Things Lou is Grateful For vol. 7: Jerry’s Full Catalog on Streaming Services

Once Upon A Stream

Today marks the 21st anniversary of Jerry Garcia’s death. 21 years. Kids born on this day are of legal drinking age. Can’t believe I was 15 years young or that the majority of the music he produced in his life was before my time. On the evening of what would have been his 74th birthday, August 1st, the nostalgia that has become customary for this time of year began to set in. The studio version of ‘Cats Under the Stars’ playing on the radio led to searching for more of his solo work on a streaming service and the resentments usually following the search about why there isn’t more ‘Jerry band’ on these services. This year I had pleasant surprise. As the Days Between (aka the days between Garcia’s birthday and the anniversary of his death) were set to begin his entire solo catalog was added to the Spotify/Apple music families. It does not get any more ‘music to my ears’ than this addition! Over the past nine days I’ve been listening to Jerry band pretty much nonstop with nothing less than a smile on my face. Below I’m listing my favorite new additions and I encourage any music-lovers out there to give one of these great shows a spin.

*one quick note…along with the official Jerry Garcia solo studio releases the Garcia/Saunders Keystone Compilations and the Garcia-Grisman recordings were already offered

Aug. 1st—-Jerry Garcia Band and Bob Weir/ Rob Wasserman: Fall 1989: The Long Island Sound

This is a one-two punch and going into the 1st of the month was the first release I gravitated to. Anything that had the words Fall 1989 and Jerry Garcia in it gets immediate recognition. It’s features the Melvin Seals and the Girls lineup (as I like to call it). Below I’m listing a popular Jerry solo song that made its way into the Dead catalog along with a Weir/Wasserman cut whose addition to this set should not even be overlooked…it may be the actual highlight. It’s sentimental nonetheless as Rob Wasserman succumbed to cancer a month ago and it’s nice to be able to celebrate one of the most underrated bass players of all-time.

Aug. 2—Jerry Garcia Collection vol.1: Legion of Mary

Didn’t really know what to do with this one here. The whole thing smokes. I’m actually linking a great show from this tour that I found via youtube but trust me…any Legion of Mary recording you find gets the job done. This is Jerry and his original partner in crime Merl Saunders at their finest.

Aug. 3—Garcia Plays Dylan

Nobody covers Bob Dylan like Jerry Garcia. This compilation opens with an early Garcia-Saunders collaboration. I drove around for about an hour the other day listening to this version of the Dylan classic: ‘It Takes A lot to Laught, It Takes A Train To Cry.’ Something about Garcia guitar and Merle’s keys hit me every damn time on this one.

Aug. 4—GarciaLive vol.6

The most recent Jerry release, another Merle Saunders collaboration, and another absolute must-hear. What more can I say.

Aug. 5—Shining Star

One of my favorite Jerry Garcia covers getting the recognition it deserves. This is later era Garcia band and the vocals of Gloria and Jackie really shine on this title track. Another track, albeit a more mellow one, I could listen to a hundred times in a row and never get tired of listening to it.

Aug. 6—Let It Rock: The Jerry Garcia Band

A mid era (post Merle/pre Melvin) JGB release. Two drummers played with Jerry primarily through the years. Ron Tutt (who was Elvis’s drummer) up to the Melvin years…David Kemper during the later Melvin years. In those bridge years Nicky Hopkins (who also played the Stones) was on keys. Of course…John Kahn was on bass all these years. I’ll get to him in a minute. My only comment about this wonderful release is: why the hell haven’t I ever heard this beauty.

Aug. 7—Pure Jerry: Coliseum Hampton 11-9-91

This show has the late era Jerry lineup with frequent Dead collaborator Bruce Hornsby accompanying them. Lot of great rare covers in this one: You Never Can Tell (C’Est La Vie), Ain’t No Bread in the Breadbox, and Bright Side of the Road. They’re all great however this encore below takes the cake!

Aug. 8—How Sweet It Is

When I saw this on stream, my heart jumped for joy. I remember buying this the day it was released in ’97 and along with ‘Don’t Let Go’ which was released several years later I’ve been spinning this one for years. Another example of Garcia covering Dylan but this time with his late era backing band.

August 9th—Pure Jerry 2.28.86 Jerry Garcia/John Kahn

Jerry in his purest form: on an acoustic guitar along with lifelong bass player John Kahn. I can find nothing more suitable on this day to honor his music. Here’s a video from that a show later in that year. As an added bonus I’m also linking the Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band set from Halloween ’87. All 3 will be playing on my stereo at some point today!

