Category Archives: Art and Literature

A Summer of Pilgrimage, Part II: The Old Home Place

I’ve talked a lot about my Cajun granny and the swamp, and about my seventeen cousins and our lives up in Jackson, but I’ve been hiding something from you. Something about the Scotch-Irish side of my family – my mother’s side. I know you are shocked and disappointed in me, but you will understand when I say one simple word…

Plantation.

In the years following the war, and you know which one I’m talking about, they tried to keep it going as one large enterprise. I know this sounds like a page out of the “Gone With the Wind” playbook, but go right ahead and picture women, old men, and children in tattered clothes trying to maintain a decaying house, a few livestock, and a garden. So a generation or two later when there were enough men, they divided up the land, gave each male member of the vast, extended family a chunk, and I mean a big chunk, because the original plantation covered a good portion of the county, and the family began breaking apart to run their own farms.

They used the lumber from the “out buildings” to build their own small farm houses. The big old plantation house was still standing when my mother was a child in the thirties, but after the war, and this time I mean WWII, they finally tore it down because it was too old and enormous and run-down and they couldn’t afford the repairs. They say there are pictures of it somewhere, but I’ve never seen them. The cousins and I used to hike back up into the woods for miles, all across Great Uncle Royce’s land, then Great Uncle Herbert’s land, etc., and go play around at the patch of rubble and dirt that everyone called “the old home place”. Then we would go to the creepy old family cemetery and hide behind the gravestones and scare each other.

My mother was the baby of her large family – she’s eighty now, and is the only one left of seven brothers and sisters. Some of the cousins are gone too. We don’t go “down home” that much anymore, now that almost everyone is gone. But for her eightieth birthday this summer, I took her down. Someone else, not even family, owns her Daddy’s little used-plantation-lumber farm house now, so we couldn’t go inside, and you can’t get down to the old home place or the family cemetery without a four wheeler, so all we got to do was drive by places – the farm house, her school, the church, and the general vicinity of the old home place.

Here’s a picture of the farm house where my mother grew up and where I played as a child. House is on the left; smoke house is on the right. There were also fields, gardens, pastures, a hen house, a well, an outhouse, a barn with a hayloft, etc. To the right behind the smoke house, one mule pasture away, is a clear, rocky creek that I used to swim in as a kid.

Farm

If you want to get a pretty clear image of what Mississippi looked like in the old days, you gotta watch “O Brother Where Art Thou?”, because they did a remarkable job of recreating the atmosphere. The clothes, the accents, the music, the food, the extreme, slightly ominous religiosity, the bizarre and deeply entrenched racism, the overall weirdness, and the look of the land itself – all of it is absolutely spot-on. Here’s a fine example…

I might have played this song before, but I’m playing it again because it was my Paw Paw’s favorite song. When the crops would fail, he would take the train out of McComb-city, as he called it, to New Orleans, about an hour away, to work on the docks and live in a Creole boarding house, sending money home each week. He loved trains…

My cousins and I used to spend weeks on the farm in the summer, helping to pick and shell peas and butter beans, canning vegetables and making jam and so on. The little Baptist church would have a week-long revival every summer, with a lot of singing and eating. We sang in “parts” – the men taking one part, the women the other. I would get mad at my cousins when they wouldn’t sing their parts right. I took it seriously, you see, and sang my part with all my might. Here’s one of the songs we sang over and over, “I’ll Have a New Body”, performed here by the great Hank Williams. The cousins and I would practice singing our parts while we were hiking to the old home place…

Mama is the little one.

Mama is the little one.

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Spotlight on the Rock and Roll Supermom: Marissa Bergen

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I’m extremely fortunate to have a few loyal friends and supporters of my little blog, especially considering that I have no particular background or expertise in music, about which I am ostensibly writing. All I really have is a burning passion for music and a strange desire to spill my guts to the world, no matter how painfully humiliating that may be. But the same can’t be said for the queen of all my blog buddies, rocker chick extraordinaire, Marissa Bergen. I mean, she obviously has the burning passion thing and the spill her guts thing too, but she also actually has some experience in the music biz that doesn’t involve playing the flute in band and taking piano lessons from the beehived Mrs. Sullivan. But enough cheap, sneaky plugs for my blog, let’s talk to Marvelous Marissa…

1. Tell us the story of how you started your band, Sisters Grimm – did you and your sister take music lessons, what motivated you, did your parents help and support you, etc.

