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Entry date:  1-6-2024 – In the Spirit of Mirth – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

 

How do I start today? I don’t even know. I’ve been pretty stressed the last few days over Doug’s health, and I just need to exercise that particular demon. As I talked about yesterday, sometimes the only thing you can do is just be there and be ready to pitch in wherever you are needed. Most of all, I’m worried about the toll it is taking on my wife. She’s been a real trooper so far and I know of no reason to think otherwise, but the love she has for her dad is fierce.

 

Yesterday, my buddy Rick and I were texting a bit and talking about how life makes us no promises. Sometimes it is good to remind ourselves of this fact. There is no guarantee on how many heart beats we get. I don’t plan on wasting any more of mine but I’m sure I will, here and there.

 

Take this day. Do with it what you want to and what you will. I suppose that is a good start and, I will add, do no harm to others in doing so on this fine January day. Why make someone else’s day harder while you are out there doing your thing. That’s a pretty good recipe for well used heartbeats.

 

*****

 

Back in the early 90s, my friend Alex shared Solid Gold by Gang of Four with me. They were a band that I had heard about, of course, and even heard a few songs, but he was adamant that I should listen to them, so I did. It was a revelation.

 

One of my favorite things about this record is that the cover says “Fuck You” as well as any record cover I’ve ever seen. It’s so simple, not quite generic, and just is what it is. I don’t know why, but it has always struck me as a clever way of saying, along with “fuck you,” that this record is not what you’re going to expect.

 

By the time this one came out in 1981, post-punk was definitely a thing and no one did it better than Gang of Four. “Why Theory,” for example, which is the third track, has those great double lead vocals that made Gang of Four sound so subversive at times. There is something about the interplay between Jon King and whoever sang/talked the response vocals that always makes me happy. I’ve assumed it was Andy Gill, but I can’t say for sure.

 

I love Entertainment, too, but Solid Gold is my go-to Gang Of Four. Alex shared both records with me and I ate them up, but by the time I got to “Outside the Trains Don’t Run on Time,” I was hooked. Dave Allen’s robotic disco bassline on that song just rules.

 

Come to think of it, it’s Allen’s bass lines that really make this record for me. Even on the songs that aren’t super exciting (“A Hole In The Wallet,” for example), the bass lines are fucking great. It’s easy to see how his work influenced bands like Jesus Lizard, Fugazi, and later, Bloc Party.

 

In 2015, I got to interview Andy Gill for a New Times piece. While we were talking about the show, he mentioned that he was worried about the turnout and if there were any good locals they could add. Long story short, we got to open for them at the Crescent Ballroom and it was a lot of fun. Full bucket list for us and we got to hang with Gill for a good while after the show. He was a super cool guy and I’m sorry he’s not alive anymore to play his beautiful, scorching guitar.

 

If you would have told me that I would one day get to have a nice long chat with Gill and play a show with Gang of Four back when Alex turned me on to Solid Good, I probably would have told you that you were smoking crack. Funny how life works out.

Make those heart beats count.

 

*****

 

See you tomorrow.



What was I thinking?

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