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You Can't Go Home Again: Henry Rollins on Being Back in the USA, Autumnal Feelings and his Favorite Thomas Wolfe Passage!

Our eminent columnist, Mr. Henry Rollins!
Our eminent columnist, Mr. Henry Rollins!
Maura Lanahan

[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 return to the USA, his renewed appreciation for Rickie Lee Jones, his favorite Thomas Wolfe passage for the Fall season, plus the awesomely annotated playlist for his KCRW BROADCAST #84 for tomorrow, Saturday 10-9-10. For more details please visit KCRW.com and HenryRollins.com]

I think I am finally back on Earth.

The last few days have been busy and steeped in jet lag. Last Sunday, I returned from Vietnam to America. I went from Hanoi to Seoul to Tokyo and then finally to Los Angeles. I thought I was going to questioned about my stint in North Korea but the man at immigration didn't find that part of my trip of any interest or threat to national security and let me pass.

I got back to my utilitarian hovel with enough time to do my laundry, re-pack, finish this week's radio show, get a few hours of sleep, go back to the airport and fly to New York City early the next morning. One of these days, I will turn into an airplane. At least I haven't asked you to put your tray tables up.

Several weeks ago, I was asked to moderate a panel on addiction and recovery at the Zankel Hall, located in the Carnegie Hall building. I thought it would be interesting, so I said yes. The panelists were Ace Frehley of Kiss, Steven Adler of Guns N' Roses, Ricki Lee Jones and Darryl McDaniels of Run-DMC. Years ago, I met Darryl briefly in Tokyo but past that, I had never met the others.

We met briefly pre-show and I briefed them on the schedule, which consisted of q&a segments interspersed with performances by each of the panelists. Everyone seemed into it and I reckoned we would have a good time up there. Panels are always tricky in that you don't always know what you're going to get. Moderating is harder than being a panelist for me, so I was a little nervous but eager to get it going.

At stage time, I went out and greeted the audience and briefly detailed some of the achievements of our panelists and brought them to the stage. The q&a segments were all really good. Steven and Darryl were very animated and expansive, Ricki didn't issue long comments but what she lacked in word count, she more than made up for in content. She is a very deep well and her insight is remarkable. Ace was right in the middle of the two extremes, honest, funny and on point.

As to the performances, Steven read a passage from his autobiography in which Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue had overdosed in front of him, causing Steven to have to revive him with cold water and several smacks to the face. Darryl spoke for a few minutes of recovering from his addiction to alcohol, Ace played two songs on guitar--both were really cool, but the performance highpoint was Ricki's performance of two songs. She did one on acoustic guitar and one on piano. Damn. You could have heard a pin drop in that place. She had 'em. Her voice is amazing. I know some of her albums but have never seen her live. Having seen her the other night, there is no way I would miss her in performance. Completely mesmerizing.

Before I knew it, the whole thing was over and we were saying goodnight to the audience of several hundred and heading towards an after-show gathering at a club down the street from Zankel. I met many people there and after about an hour, left. I got at least a few hours of sleep and then took the train to where I am now, Washington, DC.

I always try to spend at least one or two days in DC every October.

 

My favorite city in my favorite month. If you have ever read what Thomas Wolfe wrote about this month in his second novel, perhaps my favorite take-me-to-my-happy-place book, Of Time And The River: Wolfe said that October is about returning. In the chapter, "Telemachus," the book's central character, Eugene Gant, has returned to his hometown of Asheville, North Carolina. Gant's father has passed away. As Gant lies in bed, he thinks to himself:

"October is the season for returning: even the town is born anew," he thought. "The tide of life is at the full again, the rich return to business or to fashion, and the bodies of the poor are rescued out of the heat and weariness. The ruin and horror of the summer is forgotten--a memory of hot cells and humid walls, a hell of ugly sweat and labor and distress and hopelessness, a limbo of pale greasy faces. Now joy and hope have revived again in the hearts of millions of people, they breathe the air again with hunger, their movements are full of life and energy. The mark of their summer's suffering is still legible upon their flesh, there is something starved and patient in their eyes, and a look that has a child's expectation in it."

Every October, I re-read that chapter. I am looking forward to opening that book again this Sunday.

We who dwell in Los Angeles perhaps don't get the most vivid version of American autumn. The palm fronds turn a more pale shade of green and there is some coolness in the pre-dawn hours but that's about it. That is why I am here. Some cold air, some deciduous trees and I am good to go. That is one of the strangest sentences I have ever written.

This weekend marks my fifty-first week of tour, travel and nonstop work that commenced last October. As much as I want to keep ricocheting around the globe, I will admit to a little fatigue and will have to cool my jets for a little while, at least. Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Brunei, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, China, Senegal, Mali, Ireland, Scotland, England, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, Czech, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, North Korea, Mongolia, Tibet, Bhutan and Vietnam--not a bad year of being there and doing that.

One of the upsides of being off the road is that we do the radio show live and that is when we are at our best. This weekend's KCRW 89.9 FM blast-o-rama is going to be a great one, I hope you get a chance to check it out live or via archive. October has come again and it is time to rock. Until next week, I will leave you with the broadcast notes.

