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Love and Streets – new solo record available in November

October 29, 2012 1 comment

“Love and Streets” will be available next month on Amazon, Itunes, Spotify etc..

all them digital places that they say pay royalties and everything. What a novel concept.

Here’s the finalized track list…and a short blurb about each song…

Love and Streets
The Show
Suzie
Road Weary
A Fighter
The Indianapolis
My Lai
Drunk Driving
I Hate To Get Up in the Morning
Away
Love Is a Four Letter Word

Tom Flannery – guitar/vocals
recorded at the Home Office in Archbald, PA
produced by Tom Flannery
all songs written by Tom Flannery
copyright 2012 BMI
cover photo by Aaron Condida

Love and Streets – wrote these words down in my notebook. That’s all I had for a while. “Love and Streets”. Actually started writing a play using the title, but abandoned it after about 10 pages. There’s too much love and streets out there to write a coherent 2 act play about, and besides I had killed all my characters off before the end of the first act. My fictional town was a pretty desperate place….so I said screw it and wrote a 3 minute song instead.

Messed up sheets / cold and heat / heroin eyes / on the kids you meet
broken windows / lies and cheats / the long gone junkies / on love and streets

But there’s still hope out there too (or at least my version of it)

Just one more score / to settle our debts / get as clean / as we can get
maybe plant a seed / in our piece of ground / ignore the past / when it comes around
we got love and streets

Yea…even though that’s a bit warped, sometimes hope is kinda crooked. I’m reminded of that fool Rumsfeld trying to describe Iraq’s sudden descent into forced democracy in the midst of carnage and looting. He called it “un-tidy”.

Exactly. The only thing the guy ever said that made any fucking sense.

We take hope when and how it presents itself. So all in all, maybe a song of sin and redemption….all the while knowing that sinning again is inevitable.

The Show – A few years back I took my daughter to her first AAA baseball game. Scranton still had the Red Barons then and the county commissioners were not in prison. The stadium was maybe a third full. We had seats down the 3rd base line and as the players were running past I noticed that while most of them would probably not get past a bar bouncer, some were obviously minor league vets. Lines in their face from the sun, and worry in their eyes from holding onto their dreams maybe a little longer than their talent warranted. Most were pitchers….and they looked old enough to have conceived the catchers they were tossing to.

Lost 7 of 9 throwing mostly junk / mopped up a few when my sinker sunk
then they sent me down hoping for the best / 5 years on I still can’t rest
I go Thursday night in Abilene / with a lot of phone calls in between
my little girl says daddy when you coming home / I tell her sweetheart I just don’t know

I got home that night, and wrote the song. I never recorded it, though I played it live at some shows. My friend Lorne Clarke noticed I never put it on a record and used to say, as only a 300 pound Canadian can, “as you stupid?”. Well, maybe. But not anymore.

Suzie – I have many goals. It keeps things interesting. One of them is to write the perfect pop song. Like “Wonderwall” or “Found Out About You”. In their own way, each of those songs is as good as “Like a Rolling Stone”. I speak such apparent blasphemy while wearing my songwriter hat….and I don’t care how goofy it sounds to compare Noel Gallagher and Doug Hopkins to Bob Dylan. Shit….put me up against Tiger Woods from 100 yards, and let him hit one ball and let me hit 100 balls….I bet I can get it closer at least once. All it takes is one flushed wedge and a good bounce. But I do think that a truly great pop song is as rare as an epoch shattering opus like “Like a Rolling Stone”. How many times did Brian Wilson write something as staggeringly good as “God Only Knows”? Oh, probably never, and he was Brian friggin’ Wilson! Know what that says? This shit is fucking hard.

All this being said, I’m not suggesting this little ditty of mine is comparable in any way to any of the aforementioned songs. If it were so, I’d be an obscenely rich man and not feel the need to explain anything to anybody. Kinda like…well…Dylan.

No, not very likely, but I’ll never stop trying to find the perfect 3 minutes. There’s no search that’s more fun…or more damn frustrating.

Your dark eyes give nothing away / I never know just what to say
to compete with all the other guys/ with their fancy cars and desperate lies

Preach on brother….but keep it within 180 seconds.

Road Weary – I love seeing new places and new things. But I despise the effort it takes to get there. So I pretty much stay home unless somebody throws a lasso over me and drags me away. A barnstormer I ain’t. But every once in a while I have to hop a plane and enter the world of hotels and last-minute gate changes and rental cars and bar bills charged to the room. I don’t like it much. There’s no better feeling in the world than coming home.

I play open G tuning on this one by the way. Keith Richards taught me before he fell out of that tree.

