The True Story of The Stooges at Goose Lake Tapes

Today marks the release of The Stooges Live at Goose Lake 1970, a release so unlikely it kinda boggles the mind. Not only are there very few live recordings of The Stooges, but this particular recording of this particular performance is so drenched in legend that to even suggest there was a clean documentation of it sounds like a tall tale. 

I’ve been very lucky to be friends with and play in a bunch of bands with Joshua Rogers. We met in the early 90s and quickly established a musical kinship that took us through dalliances with glam, mod, garage rock, Americana and beyond. Early on we dubbed him “Gadget,” not just for his love of technology but for his impeccable timing as a drummer. It’s almost as if he were designed to be a drummer–programmed, as such.

If you knew Joshua well in those days you also knew his dad in some way. Jim Cassily loved Josh’s musical projects and loved facilitating them however he could. In addition to being a king storyteller, Jim was an inventor with a specific interest in how rhythm has residual benefits relating to motor skills, balance and lots of other stuff I don’t understand. The Interactive Metronome became a key piece of his technological legacy, something Joshua knew well as his dad would have him clap along with a metronome as part of his learning the drums.

And the stories he would tell…Our early bands spent time recording with Josh’s dad and that meant hours of exposure to the various tales he would weave throughout the process of setting up for a recording session. I was a natural skeptic in my youth and basically considered “adults” to be full of shit. Especially Boomers who took any opportunity to tell us how much better everything was in their day, so I was probably more dismissive to his storytelling than I had any right to be.

“Dad was such a legendary bullshitter that it was hard to sort of keep the stories straight,” Josh joked in a recent call where we caught up on this crazy adventure. 

As a kid it was sometimes hard for Josh to discern fact from his dad’s colorful fiction. “Friends laughed at me because I told them he was a member of the Oak Ridge Boys.” This bit of fantasy was likely the result of Josh’s conflating some joke Jim may have told him about having sung with the Oak Ridge Boys and the fact that he could sing in the same register to hit the most famous part of their most famous hit, “Elvira.” When you’re a kid sometimes you miss the nuances of a joke. 

There were also brushes with fame that would sometimes get jumbled up in the telling or retelling. “I thought he had dated Janis Joplin, but mom says no. He–like everyone else–thought she was scuzzy. He did work with her though, but I’m not sure to what capacity. And he did date Debbie Harry.”

Wait, what? 

“Mom jokes that he chose her over Debbie Harry. That’s what he would tell her.”

“Eventually, I started to take dad’s stories with a big hunk of salt.”

The original Goose Lake recordings, stored in a vodka box.

The Stooges’ performance at Goose Lake was pure rock and roll myth. It was the last show with the original line-up. Bassist Dave Alexander was summarily fired from the band by Iggy immediately after leaving the stage because he was so stoned or scared or whatever that he couldn’t play. At least, that’s how the story went.

But at what point does a story become history? Sometimes it’s just when it’s been told enough times by enough people and sometimes it’s when there’s some corroborating evidence. Such is the tale of how a box of tapes in a farmhouse basement in Michigan made its way to Nashville, via Chicago.

Continue reading The True Story of The Stooges at Goose Lake Tapes

When to Stop Trying Unsuccessfully to Sell a Song

A little over ten years ago we came across “Dispatches From a Guy Trying Unsuccessfully to Sell a Song In Nashville,” a new column for McSweeney’s by a guy in Indiana named Charlie Hopper, and it immediately made me question my implicit animosity toward modern mainstream country music. Or at least it made me think about the validity of some of those ideas about authenticity. And ever since then, over a total of 53 dispatches, Hopper has continued to explore the mechanics not just of the Nashville machine but also of art, dreams, responsibility, and ultimately coming to grips with the idea that life doesn’t typically work out as cleanly as a three-minute song.

Remember how excited we all got about Gary Benchley, Rock Star? Instead of our hero achieving indie rock glory within a year, imagine if Paul Ford had decided to stretch that story out over ten years with Benchley’s band never getting signed to Original Syn Records. It would’ve made a way more realistic story, and it wouldn’t have had to implode into cliches at the end. But Benchley was fiction.