DON'T MISS SATURDAY NIGHTS ON THA K, KCRW FM 89.9

6-8 PM - HENRY ROLLINS, ENGINEER X, WILL BENTLEY

8-10 PM - JAMMIN' LIZA RICHARDSON

10-MIDNIGHT - MARIO 'IN THE MOMENT' COTTO

GO TO KCRW.COM FOMOINFO

KCRW BROADCAST #84 (10-09-10):

 

Fanatics! It's radio time! It is October and the Big Three are back to waste your time and insult the integrity of KCRW FM with another aural assault on what is left of your senses. Engineer X, Young Will Bentley and myself will assemble a few minutes before 1800 hrs. at the KCRW Rok Mosk, Young Will, otherwise known as The Double B, will praise Aqua Buddha, X and I will roll our eyes, the intro will sound and the show will start with a bass thudding rumble as we slam into the single version of the Damned's classic Love Song.

Tonight's show is a great one, Fanatics. As promised, new Grinderman is in the mix. I didn't have a chance to explore the massive amount of tracks on the new Station To Station Bowie box set, so a selection from that will have to wait until next week. Speaking of next week, we will have a bit a concept happening during the show that I think you're going to like. I will disclose details when next we meet here.

Days ago, I pulled Wire's 154 up on the i-Pod and gave it a spin, it had been awhile. An interesting record for Wire. It is their third, coming after Pink Flag and Chairs Missing. The band had started to fragment and one can hear the start of solo projects emerging. All three albums were re-mastered a few years ago and they are incredible, a big upgrade from the previous mastering. Tonight's Undertones, Sonics and Rezillos tracks are in memory of a pal of mine who took his life several days ago. He really liked those bands and he has been on my mind quite a bit lately.

It has been awhile since we checked out a Marnie Stern track and I thought it was high time we get her back on our show. I am such a fan. I hope there's another album in the works. The first two are so great.

Tonight's stand out track, for me anyway is Slim Gaillard's interpretation of "How High The Moon." Fantastic improvised vocal, classic Gaillard Bop. Our Zappa track has some scorching Frank guitar, make sure to listen loud. Tonight's Parker track is prime. I don't know about you but whenever I hear a Charlie Parker solo, it makes me want to listen to him for hours more. What a sound. If you want to get into some serious Parker, the live recordings from the Royal Roost on Savoy are absolutely blazing, my personal favorite moments of his.

The new Etran Finatawa album is great! A track is featured tonight.

Wow, what a show we have for you tonight, Fanatics! I can't wait to be in the Mosk with the other two criminals listening to these bodacious jams with all of you.

This is going to be a great one. Tune in if you can, wave your freak flag high and STAY FANATIC!!! --Henry

E-Mail address for Henry: Henryontheradio@gmail.com

Set list:

 

01. The Damned - Love Song (single) / Machine Gun Etiquette

02. Black Flag - Jealous Again / Jealous Again EP

03. The Minutemen - Joe McCarthy's Ghost / Paranoid Time EP

04. Funkadelic - Comin' Round The Mountain / Hardcore Jollies

05. Wire - On Returning / 154

06. Fugazi - Life And Limb / The Argument

07. Grinderman - Worm Tamer / Grinderman 2

08. Richard Berry - Next Time / Get Out Of The Car

09. The Undertones - Jump Boys / The Undertones

10. The Sonics- Strychnine / Nuggets 2

11. The Rezillos - Flying Saucer Attack / Can't Stand The Rezillos

12. Marnie Stern - Roads? Where We're Going We Don't Need Roads / This Is It And I Am It And You Are It And So Is That And He Is It And She Is It And It Is It And That Is That

13. Slim Gaillard - How High The Moon / Slim Gaillard Rides Again

14. The Misfits - TV Casualty / Static Age

15. The Cramps - Strychnine / Songs The Lord Taught Us

16. The UK Subs - She's Not There / EP

17. Elizabeth Cotten - Freight Train / Freight Train & Other North Carolina Folk Songs

18. Frank Zappa & Captain Beefheart - Muffin Man / Bongo Fury

19. Serge Gainsbourg - Cha Cha Cha Du Loup / Couleur Cafe

20. Chrissy Zebby Tembo - Lonely Night / My Ancestors

21. Ludus - Mouthpiece / Pickpocket

22. Early Man - The Undertaker Is Calling You / Death Potion

23. Lee Perry - Vibrate On / From The Secret Laboratory

24. Badfinger - No Matter What / The Very Best Of Badfinger

25. Unrest - Bavarian Mods (Remix) / B.P.M. (1991-1994)

26. Etran Finatawa - Daim Walla / Tarkat Tajje / Let's Go

27. Charlie Parker - Bebop - A / Complete Savoy And Dial Studio Recordings

28. Jackie-O-Motherfucker - Introducing Jackie-O / Corner Of The Room / Alchemy . . .

29. The Fall - How I Wrote Elastic Man / Early Singles


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