Archive | October, 2010

JWL

9 Oct

There is no way to tally the total number of hours spent listening to the albums over and over. There are scant witnesses left who could verbalize the countless times I cornered them, with needle about to drop on a passage of instrument, or of a cleverly quizzical line unraveled, or the true depth and meaning of a phrase turned or of the serene smile and sanctified feeling while lazing and absorbing over and over – discovering a newly uncovered trinket in the track.

I was thirteen when an album – only listened to once – was given to me as a toss aside. Being only thirteen, and without a record player, I treasured that album not only as a possession that no one else had, but later as an item of value that seemed as if it were written for me, and me alone. Certain tracks, I thought at thirteen, were written with me in mind. Or at least by someone who lived the same parallel life that I did. Never since, as a child or an adult, has an album held more identity or meaning than that album has.

I became such a rapid and rabid fan that I silently hunted and hoarded each singular album, 45, poster and tome as they came out, eschewing cash as a casualty, in my uncontrollable proclivity and irrepressible impulse to have in my possession each of them as they were made public. Later, I eagerly sought out, much as a sleuth would, the most tender and rare of raw sinews within the whole body of work.

So impressed and altered have I been, that years later, with progeny of my own, the eldest was burdened with the artist’s name much as I might have given if I had a favored uncle’s name to bestow.

Even when faced with scorn for the playing of certain tracks, I upheld my own belief that the hoi polloi was plebian in their misguided and unlearned non-acceptance of the artist. I clearly remember playing, in a crowd of fellow fifteen year olds at the time, the track “I Don’t Want To Be A Soldier Mama, I Don’t Wanna Die” and the accompanying groans. I played on in my fiery, consuming belief that they were an unwashed minion swayed by popular prejudice and ignorance.

I clearly and distinctly remember that night in December when the cord of life had been clipped. I was at a bar in Newton, Mass. when the announcers of a Monday Night Football game hesitantly relayed the assassination. It would be thirty more years, as chance would have it, before I stepped in that very bar again, memories flooding even as I sat there for a completely different reason.

I have very few regrets in life. However, one that stands vividly clear is my decision of not hopping on a train for NYC the day after tragedy struck. This past summer, in an eye of a storm, I spoke about how much I still want to go to NYC to visit the memorial in its entire splendor.

Today, I’ll spend a few precious moments with my eldest, reading select paragraphs of that great man on this, what would have been his 70th birthday, even as eyes are rolled and smirks are not so well hidden, trying to pass on how important it is to be swayed by your own dreams, how right it is to allow the heart to trump over the mind, that peace unavoidably leads to serenity and that love is the answer to all of the mysteries of life.

Love
From: Acoustic [2004]

Advertisements

Bitter:Sweet

3 Oct

A chill has settled here in my geography. The sun is bright but worn and the wind is both subtle and nodding with crispness. I gaze from my vantage point downward and note that the pedestrians are hunch-shouldered and that the short sleeves and skirts of summer have been replaced with last year’s sweater patterns, and a smattering of heavier coats better kept in the closet until snow and ice can be heard with a soft crunch beneath booted feet.

A perfect, lazy day of autumn that could be reeking of hot chocolate laced with Frangelico after a walk in the nearby woods has caused just enough exertion to bead strands of sweat on a spine. A call to a worn, form fitting couch has a mesmerizing, soothing feel when coupled with a favored, grandmother type quilt that maybe needs to be restuffed – but can still wrap as if it has spring form memory.

The first tug of an infant fire arching to life is already quieting conversation while eyes automatically focus on the bright yellow, red and green flickers hovering over the catching bark. Invisible heat waves stealthily lap against the open room and quietly and determinedly win the silent battle of air temperature.

An eye closing mellow yawn, a long, drawn out, almost as if post massage, smile-inducing stretch clears the mind and unwinds the body. From the mouth of the speaker should come a sound evocative of the moment; one with a spiritual incantation that draws the intangible from within, creating a balmy, complete feeling.

Heaven
Bitter:Sweet is a combination jazz / trip hop / electronic band formed following the dismantling of The Supreme Beings Of Leisure. Their debut album The Mating Game is filled with the strain of luscious, breathy, soothing vocals paired with gorgeous, compelling arrangements that couple to graciously sooth, lovingly caress and ease with grace a modicum of minutes that must be tamed.

Everyone dreams about heaven
Nobody knows what to think
The truth is that I go to heaven
Every time you look at me

If I wait too long I may not say goodnight
Never knowing how or when I might just die

I’m yours
I’m yours
(Heaven can’t wait)

Everyone dreams about something
Heaven can be anything
The truth is that my slice of heaven
Tastes better than my favorite drink

If I wait too long I may not say goodnight
If I take my time then maybe you will find

The Mating Game
This track contains a slight splice of Bossa nova that will have you curling corners of your mouth in an upward direction.

Dance with me across the ocean floor
Sail away to heaven’s open door
Step right up you’re the next contestant
In this sweet charade
Take a number, wait while I twist your fate

On the mating game
Mating game

Hold me close enough to drink my rose
The devil in my pocket turned to gold
Sorry to warn you, you’re in a daze
Tonight I’ll love you, but tomorrow go away

The enriched, gently arching heat shimmering from the fire, the embrace from within of the silken drink and the lulling resonance of Bitter: Sweet have the ability of moving you into a realm of distinct contentment and delight.

Heaven
The Mating Game
From:
Bitter:Sweet The Mating Game [2006]

Addendum
There are a few recent posts out there are just too good to be passed up. Jeff over at AM, Then FM has a Late Show clip of the inimitable Tom Jones doing his best John Lee Hooker. Tom is great, no question there, but he’s outdone himself on this scorcher. Barely Awake In Frog Pajamas has unearthed a great jewel that I haven’t heard since its heyday in the 80’s – 88 Lines About 44 Women.