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Entry date: 2-17-2024 – The Power of Doubt – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

 

This past week has really been full of ups and downs. At work, it’s been full of surprises and also a battle of wills. To stare into the eyes of the Cocaine Baby is alternately like staring into the eyes of hope and then into the eyes of a minor, cranky, devious little demon.

 

Yesterday, Cocaine Baby asked me if my children would come to his birthday party in May. I was busy getting ready for the day and trying to motivate the masses towards doing their morning work and I had to do a double take.

 

“What?”

 

“Will you invite your kids to my birthday party?”

 

Cocaine Baby proceeds to hand me two half pieces of paper that have “May 12” written on them and a crude drawing of cake and presents.

 

“Do you know how old my youngest kids are?”

 

“No.”

 

“They are almost 17 and 18.”

 

“Can they come?”

 

“Oh, buddy, I don’t think they would want to do that, but if you invite me, I’ll come.”

 

“YAY! Will you bring your wife?”

 

“Sure, buddy. I’ll bring my wife.”

 

He went back to his desk a happy little man and I went back to my business. This is the type of sweetness that he typically starts his day with almost every day. He says hello to his classmates and is relatively well behaved. He loves being the breakfast boss which means that he takes the garbage can around and lets everyone get rid of their breakfast trash, then he takes out the hot/cold containers the food and milk is delivered in each morning to the hallway.

 

By the middle of the morning, I’m pretty sure my invitation has been revoked. Cocaine Baby went dark and while he tried hard a few times during the day, he just couldn’t keep it together. When I told him that he had not done enough to earn his second recess of the day, the battle of wills began. I could see in his eyes that he wanted to break me.

 

It took everything I could muster to just smile at him and keep telling him that I expected better from him. Sometimes that’s all you can do. Just tell that thorn in your side that you’ll keep pulling it out and putting it gently on the ground so you can get pricked by it again.

 

*****

 

At least there were no more mentions of BBC yesterday.

 

*****

 

We have a water leak in my bathroom. That’s awesome. Looks like I’m getting a new bathroom. Yay.

 

Cocaine Baby, can I come take a shower at your house?

 

*****

 

Released on my birthday in 1985, the Cult’s Love is another of those records that just felt like it was mine from the beginning. From the first note I heard of Love, I was in. It was one of those records that dominated an entire section of my high school life.

 

It blows me away that in about 20 months or so, I will have had my gatefold copy of Love for 40 years. I feel like Jeremy Piven’s character in Grosse Pointe Blank when he says, “10 years, man. 10. Years.” But for this, it’s 40.

 

“Every day, Nirvana.”

 

As great as Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy are on the opening track, and they are, it’s the bass line that gets me going. It’s simple and you’ve probably never noticed it, but it just keeps things moving like a motherfucker. Jamie Stewart laid down the straightforward bass on Love. Thank you, man. Thank you.

 

“Nirvana” is a great song. It kicks things into gear and sets a nice table. I always sort of wished, and I think I told Ian Astbury this when I interviewed him last year, that the band Nirvana chose their name because of the song. I have no idea if there is any semblance of truth to that, but I hoped it.

 

When “Big Neon Glitter” kicks in, I am there and ready. It takes me back to being in Bill’s old muscle car, maybe sharing a toke, and riding around like we were kings of the world. It felt like everyone I knew and loved in the mid-80s loved this record. It was a record that people of different groups and subcultures could bond over, kind of like the first Violent Femmes record.

 

By the time the Cult played Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum (The Madhouse on McDowell) in May of 1987 opening for (and blowing away) Billy Idol, we were all in a frenzy to see these songs live. I’ll never forget that night. Being down there on the floor of the Coliseum rubbing shoulders with everyone from the music scene in town. All the cool kids were there, and I felt like I was one of them.

 

“Big Neon Glitter” just about brought tears to my eyes and “Love” is about to drive me over the edge. It reminds me of my old friend, Vince. He’s not with us anymore, but we had more than a few conversations about how great this record was and is.

 

One of the last times I talked to him before he died, he was asking me to do a band with him and a few other dudes. He was friendly with the Cult guys and if we would have been able to put it together, Vince had a direct support slot for them at some big to-do in San Diego. I thought it would have been a lot of fun, but alas, it never happened.

