Edward Van Halen died this week from throat cancer.
His journey from Netherlands to Pasadena, California enabled him to prosper in a culture that became the LA heavy metal scene.
The first Van Halen record features real photos of each member during a gig at the famous Whiskey–A–Go–Go on the Sunset strip.
In 1978 Punk and Disco were exploding in popularity.
With its opening power chords the VH album was a fresh audio blast of serious but joyful rock.
Runnin’ with the Devil, the guitar solo Eruption, and the rest would change music forever.
The members of this group were great looking too. Eddie’s brother Alex, Michael Anthony, and David Lee Roth would rise to become the model for all the rock music to come flooding into the hearts and minds of young people all over the world.
Now called Hair Metal, the bands that bought Van Halen’s records are legion.
Eddie was an ingenious player. He could not read music but was able to play spot on by watching other musicians.
There were wonderful collaborations with Michael Jackson on the smash hit Beat It and his appearance on Brian May’s first solo effort Starfleet Project.
1984 is one of my favorite albums of all time. Featuring hits Jump, Hot For Teacher, Panama, and I’ll Wait. They were MTV’s most played act that year.
The changes to Sammy Hagar then Gary Cherone of Extreme yielded 8 years in which they released several #1 records including 5150, OU812, and For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.
Kiss were the band that VH opened for on their first national tour. Both bands would headline Britain’s Monsters of Rock festival.
Eddie Van Halen’s music still makes me feel great. I believe it’s timeless.
Although I only saw him in concert on their 2007 Tour, he went shirtless and played like the headliner he had always been.
The rockers of the 1980’s made their mark. Many of the bands from that era are still here recording and performing. Do not take them for granted.
Van Halen music is hard, heavy, melodic, harmonious, and the definition of great rock n roll.
I will miss Eddie Van Halen. He was such a huge presence in my life. Happy Trails…
Originally set for release on May 15, 2020 was a completed album with a breadth and depth of songwriting, titled for a challenging and pivotal election year.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Along with all of America, Jon found himself unexpectedly experiencing a world-altering coronavirus pandemic, followed quickly by the staggering events of George Floyd’s death and the ensuing national movement for racial equality.
He knew there was even more to say about 2020. Writing from a home studio, two new songs were born: “American Reckoning” and “Do What You Can” encompass these events and made the album a complete body of work.
Well known for his extensive philanthropic work, Jon spent the initial quarantine days and weeks with his wife Dorothea helping feed those in need at their JBJ Soul Kitchen Community Restaurant in Red Bank, NJ.
Later, the couple opened a Food Bank on the East End of Long Island to meet the food demands of the in-need population there.
I had the privilege of meeting Jon Bon Jovi by chance at The Armory Art show in New York city.
I expressed my thanks to him for all of the good works. Also how much I was looking forward to his new album.
Not knowing the tour and album would be postponed made me think about all we as a people are facing together.
Without further ado, 2020 is a musical salve for a genuinely pivotal year. These 10 songs bristle with equal doses of joy and despair.
Addressing the pandemic, mass shootings and racial justice the music remains on a remarkably even keel throughout.
Bon Jovi has crafted a meaningful record that enables its listener to reflect on all that has happened to us while looking forward to the future.
Limitless (Jon Bon Jovi, Billy Falcon, John Shanks)
Do What You Can (Jon Bon Jovi)
American Reckoning (Jon Bon Jovi)
Beautiful Drug (Jon Bon Jovi, Billy Falcon, John Shanks)
Story of Love (Jon Bon Jovi)
Let It Rain (Jon Bon Jovi)
Lower the Flag (Jon Bon Jovi)
Blood in the Water (Jon Bon Jovi)
Brothers in Arms (Jon Bon Jovi)
Unbroken (Jon Bon Jovi)
Tonight iHeart Radio will broadcast a special album launch for 2020. The band will play select songs from the new album plus Bon Jovi classics.
“Endless unfolding of words of ages! And mine a word of the modern, the word En-Masse.
“I Contain Multitudes” opens the record with a reference to another epic poet whose work, “Song Of Myself”, celebrates every living creature on the planet. The title of this track is a Whitman quote. The ‘I’ is used here inclusively. Evoking the value in all living things.
The songs speaks to the experience of life. Loving and hating in equal measure. Composing, painting, eating, drinking, and our bodies as vessels that contain a universe.
I love Mr. Dylan’s end to this track. You can accept this line as just playing recordings of the classical giants or perhaps it is an expression that his final chapter maybe spent composing classical pieces:
“I’ll play Beethoven’s sonatas, and Chopin’s preludes…”
The cover image for this record is important. Presented in a cinematic letter-box format, anonymous couples are dancing. They are people of color. A solitary figure is hunched over the juke trying to decide what to play or in anguish over lost love or any number of reasons you could imagine.
For the first time Bob Dylan’s name does not appear on the cover! We listeners are to focus only on the image of a juke joint interior. The name of the record seems to pop-up from the floor in vivid technicolor. The color scheme applied is simply the best ever used in his catalog of 42 records.
Once again he is creating a mythic eden seeded in the past but brought into our present. A secret place where people of color went to actually express their humanity. The Queer folk also went to these type of places to do the same. Evoking Whitman’s celebration of humanity and non-humanity alike within the dark spaces of the juke joint where all can be free together.
American Folklore’s Rough and RowdyWays
His choice of title reference classic folk music by way of Jimmie Rodgers. The adjectives of Rough and Rowdy are masculine in nature. Playful but potentially dangerous like people themselves. A Dylanesque wink to the underlying violence packed within the culture. Dylan loves to use folklore and tall tales for referents to his lyrics. This album is more than worthy of his best works. His mystique is intact; here now his innermost troubles are laid bare.
