Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


1. When Van Halen hit, I was a rock-punk-jazz-classical Kalamazoo teenager who thought they were too Vegas. Nice guitar playing & drumming, but that singer, No. When David Lee Roth later had a hit with a very close cover -- an homage -- of Louis Prima’s hit medley of “Just a Gigolo / I Ain’t Got Nobody” (for which Prima should have received arranger’s royalties), I felt vindicated -- here he was, totally Vegas. I’ve long since grown to like Vegas, and the Vegas in Halen & Roth, and was happy to hear DLR’s homage to Prima on the old-people’s-great-memory-pre-rock-pop station yesterday.

2. What the jam band taught me: Virtuosity isn’t about ego, it’s about ecstasy. Railroad Earth, whom I saw Saturday night, are a hippie-bluegrass-jam band featuring OK songs and hot, wild picking. And bowing. Fiddler Tim Carbone gets out there, and the other soloists are solid. On the bluegrass numbers, singer/songwriter Todd Sheaffer stands happily, strumming his guitar a little, and watches the pickers pick. He plays a nice electric lead on his acoustic guitar, through guitar effects to make it sound electric. They played two sets -- more than a four hour show, counting the opening band and two intermissions. I loved it -- great show.

3. In a live setting, songs are an occasion for making music, lyrics are an occasion for voice. Only a couple of Railroad Earth’s originals moved me me as songs on first listen, but I still loved them in performance.

4. Kalamazoo hippie-jam-bluegrass band Greensky Bluegrass opened for Railroad Earth. My brother is friends with them and he got me the ticket as a birthday present. More trad. than Railroad Earth, without drums or special effects, they were hot pickers with some jam-hippie elements, long segues and tempo changes between songs which totally worked for me, and pop-folk originals that seemed fine. Terrific set. All through the set, a man standing in the shadows (I never did see who it was), would shout, “Kalamazoo!”

5. Before going to the show, I was at my childhood friend Emily’s party. She lives in the ‘burbs with her family -- she and her husband work in the ‘burbs. Some 12-year-old piano students were playing nice classical pieces, so I sat down and vamped for a while over a simple riff. Nice to play a nice piano! (Emily’s a much, much better player than me.) Partly I wanted to play to keep my streak going -- six weekends in a row playing music at a party or a show, but it was nice to play a nice piano.

6. Off to Chicago in a couple of days, to see my high school acquaintance and later, college pal Mickle Maher’s play The Strangerer. And then off to Kalamazoo to see all my relatives.

Friday, June 20, 2008



[Children watching the sunrise in Marcel Camus's 1959 film Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro). At the end of the film, they rush to the eastward facing hill to sing the sun up. Now that Orpheus, whose job it is to sing the sun up, has died, somebody has to do it! They sing a tremendous, wordless song -- "Samba de Orfeu," written for the film by Luiz Bonfá.]

* * *

Update, next morning. After work yesterday we met friends for a picnic at Seattle Center, beautiful warm evening, picnicking, playing in the fountain, playing catch, playing with our kids. Longest day of the year, after supper we drove to Carkeek Park, overlooking the Sound, to catch the sunset. The kid and my beloved spouse fell asleep on the drive but woke up when we got there. Watching the sun over the water, as kids we didn't know threw rocks into the Sound, and people played teeter-totter on driftwood, I thought of the kids in Black Orpheus, and their ardor -- if we don't sing the sun might not rise! -- and how they run to the dawn-facing ridge in order to sing; and the kids throwing rocks, and kids in general -- their ardor, their passion, it's deep and inspiring.

Happy Summer!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I heard the Cahn/Styne standard “Time After Time” on the radio today and was struck by the undercurrent of melancholy despite the words of love and gratitude:
Time after time
I tell myself that I’m
So lucky to be loving you
I wondered: Does the singer tell himself time after time because he needs convincing? No, that’s not quite it. It came clear with these lines:
I only know what I know
The passing years will show
You’ve kept my love so young, so new
The passing years! Time’s winged chariot! The melancholy of aging, despite love!

Time is the medium of transformation. Transformation is continual. Some transformations are gradual, some dramatic. My son is learning to swim. Today he swam better than he did Monday. When he really swam on Monday, joy dawned on his face, broke over the horizon of his consciousness and lit him up. So we went to the pool again Tuesday and again today, and he’s better every day. Transforming from a non-swimmer to a swimmer. A gift of time -- and effort.

