RL408 - Cool the Tubes

This week, Merlin and John talk about:

The Problem: John was trying to please the Germans, referring to the Germans being interested in his band The Long Winters while the British were not, no matter how hard John was trying.

The show title refers to HiFi-dads saying that they have to put the tubes out of their amps and into the freezer over night to cool them down, which will chill the vibes and improve on the tone.

Raw notes
The segments below are raw notes that have not been edited for language, structure, references, or readability. Please do not quote these texts directly without applying your own editing first! These notes were not planned to be released in this form, but time constraints have caused a shift in priorities and have delayed editing draft-quality versions to a later point.

Shoegaze, Blur, Oasis (RL408)

John has issues with his microphone and starts the show recording through his computer mic. Thing move around because John’s laptop gets unhooked and moved to different places from time to time. While John is trying to fix his setup Merlin recites the lyrics of Only Shallow by My Bloody Valentine as if they were a poem: ”Sleep like a pillow, no one there where she won’t care, anywhere. Soft as a pillow, touch her hair where she won’t dare, somewhere” He has enjoyed that song for a very long time, but he has never known the lyrics, which are terrible, but they work in the context of the song because they are just mouth sounds.

Merlin thinks that he and John should start a band for A Capella Shoegaze. Merlin likes Swervedriver and wonders if they are shoegaze. John referred to them just the other day when he was trying to explain how we went from the Happy Mondays to Blur and what Shoegaze was. It is like Merlin trying to explain how Lucille Ball’s work at Desilu Productions saved Star Trek. It requires a lot of explanation for something that literally no-one cares about. The person John was talking to didn’t know any of the bands from his explanation until he realized that everybody knows Fools Gold (song by The Stone Roses), but as he played that for her she remembered it, but didn’t think it had completely changed her life when she first heard it. John thinks it changed everything!

Their first some was I Wanna Be Adored, which Merlin likes and that also changed everything. It must have been confusing to live int he United States then because there were different things going on then. It could be argued that there was a lot of different stuff going on between 1989-1996. The first time John heard Park Life (song by Blur), he wondered if they did not get the message about what was going on then. Later they came out with the Woo-hoo song called Song 2 that goes: ”Woo-hoo… I got my head checked by a jumbo jet” That guy is a really good guitar player, but he had a heroin problem.

Merlin was not a fan of Oasis, but he did like Blur. He also likes the songs Park Life and Girls & Boys. There were so many bands that were called something with Girls and Boys, like Girls Against Boys, Boys Like Girls. There were all the post-mid-1990s Merge, Matador, and Drag City (record labels) bands, a lot of which have very silly names. John also does not like Oasis and cannot be brought into the Oasis camp, no matter how many teams of horses have been hooked to him by people. He is not even digging his feet in, but he just cannot be moved, like an obelisk that even Elgin (?) cannot displace from his rightful spot next to the Sphinx.

Merlin thinks he understands what people like about them, but that are not the things that he likes and he doesn’t want to rag about them because a lot of people enjoy their music. Oasis vs Blur? Are you kidding me? First of all it is so English to have this band vs that band, but Blur is a better band hands down no question.

The Long Winters not piquing the interest of the British (RL408)

John was always bummed that the English press seemed to have an "us vs them" thing going on with his band, which was his band vs literally any other band that they would prefer to his band. There were great bands that the press preferred, but they also preferred some terrible bands. One of the colossal disappointments in John’s mid-period in Rock was that he could not get the British to like his band although he expended a lot of money and time trying to click with the UK.

You have a certain budget and can you spread that money around in different territories to get your music on the radio in Belgium and in Luxembourg, or you can spend most of it in the UK in the hope that if you band takes off there it will do a lot of work toward making it big in Luxembourg because everybody watches the UK. Looking back at the amount of money John made on shows relative to the cost of hotels, petrol, transport, and ferry boat rides and the amount of time he spent giving interviews to the British trouser press, and their sneering lack in interested, he should not have played a single show there or given them a moment’s time.

