Tag Archives: music

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


Something inside me says
How’s that?

There’s you


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


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




And I’d be over it.

Frog Orchestra

In nature

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
Pop or click


 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.

Christmas Music Manifesto

Since it’s the season and all, here’s my gift to you, the readers of 5×500: a simple three step process for how to handle Christmas music during the holiday season. This will allow you to enjoy a festive spirit without feeling like you drank four gallons of eggnog.

(For some people, there’s no such thing as too much holiday tuneage. These are the folks who are happy when the local oldies station starts playing Grandma Got Run Over By Etc. on November 1. These people are insane. Obviously, nothing that follows will make sense to them — this is for everyone else.)

1. We can have Christmas music played in public the weekend after Thanksgiving. No one really loves the whole Black Friday phenomenon (except perhaps the idle rich or those with lives empty outside of binges of crass consumption); but I won’t begrudge the stores and malls of the nation to not get people in the holiday spirit by looping Bing Crosby. Along similar lines, some people might reasonably want to transition out of Thanksgiving and into the solstice season. In any event, you get this one weekend. Friday through Sunday.

2. After that: total moratorium on holiday music from the Monday after Thanksgiving through December 9. Exceptions can be made for early holiday parties, Xmas tree decorating, etc. But these are, in fact, exceptions — not rules. Without extenuating circumstances, keep the jolly under wraps.

(Side rule: you’re allowed to think that using “Xmas” is inherently stupid. You’re even allowed to hate it because it’s taking the Christ out of “Christmas.” But don’t get self-righteous and huffy about this; it only hurts your stance.)

((Side rule to the side rule, which is actually a really major rule: you can be upset about the secularization of Christmas, pining for the manger and Midnight Masses, grinding your teeth at trees and snowflakes instead of stars, etc. And you can be upset that people say “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” But you can’t be upset about both. Either Christmas is a concept that transcends a particular religion and therefore can/must be embraced by everyone in our society in a secular way, or it’s a religious holiday only of import to Christians. It’s 2011; you can’t seriously argue that everyone needs to follow your traditions just because you think it’s the most rightest ride out there.))

3. From December 10 onward, it’s all systems go on the holiday music. The more the Christmas-ier. Roll on through the 25th (or, if you really want to stick with the twelve days concept, until the Epiphany on January 6). That gives you fifteen days to be surrounded by it — so even if you start to fade a little after ten, you’re so close to the big day, festive spirits will sweep you onward.

With your help, we can eradicate Christmas music overdoses by 2017. Thank you for your assistance, and happy Nat King Cole-ing.

Rael, Electric Razor

My car securely parked, I moved through downtown to get to L.A. Live. I wouldn’t say I hustled, since I don’t really hustle. But I moved quickly — I only had seven minutes to showtime.

The crawling line of traffic and the density of people on the sidewalks made sense once I discovered that Chris Brown was playing at the Staples Center that night. I passed diverse groupings of young women in tight dresses and piled-high hair, of young men in expensive t-shirts and even more expensive jeans. A little girl, seven years old at the most, pulled at her father’s arm as they crossed Figueroa: “Come on, Daddy. Come on!”

Once in the proto-Vegas canyon, I veer off to one of the smaller clubs. I’m not there to see a pop star with violence issues. My destination: a Canadian tribute band is doing their painstaking re-creation of a Genesis show from 1975, performing all of The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (plus some inevitable encore songs). Every website associated with the performance gave the showtime as 7pm — none mentioned that this was merely when the doors opened. Having rushed for nothing, I settled into a twisty bank line of late middle-aged men with gray ponytails, pasty skin and faded Pink Floyd shirts.

We began shuffling forward a few minutes later. Before entering the facility, everyone had to pass through one of the two bulky metal detectors permanently installed by the door. Pocket contents were tossed in circular plastic bowls, and each time traveler inched forward, wondering if their glasses would trigger the machine. TSA had trained us well.