A 10 stanza poem that could have been a part of Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass.” In the sixth stanza he invokes the ‘I’ in repetition:
“I searched the world over, for the holy grail, I sing songs of love, I sing songs of betrayal. Don’t care what I drink, I don’t care what I eat, I climb the mountain of swords On my bare feet.”
Mr. Dylan is baring his soul like never before throughout this record. In the verse quoted above you here his artistic declaration of mission. He once again invokes his religious beliefs too. Willing to climb a mountain of swords in bare feet is a form of stigmata.
“My Own Version Of You”
Expressing his heart’s desire to create his own Frankenstein—like creature in his image to be able to assign it the qualities he feels are required to balance the world. The lyrics here are macabre yet have a restless play about them:
“I’ll take the Scarface Pacino and The Godfather Brando Mix it up in a tank and get a robot commando “
Using fictional toughs from the 1970s in ‘The Godfather’ and 1980s in ‘Scarface’ as his character ingredients expresses the raw masculine imagination at work. A modern American ethos is applied here.
Dylan appeals to Julius Caesar, St. Peter, Mr. Freud, and Mr. Marx. As usual for the Ancients to connect to the Moderns as the basis for a new brain. Politics, Religion, and Philosophy—these are the areas of human endeavor forever swirling around in Mr. Dylan’s grey matter too.
“I wannabring someone to life, turn back the years Do it with laughter and do it with tears“
The strongest desire of all seems to be the return of older values and ideas. The masks of comedy and tragedy must always balance the equation of reality and fiction.
“I’ve Made Up My Mind To Give Myself To You“
The love poem of the album is addressed to an unknown woman (or perhaps every listener). A nice ballad delivered pretty straight and dry. In contrast to all of the other songs here this track stands out as the least grim.
“I’m giving myself to you, I am From Salt Lake City to Birmingham From East L.A. to San Antone I don’t think I can bear to live my life alone“
Mr. Dylan has had two marriages that produced 2 grown sons. His declaration here becomes clear. He wants to give up his lonely wandering.
A 5 verse poem that reinforces letting go of youthful recklessness. The doppelganger of violent intent is warned to release its grip or be hacked to pieces. The song is the simplest one here.
“Goodbye Jimmy Reed”
A 6 verse poem expressing Mr. Dylan’s goodbye to the blues. Mr. Reed is the most influential bluesman who passed back in 1976. He is the connective blood and tissue to Mr. Dylan’s other friends, Elvis and The Rolling Stones who covered Mr. Reed’s songs.
“Mother of Muses”
A poetic prayer expressed with a selfish desire to have the top muse all to himself.
Mother of Muses, wherever you are I’ve already outlived my life by far
In seeming desperation he lays his soul out for her to see. That life has now gone on too long. He needs her injection of spirit. Perhaps to fill the void if he lets go of his former life.
“Crossing The Rubicon”
Reinforcing his connection with the Ancients via Julius Caesar again, here to express a dedication to a new and risky course. This is a 9 verse poem that Dylanologists will love parsing among themselves. The densest work in this collection. Great poetic phrasing with just the right dose of abstraction.
“Key West (Pirate Philosopher)”
4 Verses of philosophy; 4 choruses describe Key West. This is the second longest track here. It serves as Prelude to Disc 2’s opus, “Murder Most Foul”.
In such simple verse Mr. Dylan crystallizes his ways. Key West is flat land where he can keep his feet planted firmly and listen closely to a pirate radio signal for inspiration and peace.
My favorite lines make up Chorus 4:
“Key West is the place to be If you’re looking for immortality Key West is paradise divine Key West is fine and fair If you lost your mind, you’ll find it there Key West is on the horizon line”
Throughout his years writing songs Bob Dylan embraces places real and imagined as Eden–like. Key West is now his present flashpoint in life. It represents his cohorts: Ginsberg, Corso, and Kerouac; his greatest influencers: Louis, Jimmy, and Buddy.
This song closes out Disc 1. Key West is defined by Dylan as a tonic for life. The epic track on Disc 2 acts as counterpoint to the divine.
“Murder Most Foul” is a nation’s fall from grace as well as an individual’s reckoning.
Due to the length and depths of that track I gave an entire blog entry over to it.
Bob Dylan is that rare artist who continues to be inspired by the myriad roads travelled and the places he has seen. At once worldly and still forever in deep love with his own country, he is able to imbue his work with just the right amount of ambiguity and self—worth. He has become a true Renaissance man. I am a grateful listener.
American Elegy—Our Nobel Laureate Publishes Another Masterpiece
In a career now spanning six decades Bob Dylan has been through numerous phases in a life that has itself become the stuff of living legend.
Now revealed that this song is the third side on his upcoming, Rough and Rowdy Ways, he continues to inspire and write brilliantly about history.
His ability to connect our ‘modern times’ with the ancient culture that brought it about, specifically the Romans, enabled his new life as a Nobel Prize recipient.
Murder Most Foul is Mr. Dylan’s longest song. if you take the time to listen to this track you will learn a lot about this wonderful country and its brutal past and present.
You will also discover an underlying feeling of hope in the soft accompaniment with its piano, light timpani, and strings.
Dylanologists are going to have another great track to explore for many years to come. There are a ton of deliberate references to all kinds of cultural arcana in this track. Too many in fact for a single blog entry.
