A Few Days in the Life (January 23, 2020)

January 23, 19:31


The Sonic Sanctuary.

Outside, it’s snowing. And sticking. I’m almost certain the weather dudes said to expect a “wintery mix,” but said mix would not accumulate. So much for that. And they still get paid for their predictions. Good for them. Nobody’s perfect. But let me make ONE bad judgement call while doing my job. I’m just saying.

(Then again, some of our bad judgement calls should result in termination. But that’s another rant for another day.)

What’s in a name? Who really knows? But sometimes I like to name things. My guitars have names. My personal brand has a name. And now my office (among other things) has a name, too.

Just for fun, I put a “poll” in the social media field, seeking a name for my home office. I got some interesting answers. My three favorites were The Sonic Sanctuary, The Reverberation Station, and Third Ear. It took a bit to come to the obvious conclusion, but it turns out I can use all three names! I’m not engaging in crowd pleasing. It just makes sense.

I love the name Sonic Sanctuary for the office, because it sums everything up in a nutshell. The office is geared around music, and music is my sanctuary. Music helps me deal with the evils of the world, particularly when I’m enjoying it alone. Don’t get me wrong: I love to share music. But sometimes, I need some time to myself in order to get the world to make sense. Where better to retreat to than one’s own personal sanctuary? So … there you have it.

In 45-plus years of listening to music, I have never felt the need to name my stereo system. Now it almost seems like I’m one of a couple of dozen people left on the planet who still uses one! That will never change. I don’t care for downloads. They are becoming a necessary evil when it comes to record reviews, but I don’t like them. And you can save your breath about FLAC and lossless audio. I don’t care. I love record stores. I love browsing through bins and picking up what I’m interested in. I love full-size liner notes that didn’t come off my printer (assuming I had a printer). I love sliding an LP out of its protective sleeve, or pulling a CD out of its jewel box. It’s part of the experience. That will never change. Trying to change it nearly killed music for me. But you can read about that in my book. The chapter is called “(Near) Death by Download.”

But I digress.

Nothing makes me happier than hearing music thundering away from my turntable or my CD player. If I have my way, it creates quite the rumble. Some might even say it creates more than a little reverberations. Can you think of a better name than The Reverberation Station as a place to enjoy this experience? I sure can’t. “Now playing on the Reverberation Station, King Crimson!” That actually is what’s playing right now. The Larks Tongues in Aspic box set. It goes nicely with Sid’s book, which I will dive back into shortly.

I’ve never been fond of calling my record reviews “A Few Words About …” because it’s too limiting. Usually, I do try to keep things at a few words. Sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. To say nothing of the fact that the name has absolutely no pizazz.

When I listen to a record, I like to imagine the band, the producer, and the engineer sitting in the control room, each with a pair of ears to listen and lend thought to what they’re hearing. Me? I’m on the other side of the door, my ear pressed against it, trying to get a sneak peak at what’s going on. Two ears inside, one ear outside. A Third Ear. Bam! And there you have it.

I’m leaning toward something like “A Third Ear Hears …” for the title. That may change. But for now, it makes the most sense.

And now I can move forward.

Pearl Jam has a new record coming out. It’s called Gigaton. I’m sure there’s a story behind it. The new single has been released, and it sounds nothing like what they’ve done in the past. It’s been described as David Bowie fronting Talking Heads. What an interesting concept! I have to admit: I was pleasantly surprised. Might as well share it with you:

I’m quite intrigued to learn what the rest of the album sounds like.

But for now, it’s time to send off some rather crucial emails. My short- and long-term journalistic futures will very well hinge on how a couple of these messages play out.


Emails sent. Momentum gaining. The fun has only begun.

January 30, 16:33

Afternoon watch.

It’s the second day of a two-day workweek. And I’m already exhausted. As I put on my body armor, all I could think about was how much I was NOT going to miss that.

I’m supposed to be on a train for Chicago tomorrow, but the stars have failed to align on multiple levels. And while I want to pout, I actually got over it pretty quickly. I’ll have six days off, which I can spend listening to the music piling up on my desk.

