The Stars Look Very Different Today

davidbowie

Rock legend and pop-music icon David Bowie died on Sunday after an eighteen-month battle with cancer. He was 69 years old.

Although I’ve never really been a fan of glam rock, I’ve always felt a bit of a kinship with Ziggy Stardust. I considered myself something of an “alien” growing up– an outcast or a misfit who could never quite belong because I was just a little too smart and strange for my own good. Plus, I was born with dichromatic eyes, and people used to tell me I have “David Bowie eyes,” so I once had that going for me, too. But I hadn’t heard that comparison in a long while, as we’re living in an age where most people’s reference point for David Bowie is a Jimmy Fallon impression.

In an odd bit of prophecy, I heard the song “Heroes” this weekend, but it wasn’t Bowie’s version. Rather, it was a live recording from a long-since lost Blondie CD I found while cleaning out my car. Even odder is the fact that this live recording was from a concert held at the Hammersmith Odeon exactly thirty-six years ago today (January 12, 1980). I had forgotten how good the track was, and I must have played it four or five times in a row. One of the reasons this live track is so good is because joining Blondie onstage for that show was one Robert Fripp, the “pitched feedback” experimental guitar pioneer who just so happened to be the studio guitarist on the original record written by David Bowie and Brian Eno, and one could easily argue that Fripp deserves just as much credit as Bowie or Eno for giving the song its unique sound.

frippenobowieFripp, Eno, and Bowie being badasses in the studio

But what really makes “Heroes” such a good song is simply that it’s such a powerful piece of music.  The bittersweet lyrics tell the story of two young lovers and their doomed romance, and the beautiful music takes the lyrics to a whole other level.  With its hauntingly hopeful melody and musical progression, it’s almost an anthem of sorts– an uplifting and optimistic anthem to impossible and impermanent love.

I would argue that this is Bowie’s best song, but not only would you have to listen to his entire catalog to be able to debate the validity of my argument, you would also have to listen to his recording of this particular song, which I am not sharing with you today.  Rather, I am choosing to share Blondie’s live recording which is almost as old as I am because this is my blog and I can do whatever the hell I please with it. But do yourself a favor and listen to Bowie’s original, too.

R.I.P., space oddity– you will be missed.


I, I will be king,
and you, you will be queen–
though nothing will drive them away,
we can beat them, just for one day–
we can be heroes, just for one day.

And you, you can be mean,
and I, I’ll drink all the time,
’cause we’re lovers, and that is a fact–
yes we’re lovers, and that is that.

Though nothing will keep us together,
we could steal time, just for one day–
we can be heroes, forever and ever.
What do you say?

I, I wish you could swim
like the dolphins, like dolphins can swim,
though nothing, nothing will keep us together,
we can beat them, forever and ever.
Oh, we can be heroes, just for one day.

I, I will be king,
and you, you will be queen–
though nothing will drive them away,
we can be heroes, just for one day…
we can be us, just for one day…

I, I remember, (I remember)
standing, by the wall, (by the wall)
and the guns, shot above our heads, (over our heads)
and we kissed, as though nothing could fall, (nothing could fall)
and the shame, was on the other side–
oh, we can beat them, forever and ever,
then we could be heroes, just for one day.

We can be heroes
We can be heroes
We can be heroes
Just for one day
We can be heroes

End of the Line

Finally finished one of my favorite television shows tonight.  The final season of Parks and Rec originally aired during a really tough period in my life, and I neglected to watch it at the time.  Well, I managed to catch up on the final season over the last week, and tonight I got choked up watching the last episode.  It wasn’t a particularly good episode, but the writers successfully tugged at the heartstrings of all the longtime viewers whilst wrapping up the lives of the characters we’d come to love (including my personal favorite, Ron Swanson– arguably one of the greatest television characters of all time, up there with Archie Bunker and Homer Simpson).

parksrecfinaleThe gang on the set of the show’s finale

It’s an incredibly cathartic experience to come to the end of the line of a long-running show you’ve grown to love, as it’s truly a bittersweet moment when you invest years of your life following a narrative and suddenly that narrative is no more.  In a pleasant surprise, the series ended on a musical note I hadn’t heard in quite some time:  the song “End of the Line” by The Traveling Wilburys.  The Wilburys hold a special place in my heart, as each and every band member (Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, George Harrison… hell, even Ringo Starr) was a musical hero of mine in my youth.  Given, with the collective talent of the band, one might argue that they should have produced far better music than they did.  But they weren’t out to make revolutionary recordings– rather, each of the band’s members (some of the best singer/songwriters of all time) had already done that, and now they were simply being honest and trying to have some fun.  And I can’t say that I blame them.

