We drove through this land of blackened barns
Smoldering on the horizons
And the murderous stench of death smoked our eyes
As the houses stood slaughtering silence
Oh factory, factory
It will not close
To bring unto the waiting world
The foaming froth of tortured life
Salted flesh and milky swirls
These eyes don’t lie
These are forsaken lives
You turn your back
You can hide your head
You can claim ignorance and play mute
But the horrors take place even with your back turned
On your plate is served up the warm truth
There is no disguising the certain slow death
Exacted upon the downtrodden
Dancing in the pools of the killing floor splashing
As the money and the blood
and the innocent come crashing down
As they pick up their knives
These are forsaken lives
It’s no sacrifice to save a life
You can savor the taste of choice
Look into the eyes of those condemn to die
Rise up and give them a voice
These cries don’t lie
These are forsaken lives
These eyes don’t hide
They are forsaken lives
Somebody please ask Mr. Richard Kimball whatever happened to this gem.
Welcome to the official re-launching of the Art Never Dies website.
Anybody wanna hear some poetry?
We talked awhile that night
A façade of words
Through which we could both see
It was happening
Her and I stood
at the edge of everything
We knew nothing
No acquaintance was needed
I breathed her in
Dark eyebrows framed her face
Accenting the brushstrokes and soft colors
A portrait of allure
Shades of escape
Hues of a landslide
Doors creaking open
An outstretched hand
Let this painting be mine
And home would never be the same
No walls, no ceiling
Sacrificed by her admission
I allowed this
And braced myself
For the fall
I drank too much of her
Lost for a time
The guilt of thirst stung
Like a marquis driven into flesh
Again and again and over again
At the end of the night
The unsung notes of
Coded on my breath
I kissed her cheek
Stepped back and watched her go
It was real
Alive with promise and passion
Her love like napalm
In the jungle of mediocrity
I opened my arms
Palms to the sky
All my life
at that moment
Ceased to matter
At the edge of everything
and watched as it all fell away at my feet
Her hand was warm.
These are some relatively new discoveries that are all very highly recommended.
Tom Waits - Bad as Me
Dead Can Dance - Aion / The Serpent's Egg
Patty Griffin - Flaming Red
The Waterboys - Fisherman's Blues
Moving Hearts - Live in Dublin
Flogging Molly - Swagger
David Bowie - Low / Station to Station
Gillian Welch - The Harrow and the Harvest
Younger Brother - Vaccine
Death Cab for Cutie - Codes and Keys
Skeletonwitch - Breathing the Fire
Wolves in the Throne Room - Two Hunters
Bat for Lashes - Two Suns
Joanna Newsome - Y's
Goldfrapp - Seventh Tree
Cloud Cult - Light Chasers
Massive Attack - Blue Lines / 100th Window
Steven Wilson - Insurgentes
Opeth - Blackwater
Porcupine Tree - The Incident
Low - I could live in Hope
Metric - Fantasies
Imogen Heap - Speak for Yourself
Heaven or Las Vegas - Cocteau Twins
Eddie Vedder - Into the Wild
Peter Murphy - Deep
Traditional Irish Music:
Pecker Dunne - (Wexford / Sullivan's John)
Christy Moore - (Ride On / Welcome to the Cabaret)
The Wolfe Tones - (Joe McDonnell)
Songs I love but have not purchased the entire record yet:
Regina Spektor - (All the Rowboats)
Boy and Bear - (Lordy May)
Afro Celt Sound System - (Release)
Rodrigo Y Gabriela - (Santo Domingo)
Down Like Silver - (Wolves)
Saturday, February 11th, 2012
Email from December, 2000
Subject: The mystery surrounding Tom’s death
I don’t wish to be morbid–or dwell on negativity, that’s not really the focus of this forum. However I feel like the facts of Tom’s untimely passing need to be shared for those who aren’t privy to the details–no matter how painful. This is my account from what I gathered via Tom’s Mother. The letter below was sent out to friends of mine back in late 2000.To the Gallison family: If there are inaccuracies–please let me know so I can correct them.This is a bit long so print and read at your leisure….
