Song Lyric Sunday Theme: Fear

It took me a few minutes, but “fear” brought memories of Julian Cope.

Julian sits in a special place for me.  His early work with the Teardrop Explodes and his first two solo records were great back in the day – that was the stuff to listen to.  It’s what the cool kids down the hall had.  No small triumph, not to brag, but I found all 4 vinyl albums and a couple of singles in the record stores.  (By the way, doesn’t “teardrop explodes” create the greatest mental image?)

I think a lot about “staying power” when I listen to music from my collection.  It turns out that, while I still listen to a fair amount of 1980s music, a lot from that decade now sounds tinny or the synthesizers are simplistic, or it just isn’t as good as I used to think it was.  Julian stands up a little better.  He has a nice voice and he sometimes has an astounding way with words.  Sometimes his music sounds naïve, but occasionally, decades later, some songs remain a real treasure.

Today’s selection is “Land of Fear’; originally found on a 7” EP.  (Now you will find it on Fried re-releases as “bonus material”.)  The song, to me, describes how it is to be in a relationship; scary, sure, but holding hands with the right person can make everything OK.  Also, there is clever adaptation of a biblical phrase to a love song.  (I guess it’s clever anytime someone does something useful with a biblical phrase.)  There’s another version, from studio tapes, mostly him noodling, playing with the words.  It’s an insight of how he worked through the scripture text to figure out how the words could work into his song.  I can’t find version that on YT.

Song:  Land of Fear
Album:  Sunspots EP (7” vinyl)
Artist: Julian Cope
Song Writer: Julian Cope

Thanks to Helen for the challenge;   Song Lryic Sunday


when I walk
through the land of fear
beside you
become over you
walk with me
through the land of fear
I don’t look to my left
I don’t look to my rear
cause I’m not afraid anymore
somehow I’m not afraid anymore
cause when I walk
through the land of fear
there’s no one there,
I make damn sure
I judge the stakes
against myself
the count has grown
up above the shelf
I’m not afraid anymore
somehow I’m not afraid anymore
cause when I walk
through the land of fear
the crying and the glancing out
abandon thee
incorrigibly tamed
they’ll never see
beyond my gaze
in the land of fear
the land of fear   I fixed up the found lyrics best I could.


A Lowly Blog’s Commitment to the First Amendment

Today, over 350 papers in the United States have coordinated to publish their own editorials on the importance of a free press.  The media is in collusion to protect our first amendment rights?  I’m in.

Is a blog really “journalism”?  Most frequently, probably not.  But I do consider some of my pieces to be journalism; they relate a story about something that I hope others find interesting or useful.

I promote music that I think is worthy to share with friends and strangers; that’s my opinion.  I write about how the music makes me feel, I write about a musician’s biography, and I sometimes write fiction to describe a real thing.  I offer my take on music for others to read, enjoy, and maybe learn from.  I invite readers to respond, whether they agree or not.  Discussion is paramount; if respectful and well considered, we all learn something.

Today’s editorials are about the freedom of press to report on government, root out corruption, and thus promote liberty and justice.  Arts journalism, and arts discussions, rely on the First Amendment similarly.  Books I read have been tried in US courts (in 1966, the Supreme Court of Massachusetts declared Burroughs’ Naked Lunch not obscene.)  We each rely on the freedom to assemble to attend a concert.  Last year, I wrote a piece about bone music in the former Soviet Union, when “Western music” was banned.

Let us unite today in joy and righteousness, knowing the power of the US Constitution; knowing that brave people continue to research the truth, provide informed opinions, and protect us all by invoking their First Amendment rights.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free assemble exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This is a music blog, so let’s listen to something.  The great Aretha died today.  Impossible to choose just one song (earlier this morning I struggled and gave up)  I’m choosing “Respect”; it’s a good word for the day.

Her voice is as beautiful as Thomas Jefferson’s pen.  The First Amendment was vital to the civil rights movements when Aretha came to age.  It is a small piece of writing that keeps on giving.


© Community Noise 2018.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.



