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

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Where Were You?

A couple of weeks ago, I was in the car listening to Fresh Air with Terry Gross who was interviewing one of my favorite singer songwriters, Vic Chesnutt. He was talking about his latest album, his career, his atheist beliefs & lastly his battle with doctor bills since he became a paraplegic in 1983. Chesnutt, despite his following & his relatively successful recording career was in debt $50,000 to hospitals that he had no way of paying even though he had "health insurance". I knew quite a bit about Chesnutt's career, but I had no idea that he had trouble with doctor's bills. Driving in the car, I had a pretty good thought to send him an email, but as always happens, life gets in the way. Here's what it would've said:

Dear Vic,

I've been listening to your music for the last ten years, & it's meant alot to me. Thank you. I recently heard you on Fresh Air with Terry Gross & was blown away by the song Granny. I was sad to hear about your doctor bills. It's shameful that we live in a country where we can't take care of our basic needs. I know you are an atheist, but, if it means anything to you, I'm praying for you & I hope everything works out okay. Take care.


Vic Chesnutt committed suicide yesterday.

The sad irony is this sad fact from spinner.com

"Chesnutt first grabbed national attention in 1996 when his songs were covered by an impressive list of musicians -- including Madonna, R.E.M., Smashing Pumpkins and Indigo Girls -- on a compilation for Sweet Relief, an organization benefiting musicians without health insurance. Chesnutt was grateful for the exposure but told Spinner, "When I talked to Sweet Relief about my problem recently, they were just like 'Woah, that's too big of a problem for us. You're going to have to talk to somebody else about that.'""

Vic Chesnutt also performed on a benefit CD for Alejandro Escovedo, who several years ago was in a similar predicament.

Life is short, friends, lend a hand.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Kick My Ass-Vic Chesnutt, Drunk

Kick My Ass

I'm so sorry you had to kick my ass
You said I ruined your life
I didn't mean to do that
I had to untangle where we was entwined
I was strangling me...were you breathing so fine
the jam I was in when things weren't working out
led me to the brunt of your swinging bout
I'm so sorry, I regret everything
what can I do to take back that swing
I'm so sorry a scuffle ensued
but things are so much better I guess thanks to you
I'm so sorry you had to pull my hair
I had to take care of business
there was a lot of business giving there

Cutty Sark-Vic Chesnutt, Drunk

Flirted With You All My Life-Vic Chesnutt

In My Way, Yes-Vic Chesnutt

My Hope is Built on Nothing Less-hymn


Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas in Grand Haven

Christie asked me the other day what my favorite part of Christmas was the other day, & I told her the Nunc Dimittis, otherwise known as the Song of Simeon from Luke 2:29-32. Not only is it a beautifully written piece of literature, it's one of the most hopeful moments in scripture & an excellent example of finding peace in Our Savior. Simeon basically says he is ready to die in peace now that he has seen the Christchild. The juxtaposition between Jesus' birth & Simeon's death is striking. Only through death can we find true peace. What greater earthly gift can anyone have than to be able to die in peace? 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 mirrors this idea, not only that we shouldn't be afraid of death, we should live as though in death we will find victory. My Christmas wish for you is that find peace not only in Jesus' birth but more importantly you'll find peace in His death as well.

Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace;
Because my eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples:
A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Little Drummer Boy-Bob Dylan, Christmas in the Heart

In 1979, Bob Dylan wrote a song called "What Can I Do For You?", which I always thought was Bob Dylan's own rewrite of "Little Drummer Boy". The harmonica in "What Can I Do For You" is what Bob can play for the Christchild & in the song he gives one of the greatest harmonica solos of his career.

Thirty years later, when Bob Dylan shocked everybody by releasing a Christmas album (with all the proceeds going to feed the hungry), he recorded "Little Drummer Boy". Not a bad version at that, & a brilliant little video that evokes Christmas in every little farm town in the midwest in the forties & fifties.

Es ist ein Ros entsprungen (Lo! How a Rose E'er Blooming)-The Children's Chorus of the South German Radio

Of the Father's Love Begotten-Hymns for All Saints

The Friendly Beasts-Sufjan Stevens, Songs for Christmas

If all music videos were like this one, they might be worth watching.

Silent Night-Huey "Piano Smith & the Clowns"

Merry Christmas, friends...


Monday, December 14, 2009

Do Right to Me Baby (Do Unto Others)

My pal Kyle gave me a disc of Christmas songs by the band Low the other day. One song is called If You Were Born Today referring to if Jesus was born today. Here's the lyrics:

If you were born today
We'd kill ya by age eight
Never get the chance to say:

Joy to the world and

Peace on the earth
Forgive them for they know not what they do

Blessed are the meek and

Blessed are the humble
Blessed are the ninety and nine

Deny the flesh

Deny all that's evil
Tonight you'll deny me thrice

If you were born today

We'd kill ya by age eight
Never get the chance to say...


The song underscores how difficult it must've been for the early Christians who didn't have the benefit of having faith instilled to them as children or the benefit of living in a country where Christianity is the majority. They had to suffer their faith. I imagine that people looked upon early Christians as we might a cult. It reminds me of one of my favorite verses:

Well, I rapped upon a house
With the U.S. flag upon display
I said, "Could you help me out
I got some friends down the way"
The man says, "Get out of here
I'll tear you limb from limb"
I said, "You know they refused Jesus, too"
He said, "You're not Him".

I think there's two lessons to be taken from all of this. One, don't take anything for granted & be thankful for your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, teachers, friends & pastors. The more important lesson comes from Mattew 25:40.

