It’s breathtaking the way the world comes together to help when a crisis hits. The earthquake in Haiti was biblical in its destruction, although faith in a deity never helped Haiti in the past, and it’s not gonna provide food, water, and shelter now. It takes people to do that, and thus far the response has been overwhelming. Almost literally so, as the roads are clogged with supplies trying to get in…at time hampering the relief effort itself.
But it may be useful to stop for a moment and ask ourselves why we are so generous now, yet blithely allow poverty on a scale of Haiti’s to grind on unscathed in the first place. Isn’t this the very definition of putting the cart before the horse?
I have no answers surely. I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to self-centeredness and faux liberalism. As long as my internet access doesn’t get interrupted and I’ve got new books to read life is tolerable…if not even pleasant on occasion. I can text the Red Cross $10 and feel good about it.
But there are pangs now and then. We can see it all on TV if we wish. New Orleans. Now Haiti. Most of us couldn’t even conceive of the day-to-day trials of these people before mother nature decided to fuck with them some more. We look now, and it’s like something from the mind of a warped Hollywood screenwriter. This isn’t water in the basement. These are dead bodies on the road, being scooped up by dump trucks. In the year 2010.
I don’t know. I guess I just wish we could all come together before the storm next time.
In a bit…
Playing a gig this weekend with good friend Josh Pratt. Should be a blast. Josh is a kindred spirit who writes the shit out of a song, (check out our West Memphis 3 project to see what I mean) and he’s up for anything. We’re planning all kinds of surprises, including a group of cover songs that aren’t generally heard in folk-song circles. Hopefully the weather cooperates and we’re not stuck playing to a bunch of empty chairs. I once played a show to 2 people, who were sitting at a table in front of the stage playing a loud game of Scrabble. Those were good days. Played a show with Lorne Clarke one time, and his front-row father-in-law fell asleep rather loudly during a somewhat longish coal mining ballad, which I’ve made sure never to play since.
Endless stories when you drag your guitar on-stage and try to keep people from talking amongst themselves. Opened for a polka band one time, which was interesting. Grateful Dead fans are more sober than polka fanatics, let’s just put it that way. When a 70 year old polish woman built like a pulling guard and filled with way too much Genesee on-tap starts giving you the evil eye, believe me, you cut short your set. I once played a show in which 2 ladies were using my on-stage monitor as a table to hold their plates of vegetables. Another time, when I was sure nobody was listening, I sang the “Barney” theme song with filthy lyrics. Nobody noticed.
I’m getting a bit old for that kind of thing these days. I hardly ever play live anymore, unless I’m paid way more than I should be, or guaranteed a captive audience. The latter is more fun, the former easy to get used to, if a bit rare. Deep down we’re all whores. We just have different asking prices is all.
Music is a wonder. I’ve played shows for hundreds of people, and played private shows for myself where I’ve strummed until my finger-tips bled and sent red dots spraying all over my pants. Both shows made the heart beat a little faster, even if I play lousy.
In a bit…
Taking a break in the action….sitting here listening to an old Mike Scott solo record called “Still Burning” and contemplating what comes next. Scott’s music is a good soundtrack for this sort of rumination, because the man staggers to and fro like a drunken man on a sidewalk. You never know if you’re gonna get something genius like “Fisherman’s Blues” or some bloated overproduced pile of gargantuan 80-ish shite with overbearing and even cultish religious overtones. But you’re always gonna get something different, and that’s more than you can say for most. So I’ve always been in Scott’s corner, even though it can get kinda snug there.
Besides, what’s the use of pondering your future in silence? That’s the height of boredom. And it can get scary too. Nothing like the sound of your own breathing to make you feel insignificant in the overall scheme of things. You can tell that Scott ain’t the kind to spend his time kicking his own ass, and that’s the type of guy I want to hang with, if only because opposites attract. That plus anybody who can write songs as good as “Fisherman’s Blues” and “This is the Sea” may still be scrounging for the rent (such is the lunacy of the music “business”), but ain’t ever gonna be insignificant again. Music lives longer than landlords. Thank your deity of choice for that.
So, there it is. Whatever any of this means. I’ve got good intentions nearly every time, but I do tend to allow myself to be battered…..like a Kansas weather vane. What I need to do is hunker down in the barn until the wind passes, then emerge and work like hell before a new storm starts forming on the horizon.
Easier said than done. Especially with the Waterboys bouncing around in my head…..a head that’s full of half-formed ideas and fully-formed air pockets.
In a bit…