All—I just received a Christmas card from Tom’s mother. She sent a picture of the stone that was just recently placed in Fairview. It is fairly large, black and inscribed simply: TOM GALLISON —-FEB 1969 ~FEB 2000. In the lower right corner: STEUBEN with a little star next to it. They sent one of his headshots to an artist who made a sketch and somehow they imprinted the drawing into the stone above Tom’s name. It looks remarkably like a photograph. She plans on putting some of the remains there and the rest in the garden in their back yard, where Tom used to work sometime. To update everybody about what has gone on the past 6 months, here is a recap to what has been a very long, tedious, frustrating and painful ordeal for the Gallison family.
As I think you all know, Tom’s death certificate lists the cause of death as “suicide.” I think the majority of us believe this to be inaccurate to say the least. The Gallison family has been trying to get the Union County Medical Examiner to change this to “undetermined” or perhaps, “death by misadventure.” They have as of yet been unsuccessful. Now it’s certainly easy for many to say “Changing it is not going to bring Tom back. What does it matter?” Well it matters to Tom’s family, most especially his mother. That’s enough of a reason for me to want to get this done and hopefully you too. The principle of the matter is at stake here and that lies in more than just the fact that Tom’s death will contribute to an already inaccurate statistic. It lies mostly in the fact that this tragic occurrence was unprofessionally and improperly handled from top to bottom. It was treated as casually and routinely as if there are people killed by trains in Westfield every week.
Police Lieutenant John Parizeau on the scene checked the little white box next to ‘suicide’ as a probable cause of death. This was upheld by the Union County Medical Examiner Ms. Linares (she wishes to be called, DOCTOR, please), who based her decision on a combination of medical (ahem) facts and testimony. For those who did not get a chance to see the medical examiners report, here is a short run-down of some of DOCTOR Linares’ findings.
1) Deceased had no traces of Marijuana, cocaine, heroin, amphetamines, barbiturates, or a hundred thousand other drugs too long to list here.
2) Deceased had a beard.
3) Deceased stomach contents contained alcohol.
4) Deceased urine sample was clear, indicating that he had been drinking alcohol.
5) Deceased had a blood-alcohol content of .10
6) Deceased had no known medical condition.
If you find numbers 2 and 6 unbelievable then you are right, because they simply aren’t true. If you find numbers 2 and 6 unbelievable, then you are just feeling an nth of the amazement the Gallison family has felt for almost a year now. Amazed that a medical examiner could call herself DOCTOR and come back with such a glaringly incomplete, inaccurate and amateur report as this. You might also expect to see “Deceased was dead” somewhere among these other’s mentioned above.
Dr. Linares, the Union County Medical Examiner, also took into consideration a written statement by one Nora Pellegrino, the woman Tom was having a relationship with. In Nora’s statement, she states that Tom was a chronic alcoholic and drank every day. Her description of the events that night were taken down word for word and believed by both Dr. Linares and the Police.
Facts on Nora:Married, two kids, husband knew about her relationship with Tom and supposedly didn’t mind. They had (quote)”An open relationship” (end quote). The police/detectives interviewed Nora and her husband, and despite the blatant possibilities for foul play in this scenario, they believed her story and everything she said about Tom.
The police had told Tom’s mother they identified him by his driver’s license photo. In reality, Nora identified the body that day. Tom’s parents were never told this. Yet another inconsistency in a case that seems like it was destined to be swept under the rug from the beginning. In hindsight, it appears the police were deliberately withholding information. Tom’s mother didn’t know Nora was even involved until Nora called her from the hospital 4 days later. Why the police were withholding all this from the Gallison family, I don’t know. (This would never fly on ‘Law and Order’). Maybe they had their reasons, but certainly at some point they could have come forth with all the facts, rather than let the family discover these things on their own. In general, the police have treated the Gallisonâ€™s as though they needed to be “spared” details on the incident, as if they would feel better being kept in the dark. All of this is assuming that the Westfield police even knew what they were doing, which frankly, is also questionable.
