[Look for your weekly fix from the one and only Henry Rollins right here on West Coast Sound every Thursday, and come back tomorrow for the awesomely annotated playlist for his Saturday KCRW broadcast.]
Of all the things that transpired last year, I want to take on the Sandy Hook shooting incident. The actual event is too awful for words but some of the conclusions that were drawn were damn dismal and I think we can do much, much better.
The NRA is comprised of an extremely small fraction of gun owners in America. Some of the more ridiculous statements of the organization's colorful CEO, Wayne LaPierre, might well represent only a fraction of its members' points of view. Where the NRA realizes its power is with the politicians they have bought and paid for.
Personally, I don't believe Mr. LaPierre is all that concerned with my right to bear arms as much as he is interested in protecting my access to purchasing guns and bullets. It's a huge industry and anything that is seen as remotely detrimental to sales has the man vigilantly patrolling the perimeter of his bottom line. The more outrageous things he says, the better it is for business. Anything less — like rationality, for instance — would at this point be seen as “soft” by the people who feather his nest. It's not that hard to get your head around.
What is hard to digest is that throughout all of the twists and turns this conversation has taken, it seems to be that the “bad guys” have won the day. Instead of the higher, harder, more morally upright discussion of gun control and mental health issues, many have defaulted to the knee-jerk conclusion that we need a lot more guns. Seeing it this way, we must conclude that the minority has won out over the vast majority and we must arm ourselves against our fellow Americans who would seek to do us harm. We must conclude that we are not really all that free and that we failed as a society.
More guns equaling more safety is a slippery slope, and what makes it so is human blood. Great for weapons manufacturers. Not so great for citizens who potentially find themselves in a crossfire zone with little sanctuary.
Please notice that at no point have I advocated taking anyone's guns away, so save your poorly spelled, rarely signed bullshit letters. I consider any gun that can chamber a round and send a projectile down its barrel at a high rate of speed into my body — causing me injury or death — to be an assault weapon. Moreover, I am afraid of anyone in possession of a gun. Police, soldiers, hunters, citizens — all of them. One of the most insane environments I have ever spent time in is a gun range. There we are, all in a line, armed to the teeth, firing away. Sheer lunacy.
America taught me how to duck.
On the other hand, happiness is a warm tube amp. Music time!
I Have Heard the Future and It's Bright Dept.: Here are three releases slated for 2013. I have spent a lot of time with them and they will be worth checking out.
The Miles Davis Quintet, Live in Europe 1969. The Bootleg Series Vol. 2: You get three CDs and a DVD of one of Miles' most powerful lineups: Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette. They all played together on the Bitches Brew sessions in 1969 and 1970 but not in this exact configuration. What you have here is one lean and mean touring unit and, damn, are they great! You get to hear Bitches Brew tracks right before Miles recorded them a few weeks later. Concerning this lineup, Miles said this to Quincy Troupe in an interview for the book Miles the Autobiography: “I took the band out on the road; Wayne, Dave, Chick and Jack DeJohnette were now my working band. Man, I wish this band had been recorded live because it was really a bad motherfucker.”
Indeed. Some of you have perhaps heard some of these recordings on bootlegs — I was picking them up in Germany years ago — but these versions sound way better. Hell, it's worth it just to hear DeJohnette work out on “Footprints” from 1967's Miles Smiles album. Thanks to Columbia and the Miles estate for rolling out such a worthwhile release for the fans. Superb. Look for this one at the end of January.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Push the Sky Away: I wanted to write more about this album but the Bad Seeds press person would not approve any of the copy I sent. No problem. I submit this instead: Greetings at you from Bucharest! This record has musics very not old! Firstings for time of a Bad Seeded album of not Mick Harvey! I have kept played it and many goodnesses still happened! Wow to this person! This gonna smile you when it falls out on 02/19/13!
Marnie Stern, The Chronicles of Marnia: Cartwheels to the record store time. Marnie's records, not a bad one in the bunch, make me happy like when a Pixies album used to come out. You knew you were going to be playing it a lot. Chronicles does not feature the hurricane pugilism of Zach Hill on drums. I am a solid fan of the man but he does tend to beat songs into submission. Drummer Kid Millions sits well in the pocket and allows for more Marnie. Chronicles shows you just how good a songwriter and player Ms. Stern really is. Melody meets hooks, chops and crunch perfectly. Hopefully she brings the band to town more than once in 2013. Set for a late March release.
We will be rocking all these albums on my radio show as soon as they are released. It's going to be a great year for music.
As we get down the road in 2013, there is much to be frustrated with, much to be celebrated but most importantly there is a lot of work to be done. With the right soundtrack, all the boxes get checked.