Still Calling

Memorial

Mothers Day

bucket head

If she was alive, my mom would likely kill me 1000 times over for posting this ridiculous picture, especially on Mothers Day.

But she’s not, so I’m remembering my mom with a pail on her head this year.

My Mom

mom young

No idea how old my Mom is here. When I look at this sweet picture of her as a child and then remember her checking into the hospital, where she died about four or five days later when things suddenly took a turn for the worse, it makes me think about how fragile everything really is.

I was lucky. I got a chance to say goodbye to my Mom. She died surrounded by her family. But damned if this picture doesn’t slam it home. She had a life and then she didn’t.

Merle Haggard was complicated

The only thing I can say about Merle Haggard that I know to be true -other than that, as a country musician, the man was a huge inspiration to me- is that he was a deeply complicated man.

Merle’s “White Boy” was inflammatory as fuck. No two ways about it, and I once quit a band because the racist drummer wouldn’t stop pushing this song on me.

But if “White Boy” was inflammatory, how do you think “Irma Jackson” went over with people like the racist drummer?

Could Merle be kind of a redneck? Sure. I’m not gonna link to “Okie from Muskogee” or “Fighting Side of Me”. You don’t need to hear those old chestnuts, anymore than you need to hear “Swingin’ Doors” again. But maybe you didn’t know that Merle was a big Hillary Cinton supporter in 2008, and equally impressed by Barack Obama:

It was also nice to meet Obama and find him very different from the media makeout. It’s really almost criminal what they do with our President. There seems to be no shame or anything. They call him all kinds of names all day long, saying he’s doing certain things that he’s not. It’s just a big old political game that I don’t want to be part of. There are people spending their lives putting him down. I’m sure some of it’s true and some of it’s not. I was very surprised to find the man very humble and he had a nice handshake. His wife was very cordial to the guests and especially me. They made a special effort to make me feel welcome. It was not at all the way the media described him to be.

What’s the biggest lie out there about Obama?
He’s not conceited. He’s very humble about being the President of the United States, especially in comparison to some presidents we’ve had who come across like they don’t need anybody’s help. I think he knows he’s in over his head. Anybody with any sense who takes that job and thinks they can handle it must be an idiot.

Merle spoke for all of us working people, in all our beautiful, ugly, complicated glory. I miss him right now with all my heart.

Because now that Merle’s gone, who will sing for me? I have a lot more to say about this, by the way. Working on a post on the intersection between Merle and Lemmmy, two very different but very similar people.

Mom

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Pretty sure my brother is responsible for this one (you can see, and perhaps purchase, more of his work here).

From the background, I would have to say the shot was taken in the living room at their new place in Philadelphia. It’s kind of a sad photo, because the cancer that killed her had probably already settled in, whether we knew about it or not.

Legacy Post: Ties






This piece is more than a decade old, quite personal, and more than a little troubling. It can be found at my oldest blog, and frankly I wouldn’t be re-posting it but for an message I got from a complete stranger, a nephew of the friend I wrote about. He was impressed with the piece…

A Huge Loss

You’ll have to pardon me if this blog goes all Motorhead, all the time for the next few days. They were not the band that introduced me to hard rock -that was AC/DC- or hardcore -that was the Dead Kennedys- or even speed metal -that was Metallica.

But good fucking lord. Motorhead and Lemmy have been constants in my musical life since I was 16 or so. He was and remains a giant of rock-n-roll, in the same vein as Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, or Chuck Berry (all of who Lemmy names as early influences). This is, in some ways, worse than losing one of those legends, as Lemmy and Motorhead continued to create original music, long after Richard, Jerry, and Chuck began relying on their hits (and I’d dare say making better music than a lot of other metal bands out there).

Anyway, this is one of my favorite Motorhead songs. Safe travels, Lemmy. Born to lose, lived to win. Something all of us need to take to heart.

Jason Parish

I barely knew Jason, but a lot of my friends did:

It was Sunday morning, and they were heading out from the Washington County, Md., shelter where Philadelphia folk singer Jason Parish, 36, had just been killed by a fallen tree, and the two men stumbled upon something strange, stuck in the mud. It was a vinyl record, a compilation of Dixieland jazz pressed in 1957, and Sparks grabbed it and continued on toward the car, holding it under his arm.

On Wednesday afternoon, the record was playing in The Mermaid Inn in Chestnut Hill, and the bar was mostly empty except for Sparks and his wife and Quain and his daughter. The tunes – “Muskrat Ramble,” “When the Saints Go Marching In,” “At the Jazz Band Ball” and others – were upbeat, with wild flourishes from the trumpeters, music that rouses people out of their seats, or whatever else is holding them down.

He made good music. I’m sad I never got a chance to know him. I’m sadder still for my friends who did, and who are missing him right now.