Quintron & Miss Pussycat playing a Saturday night show in New Orleans in the old Shim Sham Club (you’ll always be Shim Sham to me xoxo.)

Blame it on Miss Pussycat’s puppets!

No.

Don’t frame the puppets.

Poor poor puppets.

Isn’t their lot quite a lot as it is?

It’s all the fault of rowdy pups & raucous thunderclaps which cause one pink-nosed pitbull to cower behind my protective legs.

Or maybe it’s the pelting rain and electric zigzags which keep knocking me offline?

OK. OK. Chalk it up to summery sloth.

I’m off to slumber, all sleepyhead fulla surprises.

Surprises?

The gospel — still in draft — is nearly written and the song is chosen but I’m not tellin’.

It’s a good one and it’s my gift to give — I know how some of you are with your google! You’d google Santa right off his sleigh if you could.

No, no, come back later and let me give you a belated gift. Oh, I’m giddy!

 

But I want it to be perfect and so I’ll wait… for a less-cloudy sky and a less-foggy mind.

In the meantime, for your patience, here’s a crazy wonderful surreal treat from Quintron & Miss Pussycat: “Mardi Gras in the Center of the Earth.”

More surprises? Clue: “Blue”… Look for it! (Any guesses?)

Death Don’t Have No Mercy (Sunday A.M. Punk Rock Gospel)

Posted in country music, Lipstick Shamaness, Music & Life & Sundays, Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 11, 2010 by alphabetfiend

This weekend — shadowy due to the solar eclipse perhaps? — has been morbid and over-wrought and thus Devo’s Fresh really wasn’t gonna hit the spot.

 

Due to the ache of the last couple days — Nightmares, Roadside Tragedy and other Ick — I really don’t have my usual Goof-given gratitude and all-around zest for life. And yet I do. You bet I do. It’s just that I’m all too aware of how easily that life can end in a split-second convergence of circumstance, timing and (bad) luck. 

Okay, fine, I’ve got gratitude and zest, sure, but no words. My eyes are red and my sockets are dry from too many tears. Every tear I shed took one word with it and now there’s no words left.

Rather than “Fresh” by Devo, I’ve chosen the blues classic “Death Don’t Have No Mercy.” Actually, I was too spent even for the making of choices, but after I read my last post aloud to RB, he suggested I do “Death…” as it’s one of my all-time heart-wrenching favorites and unfortunately apt. Of course! “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” indeed.

“Death Don’t have No Mercy,” originally done by Reverend Gary Davis, has been covered many times by everyone from The Grateful Dead to, more recently, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot. I’m especially partial to the version by the late great, John Martyn. Martyn did the song in the late 90’s, covering a Portishead song on the same album. (The song was Glorybox, the album was The Church With One Bell.)

I first fell in love with “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” when Martyn did it and so I was hoping to share his version with you but no luck. Nevermind.  The song is amazing, period, and both of the following versions are great. That said, I urge you to check out Martyn’s version, should you take to these. 

I often promise a less-wordy week than usual and then pull words like handkerchiefs from a magician’s pocket but not this week. I mean it. Seriously. I’m shutting up now. (If you crave the usual Sunday A.M. chatter, check out that last sad post.)

And now, the genius Reverend Gary Davis.

And now, my beloved Ramblin’ Jack Elliot.

Death Don’t Have No Mercy

Y’ know death don’t have no mercy in this land
Death don’t have no mercy in this land, in this land
Come to your house, you know he don’t take long
Look in bed this morning, children find your mother gone.

I said death don’t have no mercy in this land.
Death will leave you standing and crying in this land,
Death will leave you standing and crying in this land, in this land, yeah!

Whoa! come to your house, y’ know he don’t stay long,
Y’ look in bed this morning,
Children you find that your brothers and sisters are gone.
I said death don’t have no mercy in this land.

Death will go in any family in this land.
Death will go in any family in this land.
Come to your house, you know he don’t take long.
Look in the bed on the morning, children find that your family’s gone.

