*Be Sure to Click on the Link to See the VIDEO!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Though the video will inevitably be taken down very quickly I surmise, Raspberry Beret was a defining point for me in many ways. Perhaps it was the seemingly innocent way to tackle sex, and the not-so-seemingly way to tackle sex. Both ways, this song hit the high notes.

Thank you, Prince Rogers Nelson...

Sunday, November 22, 2015

I have been listening to Placebo of late. Not only do I like the name, but I love the band.

But,...where is my mind?

When I was the Academic Advisor and faculty representative for the Liberal Arts Honors society, I faltered on this song from the Pixies. I did not get what the kids wanted to say, and now, 15 years down the road, I get it.

It was the song at the end of 'Fight Club', but that is not the message. It was simply, what is next, and I, as and advisor failed to hear that.

Well, for all of you who defied that, I hope you found where you mind is... I have.

Friday, November 1, 2013

I Think I'll Dye My Hair Blue

Dale Bozzio, the female lead singer of Missing Persons, an early-80’s MTV darling band, was anything but subtle. Teaming up with former Frank Zappa musicians, Missing Persons was a bright, but short-lived comet in the transition between the 70’s and the 80’s, jumping onto the scene with “Mental Hopscotch.” Bozzio and company were known by appearance for their moussed-up coiffures and heavy pastel make-up, not to mention Dale’s lack of clothing for the most part.

The follow-up LP to the eponymous “Missing Persons” was “Spring Session M,” (an anagram of the band’s name) and contained the plaintive song, “Words,” in which Bozzio asked the all-important question, “What are words for, when no one listens any more?” Indeed.

As one can easily see from the timeline of my posts this year, there was is a glaring lacuna of a few months. As I have also recently written, I was blocked. Seriously blocked. I had the ideas, but not the motivation, nor the desire to write. I didn’t care, much for the same reason that “Words” has always resonated with me at some level. I have at times in my life felt that “words” are futile, especially when no one is really listening.

Listening is an Art, a techne perhaps, not a given. It is often taken for granted that the person to whom we are directly talking, may in fact not be listening at all. It can be a rather unsettling realization.

During my hiatus from posting, I wondered to myself quite often, is anyone listening? That is not on a judgmental level, but purely technical. Was I just throwing out hundreds of bottles with messages (messages that I cared deeply about) scrawled on scraps of paper, thrust out into the vast Internet ocean?

I knew of a handful of people in my immediate life who would read my posts via casual comments in emails and whatnot, but beyond that, it was merely numbers on the Stats page of faceless, nameless, comment-less hypothetical readers.

One of my favorite lines from a movie is from Shadowlands, a glimpse into the tortured mind/life of C.S. Lewis, best known for his Chronicles of Narnia and Christian Apologies (in the Greek sense of “defenses,” that is). Lewis, articulated by Anthony Hopkins, was not a happy man, and fought the shadowy angst that indeed, no one was listening.

The line, spoken by Peter Whistler, one of Lewis’s students is “We read so that we know we are not alone.” That has conversely been my motivation for writing. Why have I thrown out literally hundreds of messages in bottles? Perhaps so that someone out there might indeed pick one up, read it, and in turn, not feel alone.

Sometimes, like the lyrics from “Words,” I’ll slip in a “I think I’ll dye my hair blue…” to see if anyone is listening.

What I have come to terms with though, in the past month or so, is something quite different. I have come to realize that it does not matter if I actually know that someone is listening, but rather, it is just the act of writing that allows me to feel that perhaps I am not alone.

In a world of billions and billions of people and words, it is all I can do to make a few of them count.

Thanks for listening…

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Perfect Day

This week marks the passing of a legend within the music industry, Lou Reed.

The newspapers in Belgium were filled with front-page tributes, memorials, and testimonies to how Reed touched/changed/transformed the lives of many who grew up in the 60's, 70's and 80's.

Both with and without the Velvet Underground, Reed definitely took music for a walk on the wild side and left an indelible imprint upon millions of listeners, as attested by the 22 million views of the video below.

Though highly played in circulation, "Perfect Day" still resonates with me on many levels, and especially on days like today when I spent it with my very special daughter doing things together, laughing and enjoying the day.

It was indeed perfect.

Lou Reed (1942-2013)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Whole of the Moon

The past couple of days I have been quite attentive of the moon because it has been a rather striking full moon cycle. Often, because of light pollution, or cloudy skies here in Belgium at this time of year, the moon can be, to borrow the phrase from Pink Floyd, “obscured by the clouds.” However, this time, the skies have been quite clear, and given that I was up quite early today, I was able to see its brilliance as a great way to start the day.

