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
October 03, 2015 - 12:47 p.m.
I sadly did not prepare for my upcoming radio show yesterday. I will have to do it today, It's my last real chance as the WFUV pledge drive starts on Monday and tomorrow I'm going up to Hastings to see Jean Rohe. As I'm getting up at 4:13 AM on Monday and Tuesday and the show is Tuesday, it's pretty much just today I have to work. It takes a long time to prepare a show. It doesn't help that my CDs are totally unordered.
I posted late yesterday so if you missed it catch up and read it now. It's on the shooting in Oregon and people's notions of "us." It's called Oui.
OK now on to new things. Yesterday was cool and rainy. For the first time this season I wore my trench coat and Irish twill hat. I even wore gloves. I can't find one of the leather gloves I wanted to wear. I'm going to have to search my closet. It must be in there someplace. I keep it on the shelf on top but I imagine it fell down and is mixed in with some clothes that's hanging.
What brought me out on a night like that was Tracy Grammer. I first saw Tracy playing with her partner in music and life, Dave Carter. Dave was the greatest songwriter of his generation. That might be an understatement. They were only together for six years and released but three albums. Dave died on my birthday in 2003. A few years ago Tracy found some tapes they recorded and released two basement tapes albums. That's all we have by him but it's enough.
Tracy did not start writing songs or as she puts it, she didn't start finishing songs till last year when she did the Real Women Real Songs project. Her show now has three elements, Dave Carter songs, stories about Dave Carter, and Tracy's originals. I've been seeing her consistently since 1998 or so and I've loved whatever I've seen. She's been telling Dave stories for years but she's taken it to a new level. She's now an Arlo class storyteller. If she did a show of just stories I'd go.
Tracy is not as good a songwriter at Dave, nobody is. That's not what matters. They have to be evaluated on their own terms. And they succeed. She doesn't try to do what Dave did, she tries to be Tracy. Her genre is the one that I often disparage, confessional singer/songwriter. I disparage it because it's so easy to write songs in that style but so difficult to write good songs. Tracy does. The thing about revealing what's inside you is that there has to be something interesting inside. There's a lot inside Tracy and she reveals it with so much honesty and so little triteness.
The first song she did was on the ending of a relationship, not Dave. It's so easy for that to be maudlin but it wasn't. What struck me is how the music served the lyrics. Do you know the opening to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony? That opening chord always gives me the feeling of vast empty space waiting to be filled. The music to that song gives that same feeling with Tracy in the center of the void.
So many sensitive singer/songwriters sing every song the same. I think of it as an endless drone. Tracy knows to mix it up. There are songs with rhythm and tempo even when the subject matter is sad. Most of the songs are sad. She wrote them during a tough period of her life. I can't wait for her to write more. My guess is that the next set of songs will be quite different as she's in a different emotional space and there is so much inside her.
There is one thing I miss in a solo show like this, she doesn’t play the violin. That's what she usually did with Dave and when she does duo shows with Jim Henry. I'd like to see her with a guitar player, not a duo, but someone to just support her. Perhaps well see that someday.
This was also a social occasion. As I so often do I sat with Fred at our usual table. And as I do when I'm lazy I'll show you some of his photos. I took some too but his are better. When I went downstairs I found Carolyn, Peter, and Athena there. I've known Carolyn since the Moxy Früvous days. I even know where I met her, at the Towne Crier, That was after Thornhill but before C. Peter is her husband and Athena her daughter. Tracy played at their house once. They used to camp with us at Budgiedome.
I had not eaten before the show so of courses I raced home when it was over. Please don’t' tell me you believed that. Fred had to catch a train but I hung out with Tracy, Carolann, and Aviv for an hour or so.
I didn't eat before because my chicken had not defrosted. It was after midnight when I got home and I didn't want to start cooking so I grabbed dinner at Popeye's. That's always one for the failure column.
OK today I will prepare the radio show. Why did I forget to ask her for a copy of her solo CD to play? I'll have to see if they have it and maybe a Dave and Tracy album in the WFDU library. I miss having my CD collection.
Tonight late I'm going to see various Trachtenburgs. Rachel will be followed by Jason's band, Pendulum Swings.
When I spellcheck Word gives me the reading level of the entry. Believe it or not usually it's between four and five; today it's 4.8. When I get more philosophical and don’t write about a show it goes up a bit. Yesterday's was 6.2. I don't let it influence how I write but part of me wishes it were higher. The other part says, "I'm conveying what I want to say in an easy to read style, that's a good thing." When I help students with writing I usually try to get them to simplify and not try and impress. So I will follow my own advice. But I will say that by adding what I wrote since "4.8" I raised the level to 4.9? Is it now up to 5.0? No.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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