Whenever someone asks me a question about what motivated me in music, I often recall a quote made by, I believe Nancy Wilson (although it could have been Ann) who said something like “All the girls wanted to marry the Beatles, we wanted to be the Beatles.”

My father was in the music industry and had a lot of successful accomplishments as a musician and producer. He actually had a brief stint with Wings. I guess growing up with that influence helped put my sister and I in a rock n’ roll direction, but my father began pulling away from our family when we were very young, until he eventually had no connection at all. So it was up to my poor mother to carry our guitars around and deal with our off key singing. She also gave us all of her vintage Beatles albums when we were in preschool and, yes, she was very supportive.

2. What were some of the best gigs you played and best experiences you had with the band?

Since we took our music career from New York to Los Angeles, I could list many music clubs in both cities that are awesome to play, but nothing compares to going on tour to a city where you don’t know anyone, and you’re being asked to sign CDs, T-shirts, various body parts… Probably the best of these experiences was in Savannah, GA. I remember when we got there someone had written ‘Sisters Grimm rocks’ on one of the paper towel dispensers in the bathroom. How awesome is that?

3. Tell us the story of how you moved to California – did you have a plan in place, did you have any connections in the music business, etc.

At the time we moved, Giuliani had just come into office and he had a huge campaign to clean up New York which meant closing many of the local rock clubs. A lot of New York musicians saw ‘an end’ coming and Los Angeles was a logical move, so we knew plenty of other musicians who also migrated from New York and it wasn’t hard to make connections. We didn’t really have a hard and fast plan as to where exactly we would live, work or gig, but we had people to stay with while we were looking for an apartment and the rest came together rather quickly.

4. How and why did you start blogging and writing poetry? Also, were you always into writing, or was this an interest that developed later?

Yes, I have always written. Obviously, the most notable outlet for my poetry was my songwriting, which was very ‘lyrics’ oriented. When I became a mom and we decided not to do the band anymore, I didn’t write for years. My husband was the one who suggested I start a blog and I guess I’m lucky that all those ideas and words were still there waiting for me.

5. You are a very prolific writer, maintaining a steady output of high quality work, sustained over a long period of time. Very impressive! How do you accomplish this?

I guess that is how my work appears to you and other readers, which I suppose is an intended effect. When I think of myself, I think I am like a miser who is creating ‘gems’ (or not) which I dole out very slowly and very stingily. I write every day, but if I published every day, it would probably be a bunch of crap. Also, I try to do the Word Press Weekly Challenges and Yeah Write Challenges every week. The writing prompts help.

6. You also cover a wide range of topics in your poetry, from family life, to the rocker chick life, to the unexpectedly profound and poignant. You draw deeply from the creative well, so to speak. How do you come up with such diverse and creative material?

Just my latent schizophrenic tendencies coming out I guess! But seriously, I’m just hard on myself that way. I think about what I want to write about, but I will abandon a topic if it is too similar to one I wrote about in the past. If I write a poem that is sad, I will try to make the next few poems funny ones to offset that. Most of my writing comes from real life experience.

7. It’s great to see that you are involved in your kids’ musical development through the School of Rock. Can you tell us more about this program and your involvement with it?

Yes, all part of a dastardly plan to have my children vicariously live out my rock n’ roll dreams! No, actually since my husband and I were both involved in the music industry, we were of a similar mind to get our children playing music as well. Currently our son attends the School of Rock, one of the many rock schools that seem to be getting more and more prevalent. The school includes lessons and performance. Along with my not so gentle prodding, he’s turning into a little rock star!

My daughter just did her first term of rock summer camp and it seems she has now been vaccinated by the victrola needle and is hooked on rock n’ roll! What have I done?!

Actually I should mention here that there is a nonprofit organization called the Rock School Scholarship Fund which helps lower and middle class families with the funding of rock school tuition. My husband and I have been very active with this organization for years and it has helped us become even more involved in the rock school community and it’s wonderful teachers and parents. You can learn more about the organization here: http://rockschoolfund.org/.

Thank you, Marissa!