 

20 Years of ’12 Golden Country Greats’

The first time I heard Ween’s ’12 Golden Country Greats’ which on July 16th celebrates its 20th birthday: I felt a little heartbroken (which is a pretty ironic feeling to have considering this album is a great heartbreak album). I was in the middle of high school and had been anticipating the follow-up to ‘Chocolate and Cheese’ since the legendary album’s September 1994 release date. I had tuned in at that point and needed a new Ween release to help keep life a little weird. When we’re young we can be a little closed minded when it comes to art. At the time, this album felt like a cruel joke. A joke my adolescent 16 year old mind did not understand.

Maybe it was my South Jersey upbringing. To me the only country music I knew was pop country and I hated it (still do). As a child, I probably saw one maybe two if not all of these ‘Country Greats’ performing at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville during my family’s annual Summer Mexico road trips yet did not truly appreciate it (though the shows to my memory were amazing). Accessibility in my world toward the classic country I now hold sacred was close to impossible. I had no peers to point me in the musical direction of getting into artists like Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, even Gram Parsons. Little did I know, by making a country record, Ween was opening up a greater appreciation for this music in my young world. If this was their intention, they succeeded. If the only intention was making a damn good country record that has withstood the test of time, they succeeded at that too. ’12 Golden Country Greats’ has the same quality of any classic country tune, it never gets old.

Here’s to 20!!!

Below is a link and brief lyric recollection to each of the album’s 10 tracks. Enjoy—-

1.) I’m Holding You

For many years, waking up in a pull of vomit was not an uncommon occurrence. ‘I’m Holding You’ is a great ‘night-after’ song and by ‘night-after’ I don’t mean the kind of night you may find yourself bragging to your friends about. I’m talking about those nights where you’re “seein’ (or “trippin”)/the future, the past as I lay the present to waste” kind of nights. This song is made for the morning after those nights. It’s a good first song of the day kind of song and an even better opening song to an album which can now proudly carry the label of being considered a classic.

2.) Japanese Cowboy

If somebody can find me a line written over the past 20 years more country than ‘breakfast at Shoney’s for 2.99’ there’s a good chance you’ve never drove through the truck stop heartland in the 90’s.

3.) Piss Up A Rope

I’ve used the term: “up shit’s creek with a turd for a paddle” almost as many times as I’ve had this song on repeat while driving around feeling dejected about life. Being a firm believer in giving credit where credit is due, I will always chime in by saying something like: “it’s like the brownest band I know would say” or “like one of the greatest relationship anthems ever written states” however most people won’t know what I am talking about. Though for the few that do, it’s like meeting a long lost family member for the first time. The Boognish runs deep inside every member of the Brown Community.

4.) I Don’t Want To Leave You On The Farm

This track has grown on me over the years and become a very special song which carries a lot of meaning. The song mentions how we change over time (“corns turn brown leaves fall to the ground”) yet deep down inside there’s a piece of us that never changes (a “sound that sticks like glue”). The lyrics to the song on paper come across as sad however this sadness gets lost in the upbeat music being played to support them. A quick note, in an interview 5 years ago with the producer of the album, ‘Mr. Many Moods’ Ben Vaughn, he states that this is the only song Dean Ween plays lead guitar on. The guitar work is definitely enthusiast-worthy.

5.) Pretty Girl

The hoedown song. Before I saw the band live, in my mind, this song represented the time in a Ween concert where every guy would grab a girl that wanted to “roll and rock them” (or vice versa) and square dance in the middle of a dance circle. Judging by some of the altered states I’ve been in while attending a Ween concert, it may have very well been going on all along.

6.) Powder Blue

The infamous-missing Mohammed Ali sample with legendary country ‘greats’ playing in the background. It doesn’t get any Brown-er than that if you’re a Ween fan. These are the reasons having more access to music is very essential to the most dedicated music fans, the Mohammed Ali sample gives the somewhat nonsensical lyrics of the song a little more perspective by showing how in music you don’t know how good things will be when they go together unless you try (a quality Ween possesses which is the reason they’re one of my all time favorite bands).

7.) Mister Richard Smoker

If anybody is offended by this song you know nothing about where Ween is from and you probably aren’t gay or don’t know many gay people. New Hope, Pennsylvania has always been a very strong gay community and it prides itself on being one of the most historically gay-friendly towns on the East Coast. You also have to think about the circumstances surrounding the song. Two guys from New Hope going down to Nashville and recording a gay-pride country song over 20 years ago. Another example of Brown at its finest. To this day, the term “you’re an Ono yoker” is one of my favorite lines created by any artist.

8.) Help Me Scrape The Mucus Off My Brain

I Always crack up at the line “that Frenchman likes to party” and any time I see Gene Ween sing it he seems to also crack up. This one gets stuck in your head pretty easily. Especially when you’re the type of person that gets inside their heads every so often. Go figure!