-- Night and Sleep, Evelyn De Morgan, 1878

Some weeks back I was feeling low, down
on myself, which are
funny expressions, since “down on” has both
positive and negative connotations; I was in the
negative. And I wondered about writing chattily from that
lowdown emotion and then couldn’t
imagine doing it, and
Thinking about it now, the sad feeling echoes, even
though when I sat down to write
tonight I was feeling chipper! A lot
of people hate exclamation points, think they’re
cheap or cheating, but for me, avoiding
linguistic commonplaces
like that is
And I realize I don’t know squat about
puritanism. Really, nothing.
Maybe “snobby” is the word
I want.
Not that I can condemn snobbiness from
afar -- I’m snobby too; snobbiness
can be funny, as,
for instance,
when a poet stakes a claim about contemporaneity, while
scoffing at others’ claims for contemporaneity, while
his own claim is based on approaches a
century old! And it’s a
poetry blog scene with
comments and so I
get all huffy and say stuff like, Hey, what
about that stuff 100 years ago that’s so much like
the stuff you’re doing now and claiming to be
up-to-date? And then I wonder wh --
I just stopped writing to Google something, a phrase I
thought of and wondered whether it was out
there already, and it is, oo-wee, more than
8,000 web pages of it, not a fresh
coinage at all, oh well --
and then I wonder whether the claim to
up-to-date-ness might be a prank -- and it
might be! I’ve been thinking about
up-to-date-ness too, for
instance, this scrolling,
paragraph-less poem
feels like a
true computer-writing
style, the annoying
of it, I could
go on and on.
Or, maybe
Some day I shall write a poetry
of hyperlinks. Each word or phrase bouncing
to some other web page, maybe
a pun or
a joke or
an allusion or
a pop tart.
And the experience of the
poem will be different for everybody,
and unprintable
without the links,
and if I’m serious and conservatorial
about it, I’ll check on it from
time to time, to
make sure that the links still go
somewhere, because
web pages come and go. The hyperlink-ity will
emblematize the reading process as it
already exists -- or, rather, the language
experience as it already exists, as each of us has
a tangled, deep, deep web of allusions and
references for each
-- well,
do it. Earlier this evening I was
arguing via web comments
with a fond friend
about contemporary poetry
the comments section of
his blog -- he’s a writer and a musician and
I know him through music, and so
I was tickled when he mentioned the poet
John Giorno in a discussion of the music of
Laurie Anderson, and that inspired me to comment
that the poetry world had done a poor job of
assimilating the linguistic world, a much poorer job
than the art world has been doing in assimilating the
visual world and the music world has been
doing in assimilating the sonic world. And my
friend responded that the poetry world
was on the defensive, always fighting a battle for
cultural attention against song lyrics especially, and
I agree, my friend is right, but isn’t it a shame that
poets are fearful of not measuring up or something --
I confess that I don’t completely understand it --
the linguistic world is a sprawling fascinating place and
any fragment of it can be a trip to examine in
any detail. I can understand that poets want the
linguistic experience with which they are contending to be
an extra-special linguistic experience, but, friends, let’s open
our hearts, our minds, our ears, our cliche-buckets, and let
the language fall fall fall.
Fall -- as in rain.
And as it falls, it
echoes and echoes and echoes,
and Fall is the season of harvest, bright colors, sharpening air,
and bundling, and for many people
the Fall is the entrance of Sin into human experience,
and Fallen language is something to be mourned and resisted
as we seek to make it again exalted,

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My old friend John de Roo (not pictured) has posted a new batch of old recordings at his MySpace page, including the classic "What if the Carter Family had been pagans?" song, "Coven in the Holler," written by his friend Reba, and recorded by the two of them. He's also posted two songs from his classic 1986 hitherto-cassette-only recording, Holy Cow!, recently transferred to CD and for sale via download at his page. Do check them out -- it's one of my favorite albums of the '80s -- tuneful, playful, poignant, beautifully sung and arranged and played.