I’ve got Two Words for Ya – Maint’nence

I am moving a little bit outside of myself for today’s theme.  I don’t normally listen to this gentleman, but the theme reminded me of these singular shows that we used to have in Seattle.

Kevn Kinney fronted Drivin N Cryin for some years, and I knew of him from that era.  Friends with REM from the Georgia days, there was a period of years in the mid-1990s when that Kevn would visit.  Peter Buck was living here and he’d put together an ensemble of locals to play, and they’d put on a show sometime over Winter Break.

Fond memories are mine, hanging out with a few friends, listening to the great riffs, and Kevn telling stories.  He’s the sort of guy that gently strums, eyes closed, and tells you, “all you really need in life is a full cup of coffee, a few good friends, and a guitar.”

Song:  “Broken Hearts and Auto Parts”
Album: “Broken Hearts and Auto Parts”
Artist: Kevn Kinney
Song Writer: Kevin Kinney

Thanks to Helen for the challenge.   Song Lryic Sunday

Ain’t been the best of years so far
I lost my girl, I lost my car.
Everything else, so in between
Seems so incomplete.
It ain’t the best of times you see
I’ve got no phone and no TV.
I’m just three steps from living on the street
Or sleeping in my truck.

It’s been broken hearts and auto parts and everything between.
I was on the move and in a suit, and on the silver screen.
Where I would hide for days and live inside my dreams.
It’s been broken hearts and auto parts this year.

Ain’t been the best of mornings
I spilt coffee on my favorite shirt.
Broke my shoelace gettin’ ready for church … ah, this is bullshit (sorry, Lord)
Ain’t been the best of nights so far
I spend most of it just standing at the bar.
Downtown, chasin’ a dream…hoping she’ll come chasing me.

It’s been broken hearts and auto parts and everything between
I was on the move and in a suit, and on the silver screen
Where I could hide for days and live inside my dreams
It’s been broken hearts and auto parts this year.


In the end the whole thing turns around
you find some spirit and you find the cause
You sit right down, with your ol’ broken-down guitar and write yourself a song.

It’s been broken hearts and auto parts and everything between
On the move and in a suit, and on the silver screen
Where I could hide for days and live inside my dreams
It’s been broken hearts and auto parts this year.


I found lyrics on a tablature site, then fixed them up a little bit for this live version.


Song Lyric Sunday Theme: Drink

There were options for this theme, “drink”.  My two immediate thoughts were The Thrownups (a Seattle band associated with Mark Arm and Mudhoney) and Pink Martini.  I thought the latter might be better.  I’ve never actually had a pink martini.  What do they put in it?

The song I choose, the lyrics are sort of punk rock for this multi-cultural orchestra.  It’s my favorite song by them.

Song:   Hey Eugene
Album: Hey Eugene!
Artist: Pink Martini
Song Writer:  China Forbes

(The live versions are funner to watch, but I thought the dynamics were better on the studio versions … so you get this version.)

Thanks to Helen for the challenge.   Song Lyric Sunday

Hey Eugene, do you remember me?
I’m that chick you danced with
Two times through the Rufus album
Friday night at that party on Avenue A
Where your skinhead friend passed out for several hours
On the bathroom floor
And you told me you weren’t that drunk
And that I was your favorite salsa dancer
You had ever come across in New York city

Eugene, Eugene, Eugene

I said hello, Eugene
Are you there, Eugene?
Hey Eugene, then we kissed

Once we lugged your friend into the elevator
And went to write my number on a soggy paper towel
And the car went down
And when we had finished making out
We noticed that your skinhead friend was gone
Long gone
And you looked into my bloodshot eyes and said
“Is it too soon if I call you Sunday?”

Eugene, Eugene, Eugene
I said hello, Eugene
Are you there, Eugene?

I said hello Eugene, Eugene, Eugene
(oh yeah)
I said hello, Eugene
Are you there, Eugene
(Tell me are you there)
I said hello, Eugene, Eugene, Eugene
(Tell me oh)

I said hello, Eugene
Does any of this ring a bell Eugene?


Lyrics for “Hey Eugene”


Community Noise Playlist #7

It’s time for another useful playlist, compiled for you, from me, performed by them.  No theme, just miscellaneous goodness.  Things come to me that I want to share, and as I go through the process to compile, more ideas came to me.