One of the many things I admire about Marissa is her raw, cut-the-crap honesty. I like to see that, especially from a woman, because it’s kinda rare. And it’s powerful.¬† Reading Marissa’s poetry inspires me, because this kind of uncompromising artistic integrity is something that I want to accomplish in my own writing. In this little interview clip, you will see the stunningly beautiful Sisters Grimm – Marissa and her sister Victoria – talking about being in a girl band. And grrl power. ūüėČ

Be sure to visit Marissa’s blog, “Glorious Results of a Misspent Youth” (great title, Marissa)!

And one more thing – why do we need girl bands and grrl power, as young Marissa called it? I think a great man said it best…

Support Girl Bands!

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Hysterical, Screaming Girl Fans: An Analysis

Since I got a Facebook account, which is called “Annie Rich”, and by the way, please be my friend if you are on Facebook because my low number of friends is embarrassing, I’ve taken my YouTubing to an even higher plane, because I follow all these 60s and 70s pages or whatever they are and I click on almost every music link they send out. Which is a lot.

I was watching a clip of¬† The Beatles’ version of “You Really Got Me”, which prompted me to watch the original Smokey Robinson version. I realized with a sinking feeling that Smokey’s version was much better. I say “sinking feeling” because I am a Beatles fan and don’t like to diss them in any way, but I speak only the truth, and the truth is that they sucked all the soul and sexiness out of the song.¬† You’ll see what I mean if you watch this…it just doesn’t get any smoother than Smokey Robinson. Unless it is Sam Cooke, then sometimes it does. I love the lyrics in this song – what a perfect anthem for obsession! You treat me badly; I love you madly. Oh, the humanity…

You may have noted that this clip has a lot of hysterical girl-screaming in the background, as do a lot of live performances from the early years of rock and roll.¬† Somewhat understandable what with Smooth Smokey and his thinly veiled “tight hold” references, but still. The crying. The sweating, flushed faces. The high-pitched, panicky screaming. The peeing in the pants. The fainting. I mean, what was up with all that, right?

Here’s a good example from an Elvis concert in 1957. This one hits close to home because these are Mississippi girls – the concert was just up the road in Elvis’s home town of Tupelo.

Now for some Beatlemania…

You may ask, “So Marie, why did girls act like that? And why don’t they do this anymore?’ And I could give an answer to these questions, and would gladly do so, but it would take us into the deep, murky waters of psychology and sociology. I’m sure this must have been studied and analyzed by someone, somewhere, but the things that showed up in my Google search didn’t really answer the question to my satisfaction, so what the hell. Let’s go there.

I could just be lazy and shy, say “sexual repression”, link another song and be done, but it’s much more complex than that and deserves a closer look.¬† There were a number of causal factors that led to the girl-fan-hysteria that was so widespread during the era – the main one probably being an increasing awareness and awakening of female sexuality on the heels of¬† 1953’s The Kinsey Report on Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, which alerted the world to the fact that women are in fact, sexual beings. It was a real shocker, apparently, and the report was roundly criticized and condemned, but you better believe the news leaked out. It was academic trickle down to the common man. And woman. But at the same time, if you recall, there were extremely strict social parameters of sexual behavior for women – to be labelled a slut was the kiss of death. Thus, we had a powder keg situation – an increasing awareness and understanding of female sexuality combined with music that spurred it on, but tightly controlled by strict social mores and expectations and religious beliefs. Girls, if they wanted to be good and nice and not get a bad rep, had to push all those feelings down deep, which of course meant that they came out in unusual, unexpected ways – like having a weird melt down at a concert where songs with vaguely sexual lyrics were being performed by cute boys, for example.

Over time, the powder keg was slowly defused. The birth control pill. More access to education and careers. 1971’s Our Bodies, Ourselves, which continued to increase knowledge and understanding of female sexuality. Societal attitudes toward women and the rules regarding their behavior started to change, ever so slowly, but steadily. By the time I started going to rock concerts in the late 70s, there was no more hysteria among the girls – those days were over. Of course, there was plenty of drooling over Paul Rodgers and so forth, but it was a more normal level of idolatry. Not hysteria. Nobody fainted, for example.