The Germans on the other side were very interested in The Long Winters. They also loved podcasts before a lot of people and they also have extremely strong and vocal opinions about both the content and technology behind podcasts. Germans and podcasts are like peas and carrots.

John having a sore throat (RL408)

When John woke up this morning he had a little bit of a sore throat, not from sickness, but from shouting. He never thinks about their show before the show, but this time he was worried he couldn’t keep up with Merlin if his throat is scratchy, but if they did a music episode Merlin wouldn’t need John, he could just listen. Yesterday was a shouty day and he couldn’t even remember the last time he blew out his voice. It happened to Merlin quite frequently back when he was still out in loud bars with friends and had a lot to drink. On some of Merlin’s podcasts he sounds really weird in the ads because his voice is tender and when he records 4 hours of podcast he can barely talk at the end.

Losing your voice is something that just happens in the Rock business, although you try really hard not to do it. Today John is all the way there on doing a music episode, but he is really curious about the Germans and podcasts, he just knows about the Australians and New Zealanders and podcasts.

Merlin’s daughter becoming a picky eater (RL408)

The other day Merlin’s daughter said she doesn’t want to eat a protein with pasta anymore because that is the stage she is in right now. Ken Jennings has two kids, one of them is a vegetarian who also won’t eat tomatoes and the other is a carnivore who won’t eat cheese. Having dinner over there you watch the different casseroles coming out of the oven. One of John Siracusa’s kids is a vegetarian, but doesn’t like many vegetables, like John’s sister.

How and why people listen to podcasts, chapter markers (RL408)

The Germans love chapter markers in podcasts and they are very vocal about it. Merlin explains the concept to John with the example of the CBS-show 60 minutes where they have multiple equidistant segments and chapters make perfect sense there, but it is more difficult to split them up if you have a more discursive Lenny Bruce thing where you are Shuckin’ and jivin’. This show is like a tone poem and Merlin will not do chapter markers in most of his programs because it doesn’t make any sense. Please listen at 1x speed and listen from the beginning to the end.

John noted that Merlin had never before come out in favor of 1x and Merlin doesn’t want to talk about it too much because it is a little bit of a bit. Unless you have a sight disability and you are good at hearing stuff fast, don’t listen at 3x, but Merlin will abide Smart Speed in the podcast app Overcast made by his friend Marco that is not speeding things up, but is just removing micro-pauses, but even then the rests are just as important as the notes, which is what Merlin always tells his wife.

John doesn’t listens to podcasts, he doesn’t even have a TV, but you don’t listen to this show to gather information, you are not trying to get to a certain part, but you are going to find wisdom in these shows and if you do it at double speed you are getting half of the benefit. Merlin listens to a lot of podcasts and he fits them all in not by listening at 2.5x, but by having excellent taste and he doesn’t listen to bad podcasts. A few months ago Merlin started doing chapter markers for this show for no particular reason to break up the talking parts from the ads and to allow people to directly click on the URL of their sponsors.

Merlin used to think he likes poetry, but the he realized that he only likes a few poems. For example there is also very good improv, but you don’t want to come in at the end of long-form improv because you are busy. You want to live what is unfolding on stage and devote 100% of your attention to this. In the case of Middleditch and Schwartz, something Merlin discovered in COVID-times, you have to really pay attention. One reason people are confused by that show is that they are not paying enough attention.

They don’t normally talk about this show in the show. There was a time when if you were a vegetarian everybody thought you were a weirdo, and if you met anther person coming through the rye, which you could eat because rye is a vegetable, especially somewhere in the Midwest, like Ohio in 1975, you are going to find many more similarities than differences. Also if you drove a British sports car between 1949 and 1975 in the United States you would honk and wave if you passed someone else in a British sports car.

When you are in the outgroup or interested in something that many people don’t know about, you find a lot to bond over initially, but eventually you find a lot to disagree and argue about, like if Superman would kill Lois Lane if they had intercourse, but today the reasons people are vegetarians are a myriad and sometimes conflicting. Some of it is for health, some of it for ethics, some of it for environmental stuff, some to make dinner time a trial for your parents, and there could be two people eating an extremely similar diet for extremely different reasons.

