everything you ever wanted to know about nothing at all...

Thursday, November 30, 2006

See for Me that She's Wearing a Coat so Warm, to Keep Her from the Howling Winds

Newsflash, friends, we're supposed to get 8-12 inches of snow tomorrow, at least in West Michigan. Am I the only one looking forward to this? I've always taken a sadistic pleasure out of driving in the snow. I get a strange feeling of accomplishment after pulling into my driveway after going a long ways in the snow. My old man used to say "lay off the brakes, lay off the gas", & that strategy has usually worked for me, except for the time I skidded off the road in our '94 Chevy Lumina & almost slid into the woods. I'm glad I got that bit of overconfident driving out of the way at such a young age.

I happen to know a young lady who is deathly afraid of driving in the snow, I won't mention her name, it's not the young lady pictured above. Drive safe.

First Sight

Lambs that learn to walk in snow
When their bleating clouds the air
Meet a vast unwelcome, know
Nothing but a sunless glare.
Newly stumbling to & fro
All they find, outside the fold,
Is a wretched width of cold.

As they wait beside the ewe,
Her fleece wetly caked, there lies
Hidden round them, waiting too,
Earth's immeasurable surprise.
They could not grasp it if they knew,
What so soon will wake & grow
Utterly unlike the snow.

Philip Larkin, The Whitsun Weddings, February 1964

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Cold & Wet-Bonnie "Prince" Billy, The Letting Go

Masters of War-The Roots

Who knew the Roots were Dylan fans? Genius loves company.

let me ask you one question, is your money that good? would it buy you forgiveness? do you think that it could? I think you will find, when your death takes it's toll, all the money you made won't buy back your soul!

Cosmia-Joanna Newsom, Ys

Via Chicago-Wilco, Summerteeth

The Seedling-Bonnie "Prince" Billy, The Letting Go

Happy blizzard, friends!


Monday, November 27, 2006

I Hear Them All

One of the many pleasure's of the long weekend was reading some of the letters & correspondence between my Great Grandma Schroeder & my Great Uncle Willis that my dad showed me when Willis was in the army, just after World War II ended. Willis died in a plane crash in 1947. He was 19.

As you can imagine, these letters spark the imagination on so many levels & you can learn so much from them. Each letter is a small, simple story that conveys a deep & meaningful sense of family & of community. Topics that were discussed in all of the letters I've read so far (I think there's alot more I haven't read yet, it makes me excited for the next visit home) include the crops, the weather, baseball, the neighbors, church & family. This is not to say that everybody was perfect, there's gossip about neighbors & talk of people getting "plastered" & "stewed" close to church.

When I read these letters, I unconciously paint a picture for myself of the person writing them from what I know about Britton (the town from where they were written) & from what little I know about my great grandparents. My picture always reverts to a small wooden table in a kitchen much like my Oma & Opa's, with a transistor radio close by airing the Tigers' game. I picture the Ridge Road, as if it were the center of the universe for those who lived in Britton. I know the Ridge pretty well, having ridden on a tractor down it many times as a kid with my dad & Opa.

Unfortunately, the picture that lacks from the letters is Willis' point of view, as the letters were sent back to his family along with the rest of his personal effects. How did he feel about being overseas? Did he get along with the rest of the people in his company? Was he homesick? Was he proud of his work?

I can only speculate about these people from things I know. The letters talk alot about Clarence & Rosie (my grandparents, Oma & Opa as we call them). Willis was the next oldest brother, & I imagine that Opa was a great big brother, who probably played pranks & tortured his younger brothers, yet taught them all kinds of things about baseball, about farming & about life. I can only imagine what it would be like to have Oma as a sister-in-law, I'm sure that she treated each & every one of Opa's brothers like they were her own brothers.

I want to know more about these things in a way that I never thought about. I want to know what it was like to live in the town of Britton all of your life. Whenever my Dad & I would drive through Britton he would tell me all about the people who lived at certain houses & he'd give me stories about each family. I want to hear more of these stories. I want to know about what it's like to live in one place your entire life, the people you come across, the histories of the people who live there, the way you interact with each other, the way you help your neighbors. I want to know more about my great grandparents. I want to know more about my Great Uncle Willis. I want to know more about Oma & Opa as they were before I was born. I want to know what it was like to be in Oma's classroom, or ride on Opa's schoolbus.

