Bands of Co-Conspirators

band collage3 (1)

I have been making music for over 40 years and have had the good fortune in that time to have worked with some insanely talented people. In my college dorm, in my wife’s office, even in my parents’ basement, I found musicians, singers, and songwriters who astounded and challenged me. It is impossible to say how much I learned from each of them. I only know that every note I play comes from a foundation we built together.

I was tempted to harangue some, all, or as many as I could persuade, of my previous co-conspirators, to join me for this show, but new phases sometimes require new faces. My instinct this time around was to work only with artists I hadn’t worked with before.

The first one added to the roster for this show is a man, like me, who has played for many years with many bands. His bands include Letters From Home, The Providers, and the Snook Brothers. He is the wonderful guitarist Vinny Armanino. How wonderful? You can pick up a ticket and find out. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Get your tickets here.

Vinny and I – and the rest of the fife and drum corps jug band orchestra and fellow-travelers – will spend the next month preparing a uniquely memorable experience for each member of our audience. We would love to see you there.

Here is a recording by one of the 1990s version of my co-conspirators named Late Model Humans, performing one of the songs that will be featured at the show: You’re The Only One (I Think).

In your chain I’m just a link
A valentine that isn’t pink
Like all the others in a blink
I’m gone like water down your sink
But if you’ll give me one more drink
If you’ll just give me one more drink then I’ll say

You’re the only one, you’re the only one
You’re the only one, I think
You’re the only one, you’re the only one
You’re the only one, I think

Next time we’re down at the bar
And you say this time I’ve gone too far
That I just want to drink and play guitar
Like I’m some kind of fucking star
I’ll pound down another drink
I’ll pound down another drink and I’ll say

You’re the only one, you’re the only one
You’re the only one, I think

What can I do to make you stay
Why do I always have to say
You’re the only one for me, girl
Why do I always have to say
You’re the only one, you’re the only one

This is no ordinary thirst
I’m fighting off the family curse
And still I know it would be worse
If I was alone in this universe
A universe as black as ink
But if you’ll give me one more drink then I’ll say

You’re the only one, you’re the only one
You’re the only one, I think

Coming Full Circle in NYC

band_pics

Thirty five years ago, I moved to New York City, into a friend’s apartment at 4 Saint Mark’s Place. On September 22, I will be performing a show at the Kraine Theater, four blocks away from that first apartment. I’ll be playing songs that I wrote during the years I lived in Greenwich Village, songs I wrote when I lived on the Upper West Side, and ones written in my current home in the Bronx.

Get your tickets here.

The city has changed a lot since my first days here, hanging out in clubs like the Ritz, the Limelight, Danceteria, and CBGBs, finding new experiences that seeped into my songs. In music I found the power of melody and poetry to inspire and soothe and reveal and heal. I would love to share some of these experiences with you in the city that always will be home to me.

Here is a recording from the mid-nineties, by an early incarnation of Late Model Humans, of one of the songs I’ll be performing: New York City.

This is no time for saluting flags…

Happy Independence Day. Please enjoy responsibly, with these timely words and timeless music from Lou Reed.
This is no time for celebration
This is no time for shaking hands
This is no time for backslapping
This is no time for marching bands

This is no time for optimism
This is no time for endless thought
This is no time for my country right or wrong
remember what that brought

There is no time

This is no time for congratulations
This is no time to turn your back
This is no time for circumlocution
This is no time for learned speech

This is no time to count your blessings
This is no time for private gain
This is a time to put up or shut up
It won’t come back this way again

There is no time

This is no time to swallow anger
This is no time to ignore hate
This is no time to be acting frivolous
Because the time is getting late

This is no time for private vendettas
This is no time to not know who you are
Self knowledge is a dangerous thing
The freedom of who you are

This is no time to ignore warnings
This is no time to clear the plate
Let’s not be sorry after the fact
and let the past become our fate

There is no time

This is no time to turn away and drink
or smoke some vials of crack
This is a time to gather force
and take dead aim and attack

This is no time for celebration
This is no time for saluting flags
This is no time for inner searchings
The future is at hand

This is no time for phony rhetoric
This is no time for political speech
This is a time for action
because the future’s within reach

This is the time

Because there is no time

The 20 greatest breakup songs ever – ranked! — Music | The Guardian

On the 40th anniversary of Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive topping the charts – and as the UK blunders towards its own acrimonious divorce – here’s the definitive list of tear-stained stonkersHip-hop isn’t big on romantic heartbreak, but this is a particularly fine example. There’s a lot of bragging from Guru about how he’s so…

via The 20 greatest breakup songs ever – ranked! — Music | The Guardian

It’s a nice list – well worth a look and listen – even if it almost criminal to leave off the greatest breakup song ever – Carole King’s “It’s Too Late.”

