14 January 2008

In The Morning when the moon is at it’s raise you will find me at the time I love the best…..

I was at a loss this week for a CD to review. You see, there are weeks when I am nearly obsessed with a song or a CD – it’s inhabited me, it’s haunted me – it’s maybe sent me to another plain as music has always done. I think I’m lucky that way – not everyone feels music and I’m grateful for it’s inhabitance of my soul. Maybe it’s no different than the person who feels that way about archeology or cooking, or maybe it is. Since art is subjective and, if you’re a Dadaist, art can be anything, it’s hard to quantify. I do know we all have our passions and if we don’t - we are dead. Irrespective of your passion – it’s good to have one, or a few – they keep us alive and aware of who we are and where we belong.

So I’m sitting here typing away rather uncensored as I listen for the first time to the CD that Abby suggested I review. This week’s offering: David Gray’s latest, a live CD of covers, A Thousand Miles Behind, released this past October. I’m not quite all the way through as I write this but so far I’m enjoying my listen. While doing a little research I did stumble upon his website and watched the Live Earth video of him and the reclusive Damien Rice singing “Babylon” (I’ll post it below). It was worth the detour since it was a performance that I had missed. But back to this CD; so far, so good.

I have to say, I think you need to be a fan of his to really enjoy this CD. His style is mellow and thoughtful and it’s not for everyone. All the songs are done in this manner of slow-moving, mildly sad, yet introspective way. Although, don’t get me wrong – hearing him cover Bob Dylan’s “To Ramona”, “One Too Many Mornings”, and “Buckets Of Rain” is a real pleasure and I do believe he does justice to these fine pieces of work.

One of the really cool things about this collection of covers is that some of these tunes are rather unexpected. I never thought I’d hear him sing the Barry Gibb song, “In The Morning”, done so beautifully and with a sensitivity to the tune that can bring you to tears. Though perhaps that says more about Barry Gibb’s songwriting than anything else since every tune that brilliant man has ever written, with the right production values, can do that (I believe a lot of his brilliance has been lost amid the schlocky disco production and sappy crap that has made him and the Bee Gees a ton of money – it’s a true shame that many don’t recognize this fact). Another surprise worth the price of admission is Bruce Springsteen’s “Philadelphia”. Surely few others could do this song justice in the way that David Gray has done. However, the most surprising for me is the Randy Newman tune, “I Think It’s Going To Rain”. I admit, I’m not a fan of Mr. Newman’s but after hearing this version of one of his songs I realize that, much like how I feel about Ani DiFranco, it may have less to do with the songwriting and more to do with the delivery. I think both are very fine songwriters but I don’t want to hear them sing their own tunes. David Gray remedies this and does it well. He has opened my eyes to Mr. Newman and perhaps now I won’t be so quick to dismiss him.

Overall I think this CD is a very sweet listen and will open anyone’s eyes to a few songs they may have never given too much thought to. It has opened my eyes and I hope you check it out. www.davidgray.com and www.myspace.com/davidgray

Last week I filled you in on my Christmas Holiday. In between the miles of travel and the martinis I learned some unexpected news. It was Christmas Eve and my niece’s first church recital; she did an amazing job and was as cute as a button! After it was all over while we were standing in the pew congratulating her and gathering our things I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was a dear old friend of mine from college, Sue, whose nephews were in the same chorus with Cate. As her brother and her wife looked on we did a little catching up – though not too much since we all had family to attend to. The inevitable question came up – ‘how’s (my ex boyfriend and her best friend) Jim? The last I heard he was an art teacher in The City, is he still doing that?’. Silence. A very long moment. A bombshell. ‘I’m sorry to tell you but he passed away five years ago of cancer’. WOW, not what I was anticipating and certainly not the time to talk about it. I gave her my card and hoped to hear from her.

After getting back to Los Angeles, settling in with a nasty cold and catching up on my myspace, I learned that Sue had put in a ‘friend’ request. Cool. It’s always good to be in touch with old friends – it makes us feel as if our ‘childish’ indiscretions and wild nights weren’t as bad as they seem in retrospect and that hopefully all is chalked up to ‘those crazy years’. Though I may never ‘get over’, (laugh), Sue calling me ‘the bitch on wheels’ (I used to ride my bike furiously across campus and apparently looked so intense it gave people, or Sue, the impression that I was well…you get it) I am glad she tapped me on the shoulder. It took some courage, and I don’t know why I was afraid, but I had to email her and ask what happened to Jim. She explained how they found each other and how it was just in time. She was in his life his last few months thanks to a mutual friend and they managed to reconnect, hang out and just ‘be’. I gathered she felt at peace about his passing.

It’s so odd to find this out five years after the fact. Jim and I lost touch long ago but he was one of my favourite boyfriends and I loved him. I still wear the pinky ring that we got in the West Village too many years ago – the rings that made us the ‘power twins’ – he wore his on his right hand, I wore/wear mine on my left hand so that when we held hands our rings touched. I have never taken it off except to record (the ring bangs on my guitar which can sometimes be an unwanted noise). I know now I will wear this ring until the end of time.

I was deeply saddened at Christmas to learn of his passing and, this week, to learn more details. One might think, ‘why would you be sad? You weren’t in touch and for all you know he had long ago forgotten about you’. But that’s not the point, is it? The point is that we are touched by those we love and no matter how many years pass between hearing their voice or getting an email, they remain a part of us. While they may get tucked away and sometimes put aside to protect our emotions from pain, they are somewhere inside of us. Maybe we bring them up to the surface sometime on a rainy day in private, or maybe they cross our minds when we walk around our old college. This week I mourned not only his loss, I mourned the loss of possibility. I will never get to thank him for opening my eyes to Punk music and dark beer. I will never be able to tell him again how talented an artist he is. He’ll never know I still have one of his self portraits. I’ll never meet his wife and be able to thank her for loving one of my favourite people more than I ever could. I’ll never be able to say how sorry I am for how things ended and for what a jerk I was to handle it the way I did. But no matter what – he will stay with me and when I get the courage I’ll look at our old pictures as I’ve done over the years – only this time I’ll know that he is gone. Somehow it changes everything.

Thanks for tuning in….Until next week….Cheers!

Here’s the David Gray/Damien Rice video:

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