Bated Breath

So it happens.  You max out a credit card to go to a once-in-a-lifetime show.  Your ten-year-old self once vowed that “if this ever happened, I’d sell my soul to go see it,” and now it’s happening.  But it’s bittersweet, because you just found out there is a possibility it won’t be everything you hoped it would be.

When I was ten and fell in love with Pearl Jam, I, of course, discovered Temple of the Dog and Mother Love Bone.  For a 25th anniversary (yes, now I do feel old, thank you) the group, comprised of members of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, are hosting a ten-date U.S. tour.  Only I heard, after spending an OBTUSE amount of money for a pair of tickets from a ticket scalper (see my thoughts on that in the previous blog), that Eddie might not be there.

(Record scratches.)  How?  Why?  What the hell?  Eddie was invited into this tribute band to honor the life of former Mother Love Bone frontman, Andrew Wood, who passed from a heroin overdose, after remaining “clean” for sometime.  The members of Mother Love Bone disbanded, and Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament met Mike McCready and discovered Eddie Vedder and wham!  Pearl Jam.  At the time, Matt Cameron was Soundgarden’s drummer, but now makes a perfect puzzle piece place in the group.

I bought said tickets (that I’m now paying interest on) with the full intention of bringing my ukulele to get signed, should that happen.  (Please God and Universe, align just right.)  Now, I hear that he may or may not be at certain shows.  Listen, Eddie, I have never spoken an ill word against you, nor will I ever, but I have to know…please, will you be at the Tower Theatre show on Saturday, November 5th? Please will you sign my ukulele, my arm, my soul?  May I get a picture of you, as chubby as I’ve become, to commemorate my life’s BIGGEST dream coming true?

Did you know that when I was ten I had a stained glass music note inscribed with Andy’s name on it, and another one, a heart with roses, that read: Eddie and Rachael Forever?  Come on, I was ten, cut me a break.  But please be there.  I don’t see how you could NOT be.  You sing on three of the songs, at least!  You are an integral part of that project!  And now there’s talk of a second release?!  Why would you not take part, 25 years later?  Plus, it’s only ten shows.  Ten shows upon which millons of fans were disappointed, because, once again, Ticketmaster sucks, and we waited, with breath bated, only to find out that no, we never had a chance.  Before the page could even open, all tickets were sold out.  We wasted a sick day from work to be horribly dissappointed.  Down-trodden, we turned to eBay and, instead of paying our student loans, we racked up “cashback bonuses” on our credit cards because of the ticket scalpers.

So, please.  Please be there.  Everyone who waited, breath bated, counted on this.  We can’t find a better man.

Respectfully in debt,

Rachael

Day 3: Ten of the Best Alternative Rock Albums of All-Time

Mother Love Bone Apple

This was the first and only full-length album released.  Pearl Jam fans will know it’s bittersweet because Pearl Jam rose up from the tombside soil and bloomed like an Easter lily, though it was due to the too early passing of its singer, Andy Wood.  Yet in it’s 17 tracks, Apple is an amazing “love rock” phenomenon from the 90s.  It starts with a rocking, driving “This is Shangrila” and takes you on an almost manic depressive journey for the rest of the ride.

My eleven-year-old eyes remember seeing, and only once, the “Stardog Champion” video on MTV (when MTV could be called Music Television, and was, amazing.)  https://youtu.be/k7CPIXnaeeQ  At the time I was watching this, Andy had been desceased (though I prefer the word “ascended”) for nearly two years.  The video’s images are striking, but what struck me more as I watched it, was a sense of communal mourning for Andy. I felt connected to his friends and bandmates.

Some soft songs are introspective, giving you a time to breathe between the raucous ones.  My favorite tracks are:  “Gentle Groove” “Man of Golden Words” “Capricorn Sister” “Stargazer” and “Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns.”  Wood proclaimed that this was “love rock.”  There are tracks that will make you testify along with him to the life-changing power of rock ‘n roll.  The album art will make you smile; the hand-scrawled sentiments may make you tear up.  But if you are a fan of 90s alternative rock, do yourself a favorite and add this to your collection.  I’m just awaiting it’s affordable arrival to vinyl.

