I don’t have to apologize…

Ruby took her love to town and that town was Calico.

Nothing like a 70’s country-rock concept album about a California 19th Century silver mining town called Calico.

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This is not CSNY, The Eagles or even Poco. No new ground is broken here. It is a stand out oddity in the First Edition catalog though, each song follows a town member and their story in the western town.

Nice harmonies, 70’s country tinged rock and roll and the vocals are not dominated by Kenny, Michael Murphy writes all the lyrics and the music along with Larry Cansler, Kenny plays the bass and it is really a band album.

So if you have an hour in which to avoid going to work in the morning you could do worse things than listen to Kenny and the band tell you about the Ballad of Calico, ahead of them was the hits and the misses and the unfortunate duets.

There’s even a book so you can really procrastinate away.

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Can we make it last like a musical ride?

Procrastination is a particular problem I have. Sitting and researching and thinking and deciding and then deciding again and second guessing and then the decision to be put off for a period of time.

This is true in all things except buying records then impulsivity strikes and suddenly several Whitesnake albums are winging their merry way to me.

The real story here is how I bought a chainsaw. I was the proud owner of a newer homelite that I could never get to run, the necessary skills to adjust the carburetor so it ran well are not mine. It coughed and spluttered and screamed but never ran. Eventually I gave up and sent it to the Goodwill store where hopefully someone who knew what they were doing would buy it and nurse it back to health. Then I looked around 10 acres of woodland needing to be tended.

Time to buy a chainsaw that would work and not kill me and would be hardy and resilient enough that an amateur would be able to operate it. I researched, read, watched videos on youtube and then made a decision. Then I stood in the shop and looked at it, held it in my hand and left empty handed. I paced and thought and considered and researched and read and watched more videos, looked on Amazon and decided again. I found it cheaper at  a store drove down there and figured this was the moment and yes I  left empty handed.

Suddenly we were faced with 10 days of clear weather, I would be able to get shit done. I made a decision, now I was going to buy. I went back to the store, picked up the lethal tool and strolled to the counter. Paid the money and placed the saw in the truck and drove home, then I was told that we would not be causing decimation to the forest because the laundry room needed some shelving. The result is the nice shiny new saw sits in it’s imposing case and teases me with the fun to come and the trails to build, maybe Tuesday afternoon I thought as I looked at it. The gas is mixed, the chain and bar oil is here, the sharpening file is ready and the downed trees are waiting.

Soon we will have the glory of trails you can walk along without stooping and brush that is cleared. It is going to be a joy.

Several days later I have to admit I have not started the saw. I sit and look at it and think about it. Shelves have been made as I though about it, gravel has been ordered and spread and weeds have been whacked, it’s a glory, and yet still no roar of the chainsaw, maybe I need chaps.

Ziggy thinks the woods are good just the way they are and maybe he is right.

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All this getting back to the country has me reaching for Neil Young, Harvest Moon seemed like a good choice. It’s mellow and relaxed and perfect for the late afternoon.

I remember being a little underwhelmed when the album came out. It felt a little precious after the anarchic roar of Ragged Glory. It all felt a little too polite and rehearsed. Nowadays on a barmy 70 degree afternoon in October it feels just right, slightly out of focus mellow Neil for the Autumnal weather, not a day below 70 for 10 days or so. It used to be called unseasonal weather, now the irony is ringing out after the latest Climate Report.

As Neil strummed at the end of the album on Natural Beauty:

What are you going to do
With your life?
What a lucky man
To see the earth
Before it touched his hand.

I dutifully bought the album on ebay some time after its Record Store Day release, it arrived I remember in a pizza box which somehow made my day at the time, luckily the box had not been used. I’ve been living with it for awhile and enjoying it’s reflective nature. It seems now  to be the natural album to follow Ragged Glory.

My original CD came in the mail too. It was posted from the USA to England by my father-in-law. This began a really thoughtful tradition where he would buy me the new Neil Young album on the day of release. I remember that first listen, Michelle loved it and I hoped for Ragged Glory again.

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Until you realize it’s just a story…

In 1981 I was a pretty shallow young person. I was also distracted much of the time and prone to impulsive decisions.

This led to all sorts of interesting situations that would develop very quickly if there was not a guiding a hand in place. When the firm guiding hand of mentorship and usually parental concern was removed all sorts of random things could happen. Suddenly I may be careering towards the motorway on a go-cart constructed from odds and ends found on the tip or seeing how far that reconstructed chopper bike would jump over broken glass. Much of my late teens seemed to be involved with putting various pieces of junk together that other people had left behind with my strange raggle taggle cohort of friends and neighbors.

