Fireplace Memories Essay 10 June 2019
Fireplace Memories Essay 10 June 2019
This here is a straight up song written to my dad. You see, my method of songwriting hues closely to the template laid down by John Lennon in "Tomorrow Never Knows" namely: "turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream." Later on I realized that people of all stripes and sizes use this philosophy in everything. It's what Mike Tyson meant when he said "everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face." It's what Tom Hank's character meant in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN when he said to a scared soldier "remember your training. You'll be fine." It's a basic root of improvisation's "yes and" tenant as espoused by the UCB trailblazers. Basically it's when one gets in touch with one's subconcious self. Writers talk about it. Athletes talk about it. That makes me wonder if it's specific to "performance."
I don't believe I've ever read anything about a scientist claiming that their hands were moved by some unknowable force when they were hammering some hypothesis into a theory. Some people may say that that is what's wrong with science in the first place. How much does deduction and reasoning factor into the subconcious creativity of an aspiring artist? I would hazard to guess, as the fucking US president would day, very muchly.
The thing about accessing some sort of non-concious realm is that it's unverifyable by any means of science. But is that true? The study of brains, especially as it pertains to psychedelic drugs, has recently been fascinating. I happen upon article after article of MRI scans of brains under the influence of substances that change perspective. Every one shows areas of the brain pumping away that lay dormant in brains being un-fucked with.
In a way everything we learn is tethered to this particular existence. I get a sensation in dreams when I know I gotta wake up. In a semi lucid dream state I reassure myself that I have plenty of time to sleep. Then I ask myself how I know. I say because I'm looking at this clock. Then I say to myself but this clock only exists in this dream state and the state to which we have to wake up is a different one and this clock is meaningless in that world. At this point I usually wake up.
But that's the larger point. Lunatics who believe the earth is flat (fucking idiots - thanks Russia!) exist on the same plane as Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Graham Hancock. Ultimately everything we know and learn is just an interpretation of the limited amount of raw materials we are provided in this waking existence. The importance or rightness of any idea is subjagated to the whims of modern society.
Take the element of gold. It's a high value item. It would not be a high value item if the human race didn't exist. It is purely through the existence of homo sapiens that the basic element of gold is more valuable than salt - or nitrogen, if we keep it elemental. Likewise the retort when I claim the ultimate meaninglessness of the human race. But without us there would be no conciousness. I reply "why?" Surely something created by a lump of carbon that acts as cancer to it's environment could not be the entire reason for everything that came before it. Or could it? It doesn't matter. We're describing the same color using defferent terminology.
From what I've seen by existentialist writing they try to hammer away at this diamond wall of impenetrability. I suppose that the bottom line is that there is no question unworthy of being asked. There is no answer that is substantially blasphemous. It's irritating and exhilerating, much like the writing of these essays is turning out to be. I used to have this problem in college. My hands can't keep up with my brain. I assume that's why I gravitated to playing the guitar. It's more efficient when relaying ideas.
Let it wash over you, music. Sometimes it burrows into your soul.
The books are kept impeccably
An air of sadness from what couldn't be
And pictures grace the mantle place
All rosy cheeked and freckle faced
Separated tender rage
She got the kids you got the cage
Kids move out a big old house of fireplace memories
Now don't no kids mess up the floor
A townhouse, baby, no back door
The bank is stuffed forever more
And the bills rise like the tides
It wasn't nothing that you said
You thought you loved her in your head
In your mind together dead
Your graves are side by said
So hold on to your fireplace memories
All that you got left can't laugh at you
And that's the truth 'cause what was true
Was what was wrong and now it's gone
Satisfaction never comes but your standards are too high
And when your gone I'll be right there until your soul floats by
And then is lightening strikes you down and crushes all the past
Fireplace memories won't die of all things they will last
Dave - guitars and vocals
Paul - bass, production
Pork - drums
Ian - mastering
Empty Glass Essay 5/25/2019
One thing I bought hook, line, and sinker through the nonstop diet of rock and roll literature I ingested through my formative years was the myth that getting fucked up helped the young artist become great. I remember John Lennon saying, in LENNON REMEMBERS, that substances had no effect on his artistic output with a quip along the lines of "I would have written 'I Am the Walrus' if I was on acid or under water."
Of course that isn't the Lennon "Walrus" quote that stuck with me. He also said that he wrote "I Am the Walrus" by eating acid one weekend and writing a verse or line, then eating acid the next weekend and writing another verse or line, rinse and repeat until you make it to "goo-goo-ga-joob."