Tom’s mother Dorothy happened to read Nora’s statement and find out about Nora identifying the body, only after Dr. Linares offered to let her see the statement in an effort to convince her that this was a suicide. Nora’s statement is, in fact, the reason Dr. Linares did not and apparently will not change the cause of death. It is absolutely preposterous for a decision like this to be based on the testimony of one person. There is no note, no proof that Tom had any intention of killing himself. We only have Nora’s word. She says he left a message on her answering machine saying something that might lead one to believe Tom would do such a thing, however that message was conveniently erased.
I am not trying to discredit Nora, nor imply that she is directly responsible for Tom’s death. I am merely bringing to light that in this investigation there was not a lot of investigating done. From the Keystone cops of Westfield, to the ramblings of a State Detective named Cassidy (whose seemingly sole function and contribution to the case was to repeatedly interview Tom’s mother over coffee every couple of days), to the painfully absurd findings of Dr. Linares; this case was treated as though it took place in a small town where nothing bad ever happens. (Maybe suicides, but no (god -forbid) accidents or (gasp) homicides.)
Mary Wilford, (my mother) has been involved with this in that she initiated a letter along with one from Tom’s family, to an elected official, namely Assemblyman Richard Bagger requesting more information as to the conclusions that were made about Tom’s death. Only after many letters and months of going back and forth on this issue, did Dr. Linares finally agree to talk to Tom’s Mother. She did so, and after relating much of the above mis-information (and realizing her incompetence meter was steadily rising for all to see) she requested to speak with Mary instead. Her intention was to convince Mary of Tom’s suicide and let her be the one to convince Dorothy. Let it be noted that Dr. Linares had the audacity to say that Tom’s mother was “in denial” of her son’s suicide because she was so grief-stricken and should seek counseling.
Mary found Dr. Linares adamant that Tom committed suicide. The doctor showed her Nora’s statement as “proof”. Mary explained that people close to Tom found it difficult to believe that Tom would ever commit suicide, least of all under circumstances such as these. Why should one person’s slant on Tom be the deciding factor on the cause of death? Were there not other possibilities? Perhaps a bizarre accident as Tom often wandered around at night on the train tracks. (We all know this to be true of Tom.) Or perhaps his diabetes played some part in this tragedy. At any rate there is enough doubt lingering about to simply say: “We don’t know what happened that night.”
But police and doctors don’t like to admit to such a thing as “not knowing”. They must know, because they are professionals and they never make mistakes. They have seen a hundred cases just like this one, it’s always the same.
Mary inquired who would be hurt if indeed they decided to change the cause of death to “undetermined.” Would the Lieutenant’s clean record be at stake? Would he be reprimanded, assigned desk work, his reputation shattered? No. Would Dr. Linares lose her (I can’t believe I’m even writing the word in the same sentence) credibility? No. Mary then pointed out that while changing it would not hurt anyone, it would help the Gallison family. Dr. Linares responded: “We don’t want to change it because we don’t believe we are wrong.”
Contrary to the medical examiners report, Tom did have a known medical condition. Tom had diabetes. His blood-sugar content was not tested by Dr. Linares when she conducted the autopsy. In August, at the family’s request she finally did run the test. Normal blood sugar content is 100 – 120. Tom’s blood sugar came back as 10.The Gallison family had their own toxicologist examine that report. He said that in his estimation Tom was near comatose at the time of his death.
The conductor of the train said Tom was lying face-down, and only raised his head slightly when the train horn sounded. A friend of mine was a paramedic for many years in Eastern Iowa and Chicago, and was called to the scenes of numerous cases whereby victims committed suicide by jumping or stepping in front of a train. He never saw one case where a victim lay on the tracks and waited for one.
