A Few Days in the Life (April 18, 2021)

April 18, 22:56

Home

I’ve started and stopped a couple of these since the beginning of the year. The reasons are various but pretty much irrelevant now. It doesn’t matter. Let’s just move on.

A rather pleasant musical day started with spending some quality online time talking to legendary drummer Dennis Chambers.

He’s an incredibly nice man. Our chat covered a variety of areas, planned and unplanned. They will help fulfill a couple of my future musical needs.

The middle of the day found me exploring my usual Sunday jazz, which included hearing a bassist named Henry Franklin for the very first time.

The album came out in 1972 and was rereleased this year (that’s not my copy in the photo). It’s quite good. Always nice to be introduced to something new. Even if it’s old.

The evening was dedicated to Ani DiFranco, whose music I’ve been neglecting for far too long. She streamed a concert from her New Orleans home, promoting her new album.

Watching Ani perform served as one more reminder of how much I miss concerts. I can’t believe it’s been more than a year since I’ve been to a gig. And while I certainly appreciate the efforts put forth by musicians to keep us entertained, they will never take the place of being there. And I’m quite sure the musicians miss not only the income live work brings, but the energy that comes from audiences in front of them. Listening to an energetic tune taper off into nothingness is just awful.

I got my first shot a couple of weeks ago. The second is a week from tomorrow. I’m hoping to see a live show by July, provided others do what they’re supposed to do. Of course, there’s no guarantee of that!

April 19, 21:58

Home

It’s Bernie Worrell’s birthday. He was born the same year (1944) as my mother and father. A month before my dad, actually. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think of that as I do book work on Bernie. I’m not completely sure what that means, but there it sits.

The day got off to a slightly crummy start when I overslept and missed my physical therapy appointment. I’ll do the exercises from here tomorrow. On the plus side, my new Pedaltrain came, allowing me to temporarily place my effects where I think I want them.

I’ll break out the Velcro and put everything in place later. My current drama revolves around power supplies for the larger pedals. When did this become such an ordeal? None of the wall warts I have fit properly, including one I ordered! It’s always something.

Today, I gained a little respect for Gene Simmons. Not that he’s ever on my mind for extended periods. I just happen to record his episode of Dan Rather’s The Big Interview. I don’t care for KISS’s music at all, but I do understand it. In an interview he did before this one (which was done six-plus years ago), Gene said KISS music was “the soundtrack for (their) stage show.” That makes perfect sense. And I could live with that.

In this interview, Gene pretty much owned everything people think of him, good and bad. He also came off as a savvy businessman man with a tireless work ethic. He didn’t feel entitled to anything. He wants to wade in and earn it. How can I not respect that? If anything, it’s motivating me to step up my game, even if I won’t be buying any KISS albums.

Watching Patton and the bonus features. Then I’ll call it a day.

April 22, 17:24

Home

Great weather outside, sciatica issues inside. So much for today’s bike ride.

This may be the single most frustrating injury I’ve ever had to deal with. It’s as though my body (specifically that bloody nerve) gives me a finite number of pain-free steps a day. Once they’re gone, down I go. Trouble is, I have NO idea how many steps I’ll get from one day to the next. There’s just no way to determine just how much I’ll be able to get done, as opposed to my body going into “pain reduction” mode, where next to nothing gets done. It’s always something.

A guilty verdict came down in Minneapolis. The world sighed collectively. There is still more to deal with. But for now, things could be a lot worse. I have nothing more to say on the matter for now. I will say this: my future “cop” book gets more interesting by the minute.

The pedalboards are all but assembled. I need a couple of patch cables, which should be here sometime tomorrow. Given my silliness level, it should be no surprise that I named each board. The Rabble-Rouser contains the pedals that boost, sweep, and distort the guitar’s signal.

The Time Shifter colors, modulates, delays, and loops.

It’s a big, dumb rig that will, in all probability, never see a concert stage. It will probably see a jam session or two. Will anything be recorded? I don’t know. It’s not a priority, though committing a few loops to hard drive for future overdubs might be an interesting, slow-building project.

My guitar parts have all arrived. EMG pickups, a Kahler tremolo unit, and Sperzel tuners will give my ’88 Strat a very similar sound to my old ’96 (aka Sunshine Belew), a guitar I will forever regret letting go.

But, as I have been reminded, I can’t live in or dwell upon the past. What’s done is done, and there’s nothing I can do about it. Live and learn. Is that enough clichés for one paragraph?

April 25, 19:48

The Sonic Sanctuary

The Muse has a sense of humor.

The idea for my third book revealed itself to me a couple of weeks ago with no real thoughts to back it up. Still, I knew it was an idea I would eventually visit, because the topic is too good to ignore.