"And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Come Thou Font of Every Blessing-Sufjan Stevens, Songs for Christmastime

In the Summertime-Bob Dylan, Shot of Love

"I'm still carrying that gift you gave, it's a part of me now, it's been cherished & saved. It'll be with me unto the grave & on into eternity."

God Said No-Dan Bern, New American Language

If You Were Born Today (song for Baby Jesus)-Low

Do Right to Me Baby (Do Unto Others)-Bob Dylan, Slow Train Coming

Happy Monday, friends...


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Blues This Morning Falling Down Like Hail

Dig this, friends, I had the greatest dream last night. Christie, my pal Ryan & I walked into a diner somewhere down south for breakfast. We're sitting at the bar waiting for our food to come & who should walk into the restaurant? None other than Mrs. Elizabeth Cotten, the little known blues guitar player & singer who died in 1987. Her best songs include Freight Train Blues, Oh Babe it Ain't No Lie & Shake Sugaree. When I saw her, I said, "look everybody, Elizabeth Cotten's here!" Somehow she seemed to know who I was & she asked how I was doing. I told her I was doing good, but it had been a long time since I'd heard any good music. She said, "oh that's too bad". I said, "yup, it sure would be nice to hear some good music". She then played "Freight Train Blues" for me. Then the alarm clock went off.

Whenever I listen to Elizabeth Cotten, it reminds me of sitting next to Oma in church & listening to her sweet voice singing.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

When I Get Home-Elizabeth Cotten

Ain't No Tellin'-Mississippi John Hurt

Do You Hear What I Hear?-Bob Dylan, Christmas in the Heart

Once in Royal David's City-Sufjan Stevens

Intervention-Arcade Fire, Funeral

Happy Thursday, friends...


Saturday, November 07, 2009

Tell me now, am I wrong in thinking that you have forgotten me?

We've all had that moment when a song hits us at just the right time, you're very receptive to what the song is saying & the song delivers what we're looking for. The song fits the mood, the mood fits the song. Whenever this happens, time seems to stop, if only for a few minutes. Bob Dylan played a song that fit the mood of Detroit on Friday night, a song called Workingman's Blues #2. The perfect song for the perfect place at the perfect place. What more can you ask for of an artist? To stop time & to shed a little light on the problems of the day with humor & earnestness. When Bob Dylan stepped to the middle of the stage & grabbed his mic, he looked and sounded like an angry farmer at a small town meeting explaining his plight, "they burned my barn & they stole my horse, I can't save a dime". I've heard this song in concert before, but I've never heard it like this before. I'd like to think Bob realized the power of his own song to a city hit harder than any other with poverty, unemployment & corrupt leadership. There's anger, sorrow & most importantly, defiance. A perfect lullaby for Detroit.

One could say that Bob Dylan is anything but a generous performer. He doesn't say a word to his audience except to introduce his band, he isn't a crowd pleaser & on most nights it appears as if he could care less if the audience is there or not. This night was no different, except in the care he gave to every word he spit out. He commanded the stage in a way I haven't seen before & by playing more than half of his songs from the last four albums he made you forget that he's the Bob Dylan of the 1960's who wrote all of those classic songs. Watching him perform center stage with his shadow behind him shows us an image of a living, breathing artist who is at once both living up to his legend and shattering it at the same time.

Detroit, Michigan
Fox Theatrer
November 6, 2009

1. Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat
2. The Man In Me
3. Beyond Here Lies Nothin'
4. It's All Over Now, Baby Blue (Bob on guitar)
5. Summer Days
6. Desolation Row
7. Cold Irons Bound
8. Sugar Baby
9. Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum
10. Po' Boy
11. Highway 61 Revisited
12. Workingman's Blues #2
13. Thunder On The Mountain
14. Ballad Of A Thin Man

15. Like A Rolling Stone
16. Jolene (Bob on keyboard
17. All Along The Watchtower

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Skinny Love-Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago

Workingman Blues #2-Bob Dylan

Sam Stone-John Prine, Souvenirs

Ballad of a Thin Man-Bob Dylan

Won't Want for Love-The Decemberists, Hazards of Love

Happy Saturday, friends...


Friday, October 09, 2009

Bowling Trophies

So many people are upset about Barack Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Before today, I couldn't tell you more than three people who were on the list & I'm guessing that most people who are upset about him either also don't know & or don't agree with many past winners. I don't get upset about who wins the MTV video music awards, because I just don't care who wins the best hip hop video. Like Jerry Seinfeld says, "awards are stupid...it's all a big jerkoff". My thoughts? They gave him the award not for what he has done, but for what his (uncompleted) agenda is, & perhaps to goad him into doing more for peace, in light of his upcoming decision on what to do in Afghanistan. My guess is that Obama himself isn't all too excited about winning the award & the expectations & apparent disdain from his opponents that come with it. So everybody settle down, it's not as though he asked to win.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

No Man's Land-Sufjan Stevens, The Avalanche

Man of Peace-Bob Dylan, Infidels

Stop Breaking Down Blues-Robert Johnson

Sabotage-The Beastie Boys

Shine on Me-Reverand Gary Davis, If I Had My Way

Let the light from the lighthouse shine on you & me, friends...


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Evil is Alive & Well

An actual conversation I had with a customer (one whom I've never met) the other day:

Customer: Can I get a credit application?

Me: Oh sure, that's always a good idea. It'll just take me a minute to print one off. pause... Busy day today?

Customer: Yeah, busy life. With that baboon we have in the White House I have to work twice as hard.

