Native Americans and Slavery

Native Americans and Slavery

A really fascinating article about the participation and victimization of Native Americans in the slave trade.  As much as I have read about Native Americans and the slave trade, a great deal of this article was still new to myself.  Yet none of it surprises me.  The history of Native people’s has always been infinitely more complex than is often acknowledged in our society.  I couldn’t help but think while reading the article that this is what unrestricted free markets look like.  (Well almost unrestricted, as there were only certain people that could be slaves at certain times.)  It is the power of the strong over the weak.  I think it is worth noting that on the very day this article was put out it was announced that 62 people hold more wealth than the bottom 3.5 billion.

A Strange Goodbye to David Bowie

Let me tell you a story.  During Christmas break I made an album with my brother, drummer Alex Moralez, and Dave and Christine from Marah.  (They produced, engineered, and played some of the instruments.)  It was recorded in their farmhouse in rural PA.  This isn’t really a story of that record, which is yet to come.  One of the songs I demoed was called Hand Coming Down.  (The title, as the song, was changed at the last minute.)  On the demo it has a bluesy feel, sounding somewhat like some of the work Paul Westerberg has done in the last 10 yrs, but slightly spookier.  It is a one chord song, which Dave had encouraged me to write some months earlier, long before there were any plans to work together.  The thing about a one chord song is that, due to its simplicity, you can take it almost anywhere.

Through the collective will of everyone, we decided to take it in more of a European direction.  Bands like The Cure, Joy Division, and Bauhaus were mentioned.  The musical track, recorded live, but without vocals, turned infinitely more spooky and menacing.

I sang the demo version, but when it came time to cut the vocal for it, I knew my brother was the only one that could do the vibe of the song justice.  We talked, before he cut it, about going in more of a David Bowie/Iggy Pop route vocally, as all of us love the work the two of them did together in the 70’s.  My brother knocked it out of the park.

The point of this story is not to talk about the record, but to point out that here in 2016, there is still music being made that is still directly influenced by the work that Bowie did many moons back.  We all know that, and we know it will continue.  Just last year I became fully reimbursed in the recordings of Bowie’s Berlin period.  This year, I started to also reinvestigate the albums that he made with Iggy Pop.  My brother has long been a torch bearer for Bowie’s work.

And although I see the world as random, last night, as I mentioned in my previous post, I was watching a movie about Marlene Dietrich.  The documentary was called Marlene.  In it she sings a slow melancholy version of Just a Gigolo.  Bowie is in the cafe with her, dressed stylishly, sitting at a table slightly removed from the main action.  It had a dreamy resigned quality to it.  And even though I don’t believe in such things, when I heard the news today, it seemed like last night the universe was speaking to me.  It was a goodbye to someone who’s work I have loved very much over the years.  It was one of those moments that makes you question things, if only for a moment, before you realize that you should know better…

Marlene Dietrich and Bing Crosby(!) Sing in French

Thanks to some friends, I have recently discovered the musical world of Marlene Dietrich.  One of her records was put on and a room full of rowdy drunks sat in stunned silence at the magic of the recording.  But stranger yet, here she is singing in French, with Bing Crosby!  For some reason I never pictured Bing Crosby singing in French, though that could just be my own ignorance.  Maybe him singing with Bowie wasn’t so strange after all?

Matt Taibbi On Oregon Standoff

Matt Taibbi On Oregon Standoff

I have tried several times to write about what is going on in Oregon, only to find myself not being able to adequately convey the proper level of outrage and absurdity.  Thank heavens that Matt Taibbi is there when you need him.  Above is his take on the events over at Rolling Stone.  Every time I read an article on Ammon Bundy and the gang, I feel my brain melting down.  Even Donald Trump and the Koch brothers don’t fill me with such loathing.  Even if they see themselves as David vs. Goliath, and in terms of sheer firepower and physicality, compared to the federal government, they may be, as soon as they brought weapons into their political argument they took on the role of the bully.  They somehow represent sheer dumb force, even as they are strikingly pathetic. Sooner or later they will end up in jail or possibly dead, and unlike so many in this country, they will have brought that upon themselves.  Unwittingly these people are making a better argument for a strong government than any liberal possibly could.

Merry Christmas Everybody

Marah's_Xmas_Bar

Photo taken two days ago at Marah HQ.  Some amazing rock n roll is being made.  I’d like to take some credit for it, but I feel more like a sailor catching the first glimpse of a new shore, only due to the luck of waking up on the right boat, with the right crew.  Sometimes magic happens and chance happens to place you in the room.  More will be revealed when I feel I can adequately express it.

