Cool Cousins Bring You YesSongs

The winds raises the dandelion seeds, a perfect marriage of force and natural aerodynamics. And brings you a yard full of weeds. The rain brings you mud and deepening soil and you check the radio which brings you the weather. And you bring your boots out today.

And cool older cousins bring you YesSongs and let your adolescent self play among the covers, the Roger Dean Universe, let you wonder at the 8 foot by 6 foot poster that could only fit on the ceiling of a suburban cool cousin bedroom. They let you borrow this record while they go about with their cool friends, tasting all the fruit the decade of the 70’s had to offer. Things I came to recognize as that decade was reconstituted and re-imagnined into ‘Dazed and Confused’ and ‘That 70’s Show’. And Stoner Rock.

Cool Cousins who took the time to treat you nicely, like family, and share with you. Whose natural excitement and nature would have them talk to you like an adult though you were far from one? And you appreciated it.

Cool cousins who drop the needle on side one and introduce you to your first real taste of classical music ‘Firebird Suite’ as it evolves / dissolves into ‘Siberian Khatru,’ a multilayered bit of beauty that leads into what first really nailed me about Yes. It wasn’t the musicians expertise and resume. It wasn’t the lyrics which (and I know every one) but are at best vague.

It was…and is…that incredible ability to create melodies via counter point vocals. The harmonies, the arrangements, still confound me. And thrill me, drive me.And make me try harder.

This moment:

Even Siberia goes through the motions
Hold out and hold up
Hold down the window
(Outbound, river)
Hold out the mornin’ that comes into view
(Blue tail, tail fly)
River runnin’ right on over my head

Vocals completely counter to each other start a conversation, a word art piece. Though the words themselves becomes sounds, notes. Playing between counter points and true strong harmony, sometimes within a single line. As I have grown old, I recognize others used these games methods, first that comes to mind is Simon and Garfunkel. I don’t believe anyone arranged their vocal harmonies as carefully as Yes did, and it’s something that I think went over looked in the list of reasons why Yes was genuinely an important band.

And this style, these vocals ….. This whole Universe…… started with Chris. Find some old bit of YesStory or YesShows on YouTube and watch that motherfucker work.

And the carefree friends of Cool Cousins come to bad ends. And Cool Cousins did too.

And Yes takes on a greater personal significance. It’s no longer a band on a label, during a time you were barely alive for. It becomes the stuff of personal folklore. There’s lessons within each side, memories trapped within each song,

So I mourn this day. I don’t mourn Chris Squire, though he was a true hero of mine.

I mourn my cool cousin David Santone. RIP.

Yes-Yessongs-Interior_Frontal

Cool Cousins Bring You YesSongs

High Five My Ghost, Ya’all! (Clap!)

OK, Here I am. But I’m not really here. I hear a mystery ‘click clack’ of keyboards, so I know I exist somewhere. But I’m not here.

This is my state lately. I’m a ghost in this world. I keep my obligations. I show up for appointed work schedules. This week I’ve even performed before a lovely crowd of New Haven eccentrics and held my eccentric own. All of those folks saw me live in technicolor.

But I wasn’t really there. I’m always elsewhere these days. Even as I type this, my real desire is to go find a cheap, build able sound baffle.

I’m making a record. It will be out come spring…
OK, not spring…a hot summer release….
OK, maybe not.
Fall. Definitely fall.

Writing songs, capturing moments of angst or joy, in a slow hymnal or quick yip jump fashion is my calling. And good fortune gave me a voice to sell them with and a rudimentary understanding of guitar that allows the songs to get writ.

What I wasn’t provided with was the technical way of thinking that engineers use to wring out the full potential of simple songs into hushed or clattery moments of beauty. A sense of appropriate miking techniques. A subsonic sense of hearing squeaks and bumps as they happen so they don’t haunt come the mastering. I’ve decided at this point to not only learn all this stuff, but create what I believe will be a proper representation of myself in sound, lyric and style. And one I will die defending.

If its listenable. At all.

So as you see me, shake my hand, write me and get written back, know that beneath every word is a distraction. As I provide valuable customer service at my job, I’m really trying to remember the myths associated with ‘Pet Sounds’ and doing the math to see if there is anything in them I can use.

As I drive to said job, I now travel with a coffin sized bag of Cd’s basically encompassing the history of 20th century recorded music trying to note the subtleties / similarities tween Howling Wolf and The Hold Steady.

If you see me shopping and stop me, I will appear completely corporal and present, but I’m really trying to figure out what the fuck lo-fi really means? Is it a reduction of instruments used…or using the standard set up and recording it poorly? Cause one is called ‘folk’ and the other is called ‘garbage’.

Which raises the important question: what is a quality recording?

