“it’s late and I want to listen to Klaus…”

In my younger more Bohemian days as I would try and stay whatever course there was to stay I had a friend who’s couch I would seek out on occasion, especially if things were getting too heady in my world.

She would never lock me out and always had such lovely cooling towels to place on my fevered brow. I would sit there or lay there and drink tea and talk too much. Tea was always Earl Grey with lemon and in china tea cups with shortbread. The room was generally dimly lit, often with a turquoise scarf draped over the lamp.

At some point she would groan and mutter the immortal lines, “it’s late and I want to listen to Klaus…” Then she would turn off the lights, light the candles and make me lay very still on the floor. Usually I would at some point in the rhythmic, melodic world of Klaus Schulze fall asleep or at least quieten down enough to allow her to to rest.

In the morning there would be eggs and beans and toast, and a hug as I left for the next adventure.

There are some people who may be contemporary but appear to be wiser more worldly and with more grace than we are. In my kitchen cupboard there is a plain white china tea cup she gave me when we left for the USA, occasionally I take it down when my world has got too heady for me, put a cool cloth on my forehead and sip Earl Grey with lemon.

So whenever I play Klaus Schulze it is at night, and somewhere in my subconscious I get the lingering smell of patchouli, candle wax and henna and Earl Grey tea. There is the rustle of cotton skirts in the mix and the clink of a china tea cup on a saucer.

At some point as I sat here on the eve of December I had the thought, “it’s late and I want to listen to some Klaus…” so I did. This evening it was Cyborg.

and we’d like to make a contact with you…

My Mum loved the Carpenters. She could sing along to just about every song on every album. She owned the discography of three artists and the Carpenters were one of the esteemed three.

She did however insist on lifting the needle on the Passage album before the end. That final song was a stepping stone too far for her. It was just too odd. As a child I was not allowed near the Pye radiogram, even though I was a worldly 11 years old when this piece of furniture came into our collective lives. I was promised that I could touch it one day bit until then I had to seek approval for my listening choices from my parents, of course this was a major purchase for a working class family in the day and to be treated with reverence.

This is not the actual radiogram that is long gone to the stereo heaven in the sky.

Once I reached 12 I was given lessons in how to properly operate this portal to another world. I was however limited to my parents listening choices at the time. And that mysterious track on the end of side 2. of the passage album remained out of reach while I was so closely monitored.

The first time after these lessons and I was left alone in the house it was time to discover what that secret last song on the Passage album was. Suddenly I was confronted with Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft. Strings, choirs, horns and guitar solos along with Karen Carpenters voice and well sci-fi music, next stop outer space.

As an only child I did not have siblings to confront me with their music, all I had was my parents taste and the odd smatterings I got when I visited the neighbors or got to see occasionally on television on Saturday mornings. I did live quite a sheltered life and the joys of music from left field was about to open up to me, this was after all the time when the rest of the world was discovering punk rock and my brain was being expanded by The Carpenters cover of an odd Klaatu track.

we had joy we had fun…

In the dim and distant past I used to frequent a heavy metal bar on Wood St. in Liverpool called the Wilsons. It’s long gone and in the minds of most forgotten. It was however formative in my early years, not only because it was the type of place a fifteen/sixteen year old was guaranteed to be able to get a drink but they had one of the two greatest juke boxes in the history of 80’s metal bars. All the greats were on there, Motorhead, Sabbath, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Focus(go figure) and lurking somewhere amongst all this heady music was Terry Jacks and Seasons in the Sun.

For some reason me and my friends managed to become attached to this song, maybe more to do with the mayhem that ensued when it inevitably turned up on the jukebox at deafening volume. I have since learned it was voted one of the worst pop songs ever recorded. I think that may be an overstatement, I am however going to admit to not having listened to it in a long time.