Last evening, attending a musical rendition of the poems by the Zen Master Ryokan, one of the poems dealt with the idea of the prominence of the Autumn moon. Though the moon is with us in all four seasons, it is the moon of the Fall that often receives poetic and philosophical praise, not to mention finding its way into music, such as Neil Young’s love ballad, “Harvest Moon.” Though I thought of posting that song, especially since my mom had just written me about the stunning Harvest Moon they saw in Texas this week, another song came to mind.

The Waterboys are a bit of a mongrel band, changing personnel quite often, with the exception of founder, singer and chief lyricist, Mike Scott, they are Scottish, Irish and English with a full range of instruments. Known for their “big” sound, the Waterboys have a very distinct signature, not to mention Scott’s highly recognizable voice. The result is a unique blending of vocalizing and sound, and I hope to get to see them live one day as I can only imagine the improvisation that most likely occurs at one of their concerts.

The song, “Whole of the Moon,” has long been a favorite of mine. However, thinking of the moon these past few days, it did come across with a re-newed emphasis. One of the ideas that Ryokan gets across is that though there is just one moon, it can appear to us as many, because of our perspective, because of its phase, or because of our mindset (I just typed a neologism of “mindsight” just now…I think I like it…). The moon is singular, our perception, illusive and multiple. This comes across quite clearly in the song. One person may see on the crescent, while, despite (again a Pink Floyd nod) the Dark Side of the Moon, another may in fact, at all times see “the Whole of the Moon.” Perhaps it is a variation of a glass half-empty or half-full.

Yet, that has always struck me as incomplete for whether contents of the glass are full or not, the glass remains the same…

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Roadsinger Came to Town...

Several years ago, I was in a difficult employment situation, one that left a lot of my colleagues without jobs, without explanation, and a general feeling of malaise.

My personal life was going through a major transition, at its most negative point.

Things just seemed bleak.

And then, the Cat came back. Cat Stevens, who had become Yusuf Islam many years back, had come back to singing after over 20 years of ghostly silence with a previous album and a children's album. Re-born as simply Yusuf, the former Cat Stevens came back with a beautiful song to lead of his most recent album, "Roadsinger." I remember listening to this song over and over, and over and over, and then some. And, I remember crying quite heartily when I heard it.

As Yusuf says, there is so much hatred and tears in this world, so where do you go...?

I went to music.

I have retreated to music many times in my life, and this was one of the times I needed it most, and from out of the mists of the Past, in came Yusuf.

Perhaps I am reminded of Yusuf because of someone I met this weekend, a gentle and kind man, dedicated to Peace and understanding, and most of all laughter and to the smile.

Kaz taught me many things I already knew this weekend, but sometimes, we have to begin at the beginning again to realize how far off we have strayed.  To begin again is the greatest gift.

Yusuf is an inspiration for that, and Kaz is a fellow "Roadsinger," who came into town and gave the gift of Peace.

Thank you Yusuf and Kaz...

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

On the Shoulders of Giants

Recently, I just bought a double-CD of REM's "best of the IRS sessions," meaning the label IRS under which their early albums were released. It was  a purchase in one of the many great CD/Vinyl shops in Brussels that I have come to respect. Since I have been spending more time in Brussels over the past few months than I have since living in Belgium, I am finding some very good specialty shops, primarily for music. If there is one very positive thing I can say about Brussels, you can find anything when it comes to music amongst the four shops or so that I know of there.

As such, I have been trying to convince my Irish friend that REM is not merely a commercially successful band as they have become, but they were seriously cutting edge for many, many years. Success may have blindsided them, but arguably they are one of the most influential American bands of all time. No, they are. Period.

I remember getting my first taste of REM from a cassette that my sister gave me that her friend Steve from Rice University had given me in 1983/4, just when Murmur came out, which was also when U2's War came out. On the A-side of that Memorex cassette (which I still have and cherish) was War, and the B-side was Murmur from a band nobody had heard of, especially in Amarillo, Texas.

I actually cannot believe that that cassette is still playable as I played the living hell out of it, over and over and over on my grey and black Walkman II. It is amazing that it is still in one celluloid band. That single cassette probably sent me into the world of "alternative" music at the same time keeping me rooted in the classic. From then on, I listened to anything and everything, from Bauhaus to George Strait. In addition, I had my dad's old LP's ranging from Marty Robbins to Captain Beefheart.

There was not much I did not try out with regards to music styles. Having recently also been watching "the making of..." with respect to classic albums, I have learned more about The Doors, RUSH, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Frank Zappa, Simply Red, and on and on. to the point I think my real calling was a radio DJ...

What stands out is that REM does stand on the shoulders of giants, despite leaving him cold as Michael Stipe sings in this video, "King of Birds," perhaps one of my favorite REM songs. But, kudos to them, they stood on the shoulders, then jumped off, forging a consciousness of their own in the smithy of their Georgian souls.

I am again listening to the origins of REM non-stop right now, and wanted to share an early song, way before (at least metaphorically) "Losing My Religion" jettisoned them to being the giants on whose shoulders others would stand.