Friday nights always start out innocently enough. You say to yourself, "I've had a long, productive week at work. I need to relax."
For me, relaxation takes many forms, not the least of which is finding the plugged in poets of our fair town. To quote one such poet:
Last I heard was that he was just keeping on. Sounds like Jack. Every once in a while I do see signs that "ol' Jack was here." I see them in the eyes of the elite, the simple; in women like pistols, and men with stories they measure in miles. If you haven't seen an evening filled with lonely believers, not meaning believers in the one, but believers all the same, stop reading my thoughts. You don't deserve them. This is for all thick headed fools who have been brought to their knees by hell, and though they now stand, weariness nonetheless is upon them. Yet the effect of Jack's presence has strengthened them, and this is where the signs become clear. These people know in the end, they won't be hurt again. They won't let it be.
When I talk, that's what I'm talking about. I've driven through Chisago County at dawn with a 50 year old 12 gauge shotgun in the passenger seat of my truck. True, the murder in my heart was being built up for the avian members of the food chain, but it was murder all the same.
If you're down at the Nomad tonight, you'll hate yourself for liking The Goddamned Gleam. But, it will come over you like a flash what thoroughly misguided hillbillies these men are. You'll realize that North Korea having the bomb is nowhere near as scarey as places like North Branch, Ramsey and Stacy getting it. Who the fuck let these people drive south? There will be some band called The Rockford Mules there with them. Who cares? Travis Moon is selling you the idea that country boys like to put gel in their hair and wear untucked silk shirts with the sleeves unbuttoned and sing about puppy dogs. If you listen to Rascall Flatts on purpose, you're a pussy. I read some article in the Strib about how Gary Louris got backstage at the State Fair to talk to their "guitarist," because he was going to write some songs with him, and I gave up hope. I guess Gary's gotta eat, but I'll miss him now that his soul is burning in Hell.
A lot of people misunderstood the Top 100 I posted back a few months ago. They took umbridge with some of the selections, especially ones like "Sober," by Tool. If you know anything, you know that Ry Cooder helped the Stones understand and learn to use honky-tonk guitar, especially little tricks like tuning the Low E string down to a D and lettin' her rip. This launched them into Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, and Exile on Main Street. If you strip this song down, you'll find two things: 1) a desperate song about a drunk, and 2) that tuning style.
What separates me from Travis Moon is that I see Country Music as an organic product of its regional surroundings, thoroughly squeezed from an American tradition of presenting the conflict when Urban innovation and artifice meet Rural simplicity and honesty; Travis sees it as something to get women between the ages of 25 and 45 with household purchasing power to listen to commercials. As such, my view allows me to recognize Chris Cornell as one of Americas best living Country songwriters. If you don't think "Burden in My Hand" and "Original Fire" are country songs, you're probably 5 feet tall, sitting on a boat in the Caribbean somewhere, scratching your bald head, trying to figure out how you can make senorita rhyme with Margarita for the tenth time. Shooting your love and leaving her lying beneath the sand while you drown in alcohol, all to the driving strum of a dobro? Are you kidding me? Whenever I meet someone new and explain this little side gig of mine, I'm invariably asked what all this means. Well this is it campers: if you're honest with yourself, the American songwriter most in tune with the grass roots of who somebody like Johnny Cash was, and where he was going, is Chris Cornell.
My wife is going to choke me to death one day because I'm not a very organized person; but, I was sifting through some old sound clips of my radio show the other day, looking for something else, and I came across a recording of a day when Darin Wald and Brian O'Neill of Big Ditch Road were on the gig and talking about one of their disks. Darin's not going to cake on some makeup and hit the floor boards of the Met and sing an aria for anybody, but he does have a talent for writing songs. Back then, I would get roughly 20 disks a week, so I wasn't always the best detailed listener; I'd try to listen to something 3 or 4 times before giving it airtime, but I always proceeded thinking I knew what the song was about in my own warped melon. In this particular soundclip, Darin explained to me that he was writing the song from the viewpoint of a Country girl that had gone to the city, and then comeback home to some despair and disappointment. It's a song called "City Girls," and it's a pretty fantastic little bit of work. If Travis ever listened to anything that didn't come from some promoter in Nashville, he'd know that it contains most of the stuff that fits it into his boss's famous P1 Demographic, but he won't. Having grown up around Wilmar (I think) somewhere, Darin's broken voice lends a kind of raspy tenderness to the thought of a woman butting up against the little farmgirl image they had of her when she left. This shit sells itself.
Anywho, the kids in Big Ditch Road will be doing an EP Release over at the Hexagon Bar tonight if you're into that sort of thing. Just remember to dress appropriately.