In the Meantime…

Y’ever have one of those days/weeks/months (hopefully not years) where it seems there’s an avalanche of life issues that crumble, initiating a landslide of mountainous debris that plows you down and buries you?  Great!  (Well, not really, of course), but it means you understand, or can at least empathize with how I’ve been feeling in the last two weeks of my life.

We’re moving; it’s an experiment.  We’re moving to a beautifully wooded area, into a 24-foot camper and building my husband’s dream house.  Only it’s been torrential downpours reminiscent of the Seattle I have yet to see.  I’ve been “off my meds” for two weeks; the side effects of that were far worse than any way I’ve ever felt in my entire life.  And, lastly, ladies, you will understand:  I’m hormonal.  The kind where you feel like all those repressed Victorian women who wanted to—or did–put stones in their pockets and take a slow walk out into a deep river.

And I’m cleaning and I have back pain issues and I feel like someone blew up one of those giant, bouncy balls that kids can sit on a festivals…and put it in my stomach.  I cry at random.  I yell at my husband.  Being a woman is fun.

But, I have this awesome ghetto set up in my 2002 Toyota Camry:  it’s SiriusXM, and it has my most beloved station, Lithium.  My car isn’t advanced enough for auxiliary connection, so I situate an iPod docking station (that resets itself each time I turn the car off/on).  I use a remote to change the setting because the top buttons of the docking station no longer work.  But it’s glorious.

I don’t need anti-depressants, thank you.  I am taking CBD oil and it has changed my life.  But more importantly than that, I can escape to my 90s safe house.  “Mornings with Madison” on Lithium changes the whole scope of the day.  I love her. #radiomadison I imagine she is what I would have been if I had pursued radio after my college radio days; funny, snarky, and sending out my favorite salvation songs to a campus where no one was listening, except my friends.

I don’t feel so isolated, though sometimes I feel there isn’t an overwhelming population for which 90s Alternative and Grunge is their salvation–there is more than one would suspect, as I have learned in my Seattle Grunge private Facebook group (thank you, Jodi Ross), where I can go without negative haters making stupid comments.  The world needs less negativity.  But in my car, half awake and raging with emotion and stress and fatigue and discontent and delirious laughter and, sometimes, unexpected tears, I know that I am not alone.  It’s like The Church of Madison, and there are plenty like me, doing the same thing, going through similar things, hanging onto our very salvation, and Madison is a conduit for that, the clergywoman, if you will.

(Breath, and a…oh, reach the door…)

This was a super-long introduction to the highlight of my day, but thanks for reading.   Writers, right?  We just want to be heard.  Okay, let’s get to it:

Madison read a mini-letter of gratitude (read: tweet) from a listener who hates her job but expressed that hearing her show was the best part of her morning on the way to said hated job.  And then, she played Spacehog’s “In the Meantime.”  Something about this moment, this choice of song woke me out of my depressive coma and launched me into fumbling for the remote blindly (because of course, I’m driving safely), and cranking the iPod docking station louder than love. The anticipation of the loud “ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo-ooh ooooooh” intro created a child-like excitement within me.  (Yes, I timed out the ooo part so it matches the song, go ahead, you know you want to sing it, or else you already tested me for correctness.)

In my allergy-rasped voice, I belted them out.  Oh, that bass.  That sweet, driving, jumping bass!  That authentic 90s movement.  Delicious to my ears.  And then…after stop-light head nodding and steering-wheel drumming, I turn into the rural high school where I’ve been subbing for bread crumbs whilst I weep over my three degrees at night–I park the car, notice a dude next to me, getting out of his car and looking at me as though my radio is too loud, and he’s either intrigued or annoyed, and I don’t care–I continue, leaving the volume where it is, probably blowing the speakers of a pre-owned iPod docking station…and then, the most beautiful thing happens:  the very Ben Folds-ish piano outro.  That does NOT get interrupted at all, not even one nanosecond, by the DJ.  And life is okay again, and I am okay again, and tears of relief and exhaustion spill down my cheeks as I cut the engine, straighten my explosion of humidity-treated hair, and turn to face the strange, but I am reassured now that I am not alone in this.

