Chris Squire, Prog-Rock demigod…

Chris Squire was not only a founding member of Yes and thus a Prog-Rock demigod – he was also one of the most gifted bassists in the history of rock….

Chris Squire with his Rickenbacker (image courtesy YesWorld.com)

By now most of you who pay attention to such things are aware that Chris Squire, a founding member of Prog-Rock legends Yes, died last night in Phoenix, AZ, of a rare form of leukemia. He was 67.

Squire was/is primarily known as a “player’s player,” a moniker I think he’d like to be remembered by and one any bass player with chops that regularly entered “how’d he do that?” territory certainly deserves.

Some 18 musicians and singers have been members of Yes since its formation in 1968. Numerous great guitarists, drummers, keyboardists, and vocalists have passed through the band.

They’ve had only one bass player. Continue reading

Politics

Hillary breaks bad on Wall St. and the 1%, but why should we trust her (or any of the Democrats, for that matter)?

People keep telling me I have to be realistic. But step one of being a realist is acknowledging reality.

I have been pretty vocal in my criticism of Barack Obama over the past seven years. I have reamed the modern day Vichy Democratic party every chance I have gotten. I have stomped on Bill Clinton and Al Gore, the architects of the “new” GOP Lite Dems and lately I have made clear that I can’t imagine a scenario whereby I would vote for Hillary Clinton. I’m tired, I have said, of voting for lesser evils, of voting for people who at best are playing not to win but to lose by less and at worst are just playing for themselves.

None of this is knee-jerk and I have not arrived here in the absence of a great deal of thought and analysis, as my “Shootout at the DC Corral” post from five years ago makes clear. Continue reading

ArtSunday

Erskine Caldwell’s Tobacco Road: maybe Southerners aren’t merely caricatures…

Reading Caldwell’s Tobacco Road is reminiscent of watching an episode of Dukes of Hazzard and reading Flannery O’Connor at the same time… 

First, an anecdote:

Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell (image courtesy Goodreads)

Sometime back in my graduate school days I ran into an article in which the scholar spent a number of pages complaining that Charles Dickens didn’t create characters – rather, he created caricatures, exaggerated depictions of humanity. While I saw the guy’s point, it didn’t make me love Dickens any less. It seems to me Dickens’ caricatures (whether an Ebeneezer Scrooge or a Samuel Pickwick) vibrate with more of this thing we call life than most “realistic” literary characters (I’m looking at you, Emma Bovary).

Another anecdote:

I was a voracious reader as a child. Growing up as I did in the South, where for too many folks “reading” consisted of a) checking on how the Tarheels or Gamecocks or Cavaliers did, or b) reading (and usually badly misinterpreting) the Bible, my interests in books and learning made me both an anomaly and an object of suspicion, especially among my peers.

It also allowed me access to secret, forbidden worlds. Like the world of Erskine Caldwell. Continue reading

Lindemann’s “Praise Abort”: Saturday Video Roundup

Oh look, Till Lindemann from Rammstein has a new side project with Peter Tägtgren of Hypocrisy and Pain. What are the critics saying?

Pigs, blood, phlegm and characters right out of a Hieronymus Bosch painting alternatively play in morbid grime or on a virginal white stage. Heavy guitar sounds, dark choirs and driving drum beats surge in the background. The lyrics are laced with hatred: “I hate my life, and I hate you / … / I hate my kids, never thought / That I’d praise abort.”

Yeah, that sounds about right. So for SVR let’s watch the first video, and then celebrate Till’s genius with a couple of the high spots from his work with Rammstein. Strap in, bitches.

Continue reading

Racism

Racism: death of a nation

RacismWhite people: Don’t get defensive. I was brought up in the South. I know what it’s like. A bunch of grown men, pillars of the community, get together around the grill, maybe at the volunteer fire station, maybe at church. These are your neighbors, people you know and respect. You want them to like you. Then one of them tells a racist joke and they all laugh. So you laugh too. What’s the matter, boy, can’t you take a joke?