When I was two back from breaking through, the line stopped. The guard didn’t shout “Hey!” at his supervisor — it was more of a pained question in a slightly raised voice. “Hey?” While waiting for a response, he held up the object of our delay: a two-inch keychain pocket knife. It was the kind of innocuous object that would have gotten someone dragged out of the line at the large arena a half block away and possibly tossed in an interrogation room for a few hours. “Hey?”

The supervisor, who looked as if he had just crossed over from being intimidatingly beefy to affably obese, finally turned around. Taking in the question, he didn’t expend the energy required to run his eyes over the crowd. “Yeah.” His tone sounded like he had been asked whether he enjoyed getting handjobs. The guard shrugged and waved the line on. Of course the knife could go in — with these guys, why would anyone give a shit?

69 Love Songs

I awoke to the pungent smell of sweat, come, and Febreze. It reminded me of freshly chopped sweet onions, and it burned my weary eyes all the same. In the distance, I could hear the reverberated decay of stubby, clumsy fingers sliding heavily against nickel-wound strings. I glanced the room, but it wasn’t until I saw the posters on the wall that I fully remembered what happened the night before: Fight Club, Pulp Fiction, Animal House, all the classic male masturbation fantasies. And I’d fallen for the same old shit again.

I grabbed an oversized Boston University hoodie from his pile of clothes nearby, and after I was (mostly) certain it was cleaned, I pulled it on over my head. I was never one for cuddling with strangers that I had just met at the bar, but I wasn’t comfortable leaving the room in nothing but last night’s wrinkled clothes. I squeezed into my jeans and left to find the bathroom.

“I’m sorry; did I wake you up?” he asked, before I’d even step completely of the bedroom doorway. He was sitting on a worn out grey-brown couch, strumming an acoustic guitar.

“Oh, no. No, not at all,” I said, not entirely confident in my ability to lie this early in the morning.

“That’s good. I was just working on a song I’ve been writing. But I figured I should let you sleep.” Then, a carefully calculated pause, as if the idea had just suddenly come. “Hey — would you want to hear it?”

I had the feeling that even if I said “no,” he would have played it anyway, but I didn’t want to be rude.

And when you said that things were different,” he sang, “I thought that we could stay the same / but even on the darkest mornings / you know the stars still light up your name…

I immediately wished that I had been rude. But still he kept singing:

But baby, it’s a brand new world / I hope you’ll make it for me / Baby, won’t you give it a whirl? / Just let your heart go free / and stay with me…

I suddenly regretted hooking up with about 85% of the guys I met in college. Still, here I was at 27, and somehow in my inebriation, I had fallen for the same old crap. Sure — in my sobriety, if you can call the morning that, I could see it for what it was. But apparently I regressed 7 years last night.

“Hey, I should actually get going…” I interrupted, as politely as I could. “I’ve got this, umm —”

“Oh, well — can you at least stay for breakfast? It’s just about done. Do you like bacon?”

Suddenly, the morning after didn’t seem so bad.

The Beats Don’t Stop ‘Til Your Body Drops



another beat


hope for one more


deep in veins
to palpitate

in a beat

another beat

shaking hands
shaking feet

keep it steady
keep the beat



another beat

another beat




Foot pedal,

Bent knee
Eats denim

Vibrations, powered
Air, knucklecracked

Jam contains
Constant elations

No singers
String finger


Dinner for One

She revels in knowing that these are the days she’ll recount to her children’s children. She thinks about the advice she’ll give, advice she never received because of her own family’s conservatism.  She makes dinner; sauteing onions and garlic that mix into a smell that never fails to make her feel closer to her mother, dancing to music that gives her no choice but to move (even when she’s at work or on the train, tired or upset). She dances while the sweat drips off of her, while the onions sizzle, while the water in her glass threatens suicide over the edge. She stops only long enough to drink it in greedy gulps, then begins dancing again in a movement that suggests she never stopped. She lets the water spill, thinks about all of the thirsts she gets to quench. When the food is done, she piles it onto a green plate, licking her fingers as she does.