October 2, 2007

Rain gray town known for its sound
In places small faces unbound

Don Donaghy, Untitled, 1963

* Clusterfuck Nation. excerpt:

"The gravest problem this nation faces, therefore, is the inability of the American public and its leaders to confront the fact that we can't continue to live the way we do -- and, by the way, when I say "leaders," I don't restrict myself to political leaders. Our failures of leadership are comprehensive, including leadership in my nominal sector, journalism. For two weeks in a row, the price of oil on the futures markets has closed above $80-a-barrel, and for these two weeks The New York Times Sunday Business Section has failed to run one story on the consequences of oil rising into this uncharted territory of high price. Are the Times editors on crack? Surely $80-plus oil will thunder through the American economy.

"The second clue for the clueless came over the weekend when President Bush declared that the chaos reigning in America's airports had reached such an intolerable level that the federal government might have to step in and whip the airlines into shape by regulating routes and apportioning flights. Again, the inability of the public and its leaders to extend a thought one inch beyond the horizon of a given problem is really striking. It's as if the entire nation had suffered a lobotomy -- and perhaps we have, through the agency of excessive TV-watching.

"Has it occurred to anybody that if we could run choo-choo trains between cities a few hundred miles apart -- say from Cleveland to Columbus Ohio -- we could decongest the airports overnight? That, by so doing, Americans could travel much more pleasurably and affordably between the places they travel to most often? It certainly hasn't occurred to anybody running for president, or any of the editors-in-chief in the news media, or even any executive in what remains of the the railroad industry. But I'll try to boil it down to a digestible sound byte for them: the best way to relieve the current agony of air travel is to get the passenger trains running again. Let the airlines do what they do best: really long-range trips. Let trains do the rest. We will consume less foreign oil. The jobs now hemorrhaging out of the US auto industry could move into the passenger rail and rolling stock sectors. Everybody will be much happier.

"The people I know complain endlessly about how stupid President George W. Bush is, and how badly he has lied to the public about this or that. But a casual observer from Mars would have to conclude that President Bush perfectly represents a nation that shows such a thoroughgoing incapacity for thought, and such an aversion to the truth about its own behavior. A people so hopelessly unwilling to get its act together deserves to suffer."

* From 2003 interview of Chris Hillman. excerpt:

Question: I presume when you’re a 20 something year old musician, the motivation is probably - I don’t know, women, fame and money, with a little bit about expressing your creativity thrown in there too! But it’s obviously switched round since then, since you were much younger, hasn’t it?

Chris Hillman: Yeah, it does, but - I don’t know. First of all, I think Cole Porter said, 'One doesn’t need to punish one’s body to create.' Meaning, you don’t have to sit and drink or do drugs or this or that to write a song. You’re not going to ever write anything fantastic when you’re in an altered state - you really aren’t. But things change. When I got into music I just loved to play: I never thought I’d make a living at it! Now the younger kids are seeing all these enticing things on MTV or VH1. I mean on every street corner whether you’re in the States or in the UK there’s a guitar player. There’s a kid with a Fender Strat in his room, or something - or a Telecaster or a Les Paul in his room learning ‘Stairway to Heaven’. And that’s fine - I tell young kids, you know, stay with music, it’s a wonderful thing, but make sure you get a good education. Because it’s a very insidious, very competitive - even if you get the chance, even if you get a record and it actually works, your shelf life is not as long as when we were starting out. You know in the old days, when the record industry was a small little cottage industry, you would get a label deal and they would keep you on the label for quite a while - two, three or four records. Of course now, with the advent of this technology, the boy down the street in the market can make up a CD at home and print up his own label and sell it, you know? But when we started out it was such a privilege to be able to get signed to a label - it meant that you really had something unique to offer. And now it’s become every man’s occupation. Which is okay! Music is a wonderful thing, everyone should play an instrument, it’s a great thing. But don’t count on having some great career in it in this day and age, right? Because of the nature of the beast. Actually, that's a great song title! It’s a good idea for a song!
Question: When you actually do write nowadays, do you write with an instrument in your hand, or do you write in your head, or do you use a tape? What techniques do you use?

Chris Hillman: You know what, I actually wrote a song on the mandolin - which is the first time I’ve ever done that! - about 3 months ago, which I do perform on stage. I don’t know whether I did it in the UK. But it’s a real mountain ballad-type thing called ‘The Other Side’. But normally I have a guitar, and if Steve Hill’s over here, he’ll be typing and I’ll be playing and singing and he’ll grab the guitar and say, 'What do you think about this melody?' And we laugh, and we say, 'That’s terrible!' and 'Get out of my house!' But we have such a close relationship that we can edit each other. And that’s what works. I think when you write with somebody you really need to know that person. And I never really was fond of the national concept of going down there and writing with four people in a room and cranking out these sort of generic country songs. You need to know the person you’re working with so you can really feel what they’re feeling at the time because you’re trying to create something as one entity, you know? So that’s something that adds to the success of Jagger and Richards, and Lennon and McCartney: obviously they grew up together, they knew each other, they were so close and look what they developed together. So I go on that premise, and it worked with Roger and I, and it worked with Stephen and I, you know? Gram and I were literally room-mates in a home and were very close friends and able to relate to each other. And that’s what you’re getting - the benefit of two minds in that self-editing process, you know? I think my best work has always been with other people, although the first stuff I wrote, ‘A Time Between’ and ‘Have You Seen Her Face?’, I did by myself. And some of the lyrics are sort of silly, but the idea was there. And ‘Have You Seen Her Face’ was one of my favourite songs, that I’ve ever written, and it just came out of me one day.

* "Animals have these advantages over man: they never hear the clock strike, they die without any idea of death, they have no theologians to instruct them, their last moments are not disturbed by unwelcome and unpleasant ceremonies, their funerals cost them nothing, and no one starts lawsuits over their wills." -- Voltaire


Blogger Leafy Green said...

yes, stay in school, kids

8:24 PM  

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