In the meantime, turn it up:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDkhl-CgETg

Thank you, music.

Thank you, Madison (#radiomadison)

Thank you, life.

#twola

#mentalhealthawareness

#musictherapy

Be well, and rock on,

Rachael

P.S. Aside from the actual song, there are 10 musical references in this blog.  None of them were intentional; okay, maybe one or two.  But the others?  Just the nature of how music-infused my DNA is.  See if you can find them.  Send me some comments as you do.

 

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Are you Out of Time?

Day Four of the Ten All-Time Favorites Challenge:

R.E.M.’s Out of Time

This was an album that my brother asked for on cassette the year it came out; neither of us were even ten years old.  I wanted a copy, too, and so it was.  From the time it begins to the time it ends, this album is a pleasurable joyride for the ear drums–starting with the raucous “Radio Song,” and flowing into the big radio hit, “Losing My Religion.”  But consider this:  there are tracks on here, as with most albums, that are complete gems gleaming out of time and sync with the music of it’s era.  “Near Wild Heaven” never got airplay, unless some totally amazing college kid played it on his or her radio DJ slot on public radio somewhere.

Sandwiched between that fourth track of musical jubilance is “End Game,” a mellow tune, perfectly placed between the seemingly happy break-up song, “Near Wild Heaven” and the very well-known “Shiny Happy People.”  Though an overplayed radio hit–this song, much like Chinese leftovers–never gets old.  It was once deemed a song that can inspire happiness on any worst day.  I believe it.  I always close my eyes as I twirl around the living room, imagining I’m in a sunny field of flowers–a field akin to the scenery of the “No Rain” video by Blind Melon.

There is too much to say about the entirety of this album, dark and driving tunes like “Texarkana” and introspective/spoken poetry pieces like “Belong,” keep the record riveting your soul to the very end–and to the rewind you know you’ll partake in.

R.E.M. is still on my “must-see” bucket list of concerts, despite their retirement.  I still have hope that I’m not out of time.

Rock on,

Rachael

P.S.  If you’re wondering, yes, R.E.M. stands for “rapid-eye movement,” that deep state of sleep where one dreams.  The band allegedly chose this blindly by pointing at a random dictionary page!

 

All-Time (1 of 10)

Recently, I was challenged via my awesome brother (in-law) via Facebook to post one of my all-time favorite albums each day for ten days. WITHOUT TALKING ABOUT IT. That was the harder caveat than actually choosing them. I made a couple of rules:

1) I’d blog about each one of them, because I cannot NOT talk about music.

2) I wouldn’t think too hard, just channel some of my very favorites of all-time. These are the ones I have probably played so much they have wear and tear on the booklets, the cases, the actual CDs.

3) I wouldn’t agonize over any I may have forgotten, or would have chosen “instead of.”

4) I’d write about each one and why it was prolific for me.

So, here goes:

Day One: Counting Crows August and Everything After

I happened to choose this one first. I put it in my car and found it very appropriate that it was a grey, cold and rainy day here in NEPA (Northeastern PA). Seems that Adam Duritz has recurring themes in that album, and others, of rain, grey, Maria, fog, mist, and melancholy. I found myself BLARING my own voice against the speakers in my car as I cruised down I-81 North.

But it all started when “’Round Here” came out. A first radio release in 1994. I ran to the mall (not literally, more like asked Mom to drive me because I was only 12), to purchase this the day it came out. I struggled with depression as an adolescent, not having proper treatment for it later, except for the very addiction that still keeps me alive today—music.

I still want to hire an artist to do a watercolor or oil painting of “Perfect Blue Buildings” highlighting the blue buildings beside the green apple sea…I wanna get me a little, oblivion, baby…try to keep myself away from myself and me.

