All That Days Do Not Disclose.

it might have been a mistake, but i made it for your sake

we took a walk on a lake like the ice would never break

and though it seems to be holding, one never knows

what is unfolding under all that days do not disclose

love is a dream that you share, a sensation in the air

it catches you unaware, laying false assumptions bare

so hide your face if you want to

there is no place you can run to

trust me, i should know

i wouldn’t say that it’s wrong to keep stringing me along

i’m just a note in your song, one more person in the throng

and though it’s strange to be singing, i’ll strike the pose

a herald bringing news of all that days do not disclose

i’m going out for the cause, a recruit wrapped up in gauze

but something’s giving me pause on the lonely road to Oz

and though the emerald city smells like a rose

behind those pretty walls is all that days do not disclose

between the facts that you see and impossibility

there is a wide open sea where a sailor can be free

go out and roam in the riot

or find a home and be quiet

call it, heads or tails

one day i’ll finally learn if i get to have my turn

if i’m the fires that burn or the ashes in the urn

and though the sunlight is shining, a sad wind blows

a chorus pining on for all that days do not disclose

Published in: Uncategorized on February 19, 2017 at 11:02 am  Leave a Comment  

You’ll Live Forever (On The Internet).

if you’re scared of dying, then i’ve got good news

a fresh prescription for your age-old blues

even if i’m lying, whatcha got to lose?

i’ll make an offer you cannot refuse

if you’re suffering and huff and puffering

and your life is like a clip always buffering

immortality is a banality

in the virtual reality

with all the secrets you gave up for free

and all the epic fails you have to see

and all the things you’d pay your neighbors to forget

you’ll live forever on the internet

if you’re feeling lonely, there’s a match for you

relationships and random hookups too

find your one and only, or just swipe on through

and look up facts you always thought you knew

add a smattering of people chattering

some are vicious as can be, some are flattering

they will stupefy you ’til you’re superfly

on the information superhigh

with all the crazy deals on odds and ends

and all the updates from your high school friends

and all the sketchy plans to help you pay your debt

you’ll live forever on the internet

data driven analysis

will reverse your paralysis

you look at me like it’s sci-fi

but all you need is some wi-fi

with every book by every know-it-all

and every movie version of the fall

and all the shrinks who haven’t cracked the riddle yet

you’ll live forever on the internet

Published in: Uncategorized on February 12, 2017 at 9:16 am  Leave a Comment  

Nothing Is Free.

fill the air with streamers,

ticker tape and noise

bobble-headed dreamers

clinging to their toys

are filling up the sidewalks just to see

if the rumors are true

or could it be that nothing is free

make a little supper

for your better half

take another upper

have yourself a laugh

for every time you thought that you could flee

from your mom and your dad

now you agree that nothing is free

but it isn’t so bad, if you think about it

get your pen and pad if you start to doubt it

draw a sketch of a man in a perfect bubble

toss it into the can with the other rubble

teach your children sharing

how to be polite

add a touch of daring

show them wrong from right

and if they start to think there is no fee

make a point to remind them patiently

that nothing is free

if you let yourself blink, you could miss your station

when you feel your heart sink, it’s an education

but the things that you learn aren’t always clever

and the things that you earn never last forever

Published in: Uncategorized on February 5, 2017 at 11:50 am  Leave a Comment  

Whatcha Gonna Do?

it’s a bit cliche to sing about it

but it might just fit the bill

and i cannot do a thing about it

so i will

what we know for sure is gone tomorrow

and the red light’s on today

doesn’t matter if you beg or borrow

you will pay

the die was cast, we came in last, it’s true

at every turn, we must relearn the things we always knew

so tell me: whatcha gonna do?

no one ever wants to see the losers

we pretend that it’s a sin

‘cause it’s easier to be abusers

when we win

let us work until our eyes are bleary

for the harvest lies ahead

and there’s ample time for feeling weary

when we’re dead

behind disgrace, a newborn face shines through

above the shroud of every cloud, there is a sky of blue

so tell me: whatcha gonna do?

Published in: Uncategorized on January 22, 2017 at 11:47 am  Leave a Comment  

Orange Glow.

no one can make you do as you should

no one can break you quite like he could

silence will take you, get up and go to the orange glow

no one can feel you under your lid

no one can heal you quite like she did

light will conceal you more than you know in the orange glow

many have traveled to it, few returned

some have unraveled through it, tossed and turned

baked and burned

useless inventions string you along

clever dissensions sing you a song

out of the tensions, melodies grow in the undertow

dancing slow in the orange glow

nightmares will leave you out in the cold

dreams will retrieve you into the fold

currents will heave you, still you must row to the orange glow

demons will stalk you into the deep

angels will rock you gently to sleep

quiet will shock you more than you show in the orange glow

out on the soaring mountains, sparkling wines

run out of roaring fountains through the pines

watch for signs

hatred will blind you, don’t be misled

reason will find you, love is not dead

bad luck will wind you up in a bow and your tears will flow

don’t feel low, find the orange glow

Published in: Uncategorized on January 15, 2017 at 11:57 am  Leave a Comment  

I And You.

