Author Archives: northcorreia

Finding the Groove

I went to Rhode Island this week and spent time alone in my childhood home for the first time since my father had passed away. My mother had finally returned to work, my uncle found his way back to Memphis to be with his wife and daughter after helping my mother with a lengthy but much needed cleansing and redecorating of the house. No longer did my father’s couch rest against the wall in the living that allowed it to receive the last rays of the dying sun. Walls had been painted, floors redone, the furnace had been replaced and the basement was cleaned. As I walked around I noticed the empty shelf where he used to keep his records and thought about the writing I had been doing on 5×500 up to this point.

I spent some time today writing about Look Sharp by Joe Jackson before I decided to take a look back at some of the titles I had chosen. My original concept for these entries was inspiration in the form of a person’s personal collection of music. I had never wanted these entries to read like a review but some of the albums I have chosen are STILL reviewed daily.  It is time to re-write the formula and start listening to some albums that are a little less familiar to me and the general public.  Titles that won’t automatically remind people of other reviews, memories or opinions they may have already read/lived/formed.

I’m putting Joe Jackson away for now.  Canned Heat featuring John Lee Hooker is about to be cued up and it is already the 11th hour on Thursday.

See you next week!

Before The Flood – Bob Dylan and The Band

I sang Stage Fright in the living room
Skipped over four to avoid the gloom
Of a beautiful song dressed in death while we were both alive
Casually and comically cast aside.

I Shall Be Released, from the car it dully roared
Engine under stress from the hill endured
Conversation about the life he had led
As we ignored what Dylan said.

The only track we skipped in the car that night
Was a song surreal with forward sight
The morning came much too soon
A dying man in a living room.

Thanks I’ll Eat It Here – Lowell George

Lately I have found myself fixated on death. Not the actual cause or philosophy of grief, but the thoughts before death, the victim’s own self awareness of a death that could otherwise be categorized as sudden and unexpected. Patsy Cline claimed for years she had feelings that she was not going to live past age 30. Cline went as far as to hand write a will on a commercial airline just a short time before her death which coincidentally came in the form of a plane crash in rural Tennessee. Brian Jones went as far as to write his own epitaph before his death at the age of 27 which read “Please Don’t Judge Me Too Harshly”

The reason for these thoughts is the fact that my father, in his last year, had grown more wistful, emotional and responsible. He retired, cleaned out his workspace and displayed his collection of locker 37 memorabilia which he had accumulated over the last 30 years. This collection contained cut outs from the newspaper, pictures of my brother and I throughout various years of awkward adolescence, notes from a younger version of my mother she had ages ago packed lovingly into his lunch. We spent time discussing his music collection and the fact that after he had died I would be left with nothing but good music to remember him by, not the Big Band cassettes my grandfather had left him.

A week before his death my father led my Mother, Brother and myself to a house on a quiet street in Newport. This house was where my father spent a lot of his time until his grandmother passed away around the time he was 6. We stood there quiet in the slim beams of sun while the cold February morning warmed to a barely tolerable temperature. He spoke of the vineyard they kept in the backyard they used to make their own wine and how his Grandmother used to call him “Peaches and Cream Cheeks” due to his rosy young complexion. We waited patiently while he finished a conversation with a mailman we had run into and then made our way back to the car.

At the time I didn’t think much of this journey. My father was just telling a story we had never heard before. After a few months I began thinking more about how he had acted that day. Many animals have an instinct which enables them to be self aware of the harsh fact of death. When Wolves die they leave the pack to die alone. Elephants wander off to graveyards which are designated for the death of their species. It’s tough to know if the actions of my father were due to confusion on how to react to a sudden change in his life and inability to fill time during a retirement, or if somehow he was subconsciously aware of his limited time. A week later, down the street from his grandmother’s house, 3 blocks away from his childhood home, my father passed away. Another seemingly poetic foreshadowing on the end of an otherwise private average life.

Lowell George Died of a heart attack at the age of 34. Hours before, he performed his last song ever, 20 Million Things (to do)

If it’s fix a fence, fender dents
I’ve got lots of experience
Rent gets spent
And all the letters never written don’t get sent
It comes from confusion, all things I left undone
It comes from moment to moment, day to day
Time seems to slip away

But I’ve got twenty million things to do, twenty million things
And all I can do, is think about you
With twenty million things to do

I’ve got mysterious wisteria hanging in the air
The rocking chair I was supposed to fix
Well it came undid
And all the things that I let slip, I found out quick
It comes from moment to moment, day to day
Time seems to slip away

But I’ve got twenty million things to do, twenty million things
And all I can do, is think about you
With twenty million things to do

