On Tour and Other Random Thoughts

Heading out on the road today.  Posting has a slow due to constant travel.  I brought my computer with me this time.  We will be up in Tulsa tonight at Fassler Hall if any of you live in that area. 

I mentioned I have been rewatching Breaking Bad.  It’s unbelievable how good it is.  Even knowing the outcome, the writing is good enough that it keeps you pulled into the narrative completely.  

I played a festival yesterday.  The people were nice to us and the festival was fun.  I had to laugh though.  There were several flags in the crowd with firearms on them that said, “Come and take it.”  Do these people not know that if the government really wanted to do away with them at this point they could just send a smart bomb through their window?  They could just fly a drone overhead and reduce them to dust with the push of a button.  In some ways firearms are as outdated as swords.  You might as well have a knight on your flag.  Sure, you could kill some people, but probably only your fellow citizens and a couple unlucky pawns. 

That’s all for now.  In the future when all’s well…

How Actors Memorize Their Lines

deadwood460

As I’ve been reading Behan plays, I started to think about the challenge that actors must have learning dialog, especially if they are playing a large part in something.  The way that my mind works I have trouble remember song lyrics, especially to cover songs, so I can’t imagine the work that must go into learning the dialog for an entire play.  I also was thinking of the TV show Deadwood, where they often would get pages of dialog the day of a shoot, due to creator David Milch writing dialog often up until the very last minute.  (Deadwood is one of my favorite shows ever.  The dialog is really complex.  At times it is like Shakespeare with swearing.  Actor Ian McShane, in particular, would have to give whole speeches, soliloquies sometimes, that he had only gotten the morning of the shoot.)  So I decided to google what actors do, in hopes of learning tricks to make learning song lyrics easier for myself.  Out of the articles I read, I found the one that follows the most interesting, not only because it interviewed stage actors in Chicago, but also by total coincidence it talked about Deadwood and how those actors dealt with Milch’s writing style.  Here is the article:

How Actors Memorize Their Lines

You’d Think ‘Twas a Crime to be Human

The following lyrics are from a song in Brendan Behan’s play Richard’s Cork Leg:

You’d think ’twas a crime to be human
To sometimes get scared in the park,
When a copper sneaks up there behind you,
And flashes his light in the dark.

To regard savage dogs with suspicion,
In case that the bastards would bite,
To be hauled off to jail on suspicion,
And scared of a scream in the night.

You’d think ’twas a crime to be human,
With sex education in bed,
And postpone your thoughts of hereafter,
‘Till after you are twenty years dead.

To work overtime with young Nancy,
And give her a coffee and roll,
And likewise whatever she’d fancy
By weight or the lump or the whole.

You’d think ’twas come to be human,
And go for a swim in the sea,
And dance with no clothes in the sunshine,
And drink foreign lager for tea.

To regard co-existence with favor,
And nuclear weapons with fear,
To want more return for less labour,
Fatter fish, cheaper chips, better beer.

Let the heroes all die for the people,
If that is what they want to do,
And we’ll struggle on here without them,
I’ve concluded, now, frolics to you.  

Laughter On High

Reading the Brendan Behan play Richard Cork’s Leg in the van today.  If I were to tell you a play featuring two prostitutes and two beggers pretending to be blind, among others, all taking place in a graveyard, was funny, you might not believe me, but it is.  One of my favorite George Carlin specials is Life is Worth Losing, where his stage set is a graveyard as well. 

There is that old saying that tragedy plus time equals comedy.  I think it is perspective too.  A war viewed from on high, where two armies butcher each other over nothing more than a disagreement in religious beliefs, is so absurd I can’t help but imagine some supernatural beings having a laugh in the clouds.  What would one think if they watched the battle of Gettysburg from far away, watching an army walk directly into cannon fire, largely over some misinformed ideas concerning the inferiority of certain people because they looked slightly different?  We do strange and horrible things down here.   If someone is watching from above, we surely have provided them with a lot of folly over the years. 

Brendan Behan In Music

Heading out for Lubbock on tour with Shinyribs.   Brought a book of Brendan Behan plays.  The Quare Fellow is one of my favorites.  It examines prison life.  The play is fictional, but Behan spent time in confinement during his lifetime.  Behan’s autobiography Borstal Boy is also an excellent read.  There are many great songs that mention Behan.  Thin Lizzy’s Black Rose, Black 47’s The One and Only Brendan Behan,  Morrissey’s Mountjoy, and Streams of Whiskey by The Pogues are just a few.  One of my favorite songs is The Auld Triangle, which is featured in the play The Quare Fellow, though actually written by Behan’s brother.  If you have heard of him before in a song or somewhere else, but haven’t read any of his actual writings, I highly recommend them.  He was a great soul that I’m glad was out there. 

The Soul Man Who Walked Away

The Soul Man Who Walked Away

I became explicitly aware of Bill Withers through working with Kevin Russell in Shinyribs.  (We have covered two of his songs throughout the years.  We just played one this past Saturday.)  I had no doubt heard some of his material, but was not overtly familiar with him.  He is still someone more on the periphery of my vision.  Everyone in Shinyribs is older than me, so perhaps it is just an age thing.  However, there is so much music in the world that is easy to let something, even something important on occasion, slip past you. 

Anyway, the above Rolling Stone article is interesting if you are a fan or not.  Apparently Withers is one of the few people who retired from the music business willingly at the top of their game.  The article dives into why Withers made that decision, among other things.