But herein I will discuss some of my takes on this peerless work. The closest thing to a spoken word song or a revival of the beat poet in the vast Dylan catalog.
It was a dark day in Dallas, November ’63 A day that will live on in infamy President Kennedy was a-ridin’ high Good day to be livin’ and a good day to die Being led to the slaughter like a sacrificial lamb He said, “Wait a minute, boys, you know who I am?” “Of course we do, we know who you are!” Then they blew off his head while he was still in the car Shot down like a dog in broad daylight Was a matter of timing and the timing was right You got unpaid debts, we’ve come to collect We’re gonna kill you with hatred, without any respect We’ll mock you and shock you and we’ll put it in your face We’ve already got someone here to take your place The day they blew out the brains of the king Thousands were watching, no one saw a thing It happened so quickly, so quick, by surprise Right there in front of everyone’s eyes Greatest magic trick ever under the sun Perfectly executed, skillfully done Wolfman, oh Wolfman, oh Wolfman, howl Rub-a-dub-dub, it’s a murder most foul
Here in the beginning of the poem we are explicitly told how Mr. Dylan feels about the day President John F. Kennedy was murdered.
Using a phrase as his title, he frames the dreadful event as a Murder Most Foul. As the track continues there will be an evolution or rather a de-volution through the following decades as America’s culture and politics slowly decays.
The great hope of a young, handsome, and brilliant leader is cruelly blown off the face of the Earth. The promise of a new frontier delayed by his killing.
Mr. Dylan further frames the President’s murder as that of a lynching. Mr. Kennedy was white on the surface, but he was also the nation’s first Catholic elected to the Presidency. In Bob Dylan’s view he was ‘led like a lamb to the sacrificial slaughter’.
The first verses also make clear how this crime was such an American scene. Committed in broad daylight in front of the world; ‘greatest magic trick ever under the sun’.
The Second Section
Hush, little children, you’ll understand The Beatles are comin’, they’re gonna hold your hand Slide down the banister, go get your coat Ferry ‘cross the Mersey and go for the throat There’s three bums comin’ all dressed in rags Pick up the pieces and lower the flags I’m goin’ to Woodstock, it’s the Aquarian Age Then I’ll go over to Altamont and sit near the stage Put your head out the window, let the good times roll There’s a party going on behind the Grassy Knoll Stack up the bricks, pour the cement Don’t say Dallas don’t love you, Mr. President Put your foot in the tank and then step on the gas Try to make it to the triple underpass Blackface singer, whiteface clown Better not show your faces after the sun goes down Up in the red light district, they’ve got cop on the beat Living in a nightmare on Elm Street When you’re down on Deep Ellum, put your money in your shoe Don’t ask what your country can do for you Cash on the barrelhead, money to burn Dealey Plaza, make a left-hand turn I’m going down to the crossroads, gonna flag a ride The place where faith, hope, and charity died Shoot him while he runs, boy, shoot him while you can See if you can shoot the invisible man Goodbye, Charlie! Goodbye, Uncle Sam Frankly, Miss Scarlett, I don’t give a damn What is the truth, and where did it go? Ask Oswald and Ruby, they oughta know “Shut your mouth,” said a wise old owl Business is business, and it’s a murder most foul
The last lines of these first 2 sections of verse connect to reinforce this crime as foul cold-blooded murder. ‘Rub-a-dub-dub, it’s murder most foul; Business is business, and it’s a murder most foul’.
The actual neighborhood near the crime scene of Kennedy’s death is referenced following the pop culture explosion of The Beatles who became a salve for the real pain young people felt at the time. Deep Ellum, the arts and entertainment hub of Dallas, TX had a rise in crime too.
Referenced in the song’s second section above: ‘When you’re down on Deep Ellum, put your money on your shoe’.
‘Don’t ask what your country can do for you’, the famous Kennedy line to demand public service of youth is juxtaposed to remind people now trapped in poor communities not to expect any government assistance. The social contract was murdered too.
Explicitly calling out Woodstock and Altamont and the Age of Aquarius with the mythology of free love and the violence of Altamont. America has always created myths to soothe the wounds of very real crimes.
The reality of the made up summer of love is the real slaughter of men, women, and children in Vietnam. The daily death toll were surely murders most foul.
Mr. Dylan performs a conjuring trick as well raising the original sin of race hatred in a line that also references his hit “Hurricane”. Blackface singer, whiteface clown Better not show your faces after the sun goes down Up in the red light district, they’ve got cop on the beat Living in a nightmare on Elm Street
Also quite cleverly references a Wes Craven horror film released in the decade that followed his hit song about boxer Ruben ‘Hurricane’ Carter.
The name covers Dallas’ real murder of a President and the fictional murders of teenagers in a genre called the slasher film. The cruelty on display in Dallas would continue to resonate for the decades that followed.