Me: Huh.

Customer: He wants to take from those who have money & give it to those who don't. The thing is those who don't have anything never will.

Me: Here you go. hands him application.

Now shame on me for not saying anything, part of me was selfish & realized it would be bad for business to disagree with him, part of me was shocked by what he said, completely unsolicited. This is the kind of hatred that causes people to fly planes into buildings & start wars. I'd like to think that everyone who protests at these town hall meetings, tea parties & "marches" on Washington are genuinely concerned about deficit spending & supposed government run health care but I rather doubt it.

Let's save the nazi claims for the actual nazi's, shall we? Funny, that trade freedom for security & you will have neither sign could've been used for an anti-war protest as well.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Please Tell My Brother-Golden Smog

A Hard Rain's a Gonna Fall-Bob Dylan, New Orleans 2003

Sinkin' in the Lonesome Sea-The Carter Family

Tower Song-Townes Van Zandt

When I Get to the Border-Richard & Linda Thompson, I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight

Happy Sunday, friends...


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Storms are on the ocean, storms up in the mountains too

I got up at 4:30 this morning because I was supposed to go on a charter fishing trip on Lake Michigan with a customer of mine, but apparently the waves were too big so it got canceled. Now, this doesn't bother me too much because, honestly, I wasn't really interested in fishing too much. Now, I'm in that precarious position of wondering what to do with the rest of the day. I'm not expected at work today, but there's a ton of stuff I could catch up on.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Thunder on the Mountain-Bob Dylan with Charlie Sexton, 8.4.09

We Three (My Echo, My Shadow & Me)-The Ink Spots

Love Vigilantes-Iron & Wine, Around the Well

On up the Mountain-Jakob Dylan, Seeing Things

Uphill Mountain-Jackie Greene

Happy Thursday, friends...


Friday, July 03, 2009

We laughed & had a good time you & I

I was on my way to the Shawmut Inn the day my old man called me & told me that Emily had Ella. I was so proud I think I told all the waitresses there. We've been having fun ever since. Ella is fun to play with because she has a wonderful imagination & tons of energy. I can see the best in Bob & Emily in her. She's the best birthday present I ever got. Happy birthday, bean. We love you.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Forgetful Heart-Bob Dylan, Milwaukee, July 1, 2009

The Times We've Known-Charles Azsnavour

Thunder Road-Bruce Springsteen

Uncle John's Band-The Grateful Dead, Workingman's Dead

Get Out of Denver-Eddie & the Hot Rods

Happy Friday, friends...


Thursday, July 02, 2009

How the days turn into weeks turn into months...

I haven't been listening to much music lately. I've gotten into podcasts to pass the time to & from work. My favorites are This American Life, Cartalk & Countdown. Hearing the songs I Love You (for sentimental reasons) by Nat King Cole & I Came to Hear the Music by Bonnie "Prince" Billy on my shuffle just might snap me out of this. Whilst at class I think I might just sit out on the front porch & listen to a couple albums. Any suggestions?

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Try a Little Tenderness-Otis Redding

I Love You (for Sentimental Reasons)-Nat King Cole

Love Vigilantes-Iron & Wine, Around the Well

Life is Hard-Bob Dylan, Together Through Life

I Came to Hear the Music-Bonnie "Prince" Billy-Ask Forgiveness

Happy 4th of July weekend, friends...


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Everybody's gonna jump for joy!

If my nephew Quinn is seven years old, that must make me old. So much has changed since he was born but it all seems like such a short period of time. I have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that Quinn's not a toddler anymore, but at the same time it's hard to remember a Quinn without Ella, let alone all the other rugrats running around the Woehlke & McClelland compounds. I do remember him spitting up on me at least twice & it never bothered me in the least. Quinn & I will always have a special bond because we both know what it's like to grow up with two sisters. It's been fun watching what an interesting little man Quinn has become & it'll be more fun to see where he goes from here. Happy birthday, Quinntessential.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Red Right Ankle-The Decemberists, Her Majesty, the Decemberists

Out on a Weekend-Neil Young, Harvest

Heart of Gold-Neil Young, Harvest

This Dream of You-Bob Dylan, Together Through Life

It's All Good-Bob Dylan, Together Through Life

Happy Saturday, friends...


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Am I Too Blue for You?

My mother once told me that jazz musicians must not worry if they play a wrong note or two. She's probably right, spontaneity lies at the heart of every jazz session. I don't know anything about playing jazz music (or any instrument for that matter), & I'm also not sure how much of a jazz composition is planned out before the session begins. I do know this, however, that Miles Davis' Kind of Blue is the closest thing to musical perfection that I've ever heard. Maybe this is why it is such a highly regarded album, even among people who don't call themselves jazz enthusiasts.

Never mind all of that, I don't call myself a jazz expert by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, the more music critics I read, the more I realize most of it is complete & utter bullshit. Some people will knock you over the head with what they think is the most clever explanation they can think of regarding an album or a concert, comparing the work to any given number of musicians who came before. This is lazy writing that displays that the only way they can relate the music to their audience is by calling to mind another musician that everyone will know. Other critics feel as though they aren't doing their job if they aren't tearing down a piece of art that they can't create themselves.

The only critics that are worth the paper they write on, in my opinion, are the people who make you want to listen to a given piece of music. I realize I may be setting myself up for failure, here, but that's okay. I could tell you about the musicians (including John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderly & Bill Evans) who played on the album or about the circumstances behind the recording, but that just doesn't do it justice.