* * *

Some time in the mid to late '90s my brother was visiting and we went camping. It was around the time of the Brady Bunch movie, which I remember only a tiny bit of, though I remember enjoying it. I had long hair at the time, which I enjoyed. We were camping, and I was brushing my hair one morning, and my brother, the middle child (I'm the oldest, like Marcia), said, "Marcia Marcia Marcia," quoting Jan Brady, the middle child in that family. I wrote a song, which I thought of tonight because my hair is long again. I cut it short in '99 before traveling to Egypt and hadn't grown it back until this year. Now it's prettier than ever, wavier than before, if you don't mind graying, which I don't, usually. I thought, alas, I've forgotten that song, so many songs left unrecorded are starting to disappear from memory, many not even written down; or, if written down, long since lost. But I just remembered the first verse. I think there were three, but singing it in my head tonight, it really just deserves one verse. It's a rockin' little number with a nice melody and a catchy chorus that goes to the flatted seventh (an F chord in the key of G). Before I forget:

I brush my long hair
I take care of my long hair
I love my long hair

Marcia Marcia Marcia
Marcia Marcia Marcia

A meaningless song if you don't know the reference.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The continual struggle against connoisseur-ship: The continual struggle to experience experiences more fully than weighing, judging, and classifying them -- and worrying over how to communicate said weighings, judgments, and classifications -- allows.

* * *

Update, late night: Tonight's show was a gas. I liked both other bands, and singing with Jennifer was deeply gratifying. With nobody else there, solos were scarce, so we played a lot of songs -- something like 15 -- in one set.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A friend of the kid’s is over playing with him, so I’m hanging out within earshot in case they need an arbitrator. With the exception of one hot week a month or so ago, it’s been the coldest spring since I moved here in ‘91, and the coldest June for several decades. At practice the other night, I pulled out two old songs and one recent one to teach to Jen and Bob; two for Jen to sing and one for Bob. It wasn’t until the end of practice that I noticed a common theme:

“Long Summer Day”
“The Heat”
“In Summer”

I decided to cut two of the verses for “In Summer,” but it really would be better with six -- it’s an adaptation of a Danish folk song, using the traditional melody and writing new words, as I don’t know Danish or have access to a translation. The original has six verses, and four would feel too few. So I just wrote two more. I’m not sure if they’re any good. Writing bad verses is almost as enjoyable as writing good ones, until you’re done. And then you realize, nah -- not so good -- not satisfying. I probably won’t realize one way or another until tomorrow. Maybe I’ll keep trying -- write a few more and then pick the best.

I love writing for other singers. They always change the melody! Not substantially, and often for the better.

Looking forward to performing tomorrow.

Here’s the details again:

High Dive
513 N 36th
Seattle, WA 98103
(in Fremont)

Sunday, June 15, 8:00 PM
(3 bands; show starts at 7:00; we're playing second)

How much:

Hope to see you!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

John Cage

Carl Wilson has written a book about a Celine Dion album, and Jody Rosen has written a book about “White Christmas” -- terrific books both. I remember a couple of years ago a debate over the relative merits of books about albums versus books about single songs, in which Carl and Jody took part, in the comments section of Carl’s blog, Zoilus.

Now Kyle Gann is writing a book on John Cage's silent piece 4'33"!

Talk about a pregnant silence!

Cage is a big deal; this particular piece is paradoxically resonant; Kyle will bring the requisite erudition, insight, and skepticism to the book; it should be a corker.

* * *

A college student found this blog and emailed, asking me to name my 3 favorite Dylan songs, and say why, for a paper she was writing -- she was asking a lot of people.

1. "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream," from Bringing It All Back Home, his first (half) electric album. A freaked-out beatnik satirical narrative, in which the America discovered by Columbus has always been fated to be exactly as it has become. Biting, exuberant, astonishing wit; compelling story; great exuberant beat-music noise from the band; and a charming false start left on the finished record, where Dylan stops because he's laughing, and then starts over again.

2. "Isis," from Desire. A medieval Romance quest for treasure and truth combined with a true-love Romance; a great story. Elegantly driving waltz music led by Dylan's piano; a song unlike any other I can think of.

3. "Odds and Ends," from The Basement Tapes. A tossed-off semi-novelty song, high spirits and goofy humor, with one of Dylan's great epigrams, "Lost time is not found again."

* * *

I've been thinking about changing the name of my blog to Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Not going to do it though.

Dear friends,

This came at short notice, so it's a very different version of my band that will be playing this time.

UPDATE: I had the date wrong -- it's Sunday, which is the 15th, not the 16th.