 

I miss that guy.

 

Love is another in a long list of records that made me want to play music. I used to listen to this in my teenage bedroom and imagine what it would be like to play in the band. They seemed so amazing. I never really wanted to be a guitar hero or anything, but Billy Duffy certainly made it look like the coolest thing. His solo near the end of “Love” is just bad ass.

 

“Brother Wolf, Sister Moon,” strikes me as a bit long these days, but it’s easy to get lost in it still. I like the flow of the other songs on the record so much better, but the pace of “Brother Wolf…” is akin to some of the songs the band had during their Death Cult and Southern Death Cult incarnations. I do start getting antsy, though, during the song.

 

It conjures up images in my head of the walk between the apartment my mom and I shared on 22nd Street, just south of Indian School and Town and Country Mall. I must’ve made that walk 500 times in 1986 and 1987. There was a skateboard involved for some of those, too, but it was something to do.

 

My brain would go into overdrive, though, on many of those walks up to meet one friend or another or just to get out of the house. Ben would be with me often, too, but it wasn’t uncommon for me to do the trek by myself, especially when I was working at the Colonnade. It’s strange how a combination of notes and lyrics can take you back through time. I can easily see the sky above me as I passed through the business park that was just south of Town and Country.

 

Love really is a tremendous record. It’s got super heavy stuff mixed in with some really great and moody post-punk. I would never have called it “post-punk” in those old days, but I’m not sure I really knew what that term meant yet. I just thought it rocked.

 

“Rain” is a ball buster. “Hot sticky scenes, you know what I mean/Like a desert sun that burns my skin.” Yep, Ian. I know what you meant. The lyrics are really simple, but to those of us from the desert, it was like Astbury was speaking directly to us. More really great work from Jamie Stewart here, too.

 

“The Phoenix,” though is Billy Duffy’s time to fucking shine. It’s another song that I held near and dear to my heart. It has the name of my hometown in it, even though Astbury confirmed to me that there was no thought of Phoenix, Arizona in his head when he wrote the lyrics. He does like it here, though. At least that’s what he says.

 

Duffy rips this song in half and then makes a sandwich out of it with himself in the middle. Every one of us out here knows what the “heat from a thousand suns” feels like. Put on some good headphones or earbuds and listen to this one. Loud. I wonder how many wah wah pedals have been bought trying to copy Duffy’s sound here.

 

A lesser band would have been satisfied with the songs that I have mentioned already, but Love is kind of just getting started by the time “Hollow Man” comes on. This one is another one that now reminds me of the band’s earlier material. It might have the strongest chorus on the record outside of the next couple of songs, come to think of it. Until now, I never really thought of “Hollow Man” as kind of a pop song, but it really is.

 

 

“Revolution” has that anthemic quality that many of the Cult’s songs have. It’s not particularly great in any one area, but Astbury’s sheer will to command the microphone raises it up. It was a great choice to go between “Hollow Man” and “She Sells Sanctuary,” I can tell you that. Just like how “Nirvana” sets the table for side one, “Revolution” is a nice change of pace before “She Sells Sanctuary” tears the record wide open again.

 

I was such a fan of “The Phoenix” and “Rain” that I would often say that I wasn’t a big fan of “She Sells Sanctuary” back in the day. I think I liked being a bit contrary in those days, but I can freely admit know that “She Sells Sanctuary” is one of the best songs to come out in the mid-80s. It’s just super solid, catchy, and I love singing along with it.

 

Love is sturdy and stocky. You can’t push it over easily. I love that it finishes like a classic spaghetti western with “Black Angel.” You can just see Lee Van Cleef with a stringy bandana tied around his neck riding off into the sunset after having killed the bad guy.

 

“All this while, the storm is raging on.”

 

*****

 

See you tomorrow.



Sometimes a funny

face is all you need to see

to remember me

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1 Kommentar


"Love" is a great fucking album, still play it all the time. Did you go to the show at Celebrity Theater when they played it live in its entirety?


That student of yours makes me cringe.

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