There are other explanations, naturally, such as the effect of music on the brain and the nervous system, group dynamics, female emotional tendencies, etc. But if that’s all it was, why doesn’t this happen today? No, those elements, while I’m sure they were contributing factors, are incomplete as explanations. It was a phenomenon specific to the times in which it occurred and it’s not likely to happen again, which is a good thing. I would hate to go to a concert ruined by a bunch of out 0f control, pitifully repressed females.¬† Oh, that high-pitched screeching! Terrible.¬† But I’m still proud to be a woman. From 1962, with change blowin’ in the wind…tell ’em about it, Peggy…

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Hey, Cowboy.

Hey, cowboy, I sure like them boots,

and yeah, I like Wyoming too.

Thanks for asking, I love it lots,

and I see you’re doing tequila shots.

No, I won’t have one, but thanks again,

I gotta say no cause I might sin.

You laugh at me, you naughty guy,

okay, just one, then I must fly.

You sound surprised, cowboy Joe,

you say to stay and see the show.

I probably would but I sense danger,

okay, one more, you awesome stranger.

Yeah, I’m from the south, how could you tell?

You laugh again and I’m drunk as hell.

But set it up, barkeep, if you will,

my cowboy’s buying; here’s cash for the till.

It’s time to go, there’s no denying,

but you call me purdy and swear you ain’t lying.

And better even than all of that,

you laugh at my jokes and I’m wearing your hat.

Now my ride has gone and Yellowstone is pretty far,

from this little town and this cowboy bar.

You say you don’t mind, and I’m sure it’s true,

taking me on that motorbike with you.

So off we go, past the Tetons and into the park,

whizzing by buffalo grazing in the dark.

I bury my face in your leather,

our hair flies around us and ties up together.

I pretend that you are really my man,

and I live year round in this astonishing land.

But approaching the cabin I feel real shy,

and then you notice and ask me why.

I say I’m sorry I acted sluttier than I am,

and you could come in, but for my roommate, Pam.

This makes you smile though I can see,

that you’re a little mad at me.

I hardly know you so I can’t describe,

how Jesus and Granny watch me from the sky.

And how if I could hide then I would begin,

to live my life without thoughts of sin.

I’d rock your world, cowboy mine,

but there is something I will never find.

A shield twixt me and celestial eyes,

a cone of silence to mute my sighs.

An underground cave or a lead lined roof?

Wishful thinking, but what’s the use?

There is no place that will serve to save,

no hidden compartment or secret cave.

My actions are forever viewed,

And so, my cowboy, we are screwed.

 

And just for fun…a cowboy song. Well, it’s really about the cowboy’s girl, as is fitting…

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Neil, Georgia, and The Study Board Biz

My first major in college was art, but it wasn’t my major for long because my strange inner brew of pride, arrogance, and insecurity couldn’t handle the blistering, soul crushing critiquing that took place on a non-stop basis. First time I’ve ever said that out loud. Damn. Anyway, I moved on to a less emotionally traumatizing major and art became a sideline, which I have maintained to this day.

I think it was in my second year of college that we set up the study board biz. My dorm-mate Kim’s father had a ton of leftover birch plywood that he cut into a lap-study-board shape for her to sand and varnish and sell in the Student Union building to make a little extra spending money. One evening, in the dorm, while she was sanding and I was painting, we had a stroke of genius and realized that between the two of us, we could take orders from customers and create custom painted and decorated study boards.¬† So we made up a bunch of flyers and posted them all over campus.¬† We only got one or two orders that way and we were about to shut down the biz when Kim sold one to this guy she was dating who lived in the boy’s dorm across the parking lot.

Kim pressured the boyfriend to sell them to his friends, and I think he really tried, but he came up empty. He said that one guy agreed to buy one only if he could get one with a [insert preferred slang for naughty bits] painted on it. Naturally we responded that there was no way that was going to happen, and then we fell about the place laughing and making rude, insensitive remarks about the poor guy’s level of desperation.¬† But after all that subsided, it dawned on me that there might be a way to do it without actually painting porn. Because being a failed art major, I knew about Georgia O’Keefe, you see. So Kim swore her boyfriend to secrecy as to our identities, told him to tell the guy that we would do it, and I went to the library to check out a Georgia O’Keefe art book for inspiration and ideas.¬† We also tripled the price for the board.¬† Heh heh.