Please to enjoy this simple but poignant song, “End of the Line.”


Well it’s all right, riding around in the breeze–
Well it’s all right, if you live the life you please–
Well it’s all right, doing the best you can–
Well it’s all right, as long as you lend a hand.

You can sit around and wait for the phone to ring (at the end of the line)
Waiting for someone to tell you everything (at the end of the line)
Sit around and wonder what tomorrow will bring (at the end of the line)
Maybe a diamond ring

Well it’s all right, even if they say you’re wrong–
Well it’s all right, sometimes you gotta be strong–
Well it’s all right, as long as you got somewhere to lay–
Well it’s all right, everyday is Judgment Day.

Maybe somewhere down the road aways (at the end of the line)
You’ll think of me, wonder where I am these days (at the end of the line)
Maybe somewhere down the road when somebody plays (at the end of the line)
Purple haze

Well it’s all right, even when push comes to shove–
Well it’s all right, if you got someone to love–
Well it’s all right, everything’ll work out fine–
Well it’s all right, we’re going to the end of the line.

Don’t have to be ashamed of the car I drive (at the end of the line)
I’m just glad to be here, happy to be alive (at the end of the line)
It don’t matter if you’re by my side (at the end of the line)
I’m satisfied

Well it’s all right, even if you’re old and gray–
Well it’s all right, you still got something to say–
Well it’s all right, remember to live and let live–
Well it’s all right, the best you can do is forgive.

Well it’s all right, riding around in the breeze–
Well it’s all right, if you live the life you please–
Well it’s all right, even if the sun don’t shine–
Well it’s all right, we’re going to the end of the line.

S.O.B.

So I happened to catch this performance when it originally aired last year, but when I finally got around to posting it to my blog, NBC had already taken the video down.  And while the band also has an “official” video of this song, it isn’t half as good as the live performance from The Tonight Show, so I refused to post it.  Well, lo and behold, The Tonight Show video is back, and I’m happy to get to share it tonight.

As soon as I saw this performance, this became my new favorite song.  Nathaniel Rateliff is kind of like if Joe Cocker and James Brown had a country/western rockabilly baby, and his band is one part Blues Brothers Band and one part Village People.  But they’re all soul.  I mean, they’re on Stax Records, for God’s sake- it doesn’t get much more legit than that.

So without further ado, here’s a link to the video, followed by the lyrics:

nathanielrateliff

I’m gonna need someone to help me–
I’m gonna need somebody’s hand.
I’m gonna need someone to hold me down–
I’m gonna need someone to care.
I’m gonna writhe and shake my body–
I’ll start pulling out my hair.
I’m going to cover myself with the ashes of you,
and nobody’s gonna give a damn.

Son of a bitch, give me a drink–
one more night escaping me.
Son of a bitch, I can’t get clean–
I’m gonna drink my life away.

Now for seventeen years I’ve been throwing them back–
seventeen more will bury me.
Can somebody please just tie me down?
Oh, somebody give me a goddamn drink.

Son of a bitch, give me a drink–
one more night, this can’t be me.
Son of a bitch, I can’t get clean–
I’m gonna drink my life away.

My heart was aching, hands are shaking–
bugs are crawling all over me.

Son of a bitch, give me a drink–
one more night, this can’t be me.
Son of a bitch, I can’t get clean–
I’m gonna drink my life away.

 

 

Woooo Pig.

libertybowlWOOOOOOO PIG SOOIE!!!

Hooray for my hogs, as they eviscerated Kansas State today in the Liberty Bowl 45-23.  Wooo pig!  But the highlight of today’s game wasn’t our beautifully dreadlocked running back Alex Collins’ 185 yards and three touchdowns– rather, it was the shiny metallic helmets Arkansas sported on the field.  Reminded me a lot of the lone red metallic Christmas ball hanging from my sad Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

chromehelmetthe resemblance is uncanny

Arkansas really should have had a better season this year, but early injuries = early losses, and we got off to a rough start.  Had everyone been healthy this season, I have no doubt that my Arkansas Razorbacks would have competed for an SEC title.  But that’s the story of 2015:  missed opportunities and what-ifs.  That’s just life, I guess.

missedopportunitymostly missed, I reckon

I’ve spent this entire weekend sick out of my head and watching bowl games, and I’m ending the night watching what must be the most sadly-named of all the bowl games:  the “Motel 6 Cactus Bowl.”  The saddest of plants in the saddest of motels really plays at the heart strings of loneliness.  Ah, the poor, lonely cactus… wondering why no one wants to hug him.