Friday, February 27, 2015

Self Help Radio 022715: The Mellow Show

(Original image here.)

Against all odds, I, who have hardly experienced a state of mellowness in all my anxious years, managed to make a radio show about mellowness.  Still, the prospect leaves me in quite a state!

Even if I am incapable of mellowness, I did play lots of great songs - some mellow, some talking about mellowness in its myriad forms, & I also talked to legendary broadcaster Dr. Mellow, & to Rupert Squirrel, a researcher who claims to have identified the seven stages of mellow.  Also, we heard from our Hollywood know-it-all, Mark Miller.  Frankly, there's too much mellow.  If there can ever be such a thing.

The show is of course at the Self Help Radio website.  It's divided into two parts, & I list below the songs in each part.  Oh, do pay attention to login/password information.  It's no secret - it's SHR/selfhelp - but it's not all that obvious, either.  It's just a thing.  A thing that I have to do.

Stay mellow!  & if you're around here, stay warm!

(part one)

"Mellow" The Albertans _ New Age_
"Green Mello Hill" Angel Pavement _Collecting Peppermint Clouds Vol. 1_
"Wonder Where The Mellow Went" The Bleus _I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself_

"Low Mellow" Blind Teddy Darby _Blind Teddy Darby (1929-1937)_
"Mellow Apples" Big Joe Williams & Sonny Boy Williamson _Big Joe Williams & The Stars Of Mississippi Blues (1934 - 1951)_
"Mellow Song" Blur _13_
"Excess Rings Of Mellow Tones" Constantin Veis Presents The Glamorous Life Savers _Resurrected Elsewhere_

"Mellow Mama Blues" Dinah Washington _The Ladies In Blues_
"Mellow Fellow" Etta James _Queen Of Soul_
"She's A Mellow Mother For You (Joe McCoy, vocals)" Harlem Hamfats _1936-1939_
"Mellow Yellow" The Hardly Worthit Players _Boston Soul_

"Mellow Down Easy" Holly Golightly _Laugh It All Up!_
"You're Mellow" John Lee Hooker _The Vee-Jay Years_

(part two)

"A Mellow Goodtime" Lee Dorsey _The New Lee Dorsey_
"It's Got To Be Mellow" Leon Haywood _Beg Scream & Shout! The Big Ol' Box Of '60s Soul_
"Mellow Stuff" Lil Johnson _Complete Works In Chronological Order, Vol. 3 (1937)_

"Aged & Mellow Blues" Little Esther _Bad Baad Girl!_
"Loving You Is Mellow" Major Harris _My Way_
"Have You Never Been Mellow?" Me First & The Gimme Gimmes _Go Down Under_
"Mellow My Mind" Neil Young & Crazy Horse _Tonight's The Night_

"Fine & Mellow" Nina Simone _At Town Hall_
"Mellow Way You Treat Your Man" Ollie & The Nightingales _The Complete Stax-Volt Singles 1968-1971_
"Supermellofied" Peter & The Wolf _Mellow Owl_
"Mellow Together" Robyn Hitchcock _I Often Dream Of Trains_

"Jack, I'm Mellow" Trixie Smith _Reefer Songs: 16 Original Jazz Classics_
"Ain't That (Mellow, Mellow)" Willie Hutch _Foxy Brown_
"Mellow Love" Marc Bolan _Mellow Love_

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Whither Mellow?

Painting by Ryan Connor, taken from here

Why do a show about the concept of mellow?

To challenge myself.  To try to do something the opposite of what I am.  For I am not mellow.  It is very unlikely you will ever come across me in a mellow state.  I am uptight.  Worried.  Anxious.  Concerned.  Ill at ease.  Restless.

Let me see this week how the other half exists.  Let me celebrate a state of mind (sometimes drug-induced) that is an unfamiliar to me as languages of which I know just a few words.  Because I think the possibility exists that I could one day mellow out.  Become more mellow.  & perhaps a show that's mellow can be the first step in that process.

Unless I don't want to be mellow?  Unless it turns out it's an undesirable condition?

But how else will I know?  A show about mellowness, then, shall be like exploratory surgery.  Let's get in there & have a look around.  What could possibly go wrong?

Tomorrow morning from 7-9 am on 88.1 fm WRFL in Lexington proper.  Online at wrfl dot fm in the world improper.

You don't need to be mellow to listen.  At least, I hope not!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Preface To The Mellow Show: I Am Not A Mellow Person At All

I'm not a mellow person, it's true.  I think I inherited my worrying nature - my pessimism - my inability to see the glass as even half-empty but rather about to fall to pieces - from my mother, a seriously old-fashioned & superstitious fatalist of the Western European variety.  I was able to forego a great deal of the superstition - it simply didn't make any sense to me, & I am not good at taking people at their word for ridiculous shit - but the negative outlook toward the world stayed with me.