I’m sure you can predict what happened next. As soon as that study board hit the boy’s dorm, they started selling like particularly titillating hotcakes. We could barely keep up with the orders and worked almost non-stop.¬† We started making money hand over fist. The boyfriend got a cut for taking the orders and helping with the transport and delivery of the boards. He also was in charge of keeping us supplied with cigarettes and Big Gulp diet cokes from the 7-11. He was a pretty good guy because he never revealed our identities.¬† How do I know this? Because Kim and I tested it by walking past the dorm’s tables in the Commons at every meal.¬† We monitored the boys’ reactions and watched their faces and reassured ourselves that our identities, and reputations, were safe. I must say that though I thoroughly enjoyed the secrecy, it was still a little depressing that here I was, the failed art major, now a famous artist, but nobody could know about it. So it is with great relief, and pride, mixed with a little Puritanical shame, that I announce to the world, after all these many years…it is I. I am the girl that painted the [insert preferred slang for naughty bits] picture on your study board in college. First time I’ve ever said that out loud. Damn.

I’ve talked before, probably many times, about my extreme love for Neil Young, but I don’t think I’ve really emphasized the depth of that love enough. All my best work, of any kind, is done with Neil on accompaniment, and he was my steady partner during the whole study board era.¬† In fact, Decade is probably my most played album. I wore out three copies of it on vinyl – the covers fell apart into sections, and I bought replacements, but I saved the sections, so I had a whole bunch of Neil pieces-parts in the Peaches crates. Mesmerizing and almost trance-inducing at times; so richly varied too – sometimes sublimely beautiful, sometimes rough and rude, sometimes simple, sometimes complex – my God, how I love his music.¬† It really just surpasses all superlatives.

It is I…I am the cowgirl, and this place is at my command.¬† Heh heh.¬† This is my favorite recording of “Cowgirl in the Sand”.¬† Almost a religious experience…

Georgia’s flowers. I recommend that you mute the horrible music in this video and watch the slides with the Neil clip above on accompaniment for the full study board art experience.

 

Questions? Comments?¬† As always, apologies all around to the Spinster Cousins…

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Spotlight On The Paperback Rocker: Matt Syverson

Matt's Books

One of the things that I hope to do with my blog over the next few months is to interview some of my very interesting and talented followers and highlight their accomplishments. So if you are reading this, look out, because I may mean you. But you’re getting a break this time because the spotlight is on….(drumroll)….that terrifically talented Texan, Matt Syverson!¬† Matt has a background as a musician and a chemist (a real one!), and over the past five years, he has written and self-published some very creative and well-crafted novels. His hilarious book, “Band on the Run”, was a #3 bestseller in Amazon’s “Rock and Roll Books” category and “Black Dog” was also very well received and highly reviewed.¬† But his latest book, “Blue Whiskey”, may be his most outstanding work yet.

Matt also does a weekly podcast series that is chock-full of advice and information for writers that are interested in self-publishing, along with cool rock ‘n roll trivia and anecdotes about his days as a musician in Grunge-era Seattle. I hope that you will enjoy getting to know Matt a little better by reading the results of our email interview.¬† Take it away, Matt and Barbara “Marie” Walters!

1. I’ve met musicians, and I’ve met writers, but I haven’t met that many musicians that are also writers. Can you tell us a little about the journey you have taken from making music to writing books? How did your interests evolve and change direction over the years?

In school, I was always a creative writer. When the teacher instructed us to write sentences using vocabulary words, I would take the opportunity to craft an epic tale. In particular, I remember one involving Zamfir having his pan flute stolen by a demon. I also won a creative writing competition at a scholastic meet in high school, for which I received a scholarship.

Music was always an important part of my life, but during my teenage years it became an obsession. When I discovered Metallica, I decided to be a professional musician. I pursued that dream with total dedication, but around the age of thirty I tired of the long nights and lack of commitment from my bandmates. I drifted for a while without an artistic outlet, and those were the worst years of my life, in retrospect. After a particularly traumatic year (2009), I decided to once again pursue my artistic passions, and I have been writing and publishing books ever since.

2. One of the things I admire about you, in addition to your many versatile talents, is that you seem to have a larger than average dose of determination. I mean, you actually follow through with your dreams and make them happen. You want to start a Grunge band, so you move, all alone, from Oklahoma to Seattle, guitar in hand. You want to write books, so you actually write them, and finish them, and publish them, and sell them. What advice can you give to pathetic half-asses like me so we can be more like you and achieve our so-called goals?

