Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Bangles – "Hazy Shade of Winter" (1987)

Look around
Leaves are brown
There's a patch of snow on the ground

I desperately need the days to pass more slowly.  But just the opposite is happening – the days are passing more quickly.

Another year's almost gone.  Where the hell did it go?

Paul Simon is a very good songwriter, and "A Hazy Shade of Winter" is one of his best.  It's depressing as all get out, but still great.

Simon & Garfunkel
The song begins with these cautionary lines:

Time, time, time
See what's become of me
While I looked around for my possibilities
I was so hard to please

It behooves us all to be a little less hard to please.  You quickly reach the point of diminishing returns when you demand perfection.  

To paraphrase Voltaire, "The perfect is the enemy of the good."  

And as the British scientist Sir Robert Alexander Watson-Watt put it, "Give them the third best to go on with; the second best comes too late, and the best never comes."

Look around
The grass is high
The fields are high
It's the springtime of my life

You don't really believe that, do you? 

If I'm lucky, it's the autumn of my life – if I'm not lucky, it's already winter.  But it's sure as hell not springtime.

Simon & Garfunkel released "A Hazy Shade of Winter" as a single in 1966, and it eventually worked its way to #13 on the Billboard "Hot 100."  (I can't imagine such a challenging song being released as a single today.)  

The Bangles recorded a cover version of the song for the Less Than Zero movie soundtrack in 1987.  That cover made it to #2 on the Billboard chart.

If you think this song is depressing, you ought to watch Less Than Zero.  Or if you prefer, read the Bret Easton Ellis of the same name that the movie is based on.  

Here's how Wikipedia summarizes the plot of the novel:

The novel follows the life of Clay, a rich young college student who has returned to [Los Angeles] for winter break . . . . 

After reuniting with his friend Trent . . . Clay embarks on a series of drug-fueled nights of partying, during which he picks up various men and women for one-night stands.  While partying, he tries to track down two high school acquaintances: his ex-girlfriend Blair . . . and his best friend Julian, with whom he hasn't spoken for months. . . .

Over time, Clay becomes progressively disillusioned with the party scene as he witnesses the apathy of his friends towards the suffering of one another and those around them: at one party . . . he and Blair are the only two who exhibit revulsion when Trent shows a snuff film, which sexually excites several partygoers.

Clay ultimately tracks down Julian, whom he learns has become a heroin addict and turned to prostitution in order to pay off a debt to his drug dealer.  Not believing what he has been told, Clay accompanies Julian on a job, where he is compelled by a male john to watch the man and Julian have sex for several hours.

After attending a concert with his friends, Clay accompanies them to a derelict alley where they stare at the corpse of an overdose victim which they have left there to decompose.  Afterward, Clay follows the group back to the home of his drug dealer, Rip, who wants to show off his latest acquisition: a twelve-year-old sex slave whom Rip has been keeping drugged in his bedroom. . . . Clay leaves, but Trent decides to stay so that he can rape the girl.

Sounds like the perfect beach read for your 2015 summer vacation, doesn't it?  (Assuming you live that long, of course.)

I'm not sure whether I like the Simon & Garfunkel or Bangles versions of "Hazy Shade of Winter" better.  I'm featuring the Bangles version because I am sure that I like girls better that boys.

Here's the music video for "Hazy Shade of Winter," which includes some shots from Less Than Zero:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Billy Joel – "My Life" (1978)

I don't care what you say anymore
This is my life
Go ahead with your own life
Leave me alone

Jack White said much the same thing – albeit in fewer words – in "Entitlement," which 2 or 3 lines featured earlier this year:

I'm tired
Of being told
What to do

I don't mean to be difficult – that is to say, an a**hole.  But some of you – that is to say, some of you women – just don't get it.  (By "some," I mean "most.")

A female friend of mine had this to say about the new Swedish movie, Force Majeure:  "It asks the question, 'Why is the male ego so fragile?'"

From Force Majeure
Actually, Force Majeure asks this question, "Why do so many women insist on being emasculating harpies?"

I never considered featuring a Billy Joel song on 2 or 3 lines until I read Nick Paumgarten's very good profile of the singer/songwriter in the October 27 New Yorker.