I have no idea beyond it’s sentimentality why this connected with us, we would bellow along to the lyrics at the top of our voices before being deposited none too gently in the gutters outside the bar for putting this offending song on amidst the NWOBHM fare that normally was being played. Maybe it was the irony of this song in this place at this time, a song that at that time was close to ten years old managing to hang out on a jukebox that was devoted to Metal in a bar that to a teenager seemed dangerous and edgy. In reality I am sure it was an incredibly safe and accepting environment for me and my gang of geeky metalheads to soak up the ambience of the day.

The song had started off as a Jacques Brel song of a man dying from a broken heart and his farewell to his best friend his priest and his wife who had betrayed him.

Rod McKuen rewrote it and managed to eliminate the angst and passion from the song, It was recorded with Terry Jacks and the Beach Boys and eventually abandoned by them, Jacks took it on himself at this point and realized the saccharine joy we have today.

I am not going to pretend that this is anything other than a sentimental choice based on the reaction this had with the to me at the time large behemoths of the metal lifestyle in the bar. For a while it became our theme tune and we would relentlessly play it on every jukebox we came upon in our travels, even today of I can bellow along to all the lyrics at the drop of a hat and it has become my karaoke tune of choice, people are often overwhelmed by the sappiness of the song and miss out on the awfulness of the singing.

Maybe next time I will treat them to Le Moribund…


I was going to rock, I really was, I was going to roll, it was going to be glorious.

I stood there looking at my choices, and ended up playing Reflection by Brian Eno, fifty four minutes of ambient bliss. It’s not rocking though. in fact it may be the antithesis of rocking.

There’s a certain irony to owning an L.P. of a piece of generative music, as it is fixed, it can never generate. Apparently the streaming version changes seasonally, I have no idea about that as I have not streamed it, there is also an app that is thirty plus dollars that provides endless variations, again I don’t have that and at that price may never.

So what do I have?

I am not going to even pretend to be able to truly get what is going on. I read all these reviews that go into all sorts of details about why and how Reflection is important, maybe the most important of Eno’s ambient albums. How Eno feels it is the closest to his vision, you do however get the idea that the generative iOs app is what he is talking about here not the snapshot the album is.

I do know that if you feel the need to sit for awhile and just listen without interacting with the world then this is the finest piece of music to do that to. The other thing is you essentially get two double albums, the record is supposed to be played at 45rpm, it is however just as valid a listen at 33 and 1/3rd revolutions.

It is however truly beautiful and captivating and compelling at any speed.

It is also impossible for me to photograph, mainly because of the damn reflection.

People with greater skills than me will do a better job of this I am sure.

it was an act of treason…

Let’s celebrate America, land of the free, home of the brave and cowardly all at the same time. The place of rugged individualism and leaning towards the need to be governed by the bully.

I am not going to even claim to understand what is going on in the White House these days, hopefully one day soon we can get back to some semblance of normal. I am going to gamble on the hope that common sense and tradition will win in the end once the votes are counted, the legal battle is over and the peoples will is heard. I am concerned about the future of a society that is dictated so deeply by tradition and veneration of the founders who’s ideals may be admirable, and who’s values were constrained and based on their own time and place. No sane 21st century person would necessarily want to live in the 16th, 17th, 18th or 19th centuries, yes you may want to play dress up for awhile and then drive home via the drive thru to your home that is warm and safe and free of vermin. Let’s face it we barely made it out of the 20th century and there is significant concerns about making it all the way through this century let alone future centuries.

In 1992 I drove through Central Oregon to a soundtrack that included a cassette of Into the Great Wide Open by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Including the attention cassette listeners moment, describing how to prepare your cassette for side 2. It’s still one of my most favorite places to visit and the people out there are shall we say on the conservative side, and some of the most generous and helpful people you may meet which always shocks me considering their love for the orange turd.

Now I am sure this is not Tom’s best album, I hear that designation is saved for Wildflowers, however it is the album that makes me happy. Jeff Lynne managed to invest it with a sound that is uplifting and manages to capture that sunny California jangle that is so infectiously positive.

