Neal Cassady Drops Dead

Neal Cassady drops dead
And Allen Ginsberg’s tears shampoo his beard
Neal Cassady drops dead
And Allen Ginsberg’s lips tighten and thin
Neal Cassady drops dead
And Allen Ginsberg’s hosed down in a barn
Neal Cassady drops dead
And Allen Ginsberg’s howl becomes a growl

Everyone has babies
Babies full of rabies
Rabies full of scabies
Scarlet has a fever
Ringlets full of ringworm
Angel of distemper
Poor little fella has got rubella
Liver full of fungus
Junior full of gangrene
Minor’s melanoma
Tykes full of gripe. 
Whippersnapper’s scurvy
Urchin made of acne
Get that thing away from me!

Victim, or life’s adventurer
Which of the two are you?
Victim or life’s adventurer
Which of the two are you? 

Lyrics by Morrissey

Last night I heard a brilliant podcast about Allen Ginsberg.  I don’t remember the name of it, but I will try to find it and link to it somehow.  In the meantime I have been thinking of these lyrics by Morrissey.  Everything dies.  The only thing you can choose is to live life to the fullest or not in the meantime.

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. 

Kiss Me A Lot (Official Video)

Above is the official video for Morrissey’s song Kiss Me A Lot, which in my opinion is from the best album from the last few years, World Peace is None of Your Business.  This is easily the most straightforward pop song on the album.  I like the fact that even in a straightforward pop song he can get a term in like, “Bastille mausoleum.”

This video has created a lot of controversy in the world of Morrissey.  He has strongly supported feminism throughout his career.  The fact that this video features scantily clad models, which are so normal in most pop music, has caused disbelief amongst fans.  I admit that I was surprised to see them.

However, I love the song and the man.  Even if you count the above video as a stumble in his career, his life’s work still towers above most of modern pop music.

Madonna Banned for Age and What This Means For Culture

Madonna Banned for Age

Although I love some of her early singles, I am not what one would consider a Madonna fan.  However, the above article is something I find troubling.  Apparently the BBC have declined to play her latest single due to that fact that her and her audience are too old. 

First of all this is completely senseless.  When I was thirteen I remember listening to the Doors, a band from my parents generation.  Even now many of my favorite artists are decades older than me.  This wasn’t just true of me, but all my friends.   I remember parties in highschool listening to classic rock and early 80’s post punk, despite the fact that even the early 80’s stuff came out when I was a couple years old.  (I was born in 1978.)

People like what they are exposed to.  If you are a kid and you hear something you like, you are going to listen to it if you have any sense of self.  If you don’t hear it, at any age, you aren’t going to like it.  Plain and simple. 

Age, like sex, race, and sexual orientation,  is just another way to divide people. 

Here is what I find particularly troubling about this:  When it comes to a pop artist, although it is still senseless and wrong, it does not necessarily affect the world in any major way.  However,  there are a lot of older artists that are effective at critiquing society, that speak truth to power.  Jackson Browne, Morrissey, Springsteen, Chuck D, and on and on have been effective chroniclers of what is going on in society.  They are all in their 50’s and 60’s at this point.  It is not hard to see someone in power using age to not play music, something that is not always thought of as political, in order to effectively silence political dissent.   “Oh we are not going to play anything off of Jackson Browne’s Standing in the Breach because we don’t play music by older artists.”  This is when Jackson Browne released one of the most intelligent albums of last year, which was also highly political on certain tracks.  The same goes for the rest of that list. 

Divide and conquer.   This is another fictitious way of dividing people, who may have similar beliefs, interests, and passions, in a way that is currently possible without looking like censorship.  Chuck D is much older than most pop stars, but he is the one bringing the thunder, preaching change, speaking truth to power.  A disenchanted kid, if they were to discover him, might be inclined to listen to him over the other music choices they are currently being presented with.  That isn’t to say that kids aren’t smart enough to find and seek things out on their own, but they have a better chance of finding someone like Chuck D the more exposure he gets.  Age is one of the last ways you can openly discredit someone without looking like a neanderthal.  