Paumgarten had this to say about "My Life," which was released on Joel's Grammy-winning 1978 album, 52nd Street:

The song's peppy electric piano . . . disguises a sentiment that is at the core of Joel's outlook on his place in the world.  When he plays "My Life" in concert, it can seem rote, but the anger at the heart of it, misplaced or not, gives it a pulse.

Joel cranked out 33 top 40 hits in his career -- many more than Bruce Springsteen, or the Eagles, or Fleetwood Mac.  (He had three #1 singles and four #3 singles – one of which was "My Life" – but no #2 singles.)  But he was never liked by the critics.  

A very young Billy Joel
Rock critic and producer Jon Landau attributed the critical disapproval to "a bias against hits."  Landau said he originally found Joel's music "too glib and slick," but he changed his tune:  

As time has gone by, we've been proved wrong.  He's one of the most musically astute composers of that era.

Billy Joel today
Billy Joel was a particular favorite of my old friend, Scott Klurfeld, who like Joel was a Long Island boy.  I think Scott's favorite Billy Joel song was "Only the Good Die Young." 

As fate would have it, Scott – one of the most good-hearted people I knew -- and his wife Janis lost their lives in an automobile accident in 2000.

Lindsay Lohan has a Billy Joel
song lyric tattooed on her ribcage
Lindsay Lohan, a longtime Billy Joel fan, tweeted this after the 2010 death of her uncle:

Did Billy Joel curse us when he said, "Only the GOOD die young"?

Here's "My Life":

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Size 14 – "Claire Danes Poster" (1997)

I'm gonna pick up some beer
And stay at home
And stare at my Claire Danes poster 

All I really want for Christmas is a Claire Danes poster.  Is that what you're hoping for as well?

Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison
I have a serious crush on Claire Danes, who plays the smart, intense, and bipolar CIA agent Carrie Mathison on the Homeland TV series.  Right now, Carrie is number one (with a bullet) on my top-40 list of television-character crushes.  

I don't understand why it should be that Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison has the power to hypnotize me.  But aren't crushes inherently irrational and inexplicable?

Claire Danes (age 15) in "My So-Called Life"
I'd like a poster of Claire Danes at any age, and regardless of her hair color.  I'd like posters of her without makeup, or talking on her cell phone as she's coming home from her workout, or walking her dog, or pregnant:

I'd like a poster of her looking like this:

Or like this:

Or like this:

And while you're shopping for Claire Danes posters for me, you can pick up one of these:

Size 14's one eponymous album was released in 1997.  

"Claire Danes Poster," the most popular track on that album, was on the soundtrack of Dude, Where's My Car? – which is inarguably one of the worst movies ever made.  (One fairly typical review of the movie was headlined "Dude, Your Movie Sucks.") 

Here's "Claire Danes Poster":

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Merry Christmas to all from all the gang at 2 or 3 lines!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Nick Lowe – "Cracking Up" (1979)

No pills that I can take
This is too real and there ain't no escape

The protagonist of the Homeland television series, Carrie Mathison, is just your everyday smart and obsessive CIA antiterrorism specialist – except for one thing.

Carrie (who is portrayed by Claire Danes) has bipolar disorder, or what we used to call manic depression.

Manic-depressives suffer from mood swings.  At times, they will exhibit extreme elation and be very energetic.  At other times, they may be severely depressed.   In between manic-depressive episodes, they may feel and act perfectly normal.

Here's a collage of Carrie's crazier moments:

Carrie Mathison cries a lot, and for good reason.  When she cries, her face scrunches up, and her lower lip sticks out, and she completely dissolves.  It's not a pretty sight:

Claire Danes is a gifted actress.  (She has the reviews and the Emmys, Golden Globes, and Screen Actors Guild awards to prove it.)  Like Sir Peter Lely's portrait of Oliver Cromwell, Claire Danes's compelling portrayal of the multifaceted Carrie Mathison – who TV critic Emily Nussbaum describes as "a vulnerable, seductive bully" – includes Carrie's "warts and all."  

And Carrie Mathison has plenty of moral warts.  Nussbaum wrote in the New Yorker that one of Homeland's strengths is that it takes "an unsentimental view of its heroine's worst behavior."  

But despite her failings, Carrie Mathison always fully engages the audience's interest and sympathy.  We never don't care about Carrie.  

