Precious, Precious Silver and Gold

Sometimes music comes along that demands something of you. It throws you up against a wall and steals your lunch money. And when you regain your wits you have to go and tell everyone. So I’m here to tell you. I just got Jeff Buckley’s Live at Sin-é, the 2-CD/1 DVD Legacy Edition. It may just be the greatest testament to what one voice and one guitar can do to you. Here are the tracks that will completely re-arrange your furniture:

Be Your Husband (a cappella blues tune)

Yeh Jo Halka Halka Saroor Hai (spot-on Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan cover)

As always, right click to “Save As…”

Words from Vinnie

Master drummer Vinnie Colaiuta had some very astute observations in this month’s issue of Modern Drummer:

“What I see happening a lot within drumming is a microcosmic example of what’s happening in society, which is sensationalism. Sensationalism was once the domain of sideshow barkers selling cure-all tonics and tickets to see the bearded lady, but there was always a place for art. But now if it’s not sensational, its value is diminished. That kind of mentality contributes to short attention spans, the inability to read a book or to be able to read and write something more substantial than a cursory email.”

Snowblind in New York

Rather than take the time to organize my thoughts. I figure why not just ramble without editing?

Mountains of dirty snow, Park Slope parents, the amazing 2 year old who loves guitar videos, enraptured by youtube. Bought him a ukulele. Moroccan restaurant in a Kenneth Cole clothing store, Ethiopian food served up in dollops on rubbery bread with holes like fresh pancakes. Driving in the bass player’s Subaru across the Brooklyn Bridge to the trombone player’s second gig playing Dixieland in Yankee land. Her previous gig was at a guitar store/coffee shop/theatre/music venue. Opting for a live jazz trio crammed into a basement bar with the soprano saxophone up in my pie, over the ticket I paid $15 to see a singalong episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Illegal knockff handbags in hidden Chinatown rooms. Dad called: money from grandfather pays for trip and more. Staten Island Ferry: deep cold so hard it’s warm. Pigeons in the water fountain. Cross-dressing homeless guy needed a cigarette. Gluten-free meals. Hangin at the near-empty sports bar because the hip, signless speakeasy writer restaurant was packed with well-dressed guys and a hockey game? Sitting in the vintage 1975 Yankee stadium bleachers that line the SNL studio 8H. Reading a teleprompter. 48th street guitar shops. Umanov’s on Bleecker. Should I move here? Times Square Virgin Megastore blasting. Protests. Ground Zero at dusk. Cold Atlantic winds. Indian food. Vegetable lasagna. Apparently I snore. Zamboni at Rockefeller.

Laguardia air traffic = missed Dallas connection despite planned 2 hour layover. Rental car. 4AM. Sleep.



Random notes:

  1. The dusting of snow we got this morning came with some sunlight. That’s rare. As I was driving down Markham, the snowflakes falling on the golf course were illuminated, giving the effect of glitter falling from the sky. This was a uniquely beautiful meteorological phenomena; I can’t recall seeing anything quite like it.
  2. You know you’re old when you have a slight backache from playing Skee Ball. Meredith and I went to Chuck E. Cheese last night for Valentine’s Day. I played nothing bu Skee Ball. For a time, I was in the zone, with several 100,000 point shots. I then promptly left the zone. And now, to quote Dan from Sportst Night, “I’m down here with the rest of you.”
  3. DeLaine and I leave for NYC today. We’ll be back on Monday night. The reason for the journey is that I told her I’d take her on a trip if she stayed clean a year out of rehab. I gave her a list of cities and she chose NYC. And this was the only weekend she said she’d probably have free this year, with school and work. Given the weather in New York right now, I’m sure we’re going to regret her choice. We probably should have gone to California. Oh well. This should be interesting. Pray for us.