Vegetarianism, owning an MG or having a ham radio is where podcasts were a few years ago, and to Merlin a podcasts is where a bunch of people talked about a thing, usually three white guy talking about Linux. A lot of people’s favorite podcasts was the Ricky Gervais podcast (The Ricky Gervais Show), which was one of the first big podcasts, but today you have so many people who love different podcasts for different reasons that just saying ”podcasts” is not that meaningful anymore.

A lot of people like fancy people people who used to be on public radio, and listening to a 23-minute episode of Planet Money is very different from listening to a 35 minute You Look Nice Today or a 2-hour Reconcilable Differences. All those shows have a different Weltanschauung going on, and chapter markers don’t fit for all of those things, they don’t fit for improv, they barely fit for Prog Rock, but if you listen to Supper’s Ready (song by Genesis), it is a whole album side and you can’t just jump straight to the end.

John has spend a lot of time during his adult life trying to figure out what the Germans want and how to please the Germans. He spent a lot of time trying to please the Brits and realized you cannot please them because they are like vegetarian teenagers who are mad about something and they will figure out what it is later. They are also like Seattle Punkers in 1990 and when they feel like you are trying to please them, they will hate you more, and the more you appear to not be trying, the more they will suss out that you are secretly trying and hate you.

The only way to please them is to be beautiful, talented, arrogant, and louche You have to be perfect, then they will love you for a week and then they will turn on you, too. You can break so many rules in England, but at the same time they think that the guy from Babyshambles is amazing (Pete Doherty) and shower him, while he is such an affected louche douche.

On the other hand if you try to please the Germans they respond. They want you to try to please them, and if they notice you are trying they will tell you that they can see that you are trying, but you are not there yet, and they will give you three more things you could do which are completely implausible, absolutely not a thing that you could possibly do, there was one guy who came up after a show and told John he should write more songs about football, and he was just trying to give John some clues about how he could be more popular with his countrymen. They love soccer and if The Long Winters had even one song about soccer it would be better than having no songs about it.

Every once in a while you come across someone who professes to really love your stuff, who can quote everything you have done word for word, but makes a comment that suggests they have just fallen to Earth and have never have a word of what you have said. John was never going to write a song about soccer, but what stunned him about trying to please the Germans is that were very upfront about what they thought was authentically American, and it was very important to them and by extension to the Dutch. There are good things about America: Movies, music, Marshall Plan, and they love the cowboys and the bikers.

There was a truth that came from America, even though they knew it was just a funny cowboy hat with feathers on it, but they believed in it so much that they were not shy about asking you to wear one of those. John was standing around after his shows, hoisting his little Fruity Pleaser, and hearing people say: ”The thing about America is…”, although that is just a hat with feathers on it because those people they are talking about are all from Los Angeles, or Toronto, which is the Los Angeles of Canada. All those skinny guys in blue jeans with long bears with feathers in them: Those feathers were put there by a stylist. You could not convince them, and you didn’t have to convince them either because they knew it was true, it just didn’t matter.

Start a conversation outside of your expertise to appear in the know (RL408)

One time Merlin’s band Bacon Ray did a sound check in the Cow House (?), and they had a new guy there who was not very good, but you don’t want to piss of the sound guy. At the end of the sound check the sound guy walked up and said: ”If you played with your fingers you would sound more like Stanley Clarke!” That sounds like just another fun anecdote like the door man at the gay bar on New Wave night who said: ”As far I am concerned, all your New Wavers are in purgatory!”, except it was utterly unbitten, and Merlin was playing drunken GBV (Guided by Voices) style 1990s Indie Rock with some beef heart flavor, and all you can say is: ”Oh, thanks! You are probably right!” It seemed like a non-sequitur, but it probably made sense to him.

