Posts Tagged ‘the blues’


Christmas can be a mixed bag for a girl like me, a half-Jew brought up by a couple of atheists. So much history can be boiled down into my feelings and experiences of this season of holidays.

The first time I celebrated a real Christmas was when I was 4 years old in Germany. I think they still put live candles on the trees, but I can’t be sure. What I remember most clearly are oranges, nuts and a nutcracker, and a whole fish in aspic. You hear me tell of it here and there, in a poem or so.

There is no snow and I am convinced it will never snow again in New England. I think Paul will have to mow the lawn in January and I think the cat will never be rid of fleas because it will never freeze deeply enough ever again.

What we do know is that the light is coming back. That’s what we know and we know it and know it and know it. And it doesn’t mean we all have to be happy, so don’t fall into that trap of manufactured bullshit. You are allowed to mope and be sad and angry and have a crappy time. You are, you really are. And if you are lucky, you will get to spend that time of yourself with the people you love. That’s all. Food and family and a bit of warmth and light. If not family, the friends who stand in as family. If you are having a hard time generating your own light, steal it from someone else and don’t feel bad about it. They are giving it away because they have enough.

We went to hear Tim and Peter and Zoe on Saturday night at The Montague Book Mill. I can’t say that Christmas songs are my favorite thing in the world, but it’s a magical space and I was glad to be there.

I’ll just post some song now, not even one that the little trio played last night.

I was driving my kid to her dance group yesterday morning and I heard this song on the radio. First I thought, oh no, a country song with all the Christmas clichés. But did I find myself crying by the end? Oh, yes, oh yes I did.

I’d take this honesty and heartfelt emotion over your Bing Crosby Baby-Jesus-With-The-Blue-Eyes any day. Any day.

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There is so much to draw our attention.

Living in the Valley, you will never lack for a chamber concert, a book signing, an art opening, a gallery talk, a gallery walk, a lecture, a reading, a play, a musical, a light opera, an a cappella performance, a ballet, a modern dance concert. Culture abounds.

Tomorrow night, Chris Smither will be playing at the Iron Horse.

I’ve written about seeing him in concert before. He is local, living in Cambridge, Mass; he’s around. However, a lot of folks have never heard of him. He’s been around a long time, has paid his dues, can sing the blues, is one-of-a-kind, an overlooked talent.

Why do I tell you he is playing around here tomorrow night? Why do I post videos and songs? Because YOU SHOULD GO TO HEAR/SEE HIM!

This is also why I prefaced my post as I did. Maybe I will see you there.

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I got a cracked rib

I got 2 teenage daughters

I got a roof over my head

I got my bills paid and money left over

I have sight in both of my eyes, parents who loved me

but still I got the blues sometimes

The only Bible I have is a Gideons that I bet my dad lifted from a hotel room, back in the day, like 50 years ago

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It may seem out of character, but I love this song. I’m not crazy about masturbatory indulgent guitar solos, which I tend to think guys like more than girls do, but oh well, it’s short enough…gotta take the good with the bad. I love that deep digging guitar. Oh yeah…

Now press the play button and close your eyes:

Betcha couldn’t tell he’s a nice Jewish boy from Michigan. Nice, hunh? Soul revival done to perfection except for that blatant curse (your shitty fuckin’ attitude), which I think sends it into its own orbit. I love this line: because you’re shaped like an hourglass, but I think your time’s up. I love a man who knows how to play with his words.

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Thankful Thursday is meant to be my remedy for this: we are going to hell in a hand basket. On this day (as if I don’t attempt it at other times), I push myself to love the world in spite of the inevitability of death; in spite of politics and fucked-up information put out by the medical industry; in spite of  advertisers who have sold their own souls and ours; the intertwined, enmeshed corporate world in which we all live; the world of disposable packaging and appliances; hypocrisy–yours, mine, and ours; the deteriorating state of our air and water and soil; the increasing ownership of everyfuckingthing by multi-national corporations. I push through my dug-in heels and my myopic tendencies and reach up my hands for something better and more beautiful and for a bit of ecstasy and for the strength to grab it all, take a bite out of its ass, and love it anyway.