I can't wait to read the rest of the letters.

By the way, I miss Oma. She embodied goodness & kindness like nobody I've ever met. For the life of me, I can't recall a single bad word she said about anybody or a time when she didn't have that great smile of hers. She had a love for life that shined in everything she did.

In other news, I put up a Christmas tree this year, I haven't had one in a couple of years. It's a doozy, a bit full at the bottom, but with a good shape. The decorations were skillfully picked out by Christie, although I made the game time decision of switching the colors from silver & red to gold & red (it matches my living room better). Maybe I'll post a picture of it, someday.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

I Hear Them All-Old Crow Medicine Show

I hear the crying of the hungry
in the deserts where they're

Hear them crying for heaven's
own benevolence upon them
Hear destructive power prevailing
I hear fools falsely hailing
to the crooked wits of tyrants
when they call

I hear them all
I hear them all
I hear them all

I hear the sounds of tearing pages
and the roar of burning paper
all the crimes in acquisitions turn
to air & ash & vapor
and the rattle of the shackle far
beyond emancipators
and the loneliest who gather
in their stalls.

I hear them all
I hear them all
I hear them all

So while you sit & whistle dixie
with your money & your power
I can hear the flowers a growin' in
the rubble of the towers
I hear the leaders quit their lyin'
I hear babies quit their cryin'
I hear the soldiers quit their dyin', one
and all.

I hear them all
I hear them all
I hear them all

I hear the tender words from Zion
I hear Noah's waterfall
Hear the gentle lamb of Judah
sleepin' at the feet of Buddha
and the prophets from Elijah to the
old paiute wovoka
take their places at their table
when their called

I hear them all
I hear them all
I hear them all
I hear them all
I hear them all
I hear them all

Most of the Time-Bob Dylan, San Jose, 1992

Muzzle of Bees-Wilco, A Ghost is Born

Sharp Cutting Wings (Song to a Poet)-Lucinda Williams, Happy Woman Blues

Theologians-Wilco, A Ghost is Born

Happy Monday, friends...


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Up the Road, Around the Bend

Bob Dylan saved the best for last in 2006. At his tour & year ending concert in New York City on Monday, he debuted the album closer from Modern Times, Ain't Talkin'. He even waited until the encores to play it. You can download it here, if you wish...

Sometimes when you hear a live performance of a song you enjoy on an album, it can tend to let you down. Maybe it's underrehearsed, or maybe whatever tricks they use to make it sound good on an album aren't available on stage. This was certainly not the case for this song, it came alive onstage in ways that made it shed it's skin from the original. It was sped up, just a bit, & electric guitars played the parts between, giving it an edge & forcing Dylan's vocals to be much louder. The vocals on the album are more of a singing/talking passive effect, here they are loud & very forceful, employing the growling effect Dylan's used the last few years. Bob's organ even sounds good here, creating an eerie backdrop that suits the lyrics very well. This band sounds better than anything they've ever done, there's a great guitar solo confrontation between Denny Freeman & Stu Kimball, expressing the tension of the song very well.

Pay no attention to what the website says, the second verse goes as follows:

They say prayer has the power to heal
so pray for me mother
in the human heart an evil spirit can dwell
I try to love my neighbor & do good unto others
But, oh mother, things ain't goin' well...

I'm off to hang Christmas lights at Mike's house. I'm on vacation 'til Monday!

Oh, & here's one more Thanksgiving tradition I've stumbled upon for the last five years or so. Every Thanksgiving evening NPR features a short story read by an author whose name escapes me at the moment. The story is read during All Things Considered, which is usually playing on my drive home. I'll provide the link for it tomorrow, it's great.

It's only 11:30, but I can't imagine I'll hear anything that tops these...