The Third Section
Tommy, can you hear me? I’m the Acid Queen I’m riding in a long, black Lincoln limousine Ridin’ in the back seat next to my wife Headed straight on in to the afterlife I’m leaning to the left, I got my head in her lap Hold on, I’ve been led into some kind of a trap Where we ask no quarter, and no quarter do we give We’re right down the street, from the street where you live They mutilated his body and they took out his brain What more could they do? They piled on the pain But his soul was not there where it was supposed to be at For the last fifty years they’ve been searchin’ for that Freedom, oh freedom, freedom over me I hate to tell you, mister, but only dead men are free Send me some lovin’, then tell me no lie Throw the gun in the gutter and walk on by Wake up, little Susie, let’s go for a drive Cross the Trinity River, let’s keep hope alive Turn the radio on, don’t touch the dials Parkland Hospital, only six more miles You got me dizzy, Miss Lizzy, you filled me with lead That magic bullet of yours has gone to my head I’m just a patsy like Patsy Cline Never shot anyone from in front or behind I’ve blood in my eye, got blood in my ear I’m never gonna make it to the new frontier Zapruder’s film I seen night before Seen it thirty-three times, maybe more It’s vile and deceitful, it’s cruel and it’s mean Ugliest thing that you ever have seen They killed him once and they killed him twice Killed him like a human sacrifice The day that they killed him, someone said to me, “Son The age of the Antichrist has just only begun” Air Force One comin’ in through the gate Johnson sworn in at 2:38 Let me know when you decide to throw in the towel It is what it is, and it’s murder most foul
I set the third section above in big bold type since at this point forward the song becomes full and explicit. Brimming with anger at President Kennedy’s demise, whom Mr. Dylan likens to a King as the Kennedy White House became Camelot, then in a blink ‘his eyes, nose, and ears were filled with blood.’
The Zapruder film in some way becomes America’s first slasher film, only it’s real.
Mr Dylan describes the piece which he claims to have seen over 30 times, as ‘vile and deceitful’.
That first piece of social media created an infinity of conspiracy theories. I see it as a reflection on his own youth. In his youth the repetition is easily performed. Now, at 79 Mr. Dylan only needs a single reading.
Freedom, oh freedom, freedom over me I hate to tell you, mister, but only dead men are free
This is my favorite line in the poem/song. Using Whitmanesque phrasing to connect Lincoln with Kennedy. Both men were after all the great hope of a wounded nation. Slavery in Lincoln’s era and Vietnam/Racism in Kennedy’s time. Both men were victims of murder most foul.
Mr. Dylan has undergone phases of life where he composed Christian influenced records. He has deep personal beliefs that crop up nicely here.
Declaring, ‘the Age of the Antichrist’ has just begun following the Kennedy assassination the nation saw a steep rise in cult activity, the crimes of Charles Manson, and satanic music also came into being in American culture.
Echoing the conventional wisdom that the nation had lost its soul are Mr. Dylan’s lyrics describing the Kennedy post mortem: ‘No soul was found where it should be.’
The Fourth Section
What’s new, pussycat? What’d I say? I said the soul of a nation been torn away And it’s beginning to go into a slow decay And that it’s thirty-six hours past Judgment Day Wolfman Jack, he’s speaking in tongues He’s going on and on at the top of his lungs Play me a song, Mr. Wolfman Jack Play it for me in my long Cadillac Play me that “Only the Good Die Young” Take me to the place Tom Dooley was hung Play “St. James Infirmary” and the Court of King James If you want to remember, you better write down the names Play Etta James, too, play “I’d Rather Go Blind” Play it for the man with the telepathic mind Play John Lee Hooker, play “Scratch My Back” Play it for that strip club owner named Jack Guitar Slim going down slow Play it for me and for Marilyn Monroe
It’s Mr. Wolfman Jack to you. Bob Dylan has reached a point in his career that he can compose a poem that includes 1970’s icon Wolfman Jack.
This is a reference to the alter—ego creation that he underwent in the 1960’s, Robert Zimmerman became Bob Dylan; Robert Weston Smith became Wolfman Jack.
Also in the new age of the antichrist men were literally becoming beasts. It’s in this section that Mr. Dylan begins to recommend recordings using the word ‘play’ as a command.
It references his 2 years as a D.J. himself on satellite radio. Using famous titles/lyrics from the era’s violent refelctions include “Only The Good Die Young”, published in 1977, the year of the Son of Sam killings in New York.
Bob Dylan makes his listeners do a lot of history homework. I strongly believe this is why his work ranks so high.
Playing up the description of President Kennedy’s car of choice, ‘a long black Cadillac’, itself a coffin on wheels.
Take me to the place Tom Dooley was hung Play “St. James Infirmary” and the Court of King James If you want to remember, you better write down the names
For my take these 3 lines set up why Bob Dylan has become such a master at connecting seemingly disparate ideas.
You see the ‘place where Tom Dooley was hung’ is in North Carolina, where the Wolfman took his last breath.
Being white, Wolfman Jack died of a heart attack not a lynching. Tom Dooley became the subject of many folk songs, a genre that gave artistic birth to Bob Dylan.
Tom Dooley is part of a sad American tradition known as Appalachian Murder Ballads. A murder most foul.
St. James Infirmary references blues music. An alternate title for the song was “The Young Man Cut Down in His Prime”) about a soldier who uses his money on prostitutes and then dies of venereal disease. The theme ties in with Kennedy’s death.
Then closing the section with a simple notation of why the name checking will continue unabated for the rest of the piece—to remember with clarity write down the names.
Only an artist of Bob Dylan’s caliber tells the listener his intent in writing this or any other song/poem is to preserve it for the ages to come beyond his mortal years.
