Tag Archives: Music

Wanders with Rusty

Today I walked down the street I used to wander

Yeah, shook my head and made myself a bet

There were all these things I don’t think I remember

How lucky can one dog get

Lyrics from John Prine’s “How Lucky” (with one minor change).

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Interpreting Where is My Mind by Pixies

I do some really good thinking when I take my dog, Rusty, for walks. It’s usually when I get the most focused listening of podcasts or music done.

A few days ago I was listening to my Covers playlist on a walk with Rusty when Trampled by Turtles cover of Pixies Where is My Mind began to play. I can’t count the times I’ve listened to Surfer Rosa and that song in particular, let alone the cover. But for some reason I was much more dialed in to it. Perhaps a cover version that includes mandolin and accordion drew me in more.

The scribbles above came to my, um, mind as I listened, then re-listened on the walk. And then I started to consider Black Francis’, or Frank Black’s if you like, sparse lyrics.

“With your feet in the air and your head on the ground.” This is about changing or having a different perspective. Seeing things differently.

“Try this trick and spin it. Yeah!” And don’t just have a different perspective. Take some action with it and further the perspective change, learn how to do something new.

“Your head will collapse. There’s nothing in it. And you’ll ask yourself. Where is my mind?” Now here is where I started thinking a bit more deeply about this. The “mind” is a concept, the bringing together of a person’s beliefs, faith, intellect, ideas, opinions. Why would a head collapse without a “mind”?

It is because the mind is what defines who we are. It provides the strength for the brain to truly support our head. Think of the mind as providing the steel girders to support the surrounding structure of the brain (and the head in these lyrics). Without the mind, we all just have some gray matter between our ears.

So if you attempt to change your perspective without having an open mind, your head will collapse because there is no support to consider and try to understand what it is that you’re seeing and hearing. You can’t learn new things.

“Way out in the water. See it swimming?” And not having a mind to support new perspectives puts you out to sea, leads to confusion, or maybe even anger. And as the mind is a concept it can’t be seen, swimming or otherwise. And, thus, more confusion. And, further, it becomes easier to not change perspectives and learn.

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My Favorite Live Shows Seen with My Son

I’ve completed the social media challenge to name bands from A-Z whose concerts I’ve attended. I was a bit weak toward the end of the alphabet and didn’t double (or triple or quadruple) up on any particular letter. I enjoyed it, as I have a few of the other shelter-in-place/quarantine social media challenges. But it got me thinking.

Since my now 19 year old son was 10 years old, when I think of going to see a show, I always think of going with him first. At the age of 9, my son became very interested in music. It was an assignment in 3rd grade that started it all – write an essay about a famous American. He chose Elvis. So starting with that essay, he began working his way backwards and forwards through blues, jazz, folk, bluegrass, rock and roll, classical, true country and western and pretty much every genre in between. (At the end of his 3rd grade school year, we moved back to Austin, TX. He asked, “Since we’re moving back to Austin, can I learn to play the guitar?”) It has been a joy to see him grow in his passion, and he is now majoring in Classical Guitar and Music Composition in college.

We have talked of music and experienced music a lot over the past 10 years. He has, probably unbeknownst to him, taught me a great deal about artists and genres I had a passing preference for that he has made me appreciate much more deeply.

So when I think of going to see a show or hear about a new record or someone touring, he is the first person I text or call about it. We’ve been able to see some great shows together, and, thus, the A-Z bands you’ve seen live challenge has led to this. Here we go – some of the best shows I’ve seen with my son.

ACL 2010

His first real “show”, and as we lived in Austin, what better way to start. I think it was while watching The Black Keys or maybe Spoon when I got the question from my then 10 year old son, “What’s that smell?” And he never had to ask at any subsequent show…


This was either for his 11th or 12th birthday. He got interested in the blues very early on. I think Buddy was 75 years old at the time, but still was walking through the crowd and had a ton of energy.


I think he was 12 or 13. What a band BB had supporting him. This was definitely an Austin performance as Jimmy Vaughn came out and played a couple songs with him. Also the first show where he saw a fight (at a BB King show!) – people began pushing and shoving at the end of the show because BB stayed on stage throwing out guitar picks.

PIXIES – THE AUSTIN MUSIC HALL (may it rest in peace)

I think he was 12 or 13. Right before this show, he had played a show at Darwin’s Pub on 6th Street through a program called Garage Band. This may be one that I forced on him. We missed the original lineup. As I recall, Kim had just left (again?) to re-start up the Breeders. Was still a good show…


I think he was 15 or 16. While he has many, many favorites, I think if he could have seen all of the iterations of Miles Davis’ bands, he would have. So this show he was very excited about. And they did not disappoint.


This was our most recent show together this past 4th of July. We got there early, and we stayed for the whole thing – from David Allan Coe at 1130a until Willie shut it down a bit after midnight. For a dad about to have his son go away to school, it was an amazing time. And to make it a true, late night Texas experience, we hit Whataburger at around 130a.


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(Maybe the) Best Live Show I Ever Saw

I think the social distancing/shelter at home phenomenon has me thinking a lot about things you can do in large groups of people…

A couple of days ago, my son (he’s a freshman Music Composition major at the University of North Texas – proud father moment and has some relevance to the following) mentioned that one of his favorite podcasts, Your Favorite Band Sucks, had just posted a new episode featuring Arcade Fire. I think the title of the podcast says it all in terms of the treatment that can be assumed for any band falling into their cross hairs.

My son truly enjoys and listens to a very wide swath of music. To do what he intends to do with his life, he must. However, there are a few things for which he does not care, or within which he has very specific tastes. Commercially popular country music of the last two to three decades (really, who can blame him on that – he may have had some help from an early age on forming that opinion). Most of the music of the ’90’s (having not lived through it, I think he may allow nu metal, pop punk and the overly whiny shoegaze bands to influence his opinion on that too much). And this third thing is my interpretation, but pertinent to this post – bands that have too much pretense or take themselves too seriously without a relevant reason to do so or to the detriment of the actual music made. To wit, The Red Headed Stranger is a great concept album and worthy of a Broadway adaptation. American Idiot is not.

That last reason is why I think he was happy to hear Arcade Fire would be skewered on Your Favorite Band Sucks.

By no means am I an Arcade Fire fan. Last I saw or listened to them they were on SNL promoting their Reflektor album in 2013. As can be the case, where a band starts and where they progress to tends to be divisive. Of their work, there are two albums I enjoy. Reflektor was not one of them, and I lost interest.

But I was lucky enough to see them live at the Stubb’s BBQ Waller Creek Amphitheater in Austin, TX in 2005 as they toured on their first album, Funeral. That album is in my top 10 favorites of all time. The pure energy and joy of their performance was everything you would want from a show. Back then, there was no pretense, no concept to thrust ahead of the music, no slick production. It was an intimate outdoor venue on a lovely Central Texas evening. The music and their performance was enough. Just a group of people come together enjoying themselves which translated to an audience that was joyous.

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QOTD: Geniuses, Creativity and Work Ethic

I’m in the midst of Jeff Tweedy’s autobiography, Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back). I like the voyeurism of a good autobiography or biography as much as the next person, but what I really like are books, articles, documentaries, interviews, what-have-you that get into how creative people do their work or their thoughts on what is required to do good work.

Thus far, my favorite quote from the book is:

“The people who seem the most like geniuses are not geniuses. They’re just more comfortable with failing. They try more and they try harder than other people and so they stumble onto more songs. It’s pretty simple. People who don’t pick up a guitar and try every day don’t write a whole lot of great songs. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.”

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