Claire Danes is as effortlessly beautiful as any woman I've ever seen on television or in the movies.  But she has little in common with the Hollywood bombshells who are regularly splayed on the pages of lad magazines like Maxim and FHM.  

Nonetheless, her Carrie Mathison is an incredibly seductive character.  There's a look she gives a guy in a bar in the very first episode of Homeland that I don't think any straight man alive could resist.

To quote our old friends Gary Puckett and the Union Gap:

A woman wears a certain look
When she is on the move
And a man can always tell what's on her mind
I hate to have to say it
But that look's all over you

(It certainly is, Carrie Mathison . . .)

But Carrie's dominant characteristic is her bipolar disorder.  Claire Danes prepared for her role by thoroughly researching manic depression, and that preparation shows at the end of season one of the series, when Carrie has the mother of all manic episodes.

She takes clozapine, an antipsychotic drug that is used to treat bipolar disorder.  But her pills aren't powerful enough to prevent Carrie from descending into madness – a descent that concludes with Carrie receiving electroconvulsive therapy (formerly known as shock treatment):

It's painful to watch the psychological disintegration of the smart and intense Carrie Mathison.  But when her character becomes convinced that she has utterly misjudged the man who she believes to be a dangerous terrorist, she changes from someone you can't take your eyes off into someone it is hard to watch without averting your gaze.

Here's "Cracking Up," which Nick Lowe released on his 1979 album, Labour of Lust

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Friday, December 19, 2014

Jimi Hendrix Experience -- "Manic Depression" (1967)

Manic depression is a 
Frustrating mess

Instead of déjeuner-ing at one of the many expense-account restaurants in the trendy downtown Washington, DC neighborhood where I work, I usually bring a homemade sandwich to lunch.

I used to read a book at my desk while I ate that sandwich, but recently I've been watching cable-TV series, one episode at a time.  

First, I went through all 62 episodes of Breaking Bad (which I recommend highly).  Next, I went through the first four seasons of Justified and the two extant seasons of House of Cards.

Currently, I'm alternating episodes of Entourage (which I recently wrote about) and Homeland.  

Claire Danes as Homeland's Carrie Mathison
Homeland stars Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison, an intense and dedicated CIA antiterrorist operative who has a big secret: like her father, she suffers from bipolar disorder – a mental illness that used to be called manic depression because it is characterized by mood swings.

Andy Greenwald of Heartland observed that Carrie Mathison breaks a cardinal rule of television, which is that a female character isn't allowed to be a mess.  

Carrie is a real mess when she is going through a manic phase.  The signs and symptoms of the manic phase of bipolar disorder include rapid speech, agitation or irritation, inflated self-esteem, risky behavior, careless or dangerous use of drugs or alcohol, and promiscuity.

Carrie exhibits all of those behaviors.  In other words, she sound alike the perfect girlfriend! 

The manic Carrie is promiscuous with a capital "P."  Her go-to move is to get into a slinky little dress, slip a phony wedding ring on her left hand, head out to a jazz club, and sip tequila at the bar until Mr. Right comes along and . . . well, you can guess what happens next.

(If you're wondering why she puts on the fake wedding ring, that's so the guys she picks up don't get any ideas about having an actual relationship with her.)

Carrie in disguise
The first time we meet Carrie in Homeland's pilot episode, she is returning to her house early one morning looking a little worse for wear after a one-night stand.  She takes off her slinky little dress, takes off her fake wedding ring, and hurriedly performs her toilette before throwing on a work outfit and heading off to attend a briefing at CIA headquarters.

Carrie's toilette is about as basic as a toilette gets: she deploys an electric toothbrush, then gives her private parts a quick swipe with a wet washcloth.  

(The Brits call that move a "whore's wash," and watching Claire Danes doing that so casually and matter-of-factly is quite startling.)

Good advice!
I almost forgot to mention that Carrie does one other thing while getting ready for work: she scarfs down a clozapine capsule before heading off to the office.  Clozapine is a schizophrenia medication that is sometimes used off-label to treat bipolar disorder.

If you're asking yourself why the CIA would allow someone suffering from bipolar disorder to work on the front lines of the war against terrorism – which is a pressure-cooker job if there ever was one – the answer is THEY DON'T KNOW BECAUSE CARRIE HASN'T TOLD THEM.