9.) You Were The Fool

The one song on the album that sounds the least country and for some reason sounds like it would fit perfectly on every Ween album released after ’12 Country Greats.’ While the band has always prided themselves on fusing together many different styles of music, if you’re a fan like myself, it’s hard to deny how the band’s sound has evolved over time. This is right around the time the current 5-piece touring band was coming together making it no surprise that this is one of the songs from this album they have mastered in a live setting.

10.) Fluffy

I don’t think you can fully appreciate the magical intensity this song  brings until you see it performed live! What a way to close out any Ween show and what a final track to place on this timeless album. “Why you do it, Fluffy?”

 

 

 

 

 

Light In The Window

Every night I look
At a light in the window.
Try not to wonder

What’s goes on inside.
Is she sick, is she lonely
Is she having fun

Or is it a place where she
Hides? Should I honk my horn, tap
The glass, toss loose stones,

Or should I forget
About life, everything. Should
I drive off, go home,

Does she think I care
More about her or do I
Really care about

Not being alone.
Always thought I was the one
Stuck on the outside

Without any way
To get in until one day
I woke up to find

The light all along
Has been shining bright within.
It’s a good result

Of experience
You gain by getting to know
Someone over time,

Learning to live life
Not taking it for granted,
Try not to wonder.

Every night I look
At a light in the window.
Now I’m no longer

Looking from outside
For it provides light once lost
But found deep inside

My head where it shines
And it shines bright and it’s all
A result of life,

Of knowing, of pain,
And of her.

Lou’s Annual Phish Post vol. 2

Set the gear shift…

My current relationship with the band Phish involves popping on a show at around 3:30/4:00 o’clock in the morning, the ideal time in order to get the Second Set going by sunrise. Working over night is very surreal. My car’s a hot wheel driving through a model train set in those wee hours…hours when even the bums sleep. Who would’ve known. This morning around 3 am while sitting on the steps of the Ben Franklin Institute and staring at the Philadelphia World War I Memorial, it hit me: Phish has some great car/driving references in their songs. On the day where they open the first of a two night stand in Philly, I’ve decided to share them.

1.) Contact

Great metaphor about a love interest. I’ve always been a fan of this particular live version of the song. This was the first Phish song I liked. When I first heard the band it was on an episode of Beavis and Butthead where they were making fun of the music video for ‘Down With Disease.’ I remember listening to Hoist at a record store and not getting it. It wasn’t until stumbling upon the legendary Junta that I fell in love with this band. ‘Contact’ is a track from Junta and it perfectly expresses a personal favorite trait, how the band can be silly and serious at the same time.

2.) Driver

Another metaphor (most songs are) with nothing to do about driving but it’s hard not putting this one on the list since the song is called: ‘Driver.’ I always harass my brother to cover songs for me during his summertime weekly acoustic gig at the Dead Dog Saloon in Sea Isle City. This is one of those songs. Guess it may be kind of selfish to ask. I don’t think the drunk sing-a-long crowds would be too receptive of this rare masterpiece of a tune. I don’t even think your casual Phish fan would want this requested over most of the other five hundred or so songs you could request from the Vermont quartet’s catalog. I understand. Maybe it’s the context surrounding the request, if I wait for him to play a more serene environment like a Sunday Morning Pancake Breakfast or a Rural Wine Tasting there’s the possibility this request may work better. Who knows. It doesn’t take away from the fact that I’ll request it. This is one of my favorite songs of all-time. Period. If you want to understand my life, listen to the lyrics. And to my brother, the musician…if you’re reading this and you want to play a song for me…this is my number one request!

3.) Horn

I always love hearing the line about hanging “those nasty flyers on all the buildings in town.” There’s something very 90’s about it. Can you envision somebody doing that these days? I can’t. Just as much as I have a hard time thinking about coming of age in the early 90’s and wondering what life would be like if the social media of today was in existence.

4.) Possum

I drove down the road once and hit a possum. It was while joy-riding with some friends back in high school. There’s a good chance we were listening to this version on cassette while it happened. There’s a better chance we were getting stoned while we were listening. Now to harken my inner-Phish geekiness for a second, I remember Phish playing this song almost every show after they got back from their hiatus in ’09 and fans complaining about it. I never understood why they complained. This song is without a doubt a Phish Top 10-er. If Phish played this song every show, I’d be happy. This is a good “riding down the road” song. Watching this clip as I write this makes me want to get in my car right now at this moment and go re-live the joy-riding experiences from my youth.

5.) Twenty Years Later

This track is from the recent era of Phish. I was there when they debuted the song back at Jones Beach in 2009 and remember hearing a cheer when Trey said the line: “I once didn’t stop for seven red lights,” which is the only driving reference in the song. If you asked me, the song is about how none of us are perfect in life. I was also at the show from where this version was played and must say it is rather spectacular.