It’s been said that Duritz suffers from manic-depressive disorder. Somehow, without realizing that back then, I just knew that he and the other Crows were helping me cope with mine. I remember floating in our above ground pool (the prized possession of my youth), listening to this as my brother listened and tapped out the drum beats perfectly. I floated by the tree that shadowed the pool and imagined I was in the green apple sea. Yeah, Adam, I want to get me a little oblivion, too. And I understand what you mean when you are trying to restrain yourself from yourself. That is a concept I think most artists and sufferers of depression (or both) totally get.

“Rain King” was another favorite. I used to dance around my small room until my legs hurt. And then there’s “A Murder of One.” Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh….deep breath. If you don’t know, a group of crows is referred to as a “murder of crows.” Interesting how death seemed to hang on the wingspan of this animal that gets a bad rep, right? I always appreciated how that one title indicated loneliness. And even then I didn’t realize I was a great writer…

There’s a part in the middle where I would be dancing and do an interpretive dance which fanned out into a jubilant jump-and-twirl around the two feet wide and six-foot long space by my window, behind my bed. “CHAN-CHAN-CHANGE!!!” I would howl with Duritz as I undulated across my bedroom floor. That song itself felt like a rebirth, and still does, every time I hear it. It is the last track on the album, and a reward for solemn slots like, “Sullivan Street,” and “Raining in Baltimore.”

While it’s true that their first four albums strike my fancy way more than the latter ones, those earlier masterpieces will always help me, guide me, and be a raft on my green apple seas…

Thanks for reading.

Rock on,

Rachael

Mother, My Love Bone is stuck!

Made ya look.  Now, you were probably drawn to the three most important words in that title.  Mother. Love. Bone.  Good.

I don’t believe in coincidences.  Somehow, amid a February spell of depression (or a clinical depression management flare up?), I dutifully picked Mother Love Bone’s Apple from my “special CD shelf.”  I moved my all-time favorites to a shelf of their own.  This shelf is comprised of the mixed tapes (CDs) my husband made for me, all my Pearl Jam albums and sundry recordings, Mother Love Bone’s works, Eddie’s solo stuff, and Smashing Pumpkins’s box set.  Also, two copies of Singles soundtrack.  Yes, two.  I found that, after one play-through, I couldn’t remove it from my car’s CD deck.  No, it wasn’t LITERALLY stuck, but my hands were unable, or unwilling, to eject it from it’s warm place in CD land, located somewhere behind my dashboard.  I must have listened to it for three days straight.  (How’s that for an Easter occurrence?)

I went to teach my creative writing workshop.  A woman, older than I am, read a piece where two of her characters in a club were shouting back and forth during a show:

Character One:”Man, Pearl Jam’s where it’s at!”

Character Two:  “Nah, you’re fulla fuckin’ bullshit, man!  Everyone knows it was all about Mother Love Bone, man!”

Of course, my insides and my smile broadened.  After my workshop, I called my brother.  I never brought up what I had been listening to, until after he recounted talking to a much older, nerdier coworker about music.  “Yeah, dude, I love Pearl Jam,” Jeremy agreed with him.

The dude he was talking to:  “Yeah, but Mother Love Bone?  Holy crap.”

Jeremy, to me, “I know, right?  If Andy had lived…he would have been the most prolific, insanely rocking musician of our time, I think.”

Me, “I love you.”  Well, I didn’t say that immediately, but I know it’s true, whenever I talk to anyone about the music that not only moves me, but saves me.  I feel my chest expand under the press of a February fog of allergies, depression, and shitty weather.  I feel my soul stretch out, smile, and take off for a 5K.

And this is how I feel when Mother!  My Love Bone is stuck.  In fact, as I was playing “car” with my favorite three-year-old (not mine, but I get visitation rights! i.e. I’m her part-time nanny), she picked the album by happenstance, after a week of me listening to it non-stop.  I had put it back, but she picked it up, and in her cute, toddler treble said, “I wan’…THIS ONE!”  Okay.  Truth.  Her favorite color is purple.  As you may know, the album is heavily imbued with the color, and variations of the shade.

