meet me in the ocean we’ll leave this old highway behind…

And the heavens did open and dumped a flood on us.

This was about 10a.m.

I did however find where the bridge had gone eventually, I just couldn’t get to it. Hopefully when the waters recede we can figure it out.

So we have had windstorm, wild fire evacuation and flood and there was a landslide on the road. I do not however have any Earth Wind and Fire to play so Freewhelin’ Bob Dylan may do?

I hate to say there’s not much else that can happen because there is still snow and ice to come.

I would have taken more pictures but I got too involved in digging drainage and hauling sandbags, building a dam, clearing drainage ditches and standing in water for hours, I am as we may say knackered now.

Back to the record. It’s apocalyptic, full of stone cold classics and well a bit angry at times. Fierce strumming strident harmonica and a good dose of self righteousness. How did I forget I had this sitting in a box in all its mono glory.

Of course there is A Hard Rains-A-Gonna Fall. Which may be why I thought about this tonight who knows.

Just remember, “don’t think twice it’s alright” as the floodwaters rise. The creek almost came knocking on the back door. This was about noon today.

Then there was the Dylan.

pouring concrete spew where once were fields…

Remember the days when you had like five records or so total and knew them all by heart?

The database thingy just informed me I have in excess of 1800 albums, of course there are some duplicates that I catalog as well. Well the database didn’t tell me, I just looked. As far as I know it does not talk.

I mention this because it has become necessary to buy another shelf. I am not lucky enough to have a designated space/room for my records, I also have a very understanding wife, this means the record collection is the major decorative item in the living room. I have also recently been thinking I should do something about all those CD’s in boxes in the shed. There really has to be a limit on some level to how much music I can bring into the living room, there is now overflow into the bedroom as well.

I opened a box today and discovered a Bay City Rollers album. I have no idea why I thought this was a good idea to buy, or the David Essex album sitting next to it.

I also scroll through and look at the alleged prices of the records and wonder how we got here. Someone once told me they are worth what you would pay for them.

I guess I understand they are to some extent collectors items, they did however used to be items to enjoy by playing not just curating. I belong to a facebook group about playing records, people take pictures of their records and post them. A recent development has been people taking pictures of their sealed records that they are just collecting, somewhere out there is someone who is not listening to a record because someone is hoarding it to take a picture of it. How we have fallen as a species?

I discovered I had forgotten I had a copy of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, see this is the problem, too much shit, or is there ever too much? It’s okay to have a hobby and I think I have listened to the majority of them, maybe not the Rollers yet!

Then I hit the freaking motherlode of shame and panic buying, yes count them eight Bevis Frond albums, all sealed up and sitting there never played. I have actually become the festive consumer and I am about to consume the feast in all it’s lysergic brain fried excellence.

Then in another box two Porcupine Tree albums, still sealed, what is actually wrong with me was the thought I had as I tried to figure out how these albums ended up in a box on the bedroom floor never played.

I am not going to take a picture of these albums all sealed up, I am going to take the time split the seal and sit down and take some time to listen.

It may be time to think about admitting I may have a problem.

Tonight though I a going to spend some time with The Bevis Frond and take the time to enjoy London Stone. Careering between stoner mayhem and power pop balladry via some folky introspection and a little power trio foot on the fold back monitor mayhem. Thank the heavens for Nick Saloman and his tasty guitar noodlery to remind us all that you can still have fun in rock ‘n’ roll. Plus he got Barry Dransfield to play on the record.

like a druid in the old days…

Tyrannosauruses Rex, the cult band that went pop and became T. Rex.

I remember hunching over a record player with my cousin Tony as he explained to me how great the single Ride A White Swan. I must have been about 5 or 6 I had not idea what was going on, the lyrics never really ever made sense but it was so different from the other things I was hearing at home with my folks. Sometime after this Tony’s mum banned rock music in their house. My aunt has some, shall we say troubles.

This resulted in Tony keeping all of his records at our house and a whole world of music opening up to me. He would walk over most days from his house to sit in our dining room and play records and do his homework and help me with maths. My parents were pretty liberal with what they allowed to be played most of the time as long as there was melody and you could understand the words, sometimes they got tired of the weird shit, they had no reason other than it was tough to listen to. They often felt this way about their favorite bands/artists, they were equal opportunity intolerants.

Three things I knew. I wanted a tall hat, long hair and a tattooed gown. Anything less was going to be unsatisfactory.

All I managed in the end was the long hair, hats were a thing I have never really come to terms with wearing.

low flying panic attack…

Sometimes I wish it was the twentieth century again.

Usually late at night when things are quiet. Right now the Christmas tree lights are flickering in the gloom and it is quiet, apart from the records playing low.

