Archive for grief

“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.

“Con Te Partiro”; With You I Leave (Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel)

Posted in Art & Culture, Art Lover, Livin' La Vida Frida, Style & Fashion, Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 18, 2010 by alphabetfiend

When you are far away I dream on the horizon and words fail, and I do know that you are with me, with me, with me. You, my moon, you are here with me. My sun, you are here with me, with me, with me, with me. With you I will leave.

As you may already know, I’ve been a most irresponsible ringleader. I’ve only recently returned to Cream Scene Carnival after a long hiatus. It wasn’t until I returned that I learned I had any “real” readers and now that I know, I’ve promised no more extended absences.

But can a gypsy-carnie with a history of wanderlust really make such a vow?

Well… yes.

Some time away doesn’t seem like such a big deal except for when it comes to one reoccurring post: The Sunday A.M. Punk Rock Gospel. The column I obsessed over and that no one ever read (besides The Reliable One) but he loved it too so I forged ahead with the idea. The idea?

A temple built of alphabet & musical notes, a church constructed of code, a sacrament of song.

I call it “The Punk Rock Gospel” though only some of the song choices are officially “punk rock.” It’s our attitude that’s punk rock. 

We’re outside the religious main-stream but still ass-kicker omen-seeker mystic-minded mutants who are looking for a moment of holy meditation but on our own damn terms.

No nun to rap our knuckles, no priest to diddle us under our choir robes. No bigot to tell us who to love or hate. No big-mouth phoney with his pants down and his hand out. No saintly soul with her lips pursed & judging our upblown skirts as we smirk all Tinto-Brass balls-out saucy. No one luring our loved one to the woods and striking her down because she is beautiful and he wants her which makes him hate her. (RIP Ronnie. The Robot-Boy misses you.) No one to tell us which hotdog to eat. No one to chop at the genitals of our babes. No one to shame us for unabashedly loving eachother and ourselves.

Now watch as I pass out pastels and ooh and ahh as you draw chalky caricatures of Muhammad on the sidewalk.

No one to kill us afterwards.

Down with the dogma! Up with the dada!

When I started Cream Scene Carnival, I had high hopes for the punk rock gospel. I wanted people to read it, to love it, to listen to the songs and then to come back again. And again.

It seemed as if it would never happen. Now, almost out of nowhere, my hopes have been realized. Y’all are reading the punk rock gospel! You’re coming back the next week and the next week too! I’m so happy I could fly my own heart like a bright red kite.

Which is why I MUST find my way here every single Saturday night or early Sunday morning (Monday at the latest?) Either that or I must initiate others to serve as Gurus of Garage Rock or Mofos of Funk for those times when I am unavailable in any of my holy guises: High-Priestess of Tom-foolery; Trickster Fox Fortune-teller; Lipstick Shamaness. Finding a sacred sub is really the perfect solution as it means a fresh perspective or a whole new kind of song on a special kinda Sunday.

This week is in that spirit, even though I am here (having hauled my butt to a late-night diner to surf their wireless.) So it’s me whose typing these words today but it’s a reader — and new interwebby friend, Alice — who chose this video and song. She sent the link to me after a recent post on Frida Kahlo’s 103rd birthday. Maybe, if you are lucky, Alice will contribute her own thoughts/”gospel” in the comments. Although I’ve noticed that a normal modest person with decent goodness and the appropriate level of humility doesn’t take easily to the idea of writing “gospel”. I say, Phooey! and Screw that chicken til the feathers fly! I say take the word “gospel” and make it work for you. I say that God was created by us and is ours to recreate.

Of course there are those who will gasp — aghast! — and call me a hell-bound heathen. But the way I look at it, I’m keeping my heavenly options open. Wide open. I’m after an all-access pass! If I wanna smoke a stogey with the Devil after a day of wind-surfing with Jesus but before a long night of drunken club-hopping with Artemis and Venus, well then, so fucking be it. These are OUR MYTHS and we should be able to interact with them freely.

On that note, I’d like to open up the Sunday A.M. Punk Rock Gospel to all of you because it was my gift to you and now it’s yours. That doesn’t mean I won’t keep writing week after week but it does mean that I am open to song suggestions or topics of discussion. Anyone interested in guest-hosting a punk rock gospel (choosing song, video & theme, as well as writing the text) should raise their hand with a hell yea! or a why the hell not!?

This week’s song is Com Te Pardis or “With you, I Will Leave” (also known as “Time to Say Goodbye.”) The song is sung by Andrea Bocelli and was “chosen” by Alice who “gifted” it to me after a tough couple weeks in which I wrestled with issues of loss, grief and death. As Alice and I discussed, there’s always that shamanic meaning within injury, illness or trauma.

Let us be the ones to look for those gifts which aren’t showy or jewel-encrusted.

Let us be the ones to love being alive and to never ever be too cool, too hip or too busy to (know) show it.

Let us be the ones who find a new spirit in the rubble of religion.

Let us be Lizard Kings! Let us be everything!

Livin’ la vida Frida!!

