Frank Gutch Jr: Anti-Microbials Made Me Do It (and if you think they’re not a problem, maybe you’re listening to the wrong music)…..

FrankJr2I sit here, a pool of phlegm and what would be blood if the body would allow enough into the mix, feeling like six buckets of shit.  My right eye is a stream of tears and swells each night.  In the morning, the eyelid is a peacock feather dried to perfection against cheek, awaiting its morning ablutions necessary for it to even be and eyelid.  I don’t know how it happens because with all of the coughing racking what is left of my body, there shouldn’t be enough time for the tears to dry.  It certainly doesn’t feel like it, sleep coming in short and shorter bursts, the phlegm either stopping life-giving breaths on a fairly regular schedule or spewing itself in massive quantities on pillowcase or wall (both, when a sneeze takes control).  Here’s the thing:  I can’t sleep.  I can’t eat.  I can’t stop coughing.  I feel like those six buckets multiplied by ten and would sell my soul to the devil but there never seems to be one around when you need one.

YoullFindOutSo as much as I would like to give you a new spin and everything futurely musical, you’re stuck with a rehash of whatever my non-infected brain of the past gave you, as, shall we say, focused through that dripping and swampy orb of today.  Pay attention, students, as The Professor himself Kay Kyser might say, and if you don’t know Prof. Kyser, you’re missing some of the best pre-rock ‘n’ roll music films ever made.  Why, I’ll bet few if any of you know that in the movie You’ll Find Out, horror greats Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, and Bela Lugosi are on-screen together for the only time in their not long enough Hollywood history.  What do you say to that, Professor?  Bong!  That’s right, you’re wrong!

All the time I am asking whether we as individuals even know how to listen anymore.  So much music passes under the many bridges these days without so much as a blink from the so-called “listening public.”  Are we listening?  Or, more importantly, does anybody really care?  Every day I hear comments from us oldsters to the effect that there is no good music anymore whilst bemoaning the fact that they will probably shell out $250 for this box set of dinosaur music or even $640 for that one because there are a couple of tracks they don’t have.  Mind you, they aren’t saying they cannot listen to them, but do not have them.  In the first place, whoever married those dunces have ti be locked in one of the least romantic marriages ever and in the second, who has a job these days which allows a $640 luxury clause?  Last I heard, that was a lot of money.  And they’re blowing that chunk on a collection of tracks they already have, possibly a disc of studio drivel and a couple of tracks.  I guess for those people, listening to the past is all that’s left.  Here’s what I wrote a couple of years ago:

linus several hearings“I covered a bit of this in one of my early blogs (Indie Musicology), but I have recently had an epiphany and it can be credited to none other than Charles Schulz, the cartoonist.  Schulz has always danced around the music theme with Linus, his little piano the source of more than a few chuckles, but lately there have been a number of Schulz comics posted on the Net which strike close to home. One shows Linus making a statement which could be the real source of the music industry’s crumbling foundations:  that we have forgotten how to listen.

“ I had downloaded the comic a number of days ago when one of my favorite people (thank you, Susan) made a statement that at first blindsided me and then opened up a whole avenue I had been down before but had not truly explored.  She stated that at one point in her life, she and her roommate had had no television and had had to rely on the stereo for entertainment.  They played records all day long and into the night.  They scraped together pennies and nickels to buy records, both albums and 45s.   They lived for the music for it was all they really had.  Two girls consumed by music, much as I had been, but who later moved on while I spun my wheels in a record industry bent on (but back then, who knew?) self-destruction.  Is that what has happened?  Has everyone else moved on?

“There are a lot of theories being bandied about as to why the music industry is failing and why music has become relegated by the media to also-ran status and presented as the old man at the New Year’s Eve parties.  Some say the industry blew it while others point to the new computer-driven world.  Still others blame the quality of the music (hence, the chorus of “There ain’t any good music anymore”s echoing through the cyber-halls) and a few (mostly Tea Partiers) blame Obama.  Why not?  He’s getting blamed for everything else, right?

rockandroll“The truth of the matter, and I am reluctant to state this outright, is that we may have forgotten how to listen.  This is a world of soundbytes, after all, and even television has followed Hollywood into the almost strobe light world of the present.  In ads, programs, in the news (as if there is any news in the news anymore),  everything is quick and to the point, the key word being quick.

