Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Don't Tell Me It's a Beautiful Day and Mary, Don't You Weep
Had a very necessary rock experience last night. Saw Ike at the Turf–my millionth time, I think.
He is, by far, the musician I have seen the most times in my life. I lost count years ago. The first time I saw him was about six-fucking-years ago. Since then he’s come back to town every few months, and I rarely miss him. Seeing him at the Turf is the way it should always be, too...
So, it was just him and Phil last night–the Duo... They set up stage at the side of the bar, with the greatest back drop behind ‘em. That battered green wall with the paint coming off in chips, covered in x-mas lights that look like barbed wire. A perfect backdrop for Ike and his anger. Yeah, that steely-green-eyed anger of his. Rock ‘n’ roll, sexy anger. He brought that with him and it worked. It fueled the audience. Oh, his hardcore fans. The ones that know every word to every song. The ones that get so very wasted so very early. There was this chick at a lil table right up front who was out cold. Had her head on the table for the whole show. Ike and the crowd were talking about her--she never moved a hair.
Ah, the songs; the great songs where the words all tumble out and it makes you feel like it’s all for us and we all understand each other. He did some oldies: "Lust Song 78,"but a totally different arrangement (t used to be so punkrock!). When he did "Garbage Day," he pulled a Bob Dylan and changed around the pronouns and completely changed some of the verses. Love that. One of the last songs he did was Bobby Darin’s "Dreamlover"–shocker! For me, Darin is one of the greatest songwriters, singers, performers that ever lived. Ike done good with it, too.
"Crave" was a great treat–couldn’t help but think of Elizabeth when she told me she thought it was the most romantic song she’d ever heard (whilst reminding me that she doesn’t like romantic songs). When "The Assassination of Sweet Lou Diablo" had the crowd all raise their glasses, whoopin’ and singing, chanting along: "Now we’re drinking to your assassination," with serious smiles on their faces (mine too) it felt like needful commiserating, but it was also empowering and darkly comedic.
To see Ike, with his commanding presence, with that stance, that stare into the crowd, all superfuckingtough, is inspiring still. He just always looks like he can get things done, a take-care-of-business kind of man. He swaggers.
At the show, I had Bruce on my mind. I rushed home yesterday to watch the DVD side of the Seeger sessions disc. I tell you, I could not peel the smile off of my face as I watched it. They cram all the musicians in Bruce’s house in Jersey (the horns are in the hallway, you get it). It’s this...Hootenanny. It sounds like New Orleans, the Civil War, the 1960s folk scene and pure Bruce all at once. I am totally in love with how joyous and full and celebratory it feels. With all the shit in the world, it feels exactly right. What else are you gonna do? Dance and drink and screw? Heh. Bruce had "Devils and Dust" and it was...dark. *That* was his anti-war sentiment. I still thought it was fucking great, but most of it is not a *pleasure* to listen to.
These traditional folk songs, the way Bruce arranges them and breathes life into them *are* a pleasure to listen to. They deal with the presence of the war, for sure, by the nature of the folk/protest song. But, they are not necessarily making some grand statement. It's more about the music. The music of joy and community and familia and laughing and drinking and fucking--in the face of misery and war and death. My favorite so far is "O Mary Don't You Weep," totally gospel, totally a REVIVAL...makes you wanna go to church! It’s been in my head, nonstop.
Speaking of Hootenanny… and music that inspires drinking and fucking…I think of Ike.
And though Ike *hates* this fact, it’s true: Bruce and Ike have this brotherhood between them. (There’s a substantive rumor that "Springsteen’s a big Reilly fan." I am not kidding). There’s that stance they plant in their black boots, with the shirt sleeves rolled up, and the crosses around their necks, those catholic boys that they are. It’s a passionate toughness, but there’s smarts and intent behind their eyes.
Speaking of catholic boys, Jim and Ike were all adolescent boys, getting rowdy outside the bus, after the show. Hitting each other, giving each other shit (and praise) about their basketball game they had played in the afternoon. I asked Ike what they’d been listening to on the bus ( Johnny Cash and the Ronettes, awww) and then it became a Bruce debate. Man, those can get heated. I know from many past experiences. I fully admit how crazy I can get, but damn–when you hate Springsteen, you really hate him...
Ike has always been so dismissive and almost defensive when the subject of Springsteen comes up...and with me and Jim –it inevitably does. Somehow Dylan entered the subject (this makes sense, it connects them both). I talked about accessability and the esoteric obscurity of Dylan versus that engaging, you can come to the-party-too of Bruce. Ike, in turn, brought up how his kids don’t like (I think he actually said "hate") Bruce Springsteen and how young they were when they were listening to and loving Dylan.
Hey–there’s no question. Dylan is god-like. Hell, to a fuckton of music nuts out there, he *is* God. Bruce has something else entirely. I think it has a lot to do with the simplicity of most of his music and the personal accessability of his lyrics.
He just doesn’t see it. He used to like him he says, but "he lost me around 1987." Humph. But, as I pressed him about it, hey–Tunnel of Love is this great, dark, record about the death of a marriage, he totally made fun of Springseen’s lyrics. But you know what?
He fucking knew ‘em all.