My playlists tend to be incoherent and maybe a little eclectic.  If one track isn’t working for you, don’t give up, just skip on to the next.  Except this first track, which I am completely enamored with.

Community Noise Playlist #7

1.    Superorganism – “Everybody Wants to Be Famous”

Cool song.  I hear things on the radio sometimes.

My first year of college, I took a class on public speaking.  This young woman, I sort of knew her, don’t recall her name, started one talk, “Today I’m going to teach you about orgasm” and proceeded to demonstrate the Japanese art of folding paper.  Everybody paid attention and my professor was agog.  I just wanted to make sure you all read the band name correctly, because you might be seeing it again.

2.    Galaxy 500 – “Listen the Snow is Falling”

My new friend Dean sent me this track, after reading my piece, ‘Yes’ is an Emotion, Yoko.  I’ve had this Galaxy 500 CD for going on 3 decades, but never made the connection to Yoko Ono.  Cool track.

3.    Ligeti with Barbara Hannigan – “Mysteries of the Macabre”

The Seattle Symphony played a Ligeti set last season; left me agog.  Then I found this.  Sweet jesus.  (I’ve featured this before, I must confess, but I love the weirdness.)   I like the music, but the brilliant weirdness strikes the heart.

4.    Transient Canvas – “Epidermis”

No story, just goodness.

5.    Frank Black & The Catholics – Everything Is New

Went for a walk, this beautiful thing came on the headphones.  A couple of details to listen for.

There’s a piano interlude, with accompaniment, in between the chorus and first verse.  (Chorus-verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure.)  Lovely.   That first verse, praisable phrasing, but that last line, it’s not clear that Frank is going to finish the words within the space of the melody but listen to him wrap his voice around it.  I supposed that’s “just singing” but it amazes me.

Chesney quit the army and he start a band
He used to play that club down at Hermosa Strand
I think they’re changing the name again
Down in Holland where the windows are big
They paint the buildings bright
Because they figured the rain is coming who knows when?

Freaky little story, too.

6.    The Sonics – Psycho

I wanted to throw something in from old Seattle; something from before my time.  These guys are local legends.

7.    Eighth Blackbird – “Still Life with Avalanche”

I saw Eighth Blackbird about a year-and-a-half ago at the Neptune Theatre.  Amazing sounds; intricate, meshed, compounded compositions. It is the greatest thing I’ve seen this century.  If you don’t know them, you should really spend some time with them.  Here’s a taste.

8.    Eighth Blackbird – “One with the Birds”

In fact, I’m going to give you two.  When I saw them, after some instrumentals, they had Bonnie Prince Billy come out to sing some murder ballads written for them.  Surprise dimension added.

At one point, with all this complicated music, high intensity, suddenly everybody on stage was screaming blood-curdling shrills.  Brilliant!  I can’t find that track on YT (or elsewhere).  (I don’t know the name of the song, and now can’t remember what they were screaming.)

9.    Wire – “Heartbeat”

I notice that Rough Trade Records have re-issued the Wire catalogue; really cool goth-punk band from the 1980s.  People might want to know about these guys, if they don’t already.

I remember I was listening to them on my headphones prior to one of my area exams in graduate school, dancing a little, blocking out the anxiety.  The proctor kept telling me that recordings were not allowed during the test, and I kept responding that the test hadn’t begun yet.  She really hated me.  Karen, I think?  Of course, I bombed the test; I’m terrible at exams.  Good times

10.   Adam Cork – Swing Gently Sweet Harlem

Featured in the amazing movie, Genius, that trombone line, just after the introductory trumpet solo …  slays my wee brain.  Beautiful.  With just a few exceptions, I have not found my way with jazz yet.  This track helps.

Genius is a beautiful movie about friendship, the agony of the writing process – the taming of prose – and growing the fuck up.  It tells the story of novelist Thomas Wolfe (not Tom Wolfe in a white suit) and editor Max Perkins. (Perkins was the editor for Wolfe, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald.)