“In the blog cited above, I made mention that pundits have capped an artist’s ability to capture a potential audience at seven seconds.  Seven seconds to make an impact, to put something in the ear which makes a person want to listen further.  If that is true, the game has changed so much that I don’t even recognize it.  What can you put in seven seconds?  Seven strokes on a cowbell?  One long metal chord?  A tenth of a Robert Plant or Gerry Roslie scream?  Not much, that’s for sure.

“Do kids these days even understand what it was like for those of us who grew up on radio and the transistor radio?  Do they know how intensely we listened to The Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper or Led Zeppelin II?  I’m beginning to think maybe not.  In a world dominated by slap-your-face songs presented in slap-your-face videos, does music stand a chance?  Do kids need the interactive or at least video-ized version to relate?  And what if they do connect with a song?  Does it last, or is it destined for the digital woodpile the second another song comes along?

listeningparty“My memories, like my friend Susan’s, revolve around the shared experience of the music.  My friends and I would sit for hours absorbing anything and everything vinyl.  We would put music on while we washed dishes or smoked dope or flipped frisbee.  We put together road trip tapes, alternating tracks, then took long trips into the mountains just to hear them.  We planned evenings around which bands were playing the clubs.  I mean, we listened!  I would hate to think those days are over.  But maybe they kind of are.

“I say kind of because I believe that music will always have its backers.  At one time, music was on top of the heap and maybe it isn’t number one anymore, but it still has clout.  If it didn’t, Steve Jobs would not have forced iTunes down our throats.  If it didn’t, there would be no more Bonnaroo or Lollapalooza or any of the other music fests which crowd the summer schedules.

“The way I see it, the problem is not that music is dying.  The problem is perception.  We’re all comparing music to what it was at its peak.  That’s what we do these days. We compare.  Not every year or every month or every week, but every day.  It is part of the “byte” mentality. I’m not sure I like it.  I don’t think Linus would, either.  I mean, that cat was into classical.  Those guys are brutal.”

For Those Who Thought Segarini and I were always friends, we weren’t…..

We became friends and acquaintances the summer of 2007 when I interviewed him for the Summer Of Love issue of Pop Culture Press Magazine.  It was a really fun interview and when Bob said keep in touch, I thought he was being nice as much as anything.  How strange it was, then, that when he started writing his DBAWIS column for fyimusic.ca, I fell right in line.  I have learned a hell of a lot from Bob and it keeps getting better all the time.  The man has talent up the ying yang.  Here is one of our first tradeoffs:

Me:  (sent to him)  Ah, the histories. I couldn’t help but think what a mess we make of them as I read this piece— the absoluteness of the truths. I will always believe that “New Wave” evolved out of the core of the “Who Put the Bomp” roundtable because that is where I got my first whiff. It seemed an attempt to include the more musical side of punk— the pop and power pop as well as the brash and dissonant. Whether it is true or not is moot at this point, history having already been made, but many things which affected those on the East Coast and in the UK had little effect on the handful in Oregon and even California who followed neither the extreme press nor the hype. The music was the core. The beat and the sound was the heart.

“How do I get hold of that Dudes issue from the original demos?

greg-shawSEG SAYS: Greg Shaw and ‘Bomp’ magazine were instrumental in spreading the gospel of Power Pop. His passion and participation led the way for a lot of labels and bands. It was Greg who funded my going to Detroit and producing the Romantics, who released the B-Girls single, and who first turned so many people on to Dwight Twilley, The Shoes, and 20/20, not to mention Blue Ash and the other pioneers of the genre. As far as the ‘All the Young Dudes…All the Old Demos’ CD, I’ll have to have a look around.”

