Tag Archives: music

I Wish I Lived In 5/4 Time

I wish I lived in
five-four time, one beat
ahead, or one behind of
marches, or a steady waltz,

where songs continue through the
halts in patterns that begin
to grow beyond the rhythms
that we’ve known while breaking

up the measured pace of
music filling oblong space with
low bass notes and treble
tones exploding through our gramophones

that settle into some new
groove and welcome a familiar
tune: Oh, I wish I
lived in five-four time.

Got It Bad

Last night I attended one of the few remaining shows of the latest ill-fated reunion of Van Halen. While I do not care for the band’s music, I agreed to go along with my lovely wife (who is a big fan) and our friend Rob (who thought he was a bigger fan than he is when he agreed to get a ticket). The following consists of things that happened on stage at the Los Angeles show:

-Most of the time, David Lee Roth moved around like he had a Kennedy back brace on; at one point, my wife asked if we were watching him have a stroke.

-When Roth did break out moves on the 12’x6’ parquet dance stage set up around his microphone, the jumbo screen behind the band made sure to show slow-mo replays.

-Alex Van Halen played a drum “solo” that featured a pre-recorded / sampled horn section.

-When we couldn’t remember who exactly Wolfgang Van Halen was related to, Rob was able to correctly figure out he was Eddie’s son because, “He’s got Bertinelli cheeks.”

-David Lee Roth had four costume changes.

-Eddie Van Halen had a ten minute guitar solo, the first half of which was his typical tapping-&-wanking, with the second half being Frippertronic-esque soundscapes. This was kind of really awesome.

-During one mid-song patter break, Roth called over Wolfgang and lectured him on how to date women. This ended with Roth asking a retreating Wolfgang, “Where the fuck are you going?” Rob didn’t think that was part of the bit.

-For his solo spot, Roth spent five minutes talking about and showing videos of his farm dogs.

-On three separate occasions, David Lee Roth made awkward references to Spanish speakers. None were overtly hateful, but each of them were distinctly othering. The highlight: “Everyone dance like an illegal alien.”

-At show’s end, every member hugged every other member…except David Lee Roth and Alex Van Halen, who didn’t go within ten feet of each other.

-Outside the venue, one lone man gamely tried to hand out flyers for a Chickenfoot show. Almost all of these ended up tossed in nearby bushes by disgusted fans.

The Ballad of Gideon Stargrave

In a city full of strangers,
or a town that’s drowned in dreams,
I’m the albatross, awaiting flight;
a soldier’s greatest scheme
before his life and pride are blown apart.
Locked on target for her heart:
His pen’s his only missile that he flies.
But he’s still stuck somewhere
between himself and I.

Oh, if I could be him
he wouldn’t have to be me.
There’s an albatross around my neck
and we both know what that means.

So he’s offering his blessing
to the boy out in the cold
because he’s given all that he can give.
He’s left with just a face,
and though the girls all swear he’s handsome,
it’s just not to his taste.
Without his arms, without a neck,
without his feet, without a heart,
he’s more than alive,
and that’s more than a start.

He gave me most of his mind.
He asked me to write,
to color his life
but a poet is lost
when his life is all right;
when the girls are in love;
when he sleeps through the night
without a sound.

Who Sings That Song?

I like the song
Weighty Ghost

So I’m going to write
A poem
About that song

The lyric
Oh, have you seen my ghost

Inspires

Something inside me says
How’s that?

There’s you

Thinking,
Singing,

And there’s your ghost
(and apparently there’s someone else

And you’re talking to them

And at that, without a ghost

To call your own)

And then there’s the thinking part

So just what did your ghost

DO

For you

If you can let it go

Did you give up the ghost

Was this a haunting ghost

Is this some soul metaphor?

Which one?

What to think
What to think
What to think?

But that’s perfect

The way it is
I just like the song
If it were any other way

I’d

GET

It

And I’d be over it.

Frog Orchestra

In nature
Symphonies
Await

Frog orchestra

Frog orchestra
Frog orchestra

Frog orchestra
Frog orchestra

Convex throat accordions leap
Upon the endless canvas
Of the eardrum

The mind
The real instrument
Placing those
Crooning lily padders
Inside a Monet

Their croaks
Echo easy strokes
And Sing
With a spring
Rain choir

Sound The Song of Nature

Today I listened
As a musician’s
Turntable played
A disc of wood

It played with
No needle
Hiss
Pop or click

Technology
Indistinguishable
From
Magic

 Is this what
Clarke understood?
Music from
A laser as

Tree rings made
Piano strings
Sound the song
Of nature.

And Now You Half-Read This And Write A Song About It

“Wanna come see my band on Thursday?”

Sure, I say. Because I legitimately want to support, but also because I can’t think of a valid story for why I can’t. So I make my way over to the dingy little club, the lobby of a once and future theater of productions both avant garde and mediocre, at 10:30 on a school night to see you and your buddies strut your stuff. You didn’t tell me there would be a cover. It’s fine — I’ll pay, and glad tell them I’m hear to see you (that was a homonym typo I don’t want to correct, because it might sell as cunning wordplay). I’m just glad I picked up cash earlier in the day.

The floor of the club is dark, the better to focus our attention on the makeshift stage. Unfortunately, the just-as-makeshift lights set up on the side and from the ceiling don’t seem to function as intended. Your wide figure stayed swathed in a deep ochre, a bordello bouncer hunched over a droning guitar. Every part of the bassist besides his knees remained in deep shadows. The singer jumped in and out of the lone bright spotlight, her tambourine’s jingles lacing it back out through the crowd.

And that crowd…they all showed up, which is nice of them. The band wrings out its songs, the ones you guys slaved over. Chords that were agonizing over chords, lyrics ripped out of the heart. How many band members walked out of the practice space, convinced they would never come back again? And here is your showcase — playing to a half-full room, fifty or sixty people, 90 percent of whom know the first name of at least one of you. None of them connecting to your craft.  Half of them don’t stop their conversations to applaud, and the other half never look up from their phones, just giving a short “woo” at the end of each song.

And I lean against the back wall, firmly ensconced in the second half of that group, my one sign of respect is turning my phone down to the most dimmed setting. I half listen and focus on taking notes as your keyboard player wails on a trumpet, continuing the pointless ouroboros of creativity looping between you and me.