Lean On Me

Rock & Roll Hall of FameBill Withers, Stevie Wonder, John Legend perform “Lean On Me” at the 2015 Induction Ceremony – Apr 3, 2020

I had to go looking to remind myself who it was that had written that great song that I loved. Who was it that the coronavirus killed the other day? That guy? That guy who sang a song about being there when someone needed you? Wasn’t that the song? I had to not only remind myself that his name was Bill Withers, but I had to then recognize the chorus line so that I would know the song title.

Lean on Me. Yes. That song. That guy. Bill Withers. Him too, then? One more grandfather we let die because we can’t be bothered to spend some of our precious treasure to make sure that there are procedures and tests and quarantine measures and hospital beds and whatever else that we need to invest in so that we can stop disease from spreading unchecked through our cityscapes. How many more will we lose? Will it be worse than AIDS this time? Will it hurt more this time than it hurt when Freddie Mercury died and I had to listen to friends spit on him and call him faggot?

I wonder. I really do wonder. Hat/tip to Billboard for being there when I needed someone to remind me of the things I had forgotten. I was reminded of this today because John Prine died today. I can’t name a single one of his songs that I know and love, but I know his name anyway. Ellis Marsalis I can remember too, and I can’t say that I’m a jazz fan. How about Adam Schlesinger? If you watch TV you probably know his work.

(Billboard’s list of musicians who have died to the Coronavirus)

Get ready. Get ready, because there is going to be a lot more of this kind of sadness going around before this tragedy is over.

Facebook – Jimmy Buffett

OK Boomer

Population keeps on breeding
Nation bleeding, still more feeding economy
Life is funny, sky is sunny
Bees make honey, who needs money, monopoly
I’d love to change the world
But I don’t know what to do
So I’ll leave it up to you

Ten Years After

I ran across the retort OK Boomer in a podcast once. I’ve since forgotten which one it was. I’d never heard it applied to anyone until Jim confessed to his cardinal sin on Facebook. It fits perfectly. Sadly, it fits all too well when describing our current state of affairs and the despicable hand-waving that the I’ve got mine, get yours set engages in almost daily. Hand-waving designed to deflect any attachment of fault to their ill-gotten gains. I’ve done the best that I can to make the world a better place over my lifetime, and that time ain’t over yet. It ain’t over for the Boomers as a group, either. All they have to do is stand up and be the best people they can be, rather than allow the narcissists and their defenders to be the voice of their generation. If we leave it up to the millennials to fix our shit, we deserve to be disrespected with the phrase OK Boomer.

Ten Years After – I’d Love to Change the World

You want respect from the next generation? Well, then you should have left the planet in better shape than you found it. Simple as that. And we didn’t.

Stonekettle Station

I, of course, was accosted with OK Boomer as a response to this. Too bad I’m not a Boomer.

Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, and Gen Z Explained

Generational cohorts are defined (loosely) by birth year as the article goes into in depth. One might think that because my birth year is before 1964 that I would be considered a boomer. The Wife, who was born a few months after me, identifies as a boomer. I’m not a Boomer in any sense of the term other than birth year. I am Generation X. Solidly Generation X.

How is that? Like so many things boomers (and other average humans) believe, generational cohorts is just another thing that they have wrong, if they think that what makes up a generation is absolutely defined by the year of birth. The reason why you can’t set years and dates to separate generations is because the influences that make up the generation vary from household to household and from town to farm to city. I was the child of parents born after the start of World War II. My parents were born during the war, making them both too young to be boomers but too old to be counted as part of the Greatest Generation. I was the elder of a large family, all younger than me, so their influences were largely my influences.

The Wife was the only child of parents who fought in World War II. Her parents were of the Greatest Generation. She is a Boomer in every sense of the word, in every way the Boomer cohort is measured. Her parents stayed married, my parents divorced. Etcetera, etc, etc. You can go down the list. Everything aside from year of birth makes me a member of Generation X. I really don’t like Boomers, aside from the Wife and other RL friends. Too many self-important assholes in that group.

…aside from which, I own an electric car, I compost and recycle, and I’ve been recycling since the 70’s. I’m poor and I admit it. The OK Boomer retort does not apply to me. But thanks for thinking of me anyway.

The Warrior

I think I’ve found the winner for the most 80’s of 80’s music videos.

Scandal featuring Patty Smyth – The Warrior (Official Video) – Oct 26, 2013

I probably should have figured that a song whose refrain was

Shootin’ at the walls of heartache, Bang! Bang!

Would have an amazing 80’s music video associated with it. Just another moment where I’m thankful that I didn’t watch much MTV or VH1 back in the day. Radio, radio and more radio. Also Texas disco bars, lots of Texas disco bars.

Texas disco bars were nothing like disco bars anywhere else. A man wearing a cowboy hat onto a disco dancefloor anywhere else in the world could be assumed to be wearing a costume. Not in Texas. Never insult a man’s hat in Texas. It’s always a fine lookin’ hat here. You wear it with style, even when you’re dancing to a song like this one.

Weirdly, I still like this song. I’ll just avoid watching the video in the future. Youtube auto-queued Pat Benatar after Scandal. Freaking Youtube and their mind-reading queues.

Thriller on Halloween

Michael Jackson – Thriller (Official Video) I wish he hadn’t put a disclaimer on this.

Happy Birthday, Son!

A video from the year after I graduated high school, back in the time when Michael Jackson was just a really good dancer and singer. One of two albums of his that I bought and cherished, after listening to his and his families music all through my childhood.

Janis Joplin on Returning as a Success

They laughed me out of class, out of town and out of the state. So I’m going home.

Janis Joplin
Janis Joplin On Attending Her Upcoming High School Reunion | The Dick Cavett Show

As heard on the Texas Standard. She also let it be known that she would have appreciated some support from fellow Texans (outside of Austin. Where we loved her) when she played at the Texas Woodstock.

Both of th0se segments were appended to this post from 2006. The quote from Dick Cavett is played in the Texas Standard segment from October 22nd, 2019.

I’ll probably take the time to listen to Janis’ discography back to back with Big Mama Thornton‘s work just to get a feel for the two different approaches to the material. Music appreciation has been made possible again for me by Aftershokz bone conduction headphones.

Highlander

Looper caught me again. The short clip on Youtube named The Untold Truth Of Highlander doesn’t really have anything untold or anything particularly decapitating in its truthfulness. It did, however, reference an anime movie spin off that I’d never seen before.

Highlander: The Search for Vengeance – Trailer

For that, Looper gets a hat/tip. Highlander was an obsession of mine for quite awhile. I never could get into the TV series spin-offs of the movie, even though I had friends who loved them and wrote fan fiction for them. Spin-off series for blockbuster movies have been things that I’ve avoided like a plague, with the significant exceptions of M*A*S*H and Stargate SG-1. I can blame youth for the first. I don’t have an excuse for the SG-1 addiction. I just like it, and there is no explaining taste. Planet of the Apes and Galactica 1980 burned me on TV series spin-offs, and I never looked back.

But I loved the first Highlander movie. I collected all the songs from the film that I could get my hands on, before a friend gifted me a copy of A Kind of Magic. I was so obsessed with the film that I knew immediately on listening to Queen, The Works that Hammer to Fall was the song that is playing in the gunner’s car when he stumbles on the sword fight in Manhattan. I knew that film backwards and forwards and even went to the trouble of tracking down the fabled European version (not mentioned in the Looper short) that has the scenes explaining how he adopted his loyal secretary. The woman who inexplicably loves him like a father, even though she is clearly older than he is.

Highlander II was the sequel that burned me on all movie sequels after it. If I decide to go see a movie that is a sequel to another movie these days, I do it with the memory of Highlander/Highlander II firmly held in mind. Surprisingly, there are very few sequels that end up being quite that bad. Some of them come close (yes, I’m looking at you Terminator 4. Alien 3, 4, 5, etc. don’t think I’ve forgotten how bad you all were. I haven’t) but they still can’t quite be as unforgivably bad as Highlander 2 was. Unless it was Highlander 3, 4, 5, etc.

After hating on Highlander II for about a decade the Renegade Cut showed up and I could see what Russell Mulcahy had in mind for the film when he shot the scenes in Argentina. What he had in mind, before the economy there tanked and he ended up losing control of the film. That film would at least have been watchable. It still would have been unforgivably bad (never, ever, remove the mystery. Your explanation will never be as good as the imagination of the audience.) but it at least made narrative sense, while still being bad storytelling.

I have to quit watching Youtube videos. That is clearly the only fix for this tangent problem. No, I probably won’t watch the Highlander remake that is supposedly in the works. Like Star Trek, Highlander‘s emotional vein has been worked out. There is no feeling left there for them to mine. They’ll probably make a goldmine off of it, though. Nothing sells like nostalgia.

Moving in Stereo A Dream Away, Maybe Baby?

Ric Ocasek’s death being fresh in my mind (September 15th) I feel like I should say something about the influence of his music here. As many times as I listened to The Cars music and loved it while listening to it, I can’t remember any particular song other than Moving in Stereo that I really felt spoke to me.

I played the hell out of that first album. Alone on the highway, wanting to spend one more hour away from home in Sweetwater. Anywhere but home in Sweetwater. All of the songs on the album were good, but Moving in Stereo‘s funky arrangement, along with the repeated verse,

Life’s the same, I’m moving in stereo
Life’s the same except for my shoes
Life’s the same, you’re shaking like tremolo
Life’s the same, it’s all inside you

The Cars

really spoke to the weirdness of teenage life for me. Had Talking Heads Remain in Light or Speaking in Tongues come out before 1980, that would have been one of the albums and groups I would have turned to for my music at the time. But they weren’t on the scene for me in 1978-1979, and Ric Ocasek and the Cars filled that need to express the restlessness of youth.

The restlessness of the almost-man but not yet man. As that almost-man the Vargas cover of their second album, Candy-O, said things to me that I didn’t understand at the time. The music on Candy-O, like the music on Panorama that followed it was solid pop rock. It just wasn’t that much different from their first album, which overshadowed them.

Then Shake it Up came out. The first side of the cassette was also predictable Cars-style pop music, much like work that they had done before. However, side two of the cassette that I bought started with A Dream Away and progressed through to the end and Maybe Baby. That cassette I also wore out, but mostly just one side of it. An experience lost to time now that you can get songs in whatever order you like but cannot experience the seamless flow of one melody into another melody without pause.

I later bought Just What I Needed: The Cars Anthology on CD, before I started to switch to digital music, and discovered Little Black Egg. another song with that quirky weirdness that really speaks to me.

It was sad to see him go.

Everything That is Wrong With America Expressed in One Song

Journey’s song Don’t Stop Believing is an American anthem?

American Anthem -‘Don’t Stop Believin” Goes On And On, Because We Need It To – September 16, 2019

Cover art for Journey, Escape. Escape from belief. Do it.

I think I’ve figured out what is wrong with this country. Stop Believing. No really. At the risk of being dismissed as a hater, I’m going here anyway. I hate this song. I have always hated this song. It is chirpy, syrupy bullshit.

I owned this album and I hated the album as well as the song. The girls I dated loved it. I think I gave my copy of it to one of them. I don’t own it anymore, I know that much.

You should stop believing. What you cannot do is stop hoping. Hope is what will keep you alive. Belief, when that belief is in error, will get you dead faster than just about anything else you might do. Stop believing. Seriously. Stop it right now. Start hoping instead.


Editor’s note. This one set in the drafts folder for a year. I just found it. I left the publish date on the air date for the segment that I was responding to rather than bring it up to now. But the pandemic makes this topical once again. Stop believing. Start accepting science. Wear a mask. Get vaccinated. Do it now.

Dangerous World

I was livin’ in the city
Trying to find a way
Making nothing out of nothing
Livin’ day to day
Gotta try to think of something
Livin’ in a dangerous world

And so I got round to thinkin’
Makin’ on the street
All the hustle and bustle
Steal enough to eat
Now I’m takin’ care of business
Livin’ in a dangerous world

It’s such a dangerous world we’re living in
Even though it seems so far so good
And if I die lord change it
Though I doubt I will
I’m working till the morning light
I’m waiting for the kill

I’m in and out of barrooms
Running in the dark
Sneaking down the alleyways
Messing with the sharks
Only trying to keep my head above
A dangerous world

A dangerous world

Such a dangerous world

A dangerous world

(guitar solo)

With some Molly in my pocket
And a dot on my tongue
Got the city holding
At the point of a gun
Some people think I’m crazy
But I know I belong
In a dangerous world

I’m in and out of barrooms
Running in the dark
Sneaking down the alleyways
Messing with the sharks
Only trying to keep my head above
A dangerous world

A dangerous world

A dangerous world

A dangerous world

(guitar solo)

Living in a danger
Such a dangerous world

We’re living in a danger
Such a dangerous world

Yes, sneakin’ down the alleyway
Lookin’ at your never way
Trying to find a way to stay
In a dangerous world

Oh yeah we’re livin’ in
A dangerous world
Such a dangerous world

Such a dangerous world

Da…

Alvin Lee, RX5, Dangerous World

It blew my mind when I found out that there were no lyrics on the web for this song. There are no lyrics on Alvin Lee’s website, not on any of the lyrics websites that I checked. Nowhere, after at least five searches. So I decided to try transcribing some of them myself, see if that got hits since there are songs of that title that aren’t Alvin Lee’s song. But no, the phrase “such a dangerous world we’re living in even though it seems so far so good” gets no hits on the web. That phrase is definitely in the song.

Concord HPL 115 – 1979

I bought this album when it released in 1981 (Amazon has the wrong date on it) It was just another cassette in a very long string of cassettes that I bought at the Hastings next to the Safeway where I worked in downtown Sweetwater that year. But it was one of the first cassettes I played on my prized new stereo that I bought to put in my car, the first car that I paid for myself, a burnt orange ’72 Chevelle with an all-black interior. After my bad driving got that car totaled (even though it was the other drivers fault. Had I been paying attention I could have avoided it) I transplanted it into a ’74 Vega that I loved almost as much as I loved the Chevelle. Here’s the song on Youtube,

Alvin Lee OfficialDangerous World – Dec 3, 2016

I love this song. I Identify with this song. Hell, I identify with nearly every song on that album. I can’t explain why. My life was rough, but it was not this bad. However, the sentiment worked for me. Never feel safe or complacent. That is where trouble gets you.

I remember I played this album for a coworker at the first architectural firm I worked in, Johnni Jennings, Designer. This guy was a huge Yes fan. He just loved listening to those tunes day in and day out. I know, because I shared an apartment with him for about a year. When I played this album he dismissed it as just a bunch of noise. I knew I was an audiophile at that point. Yes does beautiful music, but the music is simple. It doesn’t have any drive, any compelling need. Alvin Lee’s work can sound like noise if you aren’t listening closely, but you can pick out the various levels in the song and just hear those levels if you are paying attention. The funky bassline. The intermittently riffing lead guitar. The rhythm guitars. It’s the rhythm guitars and excellent guitar work that got me listening to AC/DC. Most of the rock & roll that I hung onto featured amazing guitar work, from Boston to Styx and everything in between, guitar was what kept me listening to any piece of music back then.

It was years later when Constantin Barbu, the first architect I worked for, took the time to make me enjoy classical music. After that initiation into the finer points of music composition I could see that the music that Yes created was appreciable, but it’s still not real rock & roll. Alvin Lee was a rocker. One of the greatest.

I drew a king like a stranger to an ace
And I’m way back down on the ground

Alvin Lee, RX5, Lady Luck

Album art by Derek Riggs. I love his work, too. (Wikipedia)