All is connected- A Post-Apocalyptic friendly post.

As I was creeping around the blogosphere– I came across a post about art and spirituality on http://awaywithwordsblog.com/ which got me thinking. Tony usually writes about mental illness as it pertains to faith and his blog is always a fulfilling visit— Although he might veer off with references to music or art if the spirit is willing. Bloggers tend to freestyle and often get off their own narrow track in order to make a point or two.

This got me thinking about writing, music, art and photography—in fact—- all the forms of creative expression and how they are connected.

How they seem to follow the same conduit from artist to spectator.

And more importantly—what happens when they finally hit you.

“When you’ve nothing else construct ceremonies out of the air and breathe upon them.”
― Cormac McCarthyThe Road

Cormac McCarthy just might be our *greatest living author and “The Road” just might be the most perfect book I have ever read. This book brought me all the way to the coastline after the world was gone and left me staring out to sea… He writes about the tangled beauty of violence in a way that sanitizes pain and leaves only awe. I cannot explain it-like a Stevie Ray solo or a note sung by K.D. Lang that dances with you before zapping you to dust.

*this is the opinion of one guy in a cave, as is every other opinion on this site.

It leaves me feeling cool and isolated=but not in a bad way.

Sort of like Peter Gabriel.Redrain

Cool and isolated in an end of the worldy sort of way.

The music is slightly menacing and and red is a warm color-but this is a low temperature song.

Like Edward Hopper Art.

Hopper always gives me this relaxing frosty vibe-It changes the way I feel=not in a bad way=in a slightly strange soul stirring way.

When art can freeze you and make you actually feel the coldness without being cold- that is what we say is  “good stuff”.

And when any creative thing drives right down to your soul to say hello—-that is what we say “has hit you”

Something is being tweaked on a spiritual level here—-isn’t that the whole point?—-isn’t that why concert halls get filled and prints get framed and plastered on walls—chasing this weird feeling,  whether it be cold, heat or comfort—-whatever you are in to…you want to keep hounding it.

I will leave with the king of suave coolness and another post-apocalyptic gem.

Morrissey is cool.

How does music, art and that other creative stuff make you feel?

As Peter Frampton once famously sang with his voice-box-guitar-thingy “Do you feel like I do?”

 

 

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Cave Olympics- Prog-Rock

cave-medal-salute-prog

Progressive rock– the arty, pompous and always a tad snobby weird cousin of rock music. Those who like him will affectionately refer to him as a bit eccentric and an acquired taste. Those who don’t like him will call him an overblown pompous ass wallowing in mindless self reflection that is all too full of codswallop*.

*pick your favorite word here to describe senseless drivel – I always liked this one

But I digress and getting back to the music-

Both are correct descriptions.

Bands like Rush, early Genesis, and Yes- I do not like and will use the bad definition to explain why.

Bands like Pink Floyd, Supertramp and solo Peter Gabriel I like and will refer to the good definition.

Many fans will be the opposite or simply hate all of these groups for being way too much over the artsy ledge.

I am cool with that

But the winter games are still going on at the Cave and we need some medal winners

 The Bronze:

Arcade Fire.Afterlife

Before I get all my 8 or 9 readers to band together and tell me this not prog….Here is the test.

Is it artsy? Check

Is it self-important drivel and over the top in a way that angers some music fans? Check

Would you have thrown this band in with all the other progressive bands if it came out thirty years ago?

Again-Check.

And I love this song and it is my website-Just a regular guy in a regular virtual cave-so there and let’s go to silver.

The Silver:

Frank Zappa.Watermelon in Easter Hay.

Frank was a talented and thoughtful musician known for a too grotesque sense of humor. He would be a mega star today. It was nothing more outrageous than Eminem.

And the dude could play guitar.

If you got a chance to see him live then you got a chance to see something like the massive migrations of buffalo across the Great Plains before they were all gone. You got to witness something special that was normal for the time but fading fast. You got to be part of history.

I now feel like I am history! (that is good, right?)

The Gold:

Pink Floyd.Shine On You Crazy Diamond

I could write a book on what this song means to me. (maybe someday)

My favorite Pink Floyd song from my favorite Floyd record-Wish You Were Here.