I Love You So Bad It Hurts (LIVE)

The second song I played at an open mic recently is one of my favorite originals of the past few years. Musically, it’s a simple progression that’s made a little fresher by putting a capo on the 10th fret so that the guitar almost sounds like a mandolin. Lyrically, each verse repeats the first line at the end with a little bit of a twist caused by the lines in between.

 

I love you so bad it hurts
with a kind of pain that I don’t mind at all
I love you so bad it hurts

I love you so much I don’t
have anything left for anyone else
I love you so much I don’t

I love you so much I can’t
drink enough so I can forget
the way your love burns like a lit cigarette
but I love you so much I’ll never regret
that I love you so much I can’t

I’ve loved you so long I can’t see
all the way back to the morning before
my love came knocking around at your door
and I might as well just admit that I’m yours
’cause I’ve loved you so long I can’t see

I’m Not Afraid (LIVE)

I

Fear is the challenge
to overcome or to succumb
and either way your work’s not done
Once you think you’ve got it licked
you’ve only learned half of the trick
Just because you lose, or win,
doesn’t mean a goddamn thing
the next time that the fear begins

II

They say the fear of public speaking is the greater than the fear of death, which makes some sense to me since we all know from a tender age that we will die but there is nothing to say that we will speak in public. That is one bullet we can dodge. And the devil you know is always more palatable than the strange one.

By my blurry count, I have taken to the stage between 40 and 50 times and, like everything in life, each could be the last but so far this is just the latest. I wrote this song about fear a few months ago and performed it last week at Mary O’s on Avenue A between 2nd & 3rd. If you’re in the neighborhood drop in for a meal or a drink but don’t tell Mary I sent you. She wouldn’t know me from a hole in the wall.

III

Slit Skirts

townshend

Aging gracefully is one of the great challenges in the life of a rock’n’roller. Many artists have pissed away their maturity chasing the tail of their youth. Just as many have gone to an early grave without having to confront the challenge. Then there are the few who tackle it head-on.

Pete Townshend was a great help to me when I was a teenager. He found words for thoughts I was too inarticulate to express. His band’s Quadrophenia was blaring in the background of my first kiss. And as he got older he found words to express the bittersweet nature of aging.

 Slit Skirts, from Townshend’s 1982 album All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes takes on the subject with his usual musical bravado and some unusually literary lyrics.

Can’t pretend that growing older never hurts…

I was just thirty-four years old and I was still wandering in a haze
I was wondering why everyone I met seemed like they were
Lost in a maze
I don’t know why I thought I should have some kind of
Divine right to the blues
It’s sympathy not tears people need when they’re the
Front page sad news.
.
The incense burned away and the stench began to rise
And lovers now estranged avoided catching each others’ eyes
And girls who lost their children cursed the men who fit the coil
And men not fit for marriage took their refuge in the oil
No one respects the flame quite like the fool who’s badly burned
From all this you’d imagine that there must be something learned
.
Slit skirts, Jeanie never wears those slit skirts
I don’t ever wear no ripped shirts
Can’t pretend that growing older never hurts.
Knee pants, Jeanie never wears no knee pants
Have to be so drunk to try a new dance
So afraid of every new romance
.
Slit skirts, slit skirt
Jeanie isn’t wearing those slit skirts, slit skirt
She wouldn’t dare in those slit skirts, slit skirt
Wouldn’t be seen dead in no slit skirt
.
Slit skirts, slit skirt
Jeanie isn’t wearing those slit skirts, slit skirt
She wouldn’t dare in those slit skirts, slit skirt
Wouldn’t be seen dead in no slit skirt
Romance, romance, why aren’t we thinking up romance?
Why can’t we drink it up true heart romance
Just need a brief new romance
.
Let me tell you some more about myself,
you know I’m sitting at home just now.
The big events of the day are passed
and the late TV shows have come around.
I’m number one in the home team, but I still feel unfulfilled.
A silent voice in her broken heart complaining that I’m unskilled.
And I know that when she thinks of me, she thinks of me as him,
But, unlike me, she don’t work off her frustration in the gym.
Recriminations fester and the past can never change
A woman’s expectations run from both ends of the range
Once she walked with untamed lovers’ face between her legs
Now he’s cooled and stifled and it’s she who has to beg
.
Slit skirts, Jeanie never wears those slit skirts
And I don’t ever wear no ripped shirts
Can’t pretend that growing older never hurts
Knee pants, Jeanie never wears no knee pants
We have to be so drunk to try a new dance
So afraid of every new romance
.
Slit skirts, slit skirt
Jeanie isn’t wearing those slit skirts, slit skirt
She wouldn’t dare in those slit skirts, slit skirt
Wouldn’t be seen dead in no slit skirt
.
Slit skirts, slit skirt
Jeanie isn’t wearing those slit skirts, slit skirt
She wouldn’t dare in those slit skirts, slit skirt
Wouldn’t be seen dead in no slit skirt
Romance, romance, why aren’t we thinking up romance?
Why can’t we drink it up true heart romance
Just need a brief new romance