The Needle And The “Damage” Done

It was probably somewhere around the time Kurt Cobain died when I decided to actually listen to a Neil Young song. As many other artists who I’ve ignored for the longest time (whether for lack of interest, wrong perception, ignorance or all of the above), Neil just “didn’t do it for me”.

Then he goes and writes “Sleeps With Angels“, and because it has to do with someone I was somewhat obsessing with, I decided to give Neil a chance.

It was “Mirror Ball” that did the trick, and like with every musician I suddenly discover, I went back. Way back to the beginning, to fall in love.

Neil Young celebrates 70 and I think it’s high time we pay homage to that man on this here blog.

So, with no further ado

My top 10 favorite Neil Young songs:

10. Rocking In The Free World

9. Down By The River

8. Heart Of Gold

7. Helpless

6. Southern Man

5. Cinnamon Girl

4. Harvest Moon

3. Needle And The Damage Done

2. Old Man

1. Hey Hey, My My (Out of the blue)

I guess “the damage was done” when the proverbial needle touched a Neil Young record for the first time at my place. That, following a death – caused  in a way – by another needle…

Happy Birthday Neil Young.


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All in all is all we are (This world sucks!)

Welcome back folks,

Last time we spoke, I said that this world is hell on earth and other pretty harsh words to that effect. I closed by saying that we’re here to serve a purpose and that if we resist the understandable urge to “check out” early, we may find meaning. I used that word – meaning – because it’s exactly what I want to talk about in this post.

Before we go any further though, I want to categorically state that Ursula Le Guin is a fantastic writer. As I see it, when it comes to drawing up a universe and completing it with every aspect of life, including the philosophical depths of each society, she is indeed Asimov’s peer. And that is by no mean a trivial statement.

I just  finished her great book “The Dispossessed” and at some point, the protagonist – Shevek muses about the meaning of life. It’s what Le Guin put in his mind that crystallized something for me. I can spend days (and have) trying to put into words what I think the meaning of life is. Why we are here, what do we do with the time we were given. Then comes along this fictional character and says it all in less than a paragraph.

You will excuse me, of course, that I would take more than a paragraph to try to explore the meaning.

Shevek muses about the means and the ends. What’s important? Is there an end? What does it mean?

We look differently at how to reach an end. Some people consider the end that thing you want to achieve and will try to achieve it by any means. Others will say they’ll only try to achieve the end if the means are worthy/moral/etc.

I ask (echoing Shevek’s sentiment) – IS there an end? SHOULD there be an end? What are we trying to achieve in life? And does it justify the means?

As you can see, the word mean frequently comes up in this post, and not just because of language. It’s not semantics. It’s important to understand that the meaning of our life is directly linked to the means of our life.

Many of us want to achieve success. Be it financial, professional, or success in relationship etc. We’re geared towards achieving something. Something that can be defined, qualified, quantified. Something that could be used perhaps in our eulogy? “He was a great scientist.”, “She was a fantastic filmmaker.”

We feel that unless we do something with our lives, time was wasted, we don’t get recognized for our achievements, we disappointed someone. We have nothing to show for.

But what if the end is not important? What if there IS no end? What if all that counts are the means by which we live?

I don’t know about you, but to me it feels like there is nothing that we can achieve in life more important than the means by which we live. Can great achievements (be it tangible/quantifiable or praises) go hand in hand with great means? Sure. There are some pretty good examples.

Should we feel like we failed if on our death-bed, “all we have to show for” is a modest and loving family? I think not.

If I die a poor man who never hurt a soul, I’d consider this the greatest achievement possible. Other than dying a very rich man who’d never hurt a soul of course. But you see, even when we understand the meaning, we still think about the end.

Which brings me to the second part of Shevek’s musings. There should be no end, because what happens when we get there? Instead of working towards an end, should we not work always and without exception towards the means? Should we not consider every single decision we ever make, small or big, as the meaning of life? If the answer to that is “no”, then I truly give up hope to ever find the meaning of life.

Kurt Cobain, god rest his soul hit the nail on the head, whether intentionally or not, when he finished Nirvana’s “All apologies” with the immortal line – “all in all is all we are“. What we are comes down to what we do, with our means. And like life, this is not something that simply ends. It goes on and on, with every choice we make.

All in all is all we are.

Are you confused? in agreement? Want to challenge? By all means (see what I did there?) – let me know. Like, Share or comment and may the force be with you!

Until next time remember – this world sucks! But there is a meaning. Know what I mean?

The “Dead at 27” club (This world Sucks!)

Welcome all!

Let me start by saying that this world we live in is (and quite frankly, have been for some time) hell on earth, and getting worse. Let’s face it friends, we – the most intelligent creature – the peak of evolution – fucked up. big time.

God gave us this great planet with a friendly atmosphere, tons of water and trees, animals and other companions, and what have we done with it?