I’m going to give you the full scene from the movie, too.  We’re a full-service music blog here: storytelling, lexis edification, movie reviews.

11.   Goat Girl – Viperfish

The girls went acoustic at a BBC session.  I’ve still never been able to put words to why I love them so much.  They have sound.

12.   Goat Girl – Tomorrow

They posted two songs from the session on FB last week.  You get them both.

13.   Nice as Fuck – “Guns”

What could we do about gun violence in this country?  Plenty.  Would elected officials be willing to do the hard work of fair-minded, effective gun control measures?  Apparently not.  Would statistical studies by the CDC be useful?  Seems true.  Let the protest mount.  Pretty song, too.

14.   XTC – “Melt the Guns”

I should say, I’m not so much anti-gun, per se.  I know plenty of sane, safety-minded people with guns, and I’ve shot guns myself.  Still, gun safes and child-safety locks are out of play?

15.   John Doe with Mike McCready

I’m going to close this playlist with an entire set.  The local radio station has these live, in-studio sessions; guests play live on the radio, and then a video is posted on YT.  It’s a good series.

I met a woman a few months ago; she helped me for almost 2 hours picking out a new BW camera.  We talked about other stuff and music, and she mentioned this series.  I told her about this show and she stopped motion to consume the information.

It’s a cool set.  Friendly, relaxed, musical exchanges between Doe and McCready, and Mike puts some great spins on John’s songs.  I’m not just blabling, that first exchange is words to live by: John asked Mike if he wanted to sit in, and ‘yes’, 30 minutes later he has a guitar in hand on a live set.  None of the “… well, I have to look at my calendar” kind of shit.  These are real people.

© Community Noise 2018.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Song Lyric Sunday Theme: Street

I’m selecting a Tom Waits song.  I awoke this morning thinking of steam rising from the bayou, air getting thicker as the sun get higher in the morning.  I live in Seattle – I’ve never experienced the steamy bayou, but that’s how visions come and go.  I read this morning’s theme, and went straight to Tom.

Song:  Gun Street Girl
Album: Rain Dogs
Artist: Tom Waits
Song Writer: Thomas Alan Waits


Thanks to Helen for the challenge.  (And thanks to William from 1000 Mistakes for pointing me to this.)  Song Lryic Sunday


“Gun Street Girl”

Falling James in the Tahoe mud
Stick around to tell us all the tale
He fell in love with a Gun Street girl and
Now he’s dancing in the Birmingham jail
Dancing in the Birmingham jail


Took a 100 dollars off a Slaughterhouse Joe
Bought a bran’ new Michigan 20 gauge
Got all liquored up on that roadhouse corn
Blew a hole in the hood of a yellow corvette
Blew a hole in the hood of a yellow corvette

Bought a second hand Nova from a Cuban Chinese
Dyed his hair in the bathroom of a Texaco
With a pawnshop radio, quarter past 4
Well he left Waukegan at the slammin’ of the door
He left Waukegan at the slammin’ of the door

I said, John, John he’s long gone
Gone to Indiana
Ain’t never coming home
I said John, John he’s long gone
Gone to Indiana
Ain’t never coming home

Sitting in a sycamore in St. John’s Wood
Soakin’ day old bread in kerosene
He was blue as a robin’s egg, brown as a hog
Stayin’ out of circulation till the dogs get tired
Stayin’ out of circulation till the dogs get tired

Shadow fixed the toilet with an old trombone
He never got up in the morning on a Saturday
Sittin’ by the Erie with a bull whipped dog
Tellin’ everyone he saw
They went thatta way
Tellin’ everyone he saw
They went thatta way

Now the rain’s like gravel on an old tin roof
And the Burlington Northern’s pullin’ out of the world
Now a head full of bourbon and a dream in the straw
And a Gun Street Girl was the cause of it all
A Gun Street girl was the cause of it all

Riding in the shadow by the St. Joe Ridge
He heard the click clack tappin’ of a blind man’s cane
He was Pullin’ into Baker on a New Year’s Eve
With one eye on the pistol and the other on the door
With one eye on the pistol and the other on the door