I bring this up because I truly believed that chemical dependency was a prerequisite for rock and roll. I was a little stoner kid but, really, BEER! Nothing special about it. We were the type of kids who would play "hey mister" outside of the liquor store and go into the woods and get drunk and tell stories. This happened all the way through my teenage years. I gew up in Baltimore. While Minor Threat and Bad Brains were playing the 9:30 Club me and my guys were in the woods slamming warm Schaffer, smoking pot riddled with seeds and stems in corncobs we would purchase at the Royal Farm on Edmondson Avenue right inside the beltway, daring each other to piss on tombstones, playing drinking games that always had to do with rock and roll trivia, mainly the Beatles. The first song I wrote that I had the guts to play and sing was called "I Hope It's You and Me" and it was intended as my version of "If Only You Were Lonely", the B-side to "I Will Dare" by the Replacements. The hook was the line "I might drink myself to an early grave" so when anyone wanted to hear it they would yell "DRINK MYSELF TO AN EARLY GRAVE!" which is a great prank in and of itself.
I continued to write drinking songs for THE REST OF MY FUCKING LIFE! Whenever we do a slow number in C-major even now Brian refers to it as "a drunken swagger." My friends, "Empty Glass"is a song in that grand tradition. It has that garagey mid-atlantic thing going on. Pork says it "sounds like a New Jersey bar band." The mid-atlantic is a strange place. The suburbs are much more urban than to the west, where designers and planners wisely ditched crap that sucks. It's on old and aching suburbia. It's a pre strip mall suburbia. It has main streets, sidewalks, and little stores. It has pizza shops. This ain't the city, but it also isn't the suburbs as they are presently constituated. The houses are close together, the streets are narrow, the corners have what used to be barber shops or liquor stores. One block towards the city and you got the row homes made famous on Baltimore's keynote addition to American pop culter - THE WIRE, and one block the other way and you got mansions. Not MCmansions but real old time structures that slave owners once called home. In the working class sections of these little hamlets a couple blocks off of a road that at one time was a railroad track, you got yourself garages and basements - the petri dish for 70's and 80's little pothead rock and rollers.
These houses were big enough that, when the kids grew up, there was a small space that parents ceded to their offspring. This is what Lee Gardner referred to as, in his review of Circle 9's IF IT WAS UP YOUR ASS YOU'D KNOW IT, "rec-room genius." Another writer for an underground metal mag called Circle 9 "stoner friendly rock guys who have probably played their fair share of keggers." I don't know what's wrapped me up in this sepia toned nostalgic reverie. This is the milieau in which 1993 takes place, when these punk ass little fuckfaces have turned into young adults and the cushion of fuck up is gone. This is when people start to get lost to drugs and prison. That's the backdrop. Cocaine and PCP, two of the shittier drugs.
But "Empty Glass" itself was my attemp at writing something that would fit in on, if not PLEASED TO MEET ME, then HOOTENANNY. It's got the Stonesy Chuck Berry chugga chuggas and the suspended majors that Paul Westerberg uses so expertly. I even took words directly from Paul Westerberg interviews and made them lyrics. He was and remains the master of devestating couplets, either as insults or come ons or "generational longing" type stuff. Nowadays the lyrics in "Empty Glass" to me have the cadence of a sitcom. Set up - punchline. Exposition, set up - punchline - et cetera.
Thinking hard about this song it feels like a nice addition to the canon of boozy little pop songs written by guys and girls who aren't quite urban or suburban but somewhere in between. It's like ole Porky said when the song was coming together in the shed (the more things change!)and previously mentined in this essay. New Jersey Bar Band Rock.
I didn't see you when I went out tonight
A word or two means nothing to me that don't sound right
I live the life of an empty glass
I'm glued onto my barstool before the moment's passed
If you call the weather I'll call the time
If you say you'll be mine
Tonight I'm feeling lucky so what's the word from you
If I run out of cash before the night is through
If I told you my dream you'd slap me in the face
So ditch that creep and I'll meet you later It's gotta be the case
If you call my number then I'll set the time
If you say you'll be you say you'll be mine
If I can wake up to you my life would be complete
But I compete on a footing unsure
When I call your number
You set the time
If ever you are ever you are
If ever you'll be mine mine all mine
You'll be mine
Happy New Years Baby Essay 13 May 2019
This one is about as literal as any song I've ever written. I met my wife at a place in C-ville called "the mansion." She was a student at the college and I was a college drop out living at my Mom's. A couple blocks away from my mom's the edifice stood, a big ol' victorian structure sectioned off into apartments full of young people, or older folk looking for a new start, or drifters living out an endless Jack Kerouac novel, or something much less romantic like people who refuse to or just couldn't get their shit together.