 

6. Slave to the Traffic Light

While ‘Driver’ is my song, ‘Slave to the Traffic Light’ is my anthem. And I may not be the only one. The license plate holders have been a popular ‘lot item’ for years. It does not surprise me that this closes out many Phish shows being that the traffic situation is often absurd leaving them? Whether you’re following the band around the country or listening to them as you cruise through the Twilight Zone at the break of dawn, this one’s for you.

(fwiw—Down With Disease, the song I first heard on Beavis and Butthead, didn’t quite get, and mentioned earlier in this post…has become my other Phish anthem over the years)

7. Cars, Trucks, Buses

An instrumental reminiscent of the mid-90’s acid jazz popular at the time when it was composed. A great aspect of this clip is seeing all the people Phish brought together during the massive festivals they used throw 20 years ago. The term ‘Cars. Trucks, Buses’ makes me think of the signs on the New Jersey Turnpike and it would not surprise me if this instrumental was named those signs.

Cover…Yamar

Phish is the greatest cover band of all-time. I had a tough time picking between this song and Roses are Free (which has the line “get in your car and cruise the land of the brave and free”) but to me ‘Roses are Free’ is a Ween song and Ween is a band I like as much, if not more, than Phish. The line: “you got a nice shiny sports car/ you keep it very clean” is what gets this song on my list. The Mustangs (probably not named after the iconic American car model being they are a calypso band from the Bahamas) recorded the original version. One of my other brothers (not the musician) is a fan of this one and usually goes nuts when the band plays it as their shows. It definitely is the type of song that will inspire you to put on the cabana wear; an attire not uncommon to the average, ‘lawnboy’-ing Phishhead.

Dark Places


Dark Places

I’ve seen dark places,
On dusty floors, clamoring
For a shot to make

It into my bed
At moment’s notice. Sunrise
Trickles through curtains.

I long for morning

In this search for sleep, by now

Its dreams confine me

From their safe domains.
I’ve seen dark places, all my
Lighters been used up

While sprawling through dust,
Eating myself out of house
And home, days awake

Forgetting nightfall
And all the clutter it leaves
(Mud between the cracks

Of the cluttered floor
I so often find myself
Searching far within).

Free from the constraints
Of time, the effort often
Gets lost with the search:

But who needs searching?
I’ve seen dark places, inside
There lies my answer

Worth searching for. Lost
On the dirtiest floors, some
Searchers find daylight

Others an excuse
To continue the long search
In full denial
Of ever dreaming,

Of ever clamoring, of

Ever waking up

Or going to sleep.

 

Lou’s Dad’s Tunes vol. 1: Rock Classic Volume Turner-Uppers

Dad’s Rock

It’s not uncommon for young children to hate being forced by their parents to attend a religious service. At least the children in both my immediate and extended family. I don’t blame any of them. What innocent child enjoys being spoon-fed guilt by their parents? Not the young version of yours truly. If there’s one term I could use to describe my experience attending Mass every Sunday morning with my dad, it would be the term: quiet rebellion. Every time my dad wanted me to be quiet and listen, I would make an effort to tune out even more. I would think about everything and anything to get me out of the present boredom that is attending a religious service. They’d tell me to follow the readings. All I could do was fixate on how good the pork, roll, egg and cheese omelette at George’s was going to taste afterwards. They’d tell me to pray. All I could do was wish for was the Washington Redskins to win the Super Bowl. They’d celebrate the Eucharist. All I wanted to celebrate was walking to the back of Church and getting the hell out of there.

It was always the worst hour of my week. Can you blame me or any young person? Who likes being forced to do something they don’t want to do? Not I! When we’re young in America they tell us we have freedom. They make us think we can do anything we want. Then we’re forced to do something we do not want to do, like going to Church, and this whole concept of freedom immediately gets challenged. We slowly begin to realize we are anything but free in the physical world. It’s a tough pill to swallow. But when you get older you realize it’s a part of life.

After Church, my dad would reward (or compensate depending on which way you want to look at it) my attendance with a trip to the diner for Sunday breakfast aka the best meal of the week. While driving in his car, he’d crank up his favorite rock classics. It was the first time I heard what many consider to be the greatest music ever recorded by mankind, classic rock. He showed me religion but to no avail. All that stuff is boring if you don’t know what to do with it. What he did teach me is of much more value. Unbeknownst to him at the time, with every classic riff and iconic song, he accomplished something that no Sunday Service could ever accomplish…he taught me how to open my ears and listen.

Below I’m listing some of my dad’s favorite rockers. In my opinion there’s no better way to celebrate him. And for any father that may be reading…this one’s also for you. Happy Father’s Day, dad!