This is not a nostalgia thing, I am very content with my life, my relationship, my children, grandchild and the dog. We live in a bucolic paradise when not being threatened by wildfires, Covid and the marauding gun toting neighbors and right now the mud, mud everywhere.

It just seemed that the twentieth century was just a bit simpler in many ways. The internet had not exploded itself all over life, video calls were the stuff of science fiction and Donald Trump was properly identified as a failed business man holding on desperately to celebrity.

This was supposed to be one of those round up the year type posts. I am going to give it a go.

The year started off with a sense of hope and a deep dive into the shallow end of Krautrock, at some point a pandemic happened and the US government under the sway of a failed businessman, serial bully and probable abuser completely fucked up the response by pretending that because you said something would end it would. The population became overwhelmed by the constant lying and pretty much gave up. Dr Fauci looked perturbed, we all felt his sense of hopelessness in the face of stupidity.

I had a good time early pandemic with Kraftwerk, Harmonium. Neu and Faust, with large doses of Klaus and Tangerine Dream.

Mid pandemic Radiohead became pretty important from a listening perspective, avoiding the first two albums for no reason at all as summer faded towards the election Kid-A and O.K. Computer became essential listening while driving and sitting at home wondering what the fuck was happening. A Moon Shaped Pool became a solid favorite and some time was spent watching live videos of the band on Youtube for a hot minute. Thom Yorke however became distracting and your correspondent returned to the albums. I still have not braved Hail To The Thief although Amnesiac was a shock and surprise, I had not paid enough attention to Radiohead to know the album was recorded alongside Kid-A.

As we entered the final quarter of the year the Stones suddenly rose like a megalithic beast from the depths, after years of Beatles loyalty I bought my first Stones record. Now I owned three or four prior to the but they had been given to me and I had a great London Years CD collection. Exile on Main St. led to a cavalcade of Stone age vinyl flooding through the doors. I have still yet to manage to digest this in any meaningful manner.

As the election faded in glory and I realized at least forty percent of the country believed the orange baboon had actually won and supported his attempted coup I had a moment of despair. This coincided with my re-discovering the glories of This Mortal Coil from the ravaged vestiges of my 80’s wild life. More on that as I get my head around things. All I can think is that we have to hold our breath to get to the point of new leadership and hopefully the idiot in chief will be thwarted from his attempt to dismantle anything wholesome left in this country, drain the swamp indeed. I am horrified at the lack of moral fiber the Republican party has shown and the willingness to pander to the lowest common denominator of it’s leadership and membership.

The pandemic has shown how fragile this society is, how can the richest country in the world have the level of sickness, hunger and infant mortality it does? It has also shown how craven this society is as people hold on to their own shit, more people die every day than on 9/11 and the fucktards in the street will not even wear a mask as it impinges on their freedoms?

Anyway it was a year, I listened to some records, got angry, got frustrated, got maudlin, wrote some crap and even some stuff I thought was okay, called my mum every day and walked the dog I tried to be kind to the people I live with. I grew some tomatoes and survived.

Some other stuff happened along the way, some was good, some was upsetting, some was just plain weird.

Thats the look this year gets.

Sometimes I wish it was the twentieth century again.

I’ll come running to tie your shoe…

I remember the room, it was mostly yellow walls, the woodwork was all a deep blue, and the floor was in its natural state, you could see the grain of the hard wood. There was a red oriental style rug and a variety of cushions. There was low coffee table the legs had been sawn off to bring it almost to floor level. The coffee table was filled with ash trays, tea cups, candles and an incense burner. There was cheese and fruit on a willow pattern plate that matched the cups. The room was a bedsit on the third floor of a terrace of house with a view of Phythian Park.

The road begins somewhere as Liverpool Rd, along the way it becomes Prescot rd and then Kensington, or the A57, if you go the other way it ends as Manchester Rd. I suppose if you are technical. Five names for one road.

She smiled as she inhaled on her cigarette, red lips black hair and oh so pale skin as she leaned one hand on her forehead peering through her fringe . We had known each other since primary school and still just met. Her hands were stained with paint and her clothes a black cotton boiler suit had red blue and yellow paint smears all over as well as clumps of clay drying. Her Docs leaned against each other in the corner woolen socks poking out, she stretched her toes out as the music played as if to enjoy the freedom.

It was dark outside and raining and if you looked out the window you would see the No. 10 bus pass eventually and if the window was open smell the chips, kebabs and other fried food drifting up from street level. The traffic lights, illuminated signs and brake lights shone on the tarmac streets. There was a buzz. You went one way and you were in town, the other end of the road lay Manchester.

We had met by chance on Kensington in a dingy used record store I have forgotten the name of now. It was an accidental meeting. I had got off the bus and was going to walk into town, stop at as many record stores as I could and get a drink and ride the bus or train home. It would have been a long walk, but I couldn’t then and if given the same chance today now imagine a better afternoon.