I grew up listening to the classic 70’s records, as I was force fed classic rock via the radio. This was, in my opinion, the beginning of the Big Record Fetish. Huge monster drums and rumbly bass, cutting guitar and multitudes, many, choirs of virtual angels mixed in with church bells and congas and Moogs by the mouthful.

And this casts my memory back to the days when something called ‘Behind The Music’ was on (kids, ask yer parents) and how castles and haunted mansions, scores of weirdo hanger on’s grabbed a shaker and contributed, and how the record company paid for it all.

Till the bottom fell out mainly based on some crazy culture’s feeling that music should be free. And they freed it.

Not my point….my point is what is a good recording? The BIG records….the Zeppelin’s and Electric Ladyland’s…..the wispy drug fueled progressive records…. are not what I listen too now. And I haven’t for a long while.

What I listen to is best described as stark and minimalist. My Holy Grail, The Mountain Goats. My conscience, Vic Chesnutt. Old Leonard Cohen records. Muddy Waters on Chess. Sparklehorse

What matters to me is purity, subtlety, and this is where I’m drawn. I have no issues with the quality of the recording, the click clank of tape recorders, the shouted out ‘1,2,3,4’, the misplayed chord on a single tracked guitar. It thrills me, to fall in so deep to music, and it doesn’t matter if anyone else understands it.

So then….why do I feel the need to make a BIG record which is clearly beyond my ability and interest?

Whose approval am I subconsciously seeking? Griel Marcus? Yours?

Music is practically free. But now, so is the musician. We need not fit the suit that will make us a Superstar (Johnny Bravo style). Odds were always long and have now gone astronomical. We are free to be what we wanna be, Marlo.

I sound convincing, don’t I? Yeah.

Meanwhile …. there is beauty in creating. Even alone, confused at what to do with my Send’s and BUS’s. Hopelessly lost in my effects. I add a guide vocal for cello recording Sunday (shout out to Julie Kay! Hi Julie, see you tomorrow!) and get lost in a moment, the guitar in my headphones, I sing a sad song and connect with the lyrics I barely remember writing. It all came back to me in a flash and I remembered every injury, every wound that made this record important to me.

Make the record you want to make. Don’t over complicate it. Keep it pure and simple.

And send half your tracks to a legitimate scientist to record.

And if you see me this summer (which you likely won’t. I’m making a record), forgive my distraction, my 1000 yard stare. Pretend I’m there.

But I’m not. See you come fall.free2be

High Five My Ghost, Ya’all! (Clap!)

All Kids Under The Age Of 12 Are On Drugs.

I’ve finally come up with my thesis for my imaginary college degree. Being considered a self genius does not go far enough. I needed to be heralded as a genius by non existent institutions and hit the lecture circuit, filled with tasty bon mot’s and something that sounds smart…but upon investigation is just literate.

And it all starts here…with the break though….right here…..it’s coming…..:

All Kids Under The Age Of 12 Are On Drugs.

Now, I hear gasps from within the also imaginary lecture hall. Harrumphing at a distasteful level. I whip off my lab coat to reveal my accurate to the stitch Dr. Frankfurter costume. And I strut. The room turns hostile. Someone lights a torch…

I don’t say this simply to shock. That’s only about 80% of the reason. I’ve done study. I’ve been a child under 10. And I’ve been on drugs. Things looked very similar.

Consider the dress. You ever see kids playing together in a mud pit? Now have you ever been to the Gathering Of The Vibes?

Consider the distracted nature of kids / drug doers. Want some attention? Shake some keys. Get a laser pointer. Watchem go! (note: which will be covered in the next semester ‘Cats and Kids Under Age 12 Are On Drugs’.)

Consider the moodiness. Having a party? Invite some children / drug doers. They will make you laugh and dance and deal with the small snatches of exhaustion that comes with dealing with people with problems (as to be considered in the end of my thesis trilogy ‘All Kids Are People With Problems’). But in the end, clown or not, someone is gonna lose their shit. And tears will flow.

Consider the diet. There is a number of foods that exist solely for children and stoners. I might suggest the whole of the sugary cereal industry rests on these brave and twitchy shoulders. And every year food gets more ridulous (and also awesome) with munchies being cross pollinated and mutated into new forms of ‘food’. And thats cause there is a market for it. And who makes up that market?

Consider commercials. Have you noticed that the role of the male in modern commercials is akin to the role of the tween in years past? ‘Jeff just won’t leave his new toy alone’ can equate to Lego’s and cellphones simultaneous. Why you ask? Drugs. (OK, I made that up. But it does irritate me.)

(Quirky Fact: This blog started out being about the band Yes)

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All Kids Under The Age Of 12 Are On Drugs.