Miss Charlotte took her satchel down to King Fish Row
And she smuggled in a bran’ new pair of alligator shoes
With her fireman’s raincoat and her long yellow hair, well
They tied her to a tree with a skinny millionaire
They tied her to a tree with a skinny millionaire

I said, John, John he’s long gone
Gone to Indiana
Ain’t never coming home
I said John, John he’s long gone
Gone to Indiana
Ain’t never coming home

Bangin’ on a table with an old tin cup
Sing I’ll never kiss a Gun Street Girl again
I’ll never kiss a Gun Street Girl again

I said, John, John he’s long gone
Gone to Indiana
Ain’t never coming home
I said John, John he’s long gone
Gone to Indiana
Ain’t never coming home


‘Yes’ is an Emotion, Yoko

Can you name any Yoko Ono work that did not involve John Lennon?  Ever see a painting?  Can you describe a sculpture?  Performance?  No?  That was me.  I changed that.

My Story

My story begins when I realized I could not identify any Yoko Ono art.  I knew some songs she’d done with John.  Nobody ever talks about her work.  I had never seen a catalogue of one of her shows for sale at the museum bookstore.  (Good grief, for the scores of museum shops I’ve browsed, big or small, mainstream or underground, never a Yoko catalogue?)  Why is it so hard to see / hear / touch a Yoko piece?

(Walk with me through  this tangent, I’ll come back around.)

I was planning to visit Easter Island.  I studied, probed, and re-planned: how do I get there, where do I stay, how do I get around?

My travel plan went like this:  depart Seattle Saturday morning, arrive Santiago early Sunday; depart for Easter on Wednesday and return a week later, Thursday; depart Santiago late on Saturday night to fly home, arriving in Seattle at lunchtime.

I would spend some time in Santiago, so I started reading about that.  It’s a nice Spanish colonial place, second-world country, sturdy economy with a strong middle class.  Art museums?  I learned about Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende.  Salvador Allende was the president when Chile suffered the coup d’état in the early 1970s.  Artists from around the world sent works in support of Allende, and the museum was born.

This museum, proudly, is a time capsule.  They have collected no works from any era previous to, or since, the events of 1973.  Their entire collection consists solely of gifts.  Their sole mission is to keep the doors open – a reminder of those events.  They have a Calder, a Picasso, a Miro, I read … they have an Ono.  “I’ve never seen an Ono before,” I gasped aloud, to myself, “I have to go there.”

My guide book and my map showed two different locations for el museo.  The courtyard suggested by the map, just by the hostel I was staying at, did not have a museum.  It did have an angry, barking dog; I left quickly.  Beautiful courtyard, though.  I walked for ages to the address in my guide book.  Found it!

El Museo de la Solidaridad Salvader Allende se traslado Av. Rebublica 475

Figure 1:  The museum has moved.

El museo had moved to a new address.  I took a cab to the new address.  Found it!  The museum exists.  Closed.

I flew home late that night.

Five years later, I returned to Chile to walk through some of Patagonia.  Similar routine, I was in Santiago for a day or two before flying down to Punta Arenas.  I went back to the museum – I had the correct address now.  Closed.

When I returned to Santiago the following week, I returned again.  Fifth times a charm.

The guy selling tickets spoke English.  I told Brian my tale; he was delighted by my persistence, and gifted me a museum catalog.  I told him I wanted to see the Ono.  It was in storage, he explained.  They don’t have enough space to display their entire collection, so they close up one week every month and rotate artworks.  (That explains the previous closures that I suffered.)  If I’d made it to the museum the week prior to the previous week, I would have seen the Ono.  (The catalogue is abridged – no picture of the Ono.)

Her Work

I’ve been obsessed with Yoko ever since, for years now, walking around with the question, ‘why is it so hard to see an Ono?’ Since my Chilean misadventures, I’ve had a chance to read some of her work, listen to some of her music, peruse catalogues of her work.  I’ve read books by her and books written about her with similar sentiment as mine.  She’s interesting. She’s fascinating.  I want my readers to re-consider her in new light, or consider her as newly found.

