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

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


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