Election Day 2016

 

I grew up in a politically split household, but in the opposite way from a lot of others: Dad was a liberal Democrat and Mom was a conservative Republican. My brothers and I all followed Dad’s lead and after many years, Mom joined us too. She was born and raised in Massachusetts at a time when it was rock-ribbed Republican and the south was solidly Democrat. That’s changed now, but it’s the parties more than the people that have changed.




The first time I remember pulling for a presidential ticket was Carter/Mondale in 1976. I had an iron-on decal of their logo on a T-shirt and was glad when they won. The next election was the first I was eligible to vote in and he lost that one. 

My votes, in order:


1980: Jimmy Carter, lost.
1984: Walter Mondale, lost.
1988: Alice Cooper, write-in, lost by an unbelievable margin.
1992: Bill Clinton, won. After 12 years I finally voted for a winner.
1996: Ralph Nader, lost.
2000: Ralph Nader, lost again. First time I voted for the same person twice.
2004: John Kerry, lost.
2008: Barack Obama, won. 28 years in, my second winning vote
2012: Barack Obama, won again.
2016: Hillary Clinton

We’ll find out tonight if my vote this year was for a winner but I’m cautiously optimistic that I’m set for a 3-peat tonight. I cast my vote for Hillary Clinton without qualification and not as the lesser of two evils. It’s oddly fitting that she needs to win by defeating an opponent who considers sexual predation to be a perk of his wealth and fame. 

I don’t expect Hillary Clinton to be one of our greatest presidents although I think she has the intellect and experience to be one should a unique combination of circumstance and spirit demand it of her. Her greatest contribution to our country and world will almost certainly be her destruction of a formidable barrier and, with it, the opening of the floodgates for half of the human race.


Here’s John & Yoko from their 1972 album Some Time in New York City with their composition, Woman is the Nigger of the World:



Woman is the nigger of the world
Yes she is…think about it
Woman is the nigger of the world
Think about it…do something about it

We make her paint her face and dance
If she won’t be a slave we say she don’t love us
If she’s real we say she’s trying to be a man
While putting her down we pretend that she’s above us

Original album artwork
Woman is the nigger of the world…yes she is
If you don’t believe me take a look at the one you’re with
Woman is the slave to the slaves
Ah, yeh…better scream about it

We make her
bear and raise our children
And then we leave her flat for being a fat old mother hen
We tell her home is the only place she should be
Then we complain that she’s too unworldly to be our friend

Woman in the nigger of the world…yes she is
If you don’t believe me, take a look at the one you’re with
Woman is the slave to the slaves
Yeh (think about it).

We insult her every day on TV
And wonder why she has no guts or confidence
When she’s young we kill her will to be free
While telling her not to be so smart we put her down for being so dumb

Woman is the nigger of the world
Yes she is…if you don’t believe me, take a look at the one you’re with
Woman is the slave to the slaves
Yes she is…if you believe me, you better scream about it.

We make her paint her face and dance.
 

Last Licks

There’s no way around it – 2016 is a shitty year for music fans. So far we’ve lost Prince, Merle Haggard, David Bowie, Keith Emerson, Glenn Frey, Paul Kantner, and Maurice White. And it’s not even May yet. It got me thinking about the final recordings that artists make and what it says about the relationship between fame and mortality.

Long before they became stars, most of the gods and goddesses of music were mere mortals. I say most because we can’t really be sure about Keith Richards. When their stars fade or implode, they sometimes get a chance to confront their death in their art. 

Sometimes they don’t.

John Lennon didn’t get to see it coming and sang on his last album: 

“Grow old along with me. 
The best is yet to be. 
When our time has come 
We will be as one. 
God bless our love.”


His fellow Beatle George Harrison saw the end and on his last album sang these words:

“Never slept so little, never smoked so much
Lost my concentration, I could even lose my touch
Talking to myself, crying out loud
Only I can hear me, I’m stuck inside a cloud.”
Joey Ramone also saw the end coming and on his final album sang:
“Sitting in a hospital bed
Frustration going through my head
Turn on the TV set
Take some drugs so I can forget
I, I want life
I want my life

It really sucks”

Listen to David Bowie’s last album Blackstar through headphones for an intimate taste of his mortality. Dollar Days starts with the sounds of the artist in one of his last visits to the vocal booth shuffling his lyric sheets. Before he unleashes the monster of his voice on Tis A Pity She Was A Whore you can hear his labored breathing as he listens to the backing tracks that bleed from his headphones into his microphone. And of course there’s his video for Lazarus.
“Look up here, I’m in heaven
I’ve got scars that can’t be seen
I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen
Everybody knows me now
Look up here, man, I’m in danger
I’ve got nothing left to lose
I’m so high it makes my brain whirl
Dropped my cell phone down below
Ain’t that just like me
By the time I got to New York
I was living like a king
Then I used up all my money
I was looking for your ass
This way or no way
You know, I’ll be free
Just like that bluebird
Now ain’t that just like me
Oh I’ll be free
Just like that bluebird
Oh I’ll be free
Ain’t that just like me”


UPDATE

A friend reminded me of Warren Zevon’s final one. He saw the end coming with open eyes. His final album, The Wind, was released three weeks before his death and on it he sang these words:

“Shadows are falling and I’m running out of breath
Keep me in your heart for a while
If I leave you it doesn’t mean I love you any less
Keep me in your heart for a while
When you get up in the morning and you see that crazy sun
Keep me in your heart for a while
There’s a train leaving nightly called “When All is Said and Done”
Keep me in your heart for a while.”