Tom nearly drowned in the summer of 1999 when while swimming in the ocean, his blood sugar dipped so low he hadn’t the strength to swim. Fortunately, his brother was near enough to pull him to safety.
All these things add up to this: A terrible tragedy occurred early morn February 25th, 2000 in Westfield, New Jersey. We don’t know the specifics of what happened and most likely never will. The only thing that is clear is that we don’t know what happened. For this reason, the cause of Tom’s death should be simply: “undetermined.”
Tuesday, August 12th, 2008
Tom Waits Glitter and Doom Tour
6.26.08 Fox Theatre, St. Louis, MO.
Alas friends, comrades and fellow musicians â€“ I can finally check off one item on that long list of things to do before I die: Last Thursday night â€“ my longtime friend, co-worker and music aficionado, â€˜Titoâ€™ and I witnessed Tom Waits in concert at the beautiful Fox Theatre in St. Louis.Â It was everything we could have hoped for despite the flood waters thatthreatened our journey as highway closings were narrowly avoided towards the Iowa / Missouri border. Thankfully Mother Nature let us pass without so much as raindrop â€“ or what could have amounted to an incredibly longdetour.Â (Though the black murkiness of the mighty Mississippi loomed ever so near the road the entire distance of the trip â€“ and partially submergedfarm buildings made the landscape a grim site to behold.)
But back to Mr. Waits â€“ who made us wait patiently (well almost patiently) in our seats until 9 pm before taking the stage. This – a minor inconvenience â€“ as the Fox Theatre is lavishly decorated in an Indian motif that rendered the atmosphere breathtaking. With all the velvet carpet and marble pillars â€“the winking ruby-eyed lions sculpted out of bronze and intricately cut stone ornaments carved right up to the sky-lit ceilings, one was never at a loss forpassing the time in quiet observation. We soaked it all in and conversed with the friendly folks around us as well. (Side note: Waits attracts a crowd unlike any gathering I have been a part of before â€“ there were oddball representatives from every niche of society. This is a topic unto itself.)
Tom took to the stage under eerie lighting one part moonlit night, one part junkyard spotlight and two parts jukebox barroom glow. It was as surreal asBlue Ruin tobacco and Crows-Wing leather playing cards. The Fox Theatre is not a smoky roadside grease-barn on the outskirts of L.A., but Mr. Waits took great pains to make it seem as if he had just stumbled in off the desert highwaycaked with dust and in need of a whiskey sour. He quenched redemption in the form of a boot-black microphone all the while stomping on a contraptionthroughout the show geared up to set off the mechanical clang of a school-bell â€“ one ring per stomp. For the next two-plus hours â€“ we were treated to theglitter and doom that is Tom Waits.
As you can expect â€“ his band was a crew of sublime musicians you probably never even knew existed. Omar Torrez dazzled with beautiful flamenco-styled guitar intros built into traditional Waits material. Vincent Henry had an arsenal of so many woodwind instruments surrounding him one never knewwhich he would summon at a given time â€“ except that any of the numerous unidentifiable sounds being laced throughout the music was more than likely coming from that side of the stage. The stand-up bass and drums chugged along like a belching steam locomotive through mountainous terrain. (I alsonoted that the drummer put away his brushes for much of the set list â€“ a little unusual â€“ but effective in delivering a crack to the usually bristlingswagger and swing of the material.) The band assembled rehearsal-style â€“ in a circle â€“ Mr. Waits revolving like a drunken marionette center-stage â€“ ringmaster of a deranged carnivale`.
There was no shortage of enthusiasm â€“ both onstage and in the crowd â€“ but seldom have I witnessed such polite and keen listening as at this show. The audience almost never stood â€“ but held unwavering vigil in their seats stage-side as though deep in the grips of a fever dream. Waits barked out tune after tune â€“ often using his voice as the singular percussive instrument that it doubles as. It was well into the set before the stories came â€“ but you knew they would â€“ and as Tom frolicked about at the piano he treated us to somebiting anecdotes like the cantankerous old man at the bar who wants to show you his own twist on the quarter and shot-glass trick â€“ for a dollar.