A Fighter – I recorded Warren Zevon’s song “Boom Boom Mancini” for a Warren tribute album a few years ago. I grew up when boxing was boxing….and everybody knew who the heavyweight champ was. And like lots of other folks, I watched guys get killed. In the ring. On TV. Literally beaten to death.

The noise the smells the blood on the floor / searching without knowing what you’re looking for
some dish it out some take it slow / cause they ain’t got nowhere else to go
my daddy said “son….your soul’s on fire” / I said “daddy…you don’t understand
The Lord’s a liar

I saw some matches in Scranton….guys who looked like they left the bar stool a few minutes earlier and climbed into the ring to beat each others brains in to split whatever 10s and 20s promoter had left over. In retrospect it was pretty ghastly stuff….and about as on the level as pro wrestling. But the wounds were real and the blood drained the old-fashioned way. I have vague memories of the ring being pelted with orange drink containers when the blood lust lagged. I had no idea what I wanted to be in my life, but I knew that being a  boxer seemed a shit way to pay the rent.

So for 5 minutes in this song, I’m all these guys. It ain’t pretty.

The Indianapolis – If anybody knows this story, most likely it’s from Robert Shaw’s chilling monologue in the movie “Jaws”. The US ship that delivered the A bomb was torpedoed by a Japanese sub, and of the 900 men who went into the water, barely 300 came back out. Sharks took many of them. There’s a book about the disaster called “In Harm’s Way” that I highly recommend.

The song is not really a history lesson. Just an old man remembering…..or maybe trying not to.

Now I’m an old man / still never got further than the sand
dreams can bring me back and force my hand / like it was yesterday
Put a seashell to my ear / grandson says “papa what do you hear?”
I’ll turn so he can’t see the tear / someone tell me what to say?

There is an extraordinary woman who now lives in Seattle named Kim Roller, who took it upon herself to stage reunions of the Indy survivors. She heard this song and asked if she could use it to go with a video montage she had put together to show the men and their families. I was honored. They all heard the song. To them it mattered what I’d done. They invited me to subsequent reunions. In 2004 there were 110 living survivors. Today, there are 44. Kim has set up another reunion this August, in Indianapolis, Indiana.

I don’t think I’m worthy of taking up their time….but I’m proud that the song was used. It’s theirs now. I’m just glad others can hear it now too. Give the men a salute.

My Lai – Pete Townshend once wrote a song called “I’ve Known No War”. Townshend was born at the tail end of WWII, when Mom’s to-be would huddle in London bomb shelters at night to protect their unborns.

His generation had good timing that way. He may have wanted to die before he got old, but he never had to worry about getting plugged between the eyes by a German sniper or being blown to bits by an IED.

I’ve known no war either. I’m not a soldier. I’ve never been sent somewhere to kill someone my government said was my enemy. I grew up during Viet Nam but was too young to remember it. I watched wars in the Gulf on television, and they seemed like video games. Surgical. And certainly bloodless. Even when an American soldier was killed, it was back page news. Even the coffins were flown in under cover of darkness. People my age have no fucking idea what war is. The most grisly thing we’ve seen on war was staged for Stephen Spielberg’s cameras. I remember the uproar caused when the TV networks decided to air “Saving Private Ryan” un-edited. Way too bloody they said. Apparently they prefer the real thing? Less offensive and all that. And conveniently off-stage.

All I’ve learned about war in my years (I’ve read incessantly about it since my teens) is that it causes people to do things to other people that they wouldn’t normally do. And that the famous quote about evil only needing good people to do nothing to perpetuate seems almost, to use a Bush-era term, “quaint” these days. But it’s still out there…to haunt.

Even in the fog of war, there are good people who refuse to become perverted….at a time when perversion seems the most rational offer on the table. These are the true heroes. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that My Lai had them.

Drunk Driving – a song of unique desperation. How else to explain this…

Troopers and local cowboys / hiding among the elms
that woman is a Calvary cross / with a task to overwhelm

Bad day with the old lady fella?

So yea….it ain’t a good idea to drive with a bottle between your legs. But sometimes it’s hard to face the road ahead without a little bracer.

But really….this isn’t a song about booze at all. It’s a song about losing what you want and falling backwards towards the things that are way too easy to have short-term fun with.

Back in the dark ages….I speak of when MySpace was popular….a guy I got to know through there heard the song, and commented how much it meant to him…and how oddly soothing it was. Apparently he was going through a rough patch and the song hit a nerve. It’s always cool to hear feedback like that.

I Hate To Get Up in the Morning – A while back I decided to write and record an entire CD worth of material in 7 days. I don’t know why I decided to do this, but my threshold for boredom is notoriously low, and I think I was out of pharmaceuticals.

