Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Murky Ever Rolling River

Noooo, ALEX CHILTON gone? Only, 59. So sad, some of my favorites gone this year, Jim Carroll too. I met Alex at a show in DC, opening for him in 1991. That night I sang my new song, Song For Brian which is a love song for Brian Wilson, and dedicated it to Alex. He then dedicated a Beach Boys song to me. Back stage we talked about our signs, he a Capricorn and how that didn't fair too well with Gemini, me. He was very sweet kinda flirtatious and it was a great show.

A friend of mine that is in the middle of a relatively amicable divorce said to me, "Now that I'm dating again I'm gonna have to ask any serious contenders to get a physical, guys can start dropping like flies in their 50s if they don't take care of themselves." And in response I said, "Madonna was questioned recently about why she dates men so much younger than her 51 years and she said 'Have you seen men my age?' ".

Okay, I'm thinking I've got a husband in a nursing home and when I do start dating....again. Well, do I go the younger route or the older. A few years ago I was hanging out backstage at a Patti Smith show and I said to my friend, her guitarist Lenny Kaye, 'Is she with that young guy in your band?' And he said yeah, they had a special thing. And I thought, that's nice, that's what I want when I'm in my 50s.

But I love those old guys from the 1960s American Renaissance. Like Paul, Alex Chilton, Jim Carroll. Take care of yourselves. Dang. Maybe this is why it's the women that are the elders in old native American culture.

Which brings me to something in Chinese medicine called Jing and the three treasures. According to Ron Teeguarden's book RADIANT HEALTH: The Ancient Wisdom of the Chinese Tonic Herbs, there are three treasures in the human body. Jing, Qi, and Shen. Jing is the superior treasure, "and existed before the body existed and this Jing enters the body tissues and becomes the root of our body". Sometimes its called essence, when it runs low we are forced to tap into our original Jing reserves, which can become so depleted that it runs out and the person dies. It goes on to suggest we take care of ourselves on a daily basis taking care of our daily immediate energy called Qi. And then Shen is our spiritual energy.

So get enough sleep (I tell myself). I know I'm ranting, I'm feeling the final throes of a cold and too bored to do nothing, too low energy to get busy.

I'm sad about Alex Chilton. When I last saw him it was 1997 in Charleston West Virginia, we were both on a live broadcast radio show. I was out on the road touring across the country and had been booked on the NPR radio show called Mt. Stage with Alex C., John Prine, and Jill Sobule. I played a new song of mine, Antarctica on keyboard that night and my 1996 single, High Jump. I remember Alex being distant and sullen after the radio performance, I thought he wasn't feeling well so I left him alone.

I'd flown Paul in from San Diego for a few nights, we went out to dinner with the shows producer before the taping began and he and Paul got along really well. The next day we drove up to Wheeler and caught a Bob Dylan show and my friend Elizabeth slipped away mid show and next thing I know she's on stage sitting under Dylan's shadow watching the master up close (until a roadie caught on and whisked her away). Then Paul flew home and we got on with the tour.

Alex Chilton I am with you in Memphis digging the soul of the land,
I'm with you in youth crazy with too much too quick sudden crazy fame,
I am with you on the long dark drive of the soul onto the next night show,
I am with you in the stupidity of music business expectations lost gone never existed and enter the new day of Internets dawn,
I am with you in Memphis again at the gates of Elvis eating fried banana and peanut butter sandwiches and puking in the Mississippi River,
I am with you at the Greyhound station where bus driver says to me "only bad girls stay in this town" and I get off the bus sick with strep throat swooning with love for this holy land staggering to the river and back to my shabby hotel,
In my dreams you walk with me bolstering my flagging spirit lifting a lovely melody above the plastic seat of my greyhound up into the sallow yellow of fading light and now/born stars that come to visit again over and over the murky ever rolling river.


  1. didn't even know you had a blog CLB, SO sad that this is what i see on my 1st viewing. i only met AC once at I think the Morgan Wixson BWilson tribute show.
    hope you are well, pls give my best to Paul and Alexander

  2. It's been very sad with both Alex and Vic Chesnutt leaving us recently. Remember my first piece in Crawdaddy was about Big Star.

