The Suffering Subsides: On the Death of David Berman

The summer of 2019 has been filled with inner turmoil and a return to a depressive state that I haven’t felt in some time. I immediately retreated into a pattern of cleansing abstinence, a trick that I learned in my younger days when I was stronger and able to fool myself that the experience of depression somehow shaped a man, preparing him for more battles of the mind in the future.

But I’m older now. And with each passing year the folly of life becomes more apparent, along with the realization that I’m past the halfway mark. This is the downhill, the point where you begin to pick up steam, only to realize that the caliper brakes have become corroded over time. Life will end in an abrupt crash and not from a slow and steady reduction of speed that affords you the time to reflect on and repair those things you should have addressed before cresting the hill. In other words, I may have become too old and weak to keep fighting depression like this.

My summer of discontent began as a manifestation of personal doubt, professional tribulations and a natural self-loathing that comes from recognizing there’s very little on this planet that requires my involvement. Of course, America’s current political climate only added to the mix, providing an endless brickwall of sonic garbage for both ears, left ‘n right. The words “I want to die where the presidency died!” have become more than just a hipster reference about some drug-fueled indie-rock poet’s bad night, it became a clever suicide note that more people could consider leaving.

Around the same time, I began to think about David Berman. I’d like to believe that it was more than just a passing coincidence–after all, he’d been “retired” and out of the public eye for a decade and I’d heard no hint of his planned return. It was more about, “I wonder how he’s doing,” picturing him disheveled with too-big spectacles, lounging in a chair smoking and reading a book. I never met the man, but I projected enough to think that he resembled an old college roommate of mine, also a depressive sort. It’s amazing how we all seem to find each other with our sad fuck pheromones.

That’s part of it, I guess; the idea that if we all just channel the remaining light we have left that somehow we’ll have enough clarity to make it through the dark times. Then you learn that someone has fallen off and you realize the limitations of your mind’s own illumination.

Continue reading The Suffering Subsides: On the Death of David Berman

50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Issue 39

Rolling Stone issue #39 had a cover date of August 9, 1969. 40 pages. 35 cents. Cover photo of Brian Jones by Jim Marshall.

Features: “Brian Jones: Sympathy for the Devil”; “Brian Jones Obituary” by Greil Marcus; “The Wild: Things” by Eric Ehrmann; “Ronnie Hawkins” by Ritchie Yorke; “Doug Kershaw” by Patrick Thomas; “Fuzz Against Junk: The Saga of the Narcotics Brigade, Installment Seven” by Akbar Del Piombo.

News: “Kesey: Unzipping for the Summer Solstice” by Ken Kesey; “Rock Too Much For Newport”; “Liberation” by John Burks; “Brand-New Weapon: Japanese Sing-In” by Michael Berger; “Los Angeles Apple Polished Off”; “Berkeley Barb On Strike”; “Werber Innocent in Big Dope Bust”; “Crosby, Stills and Nash Add Young”; “A Tidal Wave in The Wild West” by Ben Fong-Torres; “Dylan & the Band’s Edwardsville Skyline”; “Toronto: Nothing But a Groove” by Ritchie Yorke; “Festivals”; “Cash Owes Govt. 82 Grand”; “Two More Join The Squad.” And Random Notes on Canned Heat. Lucky Whip, Atlanta pop festival, Steve Miller, The Wit and Humor of Richard Nixon, Ralph Nader, Jack Bruce, and Franco Zeffirelli.

Continue reading 50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Issue 39

New Highwomen video: Redesigning Women

Video: The Highwomen – “Redesigning Women”

The Highwomen: Redesigning Women [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

Directed by Elizabeth Olmstead. From The Highwomen, due September 6 on Low Country Sound/Elektra.

The Highwomen are Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, Maren Morris, and Amanda Shires. And they’re telling it like it is.

Full-time living on a half-time schedule
Always trying to make everybody feel special
Learning when to brake and when to hit the pedal
Working hard to look good ’til we die

Brandi Carlile told Apple Music, it’s “a song about women in 360 degrees. All of our attributes, all of our flaws. It’s a celebration of everything about us that makes us funny and powerful and who we are.”

The video features cameos from Tanya Tucker and Wynonna Judd and other badass country women.

It seems like it’s got to be getting harder for mainstream country radio programmers to continue to refuse to play songs by female artists as Kacey Musgraves sweeps the Grammys and women “steal the show” at the Newport Folk Festival (which, by the way, was curated by Highwoman Brandi Carlile).

Misogyny runs deep, but it’s exciting to see strong women taking it on and facing it down. Sock it to the man!

The Highwomen: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Highwomen video: Redesigning Women

New SWMRS video: Lose Lose Lose

Video: SWMRS – “Lose Lose Lose”


From Berkeley’s On Fire, out now on Fueled By Ramen.

Well it’s hard to argue with a sentiment like this:

2019 is a fucking disaster
Dear Vladimir Putin, stop fucking up my shit
‘Cause I know I can fuck it up faster

So it goes.

SWMRS: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New ShitKid video: Grown-ups are Kids!

Video: ShitKid – “Grown-ups are KiDS!”

ShitKid – Grown-ups are KiDS!

Video by Erik Pousette. From [DETENTION], out now on PNKSLM.

There are no guns or chickens in the latest video by our favorite Swedish troublemakers, but it’s still pretty good.

All of the grownups
Always think
Yeah think they know what’s best for me
Oh but they don’t

According to numerous posts on social media, SkitKid was kicked off their upcoming U.S. tour with the Melvins. Not a lot of details. Only explanation is “for being too bad ass” and that “we were also looking forward to it! But we will come over headlining next year for sure.”

