Saturday, September 24, 2011

a single

i've been lying low the past couple of days sitting quietly and doing nothing. took a couple of much needed days off work to rest, read, watch, listen and sit on my ass. i am also recovering from a cold that developed last weekend and man i'm here to testify that feeling like shit sure can ruin a mood. not that i'm complaining so much since the weather here has been unbearably hot, triple digits, making going outside and doing anything a real bitch.

well but anyway, i did read the paper but mostly avoided the news. read the markets tanked on thursday, a heavy chunks of space debris will land some where, possible here, tho i doubt it since i am writing this on saturday night and i think the satellite was expected to fall by this time. news is bad, all round, but still can't help but enjoy being alive. even if my state of being includes the shivers, a cough and a nose that won't stop running.

also heard that the great band r.e.m. called it quits. not lamenting that fact. i stopped listening to them long ago. at least since automatic for the people, i think. i saw them perform only once in 1989 when they were on tour in support of their great album green. i've used the word 'great' twice now in the space of three sentences in reference to r.e.m. because they were great. together the quartet, bill berry on drums, mike mills on bass and vocals, peter buck on guitar, and michael stipe on vocals, together were, like the beatles, a sum greater than their parts.

every now and again we hear or see something that changes us and defines us. if we are lucky we have these experiences several times in our life. the changes that happen might be hard to pinpoint but the definitions are relatively easy. our tastes changes, or minds expand, protocals are exploded etc. for me one of those moments is the song 'radio free europe' by r.e..m. i've had many such experiences, i don't think i'm unique in this respect at all, we've all had them, but 'radio free europe' when i first heard it broke open the borders that at the time what i thought defined me. the song was nothing like i heard before. the vocals are low in the mix. the jangly guitars riding even with the rhythm section and the lyrics, fuck i couldn't tell you what the song was about. plus stipe's angular, beautiful singing enchanted me. yes, the music haunted me. haunts me still. suddenly, when i heard that song, i had another definition of what it means to be alive.

that might sound like hyperbole but it isn't. there are other songs, poems, and movies that have done similar damage to me. i've read enough poems on mingus and bird to know that the jazz greats have also had such an effect on others. i can't quite say why it does, i can only mention how it does. perhaps there is something like growing up in the post-hippie era when a song had a certain structure and sentiment. then when i got into punk rock there was some real fresh air in circulation. by the time r.e.m. released their single the pop song was invented anew for my generation and for any one willing to listen. i was at the time brought to tears by their music. not for the last time. other songs, such as 'fall (on me)", 'driver 8', 'south central rain', and 'superman' have had similar effect on me. those are beauties. r.e.m. crafted great albums too like life's rich pageant, murmer and the aforementioned green.

i own several albums by r.e.m. but only one on cd. the rest are on cassette. that's how long it's been since i've listened to r.e.m. part of that is getting older and not updating my collection. but then hell the band sonic youth is also a bellwether in my life and i still have yet to upgrade their album daydream nation from cassette to cd. guess it doesn't matter. the music continues to buzz in my head, my ear and my words. what i can do is simply give thanks.


At 3:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first time i heard radio free europe, I had the same reaction. It was more refined then punk and post punk and blew away the canned pop music of the time.


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