(eight shifts in listening)
an essay on how i was born
i worship the beatles. we didn’t go to church on sunday, we listened to the beatles. i know every sound, every breath, every intention. i have attached a personal meaning to every word and i think the beatles would laugh at how deep i had dived in to some of their songs. i love them. i love the beatles. i am affected by them. i love them.
i was outside on my front porch at the age of eight or so, listening to the top forty on my radio shack radio, and this crazy non sense music came on (and what?) and the people were using chainsaws and cars starting (and who?) and i was so into it and i had to have it and dad drive me to strawberry’s (just please god) tell me give it to me casey goddamn casem tell me the name of the song… and he didn’t. it took a while to figure out it was the art of noise (like a year.) hey! the album was (who’s afraid of?) the art of noise!, the song was close (to the edit.) i fell in love with noise (and parenthesis.) horse hooves and cash registers and footfalls, oh my!
headphones. pink floyd. the opening notes of sheep. dark side of the moon, wish you were here, animals, the wall. anthems of a sad child in his room with his headphones on. deeply drifting.
Boogie Down Productions is made up of teachers
the lecture is conducted from the mic into the speaker
Who gets weaker? The king or the teacher
It’s not about a salary it’s all about reality
Teachers teach and do the world good
kings just rule and most are never understood
If you were to rule or govern a certain industry
All inside this room right now would be in misery
No one would get along nor sing a song
’cause everyone’d be singing for the king, am I wrong?!
i’m in the back of a car with my best friend, and we are driving somewhere, not the autobahn, mind you… more like downtown salem, massachusetts, and the driver puts in a tape. thump. thump. thump. thump. and then the 303 burbles in. thump. thump. thump. thump. i have been looking for something this musically twisted all my life. i am born. never to see any other way. so i rave. throbbing music made by machines linked by a common beat so it may exist nameless and uncredited in a sea of artists, spun together on vinyl uninterrupted from sunset to beyond sunrise. music meant to modulate in the largest and subtlest of ways so that the ear is constantly shifting to follow each instrument as it rises and falls, so off kilter, so brutal at times, so perfectly intricate at times, so in pursuit of epiphany, all too much to handle, which was partially the point: to survive the evening, your own thoughts, the sea of emotions. and the people there wanted to be kind. and the people there move their bodies in response to it like they are completing some type of zen marathon. and the walls are dripping with lights. and the pulse is and the pulse is and the pulse is and the pulse is infinite timelessness and it is over. the music became illegal, the cops cracked down, kids got scared, the letter changed from e to k, the music got watered down and easy and filtered onto fatboy radio and car commercials and into house songs. but the repetitive music? it is clever, that one is… it lost the thump, but never the modulation… and now it shifts and sizzles and breaks in the strangest of places. i am still in it to win it. you will always find it in my music, because i will always be inside of it. oh, and there’s cliqhop, too. it is the best radio station on the planet. i could hug them.
my friends were leaving on tour. all of them. my roommates were leaving to go follow the dead and phish and i would have the house alone. it seemed funny and risky and fun, but i wasn’t a fan, so i didn’t join them. who wants to sleep with a gas can next to their head in a pile of backpacks and crusts from grilled cheese sandwiches? someone had to watch the house. right? i’m on the couch about forty-five minutes later. i put on the cd player. i press shuffle and lay down. dark star>saint stephen i had never heard it before. i was in awe. i am pretty sure i cried. i knew just an hour later i should’ve gone. (keep in mind, this is before cell phones, the next time they called me was from a payphone three weeks later at red rocks. this is how itwas) i spent the next month, digging through their bootlegs and listening, truly listening, for the first time. It was like a treasure had been in my house, all around me, in my friends, and i hadn’t noticed until the moment they were gone. i wanted to hug them inside of me, for leaving me this gift to discover, a gift they had shown me a thousand times but i never looked it squarely in the eye, but they were all away. when they got back, i was shining.
my friend davis made me fall in love with the hum of a speaker. broken speakers too. there was a band. i think i was in it. we made a lot of noise. i like noise. he talked about bands that made noise. i listened to them all. the band also had fantastic taste in music. i listened to that stuff too. we took long car rides in the dark in the hills of virginia. we made long songs that had no names. i became a musician. there was a rock lottery. davis did it. he invited me. you put your name in a hat. they pick five people. this is your band for the night. ok. a man with cakes of glitter on his face got glitter all over me, and his hug made me truly happy. it stayed in my hair for weeks. as for performances, a woman banged on a wrench with a wrench and yelled for thirty minutes. four guitars tried to play four different songs at the same time. someone got up and screamed obscenities at everyone as the bass player plucked and the guitar player scribbled. music was unmade. music was broken and made into a collage. i played at three in the morning with four people. we never said hi or bye. i laughed until my sides hurt. dawn.
long time passed. moved. had kid. moved again. had kid. and then this dirty little bar below an underpass had an open jam on wednesdays. i came to play electronic instruments. i made noise. i made a sonic mess, at times. i made the guitarists roll their eyes. funk, blues, jazz. they looked at me like i was crazy most of the time, because apparently, jamming in a bar is limited to anything that is made by bootsy, miles, or k-tel records pre-1980. (as an aside: it must have been hilarious watching them scream at me during a song on stage that i was in the wrong key. wrong key? i’m playing dolphin sounds and air conditioner vents! i don’t even know what song we’re playing!) but it was an open jam and i got my chops in and learned what it was like playing songs i sometimes didn’t like with people i did not know in keys i didn’t understand and still try to funktify the area. sometimes. the underpass led me to ian smit (who loves noise) and richie arlington (who really loves noise) and steve meltzer (who loves noise but not loud noise) which led me to that thing over there, some work with monkeyworks on their latest record, and æther generator. and here i am. i pretty much wait for you to hear me so i can not feel so unheard. maybe i can find a venue for this thing, maybe not. but if i do, you should come. i’d like you to come. i am affected by music. i humbly and sincerely hope to affect you with the noise i hold so dear.