This is the ultimate bromance ditty-One guy writing a song about a friend that has lost his mind but will never be considered lost. It is song of hope and a song about love and respect. Friendship is a deep and mysterious thing that this song is not afraid to expose to the light. Madness is another dark depth that few pieces of music will dare to set sail for. Just for those two reasons this song is beautiful and this version is unforgettable.

Next I will go for the “Classics” and Cheers from the Cave!

You are never too old to Rock n’ Roll?

After attending community college part-time for longer than I want to admit and finally finishing my degree, I have learned a couple things about getting old:

  1. I am now old…A.A.R.P wants me as a member! Jamie Lee Curtis wants me to eat Greek yogurt (and I am thinking about it)
  2. So what

When you take classes with kids often half your age, you do reach a point where you just have to get over yourself and get on with it or risk not making it to the end. No one really cares about age more than yourself…As long as you focus on what you have to do and not worry about anything else, you will be O.K. That is basically it. Age only knocks you out if you let it- you can not stop it but you can stare it down until the very end.

So here is my little Rock Opera on the 5 stages of aging according to the Cave

Act  1: Denial- Forever Young

David Bowie.Changes

“Look out you Rock n rollers, pretty soon you’re gonna get older”

I did not believe this wise oracle of rock the first time I heard this line. I thought I would stay young forever. David Bowie saw it coming and tried to warn us.

Act 2: Feel it slipping-try to get it back-Slight desperation-

Weezer.The Good Life

“And I don’t wanna be an old man anymore. It’s been a year or two since I was out on the floor.
Shaking booty, making sweet love all the night…It’s time I got back to the good life”

You sense it is fading but still don’t have a grasp on it

Act 3: Wallow in memories-it may be over

Rolling Stones.Memory Motel

When Keith Richards does his vocal bit-it just takes this to another level- this is my favorite Rolling Stones song and it may be a straight-ahead country music tune. It’s got memories and pick-up trucks in it. This is a drinking song!

Age does build up a reservoir of hurt feelings to go immerse yourself in. It might seem like nice warm water, but you only need a few inches to drown in- and tears and beer can make this get to a level that will break those levees around your heart in no time. …But having said that…Wow!-this is a great song!

Act 4: Acceptance- Oh no- this is real! And happening to a person near me…in fact me, myself!

Peter Gabriel. My Body is a Cage

‘My body is a cage, it keeps me from dancing with the one I love”

When I saw Peter Gabriel perform this live in 2011, I was knocked right on my ass. The intensity he brought to this Arcade Fire song was something to watch erupt on stage. What I took away was this guy trapped in his 63 year-old body but still giving everything he had. The spirit is strong but the vehicle it operates in is getting worn. You could see it happening, and like only genius artists can do…you could feel it happening. There was this transference of emotion from the stage to the audience.

 Act 5: So what- it happens to the best of us and the worst of us-I still choose to rock n roll

Little Feat.Old Folks Boogie

“You know that you’re over the hill when your mind makes a promise that your body can’t fill”

So you’re old!!—-Enjoy yourself—it will happen to the best of us in the end if we are lucky enough to make it that far.

The passage of time and the relentless scourge of gravity will hunt us down like dogs. We will be history to future generations. So let us rock while we still can!

5 Best River songs

River Danube
River Danube (Photo credit: Istvan)

I thought about this and I asked about this before writing. River songs are more personal than most; opinions are all over the place. The original idea was to write the 5 best and 5 worst but I am tossing that “worst” idea off the bridge. People were so heartfelt and responsive that I can’t risk putting one of their songs on a bad list and crushing it. River songs are often deep and intense and I have too much respect for all involved in this process.

Almost made the cut:

Blackwater- The Doobie Brothers… The River- Bruce Springsteen… …Burn On, Big River-Randy Newman

Here we go on a little trip:

5. The Sea Refuses no RiverPete Townshend

“The sea refuses no river and the river is where I am” -I have been critical of all the old rockers shaking it around for these geriatric tours – I feel like if you missed them in their prime , then you missed them, because wheeling them out now for a “re-heat” show is something else. The Who have fallen into this trap and I was never a big Pete Townshend fan to begin with….but….but …this is a great song. It speaks to the equality and inevitability of all of us in a stark and poetic way.

Pete Townshend at Beaulieu standing in front o...
Pete Townshend at Beaulieu standing in front of his amps (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4. Eminem- Stan (with Elton John)

For this list I am utilizing the services of Sir Elton John as a knighted Rock Star to justify bringing a hip-hop artist to the cave. Dido also heavily involved as her song and vocals were used in the studio version. A difficult song that deals with a difficult subject. It is edgy, powerful and surprising (remember when rock music used to be that?)

