An excess of INXS? Not possible.

In the wake of Snakes’ passing, I’ve been drowning myself in music. Saturday morning, February 19, I e-filed my taxes while she lie there, taking in shallow breaths and listening to Springsteen’s Born to Run spin on the turntable. I think the last song she ever heard was either “Backstreets” or “Jungleland.” (From Jungleland: “Desperate as the night moves on, just a look and a whisper, and they’re gone.” More lyrics: http://www.lyricsfreak.com/b/bruce+springsteen/#share) I roused her to feed and water her and she let out three long gasps and passed. I won’t dwell on what followed.

After a few horribly painful days, I decided that, once I returned to my quiet and empty apartment, music must be present in all times and situations except when I sleep. Even then, I listen to the waterfall sounds of my “Gentle Giraffe” animal. I miss the purring. She used to purr me to sleep.

My friend Stephanie and I bonded over INXS and recently I told her we must compile the “Ultimate INXS” mix. I did just that this morning. I made only two mistakes. I separated “Need You Tonight” and “Mediate.” Those songs blend together. But it’s okay. It’s a forgivable blip. The other thing I wish I would have done is put “What You Need” on there right after “Need You Tonight.” It would have added a bit more poetry. But it’s okay. The mix is great. It is as follows:

New Sensation (a great getting out of work song)
Tiny Daggers
Devil Inside
Need You Tonight
Mystify
Taste it
Kick
Disappear
Baby Don’t Cry
Bitter Tears
Never Tear Us Apart
By My Side (Snakes’ song)
Heaven Sent
On My Way (a great road trip song)
Hear that Sound (a must have with a great reprise)
Not Enough Time (there never is? Is there?)
Mediate (how about a fabulous song employing a lot of Latinate words in poetic form?)
Beautiful Girl (and Steph and Snakes song)

It’s a damn shame that Michael Hutchence had to pass. He died of Auto-erotic asphyxiation. INXS was a band that pushed the borders of erotic, romantic tunes to a groovy beat. They were an extremely progressive band for their time. In the height of their career in the 80s, they broke boundaries and left their mark on the prog-pop genre. Tell me you don’t tap your foot when you hear Need You Tonight. Pick up an album and tell me they’re not What You Need.

For more on INXS, go here: http://www.inxs.com

It’s hard to pick a favorite, but even in my mourning I found myself dancing around the bathroom during “Hear That Sound” this morning. Lots of songs have been created in tribute to the wonderful, healing force that music is. This one can’t be topped. It even has a reprise.

Be well, rock on and kiss your kitties,

Rachael

March 25, 1994

Kurt Cobain was still alive and The Counting Crows smashing debut album, August and Everything After, had just hit the stores and rocketed up the charts. Well, I’m not sure about that last part, but it should have! On/around 3/25/94, my cat, Coffee, gave birth to four kittens. Coffee, an orange tabby, and her mother, Meatloaf, a grey tortoise-shell, were not quite right in the head. They would give birth and the kitties would be sick or die for unknown reasons. But these four survived: Smokey (a furry grey), Cow (a white and orange tabby) Burger (a golden tabby) and Snakes (my beautiful tortoise-shell) survived. We had to give a lot of cats away before we finally got around to neutering them. And, though it grieves me, Coffee and Meatloaf ended up on a farm. Meatloaf was mean-spirited, and we joked around that the recording artist, Meatloaf, called his album “Bat out of Hell” after our insane cat. Our loopy cousin named her Meatloaf because she said she looked like her meatloaf recipe.

But I digress. Burger was supposed to be mine, Snakes belonged to Jeremy. Jeremy named her Snakes because she had a small, almost diamond-shaped head (You know the way itty-bitty kitties look?) She had vivid green eyes, and only one opened for a while. The extra “S” came from the fact that he thought it sounded mobster (even at 14, Jeremy was heavily into Good Fellas). No one ever wants to call a singular cat by a plural name. And when the vet calls, “Snake!?” in the office, undoubtedly, heads will turn. But it’s not a cold reptile. It’s my lovable little ball of fur.

Burger ran away and we believe a childhood neighbor adopted him, because we saw him one day. I urged him to come home, but he would not. At this time, Snakes had already adopted me. She ate with me, slept with me, hung out in my room. I have pictures of her laying alongside my pen and notebook or on my electric bass. I always equate her birth with a good year. The Counting Crows were phenomenal; I was writing and singing and dancing and losing weight and gaining confidence. And my buddy Snakes, was there beside me through it all.

She saw the tears after high school dances when the boy I pined for wouldn’t acknowledge my presence. She hid herself away when I smuggled her into my collage apartment after Mom moved and during a very difficult period of my life. She would even trip Mom when I called, from college, and “talk” to me on the phone.

In 2007, she was diagnosed with diabetes. We have a wonderful vet that I drive all the way out to Sweet Valley to see. After four years of diabetes, she’s still hanging in there. This morning, she was a bit under the weather and I was finally compelled to start writing about our lives together. Every morning we say the prayers. Every night we read a devotion and say the prayers. She gathers herself at my head and purrs me to sleep, and in the morning, gives me kisses. The early chapter book series Mr. Putter and Tabby (Pour the Tea, is the first one) reminds me of my Snakes and me. Today, I worry about how much time we have left on this earth. But I know that we will have eternity together.

My best friend, Lindsey, lost a special cat named Dickens, in her youth. An ignorant classmate chose the day of his death to inform her that “cats don’t have souls.” Though a non-violent person, I’d still like to punch that girl in the face for saying/believing that. Of course they do. Cats are family, friends, and kindred spirits. Robert Smith (The Cure) knew that. Here…listen to a cat-related ditty: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6uKvcFB6wU

And please keep Snakes and myself in your thoughts and prayers today. I heard the Counting Crows’ “Long December” this morning and it inspired me to write this. In a month, Snakes will be 17. I hope we have a lot longer than that together.