This is the first song I came up with, and probably the best. The first ones usually are. Just me having fun with a thesaurus, helped along by my then-new Gibson jumbo and hopped up on about 12 cans of diet coke.

But the struggle is worthy is what they say / but of course they’re not around today
just truckers, whores, and paper boys / spreading pride and spreading joy
grant us all your daily toil / and just a dab of mid-eastern oil
tell me what’s a grown man to do / I think I might have the flu

Who the hell knows what I was going on about? But who cares? Haven’t we all felt like this sometimes?

oh I hate getting up in the morning / and putting on a shirt and tie
like a whore in church I feel besmirched / so lonesome I could cry

Away – I wrote this before the West Memphis 3 were released. Myself and songwriter Josh Pratt decided to do something, anything, to shed light on this travesty of American justice. We wrote songs about it. Josh did some extraordinary work that I hope people can track down. He’s as good as songwriter as there is. Anywhere. That fact that you haven’t heard of him doesn’t alter his greatness one iota. It just means you haven’t heard of him.

Anyway, I don’t dabble in anything, so I was wearing my Free the Memphis 3 t-shirt every day and talking up their case to anybody who’d listen (my Mom got an earful….she even read the book about the case). Not many would, actually. Most are turned off when approached by zealots. That’s what I was, but I don’t apologize for it. Especially since the three then-boys are now free men. If not for pain in the ass zealots the Memphis 3 would still be in prison.

But now I realize that the song hit closer to home than I realized..

There ain’t much to do ’round here / smoke some dope and drink some beer
and look in the mirror when the music plays / hoping the guitar’ll take you away

That’s teen angst in four lines. That’s me in there. Still. It always creeps in. West Memphis, Arkansas. Scranton, Pennsylvania. It could, and does, happen everywhere.

Love Is a Four Letter Word – There’s a bizarre scene in the Dylan documentary “Don’t Look Back” (ok, not many scenes in the film aren’t bizarre) where Dylan is sitting in a hotel room tap tap tapping on a typewriter while a somewhat desperate looking Joan Baez tries to get his attention by singing an uncompleted song of his called, apparently, “Love Is a Four Letter Word”. He clearly barely remembers writing the song, and comes across as not giving a shit about the song or Baez. Dylan was one focused motherfucker. If you got in his way, he rolled over your sorry ass. In 1964 he may have been the most arrogant man on planet earth. With good reason I might add.

I can’t remember anything about the Dylan song except the tag line….which I thought was inane enough to be incredibly clever in an “why didn’t I think of that?” kind of way. So I filed it away….and years later I searched my guitar for a pretty melody….and actually think I found one. Thus does borrowing become creation.

Love is an anchor that holds your place / and keeps you from drifting away
but the captain on the bridge / takes all the pain you give
because love is a four letter word

I once sang this song with an extraordinary female singer who later on moved to Nashville, where she was promised great wealth by an “insider” who turned out to be no more connected than any other huckster in Nashville. Last I heard the singer was waiting on tables….her amazing voice notwithstanding. Nashville must be a bitch.

Anyway, she sang a gorgeous harmony on the tag line, and after hearing herself demanded a co-writing credit. She had, she said, “written the harmony”. I told her if things worked that way Emmylou Harris would be richer than the Queen and JK Rowling combined. She didn’t like my analogy and never spoke to me again. Our Richard and Linda moment was over.

I hope she doesn’t hear this song. She may sue me for royalties.

— Tom Flannery
10/25/2012

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New record coming soon

October 12, 2012 Leave a comment

It’s called “Love and Streets”

11 songs. All just me and the guitar recorded live in my basement on a Yamaha 8 track machine with 2 condenser mics. I didn’t overdub anything because I’m too dense to understand the Yamaha manual and too impatient to work on my denseness. I’m quite proud of this actually. I’d rather add a better third verse than a guitar solo.

Tentative running order for the tracks..

Love and Streets
The Show
Suzie
Road Weary
A Fighter
The Indianapolis
My Lai
Drunk Driving
I Hate To Get Up in the Morning
Away
Love Is a Four Letter Word

George Graham is mastering it now (nice to be working with George again. It’s been too long). I’m off with a camera to search for a cover pic. My friend Jerry McTague is gonna put the artwork together for me. Then, we’ll make it available to the digital world. For years I gave my music away for free via downloads. I made a lot of friends this way, but alas, no money. Imagine that? So no more freebies. Besides, what’s $10 among friends?

Excited about this one. I know I say that about all of ’em but still, this time I mean it even more.

In a bit..

–tf

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Remembering Bobby Sands

October 1, 2012 1 comment

Got an email today with the link to this video of my song “Remembering Bobby Sands” from a few years back. Came out really good. Not sure who did it but many thanks…

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