My kid will be defacing books and desks in no time. Right?
(Warner Bros., 1971)
OK, this record smokes front to back. And I recommend ya smokes while spinning this heavy rock classic. It’s probably my favorite Deep Purple joint (there I go again), with Deep Purple In Rock coming in at a very close second. The majick common denominator is vocalist Ian Gillan, who is easily the best vocalist Purple ever employed (and I love the David Coverdale records). The title track and “No No No” will peel paint, and “Fools” is my favorite track, eight minutes of heavy propulsion with some added spaced exploration. Blackmore never disappoints, and drummer Ian Paice provides plenty of his own highlights. I listened to Fireball last night with a few pals–remotely over Google Hangouts, of course–and we all got down with this crackly, beater of a record. Do these even come without proper wear?
We’re more than two weeks into this thing…with, I’m guessing two months to go until we reach any semblance of normal life. If I think about it in those terms, my heart sinks and my brain turns mushy. But, if I stick with the cliches “take it day by day” and “live in the moment,” I tend to do all right. I sure hope you’re taking care of yourself in whatever ways work best.
As I mentioned in a previous post, one of the few positives to come out of this ordeal is people finding creative ways to pass the time. For me, I’ve been doing live DJ sets with my son…err, DJ Cool Carl, and I just did a loose, late-nite solo set this week that was a total blast (see the vid below to get a taste; I’ll probably do another next week). I’ve also found solace in this here website. I re-fired up The Days of Lore back in February with the intention of simply having an outlet for my writing that doesn’t involve hard deadlines, or any parameters for that matter, but it’s become a savior for me during this period of social distancing.
I have some interviews ready to run here in the coming weeks (gotta find a good transcription service, because transcribing an hour interview, for me, is a 12-hour endeavor that crushes my soul). I’m really excited, too, because while the conversation inevitably touches on the current situation, I’ve also engaged in some incredible conversation about art, life and being human.
I planned on running my interview with Old 97’s vocalist/guitarist Rhett Miller this week, but due to time constraints, it’ll go live next week. Also on the docket: A conversation with Prids bassist/vocalist Mistina La Fave that’s already in the can. Mistina is a riot, a killer bassist, speaks her damn mind, and she’s been navigating the male-dominated music world for more than two decades. I’ll also talk to Chico News & Review Editor Melissa Daugherty about the future of the paper, the importance of strong community journalism, and I’m sure a lot more. I had an interview set up with Deadspin founder and sports and entertainment writer Will Leitch that got derailed once he realized he was going to have to essentially homeschool his kids, but we’ll get that back on the schedule ASAP. Plus, more to come! I am fearless in my quest to request interviews.
So yeah…we’re all doing the best we can, eh? I hope this space provides a little diversion for you like it does for me. Stay tuned. It’ll be fun.
(Atlantic Records, 1974)
I have a ton of country records, but I’ve neglected them over the past couple years–even Willie, whom I love more than most things. But a live DJ set last night over at The Days of Lore Facebook page (which was an absolute drunken, fun and hilarious three and a half hours) prompted some requests for Kenny Rogers (rest in peace, gambler), Dolly Parton and, of course, Willie Nelson. Phases and Stages is, and always has been, my favorite Willie record, which came at his absolute creative peak in the early-’70s. It’s a concept album about a breakup, from the vantage-point of both the man and the woman. There are some pretty biting moments, like “Pretend I Never Happened” (“You will not want to remember any love as cold as mine”) and “It’s Not Supposed to Be That Way,” as well as a couple of fantastic bar-boogie shakers like “Sister’s Coming Home”/”Down At the Corner Beer Joint” and the day-drinking classic “Bloody Mary Morning.” Throughout are lovely instrumental refrains that serve as the connective tissue to the stories. It’s one of Willie’s best. And I’m glad I dusted it off, because it’s a beautiful record, by a beautiful man.
(Trap, 1983; Jackpot, 2009)
Well, “Doom Town” sounds about right, doesn’t it? Imagine if Greg Sage was in his 20s writing songs during a pandemic. What kind of bleak, fucked-up music would Wipers be making? Well, it would probably sound exactly like the songs that appear on those first three records. I’m listening to Over the Edge because it fits the current mood of hopelessness, matched by the gray Pacific Northwest skies I’m currently staring at outside my window. Plus I just finished a piece on Wipers’ first record Is This Real? for Vortex Magazine that should run in their April issue. I interviewed original drummer Sam Henry as well as Toody Cole from Dead Moon, along with others who were running loose in Portland in the late-’70s and early-’80s. It was a different time fore sure…although, was it? Is this real?