What sets this album apart is the space between the notes, or the notes that aren't played. It was one of the first album's of jazz spontaneity to not knock you over the head with the feverish pace of notes that you can't keep up with. I think Miles could've done that if he wanted to, but his real skill was to create a mood with extremely well placed notes that had purpose, & that purpose at many times was to let his fellow musicians shine. This is nowhere more evident than the opening notes of the first track, So What, where the piano & the bass do a little two step together that start things off slowly. It isn't until 50 seconds in that the horns come in, but the bass & the piano hold the spotlight until those definitive notes of Miles come in to remind you whose album you're listening to. Listen to the way the piano stays behind the beat ever so slightly, Evan's isn't begging to be heard, he realizes what he's a part of. Coltrane's solo a few minutes in rivals Miles, but by this point it doesn't matter who's playing what because everything is so laid back.

Most importantly, for me, is that this album always sounds like 8:00-10:00 pm on a Sunday summer evening. Every song & every note holds together a mood that, doesn't let go. To this day, I can't tell you which song is which, & it doesn't really matter, they are all pieces of one great big masterpiece filled with different shades of blue. So, it's Sunday evening, friends, open up the windows turn on the sprinkler, pour yourself a drink & enjoy this masterpiece.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Flamenco Sketches-Miles Davis, Kind of Blue

So What-Miles Davis, Kind of Blue

Song No. 2-Miles Davis, Quiet Nights

BS II-Charles Mingus, Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus

Tony Adams-Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros, Rock Art & the X-Ray Style

Happy Sunday, friends...


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sing me back home

Maybe justice is served. Maybe my punishment for not helping my mother clean as a lad is that I will be forced to mop floors on mother's day from age 29 (the age my mother had me) forward. Such was the case, though, I was stuck at work on Mother's Day & I had two customers all day long & raked in a whopping $37. I could have sat in the office all day & read (or sulked) but I figured I could crank up some Miles Davis & do some cleaning instead. I'm sure all of the higher level executives for my company were doing the same.

I remember looking forward to when my mom cleaned the floors in the kitchen because that meant that we got to eat dinner in the living room in front of the television. When the carpets got cleaned, all of the furniture got thrown together in the middle of the room which was perfect for a fort. It didn't take much to entertain me when I was a kid. My mom used this to my disadvantage by trying to fool me into playing a game to see how fast we could clean the kitchen. Happy Mothers day, Ma, thanks for everything you do for me, especially those things I don't even know about.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Sing Me Back Home-Merle Haggard

I've never been to prison, but the line "there's a song my mama sang" gets me everytime.

All That Matters-Mark Knopfler, Shangri-La

All of You-Miles Davis, 'Round About Midnight

I'd Like To-Mike Ireland

Help! I'm Alive-Metric


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Some people they tell me I got the blood of the land in my voice...

There's nothing like getting an anticipated brand new album the day of it's release. I still get as excited about it as I did when I was thirteen years old. There's no longer 30 seconds then the 30 seconds it takes to get the wrapping off a cd, but the payoff is well worth it. To slap the cd into the player & search through the liner notes for clues that might decode the magic that the cd might hold. Who does the artist thank? Are lyrics included? What kind of pictures are on the inside?

I got home to an empty house with Bob Dylan's Beyond Here Lies Nothing sitting on the counter. Maybe this is why Christie spent the afternoon with her mother. Anyways, I didn't feel guilty about popping this into the cd player & turning it up nice & loud. There's good news & bad news regarding this album. The bad news is that to my ears I don't hear any great songs. Modern Times had Ain't Talkin', Love & Theft had Mississippi. The good news is that I look forward to listening to the album as a whole, not just certain tracks. There's both a cohesiveness & a diversity to these songs that hold it together.

The album challenges your perceptions, the opening track Beyond Here Lies Nothing sounds quite bleak but actually celebrates love in the moment, even if that love will someday betray you or leave you all alone. The closing track, It's All Good, takes that annoying cliche & proves it to be false every time, no matter how many times you tell yourself that it's all good. Life is Hard is Bob Dylan trying to sing as if he has to prove that he can hit the high notes & in his straining comes up with quite an effective performance. My Wife's Home Town copies the melody of the blues standard I Just Wanna Make Love to You & is downright annoying. If You Ever Go to Houston swings easily with charming lyrics wrapped in myth & tall tales. I haven't made my mind up about Forgetful Heart yet, I like the singing & the tempo. Jolene has a terrible guitar riff that is just as bad as the lyrics from the refrain "i'll be your king & you can be my queen".

This Dream of You is the first time I realized that this album doesn't sound anything like it's predecessors. Maybe it's Mike Campbell's guitar or David Hidalgo's (Los Lobos) accordion. I either love or hate Shake Shake Mama, I haven't quite figured it out yet. When I found out that there was a song called I Feel a Change Comin' On I cringed, fearing a "we have a new president & it's a new day" kind of song, but it's actually quite good. It's got a '70s pop song kind of feel to it. This is probably the most palatable to the average listener.

There we have it, friends. This album won't go up there with the great Dylan albums of all time, but it sure makes for a fun listen & a definate difference from the last two albums. If I had to rate it, I'd give it a 7. Give it a spin & see what you think.

I Feel a Change Comin' On

Beyond Here Lies Nothing

Life is Hard (the picture depicts Christie when she's listening to this album)

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

If You Ever Go to Houston-Bob Dylan, Beyond Here Lies Nothing

So What-Miles Davis, Kind of Blue

Sec Walkin-My Morning Jacket, Evil Urges

Life is Hard-Bob Dylan, Beyond Here Lies Nothing

Sway-Alejandro Escovedo

Happy Tuesday, friends...


