That’s me and my classmates graduating from Bob Goins’s Guitar 3rep class at the Old Town School of Folk Music last night. Given that we were absolute beginners eleven months ago, I feel like we’ve come pretty far. My guitar is covered up by the music stand, but it’s my 12-string that I love so much.
Posts Tagged ‘Rock and Roll’
Posted in Music, tagged 12-string Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Astronaut, Bob Goins, Chicago, David Bowie, Electric Guitar, Epiphone, Graduation, Guitar, Live Music, Major Tom, Music, Old Town School of Folk Music, Performance, Rock and Roll, Singing, Space, Space Oddity on December 16, 2011 | Leave a Comment »
Posted in Music, Spirituality, tagged Afterlife, Art, Classic Rock, Doors, Eternity, God, Heaven, Hell, Jim Morrison, L.A. Woman, Life, Lyrics, Music, Rock, Rock and Roll, Spirituality, Texas, The Wasp (Texas Radio And The Big Beat), Wasp on August 23, 2011 | 1 Comment »
No eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn.
Posted in Music, tagged Art, Biglaw, Career, Country, Country Music, Family, Keith Urban, Law, Music, Outlaw Country, Pop Music, Rock and Roll, The Firm, Waylon Jennings, Work on July 26, 2011 | 1 Comment »
So, quick caveat: this song has nothing to do with my tenth wedding anniversary yesterday. Just putting that out there.
It has everything to do with me having a shitty day at work and feeling tense and taut like a wire. My first year here at the Firm was pretty rough: I was absolutely miserable and stressed constantly, to the point where I was sick all the time. Things have gotten better, but sometimes a day is nothing but a series of minor disasters and it feels like my first year again.
A lot of things got me through that first year when it was rough every day. My amazing wife. My wicked cool kids. Counting down the days until I could quit my job and not owe money to the Firm. Stuff like that. One of those things was Waylon Jennings.
I discovered Ol’ Hoss last summer when I got in a mood to throw more country music into the mix instead of just all metal all the time. I was starting to read western novels, and I was starting to get homesick for the South, and both of those deserve a country soundtrack. But I don’t really like suburban pop-country (I’m talking to you, Keith Urban), so I set about discovering all the old outlaw country legends, and Waylon Jennings jumped out at me like few things ever have.
You know how sometimes you hear a song and immediately, right from the first listen, you know it just knocked about three other songs from your top ten to just make room for it? That’s how it was with “This Time.” I first heard it on the bus on the way to work in the middle of one of the worst times of last year–I had an absolutely disastrous year-end review that I had been mortally dreading for months, and I was insanely busy right around a holiday when I had made plans to spend time with family. But this song came on my headphones and it changed my life.
So here it is, because today’s the kind of day when I need this kind of song.
Posted in Music, tagged Art, Country, Country Music, Death, Elvis Presley, Epiphone, Family, Gibson, Guitars, Hair, Les Paul, Marriage, Music, Pomade, Rock and Roll, Rockabilly, Roy Orbison, Sex, Sideburns on June 22, 2011 | 2 Comments »
Gods damn this is such a good song.
I’ve been listening to a lot of early rock and rockabilly for the last couple of days. Learning to play the guitar has made subtle shifts in the music I am interested in. Also, I got a new haircut, grew my sideburns back out, and started using pomade. I’m not going to lie; it looks sharp. Also, my beautiful and sexy wife bought me a beautiful and sexy electric guitar this weekend: an Epiphone Les Paul Special II in classic cherry sunburst. It sounds amazing and I think I love it more than I love anything but my wife and kids (sorry brother).
My point is, I remembered this song last night and went and looked it up and gods damn this is such a good song. There is nothing about it that I do not love. There is no reason to not listen to it over and over again.
Rest in peace, Roy.
Posted in Music, Spirituality, tagged Art, Ballad, Calliope, Cleveland, Country, Country Music, Creativity, Death, Desert, Euterpe, Federales, Humanity, Inspiration, Jesse James, Jim Morrison, Law, Lefty, Life, Meaning, Melpomene, Merle Haggard, Mexico, Mortality, Mousai, Murder, Muses, Music, Myth, Mythology, Ohio, Outlaw, Pancho, Pancho and Lefty, Poetry, Polyhymnia, Prayer, Regret, Revenge, Robert Ford, Rock and Roll, Songwriting, Spirituality, Strength, Terpsichore, Texas, The Quick, Townes Van Zandt, Willie Nelson on April 1, 2011 | 10 Comments »
Before you dismiss this post as just being about music and not spirituality (again), hang with me for a few minutes, because I’ll get there. “Pancho and Lefty” is a song written by Townes Van Zandt, one of the greatest songwriters who ever lived, and like Jim Morrison, one of the tradition of young musicians who bit into something too intense somehow, too young, something too big for them to handle, and it raged through them, used them up, and left them dead too soon. If you haven’t listened to Townes Van Zandt much, shame on you.
