I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
May 15, 2016 - 1:56 p.m.
I'm getting a late start writing today. Partly that's for a good reason, I've been playing with Brynden's children. It's hard for me to resist somebody wanting to play with me. Kids and dogs are my favorite people.
Welcome to a typical edition of Wise Madness. I've been going away from the norm with my life in turmoil but last night I heard live music. I got to be me. The definition of life in turmoil is that being me is a special occasion.
Common Ground Coffeehouse was the furthest concert series that I frequented. Till the turmoil I took the subway to MetroNorth to getting a ride to get there. The trip was two hours. Now that I'm in Ardsley it was six minutes away by car. I need a better name for Ardsley. What's the name of the tree where Brynden lives? That's what I should call where I'm staying. So whom did I make the arduous six-minute drive to see? Erin McKeown. I was fulling planning on making the two-hour trip from Brooklyn to see her. It's hard to explain what this means but Erin has an unusual place in my musical ecosystem. It's so hard to explain that I won't try. More honestly I did try, about three times and deleted them all because they didn't catch what I meant.
I am pretty sure that I first saw Erin in 1999, perhaps early 2000. I know it was after Eddie from Ohio played Falcon Ridge but before she did. The first time I saw her was on a bill with EFO and The Kennedys. I knew EFO from years earlier but the people I was with knew them from FRFF and none of us knew Erin. She impressed us immediately as she then impressed everyone that saw her at Falcon Ridge. If we were doing The Budgiedome the way we do now I would have invited her to play. Hey Erin, if you ever go back to FRFF you're invited. Since then I've seen her many times, on her own, on tours with others, at small venues, large venues, and festivals. The last time I saw her was at her anti-Christmas show. I'm not sure if this was my first time doing merch for her. She played Mad Square Music and in the early days Maggi would often ask me to merch for people and I was always glad to do it.
A funny thing about being close to a venue is that you don't have to get there as early to assure making it on time. I'm always there hours early when I come from Brooklyn. This time it was ten minutes before show time.
Erin is special and my job is to figure out what makes her special I don't always succeed with that but I think I have it down with her. Let's see if I can remember what I thought of last night. I did!
There are two approaches to playing any game or sport, playing to win and playing to not lose. I've always favored those that play aggressively. I never liked the tennis players that just tried to hit the ball back and wait for their opponents to make a mistake. I don't like pitchers that nibble the corners but those that challenge the hitters. I love three true outcome hitters, home run, walk, or strikeout. Erin plays to win. She does not play nice songs nicely. Her music is all over the place, she isn't afraid of challenging her listeners. She can be political and she can sing standards. She doesn't play rock but she rocks out. Whatever she does she's all in. There's nothing apologetic in her songs or patter; she's confident.
She's also musical. There was a Q and A and someone asked her about her training and she said that she learned the value of practicing. So many musicians I hear should heed that advice. She hasn't been playing since childhood but she doesn't just strum the guitar. I'm not going to her shows to hear her play but it provides a great accompaniment to her song and lets her write a broader range of music. Her songs are lyric driven but never become drones. My most common complaint about musicians who play with just a guitar is limited rhythmic and dynamic range. Erin never falls into that trap. I find myself dancing in my seat to her songs. Is there a way of teaching that? I have some ideas but I wouldn't listen to them because like Jon Snow I know nothing.
Erin endears herself to me by loving baseball and talking about it. She listed this as one of her great musical influences.
I always felt that Ani DiFranco is very cool when she's not trying to be cool. Erin always strikes the right balance. I will not say that she's just being herself as she's "on." She's being entertaining, but she does it her way, not what she thinks other people want. Of course I could be wrong about that and what she thinks other people want is exactly what I want so it comes across as natural. That way lies madness, probably why I think that way. Hey look at the title of this blog.
I did a brisk business at the merch table for both Erin and the opener Jen Zimberg. Jen had only one CD but each jacket was unique. That worked. People thought about which one they wanted and at least one person bought two to get two covers.
It's hard recommending which Erin album to buy. They are quite different from each other. She primarily played songs from the two most recent, Hundreds of Lions and Manifestra. , so I asked people which they liked more, the relationship arc or political album. When forced to name one I said, "Lions," but I don't have Manifestra so that's not fair.
I successfully fought my anxiety about getting home. Brynden had to leave early and then my backup ride had to leave as soon as the show was over and I had to stay for merch. I was six minutes away and figured someone would give me a ride. I was right. It was Ed. I was pretty much on his way. I was back by 10:10, when's the last time I was back so early after doing merch for a full set show? It's nice being that close to the venue. One of the temporary housing places I'm looking at is in the Lower East Side. I'd be that close to Rockwood Music Hall and could walk. I'll get spoiled.
It was so nice having an evening being me. I didn't have that many friends there, Carter, Brynden, Peter and Paula, but it's still a home game. I'd say I appreciate it more now that it's not the norm but that's not true. I have always appreciated it. There was a time when things were going so well that I write that if I were somebody else I might be jealous of me. I have plenty of issues but being negative isn't one of them. I know what's good.
Now to get on with my day. I have getting my life back together homework to do. I also should read. I didn't read yesterday, I got my Game of Thrones fix through watching the series. OOO, speaking of appreciating there's a new episode tonight. I'll watch that.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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