Saturday, January 28, 2023

Tom Verlaine

(image from here)

It's been hard processing Tom Verlaine's death today. Mainly I have been listening to his music & thinking about how fucking great he was & how much I loved it & how much it influenced so many bands & artists I love.  In fact, I wrote this on Facebook about reading one such artist:

I played some Television & Tom Verlaine songs to Magda this afternoon while processing the loss of that incredible artist. She remarked that at least one song reminded her of the Go-Betweens. I am not surprised to find Robert Forster writing this on his Facebook page just now:

I have woken up to the news of the passing of virtuoso guitarist & singer-songwriter Tom Verlaine. Absorbing that as best as I could, I made my muesli & a strong coffee & sit here typing, a little stunned, not knowing what to write, but knowing what Verlaine meant to me. An elder brother, someone in the mid-to-late Seventies who opened up doors for me. An enormously inspirational figure to Grant & I with his New York band Television. The Go-Betweens, one more band in a swarm of bands to form & bloom in the wake of Verlaine & his fabulous group.

& it's so poignant, that this Friday, with the release of my new album, I name-check him in a song that collects my thoughts so much better, & more succinctly, than what I can write here. The song is called "When I Was A Young Man." The verse goes - "Elder brothers, they came along/ There was a new David & there was Tom/ They bewitched me in wardrobe & song/ When I was a young man."

The "new David" is David Byrne, & "Tom" is of course Verlaine. They were my twin peaks. Showing me how to dress & behave as a nervy twenty-one year old, trying to act & look as intense & interesting & poetic as I could. (Check any photo of me from 1978 to 1987 for evidence.)

Musically, I couldn't really compete with either of them. They were incredibly strong influences I had to shake off (a little) to get to anything original I could do. But thinking of Verlaine's guitar playing this morning - & that's what really hit me - was the influence of his tone in Seventies Rock. He ended or at least challenged the heavy bluesy thrust of Page/Clapton/Richards. Verlaine's guitar was loaded but sweet. It sang & soared. It was lyrical. It possesses enormous beauty. It hinted at jazz. It was ethereal & other worldly. & for someone like me, who was not a follower of guitar players & their lengthy solos, here was a guitar player for my age. & you just have to listen to the shape of guitar bands of the Eighties & beyond to hear the legacy of his playing. No disrespect to Clapton, but who sounds like him these days? Verlaine's soaring melodic tone & flurry of notes are everywhere. I am not meaning Rock is a competition - just that Verlaine is very present & always will be.

Forster nailed it, & he failed to mention another mention of Verlaine in one of his songs, the song "When She Sang About Angels," from the Go-Betweens record "Friends Of Rachel Worth," which was recorded here in Portland. The song about is about Patti Smith & contains the lines:

"When she sang about a boy -
Kurt Cobain -
I thought what a shame
It wasn't about Tom Verlaine"

Still lots of processing to do, but glad to have had this moment of synchronicity in my grief.

Sorry to quote someone else. I just honestly couldn't have said it better.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Jury Duty Postscript

(image from here)

After two & half days of tedium, I was not chosen for a jury.  Here is what I wrote on Facebook:

Released from jury duty!
To be honest I had a great deal of anxiety about serving. It was to be a four-week trial, & I would not have enjoyed that.
Yesterday (that is to say, Tuesday) I happened to mention that I was a "David v. Goliath" type of guy & I overwhelmingly rooted for the Davids of the world.
Today (this would be Wednesday) a lawyer for the defense asked me to elaborate, & I mentioned that I had talked generally about the case with my wife (we weren't allowed to talk about the specifics with anyone) & my wife had said, "They wouldn't want you on a jury in a trial  against a corporation. You HATE corporations!"
The lawyer then asked if that were so, would I not be biased against her client.
I said I would try but she said, "& yet if your wife had said you hated corporations..."
I said, "Yeah, I'd trust her. She's smarter than me."
That probably ended my chances right there.

Despite some of my friends, who said I should have lied so I could side against the little guy against greedy corporations, I had neither the confidence required to imagine I could convince eleven strangers to see things my way (& this is before I knew the facts of the case) nor the desire to waste four weeks on a trial about which I couldn't be sure I'd make any difference.

The relief that spread over me when my juror number was not called, ah! I wish I could drink a bottle of that a night.

Was I glad to see the process? Sure. Am I amazed that it exists? Yes! It's long & dumb & messy & there has to be a better way. But so far there isn't.

Here's hoping I'm not in a courthouse again for many many years.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Self Help Radio 012423: Examples

Here, without you asking, is an example of a radio show. Not just any radio show. An episode of Self Help Radio. In fact, the show contains a multitude of examples - including songs about examples of all kinds. Examples are discussed, demonstrated, & defined.

It's the sort of show you might want to make an example of - but luckily it's not a textbook example of Self Help Radio, since there's no textbook that mentions this show. For example, all mathematics textbooks somehow lack any mention of Self Help Radio. But perhaps you learn by example - in which case, you'll learn a lot about Self Help Radio from its show about examples.