Typically, she’s very conceptual.  She does not produce work that you’d buy to hang on your wall, nor to place in the public square, but she has produced interesting ideas.  Egad – you have to ponder to appreciate her work.  And more frequently, the piece is not complete until an observer absorbs it, ponders it, and somehow interacts with it.  The observer must complete the piece.

Figure 2:  White Chess Set (1966)

The idea for ”White Chess Set” is that two people can start playing chess, a game of war.  Eventually they cannot tell who is who, and it becomes a cooperative effort, no longer at conflict, two players must help each other “is that mine?”  “I think this knight is yours” “I think you just put yourself in check…”  I think somebody could write a comedy skit.

From the mid-1950s to 1961, John Cage taught musical composition at the New School for Social Research.  Yoko took a class on the Fluxus movement, as Cage interpreted, write instructions for musicians to complete a piece.  Yoko extended those ideas to all art forms; she believed her work was incomplete, until somebody else — you, or I, or you and I — did something with it. She left instructions for someone else to complete an art work. I’ll share a couple, and invite my reader to offer more.

One December day, I shared this on FB:

Figure 3: “Tape Piece III” from Yoko’s book Grapefruit.

It is white in Seattle today, reminding me of this Yoko Ono piece.

I imagine walking out into the woods, dark now, and snowing. The sound of total silence surrounds the cold air. There is no wind playing with the tree branches, the evening birds are done singing and squawking, now seek shelter from the storm. The squirrels and chipmunks, also sheltered, have finished their business, of squirrelling and chipmunking. I can hear the frosty air escape as I breath in and out.

That is the sound of falling snow.  I do not wrap gifts.  Superfluous.

Cued from Acorn, I completed a short piece for “City Piece X”

Figure 4:  “City Piece X” from Yoko’s book, Acorns

It is a quiet day.  People walk the streets like zombies before their morning brains. You can hear the smallest of sounds, birds chirp and tweet.

It is a glorious day.

The sun is out.  The noise stayed in the garage.  My skin is notably pale.  People blink their eyes, the sun was just invented and nobody’s read about it yet.  A bicycle commuter rides by, then two more, you can hear them talking and hear the spokes spinning far down the road.

People could use her cues to write poems for ages.

Her Music

This is supposed to be a music blog; let’s listen to some of Yoko’s music.  I’ve selected a sampling to enjoyed without further comment.

“Death of Samantha”

Because the video is cool, and short, I’m offering this abridged version of “Mind Train”.  But if you liked this piece, do yourself a favor and settle into the 16+ minute version.


Yoko is an amalgam of stuff, and a lot of her sounds are before a genre existed.  Listening to Fly (released 1971) and Approximately Infinite Universe (released 1973), I hear pre-disco, protopunk, club beats, tape loops, drone, folk music, avant-garde, kids’ sing-alongs, fucking-warped opera arias, and straight-up-dirty-ass rock and roll.  She has a distinctive voice; she grew up in Tokyo, descended from Samurai, and English is her second language – your voice would be distinctive, too.  Give it a chance.  It’s pretty cool, Baby.  (I’m still waiting for “fucking-warped opera aria” to be invented by somebody and to become a genre recognized by many.)

I started down this path in a vacuum, but I discovered that I was not alone.  MOMA had a retrospective in 2015.  Reaching Out With No Hands: Reconsidering Yoko Ono, the excellent book by Lisa Carver (2012),  is loving and well researched in breadth and detail of Yoko’s life and work.  (I almost quit working on this piece after reading that.)  And I’ve discovered many established musicians reaching back and grabbing one of her songs to cover.  Here’s Elvis Costello with Ono’s “Walking on Thin Ice”.

Ono plays Ono’s “Walking on Thin Ice”.


I cannot think of any woman in the entertainment world who has suffered the brazen misogyny that Yoko has been offered.  She is best known for breaking up the Beatles.  But that’s crap.  John and George broke up the Beatles.  George Harrison wanted to perform songs that he was writing.  John Lennon thought it was time to move on.   That’s no reason to hate anyone.