This calls for a little tough love, as they say. Finish your damn projects. That’s the best advice I can offer. Nobody is going to do it for you. Make writing (or whatever it is you’re doing) a part of your daily routine. You shouldn’t feel guilty if you take a day off, but you should feel bummed out that you didn’t get to do what you love. There has to be a passion, or you won’t care if you finish or not.

Having said that, I often speak of the ‘joy of completion’. This is the best feeling an artist can have, above five-star reviews and accolades and all else, because it is a pure feeling attached only to the creation of art. When you feel that joy once, you will pursue it again and again. It’s like what they say about using drugs, but of course I wouldn’t know anything about that.

And you’re not pathetic! (Insert Barbara “Marie” Walters shaking her head sadly and smirking knowingly to herself here.)

3. Speaking of Grunge and Seattle, I find it endlessly cool and interesting that you were a part of ‚Äúthat scene‚ÄĚ. Looking back on that time now, what would you say were the best and worst moments or aspects of the Grunge scene and all that was taking place around you? Feel free to name drop. We won‚Äôt mind. Really.

As far as name dropping, I was able to eavesdrop on Chris Cornell as he wrote his first solo album, which was mind-blowing, since he was one of my biggest musical influences. I’ll refer readers to the archives of my Paperback Rocker podcast for the full story. I met tons of rock stars over the years and played the same places in Seattle as Pearl Jam and the rest of them, but finding success as a writer has been far easier. Distributing music and developing a fan base before the internet was next to impossible.

The grunge thing was a worldwide phenomenon at the time, but it was small at the epicenter. On a show on Tuesday night, only five people showed up. The house parties were some of the most fun times I remember, because every room would have an acoustic jam session. Everyone was an artist of some kind, but it was an intimate thing. I’m glad I did it and proud of the music I made. Readers can hear some of my songs on my website, PaperbackRocker.com.

The only bad thing about the grunge scene was all the jaded people left behind after the first wave of successful bands got signed and weren’t around any more. They had toxic attitudes.

4. One of the things I have heard you mention is how the ‚Äúbusiness side‚ÄĚ of music limits and constrains the artist, and how this affects the type and quality of music to which the average listener has access. What parallels do you see in the publishing business, and what role does self-publishing play in breaking down these barriers?

To put it succinctly, the music business is a huge rip-off, followed closely by publishing. That’s coming from an informed perspective, not that of a jaded musician who didn’t ‘make it’. The artist is taken advantage of contractually, because all the costs of promotion, videos, touring, and everything else are funded by a loan from the record company against future profits. It’s like the trap of a payday loan for a minimum wage employee and hard to get out from under. The ones who make it through to renegotiate the terms – Metallica and Stephen King, for example – make lots and lots of money, but it’s not that way for most.

Coming from the music biz to publishing, I recognized the similarities. In addition, many writers fall prey to the vulture companies of vanity publishing, possibly the worst of all these situations. We are in the golden age of self-publishing, but writers need to educate themselves and do it the right way, which means forming a publishing company and working with a book printer. Notice that I said printer, not publisher. I talk about these things on my podcast, and anyone can drop me a line if they want me to address something on a future show.

Regarding access, the consumer can choose from the goods offered by the big labels, studios, and publishers, which will be mostly boy bands, rom-coms, and vampire novels, or one can delve into the worlds of independent music, movies, and publishing. And that’s not to say all indie stuff is great and traditionally offered stuff is crap, because neither is true.

5. In your new novel, ‚ÄúBlue Whiskey‚ÄĚ, the main character, Stanton Wheelhouse III, had several mentors that helped him along his rocky way to becoming a ‚Äúone hit wonder‚ÄĚ. Is there anyone that you would identify as your own mentor, either in music or writing, or both? How did this person or persons inspire and help you to reach your goals?

Strangely enough, I did not. I grew up in a one stoplight town in Oklahoma, so I barely found anyone to show me the first chords on the guitar. Again, this was pre-internet. I’ve always attempted to elevate myself to the level of my influences, so that I could view them as contemporaries, rather than idols. I met a lot of famous musicians early in my adult life, and I saw that they were regular people, so that helped. One thing I love about writing compared to playing in a band is that I don’t have to rely on anyone else. I’m not the typical introverted writer, having been the frontman for a rock band, but I am passionately independent and self-motivated.