My public elementary school was 100% white. The Baptist Church where I was baptized was 99.9% white. One time a local boy married a negress (CRINGE) and it was a big scandal. They don’t come around much anymore. Everyone is happier this way I suppose, although his folks are a mite touchy about it, so it’s best if you don’t mention it. They can’t help what their boy did I reckon. Kids these days got no moral fiber. Continue reading

neil-young vs donald-trump

Candidates ought to study copyright law before using artists’ music

Even if they buy licenses and win in court over artists’ objections, they’ll lose in the court of public opinion

neil-young vs donald-trumpby Carole McNall

Welcome to the 2016 season premiere of the popular reality show, “Stop Using My Music in Your Campaign.” This episode features Donald Trump, newly announced (as of June 16) presidential candidate, and Neil Young, crusty rocker and songwriter. The two swapped statements after Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” provided the soundtrack for Trump’s triumphant entry to his announcement event.
(The announcement event can be seen/heard here.)

My immediate reaction when I heard a news item about the announcement (including a bit of “Rockin'”): “This will not end well.” It didn’t. And it didn’t take long. By June 17, Young had issued a lengthy statement. It can be summed up in this paragraph, quoted on rollingstone.com:

“Music is a universal language, so I am glad that so many people with varying beliefs get enjoyment from my music, even if they don’t share my beliefs. But had I been asked to allow my music to be used for a candidate — I would have said no.” (Emphasis mine)

Oops.

One day later, Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told Rolling Stone, “We won’t be using it again … Continue reading

WordsDay: Literature

Yukio Mishima and the struggle to be free…

“…I must point out that a memory which is suddenly revived carries a great power of resuscitation. The past does not only draw us back to the past. There are certain memories of the past that have strong steel springs and, when we who live in the present touch them, they are suddenly stretched taut and then they propel us into the future.” Yukio Mishima, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion

The Temple of the Golden Pavilion by Yukio Mishima (image courtesy Goodreads)

Sometimes one reads an author who makes one wonder what the hell the Nobel committee thinks about when it selects prize winners for literature. I had read some Yukio Mishima many years ago, during my undergraduate days, actually (Nixon was POTUS which should give you some idea of how long ago that was). Mishima’s strange death sparked my interest (I remember reading an article about him and his bizarre ending from, of all places, Life magazine at my parents’ home), so I had been on the lookout for one of his works. I ran into a used copy of his story collection Death in Midsummer and Other Stories  and remember thinking, in my idiosyncratic way, that the title story reminded me of Salinger’s “A Perfect Day for Bananafish.” In fact, the collection resonates with the same sort of angst, alienation, and anger at the world/life/what ya got that pervades Salinger’s collection Nine Stories.

That same angst, alienation, and anger pervades The Temple of the Golden Pavilionone of the richest, finest novels a reader will find anywhere in literature. Reading such a powerful work makes one wonder how the Nobel committee ignored Mishima even as they rewarded his friend and mentor Yasunari Kawabata.  The answer to that question is like the answer to another question about the non-rewarding of literature’s most well-known prize that I asked last year: likely political in nature. Continue reading

trump

Donald Trump angers Neil Young in latest GOP song appropriation gaffe

trumpThese are probably not the sort of stories that Donald Trump wanted to start off with:

The New York real estate mogul arrived on stage at his campaign kickoff announcement Tuesday as the sounds of Young’s “Rockin’ In The Free World” blared through the atrium at Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan. . . .

“Donald Trump was not authorized to use ‘Rockin’ In The Free World’ in his presidential candidacy announcement,” a statement from Young’s team read. “Neil Young, a Canadian citizen, is a supporter of Bernie Sanders for President of the United States of America.”

But, then again, The Donald seems to be of the school that believes that any publicity is good publicity as long as they spell your name right. Continue reading