Goodnight, Elisabeth

That would be Elisabeth with an ‘s’ in case you didn’t catch that. (No, it’s not really pronounced differently, but we liked how it looks, and the Little One’s other middle name is ‘Rose’, another word pronounced like it’s spelt with a ‘z’ when it’s not.)

Recovering the Satellites isn’t as even as August and Everything After; it’s louder, too. But when I’m in the mood it works quite well, and it’s got two of my four favorite Counting Crows songs.

Elisabeth is a wistful song. Of course, lyrically, it’s hard to say what it’s ‘about’, but it’s wistful. Helped to a large degree by new guitarist Dan Vickrey’s flawless solo. (Massive digression: Is it Vickrey? David Bryson was also playing guitar at the time, and Bryson also plays dobro; the solo sounds very much like how a dobro player would approach an electric guitar . . . ah, well; liner notes fail once again to provide enough detail.)

So many guitar players confuse intensity with volume or speed. Not this time. Only 8 bars, 30 seconds, but it’s achingly intensely heartfelt without being loud or fast. Only a few notes, really, but each one is adding to the conversation. Subtlety; that’s what’s missing in most rock guitar. Not this time.

Paranoia in Bb Major

Banjos have been on my mind a lot of late. My brother is allegedly finding all the parts to my tenor banjo to return to me, but that’s iffy at best.

Rush keeps finding me new music, and some of it goes straight to my core. Like the Avett Brothers.

When I’m listening to Paranoia in Bb Major in the car, I can sing all the parts. It feels good to hear and feel myself singing like I know I really can. Gives me hope that I can start doing the same with my own music; nudges me toward better arrangements. Educational music; wonder of Scott and Seth planned that . . .

Marvelous harmonies (brothers singing together seems to work well; there were these two guys named Phil and Don who made quite a career of it as I recall.) Great instrumentation—very bluegrassy, without making the music into bluegrass. It’s rock, really it is. It just rocks without ear-splitting pain or noxious guitar rage.

Hard not to smile at the end of Paranoia when they go into the incredibly high falsetto ‘la, la la, la la da, la-ah la-da’ with cello (cello!)

Murder in the City, from Second Gleam, was my first Avett Brothers song. Poignant, gentle, loving; sometimes when I wake up at night and it’s playing, I think about my family and the people who I’ve loved and never see. One of the best wistful songs I’ve ever heard. St. Joseph’s on the same album is darker; a slice-of-life moment that’s less storytelling, more feelings-of-the-moment.

Intelligence in music always appeals to me. When it makes smile, it moves right into the inner circle.

I’ll Be Your Lover, Too

It fell into the hole left by Astral Weeks and Moondance. Van’s His Band and the Street Choir may not be their equal; that’s fairly subjective. But my subjective opinion is that it contains one song which, as yet, is unequaled in my life.

I’ll Be Your Lover, Too is the single most passionate song I know. There’s nothing overtly sexual in the song; it is, truly, about the overwhelming experience of two people being completely subsumed into a new, single entity.

The simplicity of the arrangement, just a couple guitars and shuffling brushed drums and cymbals, focuses attention on Van’s, even for him, intense vocal delivery.

The song’s ending is fun; as the music wraps, Van asks “How’s that?”

It opens with three promises most men never make, and those who do, rarely keep:

 I'll be your man I'll understand Do my best to take good care of you

The love I feel for my Best Beloved consumes me at times. I know she knows that I love her more than music. I only hope someday I can put into lyrics what she’s done for my heart and my life.

If I Ever Plan to Motor West

We got off the freeway for gas at Seligman, which calls itself the birthplace of Route 66. This bears investigation. Some day. We left town on 66 instead of the interstate, and 17 miles later found a modern sign marking Route 66; I was hoping for one of the older signs, but I’ll bet they’ve all been nicked long ago.

There was a wide flat spot across the road, so we parked, grabbed my guitar and the video camera, and I stood under the sign to sing the first verse of a familiar song while Sue filmed. If I hadn’t lost the feeling in my fingers I might have played the whole song.

Met Two New Bands in Jerome

Wandered into the hotel’s bar during the CD release party for ‘Los Guys’ who could have a better name, but sounded like Jackopierce and the Jayhawks. Good Americana originals. They all signed the CD. Their bass player was playing a Fender Resonator bass (which, for you musical non-geeks, makes as much sense as saying he was playing Einstein’s gas-engined Mona Lisa.) I didn’t know they existed, but it turns out they made a handful five years ago. It sounded spectacular and when he let me play it it was gorgeous. Of course, the only place I can find one new it’s up to $1,000 and there are no used ones left out there.

Also heard a band called ‘Cadillac Angels’ doing rockabilly covers and lots of originals. Loads of fun; great sound for a trio. Tony Balbinot plays a lovely Gretsch White Falcon like Neil Young’s, but he doesn’t play it like Neil does. Made me desperately want to put together a swingabilly band again.