And all I can do, is think about you
With twenty million things to do

London Calling – The Clash

The bike ride back from the record store in the summer of 1998 was quite possibly one of the most invigorating and influential of my life. Middle school was full of musical discovery in the form of the “Compilation” section of Music Box, your typical privately owned record store with the bare minimum of obscure selections. On this fateful day in July, I would slip a CD into my well used and slightly damaged Discman, throw on my backpack and jump on my bike. The CD spooled up and my headphones filled with a strummed bass line followed by the booming reverb of the drums. The song skipped, stuttered and exploded into a fast paced ballad about an aging Punk-Rock band longing for the days of basement shows, friends, cheap meals and beds disguised as hard-wood floors. I was 14 and knew I could experience what they longed to re-live, and with that knowledge I rode my bike home, sat down at my father’s drum set and began my suburban punk-rock adventure.

This music was new and fresh to me, a surefire way to rebel against my parents by using a weapon they couldn’t understand. This music was fast, equally serious and satirical while toeing the line between harmony and hollering. I had spent years previously listening to music my father had played with his band, listened to in his car and in the house on his stereo. This new music was obscure, something I would have to painstakingly explain to my father, something he might never understand…so I thought.

Summer passed and 8th grade started. I came home after a long after school bike ride spent loitering downtown searching for benches to grind and friends who might have a better idea on how to occupy idle time. I walked in to the familiar sight of my father sitting on the couch in his postal uniform after a long day at work. In a bag next to his foot rested two records against the leg of the coffee table. Through the thin plastic I could see the familiar image of Paul Simonon smashing his bass guitar in front of a stack of amplifiers. My father proceeded to pull out both records. One was London Calling by The Clash and the other was Elvis Presley’s first LP. Both layouts were exactly the same, pink and green letters lining the left and bottom of the frame with an image of the artist in the center. My father used this to explain the term “influence” Basically, music is just a fast paced evolution which is influenced heavily, if not entirely on ideas which have already been previously conceived. I still spent my high school years heavily into Punk and Hardcore, but my father made sure I knew there were only two kinds of music, good music and bad music.

Alternately, here is a little fun fact. One of my father’s favorite musicians was the drummer for The Clash. He also thought “Topper Headon” was a badass name.

Waiting For Columbus – Little Feat

2 am, 8 years old, Milford Massachusetts visiting family friends my Mother and Father had known since high school. Long after the children went to sleep I walked up the stairs and was invited to a rare event, my parents enjoying themselves in the company of other parents. Old Folks Boogie played loud in the foreground while they discussed what it was like to age. I had no idea what they were speaking about but was happy to be a part of the fun time they were having. This was not the first time I was exposed to this Little Feat album, but it was my first distinct memory. As the oldest child I was allowed to stay up with them, have soda (while they had their drinks—Budweiser for the hosts and Dewars and water for the guests) and watch them dance and enjoy the music. This was my first introduction to my parents as the people they were before children, the persona parents usually expose post high school graduation. I noticed two things this evening, one, getting older does not necessarily mean getting bored, and two, my father was a lot more into the music then anyone else.

My aunt had a framed picture that my father drew of his favorite musician; this was a mainstay in every house she ever owned. From the time it hung above a piano I played on when I was five to my cousin’s 18th birthday party when it was a fixture in her dining room. This portrait was of Lowell George, the founder and front man of the band Little Feat. Lowell George’s death in 1979 affected my father much like Elliott Smith’s affected me. There are few musicians I can pay attention to for their full careers and Elliott was one of them. My life wasn’t affected by the deaths of Kurt Cobain, Brad Nowell, or any of the modern day rock and roll casualties (with the exception of Joe Strummer), and my father was the same way, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, they were all givens. With the exception of Keith Moon and John Bonham, my father was only really devastated by the death of Lowell George…hence the name of my brother, Kyle Lowell George. Little feat reformed in 1988 and continues to play today, but the songs of the original founder are still the most soulful and skillfully crafted.

5/15/2003—Three days after my high school graduation (thank you, internet): My father bought tickets for myself, my mother and his friend to see Little Feat at Lupo’s in Providence. I drove while the elders passed a bottle of booze around the car on the 40 minute drive to Rhode Island’s corrupt capitol city. I was able to see my father enjoy his favorite band at the same venue I had watched NOFX, Boy Sets Fire, Goldfinger, H20, Madball, Foo Fighters, Ignite and all the other bands that made my high school years what they were. He made sure I had seen Duke Robillard, Little Richard, Percy Sledge, Bob Dylan, and a ton of other musicians before it was too late, but it wasn’t until he had me see his favorite band did I truly realize what it was like to love music. I wanted to say about 700 different things about this album, but I’ve decided just to leave you with the lyrics to Willin.

