Tag Archives: thursday

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!

Rock On-Humble Pie

This album was a stab in the dark. I chose Rock On by Humble Pie for three reasons. 1) My father owned two copies on vinyl and copy on CD. 2) This record was released in 1971, the same time my father was stationed in Germany while serving in the army (draft, not volunteer) and 3) Humble Pie features the lead guitar and vocal styling of one Peter Frampton, who left the band a year after Rock On was released to pursue a much more lucrative solo career (i.e. play guitar with the annoying “talk-box” and write songs like “Oo, Baby I Love Your Way) Needless to say once I heard about Frampton’s involvement I began to have second thoughts, maybe I’d turn to something with a little more meaning behind it, something we shared, something we both liked…but no. That’s not why I got into this. At the least, I needed to listen, to try and find out why my father had so many copies of this album (and why he had so many other Humble Pie records.)

Wow.

Steve Marriott was the leader of the band and it is apparent on this album that he took artistic control. “79th and Sunset” features lyrics that would pink the cheeks of most mid-seventies Frampton fans. Most of the songs have a deep Zepplin-esque blues-metal feel to them, while they lacked the thunderous drumming of John Bonham they were able to deliver a powerful sound because of the two guitarists, one who switched to keys intermediately. Sure, they were a good band who would tour in the 70’s with the heavy hitters people of Generation Y still idolize, but you’d be hard pressed to find a trace of them in today’s popular culture. I can understand why Humble Pie didn’t quite stand the test of time; they fit in, but didn’t stand out.

Why does this album have such a large presence in my Father’s collection? I think it has a lot to do with where he was at that moment in time. It was 1971, he was drafted into the army and spent a lot of time hanging out with the various other recruits who had the unfortunate luck to have their numbers drawn. They weren’t army material and they spent the majority of their time listening to records, altering their minds, and trying to avoid the shell shocked and mildly insane Vietnam transfers. I can tell which records he took overseas with him and which ones he bought there by the initials on the inside of the sleeve (GWC written in marker) or by the language in the liner notes (German). These records were different then what he usually listened to. My father preferred Blues, Funk, Indie Rock and Soul, but through his army years he had Led Zepplin, Black Sabbath, Steppenwolf, a lot of heavy music. While most of us have music that defines a period of our lives, in this I feel that my father had a time in his life that defined the music he enjoyed.

Two side notes.
1) Humble Pie is mentioned as a touring band alongside Stillwater, Bad Company and Led Zepplin in the movie Almost Famous.
2) Peter Frampton wrote the 2 most radio friendly, pop-oriented songs on this album. Although it pains me to say this; he is actually a damn good rock guitarist.

Waves

There is an ocean between us
We share a bed, but we are miles apart
I step out on my widow’s walk and peer into the night sky
Trying to get a glimpse across the Atlantic
Hoping too see white sails poke out from beyond the horizon
Praying to God that you are not lost beneath the waves
Waiting for the winds to change
I cannot count the times that you told me not to worry
She’s a sturdy ship you said
And I have a steady hand
I believed you but these waters are rough and I still haven’t got my sea legs
The dark blue churns and turns into a frothy white as it slams against the rocks
Waves break the bows of ships, the dreams of sailors
As my face turns a paler shade of white
And I understand that this is how you spend your life
But that doesn’t make it right
I’m left waiting in this lighthouse
Flashing beacons of light
Steering good ships home
Throughout the endless sleepless night
And I’m tired of walking beaches
Collecting sandollars and starfish
I’ve grown barnacles waiting
Waiting for familiar sails
Waiting for friendly skies
Waiting for your return
You are Ulysses in a floral print sundress
I am Penelope in denim and corduroy
Green sea glass glints beneath the sand
As sand slips down through cracks in my hand
And I believed you when you said that I’ll never understand
Because there is an ocean between us
And it’s too deep to stand

