~~~I do believe there's no such thing as bad writing—it's all a work in progress waiting for the write expression.~~~

Friday, December 31, 2010

The Who Greatest Hits and Dave March...

I hadn’t even mentioned that I was thinking of maybe possibly getting one, but when I saw Roger and the guys staring up at me through the cellophane after I tore off the green wrapping paper and I saw that it had my 2 fav songs (Love Reign and Eminence Front), I was like yessss—cool! It was from my sister Kaz who bought it on a hunch I might like it.

(Side note: The hesitation in such a purchase came from the fact that there are actually several different releases/collections of “greatest hits” and while it's tempting to buy them all—the redundancy is kind of nuts. And I’ve acquired “Live at Leeds” and “Kids Are Alright”, which is a respectable start for a newbie Who-be. Speaking of LAL, you must check out Mr. Toikkis 40th Anniversary Super-Deluxe Collectors' Edition. He’s got pics of what was in the package as he opened it, which is fun to see.)

And then when I discovered it had pics I had never seen before and read Dave March’s commentary, well then it was like cajun—best present of the year! I don't know who he his, but I liked his perception of the music and his writing style.

I will not bore you with a complete copy of the entire text, but would like to share some of the highlights of his insight into the whole Who journey. It’s not complete because I snipped out a lot the asides* and super long clauses* to get to heart of the matter:

*...the Who’s music now encompasses the sounds of deathless youth and of a wiser old age that looks back upon that early anger and wild energy, not with a sigh or a frown but with a gaze of affection and a knowing laugh. That they did not (all) die before they got old, that in fact their two most important members continue on well into their sixties, is the most ironic triumph—“not enough,” indeed.

*The creation of the semi-preposterous “rock opera” concept makes this persistence less unlikely, as it attempts to shove the whole idea of the Who into a box marked art, with its high end up. That men who might have already been pensioned off in many other kinds of work have sustained past middle age contains enough marvel and mystery to match even the teenage overloads.

*Their earliest records... insist on being art... ...which is a way of describing how the surly sweetness of roger Daltrey’s vocals and the pep-pill mania of Keith Moon’s unique drumming equaled, sometimes surpassed, Pete Townshend’s slicing guitar and John Entwistle’s fluent earthquake bass.

*By the time they got to “Substitute” “Happy Jack” and “Pictures of Lily”, Townshend had become an already great rock n roll songwriter—and by that I do not mean just a lyricist since every one of his songs created credible people... You could take anyone of those songs as a joke, but the way Roger sang the words Pete put in his mouth rubbed your face in it, delivering a sting of authenticity.

*Then came “I Can See for Miles”, which heralded a new world of rock n roll. It was a smash in the guts with Moon’s most audacious and controlled drumming (those perfectly timed cymbal splashes that accented Daltrey’s opening threats!) matched by guitar lines that still define emotional tension. If you didn’t fear what it told you as much as you loved it, you didn’t understand it at all. Even 42 years on, it’s still true that if you think you understand it all, you haven’t been listening close enough.

*...Townshend’s quest for the perfect long-form expression of rock’s creative possibilities—“rock opera” is one way to put it, concept album is another—seems less important then these individual gems. That because, he created a definitive series using the short form, hit singles—whether they all were or not—that summarized a deliriously compacted, impressionistic world view. It helped immensely that Daltrey applied complete commitment and his own peculiar angle on how that post-teenage world operated with vocal power that remains unsurpassed.

*In another mouth, “Magic Bus”, with its Bo Diddley beat driven by acoustic guitar and hand percussion, might have been a merely a novelty. That’s a formula for an Eddie Cochran record, but Daltrey takes it somewhere else, into a place where the eruption of Moon’s drums for the final minute feels both shocking and inevitable...

*On this collection, “Pinball Wizard” feels like a sequel, with the acoustic guitar strums leading into the explosive electric chord and then Daltrey entering, rattling off the words quick as fingers on the flippers.

*I suppose that “Behind Blue Eyes” can be said to open the door to the “mature” Who, if a band sporting Keith Moon could become mature. ... and when the hit the bridge, Daltrey cracks it open with all the thunder at his command: “when my fist clenches, crack it open” sounds not just a prayer for peace, but an acknowledgment that to just keep punching isn’t a valid option anymore.

*...”Love, Reign O’er Me”, the climactic song from Townshend’s elegy for adolescence, “Quadrophenia”, is another prayer to let things cool down long enough to get a breath and figure out how Jimmy, the protagonist, wound up stranded on that rock.