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Christmas in Prison-John Prine, Souvenirs

it was Christmas in prison
and the food was real good
we had turkey & pistols
carved out of wood
and I dream of her always
even when I don't dream
her name's on my tongue
and her blood's in my stream

wait awhile, eternity!
old mother nature's got nothing on me
come to me, run to me
come to me now
we're rolling my sweetheart
we're flowing by God

she reminds me of a chess game
with someone I admire
or a picnic in the rain
after a prairie fire
her heart is as big
as this whole goddamn jail
and she's sweeter than saccharine
at a drugstore sale

the search light in the big yard
swings 'round with the gun
and spotlights in the snowflakes
like the dust in the sun
it's Christmas in prison
There'll be music tonight
I'll pro'bly get homesick
I love you. good night.


I love that song. I can't think of a better songwriter who uses the simplest of language than John Prine.

Ain't Talkin'-Bob Dylan, New York City, 11.20.06

who says I can't get heavenly aid?

Souvenirs-John Prine, Souvenirs

Satan, You're Kingdom Must Come Down-Uncle Tupelo, March 16-20, 1992

People Putting People Down-John Prine, Souvenirs

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!


Monday, November 20, 2006

November Traditions

Forget the fact that it's cold & rainy, especially if you live in Michigan, November is a great month. Here are some great past traditions that have occured in the month of my mother's birth.

The Annual "You're Gonna Throw the (expletive deleted) Dart!" Tournament

I used to have this every Saturday before Thanksgiving, with about 16-24 people participating. Good stuff, although the winner was never declared until the wee hours of the morning.

The Schroeder/Steinke Classic Golf Tournament

Eric Steinke invited me to play golf at Brookside Golf Course in Saline the day after Thanksgiving about 12 years ago. We suited up for the cold for years after that. The scores were never too good, though.

Thanksgiving in Deerfield

If memory serves me correctly, we were never too fond of driving to Deerfield on Thanksgiving day after church (I miss having church on Thanksgiving morning, too). The food was never that great, but there was usually a football game that occurred after the meal. That was fun. That was usually the day when Oma would give us our Christmas ornament for the year. I remember getting excited if somebody had already put their Christmas lights up when we were driving home from wherever we spent the rest of the day. Now, everybody has Christmas lights up starting in September.

Thanksgiving Night Movies

There was always good movies on Thanksgiving night. Some popular ones were Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Story, Grumpy Old Men. The most prominent movie shown on Thanksgiving was Home Alone. I wish that was still on. I remember that being one of the few times that we'd make a fire in the fireplace, & that was one of the few movies my dad would watch all the way through. He'd laugh with that high pitch laugh of his, the simplest sense of humor.

Potato Pancake Supper

There's Joyce's continuing thoughts on this tradition that hasn't been in my life for at least 15 years. The only things I remember about the Potato Pancake Supper was that the school stank for a good week before & after, there were lots of kids around that day, & best of all, I didn't have to eat it.


The Gentleman over there orders another pint,
well, that's nice, then I don't need to worry
if I have another myself in due course.
Trouble is, one straightaway thinks one is addicted,
I even read in an American magazine
that every cigarette you smoke takes thirty six minutes of f your life,
I don't believe that, presumably it's the chewing gum industry
that's behind that, or Coca-Cola.

A normal life and a normal death --
I don't know what they're good for. Even a normal life
ends in an unhealthy death. Altogether death
doesn't have a lot to do with health and sickness,
it merely uses them for its own purposes.

What do you mean: death doesn't have a lot to do with sickness?
I mean this: a lot of people get sick without dying,
so what we have before us is something different,
the introduction of a variable,
a source of uncertainty,
not an open & shut case,
not the grim reaper mounted on a bag of bones,
but something that observes, sees round corners, excercises restraint,
and musically plays a different tune.

Gottfried Benn

This poem reminds me of the scene in Clerks where a man waits behind the counter & badgers customers who are buying cigarettes, showing them pictures of smokers lungs & so on, until all the customers have formed a mob against Dante behind the counter who is simply selling them what they asked for. Dante's girlfriend saves him & asks who was leading the mob, only to find out it was a Chewlee's Gum salesman.

"As if I don't suffer enough indignities in my life, now people have to start pelting me with cigarettes?"

Great movie.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat-Bob Dylan, Amherst, MA 11.15.06

This is the best tour since Spring of '04.

