Pets Playlist

I had to put down my golden retriever Remy on Wednesday because lung cancer had sprung up out of nowhere and taken over his body. I’m incredibly broken up about it and it’s taken all of me to just keep going to school and practicing music. It was our Dad’s dog that I inherited when he passed. Like this post says, he had a rough time following his death and I should consider myself lucky to have had the three plus years that I did. I’ll write a smaller post about this soon, but now the wounds are too fresh.  One thing I am sure of is that Remy has found my Dad and I’m sure the reunion was a happy one.

(Note: This post was composed after my brother told me about his cat)

My brother had to put down his cat today and I feel terrible for him. He never gets real emotional about things which is why I feel so bad because I know this kills him. Personally, no one liked or was liked by the cat except him which is why I feel so bad for him. It would routinely scratch me when I tried to pet it back when I was a freshmen in high school and would visit my brother at his undergraduate college. The fucking cat survived more than a lot of people I know can, including two big moves, a house fire, and multiple trips to the vet in.  She was tough, just like my big brother, and we should all mourn her.

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New Job Soundtrack

1. “Telephone Lines” -ELO

I listen to this song like three times a day. It’s about calling your ex and I’m not doing that but I love the vibe and the very high vocals. Further, it reminds me of the scene in BIlly Madison where Adam Sandler calls Steve Buscemi’s character to apologize for the former’s treatment of the latter in high school. As a result, we see Steve cross Billy Madison’s name of of his hit list and then apply lipstick, all to the tune of this song. I dunno, it just makes me laugh and my drummer George Harrison also plays thing song though the PA during band practice. Oh yeah, and Jeff Lynne is awesome.

I have started my new job and it is nothing like last year. Because we are spending some time developing a new alternative education program and curriculum, we don’t have assigned kids yet, much to the chagrin of many classroom teachers. Let me be forthright in saying I agree and empathize with them as much as I am excited for this opportunity. Most teachers are coming around and see that this is what our admins want us to do and that’s just how it is, but I’d imagine some will never see our viewpoint and will forever view us as slackers. I will have to live with that and try to kill them with kindness as the Elder J has advised me many times.

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I fixed my record player!

After months of doing nothing about it and occasionally asking the lead singer in my band for help, I fixed the receiver part of my turn table so I can again spin records. I missed it so much that I listened to records all morning while cleaning up the house and making breakfast instead of writing this very blog post that I started Sunday morning. My iPod is long broken, my cd collection is a mess and the PA in my jam room is not hooked up so the vinyl set up is my only way to let loose with the tunes besides a couple ancient radios. Vinyl is the best way to listen to music and I didn’t realize how much I missed it until the first few chords of the song below rang out in my living room at a high volume.

It wasn’t that I was lazy in attempting to fix my record player, I just have little confidence in my ability to fix anything. This is a silly notion since I am not a complete idiot and gain practical knowledge with my increasing years, Somehow, one of the two speaker wires in my left speaker had gotten wrapped up around a metal piece in the middle of where you hook the two wires. It must have been shorting out the whole system whenever I turned it on which is why it would play music for an instant then cut out. I rewound the wire, it fired right up and am proud. This song always pleases, although I’ve shared it before. It really enhanced my bacon cooking yesterday morning. I don’t know where I got it. It’s case is all messed up but it plays well so i assume it was a yard sale. I didn’t touch this record for years and now have it in heavy rotation.

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Why I love the guitar solo.

One of my favorite solos ever, almost certainly the favorite for the mighty Led Zeppelin. I’ve loved this one for over a decade which is not the same I can say for those old Foo Fighters records. Just listen to how he keeps building the solo until there is a climax, not unlike a sexual experience. Many people, including an interview I can now not find with Jimmy Page, have ascertained that songs like  “Stair way to Heaven” are modeled like this for that exact reason.

The Elder and I talked about Mumford last week and he commented on my post after some back and forth that he thought most guitar solos are “superfluous ostentation” which I think is the equivalent of tail fins on a car. They look cool and add to the overall picture but don’t really do much for the ride. (He continues the debate here.)

