It’s not enough

There’s a reason I called this blog “unsung throes.” There’s a reason that my handle is “kindalikeapoet.” I’ve recently been reading Maynard’s bio–a very well-written account of his life by a close friend–and good writer. It came up in therapy today that I want to be a lyricist. That I’ve always been a songwriter. It comes very naturally to me, just like Maynard’s talents did to him–only he didn’t realize it until way later on because no one ever gave him the positive reinforcement about them. He knew he was talented, sure–but he didn’t realize the extent to which he was talented, nor the power that it held for both him and his audiences.

I chose “kinda like a poet” for my handle because of The Replacements’ “Achin’ to Be.” I’ve always seemed to be achin’ to be. Even in this blog. I started it so people would reach out and understand me musically. At the time, I was single and hoped to get that guy who understood me musically. The subject of the song is a girl who wishes she could be all that she wants to be creatively–so much so she aches for it–and doesn’t realize she’s already doing it. I’ve always wanted to be a successful music writer. I’m a writer and a damn good one. I’ve always wanted to be in the music field. I’m a songwriter, but, like the girl in the song, I’ve never really “unleashed” per se, like Maynard finally did. I’ve never given myself the seriousness needed for the writing.

Further, I chose “unsung throes” for a number of reasons. It’s for all the things I’ve said but never shared about music and my passion for it. For the song “unsung” by Helmet, because, well, Helmet kicks ass, and “unsung” is a totally bitchin’ name and idea for a song and thought. To be unsung is like being unseen, unheard, “un” validated. And that’s how I’ve felt most of my creative life.

But for as long as I can remember, I’ve been writing songs, re-writing songs, and singing them, if for no one else, myself. And now’s the time to make it really happen. What came up in therapy today is that–I knew I wasn’t going to get into Berklee School of Music by way of electric bass. I made the mistake of trying to major in Music at a teaching school over and over again. And when I said it today, it made today sense. “I should have been going to Berklee College of Music for SONGWRITING.” I’d still do it. But I don’t need an expensive degree (another one) to do this thing I do so well anyway. I just need a band and a connection to people who need songwriters.

So, hey, if you’re out there, and you’re down, let me know. But this is for you, all of you who have dreams that are unsung. The time is now to sing them.

Sing on. Sing loud.

Rachael

When you know it, you know it…

I have one of those little marquis boards I got in the dollar section of Michael’s. It tends to lend itself to Led Zeppelin lyrics. One of the first I put down was Robert Plant’s “Shine it all around.” Then, “Over the Hills and Far Away.” After a long period (probably all of this quarantine) I had Tool’s “Bless this Immunity” up. Until one day I needed some hope and change.

What better lyrics to put up (and I had enough letters): It’s just a spring clean for the May Queen.

My husband looked at it. “Where’s that from?”

“Stairway, duh.”

“Well, yeah, but where did they get it from? Didn’t it come from a book or something?”

“While a lot of Zep’s lyrics are inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien, this was uniquely theirs.”

I don’t know why he kept on, but we ended up doing some research and found some pretty interesting things. The gist of it is that “if there’s a bustle in your hedgerow, don’t be alarmed now; it’s just a spring clean for the May Queen” meaning this time of year, people are busy “bustling” and cleaning to bring in the spring wonders. At least, that’s my writer’s take on it. We found some other pretty funny interpretations (gotta love http://www.urbandictionary.com) that, no surprise, turned things sexual, but I’ll let you look that up.

The deal is this: you can always question my musical knowledge. I don’t claim to always be right. But I’m right about this. I know my Zeppelin. Thanks to my Robert-Plant-loving sister-in-spirit, Stephanie.

Be well and rock on as you go over the hills and onto your couch. Or whatever you might be doing in our quarantine. And as always, thanks for reading!

Rachael

Pass the Mayonaise…

Yesterday, I wrote about an album that helped redeem me. Today, I was feeling listless, frustrated, and blocked in my writing. Later in the day, after my calming tea and CBD supplement (magic to those of us with anxiety), I was singing “LET ME OUT!” from “Cherub Rock” by Smashing Pumpkins. (I’ve heard they don’t want the “The”). I got to thinking about how EPIC that album still is.

Then, it occurred to me that Billy wrote the entire album while going through a rough period of suicidal ideations and general melancholy. To me, track 9, “Mayonaise” with one n, yes, not like the food, is my saving grace, too.  I can’t tell you why he named the song as such, though I’m very good with backstory and music trivia that no one else cares about. Well, not “no one.” You do. Thank you.