Art has to tell a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Life, on the other hand, tends to be a whole lot of middle.

Yesterday, McSweeney’s published Hopper’s final dispatch. It doesn’t really tie everything up neatly, but it’s a good ending. Maybe not the happy ending we’ve all been rooting for, but it’s good.

Maybe I’m going up. Maybe I’m making headway. Connections. Friends. An impression. Progress. Maybe I’m learning something. Or maybe this is a little time alone in which I will suddenly hit on an idea that nobody has said exactly that way before. Like a greeting card writer providing normal people the words they feel but can’t find, as Barbara Cloyd the songwriting coach tells us at her seminars.

Maybe I’m going down. Maybe I’m wasting time. Maybe I’m embarrassing myself and, later, when they realize how I misspent some of the valuable hours of their childhood, I’ll have been embarrassing my kids. I’m probably also squandering money and draining the possibly limited pool of tolerance my wife seems to have dammed up for me — money and tolerance that I will want later when it’s gone.

I’m going to miss Hopper’s column. I’m a middle-aged dad with a dayjob and an anachronistic interest in rock and roll that I mostly hide from my co-workers and from the other parents at my kid’s school. It feels ridiculous a lot of times to care about all these stupid bands as much as I do. But I do. And Charlie Hopper articulated the balancing act that folks like us struggle with as we attempt to act like reasonable adults.

Catch up on all of the Dispatches From a Guy Trying Unsuccessfully to Sell a Song In Nashville, and then follow Charlie Hopper on instagram where shares photos from around his neighborhood and writes about the records he’s listening to.

New Phoebe Bridgers: I Know the End

Video: Phoebe Bridgers – “I Know the End”

Phoebe Bridgers - I Know the End (Official Video)

Directed by Alissa Torvinen. From Punisher, out now on Dead Oceans.

Well at least now we know how Phoebe Bridgers keeps wearing those skeleton jammies without them disintegrating off of her body: She’s got a whole locker room full of them!

But that’s the only optimistic part of this whole video, which perfectly conveys the existential dread of life in during a pandemic. Keep washing your hands, but they’ll never get clean. You’re constantly haunted by ghosts of your past self and your dying future. And it all culminates in a completely socially distanced concert at an empty Los Angeles Coliseum.

The billboard said The End Is Near
I turned around there was nothing there
Yeah, I guess the end is here.

The final message seems to be: Kiss old age goodbye. Embrace death. We’re all doomed.

Phoebe Bridgers: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Surveys and Selflessness

If there is one thing that is well known it is that Americans like to eat. They may not always eat the best of foods (predicated on the proliferation fast-food restaurants), but be that as it may, they go out to do it. Yes, there is an explosion in delivery service demand, but there is the reopening—and reclosing—of restaurants across the country.

The researchers at Morning Consult asked a statistically valid group of Americans about when they’d feel comfortable doing certain things.

And when it comes to “Going out to eat,” the number of Americans is robust.

That is, 30% of those answered “Next month.” And the information is as fresh as July 20-22.

In addition to which, 18% said next two or three months, 9% next six months, and just 28% said more than six months. Only 14% didn’t have an opinion.

But when it comes to concerts, things are not as robust. A full 46% said it would be more than six months. Eleven percent said within the next six months. Twenty-four percent had no opinion. The remainder is split between next and the next two to three months. Doing the math, that says 55% are looking at early next year and if we add the uncertain 24%, that means that there is only 21% who are saying they’ll go soon.

So this means about a fifth of those surveyed are ready to go. That should be contrasted with the 38% of the hungry who are going to be served within the next three months.

(In case you’re wondering, going to the movies is slightly less challenged, with 52% saying six or more months before buying a seat and a bucket of popcorn.)

Perhaps what some music promoters ought to do is to bring back dinner theater.

Admittedly a cringeworthy idea, but they’re going to need more than 21% to make their nut. So maybe they need to forget the whole concerts at drive-ins and setup concerts at restaurants.