Various Stages-Great Lake Swimmers, Bodies & Minds

Coyote-Joni Mitchell, Hejira

My Little Red Book-Love, The Definitive Rock Collection

Tell Ol' Bill, Take Two-Bob Dylan, Tell Ol' Bill Outtakes

Happy Monday, friends! Only one full day of work left!


Sunday, November 19, 2006

"Wintertime is Coming, the Windows are Filled With Frost"

It snowed today, very lightly, I could see it through the window at Wolfgang's Restaurant. For some reason, whenever it snows, I'm instantly 10 years old again, & I'm excited for the prospect of school being cancelled, making snow forts, going sledding, having snowball fights, & playing football. Football was always better in the snow, because the speed of some & the weight of others in tackle football was neutralized by the ten layers of coats we had on & the 6 inches of snow on the ground (yes, mother, we played tackle football without helmets).

St John's parking lot was perhaps the best place to play in the snow as a result of the large snow piles made by the plow. We always had a good pile bordering our backyard & the parking lot but the best one was the one that bordered the back of the parking lot & Nieman Street. Many times we would have snowball fights where our yard was one team's station & the Nieman Street pile was the other teams. Epic battles occurred there.

Here's another Philip Larkin poem dedicated to the oncoming winter.

Continuing to Live

Continuing to live--that is, repeat
A habit formed to get necessaries --
Is nearly always losing, or going without.
It varies.

This loss of interest, hair, and enterprise --
Ah, if the game were poker, yes,
You might discard them, draw a full house!
But it's chess.

And once you have walked the length of your mind, what
You command is clear as a lading-list.
Anything else must not, for you, be thought
To exist.

And what's the profit? Only that, in time,
We half-identify the blind impress
All our behavings bear, may trace it home.
But to confess.

On that green evening when our death begins,
Just what it was, is hardly satisfying,
Since it applied only to one man once,
And that one dying.

Philip Larkin

I don't know what that has to do with winter, maybe I just like the poem. I felt old today, my back was hurting & my leg, when you move it a certain way, seems to give out. Ah well.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Lenny Bruce-Amherst, MA 11.15.06

This performance was not merely a rarity, but Bob sang it with an amazing conviction, like Lenny truly was the brother he never had.

Don't Feel Right-the Roots, Game Theory

Always See Your Face-Love, The Definitive Rock Collection

Stardust-Harry Connick, Jr, 25

Emily-Joanna Newsom, Ys

Happy Sunday evening, friends!


Thursday, November 16, 2006

(some pictures of the greatest face to ever hit the big screen)

I rarely read the syndicated columnists in the paper because you can usually spot their politcal colors from a mile away. The title of Cal Thomas' column caught my eye today, it's called "Where do Conservative Christians go from Here?". I've never read this guy's column before, & I'm really not sure which side of the political fence he's on. I was hoping it wasn't going to be another leftist gloating over the democrats reclaiming of power in the last election, & it wasn't.

One of my pet peeves of politics are those who use their faith (well, religion would probably be a better word to use) to try & gain political power, or those who feel as if politics and faith are interwoven. The "Vote Pro-Life" bumper stickers really bother me. It's seems to me to be an excuse for those who don't believe in the right of abortion to turn a blind eye to any other issue. I believe Christian politicians should see Jesus Christ as the way, the truth & the life and an example on how to live their lives, not as a political symbol to attract votes.

For those of you who don't care to read the column, I'll give you an excerpt.

Conservative Christians are fond of quoting God: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord" (Isaiah 55:8). Could it be that the way of politics is man's way and, thus, not God's way.

Amen. Read the article, it makes more sense.

On a happier note, check out Dan's blog, he's heading to Montana preparing to head over to Iraq.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Ugly Beauty-Thelonious Monk, Straight No Chaser

Cruel-Calexico, Garden Ruin

Summer Days-Bob Dylan, Love & Theft

John Saw That Number-Neko Case, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood

The Sprout & the Bean-Joanna Newsom

Happy Thursday, friends!


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Stories in the Press

There was a good article included in the Grand Haven Tribune today that I found quite interesting, especially for you teachers out there. Check it out, it's a good read, usually I just read the obituaries.

