Something's new in inventory today! Happy Friday... we need to talk music and life.
Most of the time there’s music playing while the wood is worked into instruments. For probably ten years I’ve been noting in or under the Friday news page updates what we’ve been listening to and it’s all over the place. Some music is great to have on for whatever the hands are doing because it’s a perfect soundtrack to life, like Miles Davis Kind Of Blue. It transcends context – if you’re breathing, it’s good. Or classical guitar music like Segovia or John Williams Spanish Guitar Music – this is perfect workshop working-the-wood-to music. Other stuff is better for certain moments. For a long time my standby when I just need one more little blast of git-er-done flowing has been Zen Guerilla Trance States In Tongues. But I’m not going to carve a scroll to that; that’s way more long Grateful Dead jam or Delta Blues. Jack Owens. Mississippi Fred McDowell.
Last week I hit a peak of a segue I don’t think has equal in the world outside of what used to happen on free-form overnight college radio or some of the sets I spun on my late slot on pirate station KIND back in 2000. The previous day I finished up the to-do list to Pavarotti – always good for adding an epic, taking the victory kind of vibe in the air. But that day? THAT day?? Motorhead Ace Of Spades > Aretha Franklin singing Gospel > Frank Zappa. There ya go.
If that isn’t a triangle of opposites I don’t know what is. But context is everything; I was working a bigger batch than I usually do together and on the home stretch routing & rounding over, and I’d gone beyond what Pavarotti could inspire. So in went Motorhead. Then Aretha sang spirituals to gather the sawdust to after working on basses being made from Wimberley flood of 2015 cypress. It’s sacred wood to me and I’m going to offer some back to the river once I have made everything beautiful I can from the plank I got. After that it was a stack of basses to drill out on ol’ Uncle Johnny’s drill press... neck mounting holes & washer countersink, string through body holes, and ferrule countersinks around back. What can I say, Frank Zappa is fantastic music to drill holes in things to.
It would be impossible to write about the music listened to in the shop without mentioning and mourning the passing of Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell this week. It is difficult to know what the reality is for someone deciding this was his best option, though that doesn’t stop today’s keypad pundits from pontificating on it just like they do everything else, in remedial third grade grammar and with all the tact of a turd in a punchbowl. I don’t need an answer, it’s none of my business. I’m just sad he’s gone. I’m sad for his family, friends, bandmates, and millions of fans. He was a middle aged man and, no matter how well things are or how you arrive there, that can come with some realizations and challenges that are difficult to describe and can weigh heavy.
Whatever he knew that others did not, whatever he carried as his own, however he arrived to where the music and love and promise of the sunrise would no longer carry him through, I thank the soul we knew from whatever distance as Chris Cornell for having spent himself on the amazing legacy of voice and song and philanthropy that must now sing in his stead as ripples outward. Please – whoever you are - if you’re down, talk to someone. And not to a bunch of borderline sociopaths in a public message board; get someone sensible on the phone! Connect. Heck, call ME. And if you’re an artist and thus perpetually hovering halfway there to begin with, go find a way to pour it into your medium and release it to the world. Your therapeutic release is probably somebody’s medicine… and that helps it feel really really good to be alive, and that might just carry you so much farther than you ever thought was possible, to somewhere you can be and be OK.
Much love & music to you all,
Listening to: Soundgarden Superunknown; Adam and The Ants Kings Of The Wild Frontier; Tom Verlaine Warm and Cool; Tom Waits Bone Machine; Johnny Cash American Recordings.