G N’ R on cassette

Isn’t that where it all started, all those years ago? Appetite for Destruction had been out for a few years before I bought it on cassette. It was the first cassette purchase in my “rock n’ roll” education. I bought it at age ten in 1992.

Today, I had the hankering urge to break out “Lies” on cassette just to listen to “You’re Crazy” because I was assaulted with some crazy business on a Saturday morning. I can tell you that it was terribly therapeutic. Axl may have seen his day, but in the mid-to-late 80s, the day belonged to him. First, he has a really unique voice. That scratchy and surly whine complements whatever angst you might be feeling, whether you’re 30 or ten.

He undoubtedly speaks to the angst and anger of frustrated teenagers. I won’t lie: my first day of fifth grade I wore my G ‘N R shirt and it scared kids, but I wasn’t a scary kid. I was just looking for people to enjoy the soothing, amazing power of rock n’ roll with me. (The concert tee is an invitation to talk about music, is it not?) Axl was one of the million brilliant rock gods (Trent Reznor, Pearl Jam, Henry Rollins to name a few…) that could articulate the frustration, alienation and angst that puberty brings. Some of the content was a bit much, yes. There are naked ladies on album covers, illicit drug references, and bleeding roses. You wouldn’t think that a ten-year-old girl would be at all attracted to that. But the power of rock does some strange things to us.

Look at Beatlemania. Women fainted when they were in the same vicinity as the Fab Four. Is it really good looks? Fame? Maybe for some. But mostly, for me, it’s the raw power of rock that drives me. The message they send. The way that a power chord can draw you to your feet, a drum solo can command you to pound on the dash at the stoplight, the profound lyric can raise goosebumps where you never realized you had them.

So it’s only natural, when something is upsetting, that we turn to the magic of music. It’s there that we find our patience. Just a little patience.

Be well and rock on,

Rachael

Shine it all around…

Any true fan knows that weather will not stand in the way of an anticipated rock show where she has fantastic seats. This was the case last night when my friend Stephanie and I traveled in sleet to the Tower Theater in Upper Darby, PA.

The blue Toyota barreled forward into the sleet of the night with the shield of bluesy, hard riffs of Zep II.
Favorites from this album include: See all.
But really, I love the golden overtones of “Thank You.” The electric organ melted the sleet assaulting my windshield and created a lovely glow in my face.
Steph and I also share a favorite “Ramble On” in which we were fortunate enough to see at the show. The first riffs of this launched me out of my chair and into goofy-white-girl-dance mode.
My hometown radio station said it was illegal to cut “Heartbreaker” and “Living Loving Maid (She’s just a woman)” into two tracks and I whole-heartedly agree. You simply can’t interrupt the flow of these two.
As the weather got more harsh, the Toyota found its sway to the more calm and folk-infused tones of Plant and Krauss’ (Allison, that is) 2007 collaboration, Raising Sand.

By the time we arrived at the Tower, we were hungry and dodging painful sleet that was bouncing off rooftops and onto our heads. We found comfort in the Waterford Inn, a quaint pub where I felt compelled to have fish and chips. Everyone we’d run into that night, it seemed, was from Britain, so it only seemed appropriate to order it.

The food was excellent and the atmosphere lured us into feeling like we were in a movie. We were a wee bit late for the opener, the North Mississippi All-Stars but they rocked out well, with a southern/bluesy rock vibe.

During intermission, a young dude in a Zep tee (the one with the logo for Led Zeppelin’s record label, Swan Song. It’s Apollo, not an angel, devil, Icarus or Daedalus. It is adapted from a 19th century drawing by William Rimmer called “Evening, Fall of Day”) was groovy out like it was the days of the Grateful Dead. He lightened the atmosphere, and I briefly wondered if anyone else was going to stand up and groove.

Grooving is a must at shows like these. I didn’t have to worry long because as soon as the lights went down, the cheering erupted and people were instantly on their feet, clapping and screaming. Steph, beside me, had an almost Beatle-mania reaction when the “Tall, Cool One” sauntered out onto stage and opened with “Angel Dance” a Los Lobos cover.

The next two hours were filled with swaying, screaming, jumping, singing, dancing and rocking out. Patty Griffin was phenomenal. The other members helped shine it all around, too. The blending of Plant’s vocals and steel guitar was a delight to the ears.

