“Me and a Gun” by Tori Amos (1991)

4 02 2018

Tori Amos writes great songs. Deep songs. Especially her songs about being a woman in this society, which I, as a man, wouldn’t know jack shite if not for artists like her. Consider her a big sister you never had.

Maybe this song–about rape–isn’t the best song to start you out with. Most of her songs are not so downbeat. But this is important.

I don’t want to make you afraid of men in general. I think most wouldn’t go so far as to rape someone (although harassment seems to be more common than I would have thought).

Some men are just fucking pigs. They don’t understand the concept of consent, which probably seems odd to someone who has something that requires said consent.

Some men also don’t think much of women, think that they are inferior, or think that women are placed on this planet merely for the enjoyment of men.

I hope you don’t run into any of these “men.”

All I can say is that if you start to get a bad vibe from a man, or a group of men, trust your gut and leave. Don’t think you’re being paranoid.

Also, learn self-defense, which you’ve already been doing (much to my relief and pride).

Don’t hesitate to eviscerate a man who physically assaults you.

This song is based on what happened to the artist. You can check Wikipedia’s entry to read Amos’s description. It’s difficult, but knowledge is power.

P.S. It pains me to say this, because I hate impugning a large group of people, but stay away from college fraternities. It may seem exciting as a high school girl to get an invite to a fraternity party, but some of those assholes have “games” and “quotas” and treat women like dogs. Again, not all are like this, but it only takes a few.


“That Look You Give That Guy” by Eels (2009)

25 01 2018

I’ve posted previously about Eels here. Mark Everett writes amazing, heartfelt, and deceptively simple songs that cut to the bone. He’s been through a lot, and it’s evident in his writing.

Unrequited love. When you really dig someone, really think they’re special and perhaps the perfect partner to share life with, but they don’t feel the same. Or worse, they’re with someone else, and you’ll never know.

“That look you give that guy
I wanna see
Looking right at me
If I could be that guy
Instead of me
I’d be all I can be”

Love is a sloppy, unfocused, uncontrollable emotion that can hurt as much as heal. Heartache can be as bad as any physical ache.

If you experience it, you’re not alone. It’s part of life. If your misery needs company, Mr. Everett’s songs might be the company you need.

“Dog and Butterfly” by Heart (1978)

6 11 2017

This was one of your grandmother’s favorite songs (and bands). The song was uncharacteristically subdued for Heart, which up to 1978 mostly made rock scorchers.

I remember your grandma sitting on the sofa and letting this track wash over her. It’s a song about yearning, about wanting more. At the time, your grandma was struggling, I think, being a stay-at-home-mom.

Sometime after this, she went back to school and completed her undergrad degree, then went on the get a Master’s degree (a “Master of Divinity”) to become a minister. One of the first female ministers, a pioneer.

She was a feminist way before it was “cool,” or even acceptable. She volunteered for a local “battered women’s shelter” for victims of domestic abuse when people barely acknowledged there was a problem.

She was the minister of a church up in Oregon, before deciding her calling was working directly with the terminally ill and the elderly. She even published a book on the subject (you can still get a copy of it at Amazon). It was well-received critically, but didn’t sell too well because–I think–of the fairly dark subject. I hope you still have a copy of the book that your grandma annotated for you, and I hope you will take a look at it.

Like HER mother, your grandma was smart, compassionate, and didn’t take any shite from anyone.

You should know that your grandma was an extraordinary person. And she would have been SO proud of the smart, conscientious young woman you have become.

She died almost 10 years ago now. I remember one of the saddest things she talked about when she knew her time was limited, was that she wouldn’t see you grow up. She loved you tremendously.

“Breaking the Habit” by Linkin Park (2004)

17 10 2017

This is a powerful song about hitting rock bottom.  Reportedly, Linkin Park’s singer, Chester Bennington, had difficulty singing this song live because it would choke him up.  He struggled with addiction, and clearly his own song resonated with him.

“Memories consume like opening the wounds
I’m picking me apart again
You all assume
I’m safe here in my room
Unless I try to start again
I don’t want to be the one the battles always choose
‘Cause inside I realize that I’m the one confused”

Addiction is no joke, as you know by my earlier posts.  I’ve struggled with alcohol since I was in my 20’s (picked up the habit while serving in the military).  It goes up and down, and right now it’s going down.

Eventually you’ll ask yourself why your dad drank alcohol.  I’m not sure I can describe it in a blog post.  There is a genetic component, and my father drank pretty heavily (which was more common back in his day).  For me, drinking makes me feel like a human.  It lets me enjoy the moment and the present company, rather than worrying about the future, or things said or done in the past.  It quiets my mind.  I don’t think about all the misery in the world, or in my life.  It’s an escape.  Not an escape from my problems, but from myself and my own overwrought perspective of life and the world.