My back has been flaring up for the past couple of days. I decided to spend the day in either the big chair in the living room (where I have been gorging myself on John McLaughlin all day), or in my office where I could hang soundproofing while sitting down.

As long as I was going to be seated, I decided to grab a legal pad and write down the names of people I want to interview for that third project. In a few cases, time is of the essence. That’s when the Muse chimed in. I knew what the first chapter was going to be about. Wonderful! I’ll just scribble out some notes that will serve as the roadmap to where I want to go. No, the Muse said. I’m giving you that first chapter. Right now.

A life spent writing on computer has resulted in atrocious cursive. Nevertheless, there I was in the midst of a stream of consciousness that wouldn’t stop flowing. before I knew it, the first chapter (which serves basically as a set-up for the main narrative) was out of my pencil and on paper. I thanked the Muse for an amazing and most unexpected gift. Not so fast, she said. We’re not done yet.

I had given no thought to this project’s introduction. Now the entire thing was flowing out of my head, down my arm, into my hand, into the pencil, and on to paper. Twelve completely unplanned longhand pages now sat under my right hand. But the Muse still wasn’t completely done.

I make it a standing policy to never pursue a writing project unless I can come up with at least 10-15 potential chapter ideas. I came up with 24. And since I now knew what Chapter Two was going to be, the basic thesis descended upon me, enabling me to write out two more pages. At last, I was able to stop, because any further statement would require research.

Fourteen pages and a chapter list. Unplanned, unprovoked, out of nowhere. I’ll take it!

And I still need to write out the interviews list.

20:25

The soundproofing is hanging, the corkboard is up, my desk is cleared. Only the couch remains cluttered, but that will be fixed when I leave the room. This is bordering on being a productive day. It needs to be, as I get my second dose of the vaccine tomorrow.

I’m hoping the side effects are minimal, though I have basically cleared tomorrow and Tuesday to deal with them. It’s supposed to hit 80 degrees Tuesday. I’d really like to experience a quick bike ride on the Lake Trails.

The pedalboards came together nicely, particularly after I reversed the planned sequence. Now it is possible to do more with Whammys and loops.

Additionally, all the upgrade parts have come in for my main Strat. Once I’ve dealt with vaccine fallout, I’ll make my way to a recommended guitar shop to hand him over for the overhaul.

I just remembered … emails need to go out.

22:24

Not only did the emails go out, but the mailbox was actually emptied. Along with everything else, this may be one of the most productive days I’ve had in weeks!

One more task remains.

April 26, 00:54

Home

Finished! And only 20 minutes behind schedule. This was a remarkably productive day. An interview has been released, notes for two reviews have been jotted down, and the book I’m not working on has a potential interview list of 67 names and counting.

Enough already. I’m going to bed.

April 26, 10:16

Walmart

Happy Birthday, Barb.

I’m now fully vaccinated! Sitting for a bit in case of a possible reaction, but I don’t think it will be an issue. What happens later today remains to be seen.

10:35

Waiting for my ride.

It has taken me nearly a year to let go of who I was and fully embrace who I am. The lack of true structure has been evidence of that. You’d think no one would get stuck on what time to get out of bed every day, but here we are.

So what time does the semi-retired writer get out of bed to start his day and remain consistent with it? A couple of days ago, the answer finally revealed itself.

07:30.

It’s not stupid early, like getting up at 05:00 to ready for a tour. I am not a morning person. But 07:30 allows me to work out, clean up, eat, dress, and start my workday by 10:00. From there I can work until 18:00. Then I have a free evening for my guitar or whatever.

That feels like having a life.

There will be “off” days, to be sure. It’s about building a new discipline. And as Robert Fripp would remind me: “Discipline is not an end unto itself, but rather means to an end.”

Appropriate words, particular now.

12:16

Home

Fluids obtained. Waiting for lunch. I’m done for the day. Hoping it’s much ado about nothing. Time will tell.

April 27, 19:12

The Reverberation Station

Happy Birthday, Cam.

It would seem my official side effect from the second Pfizer shot is fatigue. I woke up this morning with enough energy to move to the living room, turn on the TV, lie down on the couch, and go back to sleep.

My internal engines have spun up enough to eat and do some minor housekeeping. Even without the fatigue, today has been difficult because of the sciatica. That nerve was howling at me today. I’m on the phone with the doc first thing tomorrow.

This also prevented today’s planned bike ride, which bummed me out. I know it’s early spring, but I really want to get moving. And since I’ve had both my shots, the CDC says I don’t have to wear a mask outside of I’m on my own or with a small group. Progress.