I led a strange life riding three busses from my suburban home to the privileged school I had managed to test into. This was a two hour journey in the days before walkmans and other personal ways of hearing music. I was also one of the free places so was often treated with disdain by my more privileged class mates, actually I was just socially a little awkward and not the most gregarious your person so probably did not reach out. Also those kids at school had no real interest it seems in re-purposing junk.

One afternoon while watching the TV, probably some Saturday morning kids show I came across a music video, some sort of para-military band of musicians rolling around in somewhat military looking machines playing instruments in a militaristic way. Then the truth hit, shit that lead singer is wearing the best freaking jacket I have ever seen and I want it. In this way began my love for the Teardrop Explodes and Julian Cope. I still want that jacket, although I have never found one that a sane person could afford. However suddenly I was an instant fan which did not sit well with the Def Leppard and Scorpions loving contingent that I hung with at school.

This led to my early morning playing of the curiously named Kilimanjaro by the Teardrop Explodes and if you want to hear jaunty pop hooks overlaid by psychedelia then this is the perfect album to go to. Later on I learned Cope had attended the CF Mott college. This was the closest that my little village had managed to producing fame until Sporty Spice left. It was also a matter of crossing the dump and then sneaking over the golf course and avoiding the missiles to get to the college. It’s a business park now and the dump is a nature preserve but Kilimanjaro is still as it was in 1981 a near perfect pop album.

Here is the strange dump that filled so much of my childhood. It seems less interesting somehow, it is probably more acceptable to the community though.

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Here they are those subversive para-militarists. Actually the band look like pleasant young men who were playing soccer five minutes before the picture. They seem to have bought along their maniacally grinning friend who was probably placed in defense in order to not interfere with the more talented players. In his head though were all sorts of subversive thoughts and ideas waiting to emerge.

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I was dreaming of the past…

The move is finally done…

Number 18 and hopefully the last if there is any justice in the world.

One of the outcomes of this has been less time to write on the blog. Is it time to quit? Or is it okay to just let it go for awhile?

Anyway so just to let you know I have regressed to the age of 17 in my listening, gone are the deep meaningful agonized soul searching moments of the past and enter the rock beast.

It’s time to connect to the inner testosterone monster of adolescence and let it all go.

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Or as Syd the dog insists run like a crazed loon through the forest:

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There is always another tree to smell, we just don’t know which one.

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Thankfully the elder statesman Ziggy is there to remind us all to stop and just be:

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I am sure there will be more until then take Ziggy’s advice stop and take a look around and then take a leak.

Your mama told you never to eat your friends…

I got a new title at work. Director of Programs, it’s a title that virtually means nothing. Instead of two program I am now responsible for five, now not all of them are residential  so I have responsibility for outpatient programs as well. I guess technically it is an absolutely correct title.

It’s more interesting, I get to move around a lot more although the office is super quiet without 26 kids clamoring for attention and 40 staff, I got to give them to my protege I guess. She promptly took off to climb a mountain leaving me holding the baby, well adolescents.

In reality my biggest concern may be that my view changed for the worse. I now no longer look out on 90 acres of woodland and creeks but a dumb ass orange canopy and some trash the builders left on the roof.

I also for the first time in 32 years of working life have to figure out what I am going to eat for lunch as I no longer have a cook and a kitchen to meet those needs. I have been eating out quite a bit but that does not seem to be sustainable or even healthy. Alternatives are being considered, I do however seem to have settled on the make a damn sandwich my friend, as my colleague Paul said. There has also been some adjustment to the coffee regime, my new office is enamored of the Keurig, seems wasteful and the coffee is a little weak.

Some non-negotiables in taking this gig, I will not wear long trousers unless it’s too cold or I want to, no ties ever and a pay raise if a suit is required.

So the current view is:

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The previous view:

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I really think I am losing out here. Oh well someone has to do it and it appears that idiot is me.

In a fit of senselessness I managed to acquire a fun desk that goes up and down with a sweet electric motor, how high tech and trendy of me.

In another world the Planet Earth Rock’nRoll Orchestra exploration trundles on with Grace Slick and Paul Kantner’s Sunfighter album. The orchestra members plod on with their spaced out jam fest of an album. Containing songs covering everything from cannibalism to the joys of parenthood via domestic terrorism and vegetarianism and the Kent State incident it’s an album with more ism’s than necessary perhaps.

I also like to think that the album cover inspired our favored grungeanauts although they went all blue and male underwater instead of all sunset and female rising out of the oceans..

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Seems I am on a mission to rediscover these self-indulgent albums one by one. It’s not a bad journey to fill the days after a hard day at work followed by the manual labor of preparing the new homestead.

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Pick axes and string have been involved in creating a solid base for the shed arriving on Friday, this is our first outbuilding as we finally prepare to maybe move in one day soon, actually over the next four weeks. Math was also involved which my wife the clever teacher correctly identified as a practical use of the pythagorean theory. I believed it was magic.

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It is a good job I have early 20’s helpers to wield the pick and shovel at twice the pace an old fart like me can.

You know that Indian girl, she wasn’t an Indian she was the law, oh…

That strange time and that strangest of albums.

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If Only I Could Remember My Name… The title says it all, while Crosby may not have remembered his name  he could remember the lyrics, or most of them. Sounding as if Pink Floyd recorded a CSNY album at times it is a strange, trippy, collection of songs and sounds and almost songs. Ranging from the long rambling Cowboy Movie with everyone and his brother playing guitar on it to experimental vocal exercises on Orleans to the paranoia of What Are Their Names, it covers all the bases.

It is again another Planet Earth Rock’nRoll Orchestra album, recorded while all the conspirators where high on success or well frankly just high. The early 70’s at Wally Heider’s studio and the Dead recording American Beauty, Paul Kantner was ripping it up recording Blows Against The Empire and Crosby was working on his first solo album. All simultaneously. I can only imagine the chaos and the cross percolation of ideas, thoughts and tunes. Add in Neil Young and Joni Mitchell along with any passerby and you have a band.

It would be 18 years before Crosby recorded another solo album, some would say it was his drug habits that caused this or maybe it was just too complete an album in it’s own right and it took him 18 years to find something else to say. Even the Vatican managed to rank it #2 in it’s list of 100 albums to hear.

I guess I got a theme going here with the Planet Earth Rock’nRoll Orchestra, or that hippy shit collective thing.

That’s a deliberately blurry picture there, or I was tired.

Yes I know I wrote about this before but it’s a good one so go figure.

 

Yeah you gotta watch out if you sneeze…

So as I descended into a pit of despond I figured what we really needed in society today was some fucking angry hippies. Or we just need to go get our shit together in the country.

For some reason this got me to thinking about San Francisco, being poor and of little means right now due to building my own little slice of heaven in the longest building project known to man, I had to make do with the music. Here is a confession, are you ready?

I prefer Jefferson Airplane to the Grateful Dead, the songs are funner and the guitar solos better. They also managed to understand the importance of melody and the joy of the three minute song along with the stoned jams.

I especially like the off-shoot period of about three years from 1970 to 73 when the Planet Earth Rock’nRoll Orchestra was in full ridiculous flight. Imagine all your favorite bands from the late 60’s San Francisco and the Laurel Canyon scene hanging out getting stoned and recording for hours on end and you have the Planet Earth Rock’n’Roll Orchestra. Anarchic self indulgent and a glorious sound if you like that hippy shit.

The whole thing began with Blows Against the Empire by Paul Kantner and Jefferson Starship, this is a long way from building any city on rock and roll. This is subversive stuff, taking a look at the Nixon fueled world and advocating getting out there revolting and stealing a starship and getting out of here. Now we have a space force we can probably pull this shit off as the great orange one blurts his bloated cascades of vitriol at the world.

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Blows is credited to Paul Kantner and Jefferson Starship. It does not however have much to do with that band and is not seen as part of their discography, it is the first in a series of off-shoot Airplane albums to come out in the early 70’s. Most of the Airplane appear on it along with members of the Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service CSNY and just about anyone passing through or hanging out in the studio. Filled with rich harmonies and fiery guitar solo’s pounding keyboards and banjo’s.

It’s a political record of dissatisfaction with the hippy dream and the failure of the old guard. That dissatisfaction led to some stoned meandering concept that is more rewarding than it sounds. Yes its’ hippy shit but it’s hippy shit with attitude.

I know I already talked about this album but it’s a good one so there you have it along with some Monty Pythonesque boobs.

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