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My Musical Mentors: Hippie Neighbor # 1


The only people who influenced my musical knowledge and appreciation more than my parents and my brother were my hippie neighbors. Until recently, the house the Elder J and I grew up in was the only house in the midst of a few thousand acres of old logging land that had largely grown back. Now, there are some encroaching neighbors along the road and elsewhere but until about 8 years ago, this was our domain. It was so private, that not only did my father routinely walk the dog in his underwear when we ere very young, I also used to shoot cans with my .22 from my bedroom window.

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American Beauty: Best Studio Dead Album

The underrated but awesome show Freaks and Geeks is what really introduced my brother to the Grateful Dead, even if he was lucky enough to see Jerry Dawg himself with our dad  back in the early 1990’s. I have talked before about my love for the band and why they represent some of my happier years in life, those hazy days of college. But my brother has long maligned it as “stupid stoner music” if I remember his words correctly. He has maintained this position in our years-running argument on the band with almost no give. This is not true brother and I hope I can open your eyes as to why or at least explain why I so love the band.

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Current Events:Three Quick Notes

First off, in response to my brotherls post about Mumford and Sons the other day, I may have been a little preemptive in my assessment. I had read how one of the members had come from a lot of money and I did exactly what my brother said and judged them on it. I have a reason which is certainly not an excuse. We were raised in a society where rich people were scorned, ultimately because I think most people are cash poor in rural areas and are thus jealous of those they perceive to have more than them. Jealous isn’t the right word but it will work; my point is, one thinks money will solve all your problems and we all know that is not how it works.

As for Mumford and Sons, my brother gave a pretty awesome description  of why they are so good. They are also making a stop here this weekend on their very short North American tour so I have been hearing their music a lot lately.  I really like “Little Lion Man” and its funny because the slide player in my band now played it for me right before we went to Mountain Jam 2010 which is where we also saw Jerry Douglas. I hadn’t seen my buddy who is now the slide player since high school and it was two years later that we started playing music together. We did both groove on Jerry Douglas , the most amazing dobro player ever, when he played with Alison Krause and Union Station. So, it works out nicely that my favorite song that involves the Mumford crowd is their cover of “The Boxer” by Simon and Garfunkel on Jerry Douglas’s new album. It also features Paul Simon himself on guitar so those boys must be on cloud nine right now. I wish them all the best.  Here is one of the illest things we saw Jerry do. It’s a cover of “Little Martha” by the Allman Brothers, one of the last things Duane ever recorded. Enjoy.

In strange news of my own life, I’ve mentioned in my post on procrastination that I am landscaping this summer in an upscale neighborhood in the same town that is hosting the big “Gentlemen of the Road” tour stop with headliners Mumford and Sons. I was cutting back hemlocks this morning and suddenly three cops pop up in front of me with their hands on their guns. One has a fucking machine gun strapped to his chest! I may work in a city, but it’s one that averages less then five murders a year so this sight is not a common one. I drop my rake and they ask if I had seen anyone with a shotgun walking by. I said absolutely not and that maybe someone thought my shears was a gun or something.  I do wear an orange hat so most people know me in the neighborhood, but you never know. We joked a little and then they left the house but it was startling. Why didn’t I hear them coming up? I was listening to the shitty studio version of the song “It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons which sounds cool live in the video below. I love the lyric “the path to heaven runs through miles of clouded hell”. It hits me.

Last, but certainly not least, it was my man Jerry “Dawg” Garcia’s birthday yesterday and I needed to at least mention this to whoever might actually read this blog. I love the Dead as I have mentioned before in posts like the one about unrealistic shows. They represent a certain time and vibe from college and I think I will always love them a little bit. My brother also mentioned seeing Jerry back before died and I am forever jealous. I hope my dad met up with Jerry in the great gig in the sky and they chilled out. Jerry was into way heavier shit than my dad would ever dream of but I am sure they would find an even philosophical ground. Anyway, Happy Birthday Jerry, keep on jamming.