Delirious desire

It’s easy to understand why we remember songs when we’ve heard them dozens or hundreds of times. But there are also songs that seize a permanent spot in our memory despite being heard only, say, four or five times.

For me, one of those songs is “Say You” by Ronnie Dove. It barely cracked the Top 40 in late September 1964. It was the last track on the B-side of Ronnie’s Right or Wrong LP — kind of a weird position for a single… The follow-up single, a cover of Wanda Jackson’s great “Right or Wrong,” and a bigger hit, was the last track on side A. (Incidentally, Wanda’s song is another of those I heard only a handful of times back in the day, but never, ever forgot — like “Say You,” it’s one of my favorites.)

“Say You” is a great-sounding Nashville record (maybe recorded at Studio B, like Dove’s “Right or Wrong”? Listen to that gorgeous echo chamber…). But I think what made the song stick for me was the vocal delivery. Even as a kid in ’64, I sensed something unusual in its emotional intensity, seemingly relaxed and frantic at the same time.

“Say You” is a fantasy (“I think you’re gonna be my girl”), but it’s not just some guy dream-dream-dreaming in the privacy of his own home.… Continue reading

Silence

I know one thing for certain: silence will not present itself unbidden amid the noise of the world. If I want it, I have to make space for it, and there is always a choice to make that space. … And in our time now, every decision in favor of silence is profound, even if it involves no more than deliberately turning away other things for hours or days in a week.
Jane Brox

The Internet is Television

The internet was once only about sharing information on a peer-to-peer basis. Inevitably, every aspect of the web is now commodified. The techniques of TV-makers to capture and control audiences are the same ones used by Facebook, Google, et al., strategies that are getting so much negative attention now. Techniques like encouraging passive consumption, addiction, and a feeling of “missing out” when not tuned in. Not to mention the use of captured personal data for profit (TV could only envy this degree of eyeball-mining — their version was the primitive Nielsen rating system).

The web has brought huge benefits into our daily lives. But under capitalism, the expense of maintaining the web had to be underwritten by advertising. So, like TV, the web became a vast marketplace.

I think that the re-emerging trend toward personal blogs (or websites) can be a way to start re-emphasizing the pre-commercial, purely communicative promise of the web.… Continue reading

Detective series

I haven’t watched mainstream television (news networks, sports, sitcoms, talk shows, etc., etc., blah blah blah) for decades. But I very much like watching (mostly British) TV detective series, e.g., Luther, Intelligence, Broadchurch, Vera, George Gently, The Killing, Happy Valley, Marcella, Line of Duty, Wallander, and Shetland.… Continue reading

Chamath Palihapitiya

The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth.
Former Facebook VP Chamath Palihapitiya

Paul Butterfield Blues Band, “Mary Mary” (1966)

For aspiring musicians in the 1960s, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band was hugely influential. If Bob Dylan turned rock into “music for adults” on a lyrical level, the Butterfield Band did the same thing musically.

The band had a ferocious, street-tough sound, best heard early on in What’s Shakin’ cuts like “One More Mile” and “Good Morning Little School Girl.” The performances on their first full (eponomously-titled) Elektra album were great, but despite the instruction on the back of the jacket to play it loud*, the sound itself, the production, was a tiny bit distant, as if you were standing at the back of the club. What’s Shakin’ put you right at the front edge of the stage. (I don’t think Butterfield achieved that degree of in-your-face toughness again until 1969’s Keep On Movin’, produced by Jerry Ragovoy.)

The first album was straight blues, pure Chicago. Sam Lay was probably the best blues drummer in the world at that point, but when he took ill on tour in Boston, the band recruited a jazzier drummer, Billy Davenport, to take his place. The band’s musical landscape was broadening; the landmark second album, East-West, features traditional blues (Robert Johnson’s “Walkin’ Blues”, Muddy Waters’ “Two Trains Running,” and the probably public domain “I Got A Mind to Give Up Living” and “All These Blues”); New Orleans R&B (“Get Out of My Life, Woman”); hard bop (“Work Song”); modal jazz-raga-acid-rock (the title cut); and an old-style jazz ballad, “Never Say No,” that would be at home on a Billy Eckstine (or Billie Holiday) record.… Continue reading

Knausgaard’s Buddhism

Reading Book 6 of My Struggle. Karl Ove stumbles upon the essence of Buddhism, though he doesn’t acknowledge it as such. Like Korzybski’s “the map is not the territory.”

“A world without language was a world without categories, where every single thing, no matter how modest, stood out in its own right. It was a world without history, in which only the moment existed. A pine tree in that world was not a “pine,” nor was it a “tree,” but a nameless phenomenon, something growing up out of the ground, which moved when the wind blew.”… Continue reading

Tao Lin

I love Tao Lin‘s Twitter style, especially his “I recommend…” tweets. Like:

“I recommend avoiding insane culture and people who mock and ridicule other people”… Continue reading

Bill Frisell

The older I get, the more I keep looking back trying to figure out where I come from, and why. And the more I look back, the more information it gives me to move forward.
Bill Frisell