You taught me how to sing harmony. How to find the root, the third, the fifth. How to find the ninth tone in a guitar chord.
Crazy maybe; you willingly went along as tour manager of my bands first tour, in the dead of winter, in 1988. You and Waygone Rex got into a fight, almost really bad, back stage in a lousy club in Birmingham Alabama, the last gig of the tour. You said "that's it" you were going to take a Greyhound bus home, you went back to the hotel. Instead you got up the next morning took the terrible $1500 van in for an oil change and we drove back to Southern California our friendships still in tact.
When I was ready to leave home, leave my parents, you were a safe place to learn how to become a un-child. Maybe not an adult just yet, but not a child. I paid rent, got my first job and listened to your extensive record collection, on shelves made of boards and cement blocks
You were my friend and advisor when I needed to talk about guys and figure out where I fit in. One time you said, "what's with you?" I said I had a big wall (I was 22) and that if anyone wanted to get close they'd have to knock it down. You said, "okay I'm knocking it down". You really knew how to be my friend.
Our friend David Ruderman reminded me the other day, of the time we went with you in your old 1940s Ford truck, tooling down the freeway, on our way to a little gig at a steakhouse and the entire front wheel came off the axel. Thump! And then it, the wheel, rolling on ahead of us, passing in front of us, while we screeched and sparked to a halt, safely somehow, miraculously, on the shoulder of the freeway.
When I got married to Paul, you were our photographer. When our little 4 year old son had a birthday you were the train engineer that told tall tales of steam-engines and sang songs of railroad yards.
Everyone (Elizabeth Hummel, Veronica Boyer, Bart Mendoza) looking cool for your shutter snap, at the wedding..
Rick, the last time I saw you, in 2005 or 6, I was pretty much a mess with everything going on with Paul's health, as you remember he was still living at home. And raising a young child on my own. I wasn't much a friend to you and your sister these past 12 years. But I've always got you here, in my heart, and in my harmony, and those photographic memories. May your life now as a free spirit of energy take you to all the places you always wanted to go, the Holland Tunnel, Route 66, and beyond.
I just arrived home from Austin Tx on Monday and it was such a joyful reunion with my son Alexander, and the family, our good friends the Hahm's, that he stayed with those 10 days. In New Mexico I picked up trinkets for their son and mine, bullwhips, and a dream catcher for their 9 year old daughter. A delight to be back home with family and friends. For the 10 days I was gone, everyone here suddenly discovered Pharrell Williams Happy. So not only is my son and the Hahm's singing it but the next day at work several students want to learn it on guitar. So i put it on the player just now, listen, catch the wave, irresistible even in it's nonsensical nebulosity. You can't not feel happy in the listening. It reminds me of some of the music I liked best as a kid, in the Charlie Brown 1973 Thanksgiving special a riff between Snoopy and Woodstock, a song called Little Birdie. Listen to them both and tell me you don't hear just a little bit of that too. I'm a total sucker for that 70s style pop-soul.
* * *
Last Wednesday was our official show at SXSW and we lucked out and got one of the best rooms in town. It's a comedy club part of the time and it's got elevated seats, (yes! one of the few venues that lets you sit down and watch a show) that lead down to the thoroughly colorful stage, with props and multi colored lights. Perfect for the Garage Orchestra sound. The sound was great and lights were very creative. We had a good crowd and folks dug the sounds.
Renata Bratt on cello, Randy Hoffman on percussion and wall heater cover
Paula Luber on vibraphone. She and I drove a minivan out to Texas with most of our stuff. Three days there, three days back. Listening to lectures recorded from a medical convention (actually very interesting stuff!)
David Schwartz on bass and fuzz tones. David and Jody Schwartz got into Austin Monday night and we had a lovely dinner and hang with them and their LA drummer friend Michael Jerome Moore, a few days before the crazy began.
By Wednesday the town was full of road blocks and spring breakers and mini-vans like ours. We were fortunate to have a show on the early side, in front of still sober music lovers. Shows like this with my friends; it's pure joy. Feeling fortunate and grateful. Happy.
* * * Is it happy I feel just now listening as the 127, 171, 934th listener to the song on Youtube? It was , something. Some kind of feeling....but it came out as a huge burst of tears. That joy for living and the great sadness for those that have departed, leaving us to these little everyday moments of oddly connected bliss.
An atonal 4 bars to start. A nod to Lou Reeds Metal Machine Music
With cellist Renata Bratt and violinist Susan Voelz, Rosie Flores and show organizer Richard Barone singing harmonies on Femme Fatale
That's Lenny Kaye behind us on guitar, Clem Burke (from Blondie) on drums, Tony Shanahan (ala Patti Smith) on bass, and Ivan Julian (from the Voidoids) unseen on guitar on my far right
I took a guitar solo.
As for that 4 bar dissonant intro; the plan was to have a percussionist play the 6 foot tall wall heater cover we brought to Sxsw (and used in our show at Esther's Follies), however everyone we asked and said yes to playing the metallic wonder suddenly got a paying gig. We brought it to the Paramount Theater that night just in case a miracle percussionist would turn up. Alas, it was not to be. Even Clem Burke, got wild eyed and bewildered when I talked of starting the song with the 4 bars of banging metal.
Renata and I set the metal heater cover aside in the back of the theater and played our part in the show. After it was over I noticed it was gone. Someone had taken it out back to the dumpster. We found it luckily, and it is safely home now...
A rockin' ending, ...making way for BP Fallon and the Strypes up next on Vicious