Another Alcoholic Apology

This warm beer reminds me of you
Your place always smelled like the morning after
I remember the bathtub full of empty bottles
We laid there, entwined like gin-soaked barnacles
Sucking on each other as if to keep from being swept away by the tide
They say the first time is always the best
But I would beg to differ
I would trade youthful hope and alcoholic joy for the longing despair of the last time any day
I remember lying there in the woods
The leaves crinkling under my feet as I pulled my pants back on
I never should have said the things I did
I meant every word, but we both knew the score
It was selfish, but I hope you can understand

The label is slowly peeling away from the bottle
Your eyes were always so bright
I remember lying in the dark in your bed
Your head on my chest rising and falling with the rhythm of my breath
You told me how you could read people so well
But you were never able to figure me out
And how much that scared you
I told you not to worry, that I would never hurt you and that everything would be alright
But sometimes marijuna and vodka make me say things I know aren’t true
Sometimes lies hurt less than the truth
Lonely New Jersey nights make me nostalgic for things I never had

My fingers smells like smoke and sex
I miss the cold bathroom tile on my back
Your mischevious grin as you locked the door behind your
The crunch of Pennsylvania leaves
The dark back corner of a Valentine’s Day movie theater
No one else really understands why I like Daredevil so much
I wonder if Ben Affleck in red leather makes you think about me
I wonder if you think that sex just feels better on the bathroom floor
I wonder if you were ever able to figure me out
I’d sure like to know if you did
I’ve never been too sure about it myself
I drift in and out these days
It’s hard to keep yourself when you’re busy loosing everything else

Like the song never ended.

I remember us as wildfires.

Summer lights dancing through the trees.

Our parents were dry leaves and cigarettes.

Our children were ash and smoke, the kind that won’t leave your clothes for days.

The radio played cheap beer by the case while we sipped old punk songs and plucked the notes to “El Scorcho” on our gin buckets.

Our music singed the corners of our coat pockets while we smoldered dead branches like souvenirs of last year.

We scribbled notes to the future on each other’s tongues and taped forties to our hands like boxing gloves for our souls.

We were tired as hell but we danced all night anyway.

Just because.

We flicked and floated as cinders on the breeze and our glass bottle hearts broke shiny like they never glittered to begin with.

Our taste buds learned the difference between cute girl and light beer but didn’t care for one more than the other.

If both could be had, then all the better.

Our truth poured out as poorly mixed drinks and we flowed from cup to cup with ease.

We woke with good ideas turned ugly mistakes turned righteous crusades.

Our darkness was outside.

We felt warm beneath it like blankets wrapped with care.

Tucked and neat.

We glowed on the inside.

Our whiskey-warmed heartbeats found the drum track and thumped in unison.

The bass line pumped infatuation through our capillaries and with small cuts we bled romance as blood brothers.

The fire popped champagne and crackled sing-song.

Embers were snowflakes on our tongues, lightning bugs in a jar.

We decided that’s all we were.

Just lightning bugs in jar.

Dancing in the moonlight.

Singing out a song.

Still, our fire smiled wide like we never broke to begin with.

Like it didn’t even matter.

Like the song never ended.

Six Degrees

one

My eyes traced the lines of her hip bones down like an arrowhead flashing neon to a detour on the highway. She said something about oversized sunglasses but I was distracted by the way her sweatpants hugged the inside of her thighs. I found myself nodding in agreement while noticing the disparity between the accepted norms for male and female traveling clothes. I wondered nearly aloud if she was purposefully displaying her pale freckled midriff for me, conventional wisdom said no, but I like to keep an open mind, at least when it comes to buxom redheads and Amtrak trains.

two

Her hips leaned into me like saplings in a hurricane. She was everything I loved about college in a coctail dress and when we kissed in the back hallway for the first time we agreed that it shouldn’t count since we had already made plans for our first date and the kiss needed to come at the end of the night, but like metal and magnets the attraction was strong and we couldn’t help but do it again.

