So, this past week saw new music releases from two of my favorite bands. Shut up and sit the fuck back down and LISTEN, dammit…
PART THE FIRST: THANK GOD THERE WAS WHISKEY
First off, is a wonderful one-off by a fair number of the Mekons (billed as Mini-Mekons) teamed up with Robbie Fulks, a caustic and sarcastic punk-country musician from Chicago. The bunch had toured Scotland a few months back, and recorded an album of re-imagined classics, twisted shanty, and a couple of originals including a version of the Mekons’ “Beaten And Broken”. (Is it a cover if it is being covered by a significant number of the people who originally performed it?) They recorded it on the island of Jura, so, without any artifice it is called “Jura”.
“The Mekons are so at one with liquor that with one or two notable-and unsayable- exceptions, no amount ever made them any different”
Needless to say, I find it amazing and wonderful and rollicking and just as out-of-left-field as I’ve come to expect from these folks.
I have been a long-time fan of Robbie Fulks since “Let’s Kill Saturday Night” a perfect distillation of blue-collar desperation and anticipation.
The team up of Robbie and the Mekons was inspired, and sending them to a stormswept corner of the globe inspired them. The album is a superb side-travel for the band that I consider to be my muse, much as I need one.
I recommend that you watch the Making Of video up top, even for those of you who have little tolerance for my Mekons obsession. It’s funny and has some good music in the background. And I ALSO recommend you search out the album on all the typical download sources; I did. I am also planning on purchasing the large black CD at local record store in the next day or two…
PART THE SECOND: No Country For Old Hens
Rush also released a CD and DVD of their pretty-much-last tour (and after 40 goddam years, do you blame them? I mean, the Rolling Wheelchairs are pretty much jokes at this point). We did not have the opportunity to see them this time short of driving to Chicago, and having seen them for the last three or four tours, we passed.
By all accounts, it was pretty great. But they always have been, from the time I saw them at the Madison Clamshell in ± 1979. I always must mention that I took (proto) Wife Sublime to see them on the Moving Pictures tour, and it was pretty much her first ever REAL rock concert, lasers and EVERYTHING, and it damaged her enough that she married me.
R40 was a retrospective look back; on stage they started by playing the most recent stuff, and worked back to the oldest, while the stage was altered to reflect the pertinent eras. Lovely concept, I have to say as a designer. On the video, the bumpers were hilarious changes to the cartoon personas.
So tonight I was working, while playing the R40 DVD in the semi-background. But I first noticed something when they played “Roll The Bones” perhaps one of the most-maligned Rush songs because of the semi-rap portions in the middle. But this time, they had several guest stars lip-syncing the rap lyrics on the big screen up above, including the Trailer Park Boys and Peter Dinklage. And suddenly, it seemed that being a Rush fan was no longer a bad thing….
I came to realize that this band, that has changed and evolved and tried new things and struggled and always still been friends and colleagues, has been one of the biggest parts of my life. (YES, bigger than the Mekons, sit down asshole). I watched them play, and enjoying the 150 minutes they played for their fans.
I know there are many people who shit on Rush. Never understood it myself, but whatever, you know? These people give me shit, which doesn’t really bother me because when it comes to art, or Art; what you like is yours and yours alone and justification is not necessary. Many people say “guilty pleasure” but I have no guilt about my pleasures.
And Rush is one of my greatest pleasures, believe me. I am so glad I have seen them so many times, and so glad I introduced the young woman who became Wife Sublime to them and then introduced Young Zombie as well.
At the end of the day, they are musicians. The learned their instruments on the fly, while in high school and playing bars that they were not old enough to drink in. They loved music, just as we did, and put that into what they did. They got better. They had some success. They got better. They challenged themselves to stretch; sometimes it was less than successful, but that’s what happens when you work outside your envelope.
Frankly, that is part of what keeps me working.
OK, I am also a bit of a metalhead, so they are heavy enough to bridge the gap to Genesis. Sheesh. Shut UP.
But here’s the thing. While watching this video, I was tearing up. Because I remembered the shows in the past. They moved me and you can mock me all you want; it was my emotions and you weren’t there. And I am, apparently pretty much always cognizant that I may not be here anymore as of ANY DAMN MOMENT.
PART THE THIRD; WHEN THE LEVEE BREAKS
It’s not unusual for me to talk about myself through music. I trust none of you have missed that.
it’s a weird thing to make Imaginary Digital Friends. After my Event, I found myself curious as to how that would echo down into the Internarfle tubes….I have realized that there are STILL people who have not been informed of the time my heart tried to secede. But you know what? they are IRL people.
I use my blog and FB to talk about myself. I have an internet persona, but it’s not too damn hard to penetrate, as I am sure mikey will attest. But I am not a fake on either side. When I write, I try to be honest.
Here is where I think the rubber meets the road:
When I reflect, my most loved artists are the ones who are honestly expressing themselves. Painters, musicians, architects, crazed performance artists, rappers. Be honest. And when they are, I love it. Hunter Thompson. Lester Bangs. The Lampoon.
Rush. Mekons. Both have spent all their their lives expressing themselves honestly. Am I wrong?