Monday, April 20, 2015

Carribean Wind (Live - Warfield SF - 1980)

The rain is good for my garden. Peppers and peas and tomatoes are in. Beans are coming up. The early-spring plantings (radishes, onions, lettuce) are thriving. The little things.

Saturday on the water with J. She was so proud that they gave her her own paddle. And though she didn't use it, we had a fun spin around TR Island in that blue kayak. Turtles and geese and ducks and cormorants.

Oh the joys of (semi)-public journaling. I've been doing it for a long time.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Simple Twist of Fate (redux) [Dylan - Lyric - 4/11/15 / Rhiannon Giddens - Lincoln - 4/12/15]

It's the magic hour. On a Monday evening. The light hitting the buildings on Montello just right.. DC Brau. Oh Mercy spinning.. battling congestion I'll blame on allergies.

Seen a shooting star tonight
And I thought of me
If I was still the same
If I ever became what you wanted me to be
Did I miss the mark or overstep the line
That only you could see?
Seen a shooting star tonight
And I thought of me

Oh how quickly a year can pass.

Saturday was Dylan again. I spent the afternoon planting beans and fixing up my bike. Walked down to BR's and we hit the road. Oh Baltimore. Gritty in a way DC isn't. And old. The Lyric was amazing - beautifully restored. Old theatre seats. It was the same setlist as the November show. That "gorgeous sense of loss, yet hope" was still bubbling underneath. And the songs all hit deep again. Forgetful Heart ("The times we knew / who would remember better than you"). Simple Twist of Fate. She Belongs to Me. Love Sick, of course. And somehow it was even more poignant, and pointed, and powerful than last time.

Then Sunday. Fishing for shad on the Potomac with DW. I caught (and released) over 30 in roughly 4 hours - an incredibly peaceful way to spend a gorgeous spring morning. The simple, repetitive act of casting and reeling. Over and over. Nothing else to think about. Eagles and osprey and cormorants (or shags, of course).. the little things.

At the last minute I bought tickets on StubHub (at a discount!) for Rhiannon Giddens at the Lincoln. A half-smoke at Ben's before-hand led to a fantastically surreal conversation with Collin - former high school (and Howard) basketball star. Career cut short by injury. Now playing comedy sets at the Handsome Cock. With a six-month old baby and twins on the way. But I digress..

Rhiannon was nothing short of incredible. There's a power to her voice, an immediacy to her presence, that doesn't really come out on the last record. Though the historicism of the songs can be a bit precious, she narrowly evades making them living museums. And (re)inhabits them. I read Gilead and overheard conversations from the over-40 NPR crowd, but was glad I went out.. She was barefoot. Dancing. Alive. I rode my bike home down Florida, happy.

So much more to say. But some things are best put on paper. Or into the air.

Friday, April 10, 2015

30 Great Albums

So a friend of JS's wrote her recently, stating:

I'm a little embarrassed to admit it, but I almost never listen to music (I've instead been a voracious consumer of audiobooks). I feel like I'm missing out, so I set a goal of listening to 30 full albums before I turn 30 next April.

Problem is I don't know where to start. Would you be willing to point me in the direction of good music?

Which we both took as a challenge. For posterity, here's my list of 30 (as of right now):

One compilation including one or more of: Buddy Holly / Gene Vincent / Eddie Cochrane / Elvis / Ritchie Valens etc.

One compilation including one or more of: Hank Williams / Ernest Tubb / Roger Miller / Bobby Bare etc.

One compilation including one or more of: Robert Johnson / Blind Willie Johnson / Blind Willie McTell / John Hurt etc.

Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music - Ray Charles
Kind of Blue - Miles Davis (Alt: Sketches of Spain)
Astral Weeks - Van Morrison

Bookends - Simon and Garfunkle (Alt: Bridge over Troubled Waters / Sounds of Silence)
Highway 61 Revisited - Bob Dylan
Revolver - Beatles
Let it Bleed - Rolling Stones

Blue - Joni Mitchell (Alt: Court and Spark)
Harvest - Neil Young (Alt: After the Goldrush or On the Beach)
GP / Grevious Angel - Gram Parsons
Red-Headed Stranger - Willie Nelson
Blood on the Tracks - Bob Dylan (Alt: Desire)

The Velvet Underground & Nico - VU
Horses - Patti Smith

Thriller - Michael Jackson (Alt: Off the Wall)
Purple Rain - Prince
Graceland - Paul Simon

Channel Orange - Frank Ocean
College Dropout - Kanye West (Alt: MDBTF)
Blueprint - Jay-Z (Alt: MTV Unplugged)
Ready to Die - Notorious B.I.G.
Illmatic - Nas

Elephant - White Stripes
Doolittle - Pixies
MTV Unplugged - Nirvana (Alt: Live Through This - Hole)
Automatic for the People - R.E.M. (Alt: Out of Time)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

I Need My Girl

Y played this all the time in Paris. Would come to my office and make me put it on YouTube.

And though I have my doubts about Indie Rock at times, on a gray, rainy day like this it fits somehow, just right.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

On Self Respect

In brief, people with self-respect exhibit a certain toughness, a kind of moral nerve; they display what was once called character, a quality which, although approved in the abstract, sometimes loses ground to other, more instantly negotiable virtues. The measure of its slipping prestige is that one tends to think of it only in connection with homely children and with United States senators who have been defeated, preferably in the primary, for re-election. Nonetheless, character—the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life—is the source from which self-respect springs.
- Joan Didion, On Self Respect (1961)

More Didion. Worked my way through Slouching Towards Bethlehem on the bus to NYC. Only to get on the subway and lean over to check the map and notice that the girl to my left was reading the same book. And the same essay I'd just finished. It's a funny world. I told the story to the clerk behind the counter at McNally Jackson and he just laughed and said that New York was Didion country.. The East Village, at times, did feel a bit like an extension of SF. Or perhaps the other way around?

On Self Respect is really an incredible essay.. It gets at the crux of what I realized last winter. That I couldn't please everyone. That it was OK to say No. Otherwise you end up in the territory of those last two paragraphs. And to learn (as I just did) that she wrote it at the last minute, to fill in for a missing piece, and wrote it to fit a pre-set length not just to the word, but to the character.. impressive.

The usual New York rambles. The Egyptian collection at the Met. And the recently (to me) renovated Greek / Roman galleries. With a side-trip to the 20th Century. My favorites (mostly) still there. The little things. Bookstores in the East Village and SoHo. Picked up:

  • Coming Through the Slaughter - Ondaatje
  • My Dark Beautiful Twisted Fantasy - 33 1/3 Series
  • Lou Reed: The Last Interview and other Conversations
And then, The Thing in Greenpoint (with its piles of unsorted vinyl) yielded a great Ghanian record and an ancient BB King 45. And some incredible pictures and some grammar books. I grabbed a few random letters (written between high-school friends who had just started different colleges in 1976) from a box of detritus and they turned out to be much less interesting than I'd hoped.. Alas. Great dinner at the Spotted Pig. And pierogies at Veselka. A knish at Yonah Schimmel. The views, those corners, it all came back - effortlessly. I miss it there. For sure.

Listening to Lou Reed's New York on Grooveshark at my desk. His interviews were simultaneously interesting and off-putting. The same themes, repeated.. But given that I was on a Bowie kick before the trip, it's not that far of a leap. And it fits, somehow. The book on MDBTF was mildly illuminating. Short. And helpful in that it got the sheer joy of his collage - but the endless discussions of twitter and narcissism as defining characteristics of our age. Well. It got old.

Looking forward to Dylan on Saturday. And that week alone to sort things out.