****************************

Death don’t have no mercy, but sometimes Death’ll take a raincheck, as was the case with the man who fell nearly 500 feet off a cliff and lived to respect the hell outta Senor Death. So keep hoping and keep loving, my mutant mystics, until that day when Death comes calling.

See you next week for another Sunday A.M. Punk Rock Gospel.

Goof willing.

Louder Than A Bomb (Sunday A.M. Punk Rock Gospel)

Posted in I heart hip hop, I Heart Holidays, Music & Life & Sundays, politics, punk rock, Republicans scare me, Spirituality & Religion, Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 4, 2010 by alphabetfiend

They claim we’re products from the bottom of hell cause the black is back and it’s bound to sell. Picture us coolin’ out on the Fourth of July and if you heard we were celebratin’, that’s a world wide lie. — Public Enemy

Thanks for tuning in to this special Fourth of July Edition of the Sunday A.M. Punk Rock Gospel.

‘Cause the D is for dangerous
You can come and get some of this
I teach and speak
So when its spoke, it’s no joke
The voice of choice
The place shakes with bass
Called one for the treble
The rhythm is the rebel

So many Sundays, the punk rock gospel has been about appreciating the beauty in life and not being a hater; having gratitude and gusto; forming questions and searching for answers. All good, all valid, but this week is different. This week is about noticing the disfunction (whether in friendships, family or government) and demanding more than disfunction. Speak up, sound the truth, use your voice to fight for what’s right. Make up your own mind regardless of outside pressure. This week I urge you to doubt when doubt is warranted.

This week’s punk rock gospel selection is “Louder Than A Bomb” by masters of dissent, Public Enemy.

Last week , in “Tryin To Make It Real Compared To What,” Les McCaan and Eddie Harris sang:

The President, he’s got his war
Folks don’t know just what it’s for
Nobody gives us rhyme or reason
Have one doubt, they call it treason

Damn. The more things change the more they stay the same. Lyrics written in the 1960’s ring true like they were written yesterday, or back when Bush was in office, or back when Bush’s daddy was in office. I wanted to address the redundancy of politics (and the resulting tragedy) in last Sunday’s Punk Rock Gospel (Tryin’ To Make It Real…) but a political rant hardly fit the emotional tenor of that post.

Still it stuck with me like a burr on a dog’s ball sack.

Now, in the wee hours of July 4th, I’m thinking about patriotism.

Have one doubt, they call it treason.

Ask one question and “the terrorists win.”

I get weary of the old refrain “If you don’t like it, leave.” (I’m so weary of it that I’m actually thinking about leaving. Life as an ex-pat may be just the thing.) A patriot is someone who loves their country and squawks when they see it headin’ off the rails, who believes in the freedom our forefathers fought for, who knows that freedom is not some hyped-up propaganda to be used against us by speech writers.

Never servin ’em well, ’cause I’m an un-Tom
It’s no secret at all
Cause I’m louder than a bomb

Today, as we celebrate the Fourth of July, on boats or in backyards, wearing flip-flops or setting off fire-crackers, flipping burgers or making vats of lemonade, let’s remember that part of loving this country is looking out for it. A patriot is someone who wants the very best for America, not just the same old same old status quo. Complacence and silence can be devastating. A human voice can be LOUDER THAN A BOMB. Don’t be afraid to light that fuse!

If speaking up makes you Public Enemy #1 then so be it. You’ll be in some fine company.

To hear “Louder Than A Bomb” as originally recorded on “It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back” (without the distraction of live footage)play this sucker.

If you wanna see footage of Public Enemy performing “Louder Than A Bomb” live, here’s a pretty great version culled from many not so great versions (with bad sound, bad shots or both.)

Peace out, patriots. I have an American Flag cake to bake — whipped cream icing with blueberries as stars and strawberries as stripes. Yum. Let them eat cake! Thanks for tuning in this 4th of July. I hope Public Enemy has inspired.