Monday, April 20, 2009

heading for another joint...

Today was a day for new possibilities. Let me start with the best news of the day: Christie has a job interview this Wednesday or the next that she's incredibly excited about. She shrieked, yes shrieked, with glee when she called me to tell me about it. It sounds right up her ally, but I'll let her tell you all about it.

Second, Jeff from work put in an offer on a house today. We've been discussing this for a long time now, & after one offer fell through he feels really good about this. The best part (for me, anyway) is that it is literally right across the street from the store which means he can never ever quit.

Finally, serendipity, I may have myself a new employee. A few weeks ago I found out that a customer of mine is a Bob Dylan fan so last night I made a compilation of my favorite live Dylan performances. Originally, I planned on making a couple of cd's, it turned into seven. Yes, I understand, this is the heights of dorkitude. This almost puts me in dungeons & dragons territory. Said customer came in this morning & I handed him the goods. We got to talking & I told him that we were hiring & he told me that he could find several candidates. One being his son. His son came in later today & filled out an application. His son just might be the best qualified applicant for the worst job, he has painting experience, he has a college degree (journalism, broadcasting) with a 3.9 grade point average, & the best part, he used to host a late night jazz program at CMU. Sure enough, he recognized Bitches Brew playing in the background. He's applying for an $8 an hour part time job. I might feel guilty for hiring him.

And now, for not particular reason, a poem:

Wine Comes in at the Mouth by William Butler Yeats

Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That's all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Where Were You?-Vic Chesnutt, West of Rome

Boom Boom Mancini-Warren Zevon

Wake Up-The Arcade Fire, Funeral

I Can't Stand the Rain-Ann Peebles

Newry Highwayman-Bob Dylan, Belfast 1998

Newry Highwayman
In Newry town, I was bread and born,
In Stephen's Green now I die in scorn.
I served my time to the saddling trade,
But I turned out to be a roving blade.

At seventeen I took a wife,
I loved her dearly as I loved my life;
And for to keep in fine array,
I went a-robbing on the King's highway.

I never robbed any poor man yet,
Nor any tradesman did I beset;
I robbed both lords and the ladies bright,
And brought their jewels to my heart's delight.

I robbed Lord Golding I do declare,
And Lady Mansel, in Grosvenor Square;
I shut the shutters and bad them good night.
And home I went then to my heart's delight.

To Covent Garden I made my way,
With my dear wife for to see the play;
Lord Fielding's gang they did me pursue,
And I was taken by the cursed crew.

My father cried, "O, my daring son."
My wife she wept and sighed. "I am undone."
My mother tore her white locks and cried;
Saying, "In the cradle he should have died.

And when I'm dead and in my grave
A flashy funeral pray let me have;
With six bold highwaymen to carry me.
Give them good broadswords and sweet liberty.

Six pretty maidens to bear my Pall,
Give them white garlands and ribbons all.
And when I'm dead they will speak the truth,
He was a wild and a wicked youth.

Happy Monday, friends...


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

I treat the rooms I live in with care, the windows are small & the walls almost bare...

This blog is only written for my own selfish reasons (well, aren't they all?). I'm looking for Heidi & anyone else who cares to weigh in on the subject to suggest how we should arrange the furniture after we put the floor in this weekend. I'd like to put the tv stand either to the left or to the right of the sliding doors 'cause that's where the cable outlet is, but I could probably hide the cord somehow if necessary. We have too black endtables (not shown) & one slate endtable (like the coffee table in the picture) & a slate coffee table. We also have a 6' high black book shelf (okay, cd's, who am I kidding?) & a 4' high black book shelf, one full length couch, one loveseat & one chair. We have a fairly large mirror with black frame & quite a few black & white pictures with black frames. Eventually we are planning on getting an area rug (any thoughts on color/style?). The window shade/curtain is tan, almost the same color as the couches. Whatever guidance you'd like to give would surely be appreciated.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

It's All Over Now, Baby Blue-Bob Dylan, Kalamazoo 2008

Workingman's Blues #2-Bob Dylan, Kalamazoo 2008

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

Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum-Bob Dylan, Kalamazoo 2008

Our Town-Iris Dement

Happy shuffling, friends...


Monday, March 30, 2009

all my powers of expression & thoughts so sublime could never do you justice in reason or rhyme...

Christie's birthday is tomorrow, & I've thought about 10 different ways to start this blog about her, but they all seem rather silly to me. First, I wanted to tell a story about the first time we met, but I don't think a story about how she was expecting me to be my friend Ryan would really do her birthday justice. She says that I never talked to her too much, I just think I was scoping her out & playing hard to get. I was trying really hard not to beat her in darts. I also won't tell you about how on our third date I took her to see a crude movie (Clerks II, not nearly as brilliant as the original), or how I thought the place we went on our first date was perfect but she didn't think so. I was going to compare to the 1984 Detroit Tigers since she was born that year, but that probably wouldn't come off right. So, I'll just tell you how happy she's made me. Had you told me when I was 25 that I'd have a dog sleeping in my bed, a stereo with country music presets, that I'd some day see Carrie Underwear in concert, that I frequently watch What Not to Wear & that I'd be enjoying every minute of it, I'd spit in your eye. That's just how she is, though. She'll make you enjoy something you never thought you would. She's beautiful, intelligent, loving & compassionate & I'm a very lucky man.