The sounding refrain for this one is “I just want to be ME; and when I can, I will.” But I’m also drawn to the other lyrics as well. “Cool enough to almost be it; fool enough to not quite see it.” Sounds like my plight my whole life. I know that I can be an extremely successful music writer/songwriter/creative writer of almost anything…but I’ve always felt “stuck.” And I’m probably the one “sticking” myself. Wow. Okay, that sentence was terrific. Take it as you will.

Back to the song. What an amazingly slow opener that makes the electric guitar hum into every crevice of your synapses. Do synapses even have crevices? Mine are rocking out so hard right now, they probably made their own. “Mayonaise” on headphones, cat in lap, Rachael writing. There could be almost NO other joy like this. “All our time can’t be given back.” enJOY it.

And when I can, I will, as soon as I “SHUT MY MOUTH and STRIKE THE DEMONS!” I’ve been thinking sometimes that “words defy the plans.” Okay, I’ll stop.

“NO MORE PROMISE NO MORE SORROW NO LONGER WILL I FOLLOW Can anybody hear me? I just want to beeeeeee ME. And try to understand that when I can, I will.”

I didn’t realize I’d get so personal here, but music has a way of doing that to us. And I want to be personal with you, because you’re my readers, and undoubtedly, you saw some merit in my writing, or you enjoyed the same bands as I do, and you thought you’d give me a chance. Well, thanks again.

I think the reason I love this entire song is because of how raw and real it is for me. Depression says that. “When I can, I will.” And sometimes we never do. And then we beat ourselves up about it. Even if it was something we really didn’t want to do anyway. Or we’re really hard on ourselves for not doing something we love, or punish ourselves with the dance of regret over and over again. “I shouldn’t have left France so early,” I often say. People have asked me why I did. Why ON EARTH would you LEAVE FRANCE????? That’s what I ask. But my answer, after all these years, is a regret-singed, “Because I had untreated clinical depression and I felt lost and alone and inadequate even though I was the most fluent one there in my group, save the professor and his son.” FOOL ENOUGH TO NOT QUITE SEE IT.

BUT BUT BUT. Billy instructs to “SHUT (MY) MOUTH AND STRIKE THE DEMONS!” And we constantly do that when we confront the doubt that cripples us. Sometimes, I write a blog and proof it and change it and wonder if I should have added more or less or more or less or…

I’m getting better at letting it be a natural first draft. I just now critiqued that I should have organized the blog by the lyrics as subheaders. And then I said, “No. Stop. They’ve read this far, so it’s okay.”

Whatever your doubts are, strike ’em. Be yourself. That burn in your soul that can’t be ignored? Stop ignoring it. Stop pulling up the blanket of depression to smother the embers. Let it roar.

Because “life’s a bummer, when you’re a hummer. Life’s a draaaaag…” but that’s another song for another blog.

Be well, be safe, and rock the fuck out.

Rachael

Someone Saved My Life Tonight…

So, the subject line is Elton John, who no doubt deserves every accolade he’s ever been given, or hasn’t yet. The title came to me as I was listening to a particular album today while running errands.

Has an album ever redeemed you? Has it changed your perspective? Saved your life? I bet y’all think I’m going to mention Pearl Jam again, but this answer might surprise you. The album is 13th Step by A Perfect Circle. It takes no genius to guess that Maynard and Eddie are the fruits of my soul (no offense to my husband!)–creative masterminds that weave together the very fabric of my soul–so my answer isn’t so surprising.

I put this album on today, and I’m not even sure why. I probably had a track from it stuck on my head and decided to give it a listen. Or maybe it’s because I’m reading Maynard’s biography. So far, I’ve learned he loved Mountain Dew, Twizzlers, and Snickers bars. And a lot of other stuff about how he could sing (duh), run cross country like no other, and was a visual artist. None of that will surprise you.

But to say an album “saved (your) life,” is a huge admission. First, it’s admitting that you’ve been so down, you may have considered suicide–or you may have just been so low, it was hard for you to get out of bed. There was a time in my life where nothing made sense. It was a time I was mentally ill, but didn’t know it–really–and didn’t know how to deal with it–and was unmedicated. Decades later, we’d discover that I had bipolar depression.