Carrie goes completely off the tracks at the end of season one of Homeland, then decides to take drastic measures in hopes of controlling her illness.  We'll talk more about that in the next 2 or 3 lines.

"Manic Depression" was released 1967 on the Jimi Hendrix Experience's startling debut album, Are You Experienced.  Other songs on that album included "Purple Haze," "Hey Joe," "Fire," "Foxy Lady," and the title track -- which technically isn't the title track because its title ends in a question mark while the album title doesn't.
One writer said that Are You Experienced "altered the syntax of music . . . in a way I compare to James Joyce's Ulysses."  Both Are You Experienced and Ulysses are groundbreaking and unique works, but there is one big difference between them: the Hendrix album is fabulous, while Ulysses is – like Carrie Mathison – a mess.

Here's "Manic Depression":

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Jennifer Lawrence – "The Hanging Tree" (2014)

Are you, are you
Coming to the tree?
Wear a necklace of rope,
Side by side with me

Vanity Fair recently had an article titled "5 Things Jennifer Lawrence Is Looking For in a Boyfriend."  Click here if you missed it.

Jennifer Lawrence in Vanity Fair
I've always considered myself excellent boyfriend material, so I thought I'd go through her list and see how well I do:

#1: A guy who loves reality TV.

Jennifer loves Shark Tank, and so do I.  (A lot of my clients are entrepreneurs like the Shark Tank sharks, and I'm sure my expert commentary on the show would greatly increase Jennifer's enjoyment of the show.)  She's a big fan of all the Real Housewives shows – I've never watched them, but I'm the kind of boyfriend who will do anything to make his girlfriend happy.  

#2:  A guy willing to bare his soul (and bodily functions).

According to Vanity Fair, Jennifer wants a partner who, “you know, isn’t afraid to fart in front of me [rather] than to have big, passionate love. I’d rather have just a peaceful time. [Those relationships] are deeper because you can be your true self with somebody, and somebody can be their true self with you.”  I couldn't agree more!

#3:  A guy willing to really eat.

This is soooo not a problem.  The author of the Vanity Fair piece observed that “Jennifer is the anti-vegan, anti-gluten-free consumer, having just eaten a breakfast of spaghetti and meatballs before the interview.”  My regular breakfast is a slice of leftover pizza, so we are very simpatico when it comes to food.

#4:  A guy like Larry David.

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!  I love Larry David and Curb Your Enthusiasm and I'm pretty sure he would love me and 2 or 3 lines if he knew us.  I'm pretty close to Larry David in age and very close to him in temperament (i.e., grumpy and narcissistic).

Larry David
I'm taller and quite a bit better-looking than Larry is, but I'd Jennifer is the kind of girl who believes beauty is only skin-deep.

#5:  A guy who's not up for an argument.

Jennifer told Vanity Fair that “I don't like fighting . . .We should both just move on and watch TV. Basically, what I’m saying is all I need in a relationship is somebody to watch TV with me.”  I am not a fighter either, and I'd be happy to watch TV with Jennifer to her heart's content – preferably naked.

That's five for five, boys and girls!  I can't wait to hook up with Jennifer real soon!

By the way, I'm betting 2 or 3 lines got to the Jennifer Lawrence party earlier than you did.

I first saw her in Winter's Bone, a grim movie set in the Missouri Ozarks.  Lawrence played a 17-year-old girl who takes care of her two young siblings and her mentally ill mother while trying to track down her father, a lowlife meth cooker who has skipped bail and left the family facing eviction at the hands of a bail bondsman.

Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone
I took my kids to see Winter's Bone because it was filmed in Douglas County, Missouri.  My great-great-great-grandfather was one of the founders of Ava, the Douglas County seat.  (Ava has 3000 residents, while the county as a whole has a population of only 15,000.)

The city's official website gives my ancestor credit for choosing the name Ava, which he took from 2 Kings chapter 17, verse 24:

And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof.  

Why did he choose Ava from all the town names in the Old Testament?  One theory is that he picked it because it was easy to spell.

I'm not sure how my forebears got out of Douglas County, but they did.  The point I wanted to make to my kids was that we could have easily ended up living like the people in Winter's Bone, eating venison stew and fried squirrel and cooking crystal meth to make a buck.  (Missouri is the biggest meth-producing state in the country, and it's not even close.)

Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle
Jennifer Lawrence killed in Winter's Bone, garnering a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress.  She went on to star in Silver Linings Playbook (which brought her another Best Actress nomination), and American Hustle (which brought her a Best Supporting Actress nomination).

But the world knows Jennifer Lawrence best for her portrayal of Katniss Everdeen in three Hunger Games movies that have a total box office of over $2.1 billion to date.  

The most recent installment in the franchise is The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1.  The movie's soundtrack includes a song called "The Hanging Tree," the lyrics for which war written by the author of the Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins.

Jennifer Lawrence in Hunger Games
Here's an excerpt from the third Hunger Games book, Mockingjay, in which Katniss discusses what "The Hanging Tree" means:

We didn't sing it anymore, my father and I, or even speak of it.  After he died, it used to come back to me a lot.  Being older, I began to understand the lyrics.  At the beginning, it sounds like a guy is trying to get his girlfriend to secretly meet up with him at midnight.  But it's an odd place for a tryst, a hanging tree, where a man was hung for murder. . . . [I]t's not until the third verse that "The Hanging Tree" begins to get unnerving. You realize the singer of the song is the dead murderer.  He's still in the hanging tree.  And even though he told his lover to flee, he keeps asking if she's coming to meet him. . . . [Y]ou wonder if he meant for her to run to him. To death.  In the final stanza, it's clear that that's what he's waiting for.  His lover, with her rope necklace, hanging dead next to him in the tree.

Jennifer Lawrence sings "The Hanging Tree," which has become a huge hit.  She reportedly was not happy about singing the song – she doesn't think she's a good singer – and cried the day she recorded it.

Here's "The Hanging Tree":

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Jason Tobias -- "Stand With Hillary" (2014)

And through it all
She's a loving wife

Today's featured song is a little different than the other songs that have been featured on 2 or 3 lines.

"Stand With Hillary" was never released on an LP or CD or eight-track tape.  You won't hear it played on the radio.

That's because it was written by veteran political operative Miguel Orozco for the "Stand With Hillary" super PAC he co-founded to support the political candidacy of Hillary Clinton.  

(For those of you who have better things to do than pay attention to politics, a "super PAC" is a variety of political action committee that doesn't give money to candidates directly, but who independently raise money to spend on political advertising.)

In 2008, Orozco was writing songs for Barack Obama's campaign.  Here's one of them, "Viva Obama," which encouraged Hispanic voters in Texas to vote for Obama in that state's March 4 Presidential primary:

Jason Tobias is an actor who was hired to appear in the "Stand With Hillary" music video because someone thought he looked like a country music star.  (Jason has a regular gig on "Blood Relatives," which is a Discovery Channel re-enactment show about people who are murdered by their family members.)

But Jason didn't record the song – he's just lip-synching (badly) in the video.  He told the Washington Post that the singer was identified to him only as "T. Wilson."

Jason Tobias
"T. Wilson" is a smart guy.  Because "Stand with Hillary" is not a song that you want on your resumé if you aspire to have a successful recording career.  

When I started watching it, I assumed it was a joke – I kept waiting for the punchline.

But the punchline never came.  That's because this song is serious.

Let's go ahead and watch the "Stand With Hillary" video right now:

A lot of males have a problem with Hillary Clinton.  Rush Limbaugh once observed that she reminds guys of their ex-wives, while Tucker Carlson commented that "when she comes on television, I involuntarily cross my legs."

Even dyed-in-the-wool liberal males acknowledge that Hillary doesn't have much appeal to voters with testicles.  For example, MSNBC's Chris Matthews – a dyed-in-the-wool liberal who famously said that he got a "thrill up my leg" when he listened to Barack Obama's acceptance speech at the 2008 Democratic convention – called Hillary's male supporters "castratos in the eunuch chorus." 

(A Hillary nutcracker makes
a great stocking stuffer!)
But Miguel Orozco believes that this song is going to make white male country-music fans who  wear cowboy hats and drive pickup trucks get all warm and fuzzy about Hillary Clinton.  After all, men love their mothers, daughters, and wives, and Hillary is all three of those:

I been thinking' about one great lady
Like the women in my life, 
She's a mother, a daughter,
And through it all
She's a loving wife  

I admit that I am not objective when it comes to Hillary Clinton.  I've never been a fan of hers.  (At least Hillary is an actual woman, unlike certain First Ladies.  Click on this link to see what I mean.) 