I been warped by the rain, driven by the snow
I’m drunk and dirty don’t ya know, and I’m still…willin’
Out on the road late at night, Seen my pretty Alice in every head light
Alice…Dallas Alice

I’ve been from Tuscon to Tucumcari
Tehachapi to Tonapah
Driven every kind of rig that’s ever been made
Driven the back roads so I wouldn’t get weighed
And if you give me: weed, whites, and wine
And you show me a sign
I’ll be willin’, to be movin’

I’ve been kicked by the wind, robbed by the sleet
Had my head stoved in, but I’m still on my feet and I’m still… willin’
Now I smuggled some smokes and folks from Mexico
Baked by the sun, every time I go to Mexico, and I’m still

And I been from Tuscon to Tucumcari
Tehachapi to Tonapah
Driven every kind of rig that’s ever been made
Driven the back roads so I wouldn’t get weighed
And if you give me: weed, whites, and wine
And you show me a sign
I’ll be willin’, to be movin

Hot Rats – Frank Zappa

I woke up hungover. Saturday night spilled into Sunday morning with no sign of the snow that had been previously predicted. My apartment was so empty it echoed; boxes were still packed and I probably would have been lonely if it wasn’t for the security of youth and the constant inner dialogue. “It didn’t snow, weather said it won’t until tomorrow, I guess I have to drive to the island.” I usually try to make nights out of my trips–6 hours of visiting barely makes three hours of driving enticing–but it was my father’s birthday and I had already told him I wasn’t coming because of the weather. I woke up, showered and decided to head to Rhode Island.

I walked up to the front stairs and saw a familiar sight: my father sitting on the couch watching TV, tapping his fingers and occasionally taking a drag on his cigarette. After casual conversation my father got off the couch, walked into the dining room and returned with a worn crumpled paper bag. He pulled out a Portable CD player, a pair of large studio headphones and a Frank Zappa album, Hot Rats. We had a sound system, but he wanted me to listen to the guitar solo the way he did in the Army. No, not on drugs, but with headphones. We bought a microwave for my new apartment and ate cake to celebrate his birthday, but really we spent most of the day listening to music. I drove back to Boston right around the time it started snowing. I saw three accidents on the expressway and got drunk to celebrate the snowstorm that was going to allow me to sleep in Monday.

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

The phone woke me up that morning. I shoveled through a foot of snow and followed plows like a funeral procession down Route 24.

A week later I was at a bar my parents frequented and one of the patrons walked up to me and said, “You know, the last time I saw your father he had a crumpled paper-bag full of music he was showing everyone”

I thought for a second, and said “Me too.”

Sticky Fingers – The Rolling Stones

Growing up I remember running through my father’s records looking for anything your average classic rock loving 5th grader would recognize. Jimi Hendrix, Led Zepplin, Eric Clapton, anything the local rock radio station was playing. Although it took me time to truly understand the greatness of The Rolling Stones, I still stopped to look at the Sticky Fingers album during every perusal. The album-art was a close up shot of a tight-jeaned man covered from all angles, when you removed the liner notes from within the record the man was in cotton briefs, as if he had just removed his pants. Andy Warhol conceived the cover design and conducted the photo sessions. Many speculate that the cover model was the eccentric artist’s boyfriend at the time, others claim Warhol used a variety of models during the session and secretly chose the shots without crediting any of the men. The reason I stopped at this record was not the album art or the music, it was the fact that the album itself featured a working zipper on the front, something that set it apart from everything else in the mass of musty cardboard and dirty plastic sleeves. Little did I know that more than a decade after first recognition I would drunkenly battle Beatles fans in dark bars stating that The Rolling Stones are a better band. My weapon? Sticky Fingers

This record is dark, written with drug addiction, alcoholism, money and fame washing over Mick and Keith like a Pacific tsunami. The meter of the music was the only thing keeping an even keel. From rock, to blues and country, they weren’t afraid to test the limits. I equate Brown Sugar to a one night stand. Drunk, steady and dangerous, this is still an 8pm barroom staple. Wild Horses is a country song through and through right down to the crawl of the rhythm and cry of the pedal steel. Many artists would write about heroin, alcohol, sex and money, but The Stones didn’t have time to dress up their songs in pretty words disguising drugs as women, women as nature, nature as religion. They were raw. Sister Morphine (drugs), Brown Sugar (sex), Dead Flowers (social seclusion and heroin use) all told stories of pain and pleasure that could be understood blatantly and unmistakably across the board.

“Well, when you’re sitting back
In your rose pink Cadillac
Making bets on Kentucky derby day
Ill be in my basement room
With a needle and a spoon
And another girl to take my pain away”

I love the Beatles, but when it comes to experimenting with sound or lyrics, The Stones will always win.