I saw her leafing through the albums and I instantly recognized her, we had walked home from school almost every day together buying sherbet at Harry’s and laughing. Then we had each gone to different schools and life had moved on. I stood still not really knowing what to do.

At one point we had pledged undying love as only 10 year olds can, I think it was after the Easter assembly when we all had to dress up, me in my black slacks white shirt and tie, she in a cacophony of frills and white lace. We held hands through mass and walked to the dining hall together. She was skilled with her knife and fork, I was less so, food spilling off the plate as I ate and slurping custard. She was indulgent of my lack of manners as I went for seconds, encouraging me to use a napkin at least, then doing it for me when I didn’t.

As I stood in the doorway she looked up and smiled and waved and mumbled my name. Stained black boiler suit docs, donkey jacket and black hair clutching two records. She cocked her head and beckoned to me, a wave, hesitant would I remember?

Tea? It’s a question really, it spoke paragraphs.

For a moment my eyes were drawn from her green eyes to the albums in her hand, I am a shallow sort and at that time judged people by their music choice much more than I do now, well I like to think that’s true. I couldn’t tell, some sort of white album and what looked like a topographic map.

Sure why not tea?

We talked it had been 9 years maybe 8. A lot to catch up, schools and O’ Levels and A’ Levels and not going to college and going to college, loneliness heartache gigs and so much. We discovered we had been in the same circles almost, at the same gigs, shows, festivals and theaters and pubs. We had no friends in common.

Eventually as these things do we ended up in the pub. Surrounded by middle aged men fresh from work with their wives and girlfriends and friends, no music just conversation. Shouting about football and politics. Frosted glass on the windows, the room filled with smoke, the sweet smell of brown ale and bitter beer and the occasional whiskey or gin. The lighting was that mid 80’s nicotine yellow, we stood in the bar and she was known by the locals, they waved and smiled and asked what she was working on? She smiled and laughed and said “oh nothing of importance.” They called her lazy and layabout and bought her drinks.

At some point we fell out of the door into the rain. It was early, in those days last orders being 10:30pm. Arm in arm we staggered along Kensington, laughing in the rain. The busses occasionally pushed water from the gutter onto the pavement so even the sober had a bit of zig and zag going on. There was the glow of alcohol and friendship and a past half remembered.

We climbed the stairs, me pushing her up, she pulling me along, who knew really who was in the lead.

At the top of the stairs there was tea, biscuits, cheese and more laughter and conversation. She had a cheese knife and a board and a little glass cover for the cheese. The fruit was sliced and the bottle of red wine opened and left unattended.

Then the records came out. She had not heard them but liked the covers, she knew Roxy Music but had never heard Eno. I had heard Eno but not these two.

In the street glow we danced to St Elmo’s Fire and swayed. During I’ll Come Running she punched me and laughed and stared into my eyes. “Let’s make a promise? Friends!” and she held up her pinky and we pinky swore: friends.

Later we lay on the floor and listened to Ambient 2. staying still, feeling the music. Holding hands and comforted by each others presence in the moment.

For the next 6 or 7 years we talked every week. I would turn up on her door when things got different in my life. She would call for me to go over when she was struggling with a project. I would admire the strange shit she made, the paintings and ceramics and the reconstituted artifacts. She made a living making jewelry and occasionally sold her art. Other times she worked in the chip shop, once she was in a band as the dancer but couldn’t stand the attention.

I asked her about all the big decisions in life, should I learn to drive. should I drop out of college, is social work real work, does god exist, should I get married and would she meet the woman in question? She never judged and she never really gave an opinion about any of those things apart from the social work one and she met the woman I loved and intended to marry and I got the seal of approval.

Then I moved to the USA, we stay in touch, it’s not a sad story.

She still does her art, she now writes poetry, she still lives in the same general area. Some days I wish I could knock on her door when things get too much. She usually calls Michelle more than me these days, although I am allowed to take part. Every time we go home we knock on her door. We still have no friends in common and thats a choice.

The records?

I played them both today and this is what came to mind.

It’s hard to find a friend that means it.

it’s the kiss of death…

My mum had the discography of three artists, Carepenters and Miss Shirley Bassey plus one other that is a none surprise.

Shirley Bassey oozed, fun, joy and sexuality at a time when life was simpler, she was also from Wales so that makes her naturally super talented and amazing.

For most of the seventies I think my mum actually had Shirley Bassey’s haircut.

Christmas seemed to be Bond and Bassey for most of my childhood, we had to avoid the Sound of Music somehow.

So not only is Shirley Bassey from Wales she is also incredibly talented, funny, strong and sexy. She also manages to bring more drama and humor and pathos to a song while standing pretty much still in front of a microphone, go figure.