i love you more than understanding

so i won’t ask when we are landing

we’ll go on flying

not really trying to

i and you

in stormy weather we’ll go sailing

and when the winds of change are wailing

though we’ll be frightened

we’ll be enlightened too

i and you

my dove went searching for sand

but he returned to my hand

we’ll huddle close around the fire

and when it dies we will retire

just me and my love

dreaming a sky of blue

i and you

and if it’s foolish

then let’s be foolish

and when the dawn of day is breaking

we’ll think of starlight as we’re waking

our engine’s idle

we’ll slowly sidle through

i and you

black cats are gathering before us

will they give chase or just ignore us

we’re two-bit pirates

i can’t deny it’s true

i and you

our sunken treasure is time

our battered boat is sublime

when we have tamed the ocean’s rancor

we’ll give a cheer and drop our anchor

we’ll sing on dry land

a song so high and new

i and you

the things that i do

are done by i and you

Published in: Uncategorized on January 8, 2017 at 10:33 am  Leave a Comment  

Good Clean Fun.

i’ve had a belly full of politics

cut-rate magicians full of hollow tricks

and my sisters are despairing

‘cause the damage of the deal is done

here’s to hoping that it’s good clean fun

drinking my troubles and my time away

though i should leave it’s not a crime to stay

‘cause my angel in the moonlight

was a demon in the morning sun

all i wanted was some good clean fun

so many strangers have been friends to me

but now my brother is my enemy

and i’m staring like a madman

down the barrel of an antique gun

reenacting all the good clean fun

i lost my wallet doing somersaults

showing my ass to hide my other faults

i’m a sucker for the circus

only happy when i’m on the run

always searching for some good clean fun

my better judgement got the best of me

and repetition took the rest of me

i’m as quiet as a talk show

ostentatious as the perfect nun

and i’m filthy as some good clean fun

Published in: Uncategorized on January 1, 2017 at 6:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

We are looking at the same thing from two sides.

“Louis Cole and Genevieve Artadi” was released Oct. 1, 2010.  Louis recently released his second solo album, “Album 2”.  Check them out.

Though she greets me at the door with her usual smile–the corners of her mouth rising to reveal her teeth without, somehow, moving the rest of her face–Genevieve doesn’t seem herself tonight.  She tells me that she’s working on a piece of music for her grandfather.  He’s sick, and she worries that she won’t be able to finish it in time.  While she works, I occupy myself with a foam ball and the basket affixed to her living room wall.  I’m trying to bank a shot off the opposite wall when she closes her laptop and joins me.

She asks if I’ve made one yet.  I reply that I haven’t, and hand her the ball to try the shot herself, but she hands it back.  Her smile returns, and she demands that I keep trying.  Even though I’m pretty sure I can’t make the shot, I try again.  And again.  And again.  A hundred shots later, I feel bizarrely invested in this once pointless venture.  I’m beginning to think that I can make the shot after all, that I’m going to make it.  Sure enough, the ball finally finds its target.  Genevieve shouts her approval and high fives me.

I wonder out loud how long we’ve been at it.  She shrugs.  My question suddenly seems silly to me.

*

Pop musicians are in the business of showing people a good time.  One occasionally detects a note of desperation in their theatrics, though, a nervous compulsion to look over their shoulders as they shake their asses in our faces and silently plead from behind steely eyes: “are you having fun yet?”  Therefore, when I say that I don’t consider Louis and Genevieve to be pop musicians, I mean it neither as a compliment nor a slight, but rather to distinguish their particular brand of fun from what normally passes for fun these days.

It is often taken for granted in today’s musical culture that musicians must choose between being serious and having fun.  Young musicians seem either manic to the point of insanity, or so sad that one wonders where they find the resolve to pick up an instrument.  Louis and Genevieve have artfully carved a niche for themselves someplace far from both extremes.  Theirs is the fun of an absurd idea carried through to its conclusion, whether it be comic, tragic, or some combination of the two.  Fun, in this context, is not so much the continual exudation of happiness as it is an attitude towards ones life.  It is the ability to open oneself to the strangeness of the world without fear.  Fun is a model for courage.

If that seems too dramatic, I wonder: have you ever heard anything like this?

*

Louis comes by later, and he doesn’t seem himself either.  He’s been working on music all night.  As we discuss the album over Genevieve’s kitchen table, neither of them seems quite sure what comes next.  “We’ve spent a year of our lives on this album,” Genevieve says, “and I don’t know if anything will come of it.”  An uncomfortable silence follows, which Genevieve breaks by asking me if I want to make brownies.

