Opening for Ben Folds. Green Room. Look at all the those Doritos!
This Song Was Writ Through Twit
LilaNelson I would love to hear some Marvin Gaye.
MikeDronkers It’s a dark and sunny day.
LilaNelson When even playing is for play.
LilaNelson Pray on, prey on, pray on, prey on: what comes first, the beast or the song?
LilaNelson I’ve been reading “The Gambler” before bed.
LilaNelson The shortest story in the book.
LilaNelson From the library of James G. Cayias
(note: To preserve the identity of the former owner of my copy of “The Short Stories of Dostoevsky” I changed his middle initial to “C.” James C. Cayias. But more likely, it was an alliterative accident.)
LilaNelson Fyodor could never free us
LilaNelson Chorus: Pray on, prey on, pray on, prey on: what comes first, the beast or the song? Is this hunger right or wrong?
LilaNelsonLet’s get forgone.
LilaNelsonCount on the boon from the backroom boy.
*Also my twitter hacker contributed this. I felt conflicted about including it given that he was posting to my twitter from his phone during this crucial exercise. But I do want him to know: Hacker, you turn a mean phrase.
Several weeks ago, A-town friends Russ and Mark were down in O-town for a show. Mark being a self proclaimed Cline-head, Russ being what Nels describes as “the 5th non-silent member of The Nels Cline Singers” and me thinking, “These guys know more about my cool new town than I do,” I insisted on coming along for a night billed under the name Trevor Dunn—you know, “Mr. Bungle”—a former Eurekan. And indeed, he was the common denominator, wielding the exalted Matthew Sperry bass and in full Humboldt regalia. (Okay, he was wearing a Los Bagel’s t-shirt.) The venue was inches from my house. Its only demarcation suggested an accordion shop. After dinner at the new Mua (think casual like cardboard, classy like cocktails) we dashed centimeters to the venue. The night opened with great musicians serving up the weirdest in aural first courses.
For the second course: Scott Amendola is the reason they call a drum stool a “throne.” Also on stage: Nels Cline, John Dietrich, and Ben Goldberg. Not bad at all.
A few weeks later I went with Russ to see The Nels Cline Singers at Yoshi’s. Finding myself sitting with Ron St. Germain, who had been recording them the past couple days, I asked the obvious: “So what’s it like to hear it live after hearing it in the studio all week?” “The recording is better!” he said and laughed. Then added in his characteristic faux English accent, “There’s quite a bit of morph-factor with this music, so it’s always different live.”
The musicians I most like to experience live are childlike in their love of making music. The Singers have this quality when they play. They PLAY. I left the following evening for the east coast, not able to hum a Singers’ melody, but with the feeling that my musical skeleton had been cracked and reset in all the right places.
Nowadays, and I hope Tom Petty will forgive me for noticing, I Don’t Come Around Here No More. Not because Facebook and Twitter are sexier or because they have solved all kinds of existential problems in an all-the-kids-are-doing-it kind-a-way—problems that the daunting task of turning a phrase on your behalf, only exacerbated. While the other problems I made into songs or used to power my bicycle (see below for non-examples). Although I sometimes shared them with my therapist and then felt it would be redundant to post them to a website dressed in writer’s clothing to make them interesting or at least palatable to an online audience that has grown accustomed reading the text message versions of Rumi poems over chamomile tea at Starbucks. No. And not because I am lazy. Which I am. But not because of that. And not because I am boring. (I, like so many of your disciples, find myself endlessly interesting.) Conceptually, you will always have a place in my heart. But unless we can find a way to talk—and I mean really talk…
I’ve given up…
You have nothing to say. This is when Scott Miller would heckle himself (and you) from the stage, “Dance monkey, dance!”
That was Saturday night at Glen Park Station. Greg was kind enough to let us take his car since mine blew its mind (aka head gasket) a few weeks prior. Another speeding ticket later (Christ, what is the hurry, Ms. Nelson?) and we were on our way. The officer was so nice I wanted to invite him along with us. “Has someone been drinking?” he asked, smelling the alcohol on Greg’s breath from the night before. (Greg, already charming, somehow becomes cherubic around cops.)
We’d played at the Jam with Whiting Tennis the night before. While the billing had been muddled, the night was good. James did a great job with sound. Whiting sang his songs solo and joked shyly, “The headliner will be here any minute.” Somehow Vandaveer had been lost in the mix.
The week prior in Davis, I’d played Sophia’s with The Mad Cow String Band and while I had a great time, I couldn’t hear a damn thing. (No offense to Michael Leahy or the very dedicated sound guy. The Cows don’t use monitors, is all. They play around one condenser like pros. And attract a rowdy crowd.) Devil Makes Three showed up, having just moved to Davis. We went to their house for a dope dance party afterwards. Oh, Kanye. When was the last time I danced like that?
I was worried that the pilot light had gone out. But I woke up this morning and felt it burning again. Lack of inspiration is maybe the most scary feeling for the writer. Like being dead. You lift your hand, “Ahhhh!” You are a zombie. You go to walk your protagonist down the hall: rigor mortis.
If we are Winnie the Poo characters, I am leaning into my Eeyore lately.
Sometimes I think I beat myself into obedience. Ask myself to behave and then rebel. Who said that adolescence was a 20th century fabrication—that we should be working on farms until we have families of our own? This describes our bored self absorption, our overly reflective, awkward teen years? Hell, it’s 4:30 in the morning, but I am thinking of going out in the yard to find something to mulch. That or smoke cigarettes in the girls bathroom. I am finding a home between pressure and non-pressure. Between that place where having a good hair-pull alternately feels refreshing and hurts like hell.
Peter Mulvey was inspiring. I opened a couple of shows for him last week, one in Arcata and one in Berkeley. His quick wit. His guitar playing. We toasted to Obama at every occasion. The Arcata Playhouse was great. He sang the Black National Anthem for his encore. (Peter, not Barack.)
At the Playhouse, one person, who shall go unnamed, found her way backstage to pee on and around the dressing room. A primitive form of territorializing—I was happy to get away, leg un-humped.
Peter asked me to sing “Old Fashion Morphine” (Jolie Holland) with him and when I demurred for lack of knowing the lyrics he charted it out on butcher paper. At the Freight and Salvage we sang Greg Brown’s “Ships,” a song I have always loved. And Peter’s “Thorn.” Singing with Peter is like sitting in sunshine. And I had the pleasure of meeting Peter’s friend Spock, another good buddy of Chris Smither’s from back in the DC days, replete with stories and dark-humor tinged advice.
Last week I went to record in the Pirate Room and discovered a deadly flaw in my guitar playing. (Not to mention my guitar—my pickup was buzzing at the Freight as well…one too many hot days in the car?) I have no pets, but, Martin D16, you are my pet.
I’ll be in San Diego next week where the weather is supposedly in the 90’s. It’s November.