Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I'm looking through a hole in the sky.

At the yellow & hot sun. Too yellow like a cheap Volume 4 import, too hot like last week, too bright, so blinding that it's black. Oh, be a fine girl kiss me won't find this class of gloss. And it's humid, but not claustrophobic. Aren't they the same? No. Though each shares qualities, each delineates disparate states. And though the latter's meaning is bloated with choking airs & catacomb cliche, in it's own way, it's far less severe. You always know where you stand: in the pit, looking through a hole in the earth, a shovel scattering Stygian glint past scabs of rust and torpor. The other? Anticipation of the expected something, an ambiance nudging, sotto voce, the self to document, to shoot stills of what can befall: hope laced with fear. Or worse, the inverse, the teasing euphony of the mercurial out-of-reach, the looking-glass ubiquitous hiding in blank days that end in y.

July 28, 1975 saw me as the weest of lads. Wouldn't have a clue for years about the existence of this compelling imprint, spit-shined grime (unlike their visceral first, more than a few hours and a more than a few hundred quid required) beginning with a propulsive riff that cynically snarls and wearily twists with each return. Was nothing but such adolescent angst, once upon a spin. The rent was never due for me, either, John. I was, after all, a punk kid with limited responsibility and a wandering noodle -- seems you big & famous rock stars & I have something in common -- but soon the plectrum would metamorphose into the punctum of memory.

Butler's bubbling bass entr'acte conjures a glimpse of breezy, eerily calm late 70s Salem's Lot before James Mason's stormy "Throw away the cross, face the master!" monologue. Shrug. Dozens of chill basement viewings color the processes -- what's this? A modernist gaze into hyperspace -- see the soul seller for even rootier roots -- symptomatic of universal disillusion. And healthy doses of sweat, dirt, stacked amplifiers, white powder. Ingested by those blokes, not me, for five-buck-an-hour high schoolers, soon aimless, major-less matriculators, can't afford to be strung out on anything past carbonated beverages, candy bars and cheap American beer. A love that never dies, wot's all this? It's certainly scream-worthy as I imagined love would be. Turn it up. While not as punctuated as misheard Purple Haze, the second verse's seven nightmare unicorn's fucking spectacular. I believed, and still lie, that's what he sings. Cokeheads have their white & I have mine, the amaranthine drone of high summer, cumulus climbing over the song's fading acres of acoustic blue blanketing spinning spokes over hillocks & down.

It seems to have been hot on July 28, 1988, but I checked, for truth's sake: 91 units of Fahrenheit. Humid. Stereo pan megAlomania -- don't toke so much, quality controller -- a collective of dreamily feral measures, bruising progression & substance- & celebrity-stained text, an athanor where I could incinerate teenage wasteland, transmute disaffection into a thing that had I been born earlier might have been in the form of nothing more than bitchin' Camaros, weed and suburban ennui. Some things never change, though substitute bitchin' 24". Why doesn't everybody leave me alone with my sketches, NES, verse that wouldn't fare any better two decades later thanks to an affinity towards indulgent purpling, the girl with the long brown hair, hours of long, fractured crosses, spiked shins and 4-4-2 laced with thoughts about the girl with the long brown hair (whatever happened to her?) while everyone waited for the poorly-struck ball to be retrieved from far afield, Walkman pre- and post-practice, audible to the posable statues masquerading as passers-by to the motionless.

Shielded by sepia-toned sabotage, I know better than you. I still do. Don't question, or I'll play it again, hit rewind & make us wait for evidence. Always waiting, but one can skip at home; the wonders of technology. We still skip in this digital age. Was it wise, to learn to disguise? I'll tell you on my deathbed. Always waiting.