I’ve been sleep-deprived this week and finally, this morning, I took an ibuprofin PM. This is a heavy-duty drug for me. I take it when I need it, but haven’t needed to for months and months.

I think I went to sleep around 10 am or a little before. I was fairly stunned when I woke up and looked at the clock–it was already 1:20 in the afternoon. Had I missed anything? What responsibilities did I screw up? Nada, nothing. Just sleep for me. Whew.

Now I can proceed through the rest of my week without hating anything or pining away the hours. At least I think I can.

Thankful for:

Sleep, even drug-induced

All the FANTASTIC music I’ve been discovering lately (you read about Glenna Bell on Monday, right y’all?)

Look what I found. I am blown away by this guy–his guitar and voice and soft presence AND he’s going to be around these parts in December and January. Maybe I can go and hear him live.

Then, this great thing happened. I was just listening to the above Chris Smither‘s version of “Killing the Blues” and I got in my car (abandoning my children and motherly duties YIKES!) to go to a rehearsal and was trying really hard to sing the song. What came on the radio those very 30 seconds after I pulled out of the driveway? Alison Krauss and Robert Plant singing the very same. I KID YOU NOT! I sang along and sounded pretty good, but I know I’ll never be able to sing that song alone ever. Or “Visions of Johanna.” That one is super tricky….Chris Smither does it, too. Really. Oh, the original “Killing the Blues” was written by Roly Salley. Don’t think it’s anyone else, either, ’cause you know how I like accuracy.

I love serendipitous moments like that. I don’t think they mean that I’m saved or something or that I’m destined for a life of happiness or that someone can read my mind, I just love them when they happen. I do think there are currents we forget about…currents of spirit and particles of energy that clash together for the good sometimes.

The way I know the lyric “world by the tail” is from an old Burl Ives album I had as a kid. I can’t find anything anywhere on the web about who wrote that song.

I sang (and still do, but rarely) that song A LOT to my kids, in the daytime, but mostly as a jaunty lullaby at night (I love a jaunty lullaby as much as I love a melancholy one):

Got the world by the tail with a downhill pull and everything is fine/The reason is my heart’s so full of love for that gal of mine/Sing high, sing low, sing hi-diddle-dum/Sing high, sing sweet, sing low, sing tune, sing moon a way up in the sky

Don’t forget to OCCUPY NOW!

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introspection  spectacles

ticks  fleas

scabies  itchmites  black poodle

your dog has zee mange

German  French







say  tell

don’t tell  whisper

ear  sing

sing-song  song


Okay, maybe it’s time to end this little game. That was real, yo!

How about this: things we don’t need:

organic massage*

weight-loss hot pants

Dancing with the Stars

“news” about Dancing with the Stars


Reality TV

celebrity haircuts

celebrity dresses

celebrity suits


It is Wednesday, November 16, 10:24 pm in Singapore.

In less than a month it will start getting dark at about 3:30. The sun will set at around quarter after four.

It is already too dark at 4:15 every afternoon. It’s not even afternoon, it’s a bad joke. I am shocked by the darkness. I should be asleep like a farmer, every night at 5:30 pm, 6 at the latest.

*as a massage therapist extraordinaire, I take offense to the Groupon which advertises services for “organic massage.” AHEM and WTF? I want it stopped

[insert curlicue pause here to indicate change of subject]

or maybe use these: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Tom Waits + youtube= falling down the rabbit hole

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It’s a funny phrase, methinks, and though not in my word-vernacular, it was a practice of a friend of mine in high school; not quite clear any more which friend because, you see, by 11th Grade I was drinking and smoking a lot of pot. If it’s the friend I think, she was already a senior. Figures.

Maybe alcohol is a gateway drug to losing your need for skivvies.

For you men who’ve never worn a hippie-skirt at a Grateful Dead concert with the opportunity to be bare underneath, I can say you are missing out, at least from this twinkly’s perspective.

It does remind me of my love for a man in a kilt. I’m getting weak just thinking about it. Maybe time for my Big Blue coffee drink to stave off this light-headedness.

That’s better. I’m no longer falling off my chair.