Happy Birthday. Haha, you're going to hate that I posted that picture, but Winston really wanted it included.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Our Town-Iris Dement

Under the Red Sky-Bob Dylan, Masonic Temple, Detroit April 12, 2005

Gimme Shelter-The Rolling Stones

Suzanne-Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man

Chicago-Sufjan Stevens, Illinois

Happy Monday, friends...


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Advances on spirit & your soul

At a time when I think our company might be better served to condense it's hours of business due to slumping sales, it does the opposite, making it mandatory for every store to be open Sunday & an hour later during weekdays. That's an added 11 hours a week with no more hours added to the budget, probably to be absorbed by yours truly. I've been told that nobody higher up than me wants to hear any complaints or arguments as to why this might not be a good idea, that's usually a good indicator that it's not a good idea. But what do I know?

In other news, our castle is in a state of transition as we prepare to put our floor in next weekend. I can't fully enjoy sitting in my favorite chair knowing that the ominous stack of flooring next to me needs to be reckoned with.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Billy-Bob Dylan, Stockholm, Sweden March 23, 2009 Bob Dylan debuted this song from 1973 at his first show of 2009, a mighty fine outing, if you ask me.

One More Cup of Coffee (the Valley Below)-Bob Dylan, Oslo March 25, 2009

To Go Home-M. Ward

Northern Sky-Nick Drake, Bryter Later

I Believe In You-Bob Dylan, Stockholm, Sweden March 23, 2009

Happy Thursday, friends...


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What am I gonna do when I run out of lawn to mow?

One of the trade offs of being happily married is that the break up & unrequited love songs just don't have the same sting to them. I've been listening to the George Jones classic A Good Year for the Roses a lot lately, though. What a perfect country song, it paints such a clear picture I can see the table that the ashtray sits on & the baby's room down the hall & the unkempt lawn.
The second verse tells you that a wife is leaving his husband, but the facts of their marriage don't tell nearly as much as the inanimate objects of the first verse. I'm not sure what happened to country music since this song came out, but I wish it would more closely resemble this.

I can hardly bear the sight of lipstick
On the cigarettes there in the ashtray
Lyin' cold the way you left 'em
But at least your lips caressed them while you packed
Or the lip-print on a half-filled cup of coffee
That you poured and didn't drink
But at least you thought you wanted it
that's so much more than I can say for me

What a good year for the roses
Many blooms still linger there
The lawn could stand another mowin'
Funny I don't even care
As you turn to walk away
As the door behind you closes
The only thing I have to say
It's been a good year for the roses

After three full years of marriage
It's the first time that you haven't made the bed
I guess the reason we're not talkin'
There's so little left to say we haven't said
While a million thoughts go racin' through my mind
I find I haven't said a word
From the bedroom the familiar sound
Of one baby's cryin' goes unheard

What a good year for the roses
Many blooms still linger there
The lawn could stand another mowin'
Funny I don't even care
As you turn to walk away
As the door behind you closes
The only thing I have to say
It's been a good year for the roses

Along the same theme is a song by Wilco, in which the singer tries to tell himself that if he only cleaned the house & did the laundry & kept the small little details of the house going that it would bring back the wife that's left him.

Hate it Here

I try to stay busy
I do the dishes, I mow the lawn
I try to keep myself occupied
Even though I know you’re not coming home

I try to keep the house nice and neat
I make my bed I change the sheets
I even learned how to use the washing machine
But keeping things clean doesn’t change anything

What am I gonna do when I run out of shirts to fold?
What am I gonna do when I run out of lawn to mow?
What am I gonna do if you never come home?
Tell me, what am I gonna do?

I hate it
I hate it here
When you’re gone

I caught myself thinking
I caught myself thinking once again
Have to try to keep my mind out of this
Try not to pretend

I’ll check the phone
I’ll check the mail
I’ll check the phone again and I call your mom
She says you’re not there and I should take care

I hate it here
When you’re gone
I hate it
I hate it here
When you’re gone

I try to stay busy
I take out the trash, I sweep the floor
Try to keep myself occupied
Cause I know you don’t live here anymore

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Hate it Here-Wilco, Sky Blue Sky

I just read there's a new Wilco album in the works soon!

A Good Year for the Roses-George Jones

If Anybody Gets Funked Up (It's Gonna Be You)-George Clinton & the P Funk All Stars, The Totally Awesome Power of a Fully Operation Mothership

If I Should Fall From Grace With God-The Pogues, If I Should Fall From Grace With God

Bertha-the Grateful Dead

Happy Wednesday, friends...


Sunday, March 01, 2009

I'm ready to go anywhere...

Before I met Christie, I'd never seen the ocean, let alone take a week long vacation. So, here it is, two vacations within one year. I'm off to Florida, today. I hope the ocean is still blue.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Overpowered by Funk-The Clash, Combat Rock

Watching the Detectives-Elvis Costello

Caroline-Old Crow Medicine Show, Tennessee Pusher

This Side of the Blue-Joanna Newsom, The Milk Eyed Mendor

White Winter Hymnal-The Fleet Foxes

Happy Sunday, friends...


Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Sunday Smile

Friday's nice, the last day of the work week, that is unless you have to work Saturday's. Saturday is nice, but there's too much pressure put on Saturday, either to have a great time or to get something accomplished. If I don't get something accomplished on a Saturday, I feel kind of guilty. Me, I'm a Sunday man.