That's all I got for today, oh & here's a live video of Joni Mitchell singing one of my favorite songs...A Case of You.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Here at the Right Time-Josh Ritter, The Animal Years

This just may be the best album of the year, if you ask my opinion on the matter. At least for today, anyway. Other contenders would include Belle & Sebastian's The Life Pursuit, the Drive By Truckers A Blessing & a Curse, Bonnie Prince Billy's The Letting Go, Alejandro Escovedo's The Boxing Mirror, The Roots Game Theory & a handful of others I'm probably forgetting.

A Case of You-Joni Mitchell, Blue

Oh, Joni...what a genius. Do yourself a favor & pour a glass of wine & put on Joni Mitchell's Blue. If I had to make a list of my favorite albums, this one would be towards the top.

Idiot Wind-Bob Dylan, Hard Rain

The angriest song in the Dylan canon, every verse another knockout punch.

Ill Wind-Frank Sinatra, In the Wee Small Hours

I didn't plan this, honest. The sound is a bit different, but the intent is the same.

I'm Old Fashioned-John Coltrane, Blue Train

Happy Tuesday, friends...


Monday, November 13, 2006

My 100th Post

Thanks to this new beta blogger thing, I found out that this is my 100th post. No need for applause.

For my 100th post, I thought I'd take a minute to talk about one of the best shows to ever hit the small screen, Northern Exposure. Set in the fictional town of Cicely, Alaska, the show highlights the quirkiness, isolation & kinship of this small town. The outsider of the town is Dr Joel Fleischman, from New York City, who is forced to be the doctor in the town in payment for his medical school. What I like most about the show is that the people from the town live the simplest of lives, yet are capable of the most abstract thoughts. What makes the show is it's characters, there's a character for everyone to relate to.

I think I started watching this show in 7th or 8th grade, about the time when I was allowed to stay up until 11:00 pm. The first episode I remember seeing was the Thanksgiving Episode, where the Indians in the town throw tomatoes at the white people as a cathartic ritual of showing their rage for having their land stolen from them. There was a parade at the end, & a feast, all to the tune of Louis Armstrong's Cabaret. Whoever wants to borrow a season or two on dvd, give me a call. Season five comes out next week!

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

The End of the Innocence-Bob Dylan, St Paul MN, 2002

Put this one towards the top of the list of the strangest songs Dylan has ever covered. He nails it, though, he really does.

Precious Angel-Bob Dylan, Slow Train

you either got faith or you got unbelief & there ain't no neutral ground...

Tonight Will Be Fine-Leonard Cohen, Songs from a Room

Brooding. Dark. Creepy. Leonard at his finest. This song probably ranks in my top ten favorite albums.

For the Price of a Cup of Tea-Belle & Sebastian, The Life Pursuit

I haven't listened to this album in a while, it's better than I remember.

Dress Up in You-Belle & Sebastian, The Life Pursuit

Dylan lyric of the day:

Do you ever wonder just what God requires? Is he just an errand boy to satisfy all of your desires?

Happy Monday, friends!


Thursday, November 09, 2006

(I apologize for the stolen pictures, we have three from Heidi, one from Joyce, & I don't know who took the wedding picture, but I do know that they're older than me)

Please tell my mother
I miss her the most
an' as I travel from coast to coast
I feel your love 'an
I feel your ghost
Listen, dear mother, I miss you the most
Listen, dear mother, I miss you the most

Jeff Tweedy, from Please Tell My Brother

Happy birthday, Ma! She turns 56 tomorrow, as all of you know. I didn't have a picture of her directing a choir, but she has the same happy smile on her face when she's doing that, even when the choir is hitting all sorts of bad notes. When the song is over, she cuts off the note, & always makes a face that says "good job". I don't know how many different choirs she's directed in her day, it's probably in the 20's or 30's.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that her courtship (it's fun to say courtship) with my old man began on a choir tour in Europe. She's been making music all of her life, one listen to her & her sisters singing will take you instantly back to the 1950's. She taught herself how to play guitar. She's always been singing, in the car, around the house, in church (she always sings harmony during church hymns), in school. The story about how she woke up singing "Going to the Chapel" on her wedding day could not have come from anyone but my mother. From what I remember when I had her as a teacher for a short while, she would have devotions every morning & each student would take turns picking songs from different hymnals (is that right, ma? my memory's a bit froggie on that one).

