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Entry date: 3-3-2024 – If Only Everyone Put Energy Into Being Creative – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

 

On Thursday night, I interviewed my new friend, David, for our Placebo Documentary. It was awesome. One of the things he talked about was a dream he had where he was in an alternative universe and people were encouraged to be creative and express themselves and their feelings through creativity, rather than focusing on negativity and things like the dark television programs we have a lot of here in our universe.

 

He was a lot more eloquent about it, but it struck a chord. I love his concept of being part of a race of people who attempt to foster creativity in themselves and others as a way to avoid over the top violence and the destruction of war. He talked about how this other universe did have conflict, but it was more like the occasional fist fight and not people going to guns right away.

 

This makes a lot of sense to me. It also makes me sad. Are we too far gone? I used to be a very optimistic person, and in many ways, I still am, but I’m becoming more and more of a realist as I get older.

What I can do, though, is foster creativity as a means to understand who we are and what we feel and think in my classroom.

 

Last night, Michael and I were talking about this after the Club Placebo show (which was great, by the way). We talked about how many people simply don’t know that can be creative. It has been beaten out of them or was never encouraged. They are scared, too, of looking inside of themselves.

 

It’s a lot to think about on a Sunday.

 

*****

 

As a fan of the Butthole Surfers, I had dived into Scratch Acid around 1989, I think, and then into the Jesus Lizard. At first, I liked the Lizard a lot more than Scratch Acid. There was something about the propulsive nature of the Jesus Lizard that captured my attention and didn’t let go for a very long time.

 

I’m not sure if they have ever let go, actually. When I put Goat on, for example, I am immediately in, ready, and transfixed.

 

Goat was the second Jesus Lizard CD I bought. David Wm. Sims bassline at the beginning of “Then Comes Dudley” has been a constant source of inspiration for me. It’s not particularly technical or difficult, but it’s going to run over and through you if you get in its way. The man is the secret hero of the Jesus Lizard for me, as much as I love Duane Dennison’s guitar or David Yow’s vocals.

 

Sims was locked in with Mac McNeilly throughout Goat and it was (and still is) easy to get completely swept away, pummeled, or hypnotized. You choose your ending here. After listening to Goat, you either want to start a band, quit your band, or listen to it again and again.

 

“Mouth Breather” is one of my all-time favorite songs. I liked it when I first heard it, of course, but it was a show at the Sun Club with Jon Spencer Blues Explosion that solidified it for me as, maybe, my favorite Jesus Lizard song. Again, the Sims’ bassline is just bad ass. It’s a short song, but it packs a wallop. Yow sells it, too. When he sings this song live (and I hope I get to see him do it again), he owns the stage.

 

It's safe to say, actually, that David Yow has probably owned every stage he’s ever stepped foot on.  The man is one of the very best front men in rock and roll history. It’s a shame that more people don’t know this. When the Lizard were firing on all cylinders, I would have had a hard time saying that I had seen a better live band.

 

This is not hyperbole, either. I have seen a lot of bands and a ton of great shows/performances. If you hooked me up to a lie detector, I’m not sure I could say that even my beloved Butthole Surfers were quite as powerful as the Jesus Lizard in their prime. What a great show that would have been. Who would have opened for whom?

 

There was a show where the Lizard opened for Helmet at Club Paradox, which was in the old Café Casino building at 24th Street and Camelback. I felt so bad for Helmet that night. Jesus Lizard just destroyed the place and Yow even pulled a “tight and shiny.” If you know, you know. This was the second time in a row of seeing Helmet get completely blown away by their opening act. I believe I wrote about this when I wrote about Stoner Witch by the Melvins.

 

As with many albums I love, there is not a weak moment or let up on Goat. After “Mouth Breather,” the band roars through “Nub” then “Seasick” and into “Monkey Trick.” I love all three, just not as much as “Mouth Breather.” Yow shouting “I can swim/I can’t swim” on “Seasick” is pretty fucking impressive, though, and Sims’ line on “Monkey Trick” is sofa king bad ass, too.

 

I really should not avoid lauding the praise on Duane Dennison any further. One of the reasons that Sims can be so great is that Dennison completely holds down the mid- and high-end stuff. One of my favorite guitar players, Dennison is inventive, jazzy, and just super talented.

 

These guys created a perfect maelstrom in the early 1990s grunge-powered musical sea. I also know that he sported a Hillbilly Devilspeak shirt at a show after we played with them for the first time in the late 90s. I mean, he was probably out of clean clothes, but still. Listen to his work on “Karpis” and tell me he is not one of the best guitar players of his generation.

 

“South Mouth” is another rocker that gets a little jazzy, too. The Jesus Lizard have the chops to get a little out there and I have always loved that about them. To watch them play live, you just feel the confidence oozing off them. As mentioned, Hillbilly got to play with them twice (once at the Mason Jar and once at Bostons). They couldn’t have been nicer to us.

 

Even Sims, who comes off as very gruff, was complimentary of my bass tone after I told him how much I loved watching him play. That was a cloud nine kind of moment for me. He’s an intense dude, but when you see the way he plays, you know it’s just who he is and not something to be taken personally.

 

“Lady Shoes” is another scorcher. Dennison and Yow kick the song back into high gear for the big finish and then McNeilly drives it home. I’ve always liked this song, too. Even after 30+ years of listening to “Lady Shoes,” though, I still have no idea what 90% of the lyrics are. Does it matter? I feel it. I don’t need to sing along.

 

“Rodeo in Joliet” wraps up the version I bought back in the day. It’s an intensely expressive song as it opens and unfolds. Sims and Dennison are jabbing back and forth at each other and then they lock in on a killer finger-walking riff that I’ve ripped off a few times over the years. Yow talk/singing about “no great waterhole in Downer’s Grove” gets me every time. I also love that he’s got a track or two on there where he is just breathing in and out. It really sells the line, “The old wind bag blows.”

 

Goat is still fucking amazing after all these years and lesser bands continue to try to capture its magic.

 

*****

 

See you tomorrow.



Destruction 2024

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