Let me tell you how my average Sunday goes. It may sound boring to you, but to me, it's perfect. I wake up somewhere between 6:30 & 8:00 & I get ready for church. I let the dog out, make some coffee (coffee always tastes better on a Sunday morning) & I'll either putz around on the computer or watch television for an hour or so. I'll either catch up on reruns of "Spectacle, Elvis Costello with..." or I'll watch the Sunday morning news programs, my personal favorites are Meet the Press (although it's not quite the same since Tim Russert passed) & Reliable Sources. Around 9:00 or so, I grab the dog & plan a stealth attack for waking Christie up. I'll drop the dog right around Christie's face so that he licks her until she wakes up. I'll grab her coffee & then go back to whatever television show I was watching.

10:30 church starts. I hate to say it, but we're those people that always show up about one minute before the service starts. From there, it's on to breakfast. We switch back & forth between the Wharf Pavillion & the Morningstar. The Wharf is faster & more inexpensive but the food isn't quite as fancy as the Morningstar. Each place has it's charm. From there, we usually go to the Bookman & pick up a magazine or two.

Sunday afternoon is hardly ever planned out. Many times we'll talk about doing something substantial, but we usually end up sitting around the house. Lately, Christie has had a lot of homework to do, which leaves me to read, play video games, take the dog for a walk or find some documentaries to watch on television. In the summer, we'll go for a walk on the pier or downtown with the dog. Sometimes we'll go shopping. Dinner on Sunday evenings is always at home, nothing special. Christie usually watches Desperate Housewives on Sunday evenings, in which case I'll either read or listen to tunes in the other room. I'll usually go to bed around 10:00 or so.

Some great discoveries have been made on Sundays. I took a walk in downtown Grand Rapids about 9 years ago in the wintertime & stumbled upon Vertigo Records. When I lived in Grand Rapids, I'd usually save my trips to Vertigo for Sunday. My friends & I used to have a tradition of going to New Beginnings restuarant on Sunday mornings until we wised up & discovered Wolfgangs or the Sundance Grill. Going back further to when I was a kid I remember going to bed & listening to the Mitch Albom show on WJR on Sunday nights. It was at that point that I learned to enjoy the last few hours before Monday came around.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Godspeed-Jenny Lewis, Acid Tongue

Bridges & Balloons-Joanna Newsom, The Milk Eyed Mendor

On Eagle's Wings-Hymn

The Tracks of My Tears-Smokey Robinson

Uphill Mountain-Jackie Greene, Giving Up the Ghost

Happy Sunday, friends...


Friday, February 20, 2009

We're all in this together

There's too much depressing news lately. Here's some songs that might put things in perspective. If there's something bad about the internet (I'm sure there's plenty) it's that it is so much easier to post a link to an article or a video than to say something original, but when in Rome, right?

Jenny Lewis-Sing a Song for Them

If you sing a song, sing a song for them
If you sing a song, sing the song for them
For the bats and belfry and the fairies on Main Street
For the deadbeat daddies and the Boulevard freaks
For the little girls with the carousel eyes
And the brick-a-brak finding housewives, losing their minds

Sing the song for them, if you sing a song
Sing the song for them
If you sing a song, sing the song for them

To the never-made-its, and the unrecognized
To the alley rats and the tenement flies
To the weekend tweakers, the blond and the blind
To the ex-thrill seekers in the methadone lines

Sing the song for them
If you sing a song, sing the song for them

To who you are, and will never be
To the shaking hand of the maker we’re all going to meet
Sing the song for them
If you sing a song, sing the song for them

Old Crow Medicine Show-Lift Him Up

When a man has got the blues and feels discouraged
And has nothing else but trouble all his life
But he's just an honest man like any other
Living in a world that's tearing at his mind
If he's sick and tired of life and takes to drinking
Do not pass him by don't greet him with a frown
Do not fail to lend your hand and try to help him
Always lift him up and never knock him down

If he stays out late at night because he's troubled
Or because his home is not what it should be
Have a smile for him wherever you might meet him
It will help him find the right way don't you see
If he gambles when he's in the town or city
Tell him what he ought to do to win the round
Do not fail to lend your hand to show him pity
Always lift him up and never knock him down

If he has no friends and everything's against him
If he's failed in everything he has tried
Try to lift his load and help him bear his burden
Let him know that you are walking by his side
If he feels that all is lost and he has fallen
Help to place this poor man's feet on solid ground
And when this world has turned its back against him
Always lift him up and never knock him down

Last but not least, this is also an Old Crow Medicine Show song, but most of you would be more willing to watch Norah Jones. This is wonderful. My mother might even like this one.

Norah Jones-We're All in This Thing Together


Well my friend, well I see your face so clearly
Little bit tired, little bit worn through the years
You sound nervous, you seem lonely
I hardly recognize your voice on the telephone

In between I remember
Just before we wound up broken down
Drive out to the edge of the highway
Follow that lonesome dead-end roadside sound

We’re all in this thing together
Walkin’ the line between faith and fear
This life don’t last forever
When you cry I taste the salt in your tears

Well my friend, let’s put this thing together
And walk the path that worn out feet have trod
If you wanted we can go home forever
Give up your jaded ways, spell your name to God


All we are is a picture in a mirror
Fancy shoes to grace our feet
All that there is is a slow road to freedom
Heaven above and the devil beneath


Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Hard Ain't It Hard-Woody Guthrie

Caroline-Old Crow Medicine Show, Tennessee Pusher

Anything I Say Can & Will Be Used Against You-T-Bone Burnett, Tooth of Crime

We're All in this Thing Together-Norah Jones

Boom Like That-Mark Knopfler, Shangri La

Maybe I'll have something to say tomorrow.


Monday, February 09, 2009

musta been the hand of the Lord...