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In both economics and philosophy there is an interest in the notion of altruism, doing something selflessly for someone else.

As it is described in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: “Behavior is normally described as altruistic when it is motivated by a desire to benefit someone other than oneself for that person’s sake. The term is used as the contrary of ‘self-interested’ or ‘selfish’ or ‘egoistic’—words applied to behavior that is motivated solely by the desire to benefit oneself.”

It goes on to say that there is a question of whether that is ever really the case that one behaves in such a manner: “According to a doctrine called ‘psychological egoism’, all human action is ultimately motivated by self-interest. The psychological egoist can agree with the idea, endorsed by common sense, that we often seek to benefit others besides ourselves; but he says that when we do so, that is because we regard helping others as a mere means to our own good.”

In other words, if you have $5 in your pocket and are on the way to Starbucks to buy a beverage but then see someone who is evidently needy and panhandling, by giving that person your $5 are you being selfless and altruistic—forgoing that delicious drink—or is the act of giving that person the money even more satisfying to you than the beverage, therefore providing a benefit to yourself?

Which brings me to Garth Brooks.

Continue reading Surveys and Selflessness

New Beths: Jump Rope Gazers

Video: The Beths – “Jump Rope Gazers”

The Beths - "Jump Rope Gazers" (official music video)

Directed by Annabel Kean. From Jump Rope Gazers, out now via Carpark.

Not as immediately catchy as the singles from 2018’a Future Me Hates Me, the latest from the New Zealand’s finest takes a while to sink in. The hooks are more subtle, but they’re in there.

I’ve never been the dramatic type
But if I don’t see your face tonight
I… well I guess I’ll be fine

I’m still regretting not going to see the Beths when they played a tiny venue in my town last year. Can’t remember what my lame excuse was for not going, but I can guarantee it was stupid. It sure would be fun to see a show at a club, wouldn’t it?

Don’t you wish you lived in New Zealand right now, where they have effectively beat this fucking coronavirus? I do. Apparently, I’m not alone: 80,000 Americans expressed interest in relocating in May. I guess “I’m moving to New Zealand” is the new “I’m moving to Canada.”

At least maybe then we would get to hang out with the Beths.

The Beths: bandcamp, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Daystar video: People Get Lonely

Video: Daystar – “People Get Lonely”

Daystar - People Get Lonely

From The Complete Recordings, out now.

Check out the latest video from GLONO co-founder Derek Phillips’ band Daystar! This time around he and his Portland bandmates reveal what they’ve been up to for the last six months.

Spoiler alert: Not much!

“People Get Lonely” is a power pop highlight of The Complete Recordings, looking back on the ideals we had when we were young.

We laughed and swore to fight, and never said goodnight
But you know… People get lonely

Does the rhythm guitar remind you of the Velvet Underground? Or is it more of an Apple Rooftop concert vibe? Either way, it’s a trip, it’s got a funky beat, and you can bug out to it.

Daystar: web, fb, bandcamp.

An Odd Couple Create a Lifeline for Venues

“Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast,
To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.”

“The Mourning Bride”, William Congreve, 1697

It may be hard to conceive, but there was actually legislation presented in the US Senate this week to help keep the spotlights on and the amps operating at small music venues.

Why is what is literally named the “Save Our Stages” act so surprising is because it is sponsored by two people who seemingly have nothing more in common than the fact that they work in the same building.

One of the sponsors is Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), the woman who had been running for the Democratic presidential nomination with the message that a bit of common sense and decency (contrasted with the ways and means of the current resident of 1600) are in order.

The other is John Cornyn (R-TX), the man who is generally seen only standing behind Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, positioned in such a way that you have the sense that he would take a bullet for Mitch, the senator who has proven to be as craven as is conceivable.

The word from Klobuchar is “Minnesota’s concert halls, theatres, and places of entertainment, like First Avenue in Minneapolis, where Prince famously performed, have inspired generations with the best of local music, art, and education. This legislation would help ensure that small entertainment venues can continue to operate, and serve our communities for generations to come.”

