April 9, 12:40; Home.
Break’s over. Back to the real world.
It was good to see my friends, and spend a few days exploring other things. But now the afternoon watch beckons, and I have many other things to do on top of my regular job.
In the last few days, I’ve gotten music in the mail from Norway and The Netherlands, which will never get old. I’ve also picked up a couple of gems from Planet Score, with much more to come from that location. I’m still awaiting a special package from Australia, which I understand just shipped.
I’m looking to spend a little more time with Nate Chinen’s book, which I should have finished by now. But that’s my life: Mr. Short Attention Span keeps seeing squirrels. One of my best friends also sent me a book as a gift. Clearly, he is looking out for me and my next life. I’m forever grateful, and interested to see where this book takes me.
The most fascinating read I’ve had so far this week came from RollingStone.com, which is saying something. Robert Fripp held a press gathering to discuss the 50th anniversary of King Crimson. He had many interesting things to say, which are best read by you and not summarized by me.
I will say this: I don’t think the rift between RF and Adrian Belew is fully healed. I don’t think it ever will be. That really makes me sad. I’ll spare you the repetitive statements re: that band’s importance to me. And I know things happen, and the best of friends can fall apart before your eyes. Silly as it sounds, this rift makes me feel like the child of divorced parents. I love them both. I want them to get along. But that’s just not the way the world works, is it? What a pity.
If ever there was a day of ultimate musical highs and lows, this was it.
On the upside, a connection made has led to an ever greater connection, which just might land me the third major interview I would like to do this year. It fell into my lap just as casually as a summer stroll, and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve also found a link to being able to review even more music as the year goes on. These are very exciting times indeed! It feels as though the door way to my Future just opened a few inches wider, making it a little easier to see what’s on the other side.
But that high is being undermined by the leader of my favorite band in the world.
I’ve spent the day thinking about what Robert Fripp said in his 50th anniversary presser. And the more I think on it, the more it pisses me off. This anger comes from two statements. The first was clearly aimed at Adrian Belew, when he discussed why he enjoys the current band so much. “No one has an agenda,” he said. “Alternately expressed, there are no prima donnas in this band.”
Do WHAT now?
What a load of absolute horseshit! Let me be clear: Robert Fripp is a musical innovator. Robert Fripp is a visionary. Robert Fripp is one of the finest guitarists of all time. Robert Fripp founded one of the greatest bands of all time. But without Adrian Belew, a lot of what Robert Fripp conceived between 1981 and 2013 WOULD NOT EXIST.
I can’t help but think of Don Cheadle’s line in the movie Oceans 12, where he and the rest of the crew are offended by the name “Ocean’s 11,” given to them by the man they robbed and essentially accepted by Danny Ocean, who conceived the crime. “Without us, that idea don’t leave your head, mate,” Cheadle says. That’s exactly how I feel about this band. The right people and circumstances must be in place to propel an idea forward. That’s what happened between Fripp and Belew.
I’ve always seen Fripp as the vision and drive behind King Crimson. But Belew was the band’s lifeblood, ingenuity, and personality. Belew brought the voices (guitar and vocal) that propelled the band, and made the music even more appealing, engaging the audience and drawing them in. I said as much in my book: without Adrian, I’d view King Crimson in much the same way I view Emerson, Lake, & Palmer. I’d have the utmost respect for them, and collect some of their records. But the level of admiration and sheer obsession for the music simply would not exist.
Without Adrian, King Crimson’s music can be stiff, stodgy, and devoid of joy. The music sounds — for the most part — just fine. But my personal enjoyment falls off a bit.
Once again with impeccable timing, a friend reached out to me for my thoughts on Fripp’s statements. I had something on my chest. Here’s what came out:
“I’ve theorized that RF’s latest band was designed to eliminate the frontman position. The eye is drawn to the three drummers in front so we forget about the lack of a frontman. Robert has succeeded in making KC all about him.”
How hard would it be to say something like, “A musical partnership had run its course, and I am grateful for the music brought forth. But now I feel the need to go in a different direction, which I find musically and personally satisfying.” Direct, but diplomatic. Why drag personality conflict into it?