Be well, rock on, and kiss your kitties more,

Rachael

When you wish upon a star and it turns into a plane…

Is it okay to write another blog inspired by the Replacements? Great! Thank you. For starters, listen to this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQoZW3jv7hA

Plenty of times I wake up “in February makeup”, and wonder if Paul Westerberg knows all there is to know about love and heartache. I’d certainly prefer his brand of enthusiasm to Hallmark’s gushing “I love us” campaign.

Some poignant lyrics from this song are:
“If you were a pill
I’d take a handful at my will
And I’d knock you back with something sweet and strong
Plenty of times you wake up in February make-up
Like the moon and the morning star you’re gone.”

The subject line of this post is also the opening line. Seems like some people wish on the stars for the love of their lives and I’m always wishing on planets, so that must be better than planes, right? Oh, Valentine’s Day, you Hallmark holiday created only to estrange the single and bankrupt the smitten. But I’m not really (that) jaded. 🙂 I do, however, believe Valentine’s Day should be a day to celebrate EVERYONE you love and love in general. Isn’t it a wonderful enterprise?

When I think of love (outside of romantic love), I immediately think of my family and friends (often the latter is not different than the former.) Recently, I found an old radio rant of mine. I covered a Valentine’s Day show for my roommate so she could go out with her new boyfriend. I was, at the time, single for waaaaay longer than I’ll admit here, and rambled on air about how this should be a day to celebrate love in general. Anyone who is single and a bit jaded by this Hallmark holiday will subscribe to this philosophy.

Who am I kidding? The origin of St. Valentine’s Day is grounded in ideas of romantic love. Read more on the history here: http://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day

Whatever your station in life, enjoy the day, celebrate those whom you love, and be kind to one another. I’ll be looking to the sky for my plane, Paul.

And, before I sign off, you should also check out this great song, brought to you by the wonderful Bouncing Souls:

Be well and rock on,

Rachael

Red, Red Wine…Replacements style, that is…

By now, most of you are probably singing UB40’s version of “Red, Red Wine.” If you have never heard the Replacements’ “Red, Red Wine” you should 1) check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElrlNUxvh58
2) Kindly read the following ramble about how incredible this band is, along with other excited ululations that distract me from the subject:

Do you ever get a song stuck on your head for days at a time? Well, that happened to me this weekend and it was “Red, Red Wine” by the Replacements. I have to admit, though, that I was not a Replacements fan until a few years ago. I read Love is a Mix Tape, Rob Sheffield’s memoir, and got hooked. Around the same time, a terrific local art and poetry venue, Paper Kite Press, was hosting a series of talks. I had the pleasure of seeing local poet and writer, Jim Warner, give a rousing talk on the beauty and talent of Paul Westerberg & Co. Almost immediately, I purchased The Replacements’ “Pleased to Meet Me” and I was definitely pleased to meet them.

Until those experiences, I’d always wondered if there was more Paul Westerberg out there. You see, I loved him from Singles (another movie and soundtrack you must own, right this minute, if you don’t already. Here’s a link to purchase them: The DVD: http://www.amazon.com/Singles-Bridget-Fonda/dp/6305283516/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1297040694&sr=8-1 The CD: http://www.amazon.com/Singles-Original-Motion-Picture-Soundtrack/dp/B0000028MA/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1297040739&sr=1-1Yes, I’m that serious.)

When the movie debuted in 1992, I was itching just to see the small clips Eddie Vedder had in it. It is still the one movie I say to people, “Oh my God! You have to see this movie!” I’m painfully aware, nearing the age of 30, that the movie is kind of ironic since I’m now in the predicament of some of those characters. As an 11 year-old girl, I adored these late 20-somethings all frustrated from the dating scene.

But enough of that! Back to Mr. Westerberg. It’s true that “Dyslexic Heart” was the big hit from this soundtrack. Paul didn’t really like it because he felt the “Nah, nah, nah nahs” were a bit too cheesy. Cameron Crowe, however, adored them, and because of their catchy nature, they sprinted the song up the charts. An overlooked track on that CD is Westerberg’s “Waiting for Somebody.” There is an acoustic, slow version that plays during the movie that I have yet to find but must! (If you have any leads, please let me know!) Throughout my youth, I kept thinking “There must be more Westerberg out there! He’s a lyrical genius!”

One night, I discovered his album “Eventually.” Notable tracks are: Angels Walk, Love Untold, Trumpet Clip, and Good Day. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2B4CN7TM1iQ

But when I began my introduction to the wonders of the Replacements, it was with “Pleased to Meet Me.” Do yourself a favor and pick this one up. Or you could always choose “Don’t You Know Who I Think I Was” which is a greatest hits compilation of some of their gems. “Alex Chilton” is Paul’s homage to the late, great songwriter of Big Star and vocalist for The Box Tops. “Alex Chilton” is one of my favs because he professes, “I’m in love; but what’s that song? I’m in love, with that song.” The beats and the bass line (which I still can find no tabs too) coupled with the driving lyrics make this a must listen! Here, listen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTSJYZyouek I can guarantee you will repeat it, at least once. You may also like “Can’t Hardly Wait.” It’s okay, Paul. I forgive you for the improper grammar. This song is probably one of my top favorites of all time from any band. I highly recommend listening to this one when you are looking forward to something, or driving down the country lanes in early evening during springtime, or both.

But for some reason, this weekend, the raucous “Red, Red Wine” found a loop in my musical synapses. You should introduce yourself to the Replacements. You’ll be pleased to meet them.

Be well and rock on,

Rachael