Thursday, November 10, 2016

Self Help Radio 110916: Guitars

(Original image here.)

In my mind's eye, I was approached by an irate, possibly overly literal listener, who accosted me & said, "A show about guitars should have featured great guitarists, not simply songs about guitars!"  As is my way, I am loathe to defend my meager radio offerings, but smiled & agreed, thinking, sure "Great Guitarists" might also be a swell theme in the future, although my first inclination would be to look for songs about great guitarists (like the Richard Thompson song at the end of the show) rather than to celebrate & play them - something I feel like you can find anywhere, in lists by magazines & websites, in opinion pieces by opinionated people, really, anywhere.  Self Help Radio likes to pretend there's something here that you might not find in a lot of places, though it understands the derivative nature of its premise all too well!

When I live-tweeted the show last night, I was struck by how innocent it all felt, even though it was recorded just about thirty-six hours earlier.  I don't want to harp on this - I have a feeling this election means tremendous changes are coming to my country, & while there are many who believe such changes will be great, I have an ominous feeling it will be exactly the opposite.  But.  I am pessimistic to the bone, man.

Here!  Have a radio show about guitars!  It's breezy fun even if you don't know what a chord is (I sure don't)!  At the Self Help Radio website in two parts!  The songs I played are below!  Why so many exclamation marks!  I don't know!  I just don't know!

Hope you enjoy.


(part one)

"You & My Old Guitar" Jimmie Rodgers _Jimmie Rodgers: The Singing Brakeman, Vol. 1_
"I'm A Guitar King" Tommy McClennan _The Bluebird Recordings 1939-1942_
"Talking Guitars Blues" Lonnie Donegan _The Collection_

"Guitar Man" Elvis Presley _Elvis Presley's Greatest Hits_
"Tennessee Flat Top Box" Johnny Cash _The Essential Johnny Cash 1955-1983_
"Best Guitar Picker" George Jones _She Thinks I Still Care: The Complete United Artists Recordings, 1962-1964_
"Guitar" Louis C.K. _Live In Houston_
"New Guitar In Town" The Lurkers _The Collection_
"Guitar" The 2X4's _The 2X4's_

"Electric Guitar" Talking Heads _Fear Of Music_
"Fender Stratocaster" Jonathan Richman _Jonathan Richman_
"The Guitar" They Might Be Giants _Apollo 18_
"Cool Guitar Boy" Heavenly _Heavenly Vs Satan_

"This Old Guitar" Neil Young _Praire Wind_

(part two)

"Acoustic Guitar" The Magnetic Fields _69 Love Songs_
"My Guitar" Dear Nora _Dreaming Out Loud EP 7"_
"Five Guitars" Kleenex Girl Wonder _Ponyoak_

"Sucker For A Cheap Guitar" Marc Bristol _Rockabilly Hall Of Fame, Vol. 1_
"You Stepped On My Guitar" Bikeride _Summer Winners, Summer Losers_
"The Jokes With Guitar" Demetri Martin _These Are Jokes_
"Guitar Man" David J _Guitar Man_

"This Old Guitar" Lucinda Williams _The Music Is You: A Tribute To John Denver_
"Working Girl's Guitar" Rosie Flores _Working Girl's Guitar_
"While My Guitar Gently Weeps" The Drowners _Muted To A Whisper_
"My Guitar" The Submissives _Do You Really Love Me_

"Guitar Heroes" Richard Thompson _Still_
"Drunken Guitar" The Lushes _Las Vegas Grind, Vol. 2_

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Whither Guitars?

(That picture from here.)

Well.  I'm sure you appreciate how difficult it would be to do a radio show in the current climate.  I mean, though Self Help Radio is pretty ridiculous, it certainly supports love over hate, it plays music by people of color all around the world, by women, by musicians of every sexual stripe.  It abhors hate, it abhors exclusion.  Where you can hear Self Help Radio has always been on college &/or community radio stations where diversity is celebrated, appreciated, desired, treasured.  Sexual predators, bigots, homophobes - I suppose I've lived in a bubble, but they did not find their way to the noncommercial radio stations where Self Help Radio has called home.

The truth is, I probably wouldn't do a show tonight if I had my druthers - my heart's not in it today.  But.  Self Help Radio is prerecorded.  I live in Fort Worth, it airs in Lexington & streams all over the world.  I put the show together earlier yesterday, a million years ago it seems now.  You'll hear me explaining that I just don't know who would be president.  But I had hoped it wouldn't have turned out this way.

& I do think it's a fun show.  Lots of songs about guitars, plus the funniest friends I have pretend to be ridiculous guests & hopefully will make you laugh as much as they do me.  I interview my old guitar teacher, a legendary guitar god, a maker of artisan guitars, & a friend in Hollywood who talks about actors who are musicians.  Maybe it will take your mind off how ugly the world is today for some of us.