I was angry enough to reach this somewhat crucial decision:
“I was considering trying to find a ticket to this year’s Chicago show. Forget it! I’ve been loyal (to this band) to a fault. But I’m not schlepping 600 miles roundtrip to see a band I wasn’t all that high on to begin with.”
I have no doubt that there is a legion of Crimson fans out there who couldn’t give less of a damn about what I think. I’m quite certain they can’t wait to tell me what to do with myself. They will flock to the Crimson shows, and buy everything being sold. And I guarantee you Robert doesn’t give a shit what I think. If he does, he’ll cry all the way to the bank.
I’ve met Adrian Belew several times. I’ve talked to him on the phone. I’ve read his words on Facebook. I know he has an ego. Name one musician who doesn’t have an ego. It goes with the territory. But I find it hard to believe that Ade would think he was King Crimson. Maybe I’m wrong. Ade is my hero, and my objectivity can be questioned in this particular case. But the policeman in me (who reads people’s eyes and words, among other things) says Robert is pulling a power move, claiming complete ownership of all Crimson has created. To hell with those who helped make it possible. It’s a move he is free to make, because it’s his band.
Secondly, Robert opted to take a giant shit all over The Crimson ProjeKCt, a band he initially endorsed, that also contained two members of his current King Crimson (Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto)! Seriously, dude? You know they can hear you, right?
Describing the show he saw at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London, Fripp said, “What I saw with the excellent Stick Men, the excellent Adrian Belew Power Trio, and all the King Crimson music they played, they had the notes and none of the music. In other words, King Crimson had not left the building; King Crimson had not even entered the building. And I was angry.”
I can’t speak for any of the Crimson ProjeKct members, so I’ll just say this on behalf of myself: I enjoyed that show. Every minute. Every note. Nobody said the band was supposed to be King Crimson. Still, three of the people from that band were on stage, playing the music they helped create in years past. Did it sound exactly the same as it had on record? Of course not! Robert wasn’t playing with them. Still, I think Robert saw something even more disturbing: he saw that it was, in fact, possible to bring Crimson’s music to life without him. So he shut them down however it is you do that sort of thing. My theory: he told Tony and Pat that the Crimson ProjeKct represented some kind of conflict of interest, and they were either in that band or in King Crimson, but they couldn’t do both. I can’t prove this, of course. But that’s my hunch. Fripp also said that King Crimson stops with him. When he’s done, so is the band. Not unreasonable. But you don’t have to be a dick about it.
If anything, Fripp should be grateful to the Crimson ProjeKct, as they spurred him to come out of his semi-retirement and form the new band he holds so dear. Either way, you can move forward without being an asshole.
I’m just so deeply disappointed in a musician who means the world to me. It’s painful.
Here’s my real problem: I adore King Crimson. To that end, I will still buy the Heaven & Earth box set, the forthcoming documentary film, Crimson F*Kc, Sid Smith’s updated version of his book, In the Court of King Crimson, and probably even the 50th anniversary box set for In the Court of the Crimson King. My (very minor) protest is to be done with anything produced by this new band. Hell, I’ve already bought the six live albums they’ve released. And through it all, I’m still waiting to have that “transformative” experience I keep hearing about from other people. “You have to be there to fully grasp it,” they tell me. I don’t buy it.
My transformative King Crimson experience came via Sony Walkman with crappy foam headphones on a parade field outside Richmond, Virginia in July of 1985, nearly a year to the day after the band (unbeknownst to me) ceased to exist! Revelation is where you find it. Either the music resonates within you in a meaningful way or it doesn’t. I find the current band interesting, and I have the utmost respect for its playing ability. But we’re a long, long way from transformative.
When all is said and done, I’ve reached this conclusion: you miscounted, Robert. There’s still ONE prima donna left in King Crimson.
Time for a little reading before bed. I have a long day at work tomorrow.
April 10, 16:57; Out and about.
It’s one of those days. Once again, I’m being reassured that retirement from the day job is the right move a year from now. I’ve lost another tiny chunk of my humanity, and that is unacceptable.