To summarize – we conquered pretty much every corner of the globe, built a bunch of stuff, burned it to the ground, built again, ruined again etc. Reached amazing technological heights and invented money. Segregated everyone based on religion, skin color and general physical resemblance and fought each other endlessly. Oppressed and depressed women, children, animals and anything that was weaker, watched people starve to death even when there’s food for everyone… I think it’s safe to say we’re a bunch of Jackasses!

Depressing huh?

Well, let me tell you how that whole thing looked to the 16-year-old me, somewhere in the 80s. Of course, this would be difficult, as I blocked that decade in my mind for so long, I sometimes forget I lived through it.

See, I used to be this big romantic dreamer, turned cynic, turned lost, turned cautiously optimistic pessimist. I knew that “the Russians” were evil, but I also knew that Reagan wasn’t the answer (“Born in the USA”… ‘Nuff said), so there wasn’t much hope to hold on to, right?

So, in this 16 year’s old mind, the only solace (excuse the drama, speaking as a teenager in case you forgot) was music. Musical heroes included Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison. Later on, it would be Kurt Cobain, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. The point is, some of the people who “got me” were dead geniuses. So, at 16 one has to think –  “what does this say about me then?”

So, for a short period of time, I was thinking about how cool it would be to join this D.A.27 club. You know, live fast, die young etc.

Besides the fact that I kind of forgot about this plan shortly after it was conceived, there were a few problems implementing it.

First of all, I was no musical prodigy, nor did I have that quality that separated some of these musical geniuses from the rest of the herd – the undying passion for making music. I loved listening to music. I liked (and still do) playing my guitar. But I didn’t play like Hendrix, didn’t write like Morrison and my voice is nowhere near Janis…

Also, when I turned 20 I had a new musical hero who was still alive. Kurt Cobain provided the balance I needed so much (like so many others) after that dreadful decade… So there was plenty to hang around for, right? That whole Seattle scene, alongside of Metallica, GN’R, Red Hot Chili Peppers and others. There was something to live for after all.

Then I turned 28. Too late. Maybe next time.

But seriously though, many people believe that we came here to this life, this existence, to serve a purpose. I’m not even talking religion here. We could try to make short cuts of course, but 9 times out of 10, that’s not such a great idea. You never know what’s around the corner, do you? You could be “checking out” just before you find something beautiful, learn the answer for the biggest question that always troubled you, find meaning.

I’m going to leave you with this for the time being, but you can expect a “Part B”, because I’d definitely want to run a couple of sentiments by you – which will require a whole new post.

So stay tuned, stay warm (What the hell!??) and take it easy.

Until next time, you’re welcome to like, share and comment. What’s the worst than can happen eh?

CONTINUE READING HERE

Here we are, now entertain us

Welcome everyone.

nirvanaweekHOF

 

Today we bask in the magnificence of one of Rock N’ Roll all times greats the late Nirvana.

Mega-Tons of words were written about this band, and for good reasons. Nirvana had accomplished in a very short life span, what most bands won’t in many years. It transcended its genre in terms of popularity, success and impact.

This will not be a history lesson (though many people may need one). You’d do yourself a good service by reading Charles R. Cross’s biography – Heavier than heavenThe most serious attempt to chronicle Kurt Cobain’s journey as well as one of my favorite biographies in general.

No, What I want to do here is look at a few snippets of Nirvana’s short career and show how awesome this band is and how much it meant to me as a young adult and later on in life.

We ride.

Polly

When I listened to that song for the first time, it blew my mind. The story told in this song, Kurt’s voice, the atmosphere it set, it was a little unnerving but in a different Cobain-y way. The second thought that hit me was perhaps the more significant one. The song is written from the point of view of the antagonist, a would be rapist/murderer? Yet it still demands the listener’s empathy to the victim. Empathy, as would be evident in so many other milestones in Kurt’s life. He would go on to downplay his lyricist talent on plenty of interviews but he was one of my favorites.

Smells Like Teen Spirits

Some snobs would thrash this epic song, but that’s just because they’re pretentious douches… Smells like teen spirits is a land mark, an anthem and a fantastic song in its own rights. Was it overplayed? perhaps. Kurt was getting sick of playing it live and who could blame him. But the fact remains that this song embodies what the phenomena called Nirvana was all about. Loud, Cynical, humorous, a little ambiguous. All the ingredients of Early nineties grunge, packed with a good-looking scruffy front man and his band. Here we are, now entertain us!

In Bloom

While so many rock stars wasted time getting way too serious about themselves, Nirvana was always up for some laughs. The ‘In Bloom’ video was another example for Nirvana’s sarcasm and for why so many people love them. The complete opposite of the ‘Clean’ pop, Nirvana blasted into mainstream status through that grungy sound. For a Beatles fan like me, it was both funny as well as rewarding in a way, to watch this video. It pretty much represented what I felt towards so many things at the time, and to some extent it still does.

Sliver

So many websites, articles, and other outlets seem to miss the fact that Nirvana ever made the album ‘incesticide’ which is a shame. This album is full of gems. A lot of aggression and surprisingly good, if minimal lyrics. Case in hand, ‘Sliver’ which is a heart wrenching song on the one hand, while being a really raunchy piece on the other. Sometimes the most intimate, personal stuff work better loud than as a ballad. Another trick Nirvana taught us.