Ominous, eh? Wait until you hear it. Actually, Bruce Haack, the man behind The Electric Lucifer, spent a good portion of his career making children’s records, and even appeared on an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood to talk about his magick homemade synthesizers (something I touched on in my musical appreciation of Fred Rogers). Those synthesizers are the main attraction here…unless the half-baked Heaven-versus-Hell concept is more your thing. The Electric Lucifer is a pretty fantastical and fantastically weird record, ahead of its time for its use of electronics right out of Haack’s laboratory. It’s a perfect mix of robotic sizzle (“Song of the Death Machine”) and psychedelic tuneage (“Cherubic Hymn”). And you know what? It sounds exactly how I feel these days. Hail the Electric Lucifer!
I’m not gonna lie, I’d been working on sort of a sourpuss piece about the changes Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has implemented (and attempts to implement) for absolutely no other reason than to attract a few NFL and NBA fans to America’s Pastime. But a lot has changed over the past few weeks, so I’ll save the criticism for more important things. I am here to celebrate baseball or, more specifically, the emotions that are attached to baseball, and sports in general.
Today would have been Opening Day for the 2020 Major League Baseball season. Of course, there is no baseball. As it stands, the season is set to begin two weeks from now, as announced by MLB on March 12. This is extremely unlikely. Optimistically, if I were to make a wager, I’d say the season could start in July. But I think it’s very realistic to conclude that the season is in jeopardy–which makes me very sad.
I was inspired to write this because A) I truly do love the game of baseball, and B) I just finished watching Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, and I was once again an emotional wreck. It took a lot of strength to not completely lose it in front of my family for fear they’d think I was an absolute crazy person (remember, this game was nine years ago).
Why do sports–essentially the act of watching grown men and women play a game they love while getting paid a lot of money to do so–make us so goddamn emotional and insane? As someone who gets completely wrapped up in games (baseball only for me, thank Yadi), and screams at the television over a botched play, and howls like wolf in heat after a game-winning home run (to wit: After Albert Pujols hit a massive home run off Astros’ reliever Brad Lidge in the 2005 NLCS I took my pants off and ran down the street, waving them over my head), I still don’t understand it.
But baseball does make me emotional. Baseball does make me happy. Baseball does bring my friends and me together. And now, when some of us need this distraction the most, baseball is not here for us (for good reasons, of course, but it still sucks). I’m sure a few of you reading have retreated to the warm embrace of a classic game or match during this strange and trying time. If not, good for you–you are an emotionally stable person.
I look forward to again watching a live baseball broadcast some day. I guess for now my wallet and my blood pressure thank me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to watch this again and cry like a baby because I’m a big, stupid baby.
(Virgin, 1980; Epic, 1982)
I love XTC. Adore them. They’re one of those bands that, sure, they’ve put out a couple weak-for-them records–but have they ever made a truly bad one? That’s a discussion for another time (the answer is no). XTC is one of those bands I am comfortably familiar with, but also continually discovering and rediscovering. Like, I just put on Black Sea for the first time in a maybe a year, and now I’m wondering if this is now my favorite XTC record (which I’ve always considered The Dukes’ records and the obvious Skylarking to be). It’s the perfect stop between the punkier White Music and more polished pop of English Settlement. Black Sea is spinning as I write this, and “Towers of London” just came on…and, yeah, this album just keeps on giving. So, yes. This is absolutely my favorite XTC record. For now.
My family and I continue to hunker down–like everyone is supposed to. Bartered beer for toilet paper with our friends/neighbors yesterday. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown finally announced a shelter in place order Monday, most likely as a response to the bozos that flooded small rural and beach towns over the weekend as their way of social distancing. We’re trying to do takeout once a week from local restaurants to help them weather this unprecedented storm. The fed and local governments better get those emergency stimulus packages passed before the natives get restless, and we have to deal with a whole new set of problems.
Mostly, I want to say thank you to my mom for approaching her boss yesterday about her concerns about continuing work at the grocery store she’s been with for years. They happily laid her off so she can collect unemployment, and sent her off with a small party and a bunch of beer and toilet paper. Thank you, mom, for taking this seriously. Happy retirement. I love you. I’ll listen to some Billy Squier and drink a beer in your honor today.
(CBS Records, 1969)
Terry Riley’s music still sounds as otherworldly as it did when it was released. Now wrap your head around the fact his best-known work In C came out in 1964–19-fucking-64! Some perspective: It was the dawn of the British Invasion, and teenyboppers were dancing (at safe and appropriate social distances) to “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” and “Baby Love.” By the time Riley released A Rainbow in Curved Air in 1969, music was growing more adventurous…and it was still light years ahead of its time. This record remains a perfect specimen of minimalist electronic ambient music, influenced as much by Indian classical music (most notably singer Pandit Pran Nath) as it was the psychedelics Riley was ingesting. “[Drugs] had a big impact on the way I conceived a musical form,” Riley told me last year (in what ended up being the final piece I wrote for the CN&R). “It took me into details of music that I hadn’t seen before. It blew things up, like a big magnifying glass.” You don’t have to do drugs in order to enjoy Riley’s music, but it’d be a lot cooler if you did.