10 24 2021

Last night was the first time I went to a show at Jimmy’s in Portsmouth, NH. Mavis Staples was great, it was the second time I have seen her perform, and the singing uplifted me and helped me feel so thankful for getting to see live music again. The most moving version of The Band’s “The Weight” felt wonderful. If I was smiling and shedding a tear through the biggest smile to the end of the song, it may have been in my observation of a number of things: the bold folks dancing and getting up to dance or sway with the music, people’s faces meeting mine. The gratitude with which I felt being in the presence of those I loved that night is still something that brings a smile and a tear, so many in fact that I’m sure I am so truly blessed to be alive.

In my ability to enjoy some of the activities that had been up until recently forbidden to experience, I count myself lucky to have come through it healthy, with most of my family intact. My philosophy has changed somewhat since before the pandemic. I did not come to this way of thinking overnight, and it was not just one thing or even the past year or so that brought me to this idea. I believe that being with others includes everyone. The purpose of life is to experience enjoyment, inclusion, and to be uplifted, benefitted, and blessed by others. Mavis said, “I want you all to feel better when you leave here tonight than when you first arrived.” Today I believe she was right.

4 19 2021

I’ve been thinking lately about songs that I haven’t listened to in a while. Sometimes it’s better to think about them than actually hear them. The alternative is the amount of certain albums I keep listening to vs. the ones that have fallen away entirely, like Figure 8 vs. the Magnolia soundtrack. Luckily, some of these songs are normative; when young and depressed, you used to listen to Elliott Smith. You have outgrown this sad, devolving pastime. The Magnolia soundtrack, on the other hand, still stands up through time. See also: “Wise Up” used in an episode of Community. Some other bad habits that just became too much was my entire experience with Spotify. The ads got to be so bad that I deleted the app from all my devices. At one point, if you skipped past the commercials, all music would stop. You’d have to log off, and log back on, and then hear an ad about how life with a paid subscription would be so much better than it is now. So sad that I have to think about buying things. I just want to listen to music, straight through to the end.

There is a thing that I like to do with the way I hear songs. Sometimes, I’ll hear the song and interpret differently than the actual lyrics. See also: “More Human Than Human” by White Zombie. Won’t you be as fast as you can, was like an anthem for me. It was a kind of musical reject line, to see something in only the way you can – which is incorrectly – and just let it lift you up.

The other thing I love when people do is share their interpretations of songs. Like tonight I uncovered this site, TMBW.net: they might be wiki, for They Might Be Giants fans. There’s this song “She’s an Angel”, and an entire page devoted to interpretations, some of them informed by film and religion, and others a critique of that flawed, literal, or magical thinking that for me just almost makes the entire discussion part of the folklore and mystery around that song.


You’d have to be an idiot to think that this song has ANYTHING to do with the movie “City of Angels.” Linnell wrote this in the mid-80s, and “City of Angels” came out in 1998. Nice try, but as usual, people have stretched these “interpretations” beyond acceptable limits. -The Cymbalist (TMBW.net)

In one of my favorite commentaries, Chuck Klostermann draws a song-by-song analogy between Kid A by Radiohead and the events of 911. Even though the album came out a year before this day happened, he talks about the how the mood of each song, the vibes, the crescendoing ascent to chaos and plunder, mirrors the day. This is how I like to interpret music, as a sort of art, as a sort of broken philosophy or failed logical design, like how we used to believe in the study of the size and topography of a person’s head, that you believe you can either save others with or simply admire it for our own flawed understanding.