Is This The Real Life?: Henry Rollins on Feeling Lonely in LA, His Utilitarian Hovel and the Respective Geniuses of Fela Kuti, Marnie Stern and Keiji Heino
Our eminent columnist, Mr. Henry Rollins!
[The one and only Henry Rollins will be contributing a weekly column and far-reaching reportage to the music section of the LA Weekly. Look for your weekly Henry Rollins fix right here on West Coast Sound every Friday and make sure to tune in to Henry's KCRW radio show every Saturday evening, or online, or as a podcast, or however else you decided to listen to the most eclectic DJ on LA's airwaves.
This installment includes Henry's musings about being restless in LA, his love for Fela Kuti and Keiji Haino, his endorsement of Marnie Stern's new album, plus the awesomely annotated playlist for his KCRW BROADCAST #85 for tomorrow, Saturday 10-16-10. For more details please visit KCRW.com and HenryRollins.com]
Perhaps you have had the same experience.
You leave Los Angeles for several days, weeks, maybe months. You return and within hours, it's like you never left. For me, returning to Los Angeles annihilates the memories of where I have just been with an astonishing speed.
Within a day of being back here, I have been swallowed whole by the enormity and anonymity of this stucco wonderland, even though I utilize a very small part of it. So, within two trips to the grocery store, all the miles I have traveled in the last several months are so jammed into the corner of the rearview, it all could have been a dream.
My utilitarian hovel in which I dwell, is a warehouse for one middle-aged man. There is a microwave and a kettle. Defrost, brew, maintain. This is the place I store myself as I wait to get back out into what Mark Twain referred to as "The Territory."
That a few weeks from now I will be going to the grocery store to provision for another journey with enough uncertainty to keep things interesting allows me to remain focused and motivated.
Over the last three decades of my life, frequent travel has been the constant. I have in a way painted myself into a corner. It is increasingly difficult for me to maintain below a certain velocity and rate of speed. Life off the road is for me an approximation of life. Some days are challenging to say the least.
When I am off the road, the high point of the week is the radio show on KCRW. It is the fastest two hours of my life. I prep the show for hours, usually over several days, playing the songs over and over to make sure it's all it can be. I go to the station, meet up with the other two I work with and in what feels like twenty minutes, it's all over and I am back in my car.
Why am I telling you this? Because I wonder if Los Angeles makes you feel like it sometimes makes me feel.
I am not putting the place down, but living here can hollow one out. It is a hungry stranger of a city that fascinates, attracts, horrifies and repels minute to minute. It allows one to live in it for years and never feel like they have lived here for any period of time.
I have been all over the world and no place makes me feel so incredibly alone at times as LA does.
There is no way my take on this place is unique and I am throwing this out there so in the event it resonates with you, you know there's someone else out there.
Below is this week's radio notes for what I think is one of the best shows we have ever put together for hopefully your great enjoyment. I hope you get a chance to tune in live or via archive. Until next week.
DON'T MISS SATURDAY NIGHTS ON THA K, KCRW FM 89.9
6-8 PM - HENRY ROLLINS, ENGINEER X, WILL BENTLEY
8-10 PM - PEERLESS LIZA RICHARDSON
10-MIDNIGHT - MARIO 'QUICK DRAW' COTTO
GO TO KCRW.COM
PS: KCRW is going to pull a Halloween gitdown on the 30th of this month at the Park Plaza. http://www.kcrw.com/events/masquerade-2010. Among other great K jammers, I will be playing music from 2315 to 0115 hrs. at this event. Should be good until I go on.
KCRW BROADCAST #85
Fanatics! Tonight, easily one of the bestest shows we have ever put together. I have been playing this one all week on CDR and it's making me happier by the minute. Friday was Fela Anikulapo Kuti's birthday, as I was so kindly reminded by someone at Knitting Factory Records. KFR, as you know, has been re-releasing the Fela titles that Universal put out years ago. They sound great and there's no Fela record that's not worth listening to. Put it this way, I bet I have not heard them all but I know that I have played all the ones I have and they're all really great. What a man, what a band.
There's a documentary about him called Music Is The Weapon that's good if perhaps a bit short. There's some great interview and live band footage that is really worth seeing. He had ten trucks of charisma and the music is powerful as it gets.
Fela was the ultimate rockstar freedom fighter warrior poet. The government of his native Nigeria hated Fela and feared his power. He was telling too much truth. They beat the hell out of Fela, in the documentary, he shows the scars on his back. They attacked his mother and did everything short of killing Fela to shut him down. The music is the ultimate rebel rock.
At Tha K, we do the show in fifteen minute segments with announcements and between song banter. We have put a Fela track at the start of every segment. Three segments per hour, six great Fela tracks, along with some other goodies.
Remember last week when I found out that there was a new Marnie Stern album out? Engineer X loaned me his copy and I played it immediately upon getting back to my utilitarian hovel and what a great album it is.
Ms. Stern is reaching for some different stuff this time around and it's all good. She has made three albums now and all of them are great. So, tonight, during our Felathon, we have a new track of hers.
I don't know if we have rocked any Keiji Haino on the show before. I am a major fan of this Japanese guitar god and his album Watashi Dake is not for the faint of heart, none of his stuff is. Haino, no matter if he is at full volume or down to a whisper, he is fully committed. Tamikrest's Adagh album is one of my favorite recent releases, tonight's track is fantastic. It's been awhile since we rocked an XBXRX track, so tonight is the night. Blixa Bargeld's vocal on tonight's Einsturzende Neubauten track is one of his best and going from them to The Ruts makes good sense to me at least.
The intermittent Fela jams really work well and I think you will find that this will be one of those shows where you are so engaged, you will think we're just getting started when it's time to pass the mic to the very able Liza Richardson, who takes over at 8 pm.
Dig the Fela and STAY FANATIC!!! --Henry
E-Mail address for Henry: Henryontheradio@gmail.com
01. Fela Kuti - Let's Start / Fela With Ginger Baker Live!
02. Marnie Stern - The Things You Notice / Marnie Stern
03. The Honest Marquee - The End / Honest Marquee 2006
04. Bob Dylan - All Along The Watchtower / John Wesley Harding
05. Fela Kuti - Gbagada Gbagada Gbogodo Gbogodo / Open & Close
06. Joy Division - Disorder / Unknown Pleasures
07. The Nation Of Ulysses - Look Out! Soul Is Back / 13-Point Program To Destroy America
08. Fela Kuti - You No Go Die... Unless / Na Poi
09. Dr. Alimantado - I Shall Fear No Evil / Best Dressed Chicken In Town
10. Keiji Haino - Owari Ni Saseru / Watashi Dake
11. The Jesus & Mary Chain - My Little Underground / Psychocandy
12. Fela Kuti - Shenshema / Roforofo Fight / Fela Singles
13. The Middle Class - Out Of Vogue / EP
14. Tamikrest - Aicha / Adagh
15. The Warmers - Totally Free / Wanted: More
16. Fela Kuti - Igbe / Gentleman
17. Kraftwerk - Uranium / Radioactivity
18. Captain Beefheart- Telephone / Doc at The Radar Station
19. XBXRX - Deaf Ears, Silent Voice / Sixth In Sixes
20. Isaac Hayes - Walk From Regio's / Shaft Soundtrack
21. Fela Kuti - Sorrow, Tears & Blood / Sorrow, Tears & Blood
22. Einstürzende Neubauten - Sehnsucht / Halber Mensch
23. The Ruts - Society / Singles Collection
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Los Angeles, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.