The show is on tonight from 9-11pm Eastern, 8-10pm Central, on 89.3 fm WLXU in Lexington, & online at lexingtoncommunityradio dot org.  I'll live tweet the show from my sad computer, so follow me on Twitter & join in on the "fun."

& love each other, & prepare yourself.  It's going to get really quite awful.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Preface To Guitars: You Can't Seriously

Ask me to talk about a stupid radio show when the fate of the republic is at stake, can you?

No.  No.

Monday, November 07, 2016

The Election Day Dilemma

Here's the weirdest thing about this week's show (which is about guitars): I will have finished the show, which airs on Wednesdays, before I'll know who's won the presidency.

What do you mean, Gary?  You mean, you don't know?  Self Help Radio is prerecorded.  I turn the show in Tuesday afternoons.  But you know what else is happening Tuesday?  Right: either the historic election of the first woman President Of The United States, or the last election for an American President, as Emperor Trump takes the tacky gold-plated throne.  & there's absolutely no way for me to know which (I mean, polls favor Clinton, but I am pessimist & know there are going to be stories about white supremacists beating people of color up tomorrow).  & certainly that would affect how I would act on the show - elation & relief if Clinton won, fear & exasperation if Trump won.

None of that will be on display on this week's show.  Because I won't know.  It will be as if the show took a twenty-four hour nap & woke up & gabbed about shit for two hours like nothing monumental has happened.

It's driving me nuts!  I almost thought about skipping the show this week.  But my "guests" have contributed, & I have all these damn songs about guitars, so...

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Fallen Colonels

Because, I guess, I am a morbid fuck, I spent some time yesterday looking at this web site (from which the weirdly pro-Confederate picture above comes from*): Fallen Colonels.  There's also a Facebook page with photos, though it's hard to get through, as there are no names attached to the photos until you click on them.

How I found about the site, of course, was when my sister Pat died last year, & she & I - actually, all of my siblings - went to South Garland High School.  (Only four of us graduated from the school, though.  Three of my siblings dropped out, which was apparently the cool thing to do in the 1970s.)  My brother Steve informed whoever's in charge & her name's there, & her picture is on the Facebook page.  For some reason, a year & a half later, I found myself back at the site.

What fascinated me yesterday was the people in my high school class (we graduated in 1986) who have since left this mortal coil.  The site lists 21, out of a class of 430, although one of them, Marla Jones, died when she was a freshman (she committed suicide**), & another, Christy Ann Holland, apparently also attended only as a freshman, so that adds two to the number.  However, if we do the math, that's a little under 5% of the class - which means a little less than 1 in 20 people I graduated high school with are no longer with us.

& look at how they went!  Five died in car accidents, five by heart attack.  Four have causes that are unknown, while two were taken by cancer.  There was one murder, one suicide, & two congenital diseases.  Finally, Miss Holland, mentioned above, died of "unspecified health issues."

Interestingly, it more or less jibes with the stats by the CDC.  Heart disease is the number one cause of death in this country, followed by cancer.  Accidents are fourth.  More than half of my classmates died of these three causes.

Here's the thing: except for Marla Jones, whom I never really knew, & two others I'll discuss below, I have no idea who any these people are.  I don't have any memory of them whatsoever.  That may seem callous, & I certainly feel uncomfortable about it, but it's pretty obvious that I couldn't have known all 430 members of my graduating class.  But what of the two I think I knew?

While scrolling through the Facebook page, I came across Mark Taylor.  I don't recall the name, but the face - from the yearbook - definitely was familiar.  I may have sat next to him in one class or two, & remember him being friendly with me.  Perhaps he sat in front of me in English class in the 10th grade.  I was a pretty chatty fellow, & if that were Mark, he was easy to talk to, & easy to crack up, something I required.  If it wasn't him - well I have no idea either way.

The other was a girl name Jackie Bodiford.  I remember the name - it's actually quite fun to say - & I recall her face, even without seeing her yearbook picture.  We must have had some interactions, as I have a fleeting memory of making her laugh.  But that's all.  She makes me saddest of the group - she died very young, at the age of 22, when I was finishing college, & the site doesn't tell us how she died.

Mostly I confess I feel strangely fortunate to still be around thirty years after graduation.  I wasn't popular, I didn't have a lot of friends, & I'm not in contact with anyone I knew from school in 1986.  But sometimes we need to stand face-to-face with our mortality, & let it fuck up our minds a bit.  So I took some time to do that today.

* As I've talked about before, like here, my high school's mascot was "the Colonel," which was a diminutive military type dressed in Confederate garb.  My school's motto was "The South Shall Rise Again."

** I have very strong memories of first-period algebra the Monday after Marla Jones committed suicide.  She locked herself in a garage on a weekend night & turned the car on.  I was fascinated by seeing all of these girls - Marla's friends - just crying in the class, & my feelings about her death were mixed - she & those other girls had enjoyed making fun of me most of the semester.  I'm not sure we were ever told why she took her own life.