And where do you get help?  Only rich people can afford residential rehab programs.  This is the problem in our society.  Help is not as available or affordable as it should be.  So it’s all up to you.  To do alone.

Please be careful with alcohol.  At first it can seem relatively harmless.  Partying at college, joking about the hangover the next day.  But over time you can want it more and more, and it will start messing with your health.  And as you get older, it gets harder and harder to deal with the hangovers, because they get worse and worse.

I’m working on it.  But please know that I don’t drink to escape my life, or to escape what is my joy at being your father.  I drink to escape my head and my heart, neither of which will shut the hell up on their own.

There is another component to addiction that researchers have recently found:  Addicts often feel that they lack or have lost some connection to society, or to humanity.  We are pack animals, and not fitting in to the clan could mean your very survival in our earlier evolution.  It makes a lot of sense, and it explains why so many successful people fall victim to drugs and/or alcohol.  Think of Janis Joplin and Amy Winehouse, to name only two. They were surrounded by vultures and ass-kissers.  Who can you really trust?

I wish I had made and maintained closer friendships.  Real connections.  I think that would have helped me.  So that’s my advice.  Be careful of the sauce, and try to surround yourself by people who really like you, want the best for you, and will tell you the damned truth.  It certainly can’t hurt.

As a sad footnote, Chester Bennington–who had struggled with addiction but then recovered–recently committed suicide, sadly adding to the poignancy of this track.  I’ve been listening to it a lot lately. To help break bad habits.

For the Record

17 10 2017

I’m going to switch gears a bit. I’ve been thinking about posterity. There are a million things I wish I learned about my parents, but I didn’t get the chance. More specifically, by the time I realized I had questions, it was too late.

So there are some things I want to tell you about your old man. In addition to any black pearls of wisdom. In case one day you have questions.

“To Feel This Way” by The Call (1997)

1 09 2017

The Call was one of my favorite bands back in the day. Michael Been, the singer/bassist/songwriter, and his bandmates made some great, provocative music.

This song is one of my favorites, and it really resonates with me. At first, it seems like a guy singing about loss, maybe the loss of love, and how he “never should have allowed himself to feel this way.”

But it’s bigger than that. I think he’s talking about how hard it is to live in this mad world when you “feel” too much. When you have too much empathy. Things can weigh on you, love and loss is amplified.

“The stranger he lives quietly
And braves the heat and cold
Through s deep dark haunted passageway
That leads him to his soul

Let no one be mistaken
Death makes memories of us all
It’s the purpose that confounds me
I should never have allowed myself
To feel this way.”

I’m not sure if a person is born with empathy, or if it’s nurtured. But some people have it, and some don’t. I know people who have absolutely no interest in anything outside their own lives. I envy them. How nice to not constantly feel the need to hang your head at all the misery in the world.

I know you have empathy. It’s a wonderful, human thing to have. In fact, some psychologists believe that empathy is the last major evolutionary step our species developed.

But it has a down side. You have to find a way to deal with it, otherwise, you’ll find yourself being dragged down by things. I’d recommend finding friends who share your empathy, if only for the camaraderie. And listening to music. Lots of music.

“Sunshine of Your Love” by Cream (1967)

5 02 2017

Cream was a supergroup consisting of Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and Jack Bruce. All three are considered masters of their game.

Jack Bruce, the bassist, sings this song, and he’s one of my favorite bassists. Thought that you should know that, as a bassist in your own right.

But there’s another reason I’m posting this song for you. Bear with me.

There’s a lot of hate and division in the U.S. right now, and I’m afraid it’s only going to get worse.

When I was a young man, I spent a summer in Israel. Israelis and Palestinians have been at each others’ throats for a long time. Well, mostly with the Israelis at the Palestinians’ throats.

While there, I spent two months on a kibbutz, which is a kind of collective, often a farming operation. I was a volunteer member of Kibbutz Rosh Haniqra, which mostly produced bananas. That’s right, your dad was a banana farmer in the Holy Land.

At this kibbutz, I jammed with a couple musicians. The bassist: me, with only limited Hebrew skills. The drummer: a Palestinian, who spoke Arabic and decent Hebrew, but no English. The guitarist: An Israeli Jew who spoke Hebrew, decent Arabic and English.

So we had no language in common, really. Except music.

After much linguistic confusion, we settled on this song, and the drummer counted us off.

For the first time, it wasn’t too bad. We kind of clicked. Even if sloppy and unrehearsed, you can still tell when you’re in sync with the other musicians.

And the three of us–who have no common language–knew it. Even though we couldn’t really speak to each other, we were smiling, and we were digging it.

This song always reminds me of that tiny little blues/peace summit.