three

I told her, I don’t love you and it has nothing to do with your virginity. Sometimes people just fit differently. Sometimes they don’t fit together. She’s a thousand piece jigsaw map of innocence, and lately I’ve been stealing puzzle pieces and hiding them under my pillow, wishing she would come to retrieve them. I like the way she looks better when we’re apart, but I smelled her on my sheets this morning and I found myself knocking at her door again.

four

I was an isthmus when she crossed me, connecting two continents through arctic waters, and while time, like tectonics moves slowly, it moves none the less. And now we find ourselves separated by our own continent, yet connected by the earth beneath us. Still plates move in many directions and great shifts have been recorded. Just look at the Himalayas, India was once an island until it crashed into Asia propper like waves on California beaches and now snow capped peaks remind me of Massachusetts winters. If canals can be built then straits can be bridged, and if Dubai taught us anything it’ s that God no longer has the monopoly on creating land. So piece by piece I’m building a way home.

five

We collapse into each other like mirrored bridges, rusted and broken from decades of lonely rain storms. She buckles like steel, soft as goose-down. My knees tremble like a fawn taking first steps. She breathes shallow like puddles, I stare deep like oceans. We connect like power lines, strung transcontinental.

six

Her french toast had too much powdered sugar on it. That’s all I can remember about the meal. I might have had the eggs. The bacon was good, I think. I finally said, “I love you”. She didn’t.

Dig Yourself a Hole

I found him in the backyard, shovel in hand. He’s all tattooed arms and spitfire poetry. Razorblade scars and heroin-soaked lyricism. Perfectly unhinged; unchained dog mad with rabies. He burned patterns in my lawn. Bleached stained jeans. Tattered shirt and tie. Shattered glass bottles, thrown at trees; pockmarked cherry bomb testing grounds. Dirt stained everything.

He’s digging a hole.

He tells me, “One day, years from now, Africa with collide with Europe and close the Straights of Gibraltar. The Mediterranean will become a vast desert of salt.”

I stare blank. Unsure of what to say, I drink long slow sips. Burns like a lemondrop, hard swallowed.

“Don’t you get it? The Atlantic is spreading at a rate equivalent to that of human finger nail growth. The Atlantic is fucking spreading! Every second that passes we’re getting farther away from England. How do you handle that?”

I have nothing. I barely understand.

He puts it another way. “Right now the universe is expanding. Everything is moving away from everything else. We’re all drifting alone in the dark.”

His hole is getting deeper. I would really like to pull him up, but I don’t have the knowledge or the tools. He came out here with a mission. Hellbent and headstrong, he’s burning adrenaline like a grease fire. He’s a loaded gun. He’s loaded for sure, has been for days.

“She was mine once,” he said, “Not anymore though. I bled her out. Bled her dry. One too many leaches. Maybe one too few.”

I still don’t get it. Another long slow sip.

“She killed it for me. Knew I couldn’t deal. But that wasn’t it. That’s what she never got.”

A picture’s starting to form. Bleak and bloody, I think I’m getting it now. Rain falls silent on shirt collars. He’s all mud-splattered dress clothes. Real life American wasteland. The shit under your shoes.

“How I could bring it into a world that’s doomed. Birth is a death sentence. I see that now.”

And there it is.

He’s knee deep in slop, waist deep in a trench. He’s digging with a purpose now. His grip tight on the handle, a bear trap vice. Blood trickles from cracked knuckles. He’s broken bones healed crooked. He locks eyes with mine, searching for answers I can’t possibly give him.

Another long slow sip. I tell him it’s not all bad. We’ve got cable and high speed internet access. I am completely meaningless. He’s waterlogged and mechanical motion. Locked in; he’s on autopilot and coasting towards the end. I don’t think I could stop him if I wanted to. I don’t know that I want to.

He’s all rage and fear. Blood, piss, and tears. Mud splashed in fresh new wounds. He’s puncture marks and bleeding open heart. He wants me to be something I’m not. He wants me to be answers. He needs me to be strong comfort. I have to be everything’s alright. But I’m nothing like anything. I never have been.

He’s been digging all night. He’s been digging a hole.

“This one’s mine,” he says, “You have to dig your own.”