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Entry date: 1-14-2024 – Randoms – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

 

Back in the day, I had a friend who would throw parties every so often. Her house was perfect for parties. It had a small but open backyard and a pool, and the rest of the house was eminently comfortable. When people who she didn’t know would show up, she would say, “Who invited the randoms” or something like that. It seems that when there would be a flyer for these parties, sometimes it would even say, “No randoms.”

 

As I think about this now, it makes me chuckle a little bit. If there weren’t random people showing up here and there in our life, we would never meet anyone new. I’m not so sure that particular friend ever really wanted to meet anyone new, but that’s really more about her than anyone else and I’m hopeful she has changed her outlook. You have to give people a chance.

 

I’ve gotten better about limiting these chances. I used to give a lot of chances to people but now, not so much. If I can’t live with someone’s motives, for example, I just tend to allocate my attention elsewhere. Everyone has their motives. I have mine, you have yours, and the people we are about to meet in life have theirs. It gets tricky, too, because a lot of people are good at hiding their motives.

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about my own motives lately. Rhondi got me a book for Christmas called The Tao of Bowie. I really like it. I’m not too far into it yet, but it is an interesting take on the self-help book. Apparently, David Bowie was really in touch with the idea that we have to continually look within and keep discovering who we really are.

 

One of the first things I have landed upon when applying this teaching to my own life is how helpful this blog has been for me. Sure, it’s kind of an open diary that anyone could have access to as I tell and write and revise my story, but it is also something else. It’s a daily challenge to myself to be real and to appreciate the moment.

 

It’s been really fun for the past two weeks to write about different records every day. I am reaffirming my love of music. I haven’t really torn into one yet and ripped it apart. Maybe I won’t. I am pretty sure I could write glowing things about 366 records that I like or love. Either way, it has been fun so far.

 

A lesson I have learned from the process is to not spend too long each day thinking about what record to write about. I just kind of land on one and there I go. Maybe I hear a song and make a mental note to write about the record it comes from, or I draw from the list I have started on one of my spreadsheets. I’m pretty stuck in the past, so far. I think the newest record I have written about is about thirty years old.

 

I’ll break that seal today.

 

*****

 

One of the things I often do is look for bands coming through town that would make an interesting interview. Three or four years ago, I saw that Ex Hex was coming through town. I was going through a period where I was really keen on bands either fronted by women, or in the case of Ex Hex, entirely female.

 

This had nothing to do with sex.  While I can find just about any talented person attractive from the standpoint of wanting to talk with them or discover how they do what they do, my fascination with ladies who rock came more from being privileged enough to be on the sidelines and seeing female-led bands really coming into their own and saying, “This is not a boy’s club.”

 

I interviewed Mary Timony from Ex Hex (also from Helium and Wild Flag) for their show at Rebel Lounge and we had a really fun conversation. As I was prepping for the interview, I listened to their record, It’s Real, a lot. One of the things I really like about this record is how the vibe just kind of oozes 70s power pop.

 

The riffs have that start/stop/repeat kind of thing that Cheap Trick made accessible for everyone from The Cars to the The Knack. “Good Times” is a perfect example of this. It is crisp and easy to bop your head to while you are driving, writing, or just sitting there chilling out. As it gives way to “Want It To Be True,” which is a very power-pop ballad-y, wistful, and pleading song, the record doesn’t lose any steam.

 

Live, the band did not disappoint. I had hoped Rhondi would join me for the show, but she wasn’t feeling it, so I went on my own. Luckily, there were other friends there to hang out with and I even got to introduce Mary T. to my friend, Dana, who was on the verge of a tiny fan-girl moment. It felt good to be able to do that. My affinity for these songs was only strengthened by seeing the band rock through them with aplomb.

 

“Rainbow Shiner” and “Diamond Drive” became other favorites. There is a bridge-ish part in the latter where Timony plays this cool ascending riff that just has the perfect “You need to feel good right now” vibe and then the band ties it up with a neat little ribbon-like turnaround. Nifty use of the ol’ digits, for sure.

 

If I am painting the impression that this is a super happy record, don’t get me wrong. It’s Real has got some darkness, too. Betsy Wright (bass and vocals) and Mary Timony blend their voices really well and honestly, there are songs where I’m not sure which one is singing lead, but both are exceptional at conveying the weight of what they want to say in their inflection.

 

Each has a little of that, “I’m cool. You can hang out, but just know, I’m cooler than you are,” in their vocal styling. The attitude really works on It’s Real. While there is a tinge of heartbreak in some of the songs, the vocal style really helps to make the songs more about empowering oneself to move forward rather than whining about being bummed and wallowing in post-breakup self-pity.

 

“Cosmic Cave” is a cool nod to The Go-Go’s and east coast angst complete with “Ooh-ooh-ooh” backups and sweet harmonies. The song stands out a bit in the back end of the record, too, because it pushes the pace way more than the three or four songs that precede it. Timony rips it up all throughout the record, but I really like her guitar work on “Cosmic Cave” a lot.

 

If any of what I have said about this one resonates, you should really check out It's Real. The band is on tour again, but sadly, they are not coming to Phoenix.

 

*****

 

See you tomorrow.



Nice sky above the

buildings we call home from light

to dark and beyond.

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