Peace and love rock,

Rachael

Another from “One of the Ten Best Alternative Rock Albums of the 90s”, segment deux…ou dix?

Pearl Jam Ten

Oh no.  She’s the biggest Pearl Jam fan on the East Coast.  What can she possibly tell us about Ten, you wonder?  I love that Ten has 11 tracks, and I can’t even tell you if that was intentional.  What I can tell you is the following will not (no matter how brilliant they are) mention ANY of the releases.  This album was the genesis of my all-time favorite band EVER, so yeah, I’m biased.  But excluding the title tracks that grew their fandom, let’s take a look at ones only true fans would know, and ones, if you aren’t yet a fan, you should check out.  “Release.”  Beautiful lyrics, as though you are watching the miracle of a life coming into existence.  “I see the words on a rocking horse of time…I see the birds and the rain…” Low, humming like vocals carry this song along, finishing out the album.  It is a must-listen.  “Why Go” is another, totally different track that will make you want to dust your living room at light speed or jump up and down on your bed and pound on the walls.  I recommend it for a pissed off day or a track on your gym playlist.  “Oceans” only has two verses and was the first Pearl Jam song I ever memorized.  It felt like those eager, early days when I would learn to recite poems in elementary school.  Eddie’s near falsetto lilting vocalizations make you feel like you are a seagull soaring above those oceans to a long-awaited land.  I could go on and on about this one, but if you haven’t been inspired yet, I don’t think I can convince you otherwise.  I’ll keep trying in other posts, though.