I got my love of music from my mother, although I'm sure that alot of the music I listen to sounds like nails on a chalkboard to her. That's okay, deep down, the songs I love the most are the hymns that we've been singing in church since I was born.

I could tell you all sorts of stories about my mother, about how we'd go on walks around Fort Wayne when I was four years old, or about how she stayed up until 4 in the morning when I got lost driving home from the prom, or about how she made it to %99.99 of every sporting or musical event we ever had as kids, or about how she's the perfect wife to my dad, or about how she's a great listener, or about how she's always a teacher, especially to her grandchildren, or about how she likes to take shots of Jagermeister on Christmas Eve :), or about how she loves to go on little adventures, or how she unsuccessfully tried to get us to clean up the kitchen before the timer on the microwave went off, or about thousands upon thousand bowls of popcorn on weekends, or haircuts in the backyard, or I could tell you about how she's a great host, or about how she would always encourage you to be great without being overbearing, or about how she always tries to be interested in the things your interested, or about how she doesn't like that whiny guitar sound, even though she'll let you control the radio station, or about how she asks you what your favorite thing you like about somebody, or what your favorite part of some event was, or about how she'll tell you it's only money, or about how she's become quite the architect in her old age, or about how she sees the best in anybody even when the best is hard to see, or how she'd never let you feel sorry for yourself or take yourself too seriously, I could tell you about how she got afraid of a fight breaking out during a Tigers game, or how she'd always make scrambled eggs with cheese at just the right times, or how she always tells you to remember whose you are, no matter how old you get, but it would 'cause a run-on sentence & I'm sure you all have similar stores. Thanks for everything you do, ma & for being who you are. I love you.

In other news, check out the hottest thing on the blogging scene since, well, who knows. Don't believe a thing she says, though, she tends to drink at least four bottles of whiskey before she blogs (just kidding, she'll kick me in the shins if I don't clarify that she does NOT in fact, drink four bottles of whiskey before she blogs) :).

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Ramblin' Round Your City-Odetta, A Tribute to Woody Guthrie, 1968

Dear Mrs Roosevelt-Bob Dylan, A Tribute to Woody Guthrie, 1968

Oh Well-Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine

Thunder on the Mountain-Bob Dylan, Auburn Hills, 2006

Please Tell My Brother-Jeff Tweedy

Happy Thursday, friends, raise a bowl of popcorn & a glass of lemonade & wish my mother happy birthday!


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

You'd Sing Too

You'd sing too
if you found yourself
in a place like this
You wouldn't worry about
whether you were as good
as Ray Charles or Edith Piaf
You'd sing
You'd sing
not for yourself
but to make a self
out of the old food
rotting in the astral bowel
and the loveless thud
of your own breathing
You'd become a singer
faster than it takes
to hate a rival's charm
and you'd sing, darling
you'd sing too

Leonard Cohen, Book of Longing

Leonard's a genius. I nearly made it through half of this book the other night in about an hour. I can't wait to read it again.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Desolation Row-Bob Dylan, Clarkston, MI

My first show, my favorite song. Good stuff.

yes I recieved your letter yesterday
about the time the doorknob broke
when you asked me how I was doing
was that some kind of joke?
all these people that you mentioned
I know them, they're quite lame
I had to rearrange their faces
and give them all another name
right now I can't read too good
don't send me no more letters, no!
not unless you mail them from
Desolation Row

Five Hearts Breaking-Alejandro Escovedo, Austin Texas 2004

Dear Head on the Wall-Alejandro Escovedo, Austin Texas 2004

This House-Kevin Davis

Tangled Up in Blue-Bob Dylan, Toronto 2004

Happy election day, friends, cast your vote for the carpenter!


Monday, November 06, 2006

I Have Often Walked Down This Street Before

Christie went for a walk last night down one of the best streets in Grand Rapids, Leonard, where her house is. She doesn't think it is as great as I do, maybe it's because she has to look at it every day. My parents will know it as the street that Arnie's is on, but it's so much more. There are the coolest old houses on that street, particularly on the west side, there's a great old cemetary on the hill, where, if you walk to one side of it, you can look east & see a beautiful view of the city. On nice days when I'm driving to Grand Rapids & I'm not in any kind of hurry, I'll go through Spring Lake & take Leonard all the way to Grand Rapids, it's one of the best stretches of drive you'll ever see. You can look upon farms, golf courses, campgrounds, the Grand River, beautiful old houses, small villages, it's got it all.

