I’d like us to pretend that this year’s poop from yours truly is one of those dopey yearly summations some friends include in their Christmas cards to tell you they went to Arkansas and you didn’t. Or maybe they had another grandchild or a bad prognosis or started setting up their ammunition and water fund. You’d think these folks would know by now we’re all gonna have good trips and bad ones. You’d think they’d know it’s alright ma, it’s life n life only.
Hitting sixty in twenty fifteen was the easy part. Watching comrades fall, four in all and two groomsmen on the same day twelve hundred miles apart, certainly dented the armor. Getting my mother-in-law into assisted living exhausted the reserves. Had to buy a new car, empty an old house, and ramp-up the tenuous beginnings of juggling assets to guarantee m’lady’s retirement be as good as my own has been and more.
So y’see, whatever respite there was came not only from our faith in the betterness of all things and our strength for each other, it also came from the music. So in no particular order do I present thee, my fellow journeymen, women, and proud poopers, the music I still turn to when my frequency gets jammed and that gun-lovin’ American madness dogs us all. – mj
Courtney Barnett’s Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit (Amazon), Live at Electric Lady Land (Amazon mp3), The Double EP (Amazon), and How to Carve a Carrot Into a Rose (Amazon) were, dare I say ‘Dylan-esque’ revelations. Here was a soul so Zenned she found loveliness, grand humor, and bold new worlds to explore living laissez faire as a consequence of the new world order. Speaking of revelations, I swore to high Heaven I wasn’t gonna go bat shit over Dylan’s The Cutting Edge: 65-66, Bootleg Series Volume 12 (Amazon) but it’s all but fucking impossible not to. This vein runs deep. You hear him yell out to producer Ted Wilson that “I’ll Keep It With Mine” is really “Bank Account Blues” and you know, right there, Dylan was gonna reveal the cosmic punch line in his own damned, thin wild mercury way. It was up to us, baby, to decipher the nightingale’s code.
Florence + The Machine’s How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful (Amazon) hit me like a plank to the head after hearing “Ship To Wreck” which, I feel in my bones, is the best song of the last few dull years. The terribly ignored indy The Minus 5, a long running pop rock amalgam from somewhere near the Pacific, rendered Dungeon Gold, (Amazon) a clarion jangle of guitars and melody railing against the dying of the light. Wilco gave us Star Wars (Amazon) thankfully. Eilen Jewell, whom I’ve been touting to seemingly deaf ears for years now, gets back to Boise and carves her milepost Sundown Over Ghost Town, (Amazon) an album of vast emotion and the Western vastness that consumes it.
(ps: “Needles and Thread” and “Half Broke Horse” are amazing songs)
Bob’s Burgers somehow links all this and I wish I had a daughter like Louise. It was something we both laughed at and how many married twenty five years can still say that? Mosaic Records’ soul-satisfying, nine disc The Complete Ahmad Jamal Trio Argo Sessions: 56-62 (Amazon) carried me through the crazy like few other discs could. “Poincianna” from the Sterling Club is still, sixty years gone, a rhythmic marvel. The Sonny Rollins / Don Cherry Complete Live at the Village Gate 1962 (Amazon) is a schizo six discs, the first couple or three soaring the wild edges of out there while the last half kinda meanders and mis-fires. But the ascents and descents are white-knuckling, so you gotta love the ride. I first shied away from Vijay Iyar’s Breakstuff preferring his trio’s more immediate flights of harmony, but once I delved into the atmospherics, I stayed in that ozone for months.
I discovered the Enrico Pieranuzi Trio (Live In Paris (Amazon), Seaward (Amazon)) and don’t forget the seriously strong four songs on RoseAnn Fino’s EP Out From Under (Amazon). She’s one of our own so give her a listen. Costello’s book is pretty good but The Bully Pulpit, Doris Kearns Goodwin’s invigorating study of TR, Taft, and the muckrakers, took the prize. The Big Short is movie uno, hands down ‘cos it gets you pissed and pissed and Bernie is what we need to make this country true again. You might also need Brad Mehldau’s 10 Years Solo Live (Amazon). I did. It’s a stirring four disc set that draws you not only into the music (Brahms, Cobain, Coldplay, Lennon, McCartney, Wilson) but into the creative process as well.
Thanks to Calling All Poets for keeping me honest.
And to Emily, after-all.
ps: I’d also like all poopers supporting Bernie Sanders to know there are several active, volunteer groups in the Hudson Valley spreading the Bern. So if you need to know more or want to help preserve our democratic process, check out: Ulster County Volunteers for Bernie Sanders on FB and www.berniesanders.com