John Shaw
Jen Anspach
maybe Bob Barraza, if he gets back in time from sturgeon fishing on the coast
(everybody else who's played with the band the last few shows has previous commitments, except Nat, who's too young to play at a bar; also, it's his bed time; Mac suggested that we change the band name from Ruby Thicket to John Shaw and His Iterations)

High Dive
513 N 36th
Seattle, WA 98103
(in Fremont)

Sunday, June 15, 8:00 PM
(3 bands; show starts at 7:00; we're playing second)

How much:

Who else:
Salmon Skin -- a guitar-banjo duo; Ben Guernsey is a friend; you can hear them here:
Die Fledermaus -- they're other friends of Ben's; "die Fledermaus" means "the bat" in German; Johann Strauss wrote an opera of that name; I don't think we'll hear excerpts from the opera but one never knows; they call their style "Chambergrass"; you can hear them here:
And you can hear us here:

Hope to see you some time this summer, if not this Sunday. Come to think of it, hope to see summer some time this summer!

Cheers --


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

In a post today at the Harriet group blog of the Poetry Foundation, Reginald Shepherd raises the spirit of the historical avant-garde.

Citing German art theorist Peter Bürger’s book Theory of The Avant-Garde, Shepherd summarizes, “The historical avant-garde (in his view comprised of Dada, Surrealism, and Russian constructivism), which Bürger sees as a failed project that is now finished, sought to destroy the institution of art in order to merge art and the praxis of life.”

It occurred to me that the graffiti artists of the ‘70s, ‘80s, and after have been the only true avant-garde by this definition: The only artists who succeeded in evading the institution of art while merging art with the praxis of life.

They did not destroy the institution of art, but they made no bones about trying. They went one better: They ignored it. Those artists who talked about destroying institutional art ended up getting absorbed into it: Duchamp, Arp, Breton, and the rest -- even the Fascist Futurist Marinetti, in most ways a precursor to the rest of them, with his polemic about destroying the museums.

By making their art all-but-un-collectible, by mostly succeeding in staying anonymous and therefore unmarketable, the graffiti artists have, for the most part, succeeded in failing to be absorbed into art history. Of course, we have no idea whether most of them would care either way. (Some of them went on to have professional art careers.)

The indigestibility of graffiti art points up the corruption of art history. In our era, only what is marketable and sale-able is a candidate for history.

The institution of art is adaptable, though. All it will take is for a marketable polemicist (of which I am not, though not for lack of trying!) to shame the art institutions into including graffiti art in the grand sweep of art history. The institutions may blanch at the lack of Great Names to which to attach the narrative, but I would be willing to bet that they’ll get there eventually.

Graffiti art belongs in the history of poetry too. The picture illustrating this post is an evocative one-word visual-poem, “Don’t.” Visual poetry is a recognized genre in the history of poetry. As I wrote back in September 2004, graffiti artists “unite virtuoso visual design with often cryptically allusive verbal flair.” The historians of visual poetry -- particularly those with an interest in Bürger’s notion of the avant-garde -- would do well to take note. Graffiti artists and visual poets have been the truest avant-gardists, in Bürger’s terms, in history.

-- Photo copyright 1996 by Chase T, of a work by Shred DC5 on a live CTA train, Chicago.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The party got interrupted when our neighbor came by -- he had been at the party, briefly, earlier, to grab a beer before going home to shower -- and told us about the swarm of bees in the park a couple of blocks away, and almost all of us trooped out to see it. (The same neighbor took the photo above.)

Fourth weekend in a row with a music party. The weekend just past was my birthday party -- 45! -- and various members of my band who had never met came over and we all sang, as well as other friends, and their kids, and I couldn’t have been happier. Our son played host to the kids and the adults -- he was charming. A friend who’s getting close to retirement age told me the next day -- I called because they had left their umbrella -- that for a minute she fantasized about moving next door, she had so much fun talking to the kid. There are two houses for sale on our block . . .

The weekend before, Jen, from my band, who had been overseas teaching English, had a backyard BBQ and she and I sang while my son and a friend of Jen’s played percussion. And that was lovely as well.


Got a gig coming up this Sunday. Details to follow.