This particular party was sometime in the 90's. Hmm, let's say 1993 (chuckle)? (If anyone is so inclined the mansion is in the Circle 9 movie THE CRACKER GETS THE CHEESE where Joe Gallagher plays a drug dealer, I play a cop, and the late Tom Wind plays a drug purchaser.) On the first floor is a big hall with a stair case opposite the main entrance and big apartments on either side. Facing the stairs, this party took place in the apartment to the right. THAT was where my future wife lived. One time I put my head through the drywall in the closet in her bedroom.
The thing about these parties is that Baltimore is a pretty gritty town - almost literally. When I was growing up you had preps and grits. Later on you had punkers too. But "grit" was a term to describe people who were southern rock devotees. They wore Molly Hatchet baseball shirts, jeans, and workboots year round, even in July. Once a grit jumped off of the high dive in full uniform at a teen night at the pool and everybody cheered. The preps kind of morphed into punks at a certain point. The thing that brought everyone together was a common love of cannabis. So at a pretty young age everybody was mixing together REM and Black Sabbath and MDC and Lynryd Skynyrd. Jump forwards a decade or so and these are the folks populating the party at the Mansion; students, workers, hangers ons, musicians, folks who weren't scared off of drugs simply due to illegality. Back then, during cannabis prohibition, a line of thought went "well I might as well try PCP or crack because they fucking lie about pot!"
Personally I gave up anything illegal when I turned 21 and I set on turning my liver into pate and my lungs into a burnt husk. Eventually I grew to view those addicted to alcohol and nicotene with scorn simply bcause they are the drugs sanctioned by society and therefore the laziest paths to addiction. That's a pretty assholish stance to take. It reminds me of gas stations/convenience stores. They function as one stop addiction shops for bloated and distracted Americans addicted to gasoline, nicotene, high fructose corn syrup, and gambling.
There's always a contingent in alcoholic circles of folks who fancy themselves as great artists or writers living out the romantic lifestyle of Charles Bukowski or Vincent Van Gogh. The truth is we were all just a bunch of drunks. I understand why alcohol came to prominance oh so many years ago. Simply put you needed the alcohol in your liquids to kill lethal bacterias. I oft wonder what American society would be like if the sanctioned drugs were cannabis and psylocibin instead of alcohol, nicotene, sugar, and caffiene. It sure as fuck wouldn't be nearly as fucking violent or mean.
Like fast food. Shit, how far have we strayed from the song now? This is like one of the podcasts me and Brian make. But dig, there is no conspiracy behind all of the legal drugs (and I include fast food in this category) being the ones that make the populace stupid, lazy, and dependent. There IS, however, a willingness to use the parameters presented to acquire and maintain power. Now we're lurching into territory that can't be summmed up in an essay about a song in a never ending rock opera. Suffice to say that, what, we're all slaves to the chains society presents to us in the form of everything they make ads for during the Super Bowl? That's myoipic and too media obsessed.
In terms of THIS SONG? What matters are the relationships we make and maintain with other people. If you're clever enough you can twist anything into seeming like an addiction. The mansion is where I met the love of my life so I presume one could say that it's certainly acceptable to be addicted to love. And there you have it. It's been about Robert Palmer the whole fucking time.
- Paul told me that adding an "s" to Happy New Year is a Baltimore thing.
- The guitar solo was played as a goof with the intention of recording a better one later but Paul and Pork liked the original one.-
I'm using Paul's effect board on all of the 1993 stuff so as to have a different sound than the SFP-Brandy stuff.
- For the back up vocals we ran a mic through the guitar pedals. I love doing that because I usually know what effects I want on the vocals and it always takes a million years to find it in the fucking computer later. Just do it live. It always goes back to the Beatles. Lennon wold have the effects on his voice when he recorded the vocals. Look, man, it's MUCH more efficient for me to record the vocal with the effect already on it.