I generally never make a concentrated effort to remember the set-list â€“ but I decided this time to give it a try. What songs I didnâ€™t recognize â€“ I named with an appropriate lyrical reference to look up later. (â€˜Lucindaâ€™I had titled as â€˜William the Pleaserâ€™ right off the bat as I couldnâ€™t recall the first song.) I later compared my mental notes to someone who postedthe nightâ€™s set-list online-and I fared pretty well.
Some notable standout songs: Falling Down (Tom taking this one back from Scarlet Johanssen and Bowie who covered it recently â€“ and a very good rendition they did too, I might add.) Get Behind the Mule â€“ which was unrecognizable for the longest time â€“ nearly a jam of guitar and banjo.Cemetery Polka â€“ The song that instantly made a Tom Waits fan out of me from the very beginning. I hadnâ€™t counted on him to pull this one out of his eight-ball bowler. Lost in the Harbor â€“ because of the complex butbeautiful passages of this song I wouldnâ€™t have thought it could be pulled off live â€“ but what the hell do I know? It was delicious. Whatâ€™s He Building? As creepy and disturbing as the studio version â€“ possibly more soâ€“ because we were witnessing the weirdness. The encore featured Anywhere I lay my Head- as intimate a version as if we were all in Nitengaleâ€™s (2ndave â€“ NYC).Â Waits invited the crowd to sing along on the closer Innocent when you Dream and that alone was worth the price of admission. (A sing-along to Tom Waits??? Yes â€“ it happened, I kid you not.)
When the lights went up â€“ Tito and I knew we had witnessed quite a spectacle. Glitter and doom indeed.
***Footnote: Though some fans did not appreciate it â€“ I welcomed the anti-scalping approach to selling tickets for the show. 2 tickets max per person â€“and for will-call pickup, ID and the credit card used to purchase the tickets had to be presented at the box office. This approach served the dual purpose offoiling the money-grubbing scalpers and allowing fans to secure seats thatcouldnâ€™t camp out at the box office or sit online to wait for tickets to go on sale the day of the show. I had all but resigned myself to the fact that the show would sell out in seconds â€“ when in fact over a week later there were still some left for the taking. Cheers to that!
A big thank you to Tito for supplying the vehicle, taking care of the gas and ensuring we had plenty to eat and drink before the show â€“ (the sneaky bear even picked up the tab for that). All I had to do was drive and show up. The eight hours of our road-trip conversation ended far too soon and bookmarked the 24 total hour trip duration â€“ almost to the minute.
And of course thanks also to my lovely wife for securing the tix and a nearby hotel. Sheâ€™s the bomb when it comes to that stuff.
Big smiles all around! â€“ joe
Tom Waits â€“ Glitter and Doom Tour â€“ 6.26.08 Fox Theatre, St. Louis, MO.
2.Way Down In The Hole
3. Falling Down
4.Black Market Baby
5. All The World Is Green
6. Hi Ho
7.Get Behind The Mule
8. Day After Tomorrow
9. Cemetery Polka
10. Hang Down Your Head
11. A Little Rain
14.Lost In The Harbour
15. Make It Rain
16. Lie To Me
17.On The Other Side Of The World
19.Dirt In The Ground
20.Whatâ€™s He Building?