Let your rhythm be the rebel!!!

Louder Than A Bomb

This style seems wild
Wait before you treat me like a stepchild
Let me tell you why they got me on file
‘Cause I give you what you lack
Come right and exact
Our status is the saddest
So I care where you at black
And at home I got a call from Tony Rome
The FBI was tappin’ my telephone
I never live alone
I never walk alone
My posses always ready and they’re waitin’ in my zone
Although I live the life that of a resident
But I be knowin’ the scheme that of the president
Tappin’ my phone whose crews abused
I stand accused of doing harm
‘Cause I’m louder than a bomb
C’mon C’mon louder etc…

I am the rock hard trooper
To the bone, the bone, the bone
Full grown – consider me – stone
Once again and
I say it for you to know
The troop is always ready, I yell `geronimo’
Your CIA, you see I ain’t kiddin’
Both King and X they got ridda’ both
A story untold, true, but unknown
Professor Griff knows…
“I ain’t no toast”
And not the braggin’ or boastin’ and plus
It ain’t no secret why they’re tappin’ my phone, although
I can’t keep it a secret
So I decided to kick it, yo
And yes it weighs a ton
I say it once again
I’m called the enemy – I’ll never be a friend
Of those with closed minds, don’t know I’m rapid
The way that I rap it
Is makin’ ’em tap it, yeah
Never servin ’em well, ’cause I’m an un-Tom
It’s no secret at all
Cause I’m louder than a bomb

Cold holdin’ the load
The burden breakin’ the mold
I ain’t lyin’ denyin’, ’cause they’re checkin’ my code
Am I buggin’ ’cause they’re buggin’ my phone – for information
No tellin’ who’s sellin’ out – power buildin’ the nation so…
Joinin’ the set, the point blank target
Every brothers inside – so least not, you forget, no
Takin’ the blame is not a waste, here taste
A bit of the song so you can never be wrong
Just a bit of advice, ’cause we be payin’ the price
‘Cause every brother mans life
Is like swingin’ the dice, right?
Here it is, once again this is
The brother to brother
The Terminator, the cutter

Goin’ on an’ on – leave alone the grown
Get it straight in ’88, an’ I’ll troop it to demonstrate
The posse always ready – 98 at 98
My posse come quick, because my posse got velocity
Tappin’ my phone, they never leave me alone
I’m even lethal when I’m unarmed
‘Cause I’m louder than a bomb

‘Cause the D is for dangerous
You can come and get some of this
I teach and speak
So when its spoke, it’s no joke
The voice of choice
The place shakes with bass
Called one for the treble
The rhythm is the rebel
Here’s a funky rhyme that they’re tappin’ on
Just thinkin’ I’m breakin’ the beats I’m rappin’ on
CIA FBI
All they tell us is lies
And when I say it they get alarmed
‘Cause I’m louder than a bomb

*Atomic Tree available as a print.

Tryin’ To Make It Real Compared To What?! (Sunday A.M. Punk Rock Gospel)

Posted in I Heart My Love-Tribe, Music & Life & Sundays, politics, punk rock, Rock & Roll, Spirituality & Religion, Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 27, 2010 by alphabetfiend

Where’s that bee and where’s that honey? Where’s my God and where’s my money?

This was one “Sunday A.M. Punk Rock Gospel” that almost didn’t happen.  After the busiest of weeks and hours of off-line frustration in the Mississippi country-side, I said screw it all to hell and collapsed into bed with weary bones. Maybe it’ll be a Monday A.M. Punk Rock Gospel, I thought as I drifted into a deep air-conditioned slumber. Two hours later, at 4am, I awoke with a jolt to the spectres of Eddie Harris and Les McCaan. This is our Sunday, they insisted, so I reached with drowsy digits for my discarded laptop and whaddaya know?!  We suddenly (miraculously?) made contact. Now, fueled by caffeine & cigarettes, and a crazy lovely love for this song, I’m gonna knock this sucker out.