I still have regret about the things I did or didn’t do during my college years–those years that should have been incredible, but those days were each a struggle for me. Had it not been for my friends, real and musical, I may not have been sitting here typing this to you now. And Maynard and Co. is counted among them.

In listless frustration and darkness, I would drive around listening to Thirteenth Step on CD. There’s a dark edge to that album that reached out to me and made me feel like I wasn’t so lost or forsaken. There was a light when I heard it, turned on for me and for many. So much of our music can do that for us.

And there you have it. I want you to know, putting this out here publicly is a risk, but it’s one I’m willing to take. I’m trying to get a Creative Writing professorship. When they ask the disability question, I never know what to do. My conditions are on there, but I always feel it will disqualify me to answer yes. But I’m always honest. And maybe that’s why I don’t have a professorship yet. Or maybe I’m just supposed to get paid to write and to write about music. I still haven’t got that answer. Time will tell. Maybe I just need to take the 13th step…

So, tell me, what’s your “salvation” album?

Be well, be kinder than necessary, and rock on,

Rachael

What’s Your Go-To?

What’s your go-to album for…driving? Housecleaning? Just because you feel like it?

It’s impossible to decide, I know. But here’s a few from my collection:

Driving? Mother Love Bone’s Apple or Smashing Pumpkins’ Siamese Dream

Housecleaning? Motley Crue’s Dr. Feelgood and/or Poison’s Flesh & Blood

Just because? Pearl Jam’s Ten, and I’m sure none of you are surprised.

It’s proven that certain music from our youth will actually stimulate the serotonin in our brains, if not bring back pleasant feelings from hearing it so much. I guess I cleaned a lot of house to Motley Crue. The other day, my husband and I listened to the album, shamelessly about sex and drugs in rock ‘n roll…and I mused on the fact that 12-year-old Rachael hopped away in her room to these blatant tracks about such matters. But then, it was an understandable graduation from ten years old and Guns ‘N Roses, so who minds?

Mother Love Bone’s Apple has all the right grooves for a road trip, no matter how short. Even the slower, more solemn tracks keep the white lines or yellow lines ticking by.

Siamese Dream I chose because my brother and I listened to it all the time when he and mom and I were on our way to see my grandparents. I think we started every trip off with that one. It’s also a good introspective one if you’re by yourself, especially in the fall.

And last but never least, Pearl Jam. Go figure. But how can an album so chock full of wonderful nuggets not be perfect for any occasion?

So tell me, what are some of yours?

Be well, stay well, and rock on,

Rachael

Appetite for Discussion…

G’NR, baby. Let me explain. Once, there was a ten-year-old girl who hated to be moved a town away from her friends and her life at the same time she discovered rock music and its salvation. She saved up her allowance and bought Appetite For Destruction on cassette. It still works, 28 years later. The cassette and the music.

Don’t get me wrong, I know Axl is a misogynist and a whole slew of other things a young girl shouldn’t immortalize–but the rebellion–the whine–the content. Sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll…and the only thing she could have was the last one–and it’s all she’s ever needed.

So did I feel guilty when I rose up inside myself and fist-pumped with a “fuck yeah!” in my room that young? No. And I still don’t. My husband and I have a shared playlist we’ve been listening to since we’ve both been home. It helps me from going insane to the sounds of power metal (can’t stand it, sorry) and power tools. It helps him use the power tools and kick ass on the house-building. Axl and Co. have frequented that list a lot lately. I found myself wandering around a post-apocalyptic Walmart singing, “everybody’s there…but you don’t seem to care…in the garden…” Truth is, the Corporate Overlord was jammed-packed the Saturday before Easter Sunday and it sucked because everyone was wearing masks or not–and getting in the way and not keeping their distance, but that’s a different blog.

Let’s talk about Guns ‘n fuckin’ Roses, as Axl and Duff so often say on live tracks. A few of my favorites lately are “The Garden” “Estranged” and the Dylan cover, “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” Axl’s whine almost outshines Dylan’s mumble on this one. In fact, I just talked to my stepsons the other day about how I got into a lot of older bands, especially the Beatles, because of Guns ‘N Roses and other contemporaries that would do covers. I’ve never liked covers better than when Pearl Jam or Guns ‘N Roses does them. And most of all, Johnny Cash. That man could redo and outdo anyone’s original. Check out “Hurt” and American IV. “Won’t Back Down” is a great one.