21. 16 Shells
22. Rain Dogs/Band introduction
1.Goin Out West
2.Anywhere I Lay My Head
3. Innocent When You Dream
Friday, May 30th, 2008
An ode to public cell phone users…in the spirit of Bukowski
Put down that cell phone before I kill you
As rude as the smoker
More frequent and annoying than the telemarketer
As dangerous as the drunk driver
As thoughtless as the serial killer
Public cell phone users
(Iâ€™d rather a knife through my ear, please)
Than listen to the soul-sucking wag of tongues
Flickering over their neon keypads
The ubiquitous cell phone user has invaded every corner of public society
And infected it with wasted and butchered dialogue
For all within earshot to hear
A cancerous virus of inconsideration
They are on the buses
In cafÃ©s and coffee shops
Theyâ€™ve infiltrated once quiet bookstores and parks
Where the echo of their vapid discourse continues to resonate
Long after theyâ€™ve moved on to the next trite conversation
Their diatribe and laughter and exclamations
Of joy and sorrow and indignation
Are a poor reflection of the basest mediocrity
Their bloviated inanities rudely poke the sides of us
Who want nothing more than to avoid
This assault on our individual introspectionsÂ Â
Their words linger in the air
Like the poisonous formaldehyde of cigarettes
And always drifts towards those of us
Who can stand it the least
They are blind pilots of ignorance to all around them
Behind the wheel is no exception
That their own and others lives are in peril
Is of no consequence or concern
The speedometer is neglected
Nearly as much as the mirrors and windows
As if they are the last drivers of the apocalypse
On deserted roads carved out to the respective paths
Of their superficial existence
Drive on, construction worker
In the pickup with the 10-ton payload
One hand to steer is enough to stay clear-and that could be
But why are you always driving right behind me?
Drive on, soccer mom
In the mini van with the kids in the back
The gossip is good and going slow is okay
But please not on the entrance ramp to the freeway
Question the public cell phone user:
Do you know?
That your voice is significantly louder
We can hear you better
Than the person who is supposed to be listening to you
That the people around you just donâ€™t care
Where you are meeting this Friday after work
Or what shoes go best with that plum dress-you know the one â€“ the one with the white flowers on it
Do you know?
Weâ€™re touched that you love your girlfriend
But say it to her face, sheâ€™ll appreciate it more
That your conversation is so disjointed
Pointless and uninteresting
That itâ€™s impossible to ignore â€“like an aural wreck on the highway
That everyone around you is silently cursing your existence
Thinking bad things about your mother
And hoping the brain tumor develops sooner rather than later
We are all thinking these things and more, dear public cell phone userâ€¦believe it.
You have died a thousand times at the hands of total strangers.
Even through headphones of our IPODâ€™s
Your dull, half-witted speech snakes its way into our ears
The drone of insignificance deafens
So please â€“ put it down.
Killing you may be out of the questionâ€¦
But to slap the shit out of you might be worth the charges.
Friday, April 11th, 2008
I purchased this for $1 back in 1992 from an old man who sat on the sidewalk between 8oth and 81st streets on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. I don’t know that the jpeg picture will do it justice – but if you can magnify it – you’ll see the incredible detail that went into this. There are numerousÂ messages here – some coded in some cryptic manner – others moreÂ discernable.Â I found itÂ so facinating that I went back and bought several more copies. He was a gray, grizzled old gentlemanÂ who spoke not a word – and had several copies of these printed off lying under a coffee mug to which a small $1 sign was taped. His eyes never left the sidewalk as I approached and placed my money in the cup. He simply pulled out a sheet and pushed it forward.
I could look at this for hours and question…the symbols – where did they come from? What do they mean? What do they stand for? Who was this man? Where did he come from? What does it all mean?Â The mystery intrigues.
So – I made up my own answers. The old man was Kilgore Trout – and this piece of paper is the combination to unlocking the secret keys to the universe.
Go to it.
Monday, November 12th, 2007
Wilco – Iowa Memorial Union; October 14th 2007.
Wilco is one of those bands Iâ€™ve been on the fence about for years. It seems to me that they can be astonishingly great or surprisingly dull. Years ago – a musician friend of mine loaned me a copy of their double disc: Being There. He swore it was brilliance – musical genius – nearly the best thing ever recorded. Had he not so highly recommended it, I wouldnâ€™t have listened to it in its entirety over 50 times trying to figure out what he thought was so great about it. To me – it was forgettable mediocrity from the first listen to the last.