Hence, I put the CD back into my player and there it has stayed for another two-and-a-half listens.  I know that I have articulated many times how alive music makes me feel (Pearl Jam pun welcome).  But I realized many important things this week; rather, I re-realized them.

Going down the road, cruise control, spring-like weather gracing me, I turned the volume up high.  Way higher than I usually do. I could probably sing this album BACKWARDS in perfect pitch.  But I’d rather do what I normally do–which is “car dance.”  Car dancing is when your body can’t help but move in some way to the music you hear.  Sometimes, there’s steering wheel drumming.  Sometimes, there’s what I call interpretive hand-dancing.  This is where I act out the lyrics with my hand, looking to passing cars as though I’m having an emphatic conversation.  And I am.  I converse with my musicians the very same as I would converse with my best friend.  I am happy.  I am free.  I am funny.  I often yell, “Preach it!”  “Tell me more!”  “Sing it, Andy.”  Or “That’s damn right!”  “I’m listening, man, and I know you know that!”

Yeah, I’m still alive.  And I’ve found the very thing that, no, doesn’t “cure” depression, but heals insides of me I ignored.  And that is proper treatment of clinical depression.  Just this week, I posted on Facebook about how one shouldn’t, “be the backup vocalist when you were meant to sing lead.”  This was for myself.  I’m done with the background.  I belong up front. I deserve to be heard.  I shouldn’t be afraid to be heard.  Andy helps me.  What is it about his legacy that makes me feel this way?

The way I car-dance with Mother Love Bone.  (Giving credit to the whole unit, as it should be.)  But I think of Andy’s energy and love and passion for music.  He WAS the music.  He had fears and anxieties just like me, just like the rest of us, but music was his salve, his “cure,” his artistic debt to himself.  He lets me out.  He frees my trapped artist.  And there are never any adequate words to express my gratitude.  “Words and music are my only tools”…and I will use them, Andy, just like you did.  I will use them well.  I would say I wish you could see the legacy you left behind, but I know you do.  And that alone makes me smile contentedly.

See you in the Temple of the Dog, man.

Peace, love, and music.

Rachael

P.S. This post was composed while I was spinning Apple on my turntable.

In My Time of Dying…

This post might upset some of you…or it might give you hope.  When I read that Chris Cornell closed his final show with Led Zeppelin’s “In My Time of Dying,” I was a bit blown away.  It was too much to process.  I thought it would be a long time until I could listen to the song without being overcome with emotion.  

I listened to it about a week later, and really heard the lyrics.  Upon a second listen, I tried to imagine, even in a state of addiction and depression, what that must have been like for him.  When I hear Robert Plant’s enigmatic voice imbibe,

“Jesus, going to make up my dying bed

Meet me, Jesus, meet me

Meet me in the middle of the air

If my wings should fail me, Lord

Please meet me with another pair

Well, well, well, so I can die easy [x2]” (Google Music)

I get chills.  Plant’s voice, like Cornell’s, is soulful and charged with emotion.  I have to take a moment here to say that these musical gods are my incensed religious prophets that hand out my salvation regularly from the pulpit.  They are the voices that redeem me.  He went out on a prayer.

I am not glorifying suicide, or death, please don’t mistake my words here; but I am saying that I found peace in knowing that Chris’s final call in this world was a beautifully artistic one.  My brother said, “Yes, I mourn for his passing; but he’s finally found peace.  Yes, it sucks that he left behind so many loved ones, but he no longer suffers.”  Well, well, well, so he can die easy.  These elements came together in my time of mourning this musical sage, this wonderful counselor in a world of pain and grievances…

Like the great J. Michael Lennon often says of fall, “It is a beautiful death.”  I can apply that to this scenario.  

