Category Archives: My Thoughts

Current Mood: “Baker Street” over and over again.

I started out by putting it on after I heard the version of it on Ann Wilson’s new solo album (which wasn’t my cup of tea, though I love a good deal of Ann’s other work…hopefully she at least had fun recording it…).

Then, I started going back and forth between the album version and this single version, the one I’m most familiar with. The album version’s fine, but because the instrumental breaks are longer and arranged differently, you don’t get the guitar solo at the very end of the last verse, where it lands perfectly on the single. It shows up after an instrumental break on the album version, which I think was a well-meaning mistake, but a mistake nonetheless. It really triess to mute the urgency of the guitar solo (one that I’d argue is perhaps the most urgent guitar solo ever played; to my ears, it is the disturbingly beautiful sound of someone absolutely losing their shit…), and that’s just not a good plan. Contrary to popular opinion in all likelihood, I would quite strongly argue that the best part of the song isn’t that saxophone…it’s the guitar solo. It had to stand out in a song with that rather amazing sax line, amongst these terrific snapshots of life, and it sure as hell does. Hugh Burns turns an utterly legendary job on it. If you’ve never heard of him, he’s largely known as a session guitarist, but he’s one with 45 years of recording credits, playing on hundreds of records with everyone from Doris Day to George Michael (he’s done guitar work on two of the best known saxophone songs of all time, as he also played guitar on “Careless Whisper”) to (recent, scare the bejeezus out of people) Scott Walker, and, of course, with Gerry.

So, I settled in largely on the single version after a while. While I was listening, I did a bit of reading about Gerry Rafferty’s life (Hugh, I’d researched independently a few years ago), and a lot struck me. He was uncomfortable performing live, which is also something that pretty much derailed my own attempt at a musical career. He suffered from alcoholism just as I did (and do; I quit drinking two decades ago, but it’s always with me), only he wasn’t able to overcome it as successfully as I have to date (I’ve done well, but I’m learning to take nothing for granted). He kinda withdrew from a pretty loud public life, and on a much smaller scale, though I’m painfully aware that I’m typing this on a website that bears my name, I’ve rolled back my attempts at being “public” quite a bit in recent years, due to a developing antipathy toward fame. And then there was the train. He spoke of the Glasgow to London train being a fixture of his life and career during the recording of “City To City”, the album “Baker Street” is on, and in about a month and a half, I’ll be taking a ride on the 2018 version of that train, though it won’t be for business and, unless I end up getting a stronger-than-last-visit urge to see Danger Mouse’s pillar box (it’s possible, but it’s not written in ink on my itinerary, either), I won’t end up on Baker Street when I arrive in London. It’s weird that I’m hearing of this very different experience with that train and this song and its author than mine as I’m about to ride it. Mine’s going to be part of a honeymoon. Gerry’s experience seems to have been a lot of meetings with lawyers and music biz people (he dealt with some pretty serious legal problems after Stealer’s Wheel broke up, apparently because they signed on of those truly terrible recording contracts you hear so much about) and, eventually, when the lawsuits were done, riding it back and forth to record music. I’ll be thinking about Gerry on that train ride now, and I’ll try to make sure “City To City” is on my listening device of choice for it.

As for why the song is resonating so strongly with me tonight (I listen to it regularly enough, but I don’t think I’ve ever done what I think was about 7 or 8 listens in a sitting as I typed this), I think it’s just a right place/right time thing. I’ve been aware of the song for basically all of its 40 years. I’d heard it on the radio from the beginning as a very young kid, but I first really spent time with it on a K-Tel compilation called Spotlight…

…which I either ended up with as a hand-me-down or an “I’ll make off with this thing that belongs to my sister” (hopefully not the latter, though it was unfortunately both common and condoned far too often by my family, and I carry some guilt for doing it). It was the last song on the record, and it just, even at a young age, felt like more serious music than the rest of what was on the record, and a lot of the rest of what I’d heard at that point in my life.

Since then, it’s been a song that’s kept coming back to me over and over again over the years, because it’s one of the best songs, and probably because it captures that feeling of tension bubbling under the surface until something finally gives so well. It’s extraordinary, and at the same time, it’s deeply relatable. Given how deeply I dive into certain subjects, particularly musical ones, and given how largely “Baker Street” looms in my life, I’m kinda surprised that I’ve never really done an especially deep dive of Gerry’s catalog or his life until tonight. (My intellectual curiosity is really strong at times, but it can be extremely uneven, and that’s troubling to think about, because I know that miss out on things by not distributing it evenly.) I mean, I’ve dabbled a little, and I was familiar with the broad strokes, but I’ve never been compelled to spend as much time as I have tonight on all of this. It could just be that I’ve been constantly planning things for about 4 years solid now, while I’ve been simultaneously feeling the passage of time rather strongly, just this never-ending stream of plans, some mine, some other people’s, that sometimes get achieved to some degree or another, but which never really feel finished, and yeah, that’s this song. That may have driven me to need to know a bunch more about it, and keep hearing it tonight while I looked into it.

Or it could just be that absolute fucking rager of a guitar solo.

Update: hearing the album version on the radio in Edinburgh finally made it click for me after all these years.

Here, have at.

To Blazes With The Fucking Things

Between a few different beds, I gave it about 15 years as an adult on the American box spring/mattress combo, and I am here to tell you that I think box springs and mattresses are bullshit.

Back to a futon for me, as soon as is humanly possible.

Seniors

So every once in a while, I think about how, in fiction at least, people who are seniors in high school yell “SENIORS!!!!!!!!11111” a lot, as a way of celebrating the fact that they are, in fact, seniors in high school.

I don’t have many regrets about leaving high school before my second year of it would have normally ended, but the fact that I didn’t get to annoy people with that for an entire year is one of them.

Is it too late for me to walk around yelling “SENIORS!!!!!!!11111”? (Or, as I am in my 40s and not my 60s, am I too early?)

Did people actually do that when they were, in fact, seniors in high school, or is that a made up thing?

Did any of you do it?

If not, do any of you have remorse about not doing it?

I’m in love.

They’re so bad. They’re so good.

Addendum To My Potato Salad Post, And Some Other Updates

This was me IRL when I realized exactly how easy it was to make decent potato salad, and that I’d been freed from the shackles of Corporate Potato Salad forever…

(Best experienced for these purposes from 2:23 on, as the link intended…)

I’d been meaning to post this basically since I thought of it, but life (and a flu that beat the flu shot and still hasn’t entirely quit, but is getting there) got in the way.

In other news…

I’ve been banging on the code behind the scenes here, so when I post, some of you may get emails that do not end up going to your spam folders or getting blocked outright. We’ll know when this post goes up if any of it works. Basically, if you’re on the mailing list and you actually get an email that isn’t in your Spam folder when it arrives, comment here, and I’ll know I done good. Actually, even if it does show up in Spam, useful information for me to have, so let me know on that as well if you can. Thanks in advance for that. I appreciate the work that the early adopters to the email subscription setup have done to help me kick the tires.

Watched all of The End Of The Fucking World, and then watched it again while I was super-sick so it was kinda hazy and weird and cold mediciney. Enjoyed the hell out of it both times. I’m not exactly new to the material, though…

I got the first 7 of these when I was in California in 2012, and ordered the rest from Chuck Forsman as they came out. Re-read them all recently, before watching the show, when a new printing of the collected edition came out (I missed the first printing of it). Really happy that he’s got a hit on his hands. If you liked TEOTFW, check out his other stuff, especially his recent I Am Not Okay With This, which is in the same vein.

I’ve also been playing a lot of Skyrim (a well-spent $5, in spite of its various problems), listening to as much music as I can (I’ve posted evidence of this recently, and I’ll be closing this post with just a bit more), trying to free myself from the shackles of Big Social now that I’ve beaten Corporate Potato Salad (I’ve spent a lot less time on the big two sites lately, thankfully), and just tryin’ to survive and stay entertained/distracted without being too numb or too disengaged from the world, or too consumed by the hyper-awareness that it’s burning (with little I can do as an individual right now to stop it from burning). Hopefully, I’m doing right by myself and others in the process.

I promised y’all more music to wrap up, and here’s my friend Andrew W.K. with that music. It’s called “Music Is Worth Living For”, and it’s the first single from his new album “You’re Not Alone”, which is due out March 2nd if memory serves.

I think that brings us up to speed.

I’ve caught myself pacing a bit more than usual this holiday season.

For those of you who know me a bit, you know that I already pace a fair deal, more sometimes when I’m talking. I’ve been doing it a lot for the past week or so. It took me until yesterday to figure out why.

Initially, I’d made plans to time-shift the holidays a bit, since “the holidays” now involve me driving several hundred miles in each direction to see family, and doing so is tough enough without also doing a significant chunk of it in New York Metropolitan Area holiday traffic. When I was younger, this would have been easier, but I tire more easily these days. So, we were going to get together a week earlier than we traditionally do among my family and a good chunk of my friends to celebrate. A family health emergency (everyone’s OK now, don’t worry about that, at least) torpedoed that, so we decided to time-shift our get-together again, to early January.

This has created a situation where, for perhaps the first time I can remember, I have nowhere to be and nothing to do related to Christmas, as it’s happening, and yet, the sense memory of the anxiety and anticipation of the event is still unshakably here. I haven’t even been able to positively redirect it toward other things that I need to get done, because most of them involve outside individuals, and, let’s face it, no one’s getting anything done until January 2nd at this time of the year.

Christianity (I’m not a member, but its influence is unfortunately everywhere in my country) and (especially) capitalism have fostered a situation where, even though the holidays are supposed to be times of rest and relaxation, and I’m in a situation that’s ideal for rest and relaxation, my brain simply refuses to believe that I can just take it easy, man.

Before anyone says “It’s not Christianity and/or capitalism, it’s anxiety”, I can tell you that, as someone who deals with chronic and/or acute anxiety every day, this feels different. This is anxiety brought on by institutional conditioning. The only other type of anxiety I can compare it to is “I don’t want to go to school” anxiety, because, like this other stuff, it was anxiety that would not exist without the heavy-handed influence of institutions. It’s a little different beyond that, because fear of school was fear of being in a hostile environment, and this is more like I’ve been trained to run headlong into a different hostile environment, specifically because there may be rewards after I run the gauntlet. (I rarely if ever felt like anything about public school was an actual reward in and of itself, because, at the time, very little of what I was taught there or how it was taught to me engaged, enriched or nurtured me, and very little of how I was treated by teachers and students alike felt like kindness. It felt like I was conscripted into 13 years of boring, ugly cruelty designed to beat the happiness, imagination and individuality out of me, with only the vague promise of possibly going to one of those places where I saw people partying in movies on HBO, albeit at a probable high financial cost once I figured that out, at the end of those 13 years.)

So, here I sit, marveling at the brain I thought was so independent in my younger years, telling me that I can’t relax, because of Christianity and capitalism.

These two forces, working in concert, have embedded this idea in my mind: “You have to be somewhere, though you don’t know where RIGHT NOW, for the celebration of an event that is personally irrelevant to you save for the opportunity to gather with people who matter to you, but before you get there, you have to complete difficult quests you cannot identify in this moment for all sorts of things, most of which you can’t afford, a some of which you will not be able to identify until you see them. Otherwise, the people you love will be DEEPLY disappointed in you.”

I’ll certainly survive it, I have to date, but what an unbelievable mind fuck. It’s some shit out of “The Shawshank Redemption” or something.

I’d end this piece with two words familiar to most of you, but no, it’s really not OK for me to say them right now, no matter what any of the true monsters of this world would like us to believe.

Headphones

Anxiety’s robbed me of the ability to listen to music through headphones in my own home.

If I’m out in the world, under the right circumstances (car or bus rides, mostly, but occasionally walks or runs), I can do it, but at home, I always feel like I’m giving up a tactical advantage by not being able to hear ambient noise in my surrounding area.

As a (mostly) retired musician and a lifelong lover of music, this makes me incredibly sad.

Raisin Poisoning

The best thing I ever saw on World of Warcraft’s Trade chat was a user complaining about how the bowl of raisin bran they had just eaten had too many raisins in it, and how they now had raisin poisoning.

It was a good, long time ago, but I still think about this rather often. Just one of those things that stuck with me.