So, when Wilco followed up a few years later with critically acclaimed Summerteeth CD, I disregarded it as well as my musician friend who was formerly so hell-bent to impress on me the glorious musical heights Wilco had climbed to. I wanted none of it. I had given them a shot already – I was resolved that they simply were not for me. Wilco and I were oil and water.
Not long after relating this story – a co-worker of mine handed me a copy of A.M. He assured me that it would win me over by virtue of itâ€™s â€˜twangâ€™ appeal. I gave it a listen right then and there and found he was right. It was no Copperhead Road – but the songs resonate a road-worn vibrancy and before long I was tapping along with the likes of Casino Queen and Passenger Side.
With the release of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Wilco would officially stand up and be counted. With the buzz surrounding this record, you’d have to have lived in a cave to brush off the magnitude of its impact. Hell, even if you hate Wilco – you have to admire any band that goes toe to toe with their record company over creative license. (And gets shit-canned by them, no less.) Ah, will record company execs ever truly understand music, musicians and marketing? Could they really not have foreseen that dumping Wilco and refusing to release YHF would only result in a mass exodus of music fans clamoring to hear it? And smartly, Wilco went right along with it – making it available online before being snapped up by another label only too happy to release it.Â (Radiohead was most certainly taking notes.) The bittersweet irony of this story is the label that pounced on YHF was actually a spin off of the label that dumped them in the first place. So in effect – the label paid twice for the same product.
Media blitz aside – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot exemplifies true brilliance indeed; testing the bounds of production experimentation while maintaining the integrity of its well written and arranged songs. The songs are truly stars – and no matter the bells and whistles, rhythm shifts, loops and the constant dropping in and out of various instrumentation – the material shines throughout it all – an unequivocal testament to their greatness.
Wilcoâ€™s following release â€“ A Ghost is Born, is also very good â€“ particularly considering how it came on the heels of YHF. (How do you top that?) For all intents and purposes â€“YHF is Wilcoâ€™s Sergeant Pepper. The band buzzed through town during this tour â€“ and sadly I missed them. I suspect what kept me away was the fear that my now upbeat admiration for the band would be spoiled by a less than stellar live performance of those same YHF songs which had held up so gracefully under the jagged blade of its out- on-a-limb production.Â
So despite these two very wealthy contributions to my music collection â€“ I wasnâ€™t completely convinced that Wilco and I had put our oil and water days behind us. After all â€“ there was still the memory of that confounded double disc. And for that matter â€“ I was never all that taken with the Wilco-tempered renditions of Woody Guthrieâ€™s lost songs on Mermaid Avenue. (Billy Bragg, however â€“ did not disappoint â€“ but then, does he ever?)
The mixed reviews of Sky Blue Sky were enough of a deterrent for me to steer clear. (Pitchfork tagged it as â€˜dad rockâ€™- yikes!) Notwithstanding, when they rolled through town this time, my wife picked us up some tickets.
The IMU is a great venue â€“ small enough to be intimate, big enough to provide charm for the heavy hitters to come in and thoroughly rock the joint. To our great satisfaction, Wilco did just that. They hit the stage and racked up song after song (Iâ€™m assuming from the new record) for the first half-hour, then settled in and played nearly everything off of YHF and A Ghost is Born. The rave in this review is that they preserved to a T the integrity of the intricately produced material off of YHF. All the ringing alarm clocks, sfx, percussive drop ins and outs and radio static etc were rendered sonically beautiful and in their respective positions. I expected Wilco to be good â€“ but admittedly, I didnâ€™t expect them to be as good as they proved to be. Not to mention â€“ they rocked a lot harder than I thought they would. The often quiet, under-emphasized gems off of A Ghost is Born were driven home soundly like spikes into rails.Â (Rich attributes their newfound punch to the addition of Nels Cline-and I have to concur.)
Whether or not Wilco can or will deliver on their records is a moot point â€“ one, which will continue to be debated. But on this night in Iowa City â€“ the band unquestionably served up piping hot rock and roll…and we feasted.
Time, I absolve myself of your vow to vanquish me.