Can’t wait.

ShitKid: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Andrew Bird video: Olympians

Video: Andrew Bird – “Olympians”

Andrew Bird – "Olympians" (Official Music Video)

Directed by Matthew Daniel Siskin. From My Finest Work Yet, out now on Loma Vista.

Andrew Bird is having way more fun in his new video than the lyrics of the song might suggest.

Why don’t you come to bed
Instead of stumbling into the light
Of medicine cabinets?
Shaking out pills left and right

Looks like it was “take your kid to work” day on the set. Good times.

Andrew Bird: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Issue 38

Rolling Stone issue #38 had a cover date of July 26, 1969. 40 pages. 35 cents. Cover photo of Jim Morrison.

Features: “The Rolling Stone Interview: Jim Morrison” by Jerry Hopkins; “Crashers, Cops, Producers Spoil Newport ’69” by Jerry Hopkins; “Bringing it all Back Home” by Peter Giraudo; “Fuzz Against Junk: The Saga of the Narcotics Brigade, Installment Six” by Akbar Del Piombo.

News: “Columbia to Stay Above Ground”; “Grateful Dead Ungrateful; Sued”; “Tibet In The West” by Charles Perry; “Now the Action’s At People’s Pad”; “A Move to Curb Cambridge Rock” by Dennis Metrano; “Artists Get a Bright Idea”; “Big Joe Williams: Soul on His Face” by Don Roth; “Our Astronaut”; “Denver Festival: Mace with Music” by Jim Fouratt; “Christ, They Know It Ain’t Easy” by Ben Fong-Torres; “Hendrix Charged: Smack, Hash”; “Festivals” (first mention of Woodstock: “Twelve hours of music each, on August 16th and 17th…in upstate Wallkill, New York”); “Free Music”. And Random Notes on Phil Spector, marijuana laws, Eric Jacobsen, Moby Grape, English militant socialists, Sammy Davis, Jr. (“who is the sort of black man who makes you think it must be some kind of optical illusion”). Jann’s casual racism is something else, isn’t it?

Continue reading 50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Issue 38

New Michael Hurtt video: I’m Gonna Be Gone

Video: Michael Hurtt & His Haunted Hearts – “I’m Gonna Be Gone”

'I'm Gonna Be Gone' MICHAEL HURTT & HIS HAUNTED HEARTS (Shakeup festival) BOPFLIX sessions

From an upcoming single on Swelltune Records. Filmed at the 2018 New England Shakeup festival.

On my first trip to New Orleans I got way too drunk and abused my host’s hospitality. She had one rule: no puking in her house.

We had been out all day with her New Orleans pals and at night we all went to see Tav Falco at a club called Muddy Waters. Her friends all dressed sharp in vintage suits. Me and my pals were sloppy drunks.

When I woke up in the morning on my friend’s floor I felt terrible. Like my skull was cracking open. I had no recollection of how we made it home. But Mike Hurrt was in the kitchen cooking skillet eggs for everybody. They smelled delicious and tasted wonderful but as soon as the food hit my gut I knew I was in trouble. I excused myself and barreled out the door and ran as far as I could down the street to find a safe place to barf. I knew I had to get out of earshot of my host or she’d be really mad. I emptied my stomach and walked around the block until my head was clear.

By the time I got back to the house everybody was done with breakfast and Hurtt was interviewing Tav Falco in a back room. I hadn’t realized that Falco spent the night too! But that’s the magic of New Orleans. At least it was back in the early 90s. I haven’t been back since Katrina…

Hurtt formed his Haunted Hearts in New Orleans (where they impressed Hunter S. Thompson one night), but he’s been based out of Hamtramck, Michigan, for a while now. I love their 2006 debut, Come Back To Louisiana, and enjoyed their 2013 Christmas single, but I just realized I completely missed the album they released in 2015, Struck With The Blues. Going to have to look for that.

Not only is Hurtt a fine singer and songwriter (and egg slinger!), but he is an absolute scholar of rock and roll. He’s been published in MOJO magazine, the Detroit Metro Times, and he wrote a ton of great stuff for Offbeat magazine.

This lineup of Haunted Hearts includes Mike’s brother Eric Hurtt on lead guitar, Rudy Varner on bass, Mitch Palmer on pedal steel, and Bobby Trimble on snare.

Michael Hurtt & His Haunted Hearts: fb, reverbnation, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Pip Blom video: Tired

Video: Pip Blom – “Tired”

Pip Blom 'Tired'

Video by The Industry. From Boat, out now on Heavenly Recordings.

Pip Blom’s previous single, “Daddy Issues,” is one of my favorite songs (and videos) of the year so far. This new one has a similar ramshackle charm.

Pip Blom: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Pip Blom video: Tired

New Prince video: Manic Monday

Video: Prince – “Manic Monday”

Prince – Manic Monday (Official Music Video)

From Originals, out now on NPG Records.

I don’t remember exactly when I discovered that Prince wrote the Bangles hit “Manic Monday,” but I’ve been hoping to hear his original demo ever since. It was certainly one of the first things I searched for after I downloaded Napster. But of course it never came up.

Until now.

And it’s pretty much everything I’ve been hoping for. Prince’s vocal delivery is laid back and chill. The Bangles kept their arrangement pretty close to the demo. Prince was on fire at this time. It’s crazy how productive Prince was at this time, recording and filming Purple Rain, touring, writing hits for Sheila E., the Time, Apollonia, Vanity 6, and…Kenny Rogers. Dude was on a roll.

Prince: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Prince video: Manic Monday

Rock and roll can change your life.

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