There is a dividing line between bass players who play with their fingers vs those who play with a pick, and as you discover that in your journey in music when you are a guy in his 20s, you think that now you get it, but you don’t know enough yet to know that this skeleton key is for fewer things that it feels like, given your level of expertise. It decodes a thing, but it does not decode everything. If you had said that to Stanley Clarke he would have said: ”Haha, no!” It would be meaningless past a certain point because some of the best bass players you ever hear play with a pick and there are lot of people playing with their fingers who are not super-good bass players.

It you played a fretless you would sound more like Pino Palladino on that one Paul Young song (Every Time You Go Away, see video), and if you played a Chapman Stick you would be a bald guy with a mustache in King Crimson (band) That is the problem with young people gaining a toehold in expertise and why people come up to you at shows and want to talk to you about your amplifier. That stuff is interesting to talk about if you find somebody who knows the same stuff that you do and you want to talk about it as a game.

John follows at least 10 Instagram accounts where the level of knowledge in the people following it is just fun. They will post a 1954 Telecaster and there will be comments like: ”The adjustment screw on that tone knob is wrong!” - ”We thought so, too, but then we realized that it was factory because for 2 weeks in 1954 they ran out of the ones…” The same is true for people in the Goofs section of IMDB who know everything about military insignia.

There is a difference between being on Instagram in a community of people who know where they are at, and coiling up your cables at the end of the night in a venue outside of Münster when a kid comes up at the foot of the stage and asks you if that was a 1964 or 1965, or if the sound man tells you that if you played with your fingers you would sound more like Jaco Pastorius. They want to start a conversation, buy have only some false dichotomies to work with, and they are hoping to enlist you in an agreement, like: ”Bass players who don’t play with their fingers, am I right?” They think they have unlocked it and that they have the skeleton key for what good musicians like. John has fallen for it and has been the young guy who wanted to talk to somebody.

So much of that stuff is code for a language that used to be a lot more popular, that there is authentic and there is fake, there is honest and there is lying, and you have to be on guard against music that is lying to you. There is real Punk and there is fake Punk, there is real Country and there is fake Country, there is real Jazz and fake Jazz. People died over that shit at some point, as crazy as it sounds, mostly by OD. Looking back at it now John can remember how it felt like to talk to somebody who was casting an aspersion that the music you are making isn’t real according to the fact that your bass player doesn’t play with his fingers.

John trying to connect with Doug Martsch (RL408)

You want nothing more than to walk up to your hero and say something that says: ”I am in on it! White sauce, not a problem!” The number of times John was walked up to Doug Martsch from Built To Spill in the Hot Case line backstage at a festival where they both got a tray and a meal ticket and somebody was about to put some Chicken Cacciatore on their little prison plates. Doug is a bit younger than John, but has been a musician John has admired before he himself had a pot to piss in. He is pretty introverted and impossible to parse for John.

Over and over John has said to him: ”Hey, Doug, I am John Roderick, we have met before, I am in The Long Winters. I just wanted to say: Great show today! Your new album is really great! I was just talking to your band mate, a guy I have known for 20+ years and he was saying that you guys were doing some shows…” and got more of a reply from his Chicken Cacciatore than from him, which seems like it is not about John, but it sure feels like that. At the same time, somebody else on the festival ground wants to do the same to John.

It is nice to be nice, and John just is a little bit of a creep. He couldn’t even remember Joel McCrea’s name (Merlin refers to the All the great shows story and the name was Joel McHale)and the blonde girl who knows about architecture in Los Angeles (story from the same episode RL125). In situations like that John normally doesn’t have anything he actually wants to say, but the only thing he wants the other person to say is: ”Oh, hey man! Yeah, I really liked that last Long Winters record. Thanks for saying Hi!”, but he never even got the ”Hey man!”

John needs to stop trying and just let Let Go and Let God! He tried to talk to Britt Daniel from Spoon multiple times, but he would sometimes step down off of his hover board just to spill a drink on John’s pants and then step back on it and slowly hover away where John could in theory keep up with him if he would walk along pretty quickly.