Which has a sense of Midwestern practicality and forthrightness about it: she evidently understands that the arts are not superfluous to the education of people of all ages.

Cornyn said, “Texas is home to a number of historic and world-class small entertainment venues, many of which remain shuttered after being the first businesses to close. The culture around Texas dance halls and live music has shaped generations, and this legislation would give them the resources to reopen their doors and continue educating and inspiring Texans beyond the coronavirus pandemic.”

Given that the reopening of Texas—based on the explosion in the number of cases of COVID-19—occurred a bit too soon thanks to Governor Greg Abbott’s evident fealty to the King Who Is Wearing No Clothes, one hopes that this means that the reopening Cornyn is referring to is something that will happen only after there is control of the virus.

Cornyn strikes me as the kind of politician that only Hunter S. Thompson could have adequately described.

What is interesting (and laudable) about the act is that it would provide six months of financial support to venues (including paying employees; it would allow the Small Business Administration to make grants that are equal to the lesser of either 45% of operation costs from calendar year 2019—you need to base the amount on a normal year—or $12 million) that are not arms of giant organizations.

Continue reading An Odd Couple Create a Lifeline for Venues

The Lights (ultra-violet) of Seattle

When you think of Seattle, there is undoubtedly an entire genre of music that comes to mind, one spawned from the misty environs and which continues to resonate even throughout culture at large in a way that few other types of music do, and it is all the more unusual in that it is known by people who have never heard a dour note of the sound.

Seattle, of course, is the place from whence Starbucks arose, and when people go into their local store (and given that in 2019 there were approximately 15,000 Starbucks outlets in the US, local is absolutely nearby) and order the “regular” coffee, Pike Place, that goes to the Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle, which was a hip farmers’ market before things like that existed.

And Seattle is the home of Microsoft, which has somehow become far less evil than it was once perceived to be (and Bill Gates has gone from a guy who had horns drawn on his picture to one of the few sensible non-political public figures on the planet, which is validated by the fact that there are those of the mouth-breathing set who have conspiratorial views of the man), as well as Boeing—although the company moved its HQ to Chicago, and given everything from the 737 debacle to the fact that British Air has announced that it is going to permanently park its fleet of 747s—and it is the airline with the greatest number of those flying behemoths—it is perhaps not the industrial crown jewel of Seattle as it once was.

Last but certainly not least, there is Amazon, too.

Given the diversity of these things—from Cobain to Bezos (and let’s not forget Tom Robbins became a Seattlite)—there must be something in the. . .coffee.

In 1962, for the World’s Fair being held in Seattle (named the “Century 21 Exposition,” which probably has nothing to do with the real estate firm of that name), the 605-foot Space Needle was opened. (At this point you’re thinking that there isn’t a whole lot of music in this, so know that during the first year the Space Needle was opened, Elvis took the elevator up to the saucer-shaped structure where people can see the planet below, and 31 years later Nirvana did, too. And another musical aspect is that if you take the monorail—yes, part of the Century 21 execution—and get off at the stop for the Space Needle, you’re just as proximate in space to the Frank Gehry-designed Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, which was founded by the aforementioned Gates’ Microsoft co-founder, the late Paul Allen in 2000; it is now known as the Museum of Pop Culture, and among the pop cultural artifacts are those of Jimi Hendrix, another son of Seattle.)

Of course, COVID-19 shut the Space Needle down. A recent story in GeekWire—another Seattle-based endeavor—details the measures that are being taken by Needle to make it safe to reopen, measures that include visitors—and know that pre-C-19 there were thousands per day some days—passing through Far-UV-C devices that kill the virus (no mere thermal scanning here). What’s more, there is an extensive use of UV lights throughout the structure, including in the elevator cars, which travel outside and which bring in outside air that is treated before it is expelled: there are Far-UV-lights on the ceiling of each of the elevator cars. And there will be elevator operators in each of the cars pushing the buttons, just like in the early days of the elevator.