You can listen to the show in more than one place. For example, at the KBOO website. For another example, at the Self Help Radio website. If you do visit the latter, remember there's a username & password required - those are, for example, SHR & selfhelp. Every example on the show is listed below.

Please be a good example & enjoy this show about examples.

Self Help Radio Example Episode
"I'm An Example" Slumber Party _Slumber Party_
"I Was A Poor Example" Month Of Sundays _This Is Stereophonic Sunshine_
"Example" Teen _Love Yes_

"Example 16a" The Bran Flakes _Bounces_
"Example # 22" Laurie Anderson _Big Science_
"Examples Of Analog Timbres" Wendy Carlos _Secrets Of Synthesis_
"For Example" The Nice _Nice_
"Mr. Bad Example" Warren Zevon _Mr. Bad Example_

"Examples" Out On Blue Six _W.N.W.6 Moonlight Radio_
"Perfect Example" Hüsker Dü _New Day Rising_
"Example" Cringer _Zen Flesh, Zen Bones_
"Bad Example" The Living Eyes _Living Large_
"Example To Change" The Meanies _10% Weird_

"Example Part 1" Winston Wright _Example Part 1/Example Part 2_
"Set A Better Example" Alton Ellis _The Best Of Alton Ellis_
"Set Some Example" Twinkle Brothers _Underground_
"Good Example" Fred Locks _Mission For The King_
"Example Part 2" The Upsetters With 3rd & 4th Generation _Example Part 1/Example Part 2_

"The Perfect Example" Dan & The Clean Cut Clan _Dynamite Group Sounds Vol. 11: 26 Explosive Group Harmony Sides!_
"Good Example" Cliff Eberhardt _12 Songs Of Good & Evil_
"I'm A Great Example To The Dogs" Lord Cut-Glass _Lord Cut-Glass_
"Skulls Example" Dear Nora _Skulls Example_
"My Life's Example" Treebound Story _My Life's Example_

"We Got A Thing Going On" The Classic Example _The Classic Example_
"As Long As You Love Me" True Example _Mixed With Love (The Walter Gibbons Salsoul Anthology)_
"Your Friend" The Examples _Your Friend_
"Stranger Than Fiction" The Bad Examples _Bad Is Beautiful_
"Flarepath" Par Example _Pharos_

"Example Of A Fool" Jan Howard _The Real Me_
"A Living Example" Billy 'Crash' Craddock _Two Sides Of 'Crash'_
"Good Example Of A Bad Example" The Lonesome Billies _Right On Time_
"Bad Example" Pistol Annies _Hell On Heels_
"Bright Examples" Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion _Bright Examples_

"Threat Of A Good Example" The Ants _Victory Side_
"An Example Show" Science Groove _My Dissertation_
"A Bad Example" No Monster Club _People Are Weird_
"Bad Example (All Hail The Lost)" Joel Streeter _Matador_
"Give 'Em An Example How A DJ Works" DJ Magic Mike & MC Madness _Ain't No Doubt About It_

"Example 78" Oliver Nelson _Sound Pieces_
"Take For Example This..." Billy Childs _Take for Example This..._
"Trane's Example" Ari Brown _Venus_

Monday, January 23, 2023

Whither Examples?

(image from here)

You have heard me complain before about the length of my show. I don't think it should be three hours long. But it is. & sometimes a theme occurs to me that I simply don't think I can fill three hours of programming with. You want an example of this? How about a show about examples?

Oh but I did find enough music to fill three hours, didn't I? Or else I wouldn't be doing the show! But it wasn't easy. The show has examples in song but a lot of other kinds of examples. Including one particular example of something I never do on the show, which helped me make up for the lack of songs about examples.

The show was recorded this weekend because I had jury duty today, & I have to go back to the courthouse tomorrow, so I won't be doing the show live, alas. But it's an example of how different radio is at the end of the pandemic - four years ago, I would have asked someone to sub; now I can record the show at home. I'm not sure what's better.

Listen tonight from midnight to 3am Portand time on 90.7fm in town & online at

This concludes this example of the sort of thing I write every week before my show.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Preface To Examples: Jury Duty

(This could be me! Image from here.)

It's true. Your humble deejay has been called for jury duty. I report to the Central County Courthouse tomorrow morning at 7:50 am. I've been called for jury duty in both Dallas & in Austin, & both times was not selected. But I always expect the worst, so I think I'll be sequestered for months & months & months.

For that reason, I have recorded this week's Self Help Radio - & I certainly hope I turned it in on time! It was a rush job of a silly theme & I had a little help with my regular collaborators. But if I have to go in on Tuesday morning at 7:50am I might not even stay up to live tweet it!

Oh I will miss doing it live. But I feel like if I try my luck, the fates will make an example of me. So I go to service willingly. & I adjust my life accordingly.