sounds of Chicago
Steve Dawson’s Funeral Bonsai Wedding (SD, vocals and guitar; Jason Adasiewicz, vibraphone; Jason Roebke, bass; Frank Rosaly, drums), “As Soon As I Walk In” (S. Dawson), 2014
Music and family have provided two of my life’s through lines. As little boys, my brother Don and I would play in the basement, listening, on the brightly lit juke box, to the Everly Brothers (“Wake Up, Little Susie”), and Johnny Horton (“The Battle of New Orleans”), and Gene Pitney (“The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”). Soon we were out the door, hearing the Beatles at Comiskey Park, the Velvet Underground at the Kinetic Playground, and the MC5 in Lincoln Park. Still the beat goes on, undiminished by the passing years. Last week, for my sixty-second birthday, Don gave me (what else?) a record—the new album by this guy, Steve Dawson.
only rock ’n’ roll
Here’s something from the show I saw the other night.
Savages, “She Will,” live, Chicago (Metro), 9/16/13
In the hope-I-die-before-I-get-old department, it occurred to me, as I was driving home from this show, that I’ve been doing variations on this particular theme—going out into the dark night to hear live music—for at least, uh, let’s see, yeah, it must be at least forty-five years, since it was 1968, when I was fifteen, that my brother Don and I, after seeing the Velvet Underground at Chicago’s Kinetic Playground, were arrested and taken to the police station. The charge? Curfew.
The best music, you can seek some shelter in it momentarily, but it’s essentially there to provide you something to face the world with.
Ever feel like wandering, aimlessly, in a fog?
The Velvet Underground and Nico, directed by Andy Warhol (shot at his NYC studio, The Factory), 1966
More than twenty years west of Mount Yen . . .
when the moon lights the summit at night I sing
—Stonehouse, The Zen Works of Stonehouse: Poems and Talks of a Fourteenth Century Chinese Hermit (translated from Chinese by Red Pine)
Happy Birthday, Don!
I remember when you were twenty-six.
We met, as I recall, when you were two.
What better experience for playing with the Velvet Underground, whose mentor, Andy Warhol, once observed “the channels switch, but it’s all television,” than to appear on I’ve Got a Secret?
I’ve Got a Secret (Garry Moore, host; John Cale, guest), 1963
The piece he plays at the end, Vexations, was composed in the early 1890s by Erik Satie.
MCOTD’s granddog, and muse, Roscoe
He does covers, too.
“Pale Blue Eyes” (L. Reed)
Alejandro Escovedo, live, Paris, 2007
Velvet Underground (The Velvet Underground, 1969)
When I was little, I would go into Chicago to hear live music—Peter, Paul & Mary, Kingston Trio, Beach Boys—with my father. Then, as a teenager, I’d go into the city with my brother Don to hear the Velvet Underground and the MC5, the Who, Tim Hardin and Tim Buckley, Muddy Waters. Now I make these trips with my sons. The other night, for instance, my older son Alex (now 24 and home for the holidays) and I went to the Hideout, a small club on Chicago’s north side, not far from where I once went with my father (now gone) and my brother (now hundreds of miles away), to hear this guy.
Jason Adasiewicz’s Rolldown (JA, vibraphone; Josh Berman, cornet; Aram Shelton, alto saxophone; Jason Roebke, bass; Frank Rosaly, drums), “Hide,” live, c. 2008
No, the human heart
But in my birthplace
The flowers still smell
The same as always.
—Ki no Tsurayuki (872-945; trans. Kenneth Rexroth)