I hope all of you can enjoy the holiday in one way or another.  If you are lucky enough to spend the day with friends or family appreciate it.  As a musician who lives far from where I grew up, I know what it is like to be alone on a holiday on occasion.  I’ve been lucky enough that my friends in my adopted city of Austin have reached out to include me when I couldn’t get back home, as I have this year.  If you know anyone out there on their own, drop them a line.

“We’re here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.”

Merry Xmas everybody…

Jeff

 

 

Gun Control in Japan

Here is an interesting article at The Atlantic about gun control in Japan, a country where death by firearm is very rare.  I’m not saying there policy would work here or that we need to go that far.  I haven’t really worked through what I think or feel since this last shooting.   (Though I am not surprised policies favored by the NRA eventually lead to benefitting enemies of our country.  By taking debate off the table, by being an extremist, in a narrow way, an ideologue,  one is going to run into a situation where absolutism fails.  Being inflexible never works out in the end.)   I do think one should read as many different things as possible, acknowledging that our way is not the only way.  Acknowledging that is a first step to a conversation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

firearmhttp://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/07/a-land-without-guns-how-japan-has-virtually-eliminated-shooting-deaths/260189/s is veey

Fleetwood Mac’s Masterpiece

Fleetwood Mac’s Masterpiece

I am on the road this week in Louisiana, so posting will be slow.  Here is a piece about Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk, the most creative album by one of my favorite bands.  The writer, a musician himself, does a good job explaining why this album is a great work of art, that is and should be appreciated far outside the confines of 70’s rock.

What ISIS Really Wants

What ISIS Really Wants

Sent to me by a friend, this Atlantic article is the best piece of writing I have seen yet on what ISIS believes.  It appears they are not driven by political beliefs, but ideology.  Although I have seen some erratic and foolhardy comments in the US recently, regarding refugees,  personal freedom,  and other things that exaggerate the threat of terrorism, especially when you put the numbers against things like car accidents, there is no doubt in my mind that ISIS needs to be dealt with.  If what this article says is true, I don’t see this as a group that can be dealt with through anything other than force.  I’d like to believe otherwise, but when people have an ideology such as this, and they act upon it, I don’t think there is any other option.  I am curious if any of you out there disagree?  I believe in helping the refugees.  I think any force should be usd through an international coalition.  I also think that force should be used carefully, in a way that is least likely to create more enemies.  But I don’t see ISIS as a rational group where anything other than their outright destruction will solve this problem.  I have never advocated military action on this site.  I’d like to be proven wrong if I am.  Any takers?

 

Where I’ve Been

Recent days have found me with my first week off (well almost a week) in many moons.  This particular post will probably only be of interest to those that have been reading along consistently.  By I felt i owed an explanation for those of you that come here often as to the slow positing rate as of late.  I’ve been catching up on things I have needed to do, on things I have ignored for too long due to travel.  I have also been writing and working on things music related.  But a good bit of the time I have been replenishing the well, diving into books, records, and films that I have been meaning to finish or check out.  This is definitely stuff I want to be doing, it’s what I enjoy.  However, as I am trying to make this a fully functional site, I also need to consume enough information that I can make this site interesting on a regular basis.

I’ve been reading S.C. Gwynne’s Rebel Yell: The Violence, the Passion, and the Redemption of Stonewall Jackson.  I think the Civil War is a period worth understanding if you want to understand many of the national issues of our day.  So many of them have their roots there.  I am trying to finish Patti Smith’s great memoir Just Kids, and because of her I finally got around to reading Rimbaud’s A Season in Hell.  I am also trying to finish Alain de Botton’s The Architecture of Happiness, Erik Larson’s Isaac’s Storm, and Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose.  I finished Pete Townshend’s autobiography, Who I Am, a week ago and can definitely recommend it to anyone that is even slightly interested in him.  He has had a tremendous impact on our culture, even if he has never directly meant anything to you.

Musically I have been diving into the career of Big Star, as well as Chris Bell’s and Alex Chilton’s respective solo careers.  Although I had some kind of bootleg Big Star compilation growing up, and I knew many of my favorite musical artists were influenced by them, this is the first time I have truly understood their brilliance and the arc of their careers.  This is largely due to the excellent documentary Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me, which is streaming on Netflix for free right now.

I am a bit obsessive compulsive about music.  As soon as I become interested in a band or artist, I tend to want to understand everything that I can about them.  With literature I try to always keep one fiction and one non-fiction book going.  I feel like reading fiction is better for songwriting and that non-fiction helps the kind of writing I do here.  I usually do not read this many books and have definitely bitten off more than I can chew!

Unlike some people who need to be forced to read anything, the opposite is true for me.  I could easily get lost down the rabbit hole of books, sometimes failing to take care of things in the real world.  But there are so many interesting things out there, and as always, so little time…