Little Rachael proudly wore a tee with guns and bleeding roses on it to her first day of 5th grade in a new school. Needless to say, she went home crying that day, not realizing the other ten-year-olds were probably afraid to talk to her. Mind you, this was also back in a time where it was completely innocent “I’m fuckin’ innocent!”–to wear a shirt with such regalia on it to school.

Before Pearl Jam, Def Leppard, Guns ‘N Roses, Skid Row, Slaughter, Firehouse (yes, Firehouse), Tesla, and Metallica had my ears. The rest is kinda history, which, kind reader, you’re learning about as you read me. Thanks for doing so. So, what are your thoughts on Axl & Co.? What’s your favorite G’NR track?

Be well, stay safe, and rock on and out and on and on,

Rachael (aka Pearl Jam Girl)

Flattened by Gigaton

Yesterday was a nice spring day. My husband put Gigaton on without me saying a word, so I just sat there in my anti-gravity chair and listened to it in its entirety, eyes closed. Ah, you know what I mean–take away one sense, heighten the others. There’s a reason I get anxiety when I try to wear headphones in public places, sadly. It’s just that music is so powerful for me that it’s hard to devote myself to anything else. I manage while driving (I heard you gasp–don’t lie) but that’s because a lot of that previously mentioned anxiety comes from social anxiety. I’m awkward, clumsy, slower than most, a dreamer, I take my time, and so to have something that would completely distract me makes me nervous. It wasn’t always so. Anxiety sucks.

But what doesn’t suck (you saw that coming) is the latest Pearl Jam studio album, Gigaton. For my “Faithfull” readers, you know I’ve been digesting each track with you for about a week now, give or take. I called it “The Twelve Days of Pearl Jam,” but couldn’t wait, just like an excited little kid at Christmas, to talk about the tracks one per day. Here’s the whole album review:

Pearl Jam’s Gigaton is prophetic, poetic, and largely reeks of punk. The flip side of that record is that it holds its roots in older Pearl Jam tracks, such as “Off He Goes” and “Amongst the Waves” and “Driftin’.” This long-awaited gem starts with the unapologetic, “Who Ever Said” where Vedder wails, “Who Ever Said it’s all been said gave up on satisfaction” with the golden truism “you don’t get to speak with twice as much to say.” Isn’t that a glorious way to say shut up? But that’s the last thing we want this fab five to do.

There’s no way to avoid the Zeppelin-influenced guitar riffs in “Quick Escape” and the band keeps rolling on with punk-infused guitar in tracks like “Never Destination” and “Superblood Wolfmoon.” What outshines their style a bit here is the first album cut, “Dance of the Clairvoyants.” We’ve never seen them do anything like this–and we like this. The digital high-hat and keyboards add a unique element to the album we did not expect to hear from the band.

And speaking of hearing, more so than ever, Eddie’s vocals are clear and crisp. Don’t get me wrong, I love his low, growling tenor, and there have been jokes about, “What the eff is Eddie Vedder singing?” for decades  now, but in this album, as stated by my mom, “You actually know what he’s singing!” Coming from a woman who used to tease me and call him “Marble Mouth” just to get a rise out of me must mean it’s true. And the lyrics on their own merit are incredible. All week, I’ve had to refrain from copyright infringement on my blog not to share all the lyrics with you all at once. The physical media has EVERY lyric–oh a treat to us “90s” folk.

If you’re into a more meditative state of mind, I recommend, “Seven O’Clock” (my favorite), and “River Cross.” If you need to feel a little upbeat but less heavy, give “Retrograde” a spin. It seems there’s something here for every type of Pearl Jam fan, but in my opinion, as long as it’s them, you can never go wrong. Thanks, guys, for 29 years of life and vigor. Here’s to more.

Cheers. Be well and rock on.

Rachael (aka Pearl Jam Girl)

If you see a “River,” “Cross” it

I’ll be there to help you. One thing we didn’t discuss yet, that my husband brought to my attention upon listening to “Seven O’Clock” (my absolute favorite) is the use of electronic keyboards and organs. He isn’t used to hearing Boom Gasper, so it’s been evident in other albums, but not so prominent as in Gigaton. Now, me, after listening at least 18 times, I didn’t really understand why it sounded different–I just knew it was awesome.

Listening to “River Cross” really begins with a funereal organ that flows throughout, with minimal instrumentation throughout. This highlights Vedder’s voice and wisdom as we cross through it together. “I used to tell time by my shadow ’til the thunder clouds-they took the stage. These days will end as do the light rays.” There’s a definite finality to this seemingly hopeful song that closes out the epic new album. This track actually leaves me with a beautiful and thoughtful sadness.