    I turned 50 last year. Fortunately next month I'll finally have some halfway decent health insurance. Yikes!

    Off to listen to the Big Star box.

    All the best,

    Steve R.

  3. Dear Cindy,

    I'm so sorry about your husband. So young. I understand you feelings. Isn't it great we do get to express ourselves in this way to release our thoughts out and think hmm no one is going to read this lol.

    Well I did and I know where your coming from.

    I was just doing a search on nursing homes for my mother and the loss of hearing devices and other objects treasured by the residents in them. And I came across your blog.

    My father has lost his hearing aids for the hmm forget how many times now and we were chuckling about the nursing home and how they are handling it. Let them be prepared for the wrath of Jerry may be to much for them to bare and will have to cave in and replace the tiny buggers. Dad speaks very loud and is a retired Attorney. He also suffers from dementia but comes in and out. He is 82.

    My father has a very loud voice so they will find if he can not hear and so does my mother.

    Dads nurse took the hearing aides and placed them in the hands of another nurse so they lost them.

    They are expensive and I mentioned to my mother don't let them intimidate you and wash it under the table. They lost them they should replace them and after saying that she repeated chuckling again oh no one can intimidate me. Which is true. Strong mother I have.

    We have been in and out of many nursing home environments and you become part of a family sometimes with other residents families. I hope that has been your experience it is not an easy time and your husband is young.

    Take some advice from me. Take care of yourself the best you can. You have a life and I'm sure you watch over your loved one but you are still young.

    Most people do need companionship. It's what keeps us also mentally healthy. A younger man isn't such a bad thing to think about. Go for it. Your mental and physical well being is what will keep your husband going.

    I wish you well and wait until those nurses get a taste of my fathers demands when he isnt using his hearing aids. "BUTTER! I DEMAND BUTTER FOR MY BUNNS!" at a level of 20 DB's

    I told my mother that it wont be him blowing an artery it will be the ones there caring for him. I hope your husband is in a good home.

    Were from the Cape and Chatham MA has a great facility. Liberty commons. Great people who cared for our father who art not in Chatham. Mother brought him back to Florida last fall and i warned her it was a no no. now he is in one down there. Oyyyyyy.

    Anyway good luck & I'll say some prayers for your family.


  4. Big Star was scheduled to play SXSW on Saturday, and I had wanted to see them but couldn't make it, but always hoped some day I'd get to see them.
    But I did see the Box Tops two years ago at a New Years Eve show. They played after midnight at a casino, and it looked like me and another guy were the only ones even paying attention to them. But Alex seemed to be having a great time, despite the crowd. I waited for him to come out later and thanked him for playing. He seemed really happy and said it was his pleasure. Then I said, "And welcome back." He looked surprised and genuinely touched to realize he was talking to somebody who actually knew who he was. He later walked by me and bumped me in the shoulder like guys sometimes do when they run into a friend. It's a great memory.
    I've been playing the new Big Star box set and still listen to the Box Tops frequently.
    Today, I'm especially identifying with the song, Cry Like a Baby. Rest in peace and thanks for all the music, Alex.
    Gary Warth

  5. Chuck Prophet wrote a terrific essay on Alex C. here's a link, I highly recommend giving it a read:

  6. Here's another good essay on Big Star and power pop in general from Michael Chabon. When I met Michael at the Comic Con a few years ago and asked him to sign a copy of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, he was wearing a Badfinger tshirt. I liked him immediately.

  7. Funny, I happen to be reading Michael Chabon right now.

    Cindy, whatever you do, follow your star.
    Seems like a few great humans are exiting the planet. Bless them and may they make music in Heaven.

  8. Hi Cindy Lee,

    Nice to hear from your in your comment on my blog post about CHRONIC CITY. Dave Hartwell has kept me up to date on Paul's health problems, my heart goes out to both of you. You're still looking foxy in the photo at the head of your blog!

    I'm a big Alex Chilton fan myself, "Ballad of El Goodo" was my fave.