What of ce lit (you don't know any French yet, pal) striving to stretch into wonderland, immersed in the thrill of it all, all that fear laced with hope, that blot, breathing its drowsy speech that pedaled me around town solitaire. It's not as humid, July 28, 1991 (I checked, for truth's sake) the gulf between entertainment and conflict having evaporated further, the spectacle carrying love letters twixt the illicit. Oh, there's love here, too, I suppose, a chorus exhales to say as much, its weapon the aforementioned fear, the choice of all tzars, super or no. I wield it, as do you, tzarina, next to me. Remember, I know better, I have the evidence. You doubt? I confess? I'll never tell, not even after wedding bells.

I know I'm going insane, this song isn't helping (whatever happened to crunch?), so tune my radio. Broadcast stimuli for years, nearly twenty. I know I don't sound very cheerful, but even megalomaniacs can listen. I(you) is listening, for once, for the thousandth time I(you) listening. Why are you(I) laughing? Am I Satan, am I man, have I've changed a lot since it began? Since, children, the second, comically enough, manifesting on this idée fixe twelve years ago, & an omnipresent, self-served writ. Same 99-cent notebook paper, same ink in line after line of stanzas bricked upon each other, our very own tower of Babel. I like to pretend it's served by you, over & over I pretend until at last sift the photographic evidence & see that I never understood more than a handful, & neither do you each and every July 28 and the 363 (remember those relics set aside) that lay beside. This album, this image of tribal fiestas of fire & flesh, ostensibly for many, is burned into a comedown of one ash.

Summer is here. What of the next July 28 and those thereafter? Blinding, sweltering, your fault, my fault, it will be humid. Only slick fingertips can keep those rare moments, the proof that we once could slip through the looking-glass, from disappearing into the escalating dust.


Tengrain said...

Graves, you swine!

I might not appreciate power chords the way you do (where's the synth-pop?) but I do appreciate your music posts. Even as much as I know I probably would hate these songs (and not being keen on Black Sabbath generally), I probably will go listen to this sometime today.

Such is the power of good writing.



PS - Eat at Ray's!

s. douglas (aka der Über Bossensteinerschmidtenkurtz) said...

"even megalomaniacs can listen."

i hear what you're saying.

Tom Harper said...

That picture sure brings on the nostalgia. Music as God intended us to hear it. And that picture reminds me: What's the story with these newfangled CDs? I've never figured out how to play Side 2.

Randal Graves said...

tengrain, I have great faith in your ability to dislike Sabbath, this was more of a paean to music as a gateway, substitute whatever platter you dig.

sergeant D is coming, and you're on his list!

tom, that reminds me of those fucking double-sided DVDs. Flipping over vinyl is one thing, flipping over discs hiding in a tray is quite another.

Christopher said...

I got nothing..........

Lisa said...

That was a wild ride. Shut up, I said something nice. Deal.

Beach Bum said...

It was cool, but I second what Chris said.

susan said...

I just read through all the lyrics of Sabotage and they're quite good but you know I never embraced metal. By 1975, I was living on the west coast of Canada and listening to Bowie's 'Young Americans' - missed the glam but it was a great album and then Queen arrived so all was well. Reggae was very big at our house too - Marley, Bunny Wailer, Desmond Dekker, Jimmy Cliff.. and then came punk. It was a good time to move to the east coast of the US and see the Ramones at CBGB's.

This was a great post about musical magic and time traveling. Please excuse my brief foray down memory lane.

Randal Graves said...

christopher, none of us do. Except that one guy.

lisa, "hey you, let's fight!" "Them's fightin' words!"

BB, be wary of The Man, he'll steal your nothing, too.

susan, nothing to be excused. A post is merely one node connecting a bunch of other crazy crap together.

I'll think out bust out some Queen. See how easy that was?

MRMacrum said...

If I had not been subjected to two tours with these guys, I would agree with you. Sadly, I am more than one "Iron Man" over the line.

Randal Graves said...

They never cut you a line, huh. Though I'm not sure I'd ever want to hang out with most of the artists I dig. I don't want my perception of a piece of work discolored.