I just think it’s a funny way to describe not wearing underwear. Unfortunately, the person who posted this photo has marred the man’s beautiful legs by writing all over the bottom of the picture. But hers is a fashion-related blog and that’s not really what I’m looking for here.

Anyway, I’m thinking going commando can be applied to anything that’s not candy-ass, a la O’ Brien.

Here are a few commando things:

cleaning each tooth at its juncture with other teeth or gums with Stim-U-Dents


wooden toothpick dispensers

The last one of these I saw was at Trecaso’s Restaurant in Akron. This is not exactly like the toothpick dispenser I remember at Trecaso’s. Theirs was, if memory serves, made of oak and was more squared-off at the top. Maybe that’s just a fantasy embellishment on my part. Does anyone from Akron/Kent or even Ohio at all know if Trecaso’s is still there? I loved that place. Fried zucchini and lasagna were my stand-bys. It was the best fried zucchini in the world. Not greasy. Not some junk-food version of vegetables. Thinly-julienned strips of fresh zucchini, lightly battered and quick-fried to crispy perfection.

No trip to Trecaso’s was complete without an ice cream at Mary Coyle’s afterward. I always got three scoops of their very-creamy coffee ice cream with hot fudge on top. The bright red, neon lights made it almost impossible to see your date in the glare.

I have fond memories of the Highland Square area. It reminds me of my earliest days with Hubby; an old Ohio pal who I saw a John Sayle’s movie with at the old theater with worn, red-velvet seats and gold, braided ropes to cordon off the unuseable balcony; a yoga class on the second floor of a nice old house with an older, roundish teacher; and the Akron Goodwill which was not in Highland Square, but downtown. Somehow, I associate it with that area.

The Akron Goodwill was a favorite destination for me when I had babies. I used to go and comb through the children’s books. They had the best selection of any Goodwill/Salvation Army I’ve ever visited. Not so great for clothes. Sometimes the occasional cool furniture, but the kid’s books were the bomb. They apparently got all of the discards from the Akron Public Library. All sorts of cool out-of-print things with bad bindings and deteriorating paper. I used to let the woman who worked in the book area hold Violet so I could browse. She loved holding her, I loved the break and the shopping. I miss that Goodwill.

driving on Rte 9 through Hadley, Mass, on a Saturday afternoon of Halloween weekend with the beginning of the first heavy snowfall of the season (10-12″ predicted by the end)

Allowing yourself to wait at a light, though still green, because you can see that it will soon turn red and if you go forward through the intersection your car will effectively block traffic in all directions. I know it seems like the commando thing to do is to plow forward into the middle of the intersection though the traffic in front of you is moving at a snail’s pace. Driving with gusto, running through a red light, etc would seem commando. But trust me, moderating your pressure and tempo yields the sexiest results and is the true commando way. Be brave of heart and let that foot up off the gas pedal.

the blues

piano players and singers who moderate their pressure on the keyboard and keep good time

the hip beat

the square beat, when determined by your cultural-musical evolutionary heritage

Oh, back to kilts….Alan Cumming. Remember him? He’s Scottish. Like Ewan McGregor. And I’ve seen photos of each of them wearing kilts. And I’ve seen a lot of films in which Ewan McG is not wearing undies or anything else for that matter, forget about the kilt.

I’ve been taking an Improv I class down in Hartford (one hour drive…ick) and one of the first things I’ve been told is to “make bold choices.” So when I watch actors who are really good, I see this in action time and again. Who cares if you haven’t got the best voice, the most beautiful face, if you are not the tallest, longest, biggest, curviest, buxomest. If you are bold in front of an audience, you’ve done about 70% of the work that needs doing. The rest is gravy. Go commando every time.

Lady Gaga–she’s not exactly pretty, she doesn’t dance well, she doesn’t have a pretty voice. But she’s got balls. Judi Dench. Well, she’s got it all–the classical British theater-training, the vocal control, the beauty. But it’s her solid brass quality that is most scene-stealing. Alan Cumming, same thing–great training, excellent vocal control, beautiful, present, dimpled.

Here, he’s doing the whisper-singing technique of protecting his voice, which tells me his vocal folds are shot. But I think it’s the mettle that keeps us watching.

