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

Friday, February 29, 2008

You do what you must do & you do it well...

When I used to work in Grand Rapids, I always used to listen to the classic rock station 96.9 WLAV. They had the tradition of playing The Friday Song every Friday at 5:00. The song is actually called Shanty by John Sebastian. "We're gonna lay around the shanty, mama, and put a good buzz on." It's a terrible song, but I like the idea of every Friday when the factory whistle blows letting everybody know the shift is over & the weekend is here. Sometimes I dream of a job where I only work 9:00 to 5:00, no more, no less.

Today, my Friday song is Buckets of Rain from the album Blood on the Tracks. Blood on the Tracks is a hard album to get into. It requires alot of attention, if you listen to it as background music you will never get the payoff. If you don't give it the attention it deserves, your ears won't hear it properly. However, if you do, there's a ton of aural pictures that you'll see. It's not a toe tapper or a humalong album. It's laced with sadness & pain, not an easy listen. There's alot of knockout punches, some humor, & a ton of bittersweet melancholy.

Go figure, the happiest song has the saddest title, "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go".

Flowers on the hillside, bloomin' crazy,
Crickets talkin' back and forth in rhyme,
Blue river runnin' slow and lazy,
I could stay with you forever
And never realize the time.

And then the lyric that sums up the album the best...

I'll look for you in old Honolulu,
San Francisco, Ashtabula,
Yer gonna have to leave me now, I know.
But I'll see you in the sky above,
In the tall grass, in the ones I love,
Yer gonna make me lonesome when you go.

I hated it the first time I heard it. But with most things in life, the things that mean the most to you are the things that take a while to appreciate. Every song is a roller coaster of emotions; anger, romance, sadness. Every song could be a novel, or a Woody Allen movie.

Oh yeah, Buckets of Rain. I bought this album about ten years ago, & I used to think this song was merely filler, but I keep coming back to it. The album couldn't end on a bad note, it's heavy enough as it is, but it couldn't be too happy, either, otherwise it would be disingenuous. You can take it how you want to, you can focus on the buckets of tears or you can focus on the buckets of moonbeams in your hand, but what's clear is the album fills up your buckets with both.

Buckets of Rain

Buckets of rain
Buckets of tears
Got all them buckets comin' out of my ears.
Buckets of moonbeams in my hand,
I got all the love, honey baby,
You can stand.

I been meek
And hard like an oak
I seen pretty people disappear like smoke.
Friends will arrive, friends will disappear,
If you want me, honey baby,
I'll be here.

Like your smile
And your fingertips
Like the way that you move your lips.
I like the cool way you look at me,
Everything about you is bringing me

Little red wagon
Little red bike
I ain't no monkey but I know what I like.
I like the way you love me strong and slow,
I'm takin' you with me, honey baby,
When I go.

Life is sad
Life is a bust
All ya can do is do what you must.
You do what you must do and ya do it well,
I'll do it for you, honey baby,
Can't you tell?

Copyright © 1974 Ram's Horn Music

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Buckets of Rain-Bob Dylan, Blood on the Tracks

The Levee's Gonna Break-Bob Dylan, Modern Times

I heard somebody say once that the New Orleans flood was God's punishment on the sinful city. I thought it was the most hateful thing anybody could ever say.

Panties in Your Purse-The Drive By Truckers, Gangstabilly

Sinners in the Mansion of the Lord-Kevin Davis

You're a Big Girl Now-Bob Dylan, Providence, RI 1997

Happy Friday, friends, I hope your Friday song is a happy one...


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Someday everything's gonna be different...

I was watching one of those Sunday morning shows a few weeks ago before church when Ben Stein gave a little monologue about the state of the economy. He said it wasn't as bad as everyone thought it was, & he didn't think we were slipping into a recession. I'm not sure if I agree with his prognosis, but that's beside the point. He did offer up advice on what to do if we did, & I wished I could have played the clip for one of my employees. He said show up to work early & stay as late as you can & work harder than anyone else.

Unfortunately, he didn't follow that advice, I don't think he even listened. So, I'm back to the drawing board with hiring a new employee. I would think that getting a decent employee wouldn't be too hard being so close to Hope College & with the unemployment rate so high. My little store hasn't had the best track record with part time employees, since I've been there, we've gone through two. Maybe it's me. The other workers say it was that way before I got there, but my ego wouldn't allow me to believe that I could hire an employee that wouldn't be great. So, I hired a fella from someone's recommendation without any kind of formal interview. At first, he was great, or so I thought. He showed up to work & did what I asked him to. After a couple of weeks, though he started coming up with excuses as to why he couldn't come to work & always asked to leave early.

