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Entry date: 2-5-2024 – Someone’s Got A Case of the Mondays – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

 

This stupid cold needs to fuck off.

 

I almost forgot to write today. I’m still a little jazzed about how great it was to see the family and experience a really wonderful wedding, but it did wipe me out yesterday. I didn’t have much energy at all. One thing I did accomplish was doing a really fun interview with a couple dudes who just did a great local record.

 

I’m not happy about having to go back to work today. I could use one more day of doing nothing. Unfortunately, we don’t have a three-day weekend until two weeks from today. President’s Day can’t get here soon enough.

 

I wonder which version of my students will show up today. Hopefully the docile version who are ready to learn and grow. Having put it out there, though, I’m sure I will get something else entirely. I’ll settle for somewhere in between.

 

*****

 

Tonight, I plan on watching the new Curb Your Enthusiasm. I have to believe Larry David is going to go out with a bang. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed 99% of the episodes of Curb. There have been a few clunkers, sure, and more than a few awkward moments, but the humor has always been right up my alley.

 

I’m still working my way through Northern Exposure, too. Parts of the show are starting to wear a little thin. I think it has to do with the quality of the writing definitely drops off in season four. I’m not feeling particularly enthusiastic about the last fifty episodes or so. I hope I am pleasantly surprised, but my hopes are not high.

 

*****

 

Admittedly, I have never been a big Clash fan. Sure, I like a lot of their songs and own a few Clash records and CDs, but if you wanted me to name them as an influence or one of the best first wave punk bands, they would have to get in line. I just never found them to be particularly interesting.

 

About ten years or so ago, though, I heard a song called “Arms Aloft” off the Joe Strummer & The Mescalero’s record, Streetcore, and it really captured my attention. I went to Zia and picked up a used CD. If you’ve been reading a few of these, you already know that I have a penchant for leaving a CD in the player for a long time. Streetcore stayed in the player for weeks.

 

I really wanted The Father Figures to cover “Arms Aloft” really badly, but I didn’t press it. I don’t even know if it ever got out of my head, to be honest, and said anything to Michael and Bobby. The energy and essence of the song was, and still is, just right up my alley.

 

What I like about this record so much is Strummer’s lyrics. The guy was so thoughtful and had a lot to say. It’s too bad this was his last record. I think I could have become the type of fan that would have made it a habit to see him play live whenever possible. Now I kick myself for not making the effort when I had the chance.

 

Streetcore is a very solid record. There are a few tracks that I can easily tune out on these days, but back in the early 2010s, I got lost in it quite a bit. It was a tonic for what I was thinking about at the time. It also helped me frame what we were doing in The Father Figures a bit.

 

The feel of The Father Figures was so different from anything I had done before that hearing Strummer in a different light than the Clash helped me see how growth and change was positive and good for a musician in a tangible way. I’m sure bigger fans of his would argue with me that I should have been paying more attention, but he just wasn’t really on my radar.

 

“Coma Girl” is a great beginning. It’s super catchy and has some of the same anthemic qualities that I heard in “Arms Aloft.” The latter doesn’t come in until the fourth song, but we’ll get there soon enough. There is a bit of reggae feel in “Coma Girl,” especially in the bass line. As I said, it’s just catchy and it really shines in the pre-chorus.

 

“Get Down Moses” and “Long Shadow” are solid songs. Sometimes I skip them, but if you are in the mood for some reggae styling and a bit of Pogues-ish influence (respectively), you’ll dig’em. I never skip “Arms Aloft,” though. There is just something about it. Strummer uses his vocals in such a moving way. I just want to give him a hug when I listen to it.

 

“I’m gonna pull you up! I’m gonna pull you out! May I remind you of that scene/A million mirror balls gleam.” So good. It’s also another great bass line, too. Simple but nimble and ready for the rock each time.

 

“Ramshackle Day Parade” is a down tempo, folk punk-style song. The haunting backing vocals really tie it up nicely, too. I’m not sure what a “Ramshackle Day Parade” is, but it sounds like something that might celebrate transitions.

 

It’s followed up by a cover of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.” I happen to love “Redemption Song,” so it became a favorite of mine quite quickly. I remember driving around singing it at the top of my lungs many times. Something about that song just hits the right spots in my soul. We used to sing it at the summer camp I worked at for many years in the late 90s and early 2000s, so it reminded me of sitting around the campfire singing with the kids.

 

“All In A Day” is a pretty straight forward rocker with an infectious groove. Good for getting blood pumping and the hands tapping the steering wheel, for sure. Any song with a “Whoa, hey, hey,” part is all right by me.

 

I like “Burnin’ Streets” quite a bit, too. As much as there is a Clash feel surrounding Streetcore, I think this song really is the biggest nod to Strummer’s famous band. Scott Shields did some really fantastic guitar work on this one adding textures around Strummer’s signature Telecaster sound.

 

“Midnight Jam” is a really nice moment, too. Apparently, it was completed after Strummer died unexpectedly as they were finishing up the record. The band really tastefully added some outtakes of Strummer interviews, and it works really well. As I listen to it now with a few more years under my belt and a greater appreciation for his work, it hits me in the feelers a bit differently than when I first heard it.

 

The album ends with a cover of a Bobby Charles’ song called "Before I grow Too Old.” It has been re-titled here as “Silver and Gold.” It’s a really wonderful swan song. Try and listen to it without thinking of it being the last song on Strummer’s last record.

 

*****

 

See you tomorrow.



Back when I was a tech teacher.

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2 commentaires


Tried to cover "Arms Aloft" in a previous band but bailed when we realized we'd never to do it justice. A FF version definitely coulda been interesting. Maybe my favorite Strummer tune, and that's coming from a Clash fan.

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En réponse à

It’s so good. Maybe we could figure it out together.

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