But I think even those of you who are Hillary supporters will find yourself wondering what in the hell were they thinking when they made this video.  Selling redneck males on Hillary's candidacy may be a tougher job than selling ice to Eskimos.  

The "Stand With Hillary" video is as big a head-scratcher as a gangsta rap song urging African-Americans to get on the Mitt Romney bandwagon would be.

But there is one song that beats out even "Stand With Hillary" when it comes to chutzpah and cluelessness:

Friday, December 12, 2014

Delain – "The Gathering" (2006)

I see a world in anger
I see a world in pain

Lucidity, the 2006 debut studio album by the Dutch symphonic metal band, Delain, includes a song titled "The Gathering."

It seems that "The Gathering" was inspired by "Magic: The Gathering," a phenomenally popular trading card game.  

"Magic: The Gathering" – we'll call it "MTG" – was introduced in 1993.  MTG is usually played by two "wizards," each of whom uses a deck of 60-plus cards.  Different cards depict spells, magical creatures, and other items of use to battling wizards.  The outcome of the game is determined by what cards are in your deck, and what order those cards are in.

A rare "Magic: The Gathering" card
Here's one of the song's verses, which seems to describe the game:

My cards, the ones to choose from
The role they play tonight
Which ones embrace the loved ones?
Which ones will summon for a fight?

Players can buy packs of cards, hoping to get lucky and find some really good ones in their packs.  Alternatively, they can buy or trade for specific individual cards.  (Depending on how powerful a particular card is, it can sell for a few cents or hundreds of dollars.)

The best MTG player at any given time goes by the title "King of the Nerds."  Actually, that's not literally true.  However, it is essentially true.

By the way, there are professional MTG players who compete in tournaments.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars are at stake at these tournaments.  I've never seen an MTG event, but I picture the participants as being a group of pale-skinned, doughy, and smelly young guys.  In other words, not unlike World Series of Poker competitors, except I'm guessing the MTG players dress crazier, like guys who put on special outfits to go to the new Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings movie (which is almost certainly what these guys do).  

Speaking of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, 20th Century Fox has greenlighted an MTG movie.  The studio hopes its efforts will yield a similarly successful movie franchise.

Streamer cannon
When Delain performs "The Gathering" live, it usually deploys cannons that use compressed CO2 to shoot streamers or confetti out into the audience.

Earlier this month, Delain was performing "The Gathering" before an audience in Birmingham, England, when something very bad happened.

Schimmelpenninck van der Oije  . . . before
We'll let Delain's bass player, Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Oije, explain what that very bad thing was:

After what can be described as one of the most unpleasant adventures I've ever had to endure, we're back home again from the UK. . . . Spoiler alert: you might want to read this another time if you were planning on having sex within the hour or so.

As some of you know, we use "streamer cannons," which shoot silver streamers into the audience, usually during "The Gathering."  We've been doing this for ages without any problems at all, but in Birmingham things went wrong. . . .

In my enthusiasm I did not pay attention, and happened to be VERY close when the streamer fired.  It hit me from the back, in my genitals.  Although pain was pretty bad right away, I was merely pissed off at myself for not paying attention.  During the next song, pain got worse though, and I had the feeling I was bleeding.  Pretty soon pain got to the point where I could barely stay conscious anymore, but for some reason I did manage to finish the show and even squeeze out some grunts!

[NOTE:  My mouth is agape in wonder at Mr. Schimmelpenninck van der Oije's physical fortitude and his dedication to his art.]

Big grapefruit
After the show the damage was more obvious: my scrotum was the size of a big grapefruit and I was in a lot (yeah, really a lot) of pain.  I was taken to the nearest hospital where after hours and hours of waiting, I was finally operated around 8:30 in the morning. 

[NOTE:  Assuming Delain's show ended around midnight, that means our victim spent roughly eight hours in a hospital waiting room, writhing in agony and unable to cross his legs.  That's socialized English medicine at its worst.  Thank heavens that our good old American health care system doesn't operate this way – although once Obamacare gets a stranglehold on health care in the U.S. of A., you too can expect eight-hour waits every time your 'nads get in the way of a streamer cannon.]

