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Entry date: 4-26-2024 – And then There was a Showerhead – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

 

I’m trying to psyche myself up with the title of this post. By the end of the weekend, I will be ready to start tiling the shower in the front bathroom. At the end of that time, there will be a showerhead with running water. It will happen.

 

Yesterday was a good day. Tough, but good. I now know what has been bothering the Cocaine Baby and it is fucking harsh.

 

Apparently, in addition to him not having the meds that help him be calmer in class, his father let him know that his biological mother is dead. Yesterday he shared with me that he is pretty confused by all this as he has been holding out hope that he would get to be reunited with her one day.

 

When he told me that he just wanted to talk with her, I shared with him that I talk to certain members of my family (blood and otherwise) who are no longer with us all the time. I shared with him that he has been keeping her alive in his heart all this time and can continue to do so, even if he can’t see her again. He seemed to like that.

 

Then his dad took him out of school early and apparently there was talk with our registrar about removing him soon. It was bittersweet at lunch time when he came and got his backpack. I’m wondering if I will ever see him again.

 

No wonder he was so on edge for a couple of days.

 

Before he disclosed the information about his mom, I talked to him about meeting me halfway when I asked him to “chill” moving forward. He shared that it had been hard without his medicine, but we discussed that we could me each other in the middle and I would give him some grace and he would give me some grace. He seemed to like that, too. He looked like he actually understood what I was asking of him and what I was willing to do for him, too.

 

As teachers, these little people come into our lives and make a profound impact for a short period of time sometimes. I have a feeling that the Cocaine Baby will stick with me until I can’t remember much of anything. He won’t be in school today, apparently, so I won’t know until next week if he is gone.

 

*****

 

I’m so curious to see what version of the Phoenix Suns play tonight. I am so perplexed by this team that I wouldn’t be surprised if they lost badly, and I wouldn’t be surprised is they won handily. I don’t know what to think about them.

 

I’ll be watching, though. Why? I am a glutton for punishment.

 

*****

 

I watched the documentary on XTC several years ago and it made me cry. This is Pop came out in 2017 and it was really well done. I had liked XTC before that, but I didn’t own any of their stuff. The documentary changed my whole perspective on the band.

 

I got stuck on Black Sea first because of “Generals and Majors.” I am pretty keen on that one. So much so that “keen” seems like an appropriate term to describe my feelings for it. “Generals and Majors” is a supremely well-crafted pop song, but it doesn’t seem like a typical pop song.

 

The lack of a typical chorus, I think, sets it apart from the average pop song because what serves as a chorus actually drops the song down to what seems like a totally different feel. The verses are kind of snappy and then when the chorus hits, XTC switches things up to just vocals, a bit of guitar strum, and simple drums. It’s so great.

 

Like many of the albums I’ve written about lately, I like the pacing of Black Sea. “Respectable Street” is an excellent starter, then you have “Generals and Majors,” and then “Living Through Another Cuba.” The latter is such a cool song. It reminds me a bit of Oingo Boingo and Talking Heads. Maybe it is the bastard son of Danny Elfman and Tina Weymouth.

 

I chose Tina Weymouth because “Living Through Another Cuba” has a weird little bassline. Colin Moulding is a master at the ‘weird little bassline.’ Much like yesterday’s offering, the bass playing on this record is pretty underrated. I dig it a lot.

 

“Rocket from a Bottle” has a little Devo-ish keyboarding on it that duels with Moulding’s bass. Pretty sweet, actually. It also never stops moving. I have to assume that is Dave Gregory’s keyboard work, but it could be Andy Partridge, too.

 

“No Language in Our Lungs” probably should have been a bigger song, in my opinion. The This is Pop documentary gave me such a different insight into why Partridge might have written the lyrics he wrote than if I would have never seen it. Such heartbreaking stuff wrapped in cool avant-pop weirdness.

 

“Towers of London” is another good one. Terry Chambers does some really cool percussion on this one. As I listen more closely on this pass, I can understand why XTC never really got the kind of fame they were maybe seeking. They are accessible to those people who want to think about music. Most people don’t’ want to do that, though.

 

XTC is a thinking person’s band.

 

Take a song like “Paper and Iron (Notes and Coins).” You listen to the beginning, and it could absolutely go anywhere. It sounds so poppy and nice at first listen but then it builds into this angsty rant. I love it, but I’m guessing they lost people who bought the record just because of “Generals and Majors.”

 

I have to remind myself this record was from 1980. It still sounds a bit like it is ahead of its time. It is clearly rooted in that time, but it’s like prog and post-punk had a baby (thanks to Tina Weymouth and Danny Elfman). “Burning with Optimism’s Flames” is a great title and an even better title, but it also doesn’t give a fuck what you think of it.

 

“Sgt. Rock (is Going to Help Me)” is another one that DNGAF. It almost sounds like they were sitting around the studio listening to a lot of Frank Zappa stuff and talking about how they could do something like him. I’m guessing they weren’t, but listen closely and you might hear it, too.

 

Chambers’ work on “Travels in Nihilon” is bad ass. I can’t imagine that drum riff is easy to play. It’s a good’un, though. Super powerful and it drives the song to heights it could probably have only dreamed of with his attack.

 

I have a lot to learn about XTC and, obviously, a lot more room to grow my appreciation. I’ve been picking up as much of their stuff on vinyl as I can. These are great songs to DJ.

 

Please watch This is Pop, though, if you are curious about it or XTC. The film does a great job of explaining how terrifying playing music can be. For me, I’ve been really lucky to not have an issue with stage fright. I get nervous before a gig, sure, but I like playing live a lot. For some, though, it’s an awful, debilitating experience and they have to figure out a way to make themselves do it.

 

*****

 

See you tomorrow.



don't look too closely

don't look for yourself

don't see what others see

just be

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