Obama clinched the night before my actual birthday, and then I did not sleep well because of sickness and nightmares in the house, and my beloved spouse spent my birthday in bed, and I was tired, but happy to be turning 45 on such an auspicious day -- not that Obama will be all that we could be audacious enough to hope, but that, by way of contrast with the status quo, he’ll be terrific. I had been torn between voting for him and for Clinton at our caucus, because I was pissed at the sexism of the media coverage, and because I preferred Clinton’s health care plan; but I cast my vote for Obama because of the Iraq War, and out of a preference against legacy candidates. As the weeks wore on, my support for Obama grew, as Hillary went off the rails rhetorically a few times, and Obama made speeches that showed a deeper understanding of race and class and their mutual relationship than any politician I’d ever heard. He also showed that he had mastered the lesson of The West Wing: To the badass goes the spoils. I admire him for being able to be a bad ass while keeping his composure. And, of course, there’s the history being made, which is powerfully symbolic. I’m hopeful for the next election.

Bee well! Stay buzzy!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Traditionally and historically, lyric is the mode of heightened emotion, outburst, intensity -- “burst into song.”

Emotions are heightened at moments of change: falling in love and breaking up; adolescence in general. In other words, Rock and Roll!

Birth and death are . . . inarticulable intensities, because we have no language from the other side of them. We can only witness and imagine.

Long relationships, adulthood, maturity -- times of low-intensity change. Traditionally un-lyrical ages.

“Kisses Sweeter Than Wine” is an awesome long-relationship song, largely written by Lee Hayes of the Weavers (according to band mate Pete Seeger).

The pre-rock pop tradition wasn't expected to be autobiographical in any way. So if you can continue to come up with fresh imagery for falling in and out of love, bingo, you're golden.

Rock, somehow, got tagged auto-bio. Probably sheerly due to the concept of singer/songwriter/star, because none of rock's sources, except gospel, presumed an identity between singer and song.

Good funeral songs are rare. Are there any from the Tin Pan Alley tradition? The only one that comes to mind from rock is "Everybody Hurts" -- R.E.M, a beautiful song. "The Long Day Closes" by Henry Fothergill Chorley, with music by Arthur Sullivan (later of Gilbert and . . . ) is devastating and beautiful. It was often sung at funerals of members of Gilbert and Sullivan’s theater company.
No star is o'er the lake,
Its pale watch keeping,
The moon is half awake,
Through gray mists creeping,
The last red leaves fall round
The porch of roses,
The clock hath ceased to sound,
The long day closes.

Sit by the silent hearth
In calm endeavour,
To count the sounds of mirth,
Now dumb for ever.
Heed not how hope believes
And fate disposes:
Shadow is round the eaves,
The long day closes.

The lighted windows dim
Are fading slowly.
The fire that was so trim
Now quivers lowly.
Go to the dreamless bed
Where grief reposes;
Thy book of toil is read,
The long day closes.

(Carl’s post on a new album about the middle of a relationship, by a songwriter of whom I had never heard, got me thinking about this. Which is related to a subsequent post by Carl that touches on the rarity of prolonged vitality in the singer-songwriter tradition.)

-- Images are of Elvis and a 19th century illustration of Sappho and her lyre.
I wrote something 3 years ago comparing Sappho and Elvis.
Here it is:

Friday, April 08, 2005


She was one of the earliest, easily the most famous, and widely regarded as the best of the ancient Greek lyric poets.

He was an unsuccessful singer who hit it big by writing big hits for Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Peggy Lee, and James Taylor.

And their most famous creations are uncannily alike.

Fragment 31 from the poetry of Sappho and
Otis Blackwell’s “All Shook Up” experience the physiology of love-lust in almost identical ways.

Sappho’s fragment may have been the most famous lyric poem in the ancient world. The Roman literary theorist
Longinus discussed it in his work “On the Sublime.” Top Roman lyric poet Catullus translated it. (Click on “English” for English translations.) No other translations from Greek by him exist. And it’s a tremendous poem:

In my eyes he matches the gods, that man who
sits there facing you--any man whatever--
listening from close by to the sweetness of your
voice as you talk, the

sweetness of your laughter: yes, that--I swear it--
sets the heart to shaking inside my breast, since
once I look at you for a moment, I can't
speak any longer,

but my tongue breaks down, and then all at once a
subtle fire races inside my skin, my
eyes can't see a thing and a whirring whistle
thrums at my hearing,

cold sweat covers me and a trembling takes
ahold of me all over: I'm greener than the
grass is and appear to myself to be little
short of dying

But all must be endured, since even a poor [

(Translated by Jim Powell.)

Blackwell’s song was a number one hit for Elvis, and
it’s wonderful:
A well I bless my soul
What’s wrong with me?
I’m itching like a man on a fuzzy tree
My friends say I’m actin’ wild as a bug
I’m in love
I’m all shook up
Mm mm oh, oh, yeah, yeah!

