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The Times They Have A-Changed

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Friday, June 10, 2011

The Times They Have A-Changed

The Wandering Jews played a show last night at the Blue Macaw on Mission.  I wasn't feeling so hot, so before we started playing, I needed a little pick-me-up, and hit the liquor store.  It was a weird vibe on 22nd and Mission, like the city always projects on me these days, lots of young dudes with really tight pants and very tiny hats, ironical mustaches.  Inside the liquor store, a woman with a lazy eye eyeballed me (at least I think she was eyeballing me; she could've been staring at the fucking Cheetos for all I know).  Paid too much for what I needed, of course, but I was going on stage in a few and wanted to get the shit down, give it a chance to work before I started singing.  The cashier, an old man with leathery skin and a huge hunk of melanoma growing on his check, packed up my shit in a paper bag, and I walked into the club.

At the Macaw, the doorman stopped me.  "What's in the bag?"

I opened it up for him to see.

Dayquil and honey.  

Oh, the times, how they have a-changed.

My old bassist, Matt, was there with his wife, Angela.  I remember Matt and I playing shows before, how I'd duck into the can with our guitarist, Dan, to do a line or two (Matt was always a good kid, sticking to just getting shit-faced drunk).  I've played shows on every drug you can think of.  There was the night I took X and molested all the girls in the audience who'd come to see me, nights where I was too drunk and stoned and fucked up to tune my own guitar, nights where I was so blasted and blazed, I couldn't come close to singing in key, and I'd banter incoherently, and people would leave in droves.

But not last night.  

After the Wandering Jews' set finished, Matt said, "Wow.  You guys are really good."  By which he meant, "I figured you were going to suck a lot worse."

And I heard the same thing from just about everyone else who only had seen me play back in...the salad years.  And it's only fair.  I'd set the bar pretty fucking low.

Rock 'n' roll is like every art form that you actually strive to (but never ever ever can) master.  Hard fucking work.  That was my problem back then (well, one of about six hundred billion).  I wanted the glamour but wasn't willing to grind away at what wasn't fun.  Not that it would've made a difference in terms of "making it." I'm not good enough.  I wasn't then.  I'm not now.  But I am certainly capable of putting on a solid show with well-written songs, and I have a kick-ass band. Tom and Pete French are as good as rhythm sections come, Raviv is a meticulous, pristine guitarist with the '80s sound my music needs, and Jarrett Cooper, well, I said it before when I first saw him play in Achievements in Sound and conspired to steal his talents, the man is a secret weapon.  


We played a longer set than we did at the Red Devil a few weeks ago.  Besides playing all of Down on the Farm, we introduced (or rather reintroduced) a Gaslight Anthem cover, "Boomboxes and Dictionaries," and closed with a ragged though pretty rockin' "Rocking in the Free World" (which I know, Dan, probably means a stint in rock 'n' roll jail.  But it was so worth it!).  And a couple originals too, "Welcome to Another Misunderstanding," a cut from our hit underground (keep digging) 1996 offering, Clean Living.  And said Mr. Cooper's "Bad for Me," from his recent Sorry for the Wait, which we mashed up with Tom Petty's "You Wreck Me," for what could've been the highlight of the evening (and also marking the first time Jarrett's played these songs live).

As always, I have to say one more time... I love this fucking band.  When Tom and Pete and I played in the old days, it might've been fun.  But it was a different kind of fun.  And it didn't sound like this.  Those two together are a fucking wrecking machine, raw wild fire, which is nicely contained (because wild fires need to be contained) by the restraint of Raviv and Jarret.  A perfect balance... The Americana cowpunk I've always longed for...

And I did it stoned cold sober.  Well, except for the Dayquil...


At June 10, 2011 at 1:43 PM , Blogger Justine said...

The sound guy even asked when you were playing next cause he "was sold" on you guys!

At June 12, 2011 at 3:34 PM , Blogger cmb4 said...

The band was tight that night -- CONGRATS!!


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