6. One of my favorite passages in ‚ÄúBlue Whiskey‚ÄĚ is where Stanton talks about the zeitgeist of the sixties, and zeitgeist movements in general, and how this translated into the subsequent decades, eventually dying out completely with the advent of the modern information age and the internet. I thought this was a really interesting concept. Can you elaborate on this a little?

I often incorporate short contemplative essays in my fiction, and this is an example. The primary purpose of the narrator in my first novel, “Black Dog”, was to deliver such meditations. “Blue Whiskey” is a fictional autobiography, and Stanton pontificates on and explains many of the same subjects we have covered here. To sum up his thoughts on zeitgeist, the appearance of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show spawned a million musicians. In those days, there were about three channels on the tube. The “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video was probably the last thing that will ever do this musically, since the advent of the internet and the splintering effect it has had. On the bright side, if you’re a brony you now have a community.

Stanton did a lot better job explaining this.

7. Stanton also kept track of his ‚Äúlessons learned‚ÄĚ throughout his journey. What would you list as your top lessons in the amazing creative journey you have taken as a musician, author, and podcaster?

Be nice. Don’t publicly criticize other artists. Don’t get ripped off. Finish your damn projects.

And that’s it!¬† Thank you Matt and Barbara!

Now let’s go finish our damn projects, everyone, and be sure to check out Matt’s podcasts and books!

A cool song from Matt’s CD – here’s “Chemical Marriage”…

Questions? Comments? Please Share!

 

 

 

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Tell Me A Story: Western Themes

I was going to post a long,¬†sad tale¬†about how my first “real” job after college was a soul-crushing bore in which whey-faced office workers shuffled through the halls in¬†orthopedic shoes, queuing up in front of the restroom sinks to brush and floss their teeth after lunch every day, and how it barely paid me enough to keep me from eating off my Texaco credit card.

And then I was going to tell you how while desperately¬†looking for a new job in the classified ads, I found a little old lady who was giving away a houseful of paperback books, and how I got all excited, planning my escape from the Langolierseque office by means of opening a used book shop, and how I tediously carried all the books in the trunk of my car, all by myself, one load at a time, and stacked them in my parents’ garden shed, which subsequently developed a leak in the roof,¬†thus ruining¬†all the books, and smashing all my hopes and dreams of being freed from the Langoliers nightmare in which I spent my days.¬† At that point, I had no choice but to go on to doctoral school and give this whole professorin’ gig a¬†shot in order to get myself free.¬† After all, you gotta have a back up plan when the garden shed leaks and destroys your future.

But enough about that.¬† Let’s get on to the good stories. I really love a song that tells a story, don’t you?¬† I’m going to do a little series on what I call “story songs”, with a different theme each week.¬† We’ll start with a few songs about one of my favorite periods of history…westward expansion and cowboys¬†and the gold rush and such. The brilliant lyricist, Bernie Taupin, shares this fascination.¬† In fact, that’s why he’s been called “The Brown Dirt Cowboy”.¬† His love for the western U.S. and its history definitely influenced his writing, and this can be seen most clearly in one of my favorite albums, Tumbleweed Connection.¬† Here’s a fine example, “Burn Down the Mission”…

Here’s another Bernie classic, “Roy Rogers”, from another favorite album, Yellow Brick Road.¬† And Roy Rogers is riding tonight…

I could talk about Bernie and Elton all day, but let’s move on to another one of my favorite songs, and what I consider the ultimate¬†prospectin’ song, ¬†“Fire on the Mountain” by The Marshall Tucker Band.¬† They say heaven’s at the end, but so far it’s been hell..

And now, in tribute to the used book store that never was, and the young, book-besotted¬†girl that¬†worked so hard and so futilely¬†to make it happen, here’s a cool poem I found about girls who read.¬† And if you are one of my spinster cousins that claim to be reading my blog, please excuse the slightly coarse¬†language.¬† It’s worth it. From Roundhouse London, by Mark Grist.

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Filed under Art and Literature, Humor, Humour, Music, Poetry, Uncategorized