1.) Hey Jude by The Beatles

If you are into the Beatles you know about the allegiances to John or Paul popping up post-breakup in the 70’s. My dad was a Paul McCartney guy and this song is the quintessential Paul McCartney Beatles song. (I prefer John over Paul but that’s the rebel in me talking). Breakfast with the Beatles was a big part of our rides home after Church and I could really list any Beatles song to represent them except Within You Without You (a George Harrison song) or Revolution #9 (an Oko/Lennon experiment on the White Album) which were not his cup of tea because he was never into drugs.

2.) Maybe I’m Amazed by Paul McCartney and Wings

His favorite song from the solo career of his favorite Beatle. I would be ashamed to leave this off of a list showcasing some of his favorite songs. It sounds like a Beatles song and you’d have no problem seeing this song on a Beatles album if they stayed together into the 1970’s.

3.) She’s A Rainbow by the Rolling Stones

If you’re into classic rock, you’re either a Beatles guy or a Stones guy when it comes down to greatest British Invasion band of the 60’s. While I’d consider my dad a Beatles guy he still loved the Stones. Particularly the Brian Jones era Stones. I prefer the Beatles over the Brian Jones era Stones however when it comes to the entire catalog of the Stones I’ll take the dope-sick 70’s Keith Richards era Stones over both of them. This is one song that even till this day gets him to turn the volume up all the way and I don’t blame him. In terms of modern indie rock it’s more influential than some of their blues ripoffs.

 

4.) Heartbreaker/Living Loving Maid (She’s Just A Woman)

My dad owned Led Zeppelin II. Most dads from my generation probably did. These two songs, which start side B, go hand-in-hand. I have to list Heartbreaker as a result of the two going together though it’s after the segue into Living Loving Maid when the volume really gets cranked-up. This is not the most popular Led Zeppelin song or even one of the more well-known Led Zeppelin songs on the album. It does not matter. The beauty in his love for this song showed MTV generation me the value of listening to albums in their entirety and loving songs for songs not for commercial popularity.

5.) Badge by Cream

One last entry from a British Invasion band. The era of compact discs was highlighted by the popularity in Greatest Hits collections of bands from my dad’s younger years. This is the first track on the Cream Greatest Hits disc my dad had in his car and this tune would constantly be turned up. Especially the section of the song after the bridge.

 

6.) Soul Sacrifice by Santana

Growing up, I’ll always remember when MTV aired the Woodstock movie for the 20th Anniversary of the legendary festival back in 1989. The scene of seeing Santana’s set was the first time I could embrace watching a great live band capture the moment. My dad and Carlos Santana also share something else in common, they are both Mexican.

7.) Hey Tonight by Creedance Clearwater Revival

Another song that to this day my dad still goes crazy over. I have memories of him singing along to the songs of Creedance with my late Uncle Kenny. ‘I Put A Spell on You,’ ‘Suzy Q,’ ‘Down on the Corner;’ they all warrant the volume going up. This one is accompanied by him trying to get his car to reach a hundred miles an hour on Hartford Road in the early 90’s…back during a time, those pre-cellphone distraction days. where you could get away with doing something as dangerous as driving fast without worrying about catering to what he calls “the other assholes on the road.”

8.) Hotel California by the Eagles

In the era of Greatest Hits compilations, the Eagles created the highest selling album of all time. When it comes to American 70’s guitar solos there are two kinds of crowds, the Hotel California crowd and the Freebird crowd. I’m proud my father was in Hotel California guitar solo crowd as he preferred this Eagles solo over the Freebird guitar solo. Heaven knows where my tastes would be now if his was a bigger fan of the latter.

9.) I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home) by Grandfunk Railroad

I never understood why my dad loved this song until I read the Walt Whitman poem about the death of Abraham Lincoln. It’s a song about true freedom, the freedom of spirit. This could be his favorite song of all-time. I’ve heard him listening to the song after pulling into the garage and staying in the car until the song was finished. And that’s if the song was beginning as he was pulling in. Makes sense. Physically and metaphorically. Now if he could only get my brother’s band to cover it;)

10.) L.A. Woman by The Doors

Apparently the Doors were a popular American band in Mexico. My dad held on to their original self-titled debut album. This track, the title track off a later album, has one of the greatest build-ups in rock history. I constantly find myself turning it up any time it comes onto the radio.

hon. mention

Divided Sky by Phish

I can’t deny some of the music I’ve gotten into hasn’t rubbed off on my dad. This composition, which my dad now tells people is the greatest solo every written, comes courtesy of modern guitar god Trey Anastasio. Over the years my dad has attended several Phish shows but they’ve only played this song once for him, 2nd night at Wells Fargo back in ’09. A moment he described as so exhilarating…he had a heart attack a week after the show. While Phish is known for their live antics, I’m attaching the underrated studio version.