The Fifth Section (Conclusion)
Play “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” Play it for the First Lady, she ain’t feeling any good Play Don Henley, play Glenn Frey Take it to the limit and let it go by Play it for Carl Wilson, too Looking far, far away down Gower Avenue Play “Tragedy”, play “Twilight Time” Take me back to Tulsa to the scene of the crime Play another one and “Another One Bites the Dust” Play “The Old Rugged Cross” and “In God We Trust” Ride the pink horse down that long, lonesome road Stand there and wait for his head to explode Play “Mystery Train” for Mr. Mystery The man who fell down dead like a rootless tree Play it for the reverend, play it for the pastor Play it for the dog that got no master Play Oscar Peterson, play Stan Getz Play “Blue Sky,” play Dickey Betts Play Art Pepper, Thelonious Monk Charlie Parker and all that junk All that junk and “All That Jazz” Play something for the Birdman of Alcatraz Play Buster Keaton, play Harold Lloyd Play Bugsy Siegel, play Pretty Boy Floyd Play the numbers, play the odds Play “Cry Me a River” for the Lord of the gods Play Number nine, play Number six Play it for Lindsey and Stevie Nicks Play Nat King Cole, play “Nature Boy” Play “Down in the Boondocks” for Terry Malloy Play “It Happened One Night” and “One Night of Sin” There’s twelve million souls that are listening in Play “Merchant of Venice”, play “Merchants of Death” Play “Stella by Starlight” for Lady Macbeth Don’t worry, Mr. President, help’s on the way Your brothers are comin’, there’ll be hell to pay Brothers? What brothers? What’s this about hell? Tell them, “We’re waiting, keep coming,” we’ll get them as well Love Field is where his plane touched down But it never did get back up off the ground Was a hard act to follow, second to none They killed him on the altar of the rising sun Play “Misty” for me and “That Old Devil Moon” Play “Anything Goes” and “Memphis in June” Play “Lonely at the Top” and “Lonely Are the Brave” Play it for Houdini spinning around in his grave Play Jelly Roll Morton, play “Lucille” Play “Deep in a Dream”, and play “Driving Wheel” Play “Moonlight Sonata” in F-sharp And “A Key to the Highway” for the king on the harp Play “Marching Through Georgia” and “Dumbarton’s Drums” Play darkness and death will come when it comes Play “Love Me or Leave Me” by the great Bud Powell Play “The Blood-Stained Banner”, play “Murder Most Foul”
In this final section of this elegiac piece Mr. Dylan reminds us of the worst scene of racial violence in the nation’s history.
The Tulsa race massacre (also called the Tulsa race riot, the Greenwood Massacre, or the Black Wall Street Massacre) of 1921 took place on May 31 and June 1, 1921, when mobs of white residents attacked black residents and businesses of the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
It has been called “the single worst incident of racial violence in American history.” The attack, carried out on the ground and from private aircraft, destroyed more than 35 square blocks of the district—at that time the wealthiest black community in the United States, known as “Black Wall Street”.
This awful history was dramatized on the Premiere of HBO’s ‘Watchmen’. Here the line takes us back to the scene of the original crime.
He connects it to the currents of hate/racism that from 1921 became a tsunami that killed another American President.
Then swirling through the American history of Jazz music and its iconic progenitors he adds crime figures like Bugsy Siegel who builds Las Vegas and on and on in a dizzying meter of names that arrives at “Love Me or Leave Me” by Bud Powell.
This is Dylan’s response to the hateful crowds that state, America love it or leave it.
The final line is perhaps the most stinging reminder of how far America needs to go to overcome its bloody past and present: Play The Blood Stained Banner , Play Murder Most Foul.
‘The Blood Stained Banner’ was a Confederate anthem and a version of the Confederate Flag presented in 1865. Bob Dylan is telling the nation to never forget this happened.
And to kindly play the song just ended, his American Elegy, Murder Most Foul.
There has been a lot of talk lately about returning to normalcy. Before the pandemic hit America the nation was struggling with many issues. There were several fissures in the body politic. Never before this moment had the country been torn asunder by an invisible threat.
Our economy has been the engine that drove us through recessions and social upheaval. The wages of workers stopped rising after 1980. Remained stagnant through 2020.
If you grew up in America between 1955 and 1985 you were indoctrinated into a man’s world. Captains of industry were male. Physical strength dominated. Being smart was deemed weak or ‘gay’.
What men hide is the ability to empathize. To express emotion in a normative way is suppressed. We as a society are paying today in political divides and fringe pursuits of false ideas that support a nation in isolation.
When I was a kid boys always acted strong. Being physical was the primary motivator in boys.
America was so busy working and living mostly private lives decades before Facebook that boys’ real needs could be missed.
The politicians pass laws. Parents do their best. Why were our kids killing one another before this crisis?
The gendered kids of this time and place are wondering what happened to them. People who cannot conceive of anything outside their prescribed norms are angered or scared that gendering could be wrong.
Has anyone asked if closing the schools could end school shootings? Recently a lot of people have suggested this crazy notion. Actually, without schools kids lose crucial development of social skills. Those with limited resources miss meals that schools provide.
America has yet to really tackle the social pandemic of massacres, addiction, and lack of empathy.
A return to normal? What normal are people longing for?
Vaping was killing kids, socially isolated boys were killing classmates, and adults were being killed by opioids.
The rising tide of Anti-Semitism was killing innocent people too.
Police brutality has resulted in a renewal of civil unrest not seen in fifty years.
Leadership is absent.
Should we not imagine a society that is anything but normal?
Trans people, Women, and Racism must be addressed. Just to name a few issues.
During the recent Memorial Day holiday states were informed that if they met certain metrics they could begin re-opening.
I walked around my city. Central Park was full of people socially distancing. Picnics were few and far between on the lawns. Children played. But it was just New Yorkers this year. Anything but normal.
I read the paper every day to check in on the latest concerning the virus. The pandemic has hit the poor the hardest. And economies that have all their eggs in the hospitality basket are in serious trouble.