John’s music not being pure and unaffected, bands trying to play as if they don’t care (RL408)

John did not ever feel like he could make an argument that what he was making was pure, unaffected, honest, and true, all the things that his girlfriend in the 1990s believed about music, that Neutral Milk Hotel was unaffected, true, honest, deep, profound, and real (see RW149), almost like Alan Lomax just happened into a barn in Louisiana and turned on the recorder and got it. The music was already being made, whether he had his microphone there or not, and it was being made for a reason which had nothing to do with being recorded or you ever hearing it, but it was being made for a practical reason, like the guitar was a spinning wheel or a hoe and the music was there to serve a purpose before God.

With everything that one knows about music as a whole, not only can you not imagine Jeff Mangum listening to Missing Persons, but also that you tell him the story of The Buzzcocks literally making their own covers for 45s and go like: ”Urgh, you are going to put music on plastic and sell it in paper? Gross! I just sit here and play my hoe in the barn!” It is the crazy thing about HiFi-dads: Alan Lomax records this music and it goes to HiFi-dads who always take the tubes out of their amps and put them in the freezer over night because it chills the vibe down and the fact that they then take that much longer to heat up improves the tone. The only way you can really appreciate Robert Johnson or John Patton: You need to cool the tubes!

Did those guys feel insincere or inauthentic, culturally consuming stuff that what they priced about it was its honesty, but that they were being voyeuristic somehow? The question all through the 2000s was if Jeff Mangum was mentally ill or not, and if it was okay to listen to this or to Bonnie ”Prince” Billy (Will Oldham), Cat Power, or Daniel Johnston? On the flip side this was considered the only real music and these people were they only truly gifted witches and warlocks of folk music. Anything with more artifice, every additional bit more of trying, you might as well just write some songs about football!

John always felt that his band didn’t have that truth because he wasn’t powered by his spleen or by his dirty pants.

Merlin likes the band Pavement, a critical fave, but they played pretty feral in some ways, but at least (Stephen) Malkmus could not have been more deliberately and ironically detached, which may have given him more cred. The first time John saw Malkmus sing in tune like a regular person he realized that he can do it and that the whole thing was just a put-on. You have to try harder to sing like you don’t care.

The other day John watched the movie Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence for Friendly Fire where David Bowie was in a Prison Camp and at one point he started singing in the prison camp and he sings out of tune in a ruckus, flat way, which wasn’t necessary for the character, but it was a characterization he chose to do because he was a South African officer and there was no reason he would know how to sing. It is hard to sing poorly without going over! You can sing poorly, but as a good singer being an 1/8th tone off is very hard.

It is a strange gift to attribute to someone that they sound like some people from Stockton California who didn’t know how to play music, which they were, except they weren’t. John will go to his grave, not knowing how to live in the same world as that because he was just struggling to write a good song and sing it. To have enough talent and enough hostility to go into the world and feel like writing songs is easy enough so you could also pretend that you don’t know how to play them and also have that be real and not Mr. Bungling it. This isn’t a joke band, but a very serious band. Ween is extremely serious.

Merlin uses the phrase: ”This band really knows who they are!” or ”This movie really knows what it is!”, not in a conceded way, but in the case of Ween they are extremely serious about how they are not serious. That guy spent some hours in the wood shed getting to where he could play Don’t Get 2 Close in the way he does. Merlin’s guideline in those cases is: ”Does this band know who they are and are they figuring out how to become more like themselves?” People get a whiff or somebody who doesn’t know who they are but thinks they do, and that can be rough to watch.

People who really want to hate on things that are inarguably great, like recent TV shows (RL408)

John is watching the latest era of made-for-TV series super-filmic TV shows because it is coronavirus, even though he doesn’t even have a TV, but he knows people who have TVs. A few years ago he thought that Black Mirror was another level of good and he wondered how it was possible to make something like this in the regular world where you are up against NCIS, but now it feels like every time somebody recommends him a show to watch he will discover that it is 10 episodes of amazing television. Queen’s Gambit is a good example, it is phenomenal!