Readying to enjoy a virtual “happy hour” with some Chicago musician friends. It was really nice of them to invite me in.

April 28, 15:28

The Reverberation Station

Downtown has vanished again. Rain is coming.

Last happy hour was enjoyable and much needed. Any contact with adults that doesn’t involve my ailing back or other form of business is welcome.

Just three books remain from the last box.

It’s a nice feeling to know I’ll need to order more soon. It’ll never be a New York Times best-seller, but it’s nice to know my story is being read.

It’s Peter Frampton time. His new album is proving interesting.

I’ll have to write about this later.

Still a little tired post-vaccine. The kick in the pants I get from my B-12 tablet hasn’t kicked in, which is odd. I’ll just have to muddle through.

To work.

21:40

The Reverberation Station

I didn’t quite make it into my office, but I’ve been busy nonetheless. A couple of reviews, the next part of a series, a perfect album piece … it’s been a pretty full workday.

The Muse has been good to me lately, and I am grateful. This is why I’m writing any- and everything that pops into my head. Within the next day or two, it’ll be time to dive deep into prior interviews and set up a couple of others on Bernie’s behalf. In the meantime, I continue to stockpile material and keep the Facebook group happy.

There finally seems to be a lull in the action. Time to slow down and hope for a Cardinals rally.

April 29, 13:46

The Reverberation Station

Off to a late start, trying to gain ground. It’s not going badly. Another batch of reviews ready to go out. That’s a start.

I’ve made myself laugh upon realizing that even during fits of “air” guitar, I have checked to make sure my picking hand is correctly positioned. Oh, Anthony … what have you done?

I can see why plucking an open string for hours on end is beneficial. The movement is still foreign to me. It truly is another language, and it takes practice to become fluent. But that is for later.

My complicated relationship with the latest incarnation of King Crimson continues, as I have pulled this off the shelf for “familiar” listening.

Regardless of my personal feelings, there can be no denying this bands spectacular musicianship.

April 30, 01:07

The Reverberation Station

I should be in bed. I’m headed that way. The tail end of a fairly productive day, even if I spent most of it in my chair.

Writing, researching, engaging the Facebook group, researching guitar technique … this is a pretty good glimpse at my new world.

I also had a nice chat with Rob Fetters about string picking technique. He offered up some solid advice. I had texted him, figuring he’d get back in a day or two. Ten minutes later, my phone rang.

I love my new world.

Made contact with someone from my past in an effort to put a lid on the past, enabling me to move on. We said what needed to be said. I can move on.

Been awash in Adrian Belew and King Crimson all day. There are worse places to be. Tomorrow will no doubt provide a serious shift. I’m already seeing where I’m headed.

My Facebook group is proving to be an interesting bunch. But I’ll get into that later. It’s time for bed.

April 30, 21:04

Home

A busy day of active listening, reading, and becoming reacquainted with my guitar. Metaphorical doors are opening. Things are starting to make sense.

May 3, 21:22

Home

Off to a late start today. No real reason. Just couldn’t get the engines fired up until later in the afternoon.

Doing mostly “Bernie Work” by listening to albums and breaking down the keyboard parts. This is new for me, since I listen from a more guitar-centric viewpoint more often than not.

Some labels send press releases along with the music they want me to review. Sometimes I read them, sometimes I don’t. It depends on what information I might need. I wrote a review yesterday, and just read the press release today. The funny thing is, the release is eerily similar to what I wrote without seeing it! Not completely sure what that means. Great minds, I guess.

#cirdecsongs

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. I’m currently working on my next book, The Wizard of WOO: The Life and Music of Bernie Worrell

If you would like to have your record reviewed, email me at cirdecsongs@gmail.com

1 Comment

  1. Nice to see you enjoying your new life, after a period of adjustment. Its not as easy as folk predict is it?

    I retired a few weeks back, but have struggled to get a routine going because of a close family bereavement right on the cusp of my retirement, and the inevitable follow up of affairs to sorted.

    But at least I’m still up and out running at that 7.30 spot.

    My blog has taken a back seat, partly because I don’t buy much new music now – I have a lifetime’s worth already, and I wanted to step away from the kind of pressure you refer to. I get the impression you’re just hitting your stride, but I’m kinda “been there, done that” after so many years, and it’s nice just to sink into the music without the distraction of writing about it.

    It also affords me the freedom to enjoy listening to any single artist for as long as I want, which is far more exciting after years of chasing the latest releases and the resulting scrum of everyone writing about the same albums at the same time, and over saturating reader interest.

    Besides, I really do need to get a (new) life and get out there and re-engage with the human race.

    Liked by 1 person

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