Neal and Jack and me…

Day 26, zero records bought!!!

Oh dear the Beats…

I am two thirds of the way through the scroll of On The Road. It has been a slow read mainly because of the dense nature of the writing, no paragraph or chapters, one long stream of consciousness. It’s an exhausting read.

I am however starting to lose empathy for Neal and Jack. Originally I was attracted by the great American adventure of crisscrossing the country, hitching, riding busses, jumping trains. It is an adventure that pervades my conscious and subconscious mind.

I have managed to get two thirds of the way cross country twice. Ending both times in Minnesota. Maybe that symbolic distance in my travels and in reading the book has caused this pause for thought. Maybe the eastern end of the mid-west is the eventual stopping point for me. That, if you believe the press, ultra-conservative slightly uneducated and less than liberal area of the world that the Newmerikan Prez calls his base. Populated by evangelicals and those supporting the Newmerika first agenda, if you believe the hype should be a scary place.

Reality is a little more messy than either side would like us to think. Believe me on the apparently super liberal west coast there are just as many asshats as anywhere else in the country.

Back to the book though. Neal and Jack cross the country destroying relationships and cars, getting messed up and generally treating everyone they meet including wives, friends and acquaintances as a means for their own hedonistic rush towards either coast. Damn, it is not the romantic “road” novel I thought it was. Neither are particularly pleasant characters, codependent and enabling each other to worse and worse behavior. No wonder all those critics concentrated on the construction of the novel, the myth of its writing and the breaking of boundaries and structures it has come to represent, rather than the actual story.

The time the book truly comes to life is in the description of music. The writing becomes wilder and looser, mimicking the bop music it is describing. Music drives Jack and Neal to higher and higher highs and worse and worse behavior, stealing cars, groping men and women, stealing money, booze and drugs.

I am currently not sure what to think. So I will take solace in Beat by King Crimson. Fripp and Belew and the boys screwing with your mind with strange rhythms, clashing guitars and stream of consciousness lyrics. Beat was supposedly loosely based on the Beat Generation and released around an anniversary of On The Road so it makes sense. I am not going to even think I am capable of describing what is going on on this album.

In the scroll Kerouac describes bop musicians honking and snorting and howling and sweating and leaping. Music is a physical activity involving sweat and blood, it is an experience between musician and audience when there is always another level to reach. Beat has always been that album to me by Crimson, it is guttural and funny and immediate and dangerous and organized and unpredictable. Fripp in the heart of the storm that his band creates. Let’s be honest, Fripp may be the least visible presence in Crimson and everything that happens is at his behest. They are a band led by a dictator, no consensus to be achieved, everything is directed, even the anarchy.

I started this post a week ago. Since then I finished the On The Road Scroll. It ended mid-sentence and I have to admit I did not read the reconstructed last few pages. I like the thought that it ended with a scrawled note that the dog ate the end of the scroll. It is the ultimate lazy student excuse.

I am two days away from the end of the thing, no record buying in February,. Several records arrived by mail that I bought in January and they arrived this month. I feel that this has invalidated the purge. I have also like an old junkie been perusing Discogs, eBay and Amazon, planning the next fix. I sometimes have dazedly felt I was infiltrating a chapter of Gabor Maté’s In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts.

There are now considerable gaps in the to be played shelves. I have managed to enjoy a large amount of music I had bought and not heard, maybe, that is the ultimate outcome enjoying the music I have as opposed toe the constant search for what I don’t have.

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’cause all they’ve got to give you is poverty…

Day 15 and zero records bought.

5 records arrived in the mail though, apparently I bought them a long time ago, like in January.. I am not sure how I feel about this with the current project, maybe project is too grand a word, thing is probably better. Either way I am not too sure how I feel about the impact on the thing.

It is Friday and I usually stroll downtown, past the vintage jean store and the courthouse and the old bridge and stop in at the newly minted used record store. Not today though I am going to climb in the car and drive home without the usual stack of vinyl to be cleaned up and played eventually. Of course sometimes that can take months to actually get to the point of playing them.

I Like fiddles and acoustic guitars and concertinas and songs that make you smile and songs that make you dance and laugh and cry and think and forget and wonder what the fuck is going on. I like electric guitars as well. If you add all that up and shake it real hard and throw it on the floor with a good singer you sometimes end up with something really good if not brilliant. Then you find out one person played all the instruments and you just wonder how there is any justice in the world.

Painted Lady is Jon Boden’s first solo album. It’s a pretty good one. If you like well written songs and the occasional overdriven guitar then it’s a good one. If you want your folk-rock with a finger in the ear and no sense of drama or humour you may not like it. In the words of Dave Swarbrick one evening over a bottle of Port and a fiddle tune, ” the music will get rid of the riff-raff or the deaf.”

Let’s just be honest, folk music fans like jazz fans can have a tendency to get a little precious. It’s all dance music after all.

I was looking at the big sky…

Day 13, zero records bought.

Today I had to drive past my favorite thrift store, it’s kind of tucked out of the way on Highway 99E in Canby. It usually has a pretty good haul as it’s in a little for now small town. The ladies volunteering in there move the records around a lot, I have no idea why, sometimes they are in a crate under a sewing table, other times in a corner by the shoes, occasionally by the door. They are almost guaranteed to be nowhere near the CD’s or DVD’s, it’s as if they are no longer a relevant media.