Then John goes on the Internet, not to find out what other people think about his favorite show, but it is inescapable if you have watched a thing, and invariably there is going to be a group of people who have decided to tilt against this show. Most people don’t tilt against Ted Lasso because it is built around the idea that tilting against it is doing more harm to yourself. The whole premise is: ”If you want to hate this show, by all means, but does that make you feel better?” Most shows that take themselves seriously are also open to being accused of 1000 other things and there are people that want to hate a TV show so badly. John is 52 years old, he fucking grew up on TV and this, whether you like it or not, is inarguably great! It is amazing what got made here!

Merlin’s daughter has so many reasons why she won’t watch The Mandalorian, which is really frustrating, one of them being that apparently Rosario Dawson’s family did problematic things involving a trans-person, so Merlin’s kid won’t even allow Mandalorian to be on the screen. She is Ahsoka Tano who now got her own show. It is his daughter’s version of: ”It is going to be so difficult to explain this to you without explaining 5 other things first!” and she is going to explain why people make fun of Lin-Manuel Miranda for a photo where he bit his lip once. Merlin really doesn’t want to know, but there is often more to it than this person didn’t like the last season of Game of Thrones.

John doesn’t speak that language fluently enough. If he listens to an album and the bass player is too Stanley Clarke he will have some feelings about it, but he doesn’t have any relationship to online that would compel him to go on there and have anything to say about this band. He will make some disparaging comments every year about the catalog of Billy Joel, but only to get people riled up.

John’s daughter wanting more female Star Wars action figures (RL408)

John’s daughter is a major Star Wars enthusiast and from the very beginning she intuitively had a lot of questions why there aren’t more female protagonists, and in particular why there aren’t more toys of female protagonists. Only later did John realize that this is actually a thing that the toy manufacturers neglected to make enough toys of their female characters, even as Star Wars branched out into having female protagonists. You can find the most obscure alien that appears in one scene, buy you can hardly find anything about Rey.

John’s daughter is an action-figure oriented player, but she doesn’t have the girl characters she wants in order to play with her own toys. She does have every bounty hunter that lined up to talk to Dark Vader about finding Han Solo and she can name them. They made 3-4 different Padmes, but those are more like a Barbie. When she got into Clone Wars and Asohka hit the scene, she was 100% Asohka, so much so that John went on the fucking dark web to find an Asohka action figure, and an Aayla Secura, and it cost him a lot of money! There should be Asohka action figures papering the Earth!

When she recently appeared in The Mandalorian, everybody in the house were all there and a giant cheer went up. Merlin had the exact same thrilling reaction. Aayla Secura in her one dumb scene wasn’t as cool looking, but they went more for the sexy thing, but she still looked so good! Asohka was a teen during the Clone Wars and now she is a grown lady. The idea that there would be problems with the actress playing Asohka so that in the cause of justice this thing that John’s 9-year old has been waiting for is no longer cool for a cascading series of reasons is the same kind of that existed in band culture at a certain point that had nothing to do with social justice, but everything to do with that if you listened to certain music you were cancelled.

Learning about a person from what bands they like, lists with favorite R.E.M. albums (RL408)

There was a time when Merlin learned about a person who their favorite band was and that was all he needed to know about them to know what kind of person they were. If they without prompting told you that their favorite band was Limp Bizkit, that was all he needed to know about them. John feels that this is still true today and he doesn’t know if he could recover from that. Insert any band here, like if somebody says they like Blur more than Oasis, that is all you need to know about them. But everybody has their reasons.

But even if three people like Elliott Smith, who started liking him when and for why? Did you like Nick Drake before the VW ad (see here)? Did you like Elliott Smith before his awkward Oscars performance? Dave Depper, the new guitar player for Death Cab in his coronavirus-boredom put up a ranking of all the R.E.M. records and a guy John’s knows who is a little bit older than Dave Depper put up his list of all the R.E.M. records as well, and John Moe, the Minnesota Public Radio friend did the same.

John could take those three lists and randomize them and show them to Merlin and Merlin could tell him how old each person was. How many people are automatically going to pick up Automatic for the People, and you know that if somebody picks Reckoning they are 54 years old. Even if you blurred everything else out and just looked at where Reckoning is on the list, because the youngest dude put it way down underneath some post-Up records. To read a list like