Ever find it, Bob?

Ed. Note: Yes I did Frank…Watch the skies….

Speaking of Greg Shaw and Who Put the BOMP!, I will be doing a short piece on music magazines which influenced me over the years soon.  I happened to pull this issue out of the old steamers trunk and put it here for your perusal.  I had never really looked at it closely— odd, since I scanned album jackets and the like with an electron microscope.  See if you can figure out where the focal point of this drawing by Jay Kinney is.  I know where I think it is and have been chuckling about it all day, sick as I am.

whoputthebomp74 001

Greg, Ken, Marty. Gene, Frank and Seymour, I loved you guys!

It’s Always About the Music…..

For myself, anyway.  The others aboard the DBAWIS train lean a bit more toward entertainment, movies and TV having been most influential in the development of the cultures involving the various media.  God knows we idolize our Hollywood movers and shakers and our sports heroes and even the occasional political figure who cares as much about our public ass as he or she does his or her own.  They all have their power.  But with myself, the power comes with chords and harmonies and everything that brings life to the soul.

So I write mostly about music.  If there is a negative about this to me it would be that there is never enough time.  Listening is a time-consuming operation.  And you get out of it what you put in.

I develop attachment to the bands and people I write about.  After a point, everything becomes personal.  You know that guy who can’t stop listening to and talking about The Beatles or Led Zeppelin or Nirvana?  He’s the first one I’m going to coldcock in the next free-for-all I find myself in.  And, yeah, he’ll go down.  I have enough anger in me to take him out easily.  I just hope I don’t out-and-out kill him.

It’s not because he doesn’t love his music.  It is that he loves only his music.  With all of the outstanding music out there in the vast wasteland, he stays close to home so he doesn’t miss the next Bob Dylan or John Fogerty.  Because obviously they are musicians of worth, having proven it over a span of decades after releasing God knows how many wonderful albums, most of which the “fan” originally tried to return to the record store because (even though they would refute it today) they thought it pure crap— or worse, amazingly bland and mediocre.  Try handing an album of real worth to them— let us say, for free, and watch them run for the hills.  Albums by, say, my top two picks for last year’s Album of the Year.  A lot of my old friends would have thought me a but crazy if they hadn’t known it already when I plunked my list down with an accompanying burst of pride.  Here is what I wrote about them then and I feel even stronger about the albums now.  I would have been banging the drum ever since had not so many other albums needing a home come my way.

picturetheoceanboyce1PICTURE THE OCEAN/Picture The Ocean—  When I list any “best of” lists, I normally steer clear of numbering them.  It seems foolish to rank anything because moods seem as important as the music at times and the number one album of today could easily turn into the forgotten album of tomorrow— until the next day when I realize I forgot it.  The one big exception this year has been Picture The Ocean‘s self-titled album.  I was primed by an earlier album by Jesse Dee & Jacquie B titled Our Ghosts Will Fill These Walls, an Americana-ish serving of so many styles that it was all I could do to keep up.  Between that album and Picture The Ocean, the band went through a reformation, of sorts.  The personnel stayed pretty much the same, Jesse wielding the guitar and Matt Blackie hammering on drums, but the emphasis on Jacquie’s keyboards took the band in a new dimension.  The songwriting is as strong as I’ve heard this year from anyone and the band, with the exception of Jesse and Jacquie’s (and Blackie’s too) vocals, and the ensemble-geared playing has turned into a full-on band.