This week will be less wordy that usual, partly due to my fried-egg sunny-side up brain, but mostly because this song sings for itself.

How to introduce “Tryin’ To Make It Real Compared To What” ???

What can possibly be said about one of the greatest songs of all time?

All I can do is tell you what it means to me and urge you to form your own fibrous connection. And you will. You will. It’s that damn good.

When I was 15, my Dad and I took a long dusk-to-dark ride through the New Mexico mountains. Our headlights guided us around treacherous curves which my father — an expert driver and Motor City son — took smoothly, sweetly, safely. The moon was fat and the stars glittered like sugared candies. It was the kind of memory that sticks to your ribs; the kind of living that gives life texture, taste and deliciousness. It was the kind of  time that carves into your soul and (RE)MAKES you into a new configuration (concoction?) of your self. It was there, in that cushy comfy night, that I first heard “Tryin’ To Make It Real Compared To What.” It was also the second, third, fourth and fiftieth time. We played it over and over and over while reveling in the troubled beauty of the world.

Ten years later, my Dad was dead.

There would be no more moonlight rock-out rides; no more trading barbs over breakfast until he broke into a grin over my writerly wit; no more mounting our motorcycles at dawn and VVROOM-VVROOMing into the rising sun. 

There was no one to call when I needed to remember who it was that did that amazing fucking song. 

After all, that crazy beautiful fucker had turned me onto so many songs over the years and I figgered he’d always be around to help me keep ’em straight.

What was the song we used to play on the pontoon as we floated lazily down the Maumee River? Right. Take 5. Dave Brubeck. I remember now.

Who was it we were listening to that 3am by the fire? Ah! Buddy Holly. Duh.  

Who was it that did that kick-ass cool song that we couldn’t get enough of that night in your Lincoln, with the fat moon and her spilled candy?

Huh? Who? Hello? Dad? Where the hell you’d go? Hello?…hello…hey…hello? Daddy?

Damn that silence sucks.

Fortunately, there’s now such a thing as google. I typed in “tryin to make it real compared to what,” and was led to youtube, where Eddie Harris & Les McCaan broke my heart all over again. Then fixed it. Then broke it. It was awesome. I hit replay at least a dozen times. Oh. Such goodness. Such beauty. Such power.

My body flooded with rock & roll relief.

The song returned to me, like a gift, an act of cyber kindness, and now in the spirit of punk rock gospel, I am passing it on to you. I hope it breaks your heart and blows your mind. I hope it carves into you and sticks to your ribs. I hope it stays with you forever.

Is that too much to ask? No, I really don’t think so. Listen to it, see for yourself. Then go buy the record, download it onto your ipod, add the song to a playlist — spend some quality time with it. Let it add taste and texture to your memories… all the while striving to make it real while asking “Real?… Compared to what?”

Like a Buddhist koan, there’s really no answer but the question props your mind open.

TRYING TO MAKE IT REAL COMPARED TO WHAT

I love the lie and lie the love
A-Hangin’ on, with push and shove
Possession is the motivation
that is hangin’ up the God-damn nation
Looks like we always end up in a rut (everybody now!)
Tryin’ to make it real — compared to what? C’mon baby!

Slaughterhouse is killin’ hogs
Twisted children killin’ frogs
Poor dumb rednecks rollin’ logs
Tired old lady kissin’ dogs
I hate the human love of that stinking mutt (I can’t use it!)
Try to make it real — compared to what? C’mon baby now!

The President, he’s got his war
Folks don’t know just what it’s for
Nobody gives us rhyme or reason
Have one doubt, they call it treason
We’re chicken-feathers, all without one nut. God damn it!
Tryin’ to make it real — compared to what? (Sock it to me)

Church on Sunday, sleep and nod
Tryin’ to duck the wrath of God
Preacher’s fillin’ us with fright
They all tryin’ to teach us what they think is right
They really got to be some kind of nut (I can’t use it!)
Tryin’ to make it real — compared to what?