Here's an example of the superstition: my mother believes that putting shoes on a table is bad luck.  She will seriously lose her shit if you put a shoe on a table (it doesn't have to be a pair).  Granted, it's not terribly hygienic - shoes are usually pretty dirty - but I don't think that's what freaks her out.  It's just really, really bad luck.  Her mother made it clear to her & she's passed it on to her children.  Superstition kinda works on that weird-ass Manchurian Candidate brainwashing-type level.  It finds its way into you because of repeated exposures while you're in a suggestive state, i.e., young.

& so I ask her: how does it work?  Is there a process that begins when the sole of a shoe touches the tabletop?  Are demons immediately dispatched?  Or does it somehow offend the Deity?  Is the process physical or mystical?  How can putting shoes on a table generate bad luck?  & what is bad luck anyway?

My mother waves away such skepticism with a simple, "I don't know, I just know it's bad luck."  That's why superstition - that's why anything supernatural, really - has never appealed to me.  I'm a huge fan of absurdity & nonsense precisely because I understand why it's so ridiculous.  But believing in it is neither funny nor attractive; it's the dangerous opposite of Groucho letting more people into the tiny stateroom, or trying to get a grant from the Ministry Of Silly Walks.

Something had to rub off, though.  & my word, how much time I had to have spent as a child with my mother as she navigated a horrible divorce & the privations & stresses it caused!  My mother is a talker, like me, & mostly she talks shit.  She talks shit about people, about events, about anything.  She is a massively disappointed person, but has a sweet tooth for the lurid.  She loves Fox News not because she is politically conservative, but because they peddle fear first & foremost (as the other cable news channels do, but they do it more to her liking).  Being German, she has a natural sense of schadenfreude, & I speak to her weekly, & it's a rare phone call that she's not tsk-tsk-ing someone I don't know anything about while simultaneously loving their unhappy state.

I hope I'm not that bad.  Mainly I expect the worst.  I know it can be exhausting.  It's caused me to give up more than persevere when it comes to roadblocks & hurdles.  I expect to - well, not fail, but certainly not to meet the goals I hoped to achieve.  Unlike my mother, I tend to blame myself when things go wrong - I am not the hero of my life story that she is of hers.

Plus, I don't smoke pot.  I understand that makes you hella mellow.  Have I talked about this before?  I find that I can't enjoy myself when I smoke pot, whereas I get somewhat mellow when I have had a couple of glasses of whiskey.  Alcohol, thankfully, doesn't increase my rage or my sadness.  It makes me more susceptible to emotion.  That doesn't mean I mellow out - weeping during a movie is hardly a mellow thing - but it means there's the possibility I could.

Is the opposite of mellow out mellow in?  What would that entail?

Does it feel like I am changing the subject?  Because I didn't really want to talk about my mother today.

Monday, February 23, 2015

I Had A Weird Moment

This morning I subbed someone's show on WRFL from 2 to 5am.  I like being up when few people are awake (even though that of course means no one's listening).  I like being at the station when no one's there.  (Although this morning, there was an armed robbery at the convenience store where I buy a soda right before I went up to the station.  I missed it by about a half hour.)  So I will often cover late night shifts as a kind of meditation.  Plus I can play music without worrying about a theme!

Last night I was rambling on the air, trying to be funny, & I made up this dumb thing about how my father used to wake me up at four in the morning to give me ridiculous trivia quizzes.  (I was using it as a justification for giving a trivia quiz on the air at four in the morning.)  It was completely untrue - after my parents separated before I turned four years old, I never slept in the same house as my father ever again.  There is no way he could have woken me at four in the morning without stumbling through a house he didn't reside in & probably scaring the hell out of my mother & whatever siblings were around.

Also, my father wasn't someone who, as I recall him, talked a great deal.  Perhaps I am remembering him wrong.  He would use his turn in a conversation to crack wise & corny.  When he would visit my little brother & me when we were children, he responded to every question we asked with a smart-ass answer.  For example, when he was leaving, I'd say, "Where are you going?"  & he'd respond, "To hell & back - you wanna go half-way?"

Some folks, I suppose, might have found that charming.  I was usually confused.  I was a kid.

But here's something I realized last night: I don't remember what my father's voice sounded like.  I was saying on the air that if my father were still with us (he died in 1991), he'd continue to call me in the middle of the night, & I tried to imitate his voice.  It hit me, live, on air, that I don't remember his voice!

It wasn't a sad thing.  I'm not sad at all about it.  It was just - strange.  Strange to think I can remember how hundreds - if not thousands - of musicians' voices sound, the voices of actors, my friends, television people, etc.  But not my father.

He spoke his last words to me probably twenty-five years ago, so that could explains it - but also he didn't say a whole lot to me in his lifetime.  I'll bet one of my sisters has him on videotape somewhere - I'll ask, the next time I'm in Garland, to see.  I think I'll be surprised - he probably doesn't sound in any way how I'd now guess he sounded.

Oh shit, & just think - if this were a hundred years ago, there might not even be the chance of a recording!