You have to read this week because videos, that I did in part to save time, take too long.
Is everybody as annoyed as I am by now? By this pandemic and you-know-who? I used to be annoyed at the people who refuse to wear masks as a political statement. Don’t get me wrong, that’s really stupid, but it’s the people who refuse to wear masks for NO POLITICAL REASON WHATSOEVER who annoy me the most now. Presumably educated, informed, professional or otherwise productive humans, of all ages including the elderly, just not wearing masks. They just don’t care about grandma, I guess.
What else is annoying? Well, everything. We’re stuck inside, or on the patio. Or we can walk. Walk, walk, walk. Wanna take a walk? Where you wanna walk? I’m walkin’ here! On the bright side, my patio looks fantastic! Today, I even cleaned out the corner with all the stuff in it, and the dirt and leaves and crickets down in there. If you know me, you know that cleaning is not my bag, man.
To combat pandemic fatigue, the neighbor who hails from Iran started up this patio party thing every Tuesday at 5:30 where we all sit out on our own patios and listen to music. Physical distancing. Well, that part ended the first day, not for us, but for the younger people who decided they could congregate. Not too close, but a little too close, if you catch my drift. Then a few people dropped the masks. Not all of them. The little kid wears one. But it’s still pretty nice and we can keep our distance.
But then one day, well, the first day actually, I took the guitar out and played a few songs. Don’t tell anyone but the music they were playing on the loudspeaker? I don’t think so. Kiki sings along with me on some tunes, usually while working on her laptop at the same time. And drinking coffee. They asked me to play louder, a request any guitarist loves, so the next week I took out the amp. Still not loud enough so I moved over closer to where they sat.
Then, this week, they sat around our patio, safely distanced. Kind of my own Coachella. Paulachella, if you will. So yeah, I’ve become the weekly entertainment and I try to make believe it’s a burden or no big deal, but deep inside, it’s extremely pleasing to have a captive pandemic audience.
So now I start to think, what would my adoring pandemic audience want to hear? They’re all ages and from other countries, about fifty percent actually, so stuff like the Beatles works, but I don’t play Beatles usually just because, well, it’s the Beatles. Their music is perfect. Leave it alone. Still, there are a few I can Paulify. And everyone loves Tom Petty. Seriously, can’t go wrong with him as long as I stay in his lower-range songs. Guy had a deceptively high range smoothed out by years of chain-smoking. Elvis Costello comes in handy.
But a lot of it is just the guitar thing. You know, it’s a garden party, a masquerade party, kind of. So people are talking, some have wine, some coffee or tea, and it’s the only time of the week they see others like this, pretty much, so I try to be the background music. I’ll sing a couple (no mic) out loud, but then just play guitar. For this, it’s fun to find new songs. Enter documentary streaming.
Pandemic=Netflix or whatever streaming service, and I’ve been watching documentaries, mostly about music and musicians. There’s a great Black Sabbath one on Amazon Prime. You can play “Guess What Ozzie is Saying.” Good punk docs too, and other eras and genres.
There’s also a fantastic and touching Itzhak Perlman doc (I didn’t get any songs from that one, though there’s an amazing scene where he plays with Billy Joel at Shea Stadium and Perlman says he has an intro idea for the song and Billy isn’t sure he wants suggesitons, you know, “hey, I’m Billy Joel, here,” but this is the greatest violinist of the late 20th century so he tries it and the band likes it in rehearsal, but Billy is still not sure. But he does it anyway because, well, Itzhak Perlman. So they do it. It’s like almost a bluegrass thing. And it brings the house down.)
From watching things like this, Tumbling Tumbleweeds, the great cowboy-western song I posted a couple of weeks ago, fell into my lap. It’s a silly song. I’ve heard the refrain all my life. But I never really LISTENED to the song. So I did, and I learned it, and I now love to play this silly old cowboy song.
There’s a cool documentary about David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed and how they kind of came together at a pivotal point in each of their careers and from that all three achieved new success and fame and made great music. Bowie produced (most say it was more of “executive produced” but still contributed importantly) Lou Reed’s seminal Transformer album. On that is the hit song Perfect Day. This is not like Lou’s other songs, really. Burt Bacharach could have written it, that is meant as a huge compliment. It’s a pop song. It’s a love song. It’s a song about heroin.
And that’s the thing about it. It feels like a beautiful love song, complete with strings and grand piano and whatnot, and it’s really about heroin. The refrain “you keep me hanging on,” seems an ironic quote of the Supremes’ You Keep Me Hangin’ On. One great thing about this song is the comments on youtube. Some guy said this was the first dance at their wedding. A song about heroin.
But then I thought, it is a love song, to heroin, but something about it also feels like he’s with a person, maybe a woman, maybe, and they have a nice NYC weekend in the park, at the zoo, watching a movie. Like a Burt Bacharach song. So I learned it, and it may be the Jewish guy from Long Island thing, but Lou and I sing within the same vocal range. Which gets rid of the Tom Petty high register problem.
That’s all I got this week. Discovering new songs and physically distanced visits to lower annoyance. What have we learned? I don’t know. But I’m annoyed a lot of the time, so it’s good to balance that by looking at stuff you might not have seen otherwise, and then you might find something in there that will send you somewhere else, and then one day, you might find yourself singing a love song about heroin to your neighbors, half of whom are wearing masks. Half are from other countries. Some are both, some are neither. What a world.
Thanks for visiting. Hope you enjoy Perfect Day. If I ever get down to recording it I’ll add it later. You know what to do: stay home, stay safe, stay healthy.