My hands are shaky and my knees are weak
I can’t seem to stand on my own two feet
Who do you thank when you have such luck?
I’m in love
I’m all shook up
Mm mm oh, oh, yeah, yeah!

Please don’t ask me what’s on my mind
I’m a little mixed up, but I’m feelin’ fine
When I’m near that girl that I love best
My heart beats so it scares me to death!

She touched my hand what a chill I got
Her lips are like a volcano that’s hot
I’m proud to say she’s my buttercup
I’m in love
I’m all shook up
Mm mm oh, oh, yeah, yeah!

My tongue gets tied when I try to speak
My insides shake like a leaf on a tree
There’s only one cure for this body of mine
That’s to have the girl that I love so fine!

How do Otis and Sappho know that it’s love?
For one thing, there’s physical infirmity, trembling, wobbliness.
Sappho: “a trembling takes
ahold of me all over.”

Blackwell: “My hands are shaky and my knees are weak,
I can’t seem to stand on my own two feet” and “I’m all shook up.”

And this trembling doesn’t affect the limbs only, but the internal organs as well.
Sappho: The sound of her beloved’s laughter “sets the heart to shaking inside my breast.”

Blackwell: “My insides shake like a leaf on a tree” and “My heart beats so it scares me to death!”

The body’s regulation of internal temperature has gone wacko, and the singer experiences heat and cold simultaneously.

Sappho: “a
subtle fire races inside my skin” and “cold sweat covers me.”

Blackwell: “She touched my hand what a chill I got,
Her lips are like a volcano that’s hot.”

Confusion afflicts the singer.
Sappho: “my
eyes can't see a thing and a whirring whistle
thrums at my hearing.”

Blackwell: “Please don’t ask me what’s on my mind,
I’m a little mixed up.”

And speechlessness ensues.
Sappho: “I can't
speak any longer,

but my tongue breaks down.”

Blackwell: “My tongue gets tied when I try to speak.”

Sappho and Blackwell know: It must be love!

History doesn’t report whether Blackwell ever read Sappho, or Sappho ever heard Elvis. According legend, Blackwell’s inspiration came in the form of a challenge from his publisher, who
shook a bottle of soda and said to Blackwell, “You can write about anything. Write about this!”

Blackwell went home and channeled Sappho, and the rest is history.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Bo Diddley. RIP.

His sound an onslaught, the weirdest of the ‘50s rockers, full of fine excess -- the cataclysmic bellowing desire of “Dearest Darling”; the hot lead guitar and mysterious menace of “Who Do You Love?” (prefiguring my favorite Rolling Stones song, “Jumping Jack Flash”); the pan-rhythmic beat and rollicking noisy humor of “Say Man”; the glorious lust and tidal monochord of “Mona”; the proto-ZZ Top groove shuffle of
“Bring It to Jerome”; the proto-Yardbirds sonic guitar sculpting of “Pretty Thing”; the titanic groove and grooves.

He wasn’t a lot of things. He wasn’t a glorious voice like Elvis, Little Richard, or Roy Orbison. He wasn’t a brilliantly poignant lyricist like Chuck Berry. He wasn’t an endlessly inviting good-time roller like Fats Domino. He
wasn’t a stately blues icon like Muddy Waters.

But his songbook rivals any ‘50s rock writer’s for breadth and depth, and a
s a singer he brought a rare raucous humor and wildness to records that have yet to lose their vitality after more than 50 years. The rhythm named after him retains its excitement, and his rhythmic mastery extended far beyond his eponymous beat.

More than that -- his sound and approach may have been the most influential of any early
rocker’s. He went further into the sonic mysteries of noise + excitement than any of the other classic 1950s rockers, and his timbres and riffs sound less dated than anybody’s of his era; more than any other single guitarist, he made the blueprint for Guitar Rock.

Make way, ye dead! A wide musician and powerful spirit has joined you.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Walking down the long path through the woods, grey cool day, finally to the shore, to pick up shells and throw driftwood back into the Sound, the sound of the waves immemorially calming and ancestral; to the kid, because there has been no time unlike the present, the present is endless, and horizons are endless; to the middle-aged parent, horizons close in, and any walk on any shore recalls past walks on other shores with loved ones now missing; and all I can hope for is the continuation of the present in some form, the present of calming waves, and the present of love, the presence of love to outlast any one life.

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