He's gone now & I'm on to the next guy. After doing three interviews with people, I decided on someone. He seems intelligent & polite. One of my questions I ask these days is what people think of manual labor. I don't really want to hear that people love it, because they are probably just telling me what I want to hear, & I also don't want to hear that they hate it 'cause then they'll really hate it. I'm quite proud of the list of questions I came up with, actually. The problem is I really want to like people when I talk to them & I want to believe what they say. We'll see how this one goes.

An Old Story by Edwin Arlington Robinson

Strange that I did not know him then,
That friend of mine!
I did not even show him then
One friendly sign;

But cursed him for the ways he had
To make me see
My envy of the praise he had
For praising me.

I would have rid the earth of him
Once, in my pride!...
I never knew the worth of him
Until he died.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Start a War-The National, Boxer

Fake Empire-The National, Boxer

Tomorrow is a Long Time-Bob Dylan

Are You the One I've Been Waiting For?-Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

Canadee-I-O-Nic Jones

Happy Wednesday, friends...


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The tune that is yours and mine to play upon this earth...

Looking back on the wedding plans years from now, what I think I'll remember the most is meeting the organist. We met her Sunday night at a church in Hudsonville. I wasn't really looking forward to it after a long day & a busy weekend & we didn't meet her until about 8:00 in the evening. The organist is Christie's mother's cousin & she is a picture of what I have in my mind when I think of organists; glasses, somewhat disheveled hair, speaking very expressively & happily. She brought out all the wedding classics I think, & we threw in a couple of rarities. I've heard those songs a million times & they always felt as though they belonged to somebody else, but now I feel like they belong to me. We got our own little private concert & it was great, I love to watch musicians work. I think Christie even got a tear in her eye when she heard the song she'd be walking down the aisle to, I hope that's a good tear.

Speaking of watching musicians work, the Wilco concert was splendid. Despite the people dancing & making out in front of us, it was a fine concert. They announced before the show that during their five night stand, the band was going to try to play every song in their canon, which made for a couple of lulls (possibly songs that should be left alone). Other than a few snoozers, they played many of my favorite songs, the most exciting being the great AP Carter song, When the Roses Bloom Again. Here's a clip of the song from the same night we were there...

Pot Kettle Black from the same night, ain't the internet a beautiful thing?

It was an incredible weekend, it almost makes me want to travel more. For pictures, go here.
Jill is an incredible tour guide for Chicago, she knows all the great spots & restaurants & I finally got my concert going pal back.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

The Piano's Been Drinking (Not Me)-Tom Waits

At the Chime of a City Clock-Nick Drake, Bryter Later

To Go Home-M. Ward, Post War

Poor Places-Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Jesus, Etc-Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Happy Wednesday, friends...


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The wind blew me back, Via Chicago...

Happy Wednesday, friends. Only one more day of work before the three day weekend. That little place I work is starting to get the best of me, so it couldn't come at a better time. I can't wait to hop the train to Chicago with Dan, Jill & Christie. I don't think I've ever ridden on a train, before. I love trains. It's no accident that Dan used to live right on the train tracks that goes past Holland, through Michigan City & on to Chicago. I think I have a picture of those tracks somewhere. We used to walk along the tracks from Dan's to JW's. Everybody loves a train, as the song goes.

Jeff Tweedy is cementing his place as one of the great songwriters of the last twenty years, perhaps the best since, well the best in a long time. He pushes the envelope of what a song can do. He likes to straddle beautiful little melodies with ambient noise that can often lead to incredible tension. I'm not a fan of these type of comparisons for musicians but it's a bit like Woody Guthrie meets the Velvet Underground.

Nowhere is this more evident then in my favorite Wilco song, Via Chicago.

I dreamed about killing you again last night
And it felt alright to me
Dying on the banks of Embarcadero skies
I sat and watched you bleed
Buried you alive in a fireworks display
Raining down on me
Your cold, hot blood ran away from me
To the sea

I painted my name on the back of a leaf
And I watched it float away
The hope I had in a notebook full of white, dry pages
Was all I tried to save
But the wind blew me back via Chicago
In the middle of the night
And all without fight
At the crush of veils and starlight

I know I'll make it back
One of these days and turn on your TV
To watch a man with a face like mine
Being chased down a busy street
When he gets caught, I wont get up
And I wont go to sleep
I'm coming home, I'm coming home
Via Chicago

Where the cups are cracked and hooked
Above the sink
They make me think
Crumbling ladder tears don't fall
They shine down your shoulders
And crawling is screw faster lash
I blow it with kisses
I rest my head on a pillowy star
And a cracked door moon
That says I havent gone too far

I'm coming home
I'm coming home
Via Chicago

Searching for a home
Searching for a home
Searching for a home
Via Chicago

I'm coming home
I'm coming home

The end of the last verse is like the heavens opening wide, all of the ambient noise is gone, the melody is loud & clear & the sum parts of all the negative images contained in the song finally come through & produce some beauty. What a perfect little song, it's an example of all of the pain & beauty a song can display & that doesn't have to be either one or the other. I sure hope they play it on Friday.