Where’s that bee and where’s that honey?
Where’s my God and where’s my money?
Unreal values, crass distortion
Unwed mothers need abortion
Kind of brings to mind ol’ young King Tut (He did it now)
Tried to make it real — compared to what?!

(Music break)

Tryin’ to make it real — compared to what?

Your Own Personal Jesus (Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel)

Posted in country music, Music & Life & Sundays, Mythos, Spirituality & Religion, Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 20, 2010 by alphabetfiend

Have your personal Jesus call my personal Jesus and we’ll work somethin’ out. How’s Sunday work for ya?    

For this week’s Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel, I’ve chosen a song that’s gone through quite a transformation since its early 90’s hey-day. Originally done by Depeche Mode, “Personal Jesus” got a whole new spiritual life when covered by the late great Johnny Cash.    

    

Johnny Cash recorded “Personal Jesus” for his 2002 album American IV: When the Man Comes Around. Brilliantly produced by Rick Rubin, the album is a masterful collection of Cash covering songs by such diverse artists as Nine Inch Nails or Simon & Garfunkle. (Hurt; A Bridge Over Troubled Water) It’s clear from Rubin’s song selections that he’d listened to a lot of old Johnny Cash records. Each song is a glimpse into Cash’s psyche, soul and sound.    

    

“Personal Jesus” was an especially perfect choice and yet not at all obvious.    

Johnny Cash? Depeche Mode? Whuuut?    

C’mon, think about it! “Personal Jesus” was made for Johnny Cash. It’s a Jesus song! And damn can Johnny sing us some Jesus.    

“Gospel music is part of what I am and part of what I do,” — JC    

By 2002, singing about Jesus was old hat to Cash: he’d struck an earthly aching chord with songs like “Redemption”, “I Saw the Light” or (my fav) Billy Joe Shaver’s “Old Chunk of Coal.”    

Sinner? (Johnny Cash)

Johnny was the sinner striking out towards redemption.    

There was a sadness in Cash: an ill-healed injury, a bruised history. Yet Cash wasn’t brow beat or beat down. He wasn’t ashamed or unwilling to change. Johnny Cash was a work in progress… he was “Us”. For all the hurt his voice conveyed there was also yearning, learning and hope.    

Before I heard Cash’s cover of Personal Jesus, I never saw the song as spiritual or even especially meaningful. It seemed, to me, to be more about SNARK than SPIRIT.   

With that voice like an open gash, Cash gave it gospel. Personal Jesus” was never meant to be a spiritual hymn or religious statement. Dave Gahan reportedly wrote the song about heroin, after battling a nasty addiction to the stuff. (Guess that explains the snark.)   

Saint? (DM's Dave Gahan)

For me, the Depeche Mode version elicits memories of an illicit afternoon of stolen sex with my high-school boyfriend who was supposedly my ex-boyfriend (who should have definitely stayed an ex.) He’d shown up with his shiny new CD, hot to trot, hopin’ to be my very own personal Jesus. While he sang along,  fancying himself as unholy savior, I sat there thinking A) This again? What am I doing? and B) He bettah not be thinkin’ he’s my personal Jesus. Until I finally busted out with “Y’know you’re really not” and he said, “Oooh, yes I am.”    

Let us take a moment to thank our blessed father who art in heavan, for it was Johnny Cash who took ultimate and final possession of “Personal Jesus.” Sorry DM fans, sorry MM* fans, but it’s true. “Personal Jesus” is Johnny’s. Always will be. Sorry ADC but you aren’t my personal Jesus. Never waz.    

Everyone must find something to give their life texture and meaning, be it Jesus or Johnny Cash. We’re all setting our own moral barometers and looking for guidance — in the pages of The Koran or in the pages of Nietzsche. Whether we find peace in ancient psalms or Ginsberg poems, we’re all in search of the joy that obliterates pain, the light that illuminates the dark.    