Divided Sky studio version

Sharing tastes in music with my dad. It’s because of him I’ve developed what I feel is a decent taste. Of all the things I fought to ignore after he told me to listen….if you gave me a choice to do it all over without rock and roll in my life, I’d gladly accept my current consequences. Thanks Dad for showing me the value of rocking out. Rock on and Happy Father’s Day!!!

Lou’s Sunday Morning Songs vol. 1: Dreams of You and I by Jeff Buckley

What Dreams May Come

If you asked me to rank the days of the week and tell you what day is my favorite day to get in my car and rideshare, I’d tell you Sunday without hesitation. There’s nothing more peaceful than rising with the sun on a Sunday morning and doing a couple airport runs through the quiet streets of Philadelphia while most of the town is still fast asleep. It’s an easy day to get out of bed even if I’m working on even four or five hours of sleep.

Lately, the first thing I’ve been trying to do after waking up is attempting to write a haiku. If you don’t know by now, haikus or the ‘lazy man’s poem’ (as I like to call them) is a quick way for a busy guy constantly on the road, like myself. to express himself. My favorite way to post them is alongside a picture that I post on instagr(atification)am. Being somebody that lives to write and does not write to live it’s a good way of getting myself out to the general public. If you’re not under contract what’s the use of not sharing it. The freedom to share: in my opinion it’s one of the freedoms that makes America wonderful.

On this particular Sunday I was in a hurry to get out of bed. It was 10 minutes to 7 and I wanted to get out on the road. My Saturday had been a lonely one. Lonelier than usual. If it wasn’t for the fact I was able to keep myself busy, who knows what kind of devil’s playground I would have found myself stumbling in like many past lonely Saturdays. It was a blessing I was able to get to sleep as easily as I did the previous night. Loneliness can be very frightening. Especially when you’re somebody that has become so accustomed towards self-destructive ways to cope with the fear of being alone.

I was in a rush and I could not comprehend this bout of anxiety considering I should have been grateful for the fact that I was waking up well-rested on a Sunday morning in peace and completely in tune with myself. During my walk to the car, the effects of neglecting the peace I have with myself began to set-in. For a moment, I began to feel a little empty. When I feel empty, I begin to think and when I begin to think, I start. Thank God I found a parking spot near my house the night before. There’s a good chance I would have lost the strength to even make it to my car. But I did!

When I started my car, my radio is always turned to 88.5 WXPN. On Sunday mornings they play a very serene mix of music. Anytime I’m in a rush or elevated, the first song I hear always seems to force a couple deep breathes and provide a moment to contemplation that brings me back down. This past Sunday was no exception. Opening the door, I slumped into my beaten Nissan wishing I had a nicer car to offer my passengers. I adjusted my seat, stared straight into the mirror, and tried not to say “fuck you” to myself. Trust me, it was not difficult looking away. After starting my car, a song on XPN was ending as I turned the volume up on the radio.

My engine takes a couple minutes to warm up before a day on the road. Today it also gave me the time that was neglected by rushing out of bed. Sunday morning meditation in song. A good time to write a haiku. Get my mind back to a better place. Re-arrange my thought pattern. Just as the song on XPN was beginning, my Sunday morning song, the first picture I saw on my Instagram feed was a picture of my friend, a young transgender woman, out at a Philly nightclub earlier in the morning with one of her friends for PRIDE. I was not lying about waking up empty as a result of another weekend alone. For a long time, this particular friend had provided comfort to this void inside my heart. When the picture popped up on my feed, it hit me with a shot of joy. Since the days we’ve put a break in our friendship, the hardest part about letting go of her has been the reality I can no longer always be there for her. She was not a girlfriend but that does not take away from the love I have for her. Knowing that she is safe is all I need at this point to feel comforted as I get lost on my own journey learning how to conquer my own personal demons. Seeing her out being young, smiling, and having fun is an added bonus. I stared at that picture with a big smile in my heart. Not to take away from the pain and suffering I deserve as a result of my past actions but sometimes we need the easy way out of the darkness that lurks inside of us all. This picture was my easy way out and I’m not ashamed to admit it. We’re always looking for easy ways out. Some we’re ashamed to admit, others we aren’t. I have no shame in admitting that seeing the picture on social media of my friend out on the town happy and smiling was my easy way out of the pain I so often put myself through. And if today a brief shot of her smiling was a way out: so be it!

As the song was playing on the radio I noticed that it wasn’t much of a song. It was more like a demo but nonetheless it was beautiful. Looking it up on my phone I saw that it was from an album of Jeff Buckley demos (mostly cover songs) that were released earlier this year. The song, Dream of You and I, is not a traditional complete song, it is a fragment. While listening to the song I kept thinking to myself: why is XPN playing this on the radio? The fragment is among his best work but it is incomplete. It’s definitely the type of song you turn to while sitting back and listening to an album but not something you would hear on the radio. Not even on a station as diverse as XPN. I wanted to share the song on social media after listening to it but before doing that I searched it out on stream to give it another listen.

