02 February 2010

Ain't Seen Nothin' Like Him

Sometimes I wonder, 
what I'm gonna do, 
cause there ain't no cure 
for the wintertime blues


So I'm in the car the other night and I'm yawning at the same time my mind is racing a million miles an hour, all I want to do is go home, just go home, so I can eat and rest. It occurs to me I cannot figure out from what I need to rest. I don't mine coal or pick vegetables or work on high steel. My ass sits at a desk most days and I push buttons and move a mouse and draw stuff on tracing paper.

Oh, and I use a lot of Post-its.

Anyway, I'm in the car trying to stay awake and the radio is on
"and the radioman says it's a beautiful night out there
And the radioman says rock and roll lives
And the radioman says its a beautiful night out there in Los Angeles..."

AIIIIGGGH...no, that's "Screenwriter's Blues" by Soul Coughing, which is a good song but it is not even what was playing on the radio. The radio. The radio plays almost all the time while I'm in my car because I like music and songs and lyrics...
...and I am, in all honesty, sometimes afraid of the quiet...

...because that means I'll have to listen to the noise of  my own head. I suppose that is why I have always been easily distracted and irritated by outside noise. I'm sensitized to it, and I struggle to control the internal stuff and outside noise is just more rocks in the pond. I am getting better at disregarding the noise and embracing the silence. I am practicing, I get help. Just not right now...

See? So, like I said I was in the car, sitting at a stop light, listening to the radio and 
"Radio is a sound salvation,
Radio is cleaning up the nation
They say you better listen to the voice of reason..."

DAMMIT! There it goes again! "Radio, Radio" by Elvis Costello. You see what I mean? You see what I am up against? That kind of crap happens all the time. Some days I can't seem to finish a thought because my mind constantly gets sucked in by all these tangents and eddies and sidebars and asides and really, folks, sometimes I wish it would stop, STOP, STOP so I could at least remember what it was I set out to accomplish.

SO, I'm in the car, at the light, blah, blah, blah, and this amazing song comes on. It was amazing not only for the classic rock song that it is, but also because I hadn't heard it in years. YEARS. I was amazed and stunned and yes, even had some little tears in my eyes while I was smiling.

"Pinball Wizard" by The Who. I heard that opening guitar strumming sequence, followed by that power chord...and the lyrics just started spilling out of me and there I was in my brother's room at home listening to the stereo (yes, people, an honest-to-god turntable along with dual cassette decks) or maybe we were in the car with the volume up way too high but it really didn't matter, no it didn't, it didn't, because what really mattered was that Big Bro and I and some friends were strumming that air guitar and windmilling just like Pete Townshend onstage and...

"Ever since I was a young boy,
I played that silver ball
From Soho down to Brighton,
I must have played them all
But I ain't seen nothing like him
In any amusement hall..."

...was spilling from our lips like we were born to sing it, rock it, just they did and I realized that I was singing it, loud, just like we used to and that's when I choked up and out of the corner of my eye Big Bro was playing his guitar and grinning like a possum and I realized then and there that yes, I ain't seen nothing like him, ever, and never will again.

But he sure played a mean guitar. And on the stage in my mind, I'm leaning into the mic and he's in front of that huge Marshall stack and he hits that chord again and plays, plays, plays and I sing, sing, sing. I surprised myself because I remembered all the lyrics. After all these years...

"How do you think he does it?
(I don't know)
What makes him so good?

I drove on down the road, a rolling one (or maybe two) man rock and roll band singing badly at the top of my lungs. It was perfect. How could it not be? With backup like his, I always sound good.


  1. Friggin' beautiful tribute.

    I LOVE IT.

    (grinnin' like a possum.)

  2. There is no way it could sound bad! It's all about the music. It's what we are! I'm just a radio picking up signals, and sometimes I transmit.

  3. That deaf, dumb and blind kid sure played a mean pinball..

  4. Lovely tribute, brought a tear to my eye. I would, of course, like to see video footage of you as a one man rock and roll band.

  5. So sweet. Could hear it all from here. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Even though I see them around (even other geezers), heads bouncing, lips moving, hands beating the "drum" that is the steering wheel, I think I am the only one on that "stage."

    And The Who? Incredible. A band I never thought much of but whose music I couldn't resist. Still can't.

    But I don't give myself up to the radio, my car's stereo plays MP3 CDs. I am my own Radioman.

  7. lots of hugs for you .. flashbacks like that are so bittersweet, a twingeful twang on the heartstrings. I love reading about your brother .. the love there just jumps off the screen.

  8. Ohhhh that song brings back lots of memories! Now I'll be singing it all day long .....!

  9. '...and I am, in all honesty, sometimes afraid of the quiet...'

    I'm with you here Irish.

    I think it goes without saying that I'm a wee bit of a Who fan to!

    Funnily enough, The Who did an amazing version of 'Summertime Blue's to, its on the live at Leeds CD.

    Now that CD is amazing to!!

    As for singing in the car? Probably my best and least hurting critic!!

  10. Yes! Sometimes the quiet is deafening!

    I can drive down the road when a song comes on that reminds me of my little sister--something she would belt out, like a cross between Stevie Nicks and Janis Joplin, for a rocked-out audience--and as I sing along, the tears just come, and Dee is there with me and it's . . . pretty incredible.

    Better to feel that much to a song that strikes that much emotion than to sit in silence and worry about whatever crap is sitting on my shoulder at the moment.

  11. A loving and moving tribute, both to your brother, and to music.
    Thank you for sharing yourself with us.

    I do so love how music is able to transport us magically, swiftly to another time/place.


  12. That song brings back a lot of memories. Those were the days.


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...