John tells a story about participating in one of Yoko’s works, when they first met; from The Beatles Bible

… But there was another piece that really decided me for-or-against the artist: a ladder which led to a painting which was hung on the ceiling. It looked like a black canvas with a chain with a spyglass hanging on the end of it. This was near the door when you went in. I climbed the ladder, you look through the spyglass and in tiny little letters it says ‘yes’. So it was positive. I felt relieved. It’s a great relief when you get up the ladder and you look through the spyglass and it doesn’t say ‘no’ or ‘fuck you’ or something, it said ‘yes’. – John Lennon (on meeting Yoko)

John was in love, and that’s all I need to know.

The Not-Final Word

I only know so much, and I can only write a little.  If people are interested in more, a good place to continue is this short video,“The Case for Yoko Ono”.  The anonymous narrator has a pleasant, informing voice.  Less than 7 minutes long, it’ll take less time than it took you to read my article and is packed with much more information.  She talks faster than I write.

© Community Noise 2018.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

How I Learned about ‘Phrasing’

I’ve been writing this piece in my head for some years, hand-wrote some stuff on a recent flight, and started typing up a piece last week.  Than I noticed two blogs that I follow also put out Dylan pieces last week, and I stalled.  Should I wait?  Should I join the crowd?  I decided to try to finish.

Before I get too far along, almost nobody is more copyright conscious than Dylan, maybe Prince, so putting together a playlist on YT is near impossible.  You’ll be getting some live versions instead of the studio cuts that I typically listen to.  You miss something if you don’t go find the originals.  (To be fair, there is an official TY page .)

I think a lot about death.  Not in a morbid way, not suicidal or homicidal, but curiously.  Philosophically.  It’s had key impacts on my life; it part of everybody’s life every now and again

We’ve lost a lot of heroes over the past 2-3 years, and somehow that got me to thinking about Dylan one day.  When Bob dies, the headlines will be all about ‘Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Like a Rolling Stone”.  The glossy mags will rehash the already-told stories of 1960s New York, The Village, that night he went electric at the Newport Folk Festival, and maybe that motorcycle crash that nobody really knows anything about.

I don’t mean to eulogize, I’d rather celebrate life than death, but death was on my mind recently when I started to scribble.  It’s my time to celebrate him.  Besides, maybe he really did make a deal with the devil; if he’s going to outlive me, I’d better get a move on.

People will write about that nasally voice, but that’s not my thing.  (Why don’t people talk about that fucking harmonica?  I hate that thing.)  Two things I want to say about Dylan, I guess.

He is unafraid to move in new directions.  Not with the stay-fresh anxiety of Bowie, but with a curiosity to spend time with new ideas, to add innovations to old traditions, and to find an assortment of new bandmates.  I guess that’s a theme for me, and how I try to explore music:  be not afraid, find anew.  (I try to generalize that to my whole life, but hard to judge how I’m doing.)

In his biography, Chronicles volume one, he talked about letting Daniel Lanois put together a band for him in New Orleans.  They made Oh Mercy, an album with  ambiance that I’d bet Dylan never felt before.

I previously wrote about his foray into blues, but I’ll say again, it was pleasingly surprising for me.  He really learned new tricks, and surrounded himself with new people, wonderfully talented new sounds.

An extreme example is The Traveling Wilburys.  Finding new bandmates by getting some of the most important people in rock history together in one garage?  That’s one way to do it.  (Comments on YT are crazy.  Yes, great and beloved artists die.  And do you want to know what?  Always, there are more to fill the void.)


The second thing I want to say, and this is amazing, I would not understand phrasing without Dylan songs.  He writes great lyrics and surrounds himself with great musicians.  He’s been around a long time and has his place of import in music, and now, literature.   But mostly I think of his phrasing.

I was driving home from a day on The Mountain.  A glorious hike, hot and dry, sweaty; I was 40 mph on dusty back roads, and I noticed when this song came on.  I listened and re-listened.  I probably played this song 20 times on the way home, over the moon with the way he put words together.

When the rain is blowing in your face
And the whole world is on your case
I could offer you a warm embrace
To make you feel my love

When the evening shadows and the stars appear
And there is no one there to dry your tears
I could hold you for a million years
To make you feel my love

Everybody wants to hear that.