3. Washing of the Water-Peter Gabriel

This song kills me every time I have seen Peter Gabriel. The intensity that emanates from this simple tune is profound and at another level. It may not be manly to admit that a piece of music can completely overwhelm and turn a not tough dude into complete mush, so I won’t.

2. Take me to the River- The Talking Heads

Oh, the joy and celebration of being artsy was never as much fun as with this hypnotic and cool bunch. If you never saw David Byrne dancing around in his big suit followed by a stint of running around and around the whole stage like a raving lunatic-then you missed some of the best that the 80’s had to offer. What a trip these guys and girls brought you on.

1.When the Levee Breaks- Led Zeppelin

A song from Zeppelin 4 that is a remake of a 1927 blues song about a flood can almost make this list before I even hear it. But I have to hear it again and again and it still sounds great. The Drum track may be the best to ever grace any rock song…and unlike other tunes from this seminal  chunk of vinyl -it has not been overplayed and otherwise abused.

And a big thank-you to Blackjayne for asking this question and making me generate this post! We are all connected in the blogosphere.

5 perfect rock songs

"The moonlit knight" Genesis, Massey...
“The moonlit knight” Genesis, Massey Hall, Toronto, Oct. 1974 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you lived in some alien universe and happen to crash land your U.F.O in my back yard. I would make you a good cup of tea and play these 5 for you as prime examples of this thing called rock.

5. Yellow-Coldplay

Coldplay is like a quality lager….bright and satisfying. I don’t care if they have taken over the world; they are still producing a quality product that is very drinkable. This is a great song that music fans all over the world will crank up loud when it hits the radio or Pandora or iPod (whether they admit to it or not)

4. Cortez the Killer- Neil Young

My personal favorite is from “Live Rust” and this is a masterpiece. We know the story of Cortez and Montezuma. We know it as history but this track converts that historical angst to emotion. So many rock songs are about “women does man wrong” or “man does women wrong” – but this- Conquistador does a civilization wrong by removing it from the face of the earth is an elegant twist.

3. Go your own way- Fleetwood Mac

 Lindsey Buckingham is kind of underrated as a song writer and guitar player. Most songs about unrequited love are kind of depressing and bring you down. This one has a kick to it. Like soaking those cooked chicken wings of despair in a hot tangy buffalo sauce and taking a big bite.

 2. Smells like Teen Spirit- Nirvana

The timing on this makes it perfect.  In 1991 hip hop was taking over in a big way…Rock was stale- the charts were full of reheated leftovers and half-hearted efforts by big stars. Rock had lost its edge. This song was a kick to the balls that Rock Music needed in a big way. When you heard it…it knocked you over.

Just for fun kids-Let’s look at a couple reheats and stale artists from 1991 –

“Live and Let Die” Guns and Roses- really Axel and Slash? You had to cover this? You guys couldn’t find other ways to pay for all the hotel rooms you trashed…how about working at the hotel instead of this reheat?

Kiss- God gave Rock and Roll to you– Yes, he gave it to us to help us make sense of this world…he did not  mean for us to add water and boil a novelty song by Argent for a movie soundtrack so Gene Simmons could buy more jewelry for his girlfriends.

As far as the half hearted attempts go…Bryan Adams and Genesis (The “hey, let’s try to sound like Motown, only with weaker songs- Phil Collins version of Genesis…instead of the “hey, let’s be like Pink Floyd, only more theatrical and pretentious- Genesis with Peter Gabriel*”) both had multiple hits that year.

My apologies to Metallica as Enter Sandman was released this same year…I won’t call it perfect but I would not argue against it.

1. Hotel California- The Eagles

Is this about heaven or hell or drugs or being seduced by desert women? I don’t know- but book me a room here.  It’s full of references to some kind of unavoidable trap that we all fall for even though we should know better. This took the Eagles from country rock to cool as a fresh breaker from the Pacific Ocean. Joe Walsh added just enough to put this over the top. This is what a title track and an album cover should be. Rock songs should take you somewhere- give your brain a bit of a work over and let you find your own way back.  Perfect.

*Disclaimer- I love Peter Gabriel…The New Blood show of 2011 is the single best concert I ever attended!