I cried.  I pushed out anger listening to Badmotorfinger at the gym.  I wept when I heard his sweet voice mourning the passing of his friend and roommate Andy Wood in Temple of the Dog’s “Say Hello to Heaven.”

But what we are left with is a legacy; just about 30 years of artistic brilliance that we can repeat on our turntables, our cassettes, our CDs, our guitars, among our friends, in our cars when we sing/shout along to “Rusty Cage” or “Outshined.”  We can be grateful for that.  We can look and admire that, though he left us, he did it as beautifully as a soul rising up and greeting the gates of Heaven.

Say hello to all of it for us, Chris

Rest in Peace.

Blessings and rock on,
Rachael

See below for video of the last song, and for lyrics, and for ways to help the crushing silence of depression:

https://twloha.com/

https://youtu.be/-yTC6hM3nYw

Lyrics

In my time of dying, I want nobody to mourn

All I want for you to do is take my body home

Well, well, well, so I can die easy [x2]

Jesus, going to make up

Jesus, going to make up my dying bed

Meet me, Jesus, meet me

Meet me in the middle of the air

If my wings should fail me, Lord

Please meet me with another pair

Well, well, well, so I can die easy [x2]

Jesus, going to make up

Somebody, somebody

Jesus going to make up

Jesus going to make you my dying bed

Well, well, well, so I can die easy

Jesus, going to make up

Somebody, somebody

Jesus going to make up

Jesus going to make you my dying bed

Oh, Saint Peter, at the gates of heaven

Won’t you let me in

I never did no harm

I never did no wrong

Oh, Gabriel, let me blow your horn, let me blow your horn

Oh, I never did, did no harm

I’ve only been this young once

I never thought I’d do anybody no wrong

No, not once

Oh, I did somebody some good

Somebody some good

Oh, did somebody some good

I must have did somebody some good

Oh, I believe I did

I see the smiling faces

I know I must have left some traces

And I see them in the streets

And I see them in the field

And I hear them shouting under my feet

And I know it’s got to be real

Oh, Lord, deliver me

All the wrong I’ve done

You can deliver me, Lord

I only wanted to have some fun

Hear the angels marching, hear them marching, hear them marching

Hear them marching, the’ marching

Oh my Jesus, oh my Jesus, oh my Jesus [x3]

Oh my Jesus, oh my Jesus

It’s pretty good up here

Oh Georgina, oh Georgina, oh Georgina, oh Georgina

Oh I’ll see you again

Oh, don’t you make it my dying, dying, dying

Cough!

That’s gotta be the one, ain’t it?

Come have a listen, then

Oh yes, thank you

 

Say Hello to Heaven…

“I never wanted to write these words down for you” (Chris Cornell, Temple of the Dog)

 

I know.  You’ve been patiently waiting my pontifications on this past week’s tragic loss of one of the best musicians from my (our) time.  Thank you.  I know you understand.

On Wednesday, May 24th, we lost the prophetic Chris Cornell to a sad suicide.  He finished his concert with a raucous version of Led Zeppelin’s “In My Time of Dying,” returned to his hotel room, and ended his life by hanging himself in the bathroom.

On Friday evening, my husband and I solemnly inserted my original Temple of the Dog CD into his car CD player…and just listened…in homage, in honor, as a memorial.  I felt a terrible winding in my chest…a noose of sadness, squeezing the air from my already asthmatic lungs.

I’m sure I forgot that Chris wrote Temple of the Dog almost entirely by himself.  He was Andy Wood’s roommate.  He was a rock god; there was, and never will be again, anyone to take his place.  “Say Hello” in particular, brought on such emotion that I had to crack the car window and breathe in the early spring air deeply.

