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Entry Date: 5-4-2024 – May The Fourth Be With Someone – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

 

My thoughts are on my buddy, Jim, today as I gear up to go to his memorial at PV skatepark. I’m looking forward to the fellowship, for sure, but the senselessness of the loss of someone who was, when I last saw him, seemingly in good health is baffling to me.

 

We are impermanent beings. I know this. I have faced it a lot in my life either firsthand or watching my closest comrades lose their moms and pops. I have lost a lot of friends and people I respect and care about before I should have. I get it. We die.

 

Someday it will be my turn.

 

Since I started this blog, I’ve thought about how it could happen to me one day and I’ll post something to release at 6AM the next day and in between, the lights will go out forever. That would be strange, right?

 

It’s pretty morbid, but it’s also how this crazy world works.

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about the things I want to say to Granny before she shuffles off this mortal coil. I want her to know how much she has meant to me. I want her to know that I love her, and I have no ill will or feelings toward her. I want to thank her for all she has done for me.

 

Someday, I hope that I can have those same types of conversations with people who might need to tell me some things. I don’t want anyone to not know that I have loved them the best I could and if there is only these words to remind them, the love will last forever.

 

I hope Jim got make his peace with the people he loved. Today we celebrate the peace he gave us. It will all be about love.

 

*****

 

There was a really cool assembly for the students yesterday afternoon. A couple of Native American performers did some hoop dancing and storytelling for the students as a celebration for the hard work they did on state testing last month. It was really awesome. Both of the performers were, quite frankly, amazing.

 

It was the best Cocaine Baby behaved all week.

 

*****

 

After the memorial, it will be back to work on the bathroom. I did some stuff last night that turned out pretty well. I have a bit more prep to do before I can start tiling. There will be tile this weekend, though, for sure.

 

*****

 

Some of the best music was not made with the intention of making you feel good.

 

Think about that for a minute, will you?

 

Most of us enjoy music because of the way it makes us feel and usually that is a good feeling or, at the very least, we associate the experience of listening to music or seeing a band play live with something pleasurable. The vast majority of the records I have written about this year are associated with good memories, good feelings, and quite often, a heady mixture of both. Today’s record is not one of those records.

 

On September 10, 1987, I was probably counting down the hours of my time before deployment. I may have been trying to spend time with one of the young ladies I loved or partying with Michael, Mark, and Ben. I was definitely basking in the glow of a wild Rocky Point weekend. I had no idea that Big Black was releasing Songs About Fucking.

 

It would be a few more years before I would discover them. None of that matters, though. Steve Albini, who was the main dude in Big Black, couldn’t give two fucks if I, or anyone else for that matter, liked his band, Songs About Fucking, or any of his records.

 

You have to respect that, I suppose. I do. I’ve tried to incorporate a bit of that in my approach to music, but deep down, I care. I want people to like the stuff I put out there, but I also know that some of what I have done is not something most people care to listen to. Thanks to a guy like Albini, it’s an easier pill to swallow.

 

Songs About Fucking is noisy and dark and angry. These are all aspects of a lot of music that I enjoy, but as I listen to the record for the first time in a while, I have to admit that it doesn’t make me feel good. It makes me feel kind of uncomfortable.

 

There are almost pleasant moments. The ascending riff in “Tiny, King of the Jews,” for example, is almost hopeful. It stands out from just about everything else on the record in spite of the lyrics which are not hopeful at all. It’s about walking the fine line between hating yourself and hating everyone else.

 

It is also true there are some fucking brilliant lyrics on the record. Albini has never been shy about calling things the way he sees them. This is another thing, I suppose, that you have to respect about him. Quite possibly, he’s a total asshole. Today, people might assume that he is “on the spectrum” in some way. Maybe he is.

 

All I know, though, is that there are these moments on Songs About Fucking where a particular lyric will pop up and I just have to think, “Fuck, yeah. That’s good.”

 

On “Bad Penny,” there is: “I think I fucked your girlfriend once/maybe twice, I don’t remember, then I fucked all your friends’ girlfriends/now they hate you.”

 

This wasn’t me, but I knew a few people who were like this. We’ve all had a few bad pennies in our life. Best to kick those things to the curb.

 

On most of the songs, like “L Dopa” and “Precious Thing” it’s more the way Albini spits the lyrics out at the microphone that is awesome. He matches the intensity of the music word for note. Musically, Big Black was quite powerful. The guitars and bass sound so good. Who says drum machines aren’t punk rock.

 

Back to the lyrics. A lot of the lyrics are super repetitive and quite simple. There are those moments, where Albini goes in for the kill with a clever twist of phrase.

 

“Never thought it really happened that way/through a route and they blew him away.”

 

I always thought he said, “Threw a rod and they blew him away.”  Go figure.

 

“Fish Fry” also has the line, “Hosin’ out the cab of his pickup truck/He’s got his eight-track playing really fucking loud” right before the “she’s wearin’ his boot print on her forehead” line. Harsh but memorable.

 

And again, Albini would not care if I liked the lyrics or not. That was 37 years ago. It doesn’t matter anymore to him. He would probably say that none of it matters.

 

But it does.

 

This ugly, harsh record makes me feel a bit uncomfortable, but mostly because I didn’t make it myself.

 

In the word of Mike Watt: Respect.

 

*****

 

See you tomorrow.



Time Machine 1987

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