I also had this bit of musical wonderment waiting for me at the office today.

Sid Smith reviewed it for Prog magazine. I had no idea it existed. I’m thinking it’s a European release.

It was recorded in 1969 by Miles, Wayne Shorter (saxes), Chick Corea (keys), Dave Holland (bass), and Jack DeJohnette (drums). That’s a whole lot of talent. It will be interesting to hear where this goes.

Meanwhile, Beck has found his way into the CD player. I had nearly forgotten how beautiful Morning Phase truly is.


I have exchanged a couple of productive emails with my publisher. The pathway to my next couple of music books has been green-lit. Now it’s just a matter of outlining and starting my research.

I’m also slowly gearing up to start work on the police-related article I want to write, which will serve as a precursor to a book. I’ll be typing a LOT of words in the coming months. I just might have to get a bigger desk.

More than a few people may be surprised that I said nothing about the Grammy awards from this year. My personal war with the Grammys has ended. But you can read about that here.

My young trainee had to endure his first true law enforcement rite of passage: the department accident. It was only a fender-bender, and no one was hurt. But oh … so. Much. Paperwork. This is the kind of stuff the cop movies gloss over.

Why Mike Lowery insisted on driving his personal Porsches and Ferraris is anybody’s guess.

As I eluded today earlier, I have more than a little new music to explore and share, like the latest from Sons of Apollo. My writing is scheduled to make its way to the Sonic Perspectives web site, beginning in February. And I need to dig in and send material to All About Jazz. Of course, my material is still sneaking over to Proglodytes. And then there’s this page. Hopefully, the platform is expanding to the point where I can start seeking out paying freelance gigs. Time will tell.

February 17, 08:43


Every day, I tell myself to update this journal. Every day, something else comes up and I forget about it. Too many plates spinning. Well, I’ll get myself back on track.

It’s one of those times where lots is going on, but not much is happening. Or maybe I’m just used to the flurry of activity to the point where it all seems like no big deal. Well … it doesn’t really matter.

Backtracking (in a nutshell).

I’ve added a new member to the family. I call him The Menace, because I want sinister things to happen when we get together. He’s an Epiphone Les Paul Standard. Let’s face it, I don’t have money for a Gibson. And I probably wouldn’t play it enough to rationalize buying it. This creature will do just fine.

The Menace will help me play heavier blues tunes a la Gov’t Mule, fusion a la Return to Forever (ambitious, I know), or tunes in drop-D tuning, a la Tool. He’ll be a nice change of pace.

So now I have four guitars that make me happy, and cover a wide variety of sounds. I’m one solid acoustic from having a complete and satisfactory collection.

Now it’s just a matter of getting the notes back under my fingertips. I started running scales and open chords yesterday, just to start getting my feel back. Both Miles Davis and Robert Fripp mention starting with the known, and moving gradually toward the unknown. That’s the aim.

I caught myself locating the notes to “In a Silent Way” as I practiced yesterday. No particular reason. It was just the tune that popped into my head.

Meanwhile, I’m in a crabby place. I didn’t sleep much last night, and the clock went off at 05:30. Very annoying. Ambitious evening plans will probably be interrupted by a nap when I get home. Better set an alarm for that, too.

A friend of mine celebrated his final roll call last week. Twenty-six years on The Job. Good for him. Glad he got out, and is getting on with his life. The roll call room was full of people, many of whom walked past me saying, “You’re next!” (Actually, my favorite was, “You’re next, motherfucker!” But that’s neither here nor there.)

In many ways, it’s still hard to fathom. But the train has left the station, and it’s gaining momentum. The people who need to know for administrative reasons are being put in the loop. The people I want to tell are being told. It may be hard to fathom, but that won’t make it any less real.

On to what’s next.


You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (cirdecsongs)

My book, I Can’t Be the Only One Hearing This: A Lifetime of Music Through Eclectic Ears, is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine book dealers.

Would you like to have your album reviewed? Contact me at cirdecsongs@gmail.com


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