Buckley talks in the demo about the song being something that he dreamed. This made me think of my friend even more. Last week I wrote a poem for her, my previous post on this blog, after having a dream about her. In the dream I was outside of her closed bathroom door, trying to have a conversation with her while she was taking a bath. It’s a dream that drove me to contact her. It also reminded me of the consequences of her not being as prevalent in my life anymore. I could really connect with Buckley on using the dream experience to inspire a work of art. And the fact XPN played this song made me feel extremely lucky that I have such a wonderful radio station in my city. Thoughts of dejection that had been plaguing me upon waking up were completely reversed by a picture and a song. It’s amazing how something so basic and simple can have this effect on somebody like me. Somebody who overthinks and is complicated. But it still was not enough. I wanted to know why this particular song was on the radio. Was the programmer somebody that was honoring Buckley on the days following the anniversary of his death or was there something else motivating this song selection? Perhaps it wasn’t even a person choosing the song. It could have been a computer.

I will never know the motive. And within seconds after going online to post the song any speculation immediately went out the window after reading what was at that time a developing news story on what is now considered the worst mass shooting in US history. Upon getting the news of this massacre, I didn’t really know how to react. The only words in reaction to this news were the words: absolutely horrible. I began to feel the fear again. A fear that can result in worry when despicable acts like what happened this past weekend occur. And for a second I contemplated not even working on my favorite day of the week to work…on this Sunday in particular where I would most likely be giving rides to many members and allies of the LGBTQ community to and from the PRIDE day festivities that were set to go off in Philadelphia. However being that I’ve seen how strong and resilient many people of this community are in times of adversity I had faith in the fact that by going home and not working, I was letting all the people in my life that had excluded me for being an ally, all the bullies, all the cowards, from an idiot on Facebook to the crazed gunman…win.

I also knew that if there is any community that shows courage in the face of adversity, it is the LGBTQ community. And on Sunday I was moved by how the community came together after such a horrible hate crime, to celebrate who they are. A community I’ve come to admire over the years in how each individual member thrives in the face of adversity. I drove many people that day going to and from PRIDE. People of all shapes, sizes, and demographics. And despite all their differences, they share one thing in common apart from many people not part of this community, courage. They made me, in my fragile emotional state, proud not only to be an ally to the community but more importantly to be a member of the human race.

Below is the song by Jeff Buckley and if you want more of a taste please stream this wonderful posthumous release of demos titled: ‘You and I’

Dreams of You and I by Jeff Buckley

Babe In The Bathtub


 

Babe in the bathtub
Behind a closed door. Hear her
Laughing on the phone.

Wonder what she laughs
About, lil’ smiling Joker,
Turning the spigot

When she has any
Words to say. Prevents me from
Listening in, hear her

Diabolical
Plan which so happens to dance
Lost inside my head.

At least you can’t die
From wondering. Wish I was
On the other side

Of that wall. Naked,
Taking a bath with the babe,
Not on top of her.

Bubble bath without
Rubber sex toys, no douching
Required. Just a

Desire to get
Clean. Love: see what it feels like
For the first time while

On the other side
Of that wall she lays to rest
My sanctuary.

If you put your ear
Close enough to the door you
May be able to

Hear a voice real clear
On her phone while she splashes
Inside the water.

A mermaid she may
Be but a sailor I am not
Unless it’s on a

 

Ship set constantly

At sail not at sea rather

Fantasy on her

 

Couch dreaming about
Babe in the bathtub until
She no longer needs

Me anymore.

Prince Day

Today Prince is in
My prayers. It’s his birthday.
National Prince Day-

If there’s such a thing.
There should be. If everyone
Listened to Prince’s

Music, we’d fuck more
Instead of not giving one
Or fucking someone

Over. If you don’t
Know His music, well, you’re fucked.
Fuckasaurus Rex.

Who wants 2 compare
2 that? Not I nor any
Color spectrum end,

Twin City native,
Eighties funkateer, guitar
Aficionado,

Or funsters feening
Finer things in a world worth
Fucking funking for.

You can clean a hot
Mess without the guidance of
A doctor unless

It’s a Funk Doctor
Or someone that likes to ball
Not ‘finish’em all’

I mean ‘fentanyl’…
‘fuck you all’…doctor’s orders:
One final dose of

 

Fuckasaurus Rex.
Tyranny shot its final
Load on a lonely

April day where the
Silence, so often golden,
Will be forever

Stained with purple.

