We live in a political world courage is a thing of the past…

What the heck is going on?

Every morning I turn on the tv and scratch my balding head and wonder what the heck is going on.

Every night I turn on the news and wonder again.

I have to say heck as my wife is usually there and she has refined sensibilities, even when faced with the Orange Blob of Hate.

I have been intermittently saddened, angry and helpless all in the space of minutes throughout the week, this week, and it’s only Tuesday. I sit here and watch The President spew bile and hate and then shift the blame onto others. For some time I have been in public and private railing against this hate filled man who’s orange face fills our screens day in and day out. Then I realized it is not him that is the problem but our own apathy and unwillingness to stand and be counted in these days.

He has reached down into the sad hate filled souls of the fearful and bigoted and drawn their darkest thoughts out into the light. Instead of being disgusted and ashamed there are those who revel in it.

Dylan said it in 1989:

Broken hands on broken ploughs,
Broken treaties, broken vows,
Broken pipes, broken tools,
People bending broken rules
Hound dog howling, bull frog croaking,
Everything is broken

The system is broken, hopefully it can self correct, it will take the honesty of artists and we the people to stump up the courage to actually stand and be counted.

I just read a whole thread of blog posts on another site as an artist was criticized for getting political. Let’s face it we live in a political world as Bobby said on Oh Mercy. There’s no avoiding it all that’s left is to chose your side.

Art and social change have been interwoven since the first song was sung, and cave painting daubed on a wall, from Troubadours passing on their version of the news to painters holding a mirror up to society, not to mention playwrights and poets using the spoken and written word to vilify oppressors. It is better to have the art out there causing those difficult thoughts and feelings than sitting complacently watching the world unfold. It’s even better to have the hate filled jingoistic shit that passes for patriotism these days out there so you can identify the oppressors.

There really is a right and wrong, it is wrong to be intolerant of others rights and to oppress other human beings, it is lacking in intelligence to refute the evidence of science and it is unforgivable in this time globally to be silent and not heard. History is full of the enlightened being ground down and silenced, this however may be the first time since the fall of the Roman Empire when the circuses and distractions have worked to keep the people apathetic.

As Ray Davies said:

The Roman promoters really did things right.
They needed a show that would clearly excite.
The attendance was sparse so they put on a fight
Threw the Christians to the lions, sold out every night

In a vain effort to regulate, its important that the evening listening begins with an album that starts with the immortal cry of the rocker. 1.2.3.4. It better for our cities to be in flame with rock’n’roll than hate and intolerance.

Anyway thanks for your patience with the rant.

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Tele…

Looking like an escapee from the Osmond’s or a passing car salesmen it is hard to acknowledge that Jerry Donahue is the string bending king of the telecaster.

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Go on take a look but don’t blame me if you become befuddled and confused about 10 seconds in.

I have loved Jerry’s playing since I first saw him live with Fairport Convention in the eighties at Cropredy and on the albums he made with them in the 70’s. His work in Fotheringay and with Sandy Denny is well amazing.  Some regret Richard Thompson leaving the band but I really think Jerry was the best guitar player they ever had, hitting all the right notes from folk to blues and country, he is in my opinion a more versatile player than Thompson.

One of the great sadnesses for me was at last years Cropredy celebrating 50 years of the band that Jerry did not appear as he had a stroke in 2016.  Every so often I pull this album out and sit back and remember why I do not play guitar and why some people do.

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This year I am going to work on my pictures. Well next time I will I am going all artsy.

why why why…

I was in the mood for a little chaos other than the constant roar of the news.

The solution, The Woodentops with Live Hypno Beat which simultaneously sounds fresh and like every concert I went to in the 80’s that was not metal. Screaming guitars, shuffling drums and shouty lyrics. A lot of fun to jump around too without thinking too much. Actually sounds like every metal concert I went to as well, maybe it was the clothes that were different.

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The down side of the Woodentops for me was that Morrisey liked them, this is why it has taken me so many years to truly appreciate the cacophony that is Live Hypno Beat. It’s better than the Trumpian Paradigm I am living right now.

“There is no proof of anything.”

Thus is the new world ushered in.

Its a lot better to jump up and down and shout lyrics into the night to clashing guitars and insistent drumming than trying to translate the voters pamphlet even though I cannot vote.

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.