This song is the kind of song that worms its way into your head and just gets more interesting the more you think about it. The lyrics have a gloss of conventionality, but it’s a trick–Van Zandt wrote a song that comes across as simple but is anything but. Once you get past the impression of the words, you see that the songwriting is far more complex and poetic. This is not a generic ballad. This is something interesting:
Living on the road my friend
Was gonna keep you free and clean
Now you wear your skin like iron
Your breath’s as hard as kerosene
You weren’t your mama’s only boy
But her favorite one it seems
She began to cry when you said goodbye
And sank into your dreams
Pancho was a bandit, boys
His horse was fast as polished steel
Wore his gun outside his pants
For all the honest world to feel
Pancho met his match you know
On the deserts down in Mexico
Nobody heard his dying words
That’s the way it goes
All the federales say
They could have had him any day
They only let him hang around
Out of kindness I suppose
Lefty he can’t sing the blues
All night long like he used to
The dust that Pancho bit down south
Ended up in Lefty’s mouth
The day they laid poor Pancho low
Lefty split for Ohio
Where he got the bread to go
There ain’t nobody knows
All the federales say
They could have had him any day
They only let him slip away
Out of kindness I suppose
The poets tell how Pancho fell
Lefty’s livin’ in a cheap hotel
The desert’s quiet and Cleveland’s cold
So the story ends we’re told
Pancho needs your prayers it’s true,
But save a few for Lefty too
He just did what he had to do
Now he’s growing old
A few gray federales say
They could have had him any day
They only let him go so wrong
Out of kindness I suppose
Most interpretations of this song that I have encountered seem to assume that it is about two different people: Pancho, the Mexican bandit who is betrayed and killed by one of his own men, Jesse James-style, out in the desert, and Lefty, the one who killed him, who fled Mexico and settled down to an ordinary life in Cleveland, Ohio.
But I think they’re wrong. That’s much too easy, and it’s also not clear from the lyrics. Nobody heard his dying words. His death was told of by the poets, not the witnesses. Pancho “died” out in the desert, after a hard outlaw’s life, and then, from nowhere, this Lefty flees to Ohio. What’s Lefty fleeing from? Where did Lefty come into the picture? Was anyone chasing Lefty? Was anyone after him to get revenge? Does Lefty live his life nervously like the Ford brothers, reviled for killing a popular outlaw? The song says nothing about that.
That’s because Lefty is Pancho. Pancho let the poets tell of his death because it was the only way out. And he moved to Cleveland and lived under an assumed name and spent the rest of his life living in a cheap hotel with his demons and his regrets, wondering who he is and what could have been. And if anyone could have tracked him down, nobody tried too hard. They let him go because it was enough.
So what’s spiritual about this? Why does this matter? The thing is, this story is mythology. It’s not non-fiction, but there’s a bite and a life to it that crackles with something more than just a made-up story. It might not have actually happened, but it’s certainly true.
Wrapped up in this mythic ballad is some powerful stuff about strength, manhood, what it means to be human and alive, and living life close to the quick. More importantly, it’s about the hard choices that lead a man to give all of that up, and what’s left when he does, for better or for worse. There’s an authenticity to Pancho and Lefty that radiates significance because at the end of the day it cuts into the heart of the big things, the raw, the stuff that makes us remember we’re alive. And I say this over and over again, but that’s what spirituality is really about: making sense of mortality.
And then there’s this, from an interview with Van Zandt: “I realize that I wrote it, but it’s hard to take credit for the writing, because it came from out of the blue. It came through me and it’s a real nice song, and I think I’ve finally found out what it’s about.” This song came to him from out of the blue. He put it to paper but he didn’t make it up. Don’t believe in the Mousai? This stuff comes from somewhere. Someone out there is trying to tell us something important and they are using people like Townes Van Zandt to do it.
Chew on that while you listen to a live version the song:
And then there’s the popular version by Willie Nelson and Merle haggard. Listen to it, too:
Posted in Music, tagged Agriculture, Alcohol, Ancestry, Art, Copperhead Road, Country Rock, DEA, Death, Distilling, Dodge, Draft, Family, Knoxville, Marijuana, Moonshine, Muscle Cars, Music, Politics, Poverty, Rock and Roll, South, Steve Earle, Tennessee, Vietnam, War on Drugs on January 6, 2011 | 5 Comments »
In case you thought the part about being from Tennessee was a joke.
Posted in Law, Music, Spirituality, tagged Bacchus, Charlie Crist, Criminal Justice, Dionysus, Florida, Governor, Indecent Exposure, Jim Morrison, Law, Pardon, Rock and Roll, State, The Doors on December 9, 2010 | 4 Comments »
You may remember my recent post about the possibility of the State of Florida pardoning Jim Morrison for his indecent exposure conviction. Well, Florida officially pardoned Jim Morrison today. This is great news.
Here are Governor Crist’s comments on the topic, courtesy of the New York Times Arts Beat Blog.
GOVERNOR CHARLIE CRIST
to the Florida Board of Executive Clemency
December 9, 2010
James Douglas Morrison – we know him as Jim Morrison – appealed the judgment and sentence he received after being convicted 40 years ago of two misdemeanors. However, he died before his appeal could be heard.
Because he us unable to state his case for clemency before this board today, I offer to do so for him.
The charges against Mr. Morrison stemmed from his alleged actions at a now-famous 1969 musical performance by The Doors in Miami. During the trial, the prosecution attempted to prove that Mr. Morrison indecently exposed himself, simulated indecent acts, and uttered profanities.
Mr. Morrison admitted to using some of the alleged profanity; however, he denied the other charges.
During the trial, some witnesses testified they saw the alleged acts for which he was charged; however, many others testified they observed the entire concert and never saw them. In fact, so many witnesses corroborated Mr. Morrison’s testimony that the judge eventually stopped the defense from presenting any more – because their collective testimony became, what is known in legal terms as, “cumulative testimony.”
Nevertheless, a jury convicted Mr. Morrison. The judge then sentenced him to six months of hard labor.
Much controversy surrounds this conviction, and not only because many witnesses testified they did not see Mr. Morrison expose himself.
Controversy also exists because Mr. Morrison was not arrested until four days after the concert. A case was brought against him only after newspaper articles recounted the alleged events at the concert, based on a complaint filed by an employee of the state attorney’s office who attended the concert.
In addition, Mr. Morrison may have been improperly prevented from presenting evidence of “community standards” of other rock performances of the era. Such testimony would have offered cultural context for the allegations against him.
Perhaps most importantly, Mr. Morrison himself did not exercise his right to remain silent. Instead, he forcefully denied the charge that he exposed himself on stage.
Mr. Morrison appealed his judgment and sentence; however, he died before the appeal was heard. His death prevented him from exercising his right to a direct appeal, a right given to every American by the United States Constitution. If his appeal had been heard, a reviewing court could have resolved the controversies surrounding his conviction.
In addition, at the time of Morrison’s death, a convicted defendant who died before his appeal was heard was entitled to have the conviction dismissed so that he was again presumed innocent. This doctrine, known as “abatement ab initio,” wiped the slate clean – as though the conviction had never taken place. A pardon corrects the fact that Mr. Morrison is now unable to take advantage of the presumption of innocence that is the cornerstone of the American criminal justice system.
The words of an appellate judge, penned a decade before Mr. Morrison’s trial, provide insight into the question before us today: When death prevents the accused from appealing his judgment, the conviction is “a nullity” and “[j]urisdiction to determine the issue of guilt or innocence is now assumed by the ultimate arbiter of human affairs.”
In this case, guilt or innocence is in God’s hands, not ours. That is why I ask my colleagues today to pardon Jim Morrison.
Posted in Music, Spirituality, tagged Acquittal, Bacchae, Bacchus, Celebration, Chaos, Charlie Crist, Crime, Criminal Law, Deity, Dionysus, Euripides, Florida, Genius, Governor, Humanity, Jim Morrison, Law, Liberation, Life, Maenad, Order, Pardon, Pentheus, Politics, Polytheism, Priest, Prophet, Religion, Rock and Roll, Rules, Spirituality, The Bacchae, The Doors, Transgression on November 9, 2010 | 4 Comments »
I’d rather see Jim Morrison pardoned than acquitted, honestly. An aquittal would be an attempt to legally say “Jim Morrison did not do that,” and I don’t think that’s right. Jim pushed the boundaries intentionally. It’s what he was all about, the influence of Dionysus, the god who steps over the boundaries and pushes us through–breaks on through, even–to the other side.
As human beings and as a human society we have a deep need for that kind of channeled transgression. We need rules and order to survive and prosper, but we also need a way to break through and shatter those rules completely, to remind us of who we really are and what is really going on. We have to be able to grapple with darkness, to embrace the shadow side of our existence, to shake off constraints and boundaries. Pushing us to our limits, pushing us past those boundaries in every way, is what Jim Morrison’s life was all about.
And so I say hell yes he exposed himself on stage. I say hell yes he simulated fellatio. And good, and well done, and do it again.
But he should be celebrated, not condemned. If our society expressed through the state can not understand the context and the importance of Dionysian transgression, and the role it plays in keeping us sane and healthy, then we are all Pentheus, and we are setting ourselves up for a violent and savage downfall.
So nothing could be more appropriate than a pardon. Try him if you want, convict him if you must, but punish him? Smear his name? Nonsense. We’re not talking about a pervert in the parking lot, we are talking a high priest of Dionysus, a prophet of the God Who Comes. Jim Morrison brought the law of liberation written on tablets of vinyl. I can think of few better ways to honor him than to wipe his name clear.
So, hail the Lizard King triumphant! Euoi!