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Entry date: 2-10-2024 – The Swift Knife of Karma – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

 

At the end of the school day yesterday, the swift knife of karma showed its sharpened blade. It all started during the early part of the day. The Cocaine Baby was really on one.  He just couldn’t stay out of his own way.

 

By the time we got to PE, I could tell it was just not going to be his day. There was a hint of crazy in his eyes. I’m starting to realize that Fridays are the day where, even if he’s been holding together fairly well all week, it just unravels.

 

It is probably something along the lines of the weekends are too unstructured for him to handle, so he starts the craziness at school as a coping mechanism. Or, and I hope I’m wrong, maybe it’s worse than that and he is being abused somehow. Either way, the end of the week stresses him out.

 

He gave one of his female classmates this note: “Are you my mom?”

 

This was a serious question. The Cocaine Baby had a very strange look in his eyes. She was weirded out. I was flabbergasted. I have never had a student ask another student that question.

 

He got in trouble at lunch for throwing sand in someone’s face. Not a lot of trouble, but still got sent to the discipline person. He was struggling so much when he got back to class to keep it together, but he made it to the end.

 

On the way out to the gate, though, Cocaine Baby body checked a younger student and knocked him to the ground. I checked on the student who had literally been knocked out of one of his shoes and the Cocaine Baby almost got away. Luckily, the younger student was okay, and I caught up to Cocaine Baby before he could get off campus.

 

The last thing any teacher wants to do is write someone up on a Friday at the end of the day. All I could do was talk to him and Cocaine Baby was smart enough to know he was going to get away with his transgression. He looked at me as if I was the crazy one and what could I do? I sent him home. He ran off to go through the gate and tossed the apple he was eating on the ground.

 

As he was crossing over a small area between the gate and the street, I saw him drop his lanyard with his ID and brand-new house key on the ground.

 

This is where Karma stepped in. He either lost his ID or his key. I’m guessing it was his key by the way he was acting. A lot was riding on him keeping that key safe. It was swift yesterday, that karma.

 

***** 

 

Had a great jam last night with Amy, Dana, and Ward. It felt so good to play loud music. I was a bit wiped out by the end, but it was worth it.

 

*****

 

Got some other exciting news, too. Big things are coming up in the Fall. More information to come, but the creative juices will be flowing.

 

*****

 

Initially, I had an inclination to not pick Cure for Pain as the first Morphine record I would write about this year. I thought about writing about Yes and I even started to do my homework as I own a copy of each one. I remembered really liking Yes, too, when I got it, but after a song or two, I found myself longing for Cure for Pain.

 

It’s the one I reach for when I need some Morphine and sometimes, I think, everyone needs this band. I can’t exactly remember who turned me on to Morphine. It might have been Brian, or maybe Alex, and I guess it really doesn’t matter, but whoever did turn me on to them did me a favor. This record got me through some tough times in the early 90s.

 

It’s a break up record. It’s also a down and out record. And finally, it’s a hopeful record. It pushes all the buttons on an emotional level. It also helps that when it comes to how it sounds, it is fucking bitchin’.

 

The late Mark Sandman had a cool thing going. His voice suited the music, and his bass playing was just cool. Two strings, a slide, and the ability to snake in and out of Dana Colley’s bad ass saxophone. Morphine had a good thing going on at this point. 

 

Jerome Deupree handled the lion’s share of the drums on Cure for Pain, too.  They should not be ignored here. Between Sandman and Colley creating the atmosphere, Deupree was back there keeping the whole thing moving like a garden snake pushing candy apples.

 

As cool as “Buena” is, I start to feel this record at “I’m Free Now.” I’m not skipping the brief intro, either, in “Dawna.” It hooks me every time, but “I’m Free Now” is the song where, when I was driving around in my little red Nissan truck in the mid-90s, I’m singing at full volume.

 

Sandman wrote great lyrics. Many of them were like bite size bits of film noir. He even talks about being free to “direct a movie or sing a song about yours truly” in “I’m Free Now.” I can’t write this stuff, but I’m sure as hell thankful that he could.

 

There is a feeling of being in dingy bar straight out of the old Mickey Rourke film, Angel Heart, for me on “All Wrong.” I see the raven-haired girl slinking around in the crumbling ruin of some place that might have once even been kind of posh. It’s not posh anymore.

 

“Candy” is another great one in a string of catchy, funky, and ultra-fuckable songs. It is very possible to get romantic in a dirty way. This is the type of record that you might need a shower after listening to it, especially if you are with that special someone. They might not even need to be that special. Where was “Candyland,” Mr. Sandman?

 

If you know Cure for Pain, you know that it’s just getting warmed up as you approach the halfway point. Colley takes over during “Candy,” for example and just lets the saxophone soar. When “A Head with Wings” kicks in, I just think of the flying eyeball acid we got ourselves a few sheets of in the late 80s. I’m pretty sure Sandman wasn’t referring to that particular type of blotter, but I like to think he was. (But don’t try that until you’re over 25, kids)

 

Hmmn…the lyrics could be about psychedelics, come to think of it.

 

“In Spite of Me” is just another great song. It’s a bit of a palate cleanser, too. It is strategically placed in the dead center of the record and it sounds like nothing else on the record. “In Spite of Me” also perfectly sets up the bad ass song that follows it.

 

“Thursday” has the greatest saxophone/bass riff combo. It might be the best moment of Morphine’s career, in my opinion. The lyrics are, again, very film noir-ish, and just perfect. Seduction via billiards…Danger, Will Robinson! What a great outro, too.

 

The title track, “Cure for Pain” just kind of lazily swings. As I mentioned earlier, this record is so fun to sing along with. The lyrics are great to sing, and the way Sandman used his voice as another instrument on Cure for Pain was really masterful.

 

“Someday there’ll be a cure for pain/that’s the day I throw my drugs away” is such a great line.

 

 

There isn’t a weak moment on Cure for Pain. “Mary Won’t You Call My Name?” is a bit of a barn burner and neither is “Let’s Take a Trip Together.” The latter is one of those songs that could almost be a Tom Waits song or a lost track off of Chet Baker Sings (which will get it’s day in this here year of love letters).

 

One of the regrets I have is never going to see Morphine live. I don’t remember missing them for any particular reason. During the years they were active and touring, I was playing a lot of gigs, too, so it could have been a scheduling thing or a too much live music thing. I didn’t see Sandman’s death coming, either so I probably just assumed I would catch them next time.

 

“Sheila” is another really good song. I dig this one little bass bit Sandman does where he kind of runs up the neck of the bass. It’s mixed a little low in there, but it is just so damn cool. He was a good one.

 

“Miles Davis’ Funeral” is a fitting end. There is so much jazz in Morphine, even if I didn’t fully realize when I first got hooked. Be careful, though, because once you start, it’s hard to put them down.

 

*****

 

See you tomorrow.



I miss skateboarding a lot.

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