Thanks for listening,

Rachael

An album to “Fall” for…

There are many great fall albums. This time of year is one of my absolute delights. Cool, crisp mornings (where I don’t have to scrape the car windows, of course)…the anticipation of wearing my 20 eyelet Docs in either black or brown, depending on my outfit…and my playlist. Playlist, to me, means the jumble of actual compact discs that line my office or my car. Yes, I do listen to Pandora and Spotify…and, more importantly, the record player my grandfather gave me. I could upgrade. I do want one of those lovely record your vinyl to CD and cassette-dealies, too. But there is a beauty in listening to my vinyl on the same record player my grandpa listened to his Beethoven or Daniel O’ Donnell or the Irish Tenors.
Currently, as I planned for one of my four college courses that I’m teaching this term (along with a part-time library job) I needed music. Here was a little self-conversation I had, as I picked up my Mumford & Sons Sigh No More vinyl I got from my husband last Christmas. “Yes, I like you, Mumford, but…not this morning. Fall. Hmm…aha!” I plucked Pearl Jam’s Vs. on vinyl…(go ahead, say it, it’s a fun alliteration. All unusually lettered alliterations are fun to say: versus on vinyl)…and put it on the turntable.
Why this album? Well, you know I’m an ENORMOUS FAN of the band. But this particular album reminds me of the Halloween where I realized I was too old for trick-or-treating and too young to take any little kid down quiet streets of the calm little neighborhood where I grew up. Mom was working two jobs to support us and Jeremy was always getting into some madness. But that night, he was there with me. I wanted to pass out candy to the little kids so I kept the porch light on, but didn’t dress up. I was a little depressed because I was not quite 12 years old and feeling the weight of young adulthood staring at me with zombie eyes.
Pearl Jam’s Vs. had been out approximately 11 days, so I brought my boombox to the living room and Jeremy and turned it on. At the beginning of the evening, a nearby neighborhood prankster came by—Aaron—and Jeremy gave him all the candy in the bowl and slammed the door and turned the porch light off. We kept the living room light off and sat in the corner listening to Vs.
I think I cried. Aaron was intimidating but had so many problems. He ended up imprisoned (I think it was drugs) and hung himself in his cell. That was half a decade after that night. I couldn’t tell if Jeremy was his friend or was afraid of him, but you never did know with Aaron. He was the type of kid who hocked “luggies” on the bus floor and then (sorry) inhaled them back up just to gross out the kids on the bus (it worked.)
I’m quite sure I cried, come to think of it. How was Aaron, age 14, trick-or-treating, if I couldn’t? I’m sure I could’ve but it didn’t seem fair with all the other little kids out there. And now Aaron made off with all our candy. Jeremy comforted me by sitting next to me (even though I was pissed off at him) and listening to Vs. “W.M.A.” creeped me out that night—it would have been the last song on side A—but by the time “Indifference” came on I knew, without knowing, that I was depressed. My absent father had once said to me, “I feel no love for her, no hate for her—only indifference.” He was referring to his 3rd wife (the one after my Mom) who was certifiably insane and had made threats to his—and our lives.
Hearing my fab five roll out “Daughter” and “Indifference” made a big difference to me. “Daughter” for one, helped me cope with an absent father. “Don’t call me daughter—not fit to—the picture kept will remind me…” and “how much difference does it make?” All this beautiful rhetoric with a fall backdrop of genius musical accompaniment soothed my angst. When I felt angsty, I could always just belt, “Drop the Leash! DROP THE LEASH!!! Get outta my (lucky) FUCKIN’ FACE!” I always thought he said the latter, or maybe I just wanted him to. So that’s what I sang along with him.
But this album isn’t all melancholy. The band delivers a message about gun control with “Glorified G” and makes the listener smile through the pain with “Dissident” because who can resist Eddie’s crooning to happy guitars, “he couldn’t hold on…he folded…a dissident is here…”
If you don’t own it, get it. My other recommendations are:
Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon
Radiohead’s Pablo Honey
Stone Temple Pilot’s Core
Nine Inch Nails’ Pretty Hate Machine
Hole’s Live Through This
And, if you are a fan or can tolerate Oasis, What’s the Story, Morning Glory? (I say that only because people either love or hate them. I like some of their music, but hi, you’re not the Beatles, okay?)
Until next time, I’ll see you in my “Rearviewmirror.”  http://youtu.be/U6lCVgE6xnM
Blessed be and rock on,
Rachael
P.S. Thanks for listening.

Awesome concert tees…

That I’ve loved, lost, worn out…

http://erelicadenim.blogspot.com/2010/07/erelica-denim-private-stock-pearl-jam.html  

I wore this shirt thin.  I wore it in my 6th grade picture.  With all the moving I’ve done, I don’t know where it got to. 😦    They should really re-issue this one.  Or, they should do this again with Boom and Matt. 🙂 

Image

 

I always liked that my back said “boundless” and that the shirt itself showed the principles of Yin Yang.

This one I ordered from Metal Edge magazine.  I remember being so excited when I opened it.  I had to be super careful to wear my flannel shirt over the back, even when it was warm out, because I was at elementary school.  The back of the shirt was only innocently professing a track called “half-ass monkey boy.”  But, of course, you can’t be a ten-year-old girl who has the word “ass” on the back of her shirt.  That was one way I got to look at the band all day.  I was excited because, not having the online luxuries we have today, I had to send off for it and wait 6-8 weeks for processing and delivery!

http://thumbs3.ebaystatic.com/d/l225/pict/201091922262_1.jpg 

This one I found not too many years ago at the Gallery of Sound in Edwardsville (which is now a restaurant.)  I want a new copy because I retired this one (worn with holes and stains. 😦 )  It went great with these multi-colored blue and brown corduroys I had…

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/132082201544586648/  Sigh.

So, tell me, what are some tees you adored that you wish you had again?

Blessed be and rock on,

 

Rachael

 

Magic of a Mix Tape

I may be old-fashioned. I understand the benefits of technology. Sure, I love having the entire Pearl Jam catalog at the touch of a button. But I will always love physical music media. There is something in the tangibility of a mix tape or CD mix that technology will never replace.