Putting the “Fun” in “Funeral”

Thanks everybody, for the calls, comments and text messages. I’m sorry if I didn’t reply. The weekend was long and tiring but much of it was actually enjoyable, insofar as a funeral can be enjoyable. We buried Grampa Bob in a warmup suit, because that’s all he ever wore these last 30 years. The service was non-traditional, featuring the songs “Opus One” by the Mills Brothers, “I’ll Be Seeing You” by Jimmy Durante and “Goodbye” by Julie London. We also had a bagpipe player before and after the service.

The weekend also represented probably the longest span of time I’ve spent with my relatives. Usually we’re in and out in a day during the holidays, but this kept all of us together for a good 2-3 days. Grampa Bob had six kids, and they are all fairly spectacular. None of them have, as far as I am aware, ever been involved in organized crime, chemical dependency, domestic abuse, pornography or politics[1]. We have our dysfunctions, to be sure, but nothing that would sustain more than a couple of Lifetime Television movies or ABC Afterschool Specials.

Dad, uncle Barry, cousin David and I all dug through the sizeable record collection at various points; I made off with a few dozen – mostly Django Reinhardt, Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald, etc. I also took a picture of my parents one year after their marriage and some century-old books: a well-worn collection of Robert Burns poems and a copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

I had a lot of time to stare at the house; it’s the only house in my family to have seen my entire lifespan. It has also never had any kind of interior remodeling, so it remains frozen in all its avocado-colored, mid-60’s glory. The phone in the kitchen is a rotary with a long curly cord. The TVs live inside large wooden frames. The next time I make it up to Harrison, the house will probably be empty or sold.

For this funeral I was allowed some emotional distance, as I’ve never been very close to Grampa Bob. He was a prickly but lovable curmudgeon, but my grandmother Virginia (mom’s mom) is someone to whom I am much closer. She’s been fighting cancer for about a year now, and I imagine I will be repeating this whole process again at some point in the coming months. Maybe it will help me prepare.

1.) My father did run for office once in the late 70’s for his position as circuit judge but hey, back then everybody was experimenting. It was the 70’s.

Robert William McCorkindale

The first of three Robert William McCorkindales (the second being my father and the third being my brother) is currently residing in the Intensive Car Unit at North Arkansas Regional Medical Center following hip surgery, a subsequent embolism, and recent kidney problems. He is not expected to last very long. From what I saw he is in a great deal of pain and is beyond ready to leave. He was only semi-coherent when I saw him this afternoon; the only words I made out from him were “Oh God.”

One of the things I think I dislike most about hospitals is the inevitable feeling of helplessness that arises from watching a loved one suffer. Even worse is watching grandparents suffer, with the knowledge that death is a far more likely outcome than a return to health. All you can do is stand there, try to make conversation with your relatives, and maybe hold hands with your grandfather, who probably isn’t aware of your presence.

For dinner last night I went to my maternal grandmother’s house. She’s dying of lung cancer at 92, and has defied all expectations by getting up every day and not dying. She still has her wits about her and, at least in my opinion, gets better every time I see her. She has a sterling resilience, a strength she probably developed by taking care of her husband for about 30 years following his debilitating stroke.

Part of me envies my grandparents. They were here for most of the 20th century, the single greatest span of human advancement our species has ever witnessed. We went from learning to fly in 1903 to landing on the moon in 1969. From radio to TV to Internet. And my grandfather has made sure to leave behind plenty of McCorkindales (this is him seated at center, amid 15 of his progeny). He has 6 kids and 12 grandkids. He has outlived 3 wives, the first of which died in 1968.

Sadly, all we can do is wait. Prayers and good vibes appreciated. His coordinates are 36.23° North, 93.10° West.

Would You Like to Listen to My MP3 Collection?

I just realized that there is a convenient link to the index of my mp3 collection that MOG creates. I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but in case you were absent that day, MOG is a music blogging/social networking service that tracks your collection and what you listen to for all to see. If what you’ve got matches their database, people can listen to samples of those tunes. I know lots of people are using for a similar service, but has the maddening lack of a local state-level search options so I’d never be able to find people in Little Rock on it. You’d think that would be a horific oversight but apparently they’re not too concerned with it. So much for their social networking. Yay MOG.