Has the pandemic stripped away people’s illusions surrounding capitalism? Now we have a clearer idea of just how fragile our social system has become in the last 50 years.
People throw around new wordage to describe our ‘new normal’ but this is a much more serious matter.
Re-opening is not a race. States are finding new outbreaks where there were none until people began to disregard safety measures.
The virus has managed to do what Russian interference could not: push Americans to the brink of a new Civil War.
People who have not fallen ill are voicing their anger toward officials for closing their states.
As New York attempts to re-open let us all hope new cases of Covid—19 do not return us to square one.
The Covid Age is just beginning…
Tao Of Bob
While we seek mirth and beauty and music light and gay There are frail forms fainting at the door Though their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say Oh, hard times, come again no more.
—–excerpted lyrics from Hard Times by Bob Dylan (1992)
The New York Times today gave voice to the famous since they are lacking a platform. What do they miss about their beloved city?
Dear readers I can tell you what I don’t miss. The noise. The crowds. The expense.
I have a strong immune system. I go out everyday.
I danced in the middle of 5th Avenue, Madison Avenue, Lexington Avenue, and intersections that now stand empty. I do not miss traffic.
No sympathy for Disney. Are we not capitalists? You take risks with your investments. The government must stop their welfare for the wealthy. If Disney fails let it go away. Some other thing will come along for the 21st Century.
This just in, Disney+ using Hamilton as bait for more subscribers! It’s meant to be seen live.
The 7 pm banging of the pots has started to fade. Less and less volume now.
That homeless dude on the 6 train was right 2 years ago. Anyone of you may be jobless tomorrow. Did anyone listen to him? nah!
I do not “like” any of our politicians. They do not know what to do.
The people with means left the city months ago.
Some days are better than others. Just like before the pandemic.
I wonder how suburbanites will survive. They have to drive everywhere.
Now is the chance to lower subway fares. Ridership will not return to previous levels. Why run empty buses? We need to build a new transportation system. Monorail!
Our current Mayor will close streets to cars. Pedestrian only zones so people can walk and be distant from one another.
How about motorcycle only roads? A Harley highway.
New York City was all about luxury for the wealthy before this hit. Now that many of them have left for good how about converting the completed condo units into affordable homes for the rest of us? A rent strike for universal suffrage. Rents should fall back to 1960 levels.
Convert failed retail spaces into community use areas.
Our primary is now a go! Yay democracy.
Delegates count. It affects the party platform.
Haircuts? Hey guys, let it grow! We need non-conformity! Learn about rebellion. You can stand out. The Constitution allows for it, lol.
We should support Amazon’s workforce. This is retail today. The virus will not go away. Physical stores will never feel safe again. It’s nice to shop at a click with a solid returns policy.
Movie theaters are going to have to do a lot more to get us back. YouTube has a lot of great films from all over the world, no CGI needed. Stories about people are making a comeback following a decade of shlock from Marvel (Disney).
If independent book shops opened across the city with a medium size sales floor people could enjoy the experience. A no children under 16 policy would be nirvana. Book shops should sell books. No toys, no stationary.
New York will remain closed until at least May 18. Politicians are biding (pun intended) their time.
Cut and paste the above address to view a beautiful 30 minute French film about a family that takes a sea voyage around islands and sees whales. The boys swim with dolphins, explore sea life, and enjoy what looks like one amazing childhood.
The choices are yours on YouTube. Why are you wasting money on the banal service of Disney?
Heavy Metal Rules
The corporate record labels forced metal away from the mainstream. It made the culture stronger. Metal listeners are hundreds of millions of people from over two dozen countries. We love Lemmy, Ozzy, Priest, Maiden, Metallica and a zillion other artists who play amazing music. It will last forever. A creature comfort. And always regains its stature when things go South.
Metallica are still America’s best metal band. “Hardwired To Self Destruct” is amazing.
The wearing of masks is so metal! Rock on. Up The Irons! Bang thy head that doesn’t bang.
That’s it for now! Just a quick update inside the city of New York 2 months into the pandemic.
Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Pandemic.
There will be a new world developing over the next 2 years. Some will get to work. Others will get to die. This sounds harsh. Reality is not without pain.
I experienced a lot of physical pain this week. My back went out. Then after recovering from back spasms I wrenched a muscle in my chest.
The pain was crippling. All I could do was sit in a firm chair. The Global Citizen special relieved my stress. I am still recovering. I had mild fevers too.
All injuries today are approached haltingly that it could be Covid—19. It will be years before a vaccine is made widely available. I did not have the virus.
I have learned for myself that this awful time in our shared lives is like all things just temporary.
Before this emergency most Americans were oblivious to the pain lived daily by people without means.
Now many of them know what it’s like to have less. Disease is a leveler of inequality; a forced end to armed conflicts. I am learning to love the pandemic.
Most of America is now a welfare state. Learning the hard way that a strong social safety net is not a bad thing to have in place if things go badly.
I refuse the pie-in-the-sky prediction of reopening the economy. There will not be the same culture anymore.
New York will lose $10 billion during this crisis. The Fed will literally allow us to drop dead.
Forget what you thought was good for you before this emergency hastened by globalization and policies devised by right wing zealots.
You are not better than anyone else. The massive base of working poor must be enabled to get out of poverty.
Progressive policy making will make this a better reality and recovery for all.
We must confront racism, voter repression, and cruel doses of capitalism meant only to make millionaires become billionaires.
Those who are happy looking down upon others have a long in waiting come uppance to experience for the next decade.
America’s folly of allowing right leaning demagogues to enrich themselves with wars of choice is at an end.