Rape Me

This is not my favorite song from ‘In Utero’ but it again represents that kick in the gut (or a few inches lower) that Nirvana gave pop culture and its media outlet MTV. No more Mr. nice guy. Nirvana wrote songs from the depth of its acidic stomach and followed them up with some ‘in your face’ videos (honorable mention to my favorite In Utero song – Heart Shaped Box). When Nirvana did not get a green light from MTV to play ‘Rape Me’ on the MTV awards show, Kurt had to mess with them just a little (watch below). This is the same TV channel that wouldn’t allow Foo Fighters ‘Low’ video, sitting on their high and mighty horse while playing countless hours of almost naked under-aged girls.

Interviews

Kurt Cobain might have been a junkie. He may have been a lot of things to many people. But Kurt Cobain was a real artist with a pretty good outlook (for a 20 something). We don’t know what if, but I loved watching these interviews which were mostly funny, sarcastic and at times very candid. I like to think of Nirvana the way they appeared in these interviews, and following Krist and Dave through the years, I think they still are just as awesome as they were back then.

The Man Who Sold The World

Nirvana’s unplugged was not the first one to air. But it was by far, by eons – the best. What makes it so spacial you ask? Well, I think that’s due to three things. One is the fact that it was pretty much tailored to Kurt’s state of mind and sensitivities. Starting from the settings, through the sitting arrangement. The second was the conscious decision to go with a cover heavy and big hit light setlist. I think that part of the magic of that night was Nirvana’s understanding of what might work acoustic and what might not. The third was luck. Dave Grohl says that the idea of using these brush-drum-sticks was only raised after frustrating takes using his regular ones. The toning down of the drums definitely helped achieve that fantastic sound.

April 8th, 1994

On that evening we were having a pool party. While we were busy drinking and dancing someone walked in and said ‘Hey, Kurt Cobain’s dead. He killed himself’. The music stopped, the drinking didn’t. To say I felt sad would be a gross understatement. Beyond the sadness for the lost life of a man (which is the most important), I felt like an era came to an end – and in a way it did. For me, Nirvana came to life after a very long time with very little in terms of contemporary musical heroes. The feeling was ‘Now what?’. It would take less than I thought it would before I’d find the new king (same as the old king).

It’s better to burn out than to fade away

I’ve read Kurt’s suicide note a few times. I’ve read interpretations for this note, and have watched a few documentaries, including the aforementioned biography. For years, I was convinced without a shadow of a doubt that Kurt indeed committed suicide. It made sense (if anything makes sense when a young and talented man dies). But after hearing some of the questions being raised around this, I have to admit that while I can’t say I’m a fully fledged believer in the ‘murder conspiracy theory’, I now have more questions than reasonable answers. The bottom line still hurts though. Kurt is dead and I miss him.

IMG_6614

 Marigold

What if Kurt Cobain didn’t die? What would Rock music look like? What bands would or would not exist? How successful would Nirvana be and for how long? Which direction would their music take? We may never know the answers to these questions, but one thing we do know is that the Foo Fighters project would likely not happen. I’ve had mixed feeling about Dave Grohl never singing Nirvana songs. On the one hand, as a fan it would be tons of fun. On the other, there would be no way he would be able to establish the Foo Fighters status had he felt compelled to satisfy this nostalgic urge. Kurt Cobain thought very highly of Dave as a musician, and the only reason Marigold wasn’t included in In Utero is that they didn’t feel it gelled with the other songs. It did come out as a B-Side to one of Nirvana’s best songs – Heart Shaped Box.

The Foo Fighters is either what Nirvana would have ultimately resemble, or the sweet takeaway from a tragic development.

Either way, Nirvana will always remain an iconic band and I’m happy they were honored to be inducted into the hall of fame immediately following their eligibility.

  • Are you a Nirvana fan?
  • Any idea as to any of the ‘What if’ questions?

Let me know.

Until next time…

Point Of View

Hello and welcome back to my humble meta-world.
I apologize for the long break since the last post. It’s not that I didn’t have anything to write, quite the opposite… I had tons of writing to do on my novel…Plus I’m still a little sick. And I can throw in a couple of less convincing excuses if you twist my arm 😉 But last night, as I was unable to sleep, I watched the Pearl Jam Twenty movie (It’s on Netflix people! – No excuses not to watch!) Continue reading

Irony? Life’s twisted sense of humor? Wicked fate? You be the judge…

*** Late edit: I started writing this post before the news about the untimely death of Amy Winehouse. I then had to change the title. ***

Hi everyone and welcome back 🙂 I’m back home now and finally able to get back into my blog. I hope to post often and regularly and be of interest.

Saying that I’m back home implies that I have been elsewhere and that is correct. I spent the better part of July in Seattle, WA. I was working hard and very busy with the work related tasks, but I did have some “spare time”. And what have I done in that time? Read on… Continue reading