Happy Monday, friends. It was a pretty uneventful weekend here in little old Grand Haven, which is usually how I prefer it. I did see something in church this weekend I won't soon forget. I feel like I was invading on their private moment when I saw it, but I couldn't help but watch it. There is a family in church every week that has four boys, probably ages 8-15. One of the boys is mentally challenged. It doesn't look like he can walk, speak or communicate in any way. Unfortunately, I don't know hardly anything about the family, although I overheard once that the father sacrificed something for the health of his son. During the sermon & during the prayers, the father would hold the son's hands & stroke them in such a way that seemed to me as though he was trying to pass the message on in any way he could. Perhaps this is part of their regular routine, but it was still incredibly moving. It must take an incredible amount of faith to be in their position. I can't begin to know what is in the head or heart of that kid, but maybe he knows his Lord & Savior in ways we never will.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

When You Awake-The Band, Before the Flood

You're A Big Girl Now-Bob Dylan, Hard Times in Alabama

I Will Follow You Into the Dark-Death Cab for Cutie, Plans

Oliver James-Fleet Foxes

So Real-Jeff Buckley, Grace


Monday, February 02, 2009

I don't carry dead weight, I'm no flash in the pan

Here's me stealing Sarah's idea & dorkifying it. You could probably ask me my ten favorite musicians/bands in a week & get a totally different answer but for today...

1. Bob Dylan
2. Miles Davis
3. The Velvet Underground
4. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
5. Wilco
6. Iron & Wine
7. Sufjan Stevens
8. Alejandro Escovedo
9. Bonnie "Prince" Billy
10. Patti Smith

honorable mention

woody guthrie
arlo guthrie
otis redding
marvin gaye
kevin davis
leonard cohen
the band
uncle tupelo
Vic Chesnutt
Son Volt
The Clash
Joni Mitchell
Elizabeth Cotten
The Grateful Dead
The Roots
Elvis Costello
josh ritter
van morrison
thelonious monk
john coltrane
the new pornographers
the white stripes
warren zevon
frank sinatra
johnny cash
nick drake
the drive by truckers
the decemberists
jolie holland
joanna newsom
muddy waters

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

London Calling-The Clash

Watchin' the Detectives-Elvis Costello

Grace Cathedral Hill-The Decemberists

Train in Vain-The Clash

Living Well is the Best Revenge-REM

happy monday, friends...


Sunday, February 01, 2009

Thus the world, like a jaded coquette, spurns our attempts to give ourselves to her wholly.

John Updike died this week at the age of 76. I'm far from an expert on his canon, but I would consider him one of my favorite authors. What do I like about Updike? His critics say that he wrote eloquently about nothing at all, but I would say the opposite was true. I think he could find the profound, the ugly & the beautiful in every day life & every day lives & could write about it in such a way that could illuminate the human condition. He took a workmanlike approach to writing, I remember hearing once that he went to an office everyday & wrote at least four pages. It's been a long time since I've ready any of his short stories, but I think I'll go back to them soon.


It came to me the other day:
Were I to die, no one would say,
“Oh, what a shame! So young, so full
Of promise — depths unplumbable!”

Instead, a shrug and tearless eyes
Will greet my overdue demise;
The wide response will be, I know,
“I thought he died a while ago.”

For life’s a shabby subterfuge,
And death is real, and dark, and huge.
The shock of it will register
Nowhere but where it will occur.

Endpoint & Other Poems

Ironically, I started reading Bound for Glory by Woody Guthrie this week. Woody's style couldn't be farther away from Updike, but it's beautiful all the same. This passage made the hairs on my neck stand up straight when I read it on the plane heading home from Dallas:

"My eyes closed tight, quivering till they exploded like the rain when the lightning dumped a truckload of thunder down along the train. I was whirling & floating & hugging the little runt around the belly, & my brain felt like a pot of hot lead bubbling over a flame. Who's all of these crazy men down there howling out at each other like hyenas? Are these men? Who am I? How come them here? How the hell come me here? What am I supposed to do here?

My ear flat against the tin roof soaked up some music & singing coming from down inside of the car:

This train don't carry no rustlers,
whores, pimps, or side street hustlers;
This train is bound for glory,
This train.

Can I remember? Remember back to where I was this morning? St Paul. Yes. The morning before? Bismarck, North Dakota. And the morning before that? Miles City, Montana. Weeks ago I was a piano player in Seattle.

Who's this kid? Where's he from & where's he headed for? Will he be me when he grows up? Was I like him when I was just his size? Let me remember. Let me go back. Let me get up & walk back down the road I come. This old hard rambling & hard graveling. This old chuck-luck traveling. My head ain't working right.

Where was I
Where in the hell was I?
Where was I when I was a kid? Just as far, far, far back, on back, as I can remember?
Strike, lightning, strike!
Strike, goddam you, strike!
There's lots of folks that you cain't hurt!
Strike, lightning!
See if I care!
Roar & rumble, twist & turn, the sky ain't never as crazy as the world.
Bound for glory? This train? Ha!
I wonder just where in the hell we're bound.
Rain on, little rain, rain on!
Blow on, little wind, keep blowin'!
Cause them guys is a singin' that this train is bound for glory, an' I'm gonna hug her breast till I find out where she's bound."

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

The Roving Blade-Bob Dylan, 2000

Pretty Peggy-O-Bob Dylan

She Came Along to Me-Billy Bragg, Mermaid Ave Vol I

"the women are equal & may be ahead of the men"

Another Man Done Gone-Wilco

December 1999-Jolie Holland, Catalpa

Happy reading, friends...


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About Me

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