Lou’s Great Songs of 2016 vol. 10: ‘Blessings’ by Chance the Rapper

By Chance, Cooke-ing in My Dreams

On Memorial Day 2016, I took a nap. The past couple months have been exhausting. Sometimes a good nap is warranted. Mentally? Check. Physically? Check. Psychologically, Socially, Spiritually? All check. Morally? As we head into a Presidential Election with two candidates despised by the Political Parties they represent, it comes as no surprise to check this one. It seems everybody is angry. And I, being the lifetime product of bad judgment, can only sit back and do nothing about it. Especially as I lie in bed constipated from over a month of failed contributions towards one of the few things in life that brings me happiness, this site. It’s all over fear. The fear of my own personal anger adding to the fire burning everywhere. Even the dreamer in me has lost the capacity to dream much less sleep lately.

A brief moment of exhaustion has never felt so good in my life. And this afternoon I find myself transported in mere seconds from my bed in Point Breeze to a corner on La Brea. A husky black man that looks like the bartender from the hipster spot near my house in Philly pulls up in a red pickup truck that has a used stainless steel Weber grill tied in the back caddy. He opens his window as if he has something to say to me. I walk up to the car. “You looking for a cab?” he shouts. “I didn’t call for one,” I respond looking at the ‘Uber’ placard on his windshield, wondering whether or not Uber has a pickup truck service and figuring this guy was looking for any reason to make a statistic out of me. ‘It’s slow out here today,” he says with a chuckle, “if you’re looking for a ride, I can take you wherever you need to go.” I look around me. It is pretty slow today. Everything seems dead. Must be the holiday. For some reason, stupid things come easy to people like me. When has the risk of getting hacked up by a psychopath into a million pieces ever stopped me from the lure of adventure. I’m a grown man now, I should know about facing the consequences of my actions. Without any further hesitation, I step towards the passenger door and get into his car.

We start driving down La Brea. My paranoia immediately sets in once the car starts to move. Here it is, my final bad decision in a short life built by them. I look to the floor hoping to see the crowbar that will bash my head in or the knife that will stab whatever is left of my fractured heart but was pretty surprised to see that his car was actually very clean.  “Pardon me for not asking any sooner…but do you drive for Uber?” He chuckles, “what, the clean car and the placard didn’t give it away.” “It’s not that,” I gasped in relief, “it’s just I never knew Uber had pickup trucks.” He shakes his head, “you’re definitely a tourist…they do. It’s a new service, a moving service…nicknamed mUber. It’s for people that have pick-up trucks, to move things around. Much cheaper than renting one for the day.” It was a relief to hear this, there’s been many moments in my life that I’ve wanted to be dead but today is not one of them.

It was funny but despite being quite the talker, me and the driver did not talk much. I was too busy wondering what the hell I was doing in Southern California. I didn’t even know I was dreaming. It was that type of dream. “You wanna have the best burger in California, right here in this bar.” He stopped the car. “Go in there, ask for the Pitt Stop, Pitt as in Pittsburgh, not Tar Pit, but either works.” Not knowing where I was going in the first place, I got out of his car and walked down the steps into the dark bar that had windows adorned with neon lights, but remained nameless. I walked downstairs. The bar was dark and everybody sitting down was turned facing away from me. Nobody was around to welcome me. Everybody at the bar was looking at the menu. There was a bartender facing away counting money. There was no site of a kitchen. Or the smell of a burger. I kept hearing a song about Blessings on the speaker and I wanted to record it so i grabbed my phone, put it on video camera mode, pulled a chair, got up and held the phone towards a speaker nestled up in the corner.

Waking up, it took me a second to realize I had been dreaming and I tried googling a song about blessings and a song came up by Chance the Rapper. But for whatever reason it was, I really had the urge to play ‘You Send Me’ by Sam Cooke on my phone. Not feeling in the mood for hip hop, I listened to Sam Cooke while lying in bed, something everybody should do every once in a while. When I got into my car this morning, XPN gave me the opportunity to finally hear both…back-to-back. Lately, I’ve been very vocal about much of the music coming out these days. I even went on a tirade recently about how the youth, particularly black inner-city youth, need the music of Sam Cooke in their lives. The reality is, while Sam Cooke’s music is great, it’s message will have a hard time reaching anybody that is young and black in this country. Chance the Rapper succeeds where even a lot of his own peers fail. On a blog where I often overlook much of the hip-hop being released, I am proud to put the song: ‘Blessings’ on my list of best songs of 2016.

Here’s the song performed on the Tonight Show by Chance the Rapper

Blessings

And a live performance of ‘You Send Me’ by Sam Cooke…a song that was originally recorded in Hollywood (of all places) on this date, June 1, 59 years ago.

You Send Me