In the back of my mind, I could understand a feminist complaint about a man saying “make you feel my love”; turn it around, have a woman sing it.

The lyric here, the stories it can tell.  Imagery.  Mesmerizing mood.   (Wow, this version is really excellent, too.  Probably the best track I’ve managed for this blog piece.)

The air is getting hotter
There’s a rumbling in the skies
I’ve been wading through the high muddy water
With the heat rising in my eyes
Every day your memory grows dimmer
It doesn’t haunt me like it did before
I’ve been walking through the middle of nowhere
Trying to get to heaven before they close the door

My memory of Bob Dylan is forever linked with Aimee Mann.  My friend Betsy made me go to an Aimee Mann show once.  Sometime in the late 1990s.  I mean “made me”; I was a willing accomplice, but I would not have known to choose the show on my own.  Good show.  She played an acoustic version of “Voices Carry”, after an unfortunate fan called out a request.  She showed a lot of poise, and more importantly, it was a really beautiful rendition.  There’s this clip, so it must happen to her with some frequency.  (She was the lead singer for ‘Til Tuesday, you know.  I’ve always wondered what happened on Tuesday.)

When I saw her, she had to muck around with chords a little bit, memory and practice, before she actually played it, solo, with her band patiently waiting in the dark.  It felt spontaneous.  Now I see she does that old song frequently; perhaps that night she rediscovered the song.  Or she’s a good actor.  I’ll never know.

She told this story about meeting Bob Dylan.  He told her, I’m paraphrasing, “You’re pretty good.  You sing a lot of those story songs.  I don’t like those song stories, you know, songs that tell a story.”  Unimpressed, Aimee said, “well, you only have yourself to blame, Bob.”  There’s an expanded version of the story in this radio interview.

Let’s close with “Hurricane”, one of Dylan’s great story songs.

New Music Gathering 2018, Day 2

Blue Dracula?

I totally screwed up the day!  My first events began at 2pm, after lunch.

I arose at 6am, able to sleep no longer.  I had coffee and breakfast and completed a crossword.  It was early, I went back to bed thinking I’d get up again in 10 minutes to shower.

I slept for 3 hours.

I attended Chamber Music Grab Bag II.  Transient Canvas completed the set with wow.  They will have a new album out this Fall.  I’ll need to check that out, and maybe you, too.  You cannot believe what a marimba and bass clarinet can do on their own until you hear it yourself.  I will offer a taste, but nothing compared to the meal they shared live.

I attended the Journalism Panel, What we Write About when we Write about New Music.  Hosted by Amanda Cook ( and Zoe Madonna (Boston Globe).

Generally, they reinforced some of my own thoughts.  Write so people can read and support musicians needing the love and exposure.  The mission at Community Noise is simply write about anything I want to write about, but I’m definitely trying to support new talent that I come across – from different musical avenues.  At the Live Music Project, we are more focused.  We support live music in the classical and contemporary realms and write about the people, ensembles, and programs that need and deserve attention.

My personal mission is to learn to write interesting things – imagery, phrasing, stories; whatever “interesting” means in the moment.

I CARE IF YOU LISTEN sounds like a great institution.  All volunteer writers – about 50 across the US and a couple of international contributors – produce articles about live shows, ensembles, and record releases.  I’ll be checking them out.  Maybe someday I can write something for them, too.

There was a great line attributed to Mike Hall (?) a violist attending NMG2018, “Be indispensable to the community, not just somebody on the stage.”  That’s words that each of us can use in everything we do in our life.

Finally, I ended my participation with Concert II (not Concert I) in the Concerts in Parallel section.  (it’s too dark to take notes in these concert halls – I need one of those pen lights.)  F-Plus was good.   A composition, Weft, by Mischa Salkind-Pearl, for violin, harmonica, and found objects was brilliant.  A little bit of performance art and some beautiful music provided tender moments.

Tenth Intervention, featuring Paul Pinto, brought the house down with Eight Songs for a Mad King.  In fact, he was not a Blue Dracula, as the picture seems to suggest, only a mad king.

Tomorrow will come again.  I should have a fuller day immersed in new music.


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