Continue reading The Lights (ultra-violet) of Seattle

New Young Antiques: Goin’ Home ft. Kelly Hogan

Video: Young Antiques: “Goin’ Home” (ft. Kelly Hogan)

YOUNG ANTIQUES (FT. KELLY HOGAN) - GOIN' HOME (OFFICIAL VIDEO)

From Another Risk Of The Heart, out now on Southern Lovers Recording Co.

I’ll listen to anything featuring Kelly Hogan’s harmonies. She’s the special sauce secret ingredient in some of my favorite recordings by Neko Case, the Decemberists, Mavis Staples, and tons more. Her solo stuff is great too. Plus, she tended bar at the Hideout for most of the time I lived in Chicago.

Back in 2001 she told Jim Derogatis that she’d record with just about anybody who asks (“I’m pretty slutty that way, pretty easy, but I always enjoy a challenge.”), but she’s been more selective lately. The drummer for Young Antiques used to be in Hogan’s old band the Jody Grind.

“Goin’ Home” is a wistful ballad that ponders the eternal question of whether or not it’s possible to go back home again.

Tell me we made it through
Tell me all of us and me and you
I guess I feel older
I look right on time

Hogan tweeted, “Proud to be part of the song/video ‘Goin’ Home’ from the new album by Atlanta’s Young Antiques – all done remotely, pre-quarantine. I had to learn how to film myself (w/my laptop sitting on my washing machine, nekkid lightbulbs shining in my face, lyrics taped to the walls.)”

Antiques singer-guitarist Blake Rainey says, “We’re all broadcasting in from different places. And now the whole thing suddenly feels very of-the-moment, like we tapped into this new reality in advance. And in the wake of the pandemic, who knows what’s going to happen? It makes getting back together with the Young Antiques even more special. If we hadn’t done it when we did, who knows if it ever would have happened again?”

So maybe you can go home again.

Young Antiques: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Workin’ for a Livin’

I remember seeing a photograph of The Beatles nearly buried in a massive snowdrift of fan mail.

Or maybe it was The Monkees.

Either way, there were certainly a lot of cards and letters sent their way by adoring fans and probably by a number of people who they would have probably preferred liked the Stones. (Assuming we’re talking The Beatles here. Otherwise I’m not sure who the appropriate foil would be. The Archies?)

Certainly, there were people who worked for the bands who opened the letters and possibly responded to them. Remember: this was an earlier time when things like that were conceivable. (E.g., I sent a letter to Morgus, host of “Morgus Presents,” and I received a postcard in return, so while the host of bad horror movies at 11:30 pm on Friday nights may not have been to the level of any of the aforementioned, it proves my point. Somewhat.)

If you think about it, bands today have a lot of people working for them. There are the folks like the managers and the publicists. There are the people who take care of instruments. There are the people who take care of the equipment, everything from amps to snacks. There are the people who handle logistics. And on and on and on. A veritable not-necessarily-so-small business.

Many of us have a romantic notion of what a rock and roll band is (talking in the context of bands who more people are aware of than who, for example, remember Morgus).

Like as Roger Daltrey writes in his Thanks a Lot, Mr. Kibblewhite, of The Who’s early touring:

“It was on one of those long trips to Margate, Folkestone or Dover that I broke our beautiful new van. Okay, it wasn’t beautiful and it wasn’t new either. It was an old Post Office Austin with sliding doors. . . . The main thing was that it worked. . .or did until I hit a railway bridge. . . .

“It had a huge dent in the front, which we fixed with the help of a lamppost opposite my mum’s house, a heavy chain, and a flying start in reverse. I sorted out the door with some two-by-four timber, a hacksaw, and some sheet metal. Any further dents, Pete painted red to look like dripping wounds. Good as new, except the rest of the band had to climb through from the driver’s seat.”

That was then. This isn’t.

While I am confident that there are a multiplicity of young and hungry musicians out there right now—and who would be out there on the road right now were it not for so many closed clubs, halls, bars, fairs, basements and other venues—many bands that we are cognizant of aren’t a group of rag-tag scrappy performers so much as proprietors of businesses.

Yes, businesses.

Continue reading Workin’ for a Livin’

Rock and roll can change your life.