    

What is more personal than Jesus?    

Often, when someone’s found what they’re looking for, they’ll become convinced that they have what the rest of us need. But spirit is a private matter. No one can save another’s soul. Even those belting out “Jesus Loves Me” beneath the same rain-pelted church roof  are singing to their own singular versions of God’s first-born.    

Historian/Author Stephen Prothero explored the many-faced Jesus in his book American Jesus. The book examines how Jesus has affected our culture and how our culture has affected Jesus.    

No religious personality has captivated so many Americans for so long as Jesus. Indeed, as Boston University historian Prothero demonstrates in this sparkling and engrossing book, Jesus is the one religious figure nearly every American, whether Christian or not, past and present, has embraced. From Thomas Jefferson’s cut-and-paste Bible to Jesus Christ Superstar, from the feminized Christ of the Victorians to the “manly redeemer” of Teddy Roosevelt’s era, from Buddhist bodhisattva to Black Moses, Prothero surveys the myriad ways Americans have remade Jesus in their own image.    

(Publisher’s Weekly)      

    

Whether you view Jesus as a diety or not, there’s no denying that Jesus has become an American icon. Chances are, you too have your own personal Jesus. We should all have our own personal Jesus! Who doesn’t sometimes need to reach out and touch faith?    

Personal Jesus    

Reach out and touch faith
Your own Personal Jesus
Someone to hear your prayers
Someone who cares
Your own Personal Jesus
Someone to hear your prayers
Someone who’s there    

Feeling’s unknown and you’re all alone
Flesh and bone by the telephone
Lift up the receiver
I’ll make you a believer    

Take second best
Put me to the test
Things on your chest
You need to confess
I will deliver
You know I’m a forgiver
Reach out and touch faith    

Your own Personal Jesus
Feeling’s unknown and you’re all alone
Flesh and bone by the telephone
Lift up the receiver
I’ll make you a believer
I will deliver
You know I’m a forgiver
Reach out and touch faith
Your own Personal Jesus
Reach out and touch faith    

This video is beautifully done — sun-faded familial shots of Johnny & June intercut with raw b+w photos of haggard looking celebs. (Kris Kristofferson, Kieth Richards, Dennis Hopper, Billy Gibbons, Kate Moss, Sheryl Crow, Justin Timberlake, Johnny Depp, Chris Rock, Lisa Marie Presley, Travis Barker and Kid Rock.)    

   

Who or what does your Jesus look like? Who’s listening to your prayers? What do you reach for when you’re all alone, just flesh and bone by the telephone?   

I sometimes suspect that Johnny’s personal Jesus was June.    

    

After June died, after they buried her, the Robot Boy was reading the paper when tears welled up in his green eyes. I was… surprised.     

Wow, he said. Johnny’s not long for this world.    

RB passed the paper and pointed at a photo of Johnny Cash at June Carter Cash’s funeral. Cash, in a black suit and tie, was seated in a wheelchair; his face was graven and distant. A man was offering condolences, hand out-stretched, but Johnny saw right through him, as if he were in a whole other plane of existence. As if one or both of them were ghosts.    

They’ll be one of those couples, predicted RB. It won’t be long, now that June’s gone.    

And it wasn’t. It wasn’t long at all. I cried and cried the day Johnny died but having seen that picture, I’d say I was prepared. I could see the peace in it.    

    

*Marilyn Manson also covered “Personal Jesus.”    

The Holy Banana is from Stuff That looks Like Jesus, a gallery of one Jesus after another, whether in a dusty moth-wing or in the chocolatey layers of a kit kat candy bar.     

“Dead Characters” (the Jesus Big Boy painting) is by the ever-brilliant Mark Ryden.“Jesus with Desk Lamp” is by Branden Martz (just one of many amazing multi-media artworks on view at his website.) Expect to hear more about Mr. Martz!    

American Jesus by Stephen Prothero is available at Amazon.

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