*”Squeeze Box”, believe it or not, ushers in Townshend’s mature or at least married period. Meantime, “Eminence Front” takes the teenage poses perfected in the early days and renders them in adult language with adult insight into pretensions and deceits.

*”Real Good Looking Boy” brings the story full circle. What we get here... is a boy who likes what he sees until his mother tells him he’s ugly. Roger sings it with the conviction he brought to deaf, dumb and blindness (anyone who doubts that Roger is a good actor ought to see him perform this live.) It’s a different band—John and Keith both gone and never coming back—but it’s the same heart, the same soul and the music surges with the same degree of passion, though not at all the same kind. The anger isn’t gone—those guitar licks will never loose that edge, and Rogers sings the quotation from “Can’t Help Falling in Love” in a tone of vengeance, but is had been dissipated into acceptance and reconciled into a forlorn wisdom that we can never see ourselves truly... but if we’re very luck, we find someone who can. This is the greatest love song Pete ever wrote and the best that Roger ever sang. That they pulled this off in their 60s isn’t a miracle, anymore than it is really a surprise that people so smart and talented did not die before they got old.

* “It’s Not Enough” sounds just like the Who, only different and it means what it says. In the end, the Who do what the really great ones do: rage against the dying of the light, and that, for true, is the spirit of rock n roll.

Dave March, “The Who Greatest Hits” c 2009 Geffen Records. The emphasis is mine.

PS: I suppose this post could also be considered a long thank you note to my sister for acting on that hunch. Thank you, darlin!

*Yes, yes, I knowwho am I to talk? Well someday someone can snip out all my asides and super long clauses (see first paragraph) if they want...

(No cellophane, green wrapping paper or the link to the 40th Anniversary Super-Deluxe Collectors' Edition were harmed during the production of this post.)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I am truly blessed.

My sister, Kaz, made several batches of cookies with at least an inch of frosting (you can never have enough frosting), candy coated pretzels (my fav= peanut butter) and best of all, Mom’s homemade onion bread for dinner tomorrow. Darlin, we’re not talking add 2 eggs and water to a box mix or to a bread machine. We’re talking sifting flour, yeast (she talks to the “yeasties”, it’s suppose to help—honest) serious kneading (this is where she lets out all the aggression of the year) and molasses kind of baking. And it’s all absolutely ambrosia.

Speaking of inches, we have 28 of them of snow, so there is no doubt whatsoever we’ll have a White Christmas. Yes, believe it or not, there have been some brown Christmases here in Minnesota, but definitely not this year. Yes, you can have enough snow already,  enough to cause a mini melt down and winter's just getting started??!!. Wait, this is supposed to be about blessings— okay, ignore the snow—how about I'm still able to work part time and we got Christmas bonuses again this year, which is always a huge blessing in this economy.

Tomorrow we go to Mom’s for Christmas and see some of those relies (aka relatives) and that’s always fun. Naturally, I will need a nap before we go, but I should be okay the rest of the day. We’ll go to Dad’s next weekend and that’s always fun, too.

I don’t know... I suppose I should have written something more sentimental or wise and witty about Christmas, but sometimes the simple things really are good in life. And I just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas--God bless us everyone!

(No snow, relies or bonuses were harmed during the production of this post, however serious harm has been done to the cookies and pretzels as they are just about totally devoured... Wait, what? We were suppose to save some to bring tomorrow? Oops...)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

"My Sanctuary" (poetry)

The sands are still warm heated from the earth
I sit here on my rock, measuring my worth
This is my sanctuary, my own little beach
It settles my soul and puts Him within reach

He paints the sky, blending the sun kissed reds
The colors play a symphony in my head
The diamond peaks of the waves glitter and break
Such is the beauty only God could ever make

I remember the darkness and wanting to escape
Getting so smashed until my mind cried rape
And there’s no real love getting banged in the dorm
The fire keeps burning, but you never get warm

But the Son shines in my heart now, I’ll never be alone
I’m not perfect, but the Seeds have been sown
I only know what is real, how God's changed my life
I’ll never go back to the world’s empty strife

Here I am, a mere speck in His Eternal Sea
But life has meaning because He also made me
So now what do I do, how do I belong?
What’s going to be my life's song?

He plucks the diamonds from the sea and hangs them in the sky
The moon comes alive with a yawn and a sigh
Someday, my starship will fly and I'll be on board
Roll me out over the waves and take me to my Lord

(46. my response to becoming a Christian)
~~~The entire chronology of poetry (aka the manuscript, “Chronologically Filed Stanzas”) is available as a pdf on my website or you can email me directly.

(No sands, diamonds or starships were harmed during the production of this post.)