Monthly Archives: September 2009

I Want to See My Family, My Wife & Child Waiting For Me

I come from a long line of military people in my family. Uncles (My Uncle Manuel was in Vietnam, Uncle Phil was dodging bullets in Grenada in the 80’s) Cousins (My cousin Eric fought in Operation Desert Storm & was photographed with General Schwarzkopf, lost my cousin Seth in Iraq a couple of years ago) & my Grandfather (My Grandfather holed up in a cave for 3 days in the Philippines in WWII with a bullet wound in his leg). So, needless to say,  I have a strong affinity for the welfare of soldiers. Which is probably why I’ve been in a perpetual state of 80’s rewind this week as I can’t get enough of “Love Vigilantes’ by New Order.

It speaks of a soldier returning from the war & all he wants is to see his wife & child. He speaks of being proud to be able to put his life on the line for his country & glad that he’s alive to see it again. He then discovers that when he gets home his wife is in tears because she was informed of his death. For all intents & purposes the song ends there.

It is rare today outside of hokey country music songs that we have songs that share things from the side of the soldier. Though, I will say this, we have come a long way as a country since Vietnam. The condemnation of soldiers for going somewhere they have no choice in going to is never acceptable. I’m not trying to get on a soapbox & tell people how to act, but I find it telling that we as a country care so much about our soldiers now. We should.

Throughout history we have been regaled with stories of bravery from the Knights of the Round Table, General Sherman’s Troops in the Civil War, the Great Roman Troops of Julius Caesar to today’s brave young men.They do what we cannot. They risk their lives for complete strangers, for an idea that the country is bigger than the self. It is the most noble of causes to sacrifice oneself for the greater good. Something many of us could not fathom as we sit in our comfortable, air conditioned rooms.

Robert E. Lee said:

What a cruel thing is war:  to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world.

We continue to send young men to their deaths for our ideals. As a writer it is my duty to take a stand on one side or the other, but herein lies the conundrum I face. On the one hand is the family tradition of brave soldiers who feel the weight of war on their backs & live with that burden daily & yet on the other I despise war. I find it to be an awful way to find peace. To kill for peace is to seek the lowest form of compromise.I condemn war for all that is, but I adore those that give their young lives to save mine.

I’m fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.”  – George McGovern

“The military don’t start wars.  Politicians start wars.” – William Westmoreland

Love Vigilantes – New Order

Love Vigilantes – Laura Cantrell

Love Vigilantes – Voxtrot

I’m Not Here This Isn’t Happening

I’ve been out of the loop for awhile, perhaps purposely as I do sometimes when writing becomes too formulaic, almost like a job. I just distance myself from all the bullshit & take a breather for about a month. Well, needless to say, I think I’m back. I’ve been listening to Radiohead all week & marveling at how brilliant they are. Not just as a band, though, but singularly, as well, as I do love Thom Yorke’s solo efforts & Jonny Greenwood’s score to There Will Be Blood was amazing.

You do not hear of Radiohead devolving into some sort of drama made for the BBC like Oasis or becoming a shell of what they once were. Every time they make an album or perform it is distinctly different than the former & unique in it’s own way. So to commemorate my return from my brief, albeit wonderful, hiatus I give you Radiohead LIVE in Berlin 2006.

Optimistic

Morning Bell

Karma Police

The National Anthem

In Limbo

No Surprises

My Iron Lung

Dollars & Cents

Bishop’s Robes

Talk Show Host

Kid A

You & Whose Army

Airbag

Lucky

How to Disappear Completely

Paranoid Android

Everything In It’s Right Place

Pyramid Song

Exit Music For a Film

Knives Out

Big Ideas

Nice Dream

Sell Out With Me

Back in my younger days, my friends & I would pile into my white ‘86 Chevy Van & head out to the all ages dives to watch our favorite local bands. They were our bands, our little secret & we wanted no one else to know about them. We bought their 7 inch records & followed them around from show to show like groupies. This was before social media sites (MySpace, Facebook) allowed bands to advertise for free & garner a worldwide following. No, this was word of mouth & we told not a soul. If we saw new people at the shows we would get a pretentious air about “Our band” for fear that too many people would come to the shows & they would lose their identity to us.

We feared mostly that they would get what is the most awful thing that can happen to a band, success. Once a band we loved started making it they were cursed with the dreaded “sold out” label. The Scarlet Letter of our times for any band with music that transcended “Underground” distinction. Immediately discarded, they’re records would be immediately thrown away or taken to the record store to parlay into some much needed spending cash to see a band that had yet to disappoint us. We didn’t care they were now “Sell outs”.

They expressed the angst of our late teens/early 20’s only to become part of the corporate machine. Thus, we must hate them, there was no way around this. It was the only way to maintain our integrity to the music. It was our equivalent to “Street Cred”. We were able to hang our heads high & say, “At least we didn’t give in to the evil conglomerates for the sake of a buck.” How wrong & foolish we were.

“Selling Out” has to be the most overused, asinine expression in the pantheon of musical lore. The reason bands are formed is to be the best there is, make the best music you can & share that music with the world. That is measured by the amount of success you have & how many people hear you? Would Green Day have been able to speak for an entire generation as they expressed their anger over the Bush administration’s policies with American Idiot? If Jay-Z had decided to stay a crack dealing “underground” rapper in Brooklyn’s Marcy Projects instead of one of the seminal Hip-Hop artists of our time would he even be alive today? What if U2 was playing pubs in Dublin still for fear of alienating their core fans instead of being a worldwide phenomenon?

No one wants to stay “underground forever. “Underground” is code for unsuccessful or just starting out. No band gets into music with the intention of playing the most mediocre music they can so they can retain some semblance of credibility with the 25 drunks that are at their Monday night bar residency. The goal in life, like music is to be the best at anything you strive to achieve. Whether it be going from file clerk to board member or bar band to best band in the world.

There is something special about being there from the beginning, watching a band blossom into something that gives huge amounts of people immense joy. Don’t hate the band because their music evolves musically & emotionally. This does not make them corporate, it makes them people who have different experiences now that they are on a different plain. The relation aspect of a band does not change they just express different experiences in the same way.

“Selling out” is the name of the game. If “Selling out” means I’m the best at whatever I do then screw it, sign me up, cause I’ll sell out everyday to be recognized for my achievements. It has nothing to with principles, unless your principles are such that you wish not to achieve any modicum of success. No, instead it’s about spreading the musical message to the masses which is the point of the whole process. Isn’t it?

She Said That Living With Me Was Bringing Her Down

So this is Beatles Week at The De Mello Theory & the Beatles are in fact my favorite band of all time. Their music is timeless. Who else but the Beatles could climb up on the roof at No. 3 Saville Row, the Apple Corps HQ? No one. The Beatles are in the truest sense the epitome of rock stars. 3 of the 4 (George Harrison, Paul McCartney & John Lennon) went on to successful solo careers & Ringo played in numerous bands as drummer even though his drumming during the Beatle years seemed to be shallow and rather pedantic.

So to kick off the Beatles remasters, the Beatles Rockband & the possible addition of the Beatles to iTunes I will be dedicating this week to a slew of Beatles bootlegs & stories. On Thursday I will post a very special and long sought after Beatles Bootleg to the long suffering masses. Today, however, is one of my favorite Beatles concerts of all time Live at Shea ’65. This is the entire concert straight through with no break in between tracks. A great concert!

THE BEATLES LIVE SHEA ’65

Bootleg Thursday – Van Morrison 4-26-70 – Fillmore West

I know I’ve been neglecting the blog lately. That’s mostly due to writing for Big Wheel, but also real work & just plain laziness. So to make up for it I thought I’d share with you a favorite concert of mine. Van Morrison live at the Fillmore West in San Francisco, CA, 4-26-1970. Van Morrison has long been a favorite of mine. I actually prefer Van  Morrison to Jim Morrison. His Irish brogue not withstanding,I’ve just always been of the opinion that his body of work is better. I know it’s rare to compare vastly different artists, but in this obscure case I find myself strongly in favor of Van’s form of blues rock compared to Jim’s psychedelia. Enjoy, it’s amazing.

Van Morrison – 1970-04-26-Fillmore West
1. Moondance
2. Glad Tidings
3. Crazy Love
4. Come Running
5. The Way Young Lovers Do
6. Everyone
7. Brown Eyed Girl
8. And It Stoned Me
9. These Dreams Of You
10. Caravan
11. Cyprus Avenue
12. Into The Mystic

Sell Out With Me

Back in my younger days, my friends & I would pile into my white ‘86 Chevy Van & head out to the all ages dives to watch our favorite local bands. They were our bands, our little secret & we wanted no one else to know about them. We bought their 7 inch records & followed them around from show to show like groupies. This was before social media sites (MySpace, Facebook) allowed bands to advertise for free & garner a worldwide following. No, this was word of mouth & we told not a soul. If we saw new people at the shows we would get a pretentious air about “Our band” for fear that too many people would come to the shows & they would lose their identity to us.

Check out the rest of the article at Big Wheel Magazine.