English hospital waiting room
It appeared that my left testicle had been ruptured as well as some arteries.  More than 500 ml of blood was removed from my scrotum and my testicle stitched up. 

[NOTE: 500 milliliters is 16.9 ounces.]

I stayed in hospital for the rest of day and night, and was discharged on Friday afternoon. From there I took the plane to Glasgow where I was reunited with my girlfriend and the Delain family. . . . 

I was very close to losing my left testicle, but chances are good it will be fine.  It will take about six weeks until I can find out though, when I have an ultrasound scan.  It will also be a while before I am without the very uncomfortable pain I am in now, but sadly, it's just the way it is for now. . . .

Again, thank so much for all your get well wishes, support and kind messages, it means a lot to me!

I don't know about you, but I'm going to say a daily prayer for Schimmelpenninck van der Oije's testicle until we find out that it has fully healed.

Won't you join me, brothers and sisters? 

Here's "The Gathering":

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tracy Nelson (ft. Willie Nelson) – "After the Fire Is Gone" (1974)

Love is where you find it
When you find no love at home

In a recitation before the last verse of his 1975 hit, "You Never Even Called Me by My Name," David Allan Coe said that the song's writer -- Steve Goodman -- had told him that it was the perfect country-western song.

Coe demurred, arguing that Goodman's song was not the perfect country-western song because it didn't mention mama, or trains, or trucks, or prison, or getting drunk.

Goodman then added the famous final verse of the song, which incorporated all of Coe's requirements:

I was drunk the day my mama got out of prison
And I went out to pick her up in the rain
But before I got to the station in my pickup truck
She got ruined over by a damned ol' train

Goodman and Coe left something off their list.  The perfect country-western song would have to mention cheatin' as well.

"After the Fire Is Gone" covers cheatin' in spades.  Here's the first verse of this classic cheatin' duet:

The bottle is almost empty
The clock just now struck ten
Darlin' I had to call you
To our favorite place again
We know it's wrong for us to meet
But the fire's gone out at home
And there's nothin' cold as ashes
After the fire is gone

The second verse reveals that the lovers' mutual passion is tempered with a healthy dose of guilt:

Your lips are warm and tender
Your arms hold me just right
Sweet words of love you remember
That the one at home forgot
Each time we say is the last time
But we keep hangin' on
And there's nothin' cold as ashes
After the fire is gone

"After the Fire Is Gone" was penned by fiddle-player-turned-Grammy-winning-songwriter L. E. White.  It was a 1971 country hit for Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty.

Conway Twitty
Loretta and Conway released eleven albums together, four of which made it to #1 on the Billboard country album chart.  "After the Fire Is Gone" was the first single the duo released, and it made it all the way to #1, as did their next four singles.  

Today 2 or 3 lines is featuring the 1974 Tracy Nelson-Willie Nelson cover of the song, but first I want to share a video of Lynn and Twitty performing "After the Fire Is Gone" because you need to see Twitty's hair.  Good ol' Conway had the damnedest coiffure I've ever seen on a man:

Tracy Nelson was born in 1944 in Madison, Wisconsin.  She started out singing folk music, then added traditional blues songs to her repertoire.  

Nelson moved to San Francisco when she was 21, and formed the blues-rock band Mother Earth, which performed at the Fillmore West with luminaries such as Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.

A few years later, she relocated to Nashville.  In 1974, she released her first post-Mother Earth solo LP.  That eponymous album includes a 100%-country cover of "After the Fire Is Gone" (with an assist from Willie Nelson) but most of the other tracks on the record are more bluesy and soulful than country-western – think Janis and Aretha, not Loretta.

I decided to feature this song after a friend of a friend asked my help in tracking it down.

This friend of a friend is a pretty smart cookie, but she hasn't been writing a three-songs-per-week music blog for five years – I have, so I've got a few tricks up my sleeve when it comes to tracking down obscure songs that regular folks aren't aware of.

(Not the same Tracy Nelson)
In any event, I'm glad she asked for my help because it brought this very good song to my attention so I could bring it to yours.

Here's "After the Fire Is Gone":

Click below to buy the song from Amazon: