And we let the goldfish go…

It’s been a bit of a day as the rain poured down. There was little to do in a real way. I managed to stagger to the garage to clean up some of the mess that is in there after the move.

Most of the day has been spent immersed in the music of Van Morrison. This was brought on not only because I played 7 Singles Deep by the Icicle Works but because last night I had a particularly vivid dream.

I used to drive home from work after the swing shift about 22/23 years ago in an old Chevette, yes the same one that kept getting stuck in the sand on the beach. It had a tape deck and a cassette was stuck in it, it constantly played on a loop unless I switched to the radio. The cassette had been there since we bought the car and for 3 or 4 months until I bought a cassette player to switch out it was the soundtrack of those foggy late night drive.

So as I crawled along at midnight along the foggy by-pass from Formby to Liverpool I had a very definite soundtrack. It was a mix tape the previous owner had made. It consisted entirely of Van Morrison. When i finally switched the tape deck I pried that cassette out and it was entitled Hard Nose the Highway, although it only had two tracks from that album. Wild Children and Purple Heather were those tracks.

The other song I remember was In The Days Before Rock and Roll. I still to this day know all the lyrics to this song. As I crawled along counting the lights and corners before my turn in the fog I bellowed along to the stream of conscience nonsense of a time long gone and “Justin gentler than a man.” made so much sense.


That tape got destroyed in it’s removal but it ingrained a real love for Van. I wish I could remember the tracks on that cassette but they are gone apart from the few that are stuck in my head.

It was a fine way to spend a rainy Saturday though.

But something deep in my heart tells me I’m right and I don’t think so…

In the lazy days of the eighties when all I had to do was study(?) and hang out I heard something coming from the neighbor’s doorway. Being a mostly friendly person I knocked and asked what that noise was. He looked confused and offered me a cassette of the Icicle Works album Seven Singles Deep. I managed to not return this to my neighbor, I was and still am very forgetful, I do not however have too much remorse as he borrowed and kept Neil Young’s Live Rust.

As you can see from the discogs entry the vinyl and cassette are very different which makes the cassette so much more necessary.7 singles

I am sure I have seen a CD as well but that may be a false memory as I cannot verify a CD release.

Somewhere in a box in the attic as we moved I found the case to the cassette but no cassette inside. This has made me quite sad, although I have nothing to play it on if I found the cassette anymore, there is a sadness that somewhere out there is a cassette without it’s case.

The point of all that was that there was a version of Van’s Into The Mystic on the cassette version which is sadly missing from the LP I just found, that caused the search for the cassette. This was the first time I consciously remember ever hearing anything by  Van Morrison. Even though it was a cover version I was fascinated by that track which led me to buying Astral Weeks the next week.

You can find it on the remastered version of If You Want To Defeat Your Enemy though.

astralThen the confusion set in. This sounded nothing like Into The Mystic as performed by  the Icicle Works. I know the song is not on Astral Weeks but it was the only Van Morrison album I could find in WH Smith. The melodies were challenging and the bass seemed to be leading all the music with this powerhouse voice intoning strange hypnotic illusory lyrics.

At the time it may have been the most challenging album I had. I wanted to sell it and recoup what expense I could. I did however keep playing it and trying to understand it rather than sell it. I had a similar experience with John Martyn’s Solid Air later in life that was ultimately as rewarding.

Friends would ask me to take it off the turntable and girls would leave after the first song. It caused me uncounted troubles. To this day it is still a challenging listen. Nothing about it seems particularly normal, the instrumentation is slightly off at times, although it does make sense.

The outcomes of listening to Astral Weeks have been fun though. It is my wife’s favorite Van album, it was the only album that would settle my eldest son down when he had colic and my middle son now plays stand up bass because of this album.


And so all my love songs fall on wasted ears…

I had big plans for my 201st post. It’s a landmark moment, 201 of my thoughts, however scattered or disjointed they may be on the page. I have always liked the idea of a journal but often wondered what would go down on paper, however virtual, Now I know the same crap that rattles around in my brain on a day to day basis. Unfortunately it now has an outlet.

Anyway the reality was just like in real life I got distracted by something shiny, or in this case Mr. Chang’s White Album installation. This is indicative of how my brain works. Look something fun/shiny/interesting let’s look at it.

So here we are the 202nd post. It is going to be amazing, a big picture extravaganza. Deep thoughts and shallow comments surrounding an enlightening insight into my twistedly mundane life. (autocorrect suggest stiltedly there which may be more correct)

The other day my friend Greg and I were reminiscing about some strange experience we had shared even though we were separated by 6000 miles in the early 90’s. I have no idea what the experience may have been, it probably involved a certain amount of inappropriateness, it was likely about some gig or album, truth be told I have no idea because we have one of these conversations just about every day. Our young colleague turned to us and said she was jealous of our exciting lives.

After a moments thought it dawned on me that as I reach fifty it’s just that I have been alive twice as long as most of my work colleagues. It’s not that my life was more exciting just that I have had more of it. Of course you would not necessarily talk about the mundane moments in life I pointed out to her. Greg disagreed at this point, he is convinced his life is really that exciting.

Most of this weeks listening has been Blitzen Trapper, the local Portland boys made semi-good. I forgot to buy tickets for their gig tomorrow and am now trying to decide if I should pay a scalper, more likely I will sit home and try and remember next time. ( I decided not to pay the $90 in the end and tomorrow is now five days ago)

I have worked my way through most of their back catalog this week. It’s an trapperinteresting experience veering from southern rock sounding strut to down home camp fire singalong and a strange attempt at rap with acoustic instruments.

Banjo’s plucked and then the next moment foot on the monitor soloing. Their records always make me smile in their eclecticism, obviously records made by record fans. Good time music from the pacific north west. There has never really it appears been the need to define their sound, although they managed to sound like Queen performing folk music on Destroyer of the Void.

They have a new album out, All Across this Land which follows the usual journey. Rockers and foot stomping all in place. It’s Americana I guess but with a sense of humor. The album is reminiscent of the usual names thrown about when an American band go all roots based or in this case stay all roots based. Americana however misses the point. I guess that’s listening to Blitzen Trapper though, you feel like you have been rolling around in the trappings of rock and roll and folk, you should emerge with less teeth and a jug of moonshine in your hand at the end of the experience with a big grin and leap right back in immediately as you get the feeling you may have missed the point.

I just ordered their live record of Neil Young’s Harvest which is incidentally my first ever foray into Record Store Day purchasing even if it is several months after the release. Somehow I now feel a little grubby for getting involved. Much grubbier than if I spent the day rooting around in the moldy crates of vinyl in a thrift store.

So there it is 202 posts on something that started out as a misguided attempt to read the best of science fiction, morphed into something and is now an attempt to record some vague description of my listening habits. The lists are still coming along and I can now finally say categorically that I have listened to Tales From Topographic Oceans more than 10 times and now find myself humming snatches of melody from it as I drive/work or walk.