No ordinary mix will do.  The three of us peruse the selection at the local grocery store for what seems like half an hour before settling on double fudge.  But perhaps triple fudge would be even better.  And why is there no quadruple fudge brownie mix?  A lengthy discussion of why no such option is available ensues; would that be too much chocolate, or is the word ‘quadruple’ too inelegant to be printed in sweeping cursive letters across a box?  No definitive conclusion is reached, but the matter seems terribly important, to hear Louis and Genevieve talk about it–a sensation oddly similar to the way their music makes me feel.

Published in: on April 5, 2011 at 12:01 pm  Comments (1)  

Lila Rasa: Robby Marshall’s Dance of Aesthetics.

Krishna and Radha dancing the Rasalila, Jaipur, 19th century.

*

My housemate enters our living room to the sound of a furious drum solo.

[“Amnesia” by Robby Marshall, from his album, Living Electric.  Robby Marshall – saxophone, fx, samples; Andrew McKay – guitars; Danny McKay – bass; Zach Harmon – drums; Romain Collin – Rhodes.

“What are you listening to?”

I consider telling the truth.

It’s a Miles Davis record.”

Maybe next time.

“Fuuuuuck yeah,” he moans, collapsing into our papasan for a listen.  After a minute or two, he asks which Miles Davis record it is.

I consider lying.

“It’s not a Miles Davis record.”

Another person might be annoyed, but we’re a couple of jazz musicians, and this is our favorite game.  “The drumming sounds like early Jack DeJohnette, but tighter.  Terri Lynn Carrington?”  Strike one.  “Jim Black?”  Strike two.

A pause.

“Are these New York cats?”

“No.”

“European cats?”

“No.”

Another pause.

“LA cats?”

“Yes.”

The realization comes too late to save him from striking out, and so it is with resignation that he concludes, “oh, this is Robby’s record.”

*

Robby likes to make coffee with filtered water.  I once asked him if he could tell the difference, and he shot me the same look of mild annoyance as when he sees his name spelled “Robbie”.  But today, he fills the coffee maker with tap water.  The coffee pot recently met its end on the kitchen floor, so he places his mug beneath the drip instead.

He hasn’t been sleeping well.  Somewhere between organizing a big band to perform with Dave Douglas at the Hollywood Bowl, hustling gigs for his own groups, and grinding out a living in the LA music scene, the summer has slipped away.  And with a recording session for his band Root System fast approaching, he can ill afford to rest.

Left to right: Robby Marshall, Damon Zick, and Dave Douglas. (Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times)

It’s been two years since Robby released his debut record, Living Electric, but the trials involved are still fresh in his mind.  “Holding the finished product in my hands was great,” he says.  “But designing the packaging and pressing the CDs was expensive and time-consuming, not to mention recording, mixing, and mastering the music.”

Those difficulties, however, haven’t dissuaded him from doing it all over again—writing and rewriting music, scheduling and rescheduling rehearsals, relentlessly writing emails and making phone calls to corral the musicians he wants into the studio on the dates he’s reserved—on the contrary, he’s more determined than ever.

But what if everything falls apart?  Or what if it comes together, and no one listens?  And what about the hundreds of copies of Living Electric still packed in boxes next to his desk?  If these thoughts ever trouble Robby, he isn’t letting on.  He finishes his coffee and disappears into his room.

*

The Blue Whale is an oddity among Los Angeles jazz clubs, a reasonably priced venue that regularly features young local jazz musicians.  On this cool July night, about a hundred people have packed themselves into the small space, drinking and loudly conversing as the Los Angeles Jazz Collective’s Summer Jazz Festival unfolds.

By midnight, when Robby Marshall and Root System take the stage, the crowd has thinned out considerably.  Those who remain, however, are quiet and attentive.  Over the next hour, they will experience a whirlwind tour of Robby’s influences; which is to say, the music of people around the world having a good time.

Eastern European folk song, Peruvian lando, and New Orleans 2nd line all have a place in Robby’s conception of the rasa lila, a Hindi phrase which means “dance of aesthetics”.  The concept inspired an original composition by Robby, and is reflected more generally in Root System’s diverse book of music.

Before the night is over, Robby will shake every hand in the audience, exchange numbers with every musician, and chat at length with the management.  It isn’t an act; he really loves this part of the evening.  And who can blame him?  As high as he took this audience tonight, he’ll be back to the grind tomorrow, broken coffee maker and all.

Perhaps that’s why, upon returning home late, he doesn’t collapse into bed.  He must be tired, but he kicks off his shoes and turns on the television.  By morning, the dust will have settled on his ambitions again, and he’ll spend the whole day polishing them.  Tonight, they shimmer before his bleary eyes, so close he can almost touch them.

For more information, click here.

Published in: on September 6, 2010 at 10:33 am  Leave a Comment  

In honor of our friend Robby…

Michael Buble being stalked by a raptor.

"Clever Girl"...RAAWRRRWRRW!!!

Published in: on April 9, 2010 at 12:12 am  Comments (1)