Happy New Years Baby
The nights go on forever dogs bark through the cold
UPS trucks rumble through holidays grown old
Grey skies hover blindly grey grass lies asleep
Grey roads rise through heaven grey breath slowly seeps
How many people died when live shrinks and melts in pride
Accomplishments are nigh happy new years baby
The fireplace burns forgiving so come in from the cold
Laughter ells and singing false stories here retold
A cat purrs in the corner the music gets a boost
The stroke of midnight passes and everyone cuts loose
Cocaine and whiskey buzz acid and shrooms a must
Heroin and crack for us happy new years baby
Sleep when the sun comes up afternoon and throwing up
See the folks and suck it up happy new years baby
It's just like what Lennon said
Years come and go and then you're dead
Winter sucks or so I've read
Happy new years baby
Can't wait 'til spring comes 'round
Krokus flowers in the ground
Now the stinking fields are brown
Happy new years baby
Dave - guitars, vocals, percussion
Paul - bass, engineering, mixing
Wil - drums
Ian - mastering
1993 Essay May 2, 2019
When I was in my twenties I decided to conduct an experiment meant to test randomness and if randomness led to any noticeable patterns. I took all of my t-shirts and threw them into a gigantic pile in the middle of the cedar closet at my Mom's house. She was gracious enough to let me stay there after I stopped going to college. Every day I would close my eyes and root around the pile of literally hundreds of shirts and that'd be my shirt for the day. Once at a party my random shirt happened to be an old hospital shirt. A friend said something along the lines of "look at Tude. Most people go to the hospital and wear a shirt out. When they get home they throw it away or use it as a rag. Tude wears it to a party." That still gives me a chuckle.
What did I learn? Randomness is random. It led down a deconstructionist path that was essential in putting together the pieces for the never ending opera. Everything is arbitrary if you go back far enough. When I was a kid I read rock and roll biographies. Dave Marsh was my favorite. Later Lester Bangs was a god to me. Leg's McNeil writing for Spin was a golden age of magazine journalism. But I realized eventually, tracing the music I love back further and further, that rock and roll itself was a lie shouted by narcissistic Baby Boomers who had the good fortune of never having to face down an existential threat to their comfort. The 'Nam draftees are not included in my vitriol. They faced two enemies, Ho Chi Minn and Nixon. Hah! Where was I? Rock and roll was, is, and always will be a lie. The fact of the matter is that it's the same stuff that folk musicians had been doing for millennia. It wasn't special. Nothing is special. When you are born is arbitrary. The music of your youth is not special. You are not special.
What's this got to do with the song 1993? Wouldn't YOU like to know! I'll tell you. Remember a while back when the Hubble telescope was pointed at empty space and eventually it photographed a gazillion galaxies? That's the existential angst of arbitrary randomness right there. I fixed point in time and space, unassuming, nothing special about it (just like you) and yet, focus on it for an instant and it's the most spectacular thing ever in the cosmos. Just a tiny instant of focus and that specific reality is transformed, nothing into everything. Did it lose it's tag of nothingness when the discovery of everything was made? Does the discovery define that point in space? Did it even exist before the Hubble pointed at it? Deconstruct it further. To paraphrase Sam Kinison "we've hit another vein, mine deeper."
1993 is an arbitrary year picked at random with the specific idea of deconstructing it month by month and season by season to see what stories are told. The song birthed the concept with this'n. I wrote it for Doom Cookie. As a matter of fact the only reason this entry into the Never Ending Opera isn't under the name of Doom Cookie is that I made Brian promise that he would never let me stray from the Society Fringe Player name with future projects. He said it was smarter to be like my buddy Andrew Grimm, aka June Star, and keep the name forever whilst changing up the players.
Musically this song, through Paul's mixing, really accentuates the riff. In me pea-brain I always heard a fiddle playing the riff. I even borrowed one with the intent that I'd learn it enough to play the part when we recorded it but ALAS nyet!
I really want to hammer home the arbitrary underpinnings of all existence. It's arbitrary where you are born. It's arbitrary to what nation you owe allegiance. It's arbitrary which god was foisted upon you as a child. It's arbitrary if you dig your own gender. It's arbitrary if you get cancer. It's arbitrary if you have fun playing the guitar. Nothing is according to any plan. Keep deconstructing everything, eventually you'll get to a point of vacant nothingness and in a moment of mental anti-obliteration you'll realize that the entire everything was there the whole fucking time.
Looking at a corpse at dawn in 1993
Hit and run up the tab in 1993
Here I live in Baltimore in 1993
Born and raised wait to die in 1993
Segregate black and white in 1993
Baltimore Harbor night in 1993
It's like an alcoholic's dream
Blue collar bars and disco scenes
Poor rage and shoot up the interstate
Ain't life oh so great
Steaming crabs a baseball day in 1993
No football no subway in 1993
I'm feeling like I'm left behind in 1993
It never changes it never changes in 1993
Dave - stringed instruments and vocals
Paul, bass, recording, mixing
Pork - drums
Ian - mastering