Con Te Partiro; With You, I Will Leave

(With you, I leave)

Quando sono solo sogno all’orizzonte e mancan le parole
(When I’m alone I dream of the horizon and words fail)

si, lo so che non c’e luce in una stanza quando manca il sole
(Yes, I know there is no light in a room when the sun is absent)

se non ci sei tu con me / con me
(If you are not with me / with me)

su le finestre
(at the windows)

mostra a tutti il mio cuore che hai acceso
(show everyone my heart which you set alight)

chiudi dentro me la luce che / hai incontrato per strada
(give to me the light / you found on the street)

con te partiro
(with you i will leave)

paesi / che non ho mai
(countries which i have never)

veduto e vissuto con te
(seen and experienced with you)

adesso, si, li vivro
(now, yes, i will live them)

con te partiro
(with you i will leave)

su navi per mari
(on ships across seas)

che, io lo so / no, no, non esistono piu
(which, i know, no, no, no longer exist)

con te io li vivro
(with you i will live them)

quando sei lontana sogno all’orizzonte e mancan le parole
(when you are far away I dream on the horizon and words fail)

e io si lo so che sei con me / con me
(and I do know that you are with me, with me)

tu, mia luna, tu sei qui con me
(you, my moon, you are here with me)

mio sole, tu sei qui con me, con me, con me, con me
(my sun, you are here with me, with me, with me, with me)

con te partiro
(with you I will leave)

paesi che non ho mai
(countries which i have never)

veduto e vissuto con te
(seen and experienced with you)

adesso, si, li vivro
(now, yes, i will live them)

con te partiro
(with you i will leave)

su navi per mari
(on ships across seas)

che, io lo so / no, no, non esistono piu
(which, i know, no, no, no longer exist)

con te io li rivivro
(with you i will relive them)

con te partiro
(with you i will leave)

su navi per mari
(on ships across seas)

che, io lo so, no, no, non esistono piu
(which, i know, no, no, exist no longer)

con te io li rivivro
(with you i will relive them)

Io con te!
(I’m with you!)

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

*The surrealist pieces Angels of Death & Infinity are by George Gris and are available as prints.

I love how the Angel of Death has the rowboat which she sails in the song: “With you I will leave, on ships across seas, which, I know, no, no, no longer exist, with you I will relive them, with you I will leave, on ships across seas.”

I’ll be all gypsy-wild & on the road after this is published so there may be some delay in answering comments. But I’ll be back. Be assured.

Grieving Harvey Pekar

Posted in Alphabetfiend, Art & Culture, Books & Writing, Cinema & Filmmaking, Fame & Celebrity, I Heart Funny Fellas, Movies & Movie Stars, Technicolor Pop with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 16, 2010 by alphabetfiend

That brilliant pecker, Harvey Pekar, died this week. Bummer.

Pekar was the author of the auto-bio comic “American Splendor” (which was made into a great film of the same name.)

He was also a frequent R. Crumb collaborator.

Harvey Pekar was 70 and yet it feels too soon.

I always feel profound sadness when extraordinary talent departs the planet Earth.

I hate to see Harvey go but maybe now he’ll get to experience a whole new expanse of splendor.

Roam in peace, Pekar. You’ll be missed.

Check out this radio interview with Pekar.

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.

Happy Birthday, Frida!

Posted in Art & Culture, Art Lover, Goof & Glamour, Livin' La Vida Frida, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 7, 2010 by alphabetfiend

Today, on google, I was surprised to see Frida’s face. Was what Frida Kahlo doing on Google?, I wondered.

So I googled it.

I typed in “frida kahlo birthday???” and sure enough, it’s Frida’s 103 birthday this July 6, 2010. Frida was born in the sign of cancer and, like myself, on the auspicious sixth day of the month. (Mine is June 6.)

I love Frida Kahlo. I’ve loved her since I was a child. (My mother, also a painter, looks eerily like Frida.)

It’s interesting how she’s gaining a new kind of notoriety, what with Salma Hayek’s film Frida and now a Google tribute. I went to carnivale, just a few years ago, dressed as Frida. I piled a whole bouquet of flowers onto my head with braided loops and penciled my eyebrows together. I wore a velvet skirt w/tulle layers and a fringed shawl. I wrapped a tangle of faux barbed wire & bird around my neck. I stuck Diego’s face onto my forehead with eyelash glue. But the best part, by far — covering  my nipples — were the weirdest pasties EVER: big “EYES” with sequin irises and black plastic lashes.

"Diego and Me" by Frida Kahlo (Frida was married to famous mexican muralist, Diego Rivera)

My carnivale get-up — “Fleshpot Frida” — was surreal and beautiful and creepy. So Frida! The people who got it loved it, absolutely, but I was shocked at how many people had no idea who Frida Kahlo was, what she did or how she changed the art world. Frida Kahlo had always been akin to a catholic Saint in our home: Saint Frida!

It’s no wonder I love Vicki Berndt’s St. Frida painting! If I had an extra $1500 I’d snap that sucker up cause it’s still available for purchase and it’s so worth the money. (Berndt’s paintings are usually bought in a blink of an eye. If Frida were more well known, St. Frida would be sold by now.)

"Tree of Hope" by Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo was a surrealist who painted deeply personal almost religious paintings, often depicting physical & emotional pain in a gory realistic way.

No one had ever painted PAIN like that before.

But amidst all the pain was glorious joy, prolific creativity and a profound insight into life and love.

Like Frida, I live with chronic physical pain, but I also have a frida-esque joy and gusto for life. I’m reading Role Models by John Waters and so I’ve been asking myself “Who are my role models? Who are those people who have influenced or inspired or helped me to live my life on my own odd terms?” Kahlo is definitely a role model. She’s a hero of mine for many reasons.

When she was hurting, she painted in bed and when she was able, she danced her ass off.

I totally get that.

When people try to force me to “take it easy” during my good times or to get outta bed on bad days, I just tell ’em to fuck off already cause I’m livin’ la vida Frida.

Livin’ la vida, Frida, bitches!

***Happy Birthday, Frida Kahlo. I love you. Thank you. For everything.***

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?

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