Allow me to give you an example:

Each year, my friend, Adam, keeps a running collection of his new favorite songs for the year. At the end of the year, he creates a double-disc CD mix complete with customized and professional CD sleeve. Each year, each of those CDs have two separate themes that intertwine. For example, this year, disc one was “Luvin'” and disc two was “Fightin'” Consequently, the songs on the first disc were love songs–I don’t mean sappy ballads you hear on the radio. Each track was carefully selected from his eclectic tastes which range from old school (good) country, to great new alternative rock, with a few good Christian rock songs peppered throughout. Likewise, the second disc follows the same pattern related to the theme of fighting, hurt, and heartbreaks.

Usually, throughout the year, I will hear a new great alternative number on the rare occasion that I tune in to radio land and say to myself, “Hmm. I should buy that.” After some contemplation, I might purchase it but I like to hear at least three good songs from a new band before investing in a (real, hard copy!) album, be it vinyl or CD. Yes, I did say vinyl. For there is a beauty in vinyl that will never be replaced by its more “practical” counterparts. For example, you have to really sit and listen to a record. This means that you will give it your utmost attention. Hopefully, you will silence your phone, blowing up from text message alerts from your friends at work or afar, and cherish the sounds. Taking time to be still and only absorb music is so essential to the inner peace we crave in this “Me-Mine-Fast-Now” culture we’ve been shoe-horned into.

But I digress. A thought follows my quest to obtain the new song: I bet it will be on Adam’s year-end super mix. If not, I’ll reconsider purchasing it. Usually, I am pleasantly rewarded by discovering that my favorite songs during the year have found their way to his ultimate music-sharing list, and thus, into my hands.

Mix CDs are personal. Sure, Adam creates these for a multitude of his friends, but the each one is done with care to contribute to the rewarding community that music is. Mixes, in general, are very personal, though. They are far superior to a greeting card and that says a lot since–you guessed it–I still adore writing by hand and receiving REAL mail. Mixes bulldoze over a youtube video share on Facebook. They are, in ways, the ultimate consideration. Someone in your life has sat down and really taken time and effort to make a mix especially for you, for whatever reason.

I challenge you to make a mix this week for a friend, maybe even someone you’re not terribly well-acquainted with. Perhaps it might help you get to know them better. Whatever the case, they will most likely appreciate your time and effort, even if they weren’t too crazy about that new Cage the Elephant track.

Be well and keep on rockin’ in the free world,

Rachael

P.S. If you would like some inspiration, do yourself a favor and read Rob Sheffield’s memoir, Love is a Mix Tape

Made for Music

Oh music, you are my truest love. Why is it that I have not let you dominate my whole world lately? I owe you more than just a commute listen or dance with the vacuum cleaner.

You know what I’ve wanted to do for my whole entire life?

Perform music.
Write about music.
Interview musicians.
Write rock ‘n roll biographies.
Write for Rolling Stone.
Write and sing my songs.
Play my bass in a band.

In fact, my most ideal life wouldn’t have to include world tours or record-breaking album sales. I would be perfectly content if my life would be like The Beatles’ “Oh Bla Dee, Oh Bla Dah.”

I’ve considered naming my future daughter Molly because of that song. But I want to be the singer in the band.

Also, I still want to open my own music cafe. I think it’s important every now and again to restate these things. Sometimes, as you age, your dreams change. Sometimes life just happens to change them for you. But it’s important to hold yourself accountable for the things that you love.

I started this blog so that I might connect with other music lovers and also to continuously write about music. I had also hoped that these musical musings might lead to my music writing career.

That being said, go listen to your favorite album today. Sing like no one can hear you. Sing louder if they can.

Be well and have a great day.

Rachael

P.S. I also want, very badly, to meet Pearl Jam and thank them for everything good they’ve done for me.