Watching The Wheels – Mike’s Musical Monday

…I just had to let it go.

It seems fitting that since I launched this blog with one of John Lennon’s tracks from Double Fantasy, I’ll kick off the second year with another.

I recently lost my job (where did it go? I just had it) and feel no urge to find another one. Sometimes the smart thing to do is nothing. Sometimes it’s enough to just sit and watch the wheels.

People say I’m crazy
Doing what I’m doing
And they give me all kinds of warnings
To save me from ruin
When I say that I’m OK
They look at me kind of strange
Surely you’re not happy now
You no longer play the game

People say I’m lazy
Dreaming my life away
And they give me all kinds of advice
Designed to enlighten me
When I say I’m doing fine
Watching shadows on the wall
Don’t you miss the big time, boy,
You’re no longer on the ball?

I’m just sitting her watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go

People asking questions
Lost in confusion
I tell them there’s no problem
Only solutions
They shake their heads and look at me
As if I’ve lost my mind
I tell them there’s no hurry
I’m just sitting here doing time

I’m just sitting her watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go

Julia

In 2012, I met a woman named Julia and was inspired to learn this song. Julia’s a common enough name but one that I hadn’t come across much in my life. Earlier in 2012 my first full-length stage play Digging Up John Barrymore, was produced by the good people at Dreamcatcher Entertainment. The name I gave to the sole female character in the play was Julia. The actress that played her was also named Julia and I’m now in a writing workshop that includes two Julias among my eight classmates. It seems like I can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a Julia these days.

Another woman named Julia was John Lennon’s mother, the namesake for this song.The one who inspired me to learn this song is celebrating the memory of her first day today. Happy birthday, Julia.

Half of what I say is meaning less
But I say it just to reach you
Julia
Ocean child calls me
So I sing a song of love
Julia
Seashell eyes
Windy smile
Calls me
So I sing a song of love
Julia
Her hair of floating sky is shimmering
Glimmering
In the sun
Julia
Morning moon
Touch me
So I sing a song of love
Julia
When I cannot sing my heart
I can only speak my mind
Julia
Sleeping sand
Silent cloud
Touch me
So I sing a song of love
Julia
Calls me
So I sing a song of love for
Julia

Nobody Loves You (When You’re Down and Out)

I was fired last week from a job I’ve held a little less than two years. Every other job I’ve had ended when I decided to walk away. So it was a new experience for me, and not an entirely unpleasant one. The only thing I ever liked about that job, I liked way too much. I could never get the right balance.

I fell into a bit of a funk, which was actually a deepening of a low-level funk I’ve been in for a long time. A conversation with a friend, unbeknownst to her, helped turn me around. When I heard how pathetic I sounded talking to her, I realized I’d been wallowing in self-pity, which is not only an ugly thing to do but it’s also antithetical to my normal outlook and personality.

So I’m good now, but while I was in the gutter this tune came up on my iPod and struck a chord with me. From the pen of my favorite songwriter, John Lennon: Nobody Loves You (When You’re Down and Out):


Nobody loves you when you’re down and out
Nobody sees you when you’re on cloud nine
Everybody’s hustling for a buck and a dime
I`ll scratch your back and you scratch mine
I’ve been across to the other side
I’ve shown you everything, I got nothing to hide
But still you ask me do I love you, what it is, what it is
All I can tell you is it’s all show biz
All I can tell you is it’s all show biz
Nobody loves you when you’re down and out
Nobody knows you when you’re on cloud nine
Everybody’ hustling for a buck and a dime
I’ll scratch your back and you knife mine
I’ve been across the water so many times
I’ve seen the one eyed witchdoctor leading the blind
But still you ask me do I love you, what you say, what you say
Every time I put my finger on it, it slips away
Every time I put my finger on it, it slips away
Well I get up in the morning and I’m looking in the mirror to see, ooo wee
Then I’m lying in the darkness and I know I can’t get to sleep, ooo wee!
Nobody loves you when you’re old and grey
Nobody needs you when you’re upside down
Everybody’s hollering about their own birthday
Everybody loves you when you’re six foot in the ground

Girl – Mike’s Musical Monday

I may be a little long in the tooth to be singing about a “girl” without coming off creepy but I couldn’t resist taking a crack at this bit of genius songwriting from my favorite band, The Beatles. Don’t we all know a girl, or a woman (or a boy, or a man, for that matter) who are the kind you want so much it makes you sorry, still, you don’t regret a single day?

I recorded this one up in the Catskills, on the deck of my friends Terry & Bob. The sunlight coming off the lake kind of overwhelms the picture. Backing vocals are provided by several species of bird.

Is there anybody going to listen to my story
All about the girl who came to stay?
She’s the kind of girl you want so much it makes you sorry
Still, you don’t regret a single day

Oh, girl
Girl, girl

When I think of all the times I’ve tried so hard to leave her
She will turn to me and start to cry
And she promises the earth to me and I believe her
After all this time I don’t know why

Oh, girl
Girl, girl

She’s the kind of girl who puts you down when friends are there
You feel a fool
When you say she’s looking good she acts as if it’s understood
She’s cool

Oh, girl
Girl, girl

Was she told when she was young that pain would lead to pleasure?
Did she understand it when they said
That a man must break his back to earn his day of leisure?
Will she still believe it when he’s dead?

Oh, girl
Girl, girl