Music Awards Are None of Your Business

Music Awards Are None of Your Business

The above link is a recently published Morrissey rant at http://www.true-to-you.net, his official site.  It’s long, but full of laughs.  It is an attack on the Brit Awards, though many passages could serve as attacks on any awards show and the modern music business in general.  A sample:

In short, Britain has been encouraged to become a nation of idiots (which, of course, is what it is not). But why has British culture become so debased? Why is it that only ideas-free and factory-farmed ‘personalities’ are encouraged? Is it simply because we are all easier to govern as long as we are free of any content? Well, yes. The sudden, manic rise in loud and overquick camera shots (for a populace presumed to have zero attention span); television sponsorship; persistent sports news for events attended by no one; the obvious lusty dictatorship of the “royal” family (the one and only British institution that we pray for the government to ‘sell off’ – preferably to China)… it all adds up to an underpattern of controlled obedience, and the notion of the BPI awards being handed out by genuine musicologists becomes as ludicrous a concept as witnessing someone on the Brit Awards coming perilously close to actually making a worthwhile point. Meanwhile, if we mourn the unlikely possibility of positive change in pop music, or if we dare suggest that change is even allowable, we are treated like mental patients.

A constant for me, is trying to figure out how the music business feel into such decline.  I not only mean in terms of sales that is partially, if not substantially, due to technology, but also why the artistry and cultural relevance is in decline as well?  To me, it is an endlessly fascinating subject, not only because I am interested in music, but because I, along with many many other people, can sense that aspects of our culture seem in decline.   What are the artistic, economic, political, technological, and cultural forces that are causing this?

Morrissey, Jackson Browne, Buffy Sainte-Marie

#buffystmarie show. #moz #jacksonbrowne

A photo posted by Jesse Tobias (@8stitches9lives) on

I couldn’t help but post this picture of Morrissey and Jackson Browne together.  To top it all off they were both attending a show by Buffy Sainte-Marie.  Anyone that has read this blog for awhile knows that all three are favorites of mine.  All three are also writers who have a mastery of poetry and politics.  They have the ability to look out at the world and describe what is going on with unique insight.  They are original voices, first-rate melody writers, and absolutely fearless.

Look at the Facts by Buffy Sainte-Marie:

For America by Jackson Browne (Yes, the production is dated, but what a song!):

Last, but not least, Mountjoy by Morrissey (Mountjoy is a notorious prison in Dublin):

Walmart, Grey Skies, and a Street Corner Symphony

Slate grey Victorian skies
Come Back to Camden by Morrissey

I found myself buying pants at Walmart today for a funeral, on a day where the sky resembled the above quote.  Luckily it struck me as funny, instead of morose.  I am convinced if there is a God, that He has a strange sense of humor.  If you are afraid of death, and want to fear it less, spend some time walking around Walmart looking at the lost souls in that place.  Walmart is the endgame of the American dream.  It is where we got everything we ever wanted, for a low low price, and all we had to give up in return was our culture and a living wage.  I try not to shop there, but am low on cash myself and didn’t have a lot of time to play around with.  If you live long enough, there are times in life when being a hypocrite is the only option.

Life isn’t all dust and bones and skeleton smiles.  Earlier today I was walking my dog and The Persuasions Medley: He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother / You’ve Got a Friend came on my ipod.  The clouds parted and pure joy reigned down.  The Persuasions are an a capella soul group.  Their masterpiece is probably the album Street Corner Symphony.  Here is the song:

The album’s title is perfect.  They create an entire world of sweet soul music with nothing but the human voice.  How can you be down when something like this is out there?

The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows when
But I’m strong
Strong enough to carry him
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother
So on we go
His welfare is of my concern
No burden is he to bear
We’ll get there