The entire world will suffer together. I have learned to love the pandemic since it has the potential to unlock dormant energy from people who deserve a healthy planet.
Our system cannot sustain our population. If you watch news provided by just 6 state supported companies you get their picture of what they want you to believe is a good outcome.
Restaurants and other small businesses were being thrown out of business by greedy landlords long before Covid.
The pie-in-the-sky I cling to is the hope that we can allow industries to die for the sake of human survival.
Let the cruise industry end. The billionaire class only believes in welfare for other billionaires. Let movie theaters end. These businesses are not worth our lives.
What worked for the 20th Century does not work for the 21st. The corporate state will use all of its resources to convince you that a world of endless sequels and violence is just entertainment.
Our streaming platforms have made theaters unnecessary. They want you to pay for their shoddy product. I say no.
Let us create together a spirit for a new era of capitalism tempered with a strong social safety net. And provide grants to cities that grow green renewable energy.
I dream of fast food becoming a thing of the past. Let them go out of business.
Move low wage workers into a federally funded training process to work for higher wages in green businesses.
I was living mostly like a partially quarantined citizen before Covid. Now the rest of society is equal with my reality.
I have empathy for those who thought being upwardly mobile was okay. People must know that no matter their circumstances it’s not okay to leave people behind because access was eliminated by a narrow greedy class.
Living large is not okay. Many places across the country are finding out the hard way we have a housing problem because too many were sold a bill of goods that huge homes were your right.
The American dream is a nightmare of 20th Century thinking. Mostly white male identity that enabled huge cavities of poverty in cities and suburbs alike.
Let this pandemic open your eyes. Let go of your apathy. Downsize soon. My husband and I just want a one bedroom apartment with a normal rent. No living space should cost over a thousand dollars.
If the census is accurate we will see New York City get less from the Fed. Allowing developers to build million dollar cell blocks was never a good idea.
I think people need to become aware of the big picture. NYC & Co. Times Square Alliance are the corporate takeover of public spaces. Their short-term view is a disaster now.
Tourist economies were for third world nations. Why did the richest country in history turn New York into a seamy tourist theme park? Wax museum, a Believe-It-Or-Not gallery, and a lot of junky movie theaters. Our politicians did nothing for actual residents of this city.
Now we are in free fall. Will social conditions devolve back to the 1970’s? More than likely a state of disrepair will prevail. A result of our political class applying short cuts instead of the hard work of creating sustainability.
I just read that the city of Tulsa, OK offers $10,000 to new renters if eligible. Apartments are $825 a month. Bye bye New York.
Tao of Bob
My newfound support of Bob Dylan applies strongly to our country. My blog will feature his lyrics when appropriate. Here’s this week’s debut installment:
Come writers and critics, who prophesize with your pen And keep your eyes wide, the chance won’t come again And don’t speak too soon, for the wheel’s still in spin And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’ For the loser now will be later to win.
Another week is done. I have calendars in my apartment. Two in fact. One features puppies in silly outfits and poses to fit the month/season. The other is a New Yorker magazine cartoon-a-day.
The small things that went unnoticed are now prime pins in my mental machinery. They keep me safe. Taking an anti-depressant is the other component in this equation.
Here we are in New York without sitdown service in restaurants. One diner remains with delivery. It’s called Midnite Express after the drug trafficking movie from the 1970s.
Funny to think how the underbelly of society is operating now. Are they wearing masks too? Everyone is required to wear them now.
So with all this time on our hands we come up with projects. My latest was listening to the entire Bob Dylan catalog. I found out I could listen to 9 albums in one day. This infuriated my beloved husband but I was determined to finish in less than a week.
No theater. No baseball. No concerts. Summer will present a challenge. No day trips. May there be no heatwaves nor hurricanes. Oh, the city pools will not open. The last time that happened was the polio pandemic.
We should remind ourselves daily we must allow the health sector to do its best to curtail new illness. We should also keep in mind that all workers are valuable in any economy. Do not scapegoat.
At 7 each evening New Yorkers are banging pots and pans while cheering for nurses and doctors; food deliverers, store clerks; pharmacists, drugstore clerks. Hand in hand those with advanced educations and those with limited resources are working together to keep us all safe.
The city is quiet. You cannot help but feel how fragile society can become when faced with these unusual circumstances. New York pride was once about being open all the time. Things have changed.
Before the pandemic hit Manhattan the complaints to 311 (our city services number) over noise was hitting records. Subway ridership was bursting, and tourism was high.
Now those complaints are not happening and the subways are empty save essential workers. No tourists.
The past 2 administrations created a city for visitors. This has proved to be a shortsighted vision. Without their revenue now what do we do?
The city sleeps. Schools are closed. Life will not return to normal. Our lack of hindsight has proven to be our folly in 2020, funnily enough a year whose numbers literally mean healthy vision.
Last night at twelve Bob Dylan released another single, “I Contain Multitudes”, referencing Walt Whitman, Anne Frank, and the Rolling Stones! Mr. D is doing his part.
Change has been forced upon the population. Humanity faces another pandemic. This time it’s global!
The fault is not in the stars but in ourselves. We were sold a bill of goods.
For better or worse, the entire world became a small village. Air travel made it possible to be exposed to all kinds of new experiences.
Ultimately this includes our health. Now we face potential utter collapse.
Once upon a time there was the political idea of a ‘Great Society’. A social safety net in times of need.
Decades were tossed away to never ending corporate gain which has resulted in deep inequality.