“So I put a Number One in front of these guys.  I cannot do otherwise.  I have played this album more than any other since I received it.  I take it with me in the car.  I put it on when I need a breather.  I find myself humming their songs during walks and even while watching TV.  When I was in the Army, the big question passed around among people who loved music trivia was what is the most played song in the world?  Some said White Christmas, some Louie Louie.  There was even one demented bastard who said Free Bird (bet he voted for Romney).  The answer, of course, was The Star Spangled Banner.  During that period, it was played numerous times all over every United States military base in the world (and the United States has lots of them)—  before every assembly, every class, every public meeting.  Well, pick any song on this album and it is my own present Star Spangled Banner.  And the more I hear them, the more I want to hear them.  There are very few albums that do that to me these days.  They are Number One based solely on number of plays at my house, in my car and in my head.  It has been months and I am still blown away.  Be sure to give them more time than you might someone else.  This grows on you.  Listen here…..

alcoholicfmALCOHOLIC FAITH MISSION/Ask Me This—  I think I saw AFM live before I heard the album but it would not have made much difference.  What I  heard on stage was enough to convince me that this Denmark band was a force.  They began the show as they begin the album, a Singer’s Unlimited-like a cappella chorus slowly giving way to a music of intriguing depth.  From that point on, it was a whirlwind of musical choices— harder-edged with intermissions of flowing and at times downright beautiful harmonic goodness.  By the time the show was done, so was I.  Musically, one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.  Which begged the question, could they possibly put on record what they did on stage?  The first few seconds of Ask Me This answered that question.  They could and did.  This album lived in my CD player until Picture The Ocean bumped it out.  Not completely, though.  This album is so good that it gets fairly regular play, regardless.  It has a very slight European leaning, but then that’s more than likely just me.  I overhear and overthink things.  Tell me someone’s from the South and I start hearing drawl.  Excellent album!  Listen here…..”

There are more.  So many more!  Like Tom House‘s amazing Winding Down the Road album (read my review here).   Have you heard of it?  Have you heard it?  If you have, you are obviously applauding the fact that I even mention it, just as I applaud when others do.  House lives in a world all his own but it’s a world to which he gives access.  Musical access.  Mental access.  I  treasure him today like my old friends and musical mentors treasured Dylan.  Pre-Highway 61.  Before he became a follower.  Tell you what.  Here’s a video put together by Keith Morris and some guy going by an alias— Lance Lynch.  Tell me this guy ain’t on a different planet.  (watch here)

keithmorris1That Morris guy, by the way, did himself proud with last year’s Love, Wounds & Mars.  The fact that he took time out from his own overloaded work schedule to help put together the House video says a lot about how much he admires House’s work.  It took Keith a full year at least to get behind his album.  He is meticulous at times and the timing never seemed right or something.  He worked on videos in the meantime, his album available but only through specific channels most people did not know about.  I mentioned it to him a few times but I knew better than to push.  I worry about Keith probably like he worries about Tom House.  Keith lays back and waits.  I’m not sure you can do it that way anymore.   Me, I just want to wade in and fight.  Here is a video from Love Wounds & Mars which reminds me of an old Peter Bardens‘ track:  Write My Name In the Dust.  Keith had never heard it before.  Sometimes worlds collide, you know?  Watch here…..

I’m burning out.  Nose is plugged, ears hurt and my back is killing me.  I spent last night sleeping sitting up which is better than not sleeping at all.  No notes today.  Haven’t been able to follow my FB notifications nor my emails.  I hope to make it up to you next week.

By the time you read this, the first Bobcast will be in the can.  Segarini is trying something a bit new— a sitdown talk show-type of show revolving around the real entertainment world and not that prefabricated by the slugs who produce crap like TMZ and ET.  I hope you made it down to Cherry Cola’s and booted things off in fine fashion.  Do me a favor.  Next time you go down to Cherry Cola’s, have one and describe it to me in detail.  Real cherry colas used to be my passion.  Of course, in those days, you could order extra squirts of cherry.  Wish I could have been there.

=FGJ=

Frank’s column appears every Wednesday

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

DBAWIS ButtonFrank Gutch Jr. looks like Cary Grant, writes like Hemingway and smells like Pepe Le Pew. He has been thrown out of more hotels than Keith Moon, is only slightly less pompous than Garth Brooks and at one time got laid at least once a year (one year in a row). He has written for various publications, all of which have threatened to sue if mentioned in any of his columns, and takes pride in the fact that he has never been quoted. Read at your own peril.”

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