Dale Carnegie said that before you speak in anger publicly or wrote words that can be negative or hurtful, pause and make sure you truly want to express yourself in that fashion. Or something like that.
Last night’s tirade gave me pause. I decided to take a deep breath, think objectively, and be certain about what I said. And now I’ve done those things, reaching the following conclusion:
I stand by every word.
I’ve been receiving similar sentiment from from a few other friends, as well. So I’m not the only one in this headspace. Good deal. But there’s nothing more I can do about it. It’s time to move on.
Few things bring joy like the removal of body armor at the end of a long watch . This day was longer than usual, since I worked 12 hours instead of the usual eight. One more such day is coming Friday.
My humanity, chipped at earlier in the day, was partially restored by two people this evening. One was a woman who hugged my partner and me after we cleared her home and verified no one had broken in as she feared. Her husband is deployed and she is alone with her young daughter, so I completely understand the fear. We were happy to help. Later, a nice man brought us water while we dealt with his drunken neighbor, who was doing his best to make life difficult for us. A small gesture, to be sure. But that’s all it takes more often than not.
“People are the main spring, spinning the world around,” sings Adrian Belew. “People are the main thing, spinning this world upside down.” That lyric just popped into my head. But it’s appropriate.
I must try to sleep. I’m getting up early for a funeral.
April 11, 14:16; Gearing up.
My thoughts go to a Hugh Grant movie called Four Weddings and a Funeral. An ok movie, I’m just hung up on the title.
These days, I think the phrase “Provided You Are in Your Twenties” should follow that title, because that’s what you do in life. I’ve reached that stage in life where the movie title should be reversed.
I seem to be going to more funerals than anything these days. Parents and older relatives, mentors, old friends, co-workers … all completing the circle of life. To say nothing of the musicians I’ve grown up admiring. I still have trouble accepting that the likes of Prince and David Bowie are gone.
Today’s funeral appearance was relatively brief, but it lingers. Finding out my co-worker was nearly three years younger than me has me deep into feeling my mortality. Tomorrow isn’t promised, they say. And they’re damned right. Once again, the decision to move on cements itself as the right thing to do.
22:07; Waiting for tow trucks.
For a while, I didn’t think I’d ever stop hearing the dispatcher. Now a thunderstorm has come through, and things have died down.
I’ve really come to love Devin Townsend’s new release, Empath. My relationship with his music has been hit and miss. At times, I can’t get enough. Other times, I have no idea what he’s trying to accomplish. This album is awesome, front to back. It kept me company during today’s travels.
I also played tunes from Steven Wilson, Cloudkicker, Live, and Beck. It’s been an eclectic music day. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I also secured my ticket to see Brad Mehldau Saturday night. I’m really looking forward to hearing what he has to offer.
April 12, 07:55; Home.
The only thing worse than a nightmare is a dream that makes no sense. I’m moonlighting at a grocery store (which I won’t do) and decide to buy a cheap pair of sneakers (which I definitely won’t do). I’m standing in line when I realize the shoes are the wrong size. Before I can return them, I see someone pounding on the window outside the store. It’s a sergeant I used to work for, in uniform. That’s odd, because he’s been retired for 15 years. He demands I respond to a call outside my district, when I’m no longer on duty. Both are no-no’s, yet I find myself on the call. Once there, I obtain statements from three people that contradict, and make absolutely no sense. I wake up, highly frustrated.
I don’t need this in my head.
I have often joked that I need a DVR for my brain. And then I think better of it. Lord only knows what I’d wind up seeing.
I almost never win in basketball pools. So when I invested $20 in a pool this year, I didn’t figure to see it again. So imagine my pleasure in finding $55 waiting for me, handed to me by the pool organizer. Hardly a weekend in Vegas, but my concert ticket charge has essentially been refunded. Lucky me.
I will nail down the next big interview soon, which I hope to conduct on Sunday or Monday. I’ve got more than a couple of reviews to write, and slightly longer features to finish. A busy weekend lies ahead.
Oh, yeah … and tomorrow is Record Store Day.
Want to have your album reviewed? Contact me at email@example.com