Earlier, I’d been driving by myself and I just opened the communication line between this world and the next thing…and I told Cornell how I felt.  I thanked him for everything.  I told him I’d miss him dreadfully.  I didn’t ask him why.  I understand clinical depression; I don’t understand, thankfully, addiction and alcoholism.  I imagined that great line in “In My Time of Dying” where Plant rasps, “OH MY JESUS!” and talks about Jesus meeting him in the sky to give him wings.  I knew, that while we mourn, Chris is, at last, at peace.

But this world will never be the same without him, his amazing voice, his plethora of talents.

Reach down, Chris.  Reach down and pick the crowd up.

We love you.

Respectfully rocking for you,

Rachael

Wanna Show You Somethin’ Like….joy inside my heart…

…Seems I (went to see) Temple of the Dog!!!”

It isn’t an accident that my blog got my husband for me.  The brilliant but deceased Andrew Wood of Mother Love Bone put together a most amazing lyric to a song I once wrote about on my blog, and when my husband thoughtfully responded to it, that’s when I knew I had to meet him.

1) He took the time to read my blog

2) He carefully and eloquently responded to it

3) The song was “Man of Golden Words” by Mother Love Bone.  I got to hear it, in the fifth row, standing next to him, four and a half years after his fated message.  The subject is also lyrics from the song.

It may take me more than one blog to explain Saturday night.  When I was ten years old and Pearl Jam took my breath away, I discovered Mother Love Bone and the tribute act, Temple of the Dog, too.  In a matter of days, I could sing every word, intone every bass line, sway my head to every guitar riff and kick my foot to every bass drum hit.

Was Eddie at the show like I had wished with all my heart?  No.  Did that change the fact that it was absolutely amazing?  No.  Chris Cornell.  That should be all I have to say.  But it was truly Chris Cornell with Pearl Jam (excluding Eddie.)  And, though fans were surprised and probably dissappointed that Vedder didn’t show for this 10-date-only U.S. tour, Chris was more than amazing to us.  He had us back him on “Hunger Strike.”  He played “Man of Golden Words” by himself with an acoustic, then melodically transitioned into a brief mix of “Comfortably Numb.”  He opened the song up with heartfelt words about what Andy meant to him, and how Andy made him a better songwriter, and how he couldn’t even listen to this song for a very long time after his passing.

They played the entirety of the Temple of the Dog album, and a generous number of tracks from Mother Love Bone’s Apple. They covered Green River and Black Sabbath…they did two encores.  They did not play “Captain Hi-Top” and I bring this up because it has become a hilarious favorite of my husband’s because Andy inquires in a raucous call, “Where’s that chicken gumbo, baby?”  I told him he should shout the question to Chris.

I can’t explain how I felt.  I should have been screaming.  I should have wanted to pass out like Beatlemania…and still, two days later, I feel like it was a dream I had, looking through glass.  I remember feeling a bit detached.  My eyes saw them.  They were five rows away from me.  My ears heard them.  My whole body contorted, gyrated, sang, screamed, pumped fists, “interpretive danced” to the lyrics…and yet, it still feels distant, though not in a bad way.

Do I have a balance on my credit card?  DO I EVER!  Did I buy a lot at the merch table?  Well, I bought a tee, a sticker and my very first ever rock n’ roll hoodie.  (I adore it.)  Did I spent a lot on a hotel, gas, food, etc.?  Yeah.  Do I regret any of it?  Hell no.  Though this meant more to me than to my husband, I am glad he was there.  I’m glad because he used the sentiments, “Words and music/my only tools […] let’s fall in love with music/the driving force of our living/the only international language/divine glory/the expression/the knees bow, the tongue confesses…the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings…” to snare me.  He said he agreed, and that we had how we FELT about music in common for sure.

We vary greatly in many ways, but this we will always share.

When I was ten, I said, “Holy shit, if Soundgarden and Pearl Jam ever went on tour, I’d sell my soul to see them.”  That was nearly 25 years ago.  My expenses are justified in that, my soul is in tact.  One of my life’s biggest dreams has come true.  Now, if only I could get to meet Eddie…

Be well and Rock ON!

Rachael