Healthcare for profit has been a disaster. Why are we so short on medical supplies?
Why are we still occupying Afghanistan?
Last week I wrote about the consolidation of media power. This week just take a look at how this pandemic is being reported.
Social distance is one thing. Canceling an entire culture is quite another. I tend to see the big picture.
Closing theaters, postponing primaries, and telling a supposed free people to stay home is not a long-term solution.
Democracy means nothing if we do not live up to the ideals of land of the free, home of the brave.
Here in New York City no resident could stay home for a long period of time. The living spaces encourage outdoor activity.
Why are our leaders allowing the economy to drop so rapidly? This crisis can be the pathway to 100% employment.
By hiring and training people to convert malls, armories, and former retail spaces into medical facilities we could employ hundreds of thousands.
This conversion must happen now. Later will be increasing numbers of infected people with no beds in place; no quarantine spaces.
In just a few weeks the nation went from debates over socialism to wondering how they can cover daily expenses.
Our government is going to provide mortgage relief. A little bit of socialism can go a long way in this imperfect system.
We must put public pressure on our officials to sit down to do the hard work of forming a smarter agenda.
The idea of The Great Society was to provide healthcare as a right. Create new pathways to economic stability. And face the original sin of slavery.
Just think for a moment if you can see a brighter future for every citizen if we continue to feed deep inequality.
If we profit off the sick and infirm and ignore the treatment of prisoners as not human can we claim to be moral?
The environment is shared universally around the world. We the people need to step up to demand this issue be taken seriously. Our money means nothing if an entire population is drowned by rising sea levels.
I feel strongly the best we can do for ourselves is to reach out through Skype or Zoom to fellow citizens to debate these ideas. We must challenge our leaders.
I also think less TV news is a must for people. If you have to look at the headlines use factual outlets.
Cable news is probably the worst source for facts.
NPR and WNYC radio are solid outlets in the Big Apple. The New York Times provides updates, just don’t stare too long.
Grassroots organizing is still the best way to bring together the new ideas for galvanizing a culture that has been taught for generations how to be non-political and compliant with the worst possible agenda.
Take your daily walks/exercise, read a lot, and learn to think for yourself how we can better this now literally sick society.
Neil Young’s 38th album, “Colorado”, released on October 25, 2019.
This is the first studio offering from Crazy Horse since 2012’s “Psychedelic Pill”.
The sounds you get these days are often produced so meticulously it’s miraculous there are any musicians left with real soul.
Crazy Horse have soul in spades. This latest offering is about climate change.
More to the point it’s a raw jammy statement of love for the planet; a pro-immigration, pluralistic mission from perhaps rock’s last angry man.
Crazy Horse are:
Neil Young (guitars, vocals, piano, vibes, harmonica), Nils Lofgren (guitars, vocals, pump organ), Ralph Molina (drums, vocals), and Billy Talbot (bass, vocals). They recorded Colorado mostly live in studio in the titular state. Neil Young produced the album with John Hanlon.
01 Think of Me
02 She Showed Me Love
03 Olden Days
04 Help Me Lose My Mind
05 Green Is Blue
06 Shut It Down
07 Milky Way
09 Rainbow of Colors
10 I Do
While none of these new compositions will strike a novice listener as anything hip or catchy they are not meant to be commercial.
These are brilliant musicians laying down jams that are recorded well.
In each piece is expressed wishes, hopes, and dreams of a world that cares about the eternal.
“She Showed Me Love” is an epic jam of 13:36 mins secs in duration.
On vinyl this album is a 3 record set. There is a 7 inch single of ‘Milky Way’ included.
Mr. Young wanted to make an album of lasting value; high quality playback was key.
The musicianship on display here is superlative. “Milky Way” is the first single; “Rainbow Of Colors” will be the second.
Frustration over the lack of universal understanding of the epic problems we face with a climate in decline is resolved in the scorching anger of “Shut It Down”.
The song’s second verse:
Have to shut the whole system down All around the planet There’s a blindness that just can’t see Have to shut the whole system down They’re all wearing climate change As cool as they can be
The arrangements are not heavy handed. The delivery is what longtime listeners of this band would expect. A slow churn of political dissent that threatens to boil over.
By the record’s end you want more. In reality you must do your part so there can be more. An eternity of more.
Mr. Young has been recording since 1969. Now in his 50th year as a recording artist he shows no sign of slowing down; not giving in to an apathetic status quo.
He cares deeply for the songs he creates as an artist. His contributions to groups like Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, and Nash are untouchable rock milestones.
Sometimes his solo works have been difficult to translate on first listen. Regardless, you must listen with a close ear, expecting to not get all the meaning within right away.
This album has those qualities. If you do the work you will get the picture. Much more transparent than some of his other works with insightful poetic lyrics in every song.
“Milky Way” is a poem. Universal themes of lost love, longing for connection, and cockeyed optimism are long held hallmarks of musical art. This track embodies all of it.
The repeating verse:
I was sailing in the Milky Way Losing track of memories That weren’t that day Right by her side As the stars flew by I did collide With memory but somehow I survived And became free
A transient moment in time. Getting lost in the daze of lost/recalled memories and somehow able to move forward stronger.
As the lead single I felt strongly this track represented what the album as a whole says of Neil Young & Crazy Horse’s work.
When a legendary artist releases new music there is a huge weight attached—memory of past glory.
“Colorado” just plainly states that we cannot collide with our past because we risk negating the present; become blind to our future.
According to SPIN magazine there will not be a concert tour this Fall to support the new record. Mr. Young is finishing up editing 15 films!