The Speed of Now

What use is feeling sorry
for what might have never been,
some chimera of fantasy
that if it had appeared
might easily have torn to shreds
the life it would improve,
inspired to burn too brightly,
leaving nothing in its wake?

What use is sad reflection
on a course you left behind,
now overgrown in disrepair,
its signposts worn away?
The journey down that avenue
might not have led you here,
but who’s to say what’s for the best,
or where footsteps should lead?

What use is reminiscing
on the glory days of yore,
mad hours of strength and courage
when you and the world were young
and did not know of what to come,
of bridges yet to burn
whose light would fade out, in the end,
to soot and bitter ash?

What use is feeling sorry
for what still may come to pass,
imagining the road ahead
determined by those past,
a die cast in some yesterday
that cannot be undone,
a somber, gray formality
that withers into death?

What use in such pretending?
There is no course so set
that it cannot be altered
or made to turn or bend.
Leave off such mad dejection,
if you would live at all.
We travel at the speed of now
or stagnate where we fall.

16 APR 2013

Lay down

Lay down your weary tune;
lay down your weary tune.
You’ve been singing it for far too long.
When others faltered, you still held on strong:
never a missed note or phrase gone wrong.
Lay down your weary tune.

Lay down your worried mind;
lay down your worried mind.
All those ideas that still carry you,
lost dreams and wishes that have not come true,
still doing nothing with nothing to do:
lay down your worried mind.

Lay down your troubled heart;
lay down your troubled heart;
You’ve let your flame go out and found the dark,
toasted with gasoline to find a spark,
and in the scheme of things, to leave your mark.
Lay down your troubled heart.

Lay down your weary tune;
lay down your weary tune.
Just find another, something more inspired:
outside the door where things are still not wired.
Leave that old one to quietly retire;
lay down your weary tune.

03 FEB 2013

Vintage Vinyl circa 1978

If you thought the eight-track list was bad, check out the albums I owned in 1978-1979:

The Eagles – Greatest Hits 1971-1975
The Beach Boys – 40 Greatest Hits
Johnny Cash – Ring of Fire
Elvis Presley – Gold Records No. 1, 2, 3 and 4
Kiss – Double Platinum
Kiss – Ace Frehley
ELO – Out of the Blue
The Bay City Rollers – Greatest Hits
Queen – News of the World
Roy Clark – The Everloving Soul of Roy Clark
Linda Hargrove – Music is Your Mistress*
The Blues Project – Reunion in Central Park*
Freddie Hart – His Greatest Hits*
Maynard Ferguson – Chameleon
Columbia Jazz Sampler – 1958
The Music Goes Round and Round – Decca Vol. 1 – 1951-1954
The Music Goes Round and Round – Decca Vol. 2 – 1955-1957
The Music Goes Round and Round – Decca Vol. 3 – 1958-1959

* These I actually won in the fourth grade from a WKTN radio station contest for writing a Halloween essay.

Eclectic Eight Tracks circa 1978

So here’s the rundown on my eight-track library circa 1978:

The Yardbirds – Five Live Yardbirds
The Yardbirds – Greatest Hits
Carlos Santana and Alice Coltrane – Illuminations
The Beatles – Love Songs
The Beatles – Live at the Hollywood Bowl
The Beatles – Rock and Roll Music
The Beatles – Singles*
Todd Rundgren – Runt: The Ballad of Todd Rundgren
Boston Pops – The Best of Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops
Various Artists – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (soundtrack)

The Beatles I got courtesy of my cousin, who transferred these albums from his vinyl collection to eight-track for a Christmas present one year.

The remainder were acquired in Kmart and various drugstore sale bins in and around Forest and Kenton, Ohio.

I listened to most of these albums A LOT. One bit of evidence of that is: I loaded up this Rundgren album and listened to it today, and knew almost all the words and every one of the vocal nuances. The piano songs and vocal style in particular were a huge influence on my writing at the time (1977-1979).

Home Bass

Last night, a friend and fellow bass player commented that after having seen me play lead guitar (I usually play bass with Hardrick Rivers, but occasionally fill in on guitar when another bass player is available and wants to sit in), he understood my approach to bass. He classified me more or less as a “lead” bass player, and also made the comment that I was a better guitarist than bass player.

Bear in mind this is a person who thinks I am a damned fine bass player – probably the best of the bunch that plays around town with Hardrick.

I was, I’ll admit, a little taken aback by the guitarist comment. My original instrument (down the long chain of history) was upright bass. I’ve played guitar for about 30 years, but it’s only within the past decade that I’ve ever had the audacity to call myself a “guitarist”. In addition, when you look at my primary bass influences, while they do include Duck Dunn, Jamie Jamerson, Bootsy Collins and Ray Brown, the “heavy hitters” are really Jack Casady, Paul McCartney, Phil Lesh, Chris Squire, Greg Lake, John Entwistle and Jack Bruce. What’s the commonality there? Melody. These are “lead” bass players. After mulling that over, I felt a little better about being that kind of player. Yeah, that’s what I am. Not a “popper” or “slapper” or a “walker” even (although I can walk like a MF). Although getting someone to recognize that I am in the same league as these other lead players? Forget about it (but that is the topic of another conversation altogether).

Most of what I apply to one instrument, I apply to others. It’s the same fretboard for guitar and bass, for the most part. The scales from one are applicable to the other. Why shouldn’t you bend, hammer on, pull off, slide, etc., on both bass and guitar? Melodic and improvisational constructs are melodic and improvisational constructs regardless of the medium.

So am I a guitarist who plays bass, or a bassist who plays guitar? Hell if I know. Do people like Leon Russell, Greg Lake, Dick Taylor or Steven Stills have the same kind of identity crisis?

The Ideal Band (right now)

So here’s the deal. I play in a band right now, but it’s more or less a wedding and bar band that plays soul, r & b, blues, zydeco and occasional rock covers. We’re a great band IMHO. I play both bass and lead/rhythm guitar and sing lead and backing vocals. It’s a good thing. But there’s something in my soul that cries out for a little more. Something original. Something that’s closer to my own groove, my own thing. So if you’re in Natchitoches (or nearby) and are into, and can play, like the following albums, drop me a line and we will definitely get together.

The Pretty Things: Parachute
Badfinger: Straight Up
The Yardbirds: Shapes of Things
Eric Burdon and War: Eric Burdon Declares War
The Band: Songs from Big Pink
Bob Dylan: Oh Mercy

Every Bass Player Should Know These Names

B.B. Dickerson
Johnny Flippin
William “Bootsy” Collins
Larry Graham
Donald “Duck” Dunn
George Porter Jr.
James “Jamie” Jamerson
Verdine White
Carol Kaye

Add ’em to my already super-long list:

Gary Peacock, Ron Carter, Paul Chambers, Charles Mingus, Jaco Pastorius, Ray Brown, Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller and Oscar Pettiford on one side, and

Chris Squire, John Entwistle, Paul McCartney, Jack Casady, Steve Harris, Tony Levin, Jack Bruce, Jack Berlin, Felix Pappalardi, Fernando Saunders, Louis Johnson, Robert Shakespeare, and Aston “Family Man” Barrett on the other side.