I just looked on their website & it's not only the opening show of the five night stand in their hometown of Chicago, it's also the opening show of the tour. That can always make for a more exciting show as the band is usually quite excited to be playing before an audience again. I can't wait.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Via Chicago-Wilco, Summerteeth

Train of Love-Johnny Cash

Tom Sawyer's Later Years-Kevin Davis, The Great Plains

Sons & Daughters-the Decemberists, the Crane Wife

I Don't Need You (to set me free)-Grinderman

Happy Wednesday, friends...


Monday, February 11, 2008

So Many Roads, So Much at Stake...

My blogs have been kind of lame lately (lately? you ask?) & for that I apologize.

Like most people (at least I think so), I don't like to be sold anything. That's the tough part of my job. For the most part, I believe the products I sell work, & I've used most of them to know that it's true. A lot of the time, however, I know some of the advertisements & labels to be either grossly overstated or in other cases, untrue. Often times in order to get new business I have to make a bit of a sales pitch & it's always an extremely odd thing to do. I want to be good at what I do & have a good product to sell, but I don't necessarily want to tell people about it.

The election can be at both times interesting & frustrating. During these debates, I want a designated panel to yell BS! at the appropriate times when they feel the candidate is reading from their own personal script.

The song of the month explains this point brilliantly, if you ask me. Dignity is never where you think it is & it can never be seen. This would be a greater idea if it included the word integrity, but that doesn't fit the rhyme quite as well. Perhaps the word's exclusion shows a lack of dignity.


Fat man lookin' in a blade of steel
Thin man lookin' at his last meal
Hollow man lookin' in a cottonfield
For dignity

Wise man lookin' in a blade of grass
Young man lookin' in the shadows that pass
Poor man lookin' through painted glass
For dignity

Somebody got murdered on New Year's Eve
Somebody said dignity was the first to leave
I went into the city, went into the town
Went into the land of the midnight sun

Searchin' high, searchin' low
Searchin' everywhere I know
Askin' the cops wherever I go
Have you seen dignity?

Blind man breakin' out of a trance
Puts both his hands in the pockets of chance
Hopin' to find one circumstance
Of dignity

I went to the wedding of Mary-lou
She said I don't want nobody see me talkin' to you
Said she could get killed if she told me what she knew
About dignity

I went down where the vultures feed
I would've got deeper, but there wasn't any need
Heard the tongues of angels and the tongues of men
Wasn't any difference to me

Chilly wind sharp as a razor blade
House on fire, debts unpaid
Gonna stand at the window, gonna ask the maid
Have you seen dignity?

Drinkin' man listens to the voice he hears
In a crowded room full of covered up mirrors
Lookin' into the lost forgotten years
For dignity

Met Prince Phillip at the home of the blues
Said he'd give me information if his name wasn't used
He wanted money up front, said he was abused
By dignity

Footprints runnin' cross the silver sand
Steps goin' down into tattoo land
I met the sons of darkness and the sons of light
In the bordertowns of despair

Got no place to fade, got no coat
I'm on the rollin' river in a jerkin' boat
Tryin' to read a note somebody wrote
About dignity

Sick man lookin' for the doctor's cure
Lookin' at his hands for the lines that were
And into every masterpiece of literature
for dignity

Englishman stranded in the blackheart wind
Combin' his hair back, his future looks thin
Bites the bullet and he looks within
For dignity

Someone showed me a picture and I just laughed
Dignity never been photographed
I went into the red, went into the black
Into the valley of dry bone dreams

So many roads, so much at stake
So many dead ends, I'm at the edge of the lake
Sometimes I wonder what it's gonna take
To find dignity

Copyright © 1991 Special Rider Music

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

The Times They are a Changin'-Bob Dylan, Avignon France, 1981

'Round Midnight-Miles Davis, 'Round Midnight

We Both Go Down Together-The Decemberists, Picaresque

All of You-Miles Davis, 'Round Midnight

Dignity-Bob Dylan, Rochester 2004

Happy Monday, friends...


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