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Seems like a contradiction in terms, I know, but I am grateful for Ohio

Sun still present at 8:55 pm, sky just turning its oranges and pinks. (New England? By the end of our ride Monday at 8:20 pm, sky almost pitch).

Sun is somehow higher in the sky and less harsh on the eyes as it goes down here. I wish the sky was this high and bright in the Pioneer Valley without the intense sundown/glare. It’s something I’ve never gotten used to in New England. Why is it different between the 2 places? Amherst is only slightly farther north but quite a bit farther east, does this explain it? Oh hell’s bells, why don’t I just google it? No, that yielded no fruit. Help me.

I know Ohio is farther west in the Eastern Standard Time zone, so I get the clock part. But the quality of the sun is also different. I can hardly wait ’til the morning when the sun comes up later than usual. Ironic, isn’t it?

Once at the racetrack in Cleveland, we met a boy named “Sundown.” I’m not kidding. I bet that was 27 years ago. I thought I might name a boy Sundown some day.

Taco Tonto’s

Talking to my great friend, Sheila, on the phone in the parking lot of the Stow Target.

Walking into Taco Tonto’s and seeing 2 people I know well enough to remember all sorts of little details about even though I haven’t seen or spoken with either of them in over 11 years. One is the son of a woman who was at Annie’s birth, almost 13 years ago, and who was also part of the “older kids” component in Violet’s first (and only) play group. Wow.

Kent, beautiful Kent

The blues in Kent, nothing like feeling blue in Kent. Nothing.

Kent, my home for 19 years

My old house on N. Willow St. I drove into town, straight from the airport in Cleveland and pulled right up to the house, got out of the car, walked up to the door and rang the bell. Nobody home. New sign above the garage, the garden beds not looking terribly spiffy (where has all the coreopsis gone?), and some of the brick-work patio all busted up. Still, that is the house where my babies were born and it always will be. Labored there in many ways (“Here I have worked, labored a while,” Christian’s Farewell, Sacred Harp #347).

I suspect this has something to do with ale, but maybe it’s their last name. Do they rent or own? I’ll be knocking on that door again later.

When I left the car rental at Cleveland-Hopkins, I completely ignored the GPS and with no map was able to navigate after 11 years (yes, I’ve been back and driven around, but not out that way and not much with me behind the wheel). God that felt good. I was excited just to recognize I-480 and to remember to go East.

I was thinking of posting about sex toys and air travel, but there’s really no need. Apparently, you can pack sex toys into your luggage without embarrassment. No alarms went off, nobody pulled anything out and waved it around in front of everyone. Like Lucinda Williams said when she was intro-ing The Way You Move, “Nobody got hurt.”

I think it’s funny that sex toys are called marital aids (hey, that’s what O’Brien calls them), but maybe this can help explain.

The name of the guy who drove me from the parking lot to the terminal at Windsor Locks? Pierce Pearce. I am not kidding. He looked like Prop Joe from The Wire. Maybe it was Pearce Pierce. I didn’t write it down. Dang.

Look what I looked up this morning. Interesting, hunh?

Susun Weed says the best cure for menopausal women who have low sex drive is 7 orgasms per week. That’s her prescription. She says you can have them all in one day or one a day. Is she just fucking with us on this?

Yes, I love Kent. But there has always been the residual clash between town and University. Literally and symbolically, this has been the fight between establishment and the counter-culture. May 4 was a culmination. The town still bears it. Jerry’s Diner has been razed, but also the entire lot behind it. Gone, nothing, nada. The hardware store, Gone. Unbelievable. That’s why you can get the blues so easily here. Heart and no heart. When a place has this much heart, for some reason, it’s also easy to rip parts of it out. Right, Chrissy? (Oh, hell, I have to apologize. Sometimes that link has an ad; sometimes not. See what the fuss is all about? They are taking over).

I have a poem at home by an old Kent poet, Jake Leed, and the line I remember is

I’ve chipped away a Clark’s gas station

I lent out the little book that poem was in and I never got it back. If anyone out there has it, send me a copy. I’ll pay shipping.

The Clark gas station is still there, on S. Water St. Unbelievable.

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