With the utmost self control I drove by on the way to the police department where I would be observing a restorative justice conference. As i sat in the uncomfortable chair in what usually serves as the municipal courtroom I felt a little sad. A trip to this town would normally provide two or three records to take home clean and place in the to be played stack. Instead I would because I had the need to prove I was not a slave to habit be driving home with nothing but the pizza for dinner.

So tonight I sat down to spend some time with Kate Bush and Hounds of Love. I found this in that little thrift store awhile ago. I had never owned or listened to this before, I was aware of the singles in the 80’s, I was however more interested in discovering psychedelia at the time than pop music of the time, regardless of how revolutionary it may have been. This may be why The Dreaming was my favorite Kate Bush album, just because that was the last I bought.

I spent many years trying to dismiss Kate Bush as frivolous and pop, and then when I finally pulled my head out of my own ass she had disappeared to look after her own life. It actually took a move to the USA for me to admit I enjoy pop music, go figure if you can, don’t however tell any of my heavy metal, punk friends or other marginalized musical sub-sets.

I am actually having some sort of panic attack thinking about the numbers of records I am missing out on with this ridiculous decision of mine.

honey gonna call your name..

Day 12, zero records bought.

Todays listening, well the baby wanted to dance so we began with Crush by Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark. It’s poppy and fun and good enough to jig around the house with the baby. It also has a pretty classy cover marred by the $5.99 sticker on the front. It’s on the shrink wrap so maybe I should take it off so I can fully enjoy that retro meets modern cover. Now I am not going to say that the album was memorable but it was fun.

So halfway through the day I got a text of a bunch of Echo and the Bunnymen albums sitting on the rack at the thrift store. I did not however set off to buy anything I exercised some self-control sat down and took some deep breaths. Of course I also new the miscreant who texted me had bought the albums. Filled with a sense of well being and superiority I continued with my no records bought plans.

The evening wore on and it was time for Taj Mahal. Recycling the Blues & Other Related Stuff. There is something about a Taj Mahal record that will make you smile. Maybe it is that side 1. starts with a conch and moves on to a kalimba, there are banjos and guitars and smiles galore until you end with a conch Side 2. opens with tubas and other fun and to top it all off the Pointer Sisters, what is not to love.

The front cover is a truly happy picture of Taj and Mississippi John Hurt smiling as if they had no cares in the world.

So this evening alone just with Taj Mahal I have covered, soul, reggae, rock and the blues. Throughout it all has been a pervading sense of joy at the creation of music.

I have only really listened to Taj Mahal for the last two years so. Maybe it took that long to be able to manage to come to terms with his breadth of work and the genres he seems to cross at will, he is not just a blues player or soul musician he is a force. Reclaiming songs others would not touch at times.

My favorite this evening has been this album. Genre hopping and mixing it up on every track.

This not buying records really makes you play what you have, it is somewhat exciting to start to see gaps appearing in the to be played shelves. It’s also better to sit here listening than to watch CNN.

if the river was whiskey…

Day 11 part 2, zero records bought.

No shakes, chills or other adverse affects to be noticed. I did spend way too much on Neil Young tickets though, well it is a solo acoustic show in a small theater. Well worth the expense I think, me and the youngest will enjoy it I am sure.

To celebrate I searched for Songs for Judy, bought on release and getting it’s first outing today. I think I have had a copy of the bootleg before, wonderful stoney performance of the acoustic tracks from the 1976 tour. Cameron Crowe really did a nice job on the collection in the dim past. The only problem is it’s only half of the story, the electric set from ’76 needs the same treatment. It is however Neil Young doing what he does well, some nice tunes played acoustically, the ’76 electric set however was a mean machine. However we will have to wait on it, the same way we have to wait for the Ragged Glory Deluxe effort with the missing feedback.



After this it was time to head for the blues with Taj Mahal. Taj has a way with music, he seems to live and breath music, all sorts of music and on this his first album he is reveling in the blues, not the psychedelia that 1967 expected but the down and dirty blues and then there is Ry Cooder playing mandolin on a blues album. Still fresh and exciting and full of piss and vinegar to this day. You can’t miss the irony of the Song of the South style birds and butterflies surrounding Taj as he plays in front of the condemned house

so baby pack your leaving trunk…

Zero records bought.

Two Neil Young Tickets bought.

As 1537 pointed out I never said if this album was actually any good.


The question that needs to be answered before that one however is. Do you have a deep appreciation for songs involving drinking, drug taking, womanizing, being cheated on, cheating on, stealing, police brutality, hippies, going up the country, do you sit in awe at harmonica playing and guitar solos, ultimately however have you always wanted to boogie to the Fried Hockey Boogie?

If the answer to any of those questions was a yes then Boogie with Canned Heat is for you.

Take the plunge, the album opens with the most serious bass line that Lemmy only hoped he could ever write and then proceeds to tell tales of woe, joy, how to drink turpentine, get lost in the country and deal with all sorts of no good backstabbing individuals. It also ends with Fried Hockey Boogie that hits a groove and then grooves and slithers it’s way through 11 minutes or so of boogie and soloing. It’s a gritty dirty album that will also make you smile.

John Lee Hooker loved them, Dr. John wrote the charts for the horn section and this is the album that provided the opening track for the Woodstock movie.

So is it good?

Yes it is good.