Anyway, we headed east from her apartment towards the city, & we got to the point where we were close to my old neighborhood, so we walked a bit further. If you walk up the hill from my old house, especially in the wintertime, you can get a great view of the city. I was always jealous of that view since I was down in the valley. On nights when it was snowing pretty bad, though, I could watch the cars try to drive up that hill, usually unsuccessfully. Afterwords, we ate at the good ol' Shawmut Inn. Jill was working, she's great, she told us about her vacation to Alaska, which I was incredibly jealous of. I now have three things in common with Jill; she's a vegetarian, she's loves Alaska & she's a huge John Updike fan. She reminds me alot of Joyce.
The house is looking a bit decrepid, I must say, not that it was ever a mansion when I lived there, but the hedges & the lawn were a bit out of control. I miss that place, but I'm happy to be where I'm at.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

O Mary Don't You Weep-Kevin Davis & Jason Lamb

Click on the link & download the file on the page.

Nettie Moore-Bob Dylan, Auburn Hills, 2006

Senor (Tales of Yankee Power)-Bob Dylan, Auburn Hills, 2006

Well the last thing I remember
before I stripped & kneeled
was a trainload of fools
bogged down in a magnetic field
& a gypsy with a broken flag
in a flashing ring said
"son this ain't a dream no more
it's the real thing"

Spirit on the Water-Bob Dylan, Auburn Hills, 2006

Broken Bottle-Alejandro Escovedo, Austin TX, 2004

Happy Monday, friends!


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Can You Tell Me Where We're Heading?

For those who don't care to read about the Bob Dylan concert at the Palace on Thursday, I've left a few pictures so your visit to this blog wasn't in vain.

November is a good month to be a Bob Dylan fan in Michigan. The week of November 2-9 has resulted in five concerts for me since 2000.

November 5, 2000-The Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor-Bob plays another great concert from a year that saw many. This show was my second & it had alot of highlights including a rare version of Simple Twist of Fate, a great version of Standing in the Doorway, & a guest appearance from a former member of Bob's band, GE Smith.

November 6, 2001-Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids-This concert, my third, still remains as the best concert I've ever seen, by anybody. This was the first time I ever got up close, about 10 rows back. This show had a great setlist, including one of my favorite songs Every Grain of Sand, one of the best versions of Cry Awhile I've ever heard & the debut of Po' Boy from Love & Theft.

November 7, 2002-Chrysler Arena, Ann Arbor-Bob Dylan shocked everybody by switching to keyboards on this tour, & he also performed a ton of covers from a few of his contemporaries. This show included covers of the Stones' Brown Sugar, Van Morrison's Carrying a Torch, Neil Young's Old Man, & a heartbreaking version of Warren Zevon's Mutineer, who was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. Bob also commented on the state of contemporary country music by saying "Hank Williams could mop the floor with all of 'em". That was also the day I put an offer in on my first house.

November 9, 2004-Breslin Center, Lansing-A lacklustre performance save for a wonderful rendition of Desolation Row.

Over the last couple of years, Bob Dylan concerts have become for me something of a habit, like watching Lions games, hoping they will turn things around, but knowing deep down that they probably won't. That's not to say that there haven't been highlights, there are always moments at every concert that remind me why I go, but those moments have lately been exceptions to the mediocre rule.

So I headed off to Auburn Hills Thursday, more excited to see my friend Dan before he left for Iraq than I was about the concert. There was certainly more to look forward to than your average Dylan concert, as he has been playing songs from his new album, Modern Times.

The Palace seems to me like an awful place to see a concert, it is cavernous, with no sense of intimacy, & I felt more like part of some marketing strategy than a rock concert. That marketing strategy seemed to entail having the Foo Fighters as the opening act. They were "Acoustic", I don't know if that has anything to do with the fact that they were opening for Bob Dylan, but it seems to me that if you are going to strip your songs down to their "acoustic" core that there oughta be something there to begin with. Needless to say, I was unimpressed, but that's okay. I would have payed the same with or without them there.

