Monthly Archives: December 2007

Solid Gold

Shall I repeat again tonight the songs
you heard last night and many nights before,
and soulless, mouth the words you sing along,
pretending love for money, like a whore?

Are these the only tunes worth your applause,
a tired set of worn nostalgic charts
you need pay no attention to, because
the words you have all memorized by heart?

Who needs a band to churn out these stale rhythms?
What point the years of study, toil and sweat
to learn an art that fades into a living,
a dream that drowns in years of sad regret?

It’s not as if your ears have ceased to listen;
more likely that you’ve truly ceased to care
if what you get for free is often missing
what makes it worth the time spent getting there.

And what good are your minds, if not for learning
what lies beyond the same old box you know?
When the old wood is gone that you’re now burning,
there will be no more forest, lest you grow.

Shall I repeat again the same old chorus,
because it makes you think the world unchanged
from when your life was once young and euphoric,
instead of grown decrepid and deranged?

There is no spark of life in your nostalgia.
It wastes new minutes pining for the old;
destroying youth’s creations, hope and beauty,
and building for them tombs of solid gold.

20 DEC 2007

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Today’s rune: the eight-legged horse
that Odin rode to battefields;
where god and rider seemed as one
great being, neither man nor beast.

My own steed? More of Boxer’s ilk,
George Orwell’s noble working brute
who would attempt to cure the world
by taking on the extra mile.

We toil as one, that horse and I,
and still, the work is not enough;
our dented armor shows its rust,
the plowshare swords are dull and bent.

The labor never seems to stop;
the world continues to decay,
and will not pause its slow decline
despite our efforts, night and day.

Yet bound by pride, my mount and I,
press on and without breaking stride
move slowly through each newfound task.
Our fate is sealed, the dice are cast.

The centaur that we have become
through this long night seems deaf and dumb;
and silent, spends the too few hours
between midnight and dawn awake.

Ehwaz? Bestill those mighty hooves;
the world is filled with noise enough.
And no storm yet is so untamed
it ends other than drizzled gray.

10 DEC 2007

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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?

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