“I want this dream to last forever. A wish denied to lengthen our time. I wish this moment was never-ending. Let it be a lie that all futures die.”

I think on my life, and I think on this COVID-19 crisis. I think on how badly I want to meet the band, know the band, write for the band, chase the tour bus down the road–oh wait, that’s what I’ve metaphorically been doing my whole life. I said in a previous entry that Gigaton is prophetic.

And yet, it ends in such an achingly beautiful way with “River Cross.”

“Folder over, forced in a chokehold
Outnumbered and held down
And all this talk of rapture
Look around at the promise NOW, …Here and now

Won’t hold us down…WON’T HOLD US DOWN
Share the light,…WON’T HOLD US DOWN…”
…and repeat to fade…

And then hit repeat.

Be well and rock on,

Rachael (aka Pearl Jam Girl)

Mercury may not be in “Retrograde” but I am…

If anything, this entire album has a very earthy feel to it. So it’s not surprising when you get to “Retrograde” that you feel a celestial joy with Vedder’s lyrics and upbeat tone. Celebratory from the beginning, we feel that Vedder has found his place, his healing, his home in the very music that helped him heal. And the very fans that healed with him.

We’ve gone on a 29-year journey with these talented musicians and awesome men–I would hope they would be as awesome as I perceive them to be–and I would hope, before I die, I get the chance to know. “Retrograde” calls the listener to “hear the sound” because “it could be thunder or a crowd.” This further proves that either 1) I’m thinking too hard, which I always do, trying to make metaphoric connections to everything, including the gum on the sidewalk or 2) the track is a matured one, about being in the now and appreciating the “then” that got them to “now.” The echo fade-out is absolutely satisfying, as I have found this entire album. But I guess we’ll decide when we “Cross” that “River” next time.

Thanks for reading.

Be well and rock on,

Pearl Jam Girl

 

It “Comes then Goes” I guess…

Good news, music fans. Pearl Jam’s album is getting good reviews by reputable reviewers finally. I think the negative reviews just didn’t let it sit long enough. A fellow Pearl Jammer on the 10Club group said that “Superblood Wolfmoon” is totally different on the album in its place and has an almost different sound. I agree with him. It’s better, actually, set next to the other new tracks. My favorite response to my upset about the negativity floating around in this already difficult time was my fellow rock chick, Steph. “Well, Rachael, you know, opinions are like assholes; everybody’s got one.” I nearly fell off my chair laughing.

So what about this track, “Comes then Goes”? It has a lilting power. It’s one of the softer tracks on the album. It would fit perfectly on a Pearl Jam mix with “Off He Goes” “In My Tree” “Drifting” and “Around the Bend.” I think I’ll make me a mix now, thank you 🙂 Once again, we’re giving Pearl Jam/nature wisdom. I feel more like I”m sitting on a mountain with a shaman or a soft breeze, thinking. Geez, I wish Eddie was here with me…

Did you ever notice how the band is great at putting in these latinate words into their music? “Juxtapose” makes it way into this one. But “ramifications” made it into a previous track. ANd they do it flawlessly. After introducing me to the band, my brother, actually named Jeremy, lost touch. Vs. was too depressing for him, whereas it saved me. He recently started listening again, and we had a telephone conversation about it. “You’ve been listening to a lot of Pearl Jam” I said. “Yeah, how can you tell?” “Your vocabulary has expanded.” Nevertheless, I’m still sitting on this hill, waiting for Eddie, much the story of my life, jamming out.

What I really want to say today is this: this album is prophetic. I don’t buy into these end of the world things going on right now, and maybe because it would just scare the shit out of me if I really did. But I immerse myself in music because that is what life is for me, and I’m truly “alive” when I do. I will say, however, that Pearl Jam canceled (please say postponed, and mean it) their tour ahead of the pack because they knew “our government wouldn’t handle this whole situation efficiently.” Amen, brothers. “We could all use a savior from human behavior sometimes. The Queen of Collections came and took your time. Sadness comes, because sometimes the sadness is mine.”

I’m terribly grateful for this album, and it was well-timed for this COVID lockdown. There’s evermore wisdom tucked into this album then there ever has been, I think. Nevertheless, I’m still sitting on this hill, waiting for Eddie, much the story of my life, jamming out. I guess you could say it “Comes then Goes.”