Bob came on about a half hour later and from the opening chords of Cat's in the Well, I could tell things were going to be different. It was nice to hear anything but Maggie's Farm to open the show. Senor (Tales of Yankee Power) was next, and it was an extremely haunting version, Bob was in good voice & he ended it with a strong harmonica solo. Stuck Inside of Mobile (with the Memphis Blues Again) was more interesting to my ears than it usually is, the band seemed to be having a good time with it, & Bob's singing was better than usual. Lots of growl, his voice didn't sound thin & as if he were reaching for notes like he has been over the last couple of years. After this song, the lights went down, & before the band started in, I could hear the harmonica playing a melody that sounded like Spirit on the Water, one of the best songs off of Modern Times. I was right, the version was quite good, although the main riff which gives the song it's charm isn't there live, and therefore the song sounds quite muddy. The harp solo that closes the song is much better than the album version, & it's recieved with alot of applause from the audience. Highwater (for Charley Patton) is always played well, and this version was no exception. The banjo playing on this version sets it apart from many others I've heard.

Positively Fourth Street was quite sloppy, both from the band & Bob, but it was well recieved from the crowd. The new arrangement of Cold Irons Bound is incredibly dull, it used to be a consistent power house that always got the crowd excited. No more, but that's okay because Bob pulled out Visions of Johanna next, which competes with Desolation Row for Bob Dylan's greatest song. This was the first time I've seen Bob play it live, & it was very good, although the arrangement leaves much to be desired. This song demands a quiet arrangement meant to command attention with it's subtlety, instead it is too fast, & hokey electric guitar solos seem to rob the verses of their power. Still, it was performed well & a highlight of the concert. A smoky version of Till I Fell in Love With You kept up the momentum, another first for me. The crowd was excited to hear Tangled Up in Blue, although the same could be said for this arrangement as Visions of Johanna.

Highway 61 Revisited was next, another crowd favorite that always left me cold. Nettie Moore was next, & the crowd hung on every verse. This song is much better live than on record as Bob stretches out nicely & varies his vocals from verse to verse. The lyric "I'd walk through a blazing fire, baby, if I knew you were on the other side" gave me goosebumps. Absolutely incredible. I can't wait to hear this one again.

Summer Days sounds like every other version I've heard, it sounds good, but nothing earth shattering. I figured that Thunder on the Mountain would replace Summer Days as the song played at every show, but it seems as though it was just added to the list. The band seemed to rush through this one, & Bob's lyrics were quite hurried. Like a Rolling Stone kept my interest more than it ever has during a concert. It's amazing to see people in the crowd embrace this song the way they do. This is the quintessential song about individualism, about how at the end of the day, you've got no one to blame but yourself for your lot in life. It's been embraced as an anthem, though, "how does it feel to be on your own?" is both a put-down & a cry of pride. Usually my enjoyment of this song comes from watching the audience rather than the performance itself, although this one seemed better than usual. All Along the Watchtower could use a break, it sounds tired, you can almost tell that Bob & band are tired of playing it.

The band sounds better than it has the last couple of years, although it still has no edge. There's no distinction between turning up & turning down the sound, which has been a staple of Bob Dylan's music since the mid sixties. There's a sameness that permeates most of these songs, & almost ruins great songs like Visions of Johanna & Desolation Row. Although, as is always the case, if Bob Dylan is putting care & energy into his songs, it doesn't matter what band is playing behind him. This was certainly the case at the Palace, it was the best concert of Bob's I've seen since the great State Theatre run of March 2004. It's good to have you back, Bob.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Every Grain of Sand-Bob Dylan, Grand Rapids, 2001
Dead Man's Will-Iron & Wine & Calexico, In the Reins
Mutineer-Warren Zevon, David Letterman Show, 2002
If You Were Only Here Tonight-Los Lobos, The Town & the City
Two Bass Hit-Miles Davis, Milestones

Happy Saturday, friends, I hope yours has been as lazy as mine!


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Grand Haven, Michigan
the sun shines on a dog's ass every now & then...