Current members of Band of Joy are:
Marco Giovino – percussion
Patty Griffin – vocals and guitar
Byron House – bass
Buddy Miller – guitar and vocals
Darrell Scott – vocals, mandolin, guitar, accordion, pedal, lap steel and banjo
Robert Plant – lead vocals

Some old spirituals made their way into the line up, like a sampling of “Twelve Gates to the City / Wade in the Water /,” and the Grateful Dead’s “We Bid You Goodnight” which Plant led the crowd in a percussive clapping and swaying that made you feel like you were at a spirited church. Music is church, is it not?

The evening was filled with joy, a whole band of it. If you can get out and see this tour, Steph and I highly recommend it. I’m sure the swaying dude in the Swan Song shirt would agree.

The rest of the evening was filled with prayer, a playlist of “Priory of Brion” and a lot of skidding, shoveling, swearing and finally, blissful gratitude. In the words of Steph, quoting Robert: “Music, sweet music. What you do to us.”

And yes, weather and all, we’d do it all over again. And again. The joy ride on.

Rock on,

Rachael

*and thanks to Stephanie for help with the facts and events and chronology of this post…”And so today, my world it smiles, your hand in mine, we walk the miles,
Thanks to you it will be done, for you to me are the only one.” *

kinda like a poet

The reason for the blog name? Well, if you didn’t already know, it’s a reference from a Replacements song called, “Achin’ to Be.” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=at4DL40FQ7Y) What compelled me to choose the name? Some of my favorite lyrics are:

“Well she’s kind of like an artist
Sittin’ on the floor
Never finishes, she abandons
Never shows a soul

….

She opens her mouth to speak and
What comes out’s a mystery
Thought about, not understood
She’s achin’ to be

…….

And she’s kind of like a poet
Who finds it hard to speak
Poems come so slowly
Like the colors down a sheet
……….
She’s achin’ to be.”

While they should stand on their own, I’ll explain…
I first heard this song during a time when I wrestled with my identity as a writer/artist/musician. There was a time, in my youth, where I created without fear and flourished in the happiness of creation. Then, the “dark ages” came. Let’s just say about a decade of self-denial and depression. Thank GOD that is over. But the return to art and music and writing and poetry was slow.

I felt a bit undeserving, like maybe it was something I never belonged to. But that kind of self-denial is crippling. I would go out occasionally, dip my toe in the creative waters, and step back into the shadows. Taking the Artist’s Way workshop really brought me out of my artist drought. It helped me with my manuscript…and something more amazing, I started writing poetry again.

I found the more I shared, the better I felt and the more I realized how much I do belong in a community of writers. I started meeting people and sharing creative energy. For the moment, I’m not “achin’ to be” unless you count achin’ to be in a band. Or achin’ to be in love. That sounds so cheesy, and I know it’ll happen someday. You can’t make these things happen. In the meantime, music will always sustain, poetry will always give me voice, and I will celebrate art in all its forms.

Shame for the dark ages. Before I could ever write, a neighbor said to Mom, “That girl is going to be a writer.” And one of my childhood friendships came to be because her dad was a poet and my seven-year-old self thought that was the coolest thing in the universe.

Don’t deny the inner calling. Has there been an artistic or musical inclination calling to you? Listen to it, even if it’s just for ten minutes. I bet you’ll find yourself achin’ for more.

Be well and rock on,

Rachael

Holy…Pearl Jam manager?

Well, I know I haven’t blogged in while and this won’t be too in-depth. I believe in serendipity. My memoir was infused with my passionate love for music and contained exposition on how Eddie was my defining male role model growing up. My outside reader happened to be in Seattle at the time she was reading my manuscript. She was at a cafe, and in the city, visiting her boyfriend. While she pored over my musical language (she said writing about music was a strength of mine–yay!) she was sitting adjacent to PEARL JAM’S MANAGER. “Hey listen to this,” she told the manager. “Pearl Jam has defined the writer of this memoir I’m reading.” And she read an excerpt. FROM MY STORY.

In essence, I was only two people away from Pearl Jam in that moment. And while no giant book contract came of it (yet), it sprouted a billion ideas and possibilities inside me, right next to that beautiful and dangerous tree called Hope. I’d write more, but I have to get back to writing a new book proposal….

Believe in your dreams. It might sound trite and over-said, but there is so much truth to faith.

Be well and rock on,

Rachael