Being on those wide open high desert roads with the glaring sunshine and the wide open spaces ahead and behind is captured by the album.

“A red wing hawk is circling, the blacktop stretches out for days…”

It’s an album that is unified in its vision of wide open spaces, rock and roll as a salvation of sorts, some jangle, some distortion, big chords and a sing along working class chorus.

There is also something to be said for singing Built to Last driving at 55 miles an hour on a straight desert road with the love of your life in a jeep with the roof and doors off in the sunshine. It’s the American Dream man, until you have to drive back home along the same highway at night when the temperature has dropped and it’s sub-zero with the wind chill, of course that’s both sides of the American Dream right there I guess.


Sometimes you have to just lay down and let it wash over you.

Like most people I have been glued to my news outlet of choice waiting in quiet desperation for the result to be announced. Like most people I am somewhat shocked at the squealing and squawking going on and the tantrums of outlandish proportions.

As panacea I reached for something calming, repetitive and soothing. The loops and drones and ambient guitar wash of Fripp and Eno. It’s the type of music that holds you enthralled and engaged without intruding, it’s restful and resting.

Once I was realigned I was ready to reach for the remote control and turn on Live From Daryl’s House, which was featuring Cheap Trick and made my day:

ambition makes you look pretty ugly…

It’s the day/night before the election and I am restless and worried and sitting up late again.

It’s been a trying couple of days as we race into the maelstrom that is the US election. Every day I drive home past the Trump signs and blue lives matter flags and the NRA flags and the other symbols of conservative rural America. Then there are the yards with nothing next to the road and you have to wonder, what their thoughts are and what their hopes are and what they want to say but don’t.

I’ve been driving home listening to OK Computer, the strange unearthly album adding a soundtrack to the political signs and flags. The cityscape turning to the rural lands of horses, cows, the stands selling flowers, berries and eggs. The strange insistence on organic next to the signs for the great enabler of pollution. I listen to the detached vocals and somehow this most difficult of albums for me has become an old friend as I feel alienated in my own skin in the land I have come to love. The foreboding bass and textures of the album are almost comforting in this alien landscape. The lyrics are fragile and difficult to discern, the music at times discordant and beautiful.

It’s not an album I have been attached to until this year. I have heard it countless times and nodded off to it on many a flight as I tried to come to terms with it. I have arguments with people who claim it is it’s generations Darkside of the Moon, I have agreed with them saying like that album it is overrated. Then things clicked and it all makes sense and it becomes the album to play. I can at times hear Queen, the Kinks and all those other great British bands, cynicism and story telling and complaining over a cup of tea, “this is what you’ll get” after all.

Of course Electioneering is perhaps resonating strongly in this melange of thought I am having, “I will stop, I will stop at nothing.” Prescient maybe or just a reflection of the times, who knows but you make what you will when you make it at the end of the day. So 2020 was the year I finally got the album, Luke will be happy and hopefully tomorrow we will all wake up to something better.

On some level I want normal back. I am however after 12 years of this not really remembering what normal is. I say 12 years because this really all began with the election of a black man and the opposition from the Tea Party, this led to birtherism and then we got Trump. I never really believed that racism was so deep that parts of this country could not accept that a black man was president.

I now however know that racism is so ingrained that in our society it will take work to reduce it. Fox, Limbaugh, McConnell and Graham, Tucker Carlson, the Republican Party and their ilk are desperately holding on to power as much as they can. We keep being pushed into the position that we are attempting to convince these people they are wrong. The truth is we can’t do that, we have to confront them day in and day out and be relentless, the fight is worthwhile. They won’t agree but we can force them into silence and make them irrelevant.

I am with Noam Chomsky about Trump, he is the worst criminal the world has seen. https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/noam-chomsky-believes-trump-is-the-worst-criminal-in-human-history

In short it took a pandemic that is almost endless it seems, a constant state of anxiety, wildfires, windstorms and riots to make me sit still long enough to listen, go figure.