For anyone in the Austin area, I will be performing with Shinyribs at Shady Grove today at 8:30pm. It is a free show.
An interesting article about how the music charts have been altered by streaming. It makes the case that diversity has been watered down. I can speak to how accurate this article is, but it is worth thinking about if you want to understand how culture, and especially musical culture, is changing due to technology. I originally received this article though my ASCAP membership.
All of my hymns to depravity
Are really just odes to the Lord
He in his infinite wisdom
Sense of theater and the absurd
All of my psalms of violence
Are really just tributes to love
I’ve been scavaging like a vulture
Looking for the peace of the dove
You can’t pin me down
I will be a cloud of smoke
I will be a dream
I will be a crown of thorns
Up on Calvary
I will be a lover
In the throws of lust
I will be ashes
I will be dust
You can’t pin me down
Hence forth comes a mystery
In our darkest nights
In our deepest dreams
You can’t pin me down
– J. Brown
There is a meme going around on Facebook right now where Texas Governor Greg Abbot is quoted:
“Marriage is defined by God, no man can redefine it.”
Then it shows the three women Supreme Court Judges and below their picture it says: I Am No Man.
I loved it. I wrote below it on my Facebook page:
I couldn’t help post this. It made me laugh thinking how certain heads would explode. As a straight white male maybe you think I shouldn’t be laughing. But after centuries of war, environmental destruction, and economic injustice (just for starters!), I figure it’s time to let some other people drive. We have three women on the Supreme Court and a black president and we got affordable healthcare and tolerance that just a few years ago seemed a dream.
I don’t usually like to post those memes on Facebook, but sometimes you have to break your own rules. But anyway, it made me think of my voting system that I use if I am not sure of who to vote for. Let’s just be honest, sometimes you go to the polls in those off years and you just don’t know all the races. So you have to have a system. So here is mine (I will explain after):
1. If there are different parties I select the most liberal party.
2. If there are not different parties I will vote for a woman over a man.
3. If the candidates are all one sex, then I try to see if one of the candidates has a name that looks like a minority name. If so I vote for the minority.
4. If the only name present is a white Republican male, then I write in a candidate.
5. If there is no one that I can think of that is breathing to hold an office other than a white Republican male, I then write in a fictional character.
Basically, in my opinion, George W. Bush doomed white Republican males until the end of time. The Republican party, which was the party of my grandfather, and used to feature sensible moderates at times, spent the years between Reagan and W. driving all moderates out of positions of power in the party. (I know many of you are still out there in the wilderness. Stay strong!) Somehow this thinning of the moderate heard reached light speed under George W. Now that party’s leadership seems to be left without any candidates that aren’t anti-science, religious freak, free market fundamentalists.
It’s not that I think that all liberals, women, and minorities are great. Not by a long shot. It’s only that I am willing to bet they will be better than the WRM alternative.
In life the driving forces should be love, tolerance, and peace. I don’t mean that in the kind of utopian sense than many on the right would call, “hippie bullshit.” I just mean that we should strive to be tolerant of those individuals who are born differently from us and that as a society we should only use violence as a last resort. As much as I would like to believe otherwise, if you put Hitler at one end of the human spectrum and Martin Luther King Jr. at the other, I would probably be somewhere in the middle. But I’m trying. It’s striving to be loving, tolerant, and peaceful that is important. Many of us will trip along the way, but we must get up and try harder.
I feel like more often than not, those that have struggled have more empathy for other people that are struggling. Unfortunately, right now, in our society, on average, women and minorities have more roadblocks in their path than white men do, despite whatever bullshit Fox News tries to sell you. (You will see all kinds of “traditional values under attack” over at Fox News after the gay marriage vote. Fox News viewers will be made to feel like victims, again. Please, gay people are just being allowed to marry someone they love, not being given free mansions.) There is no promise that any kind of person is going to be loving, tolerant, or kind, but again, I’m playing the odds at the voting booth on occasion. If you’ve been shit on by the system, the odds are you are going to extend a hand to others that have faced similar problems. And that’s what this whole life thing is about, making sure that as many of our brothers and sisters get a fair shake as possible.
Now granted, occasionally my system could vote in Clarence Thomas in a whig, but whoever said life was without its risks?
I mentioned the other day that riding home from a gig I heard a great podcast about Allen Ginsberg. Kevin “Shinyribs” Russell was playing it in his car. Above is a link to the podcast series, Thanks For Giving A Damn by Otis Gibbs, and the podcast we listened to is Episode 115. If you scroll down you see that Kevin is interviewed for this podcast series as well. I’ve actually only heard the one, but I imagine if the others are anything like it they are quite interesting. The Ginsberg podcast featured Ben Schafer telling what it was like to be an assistant for Ginsberg. The link above is with iTunes, but the podcasts are free.
Any music fan should own Bunny Wailer’s Blackheart Man. It is an unbelievably soulful album full of conviction, passion, and truly great musicianship. I would easily put it in a list of greatest reggae albums of all time, but it deserves exposure with fans outside of its genre.
The playing and production are astounding. When I listen to the album I am constantly reminded of a beautiful mosaic. Lots of little pieces are put together to create a striking larger whole. The record is full of interesting musical textures. You almost feel like you could run your hands over it. This is recording as art form. It’s not simply trying to convey a message or song, but painting with sound. The keyboards alone are some of my favorite on any record. One song begins with acoustic guitar. The acoustic is manipulated ever so slightly, so that it becomes an interesting texture, something unique. It is like they left no detail unnoticed in creating this record.
Bunny Wailer’s voice is truly a beautiful thing. It’s mellow, but there is a real stoicism to it. You get the sense that he could weather any storm. When the record touches on the political, and it is a spiritually political record, he sounds like the peace he wants to see brought about. You have no doubt that Wailer will outlast any opressors. The lyrics are great, but it is really the way that they are delivered that gives them their magic.
This is the kind of record that could change conciousness. If you love soul music, music for the heart, soul, and intellect, than this is a must.
When I was just a kid, little children
My old man used to sing a little song
But now I’ve grown to be a man
But it still lingers deep within my soul
Oh yes it lingers deep within my soul
He say now this train it is bound to glory, this train
This train it is bound to glory this train, this train
This train it is bound to glory, This train it don’t carry no unholy
This train is bound to glory, this train
Last night I read this exchange between Quentin Tarrintino and Henry Louis Gates Jr. concerning Tarrintino’s film Django Unchained. Apparently this interview was popular when it came out, but I am just seeing it now. It’s a really interesting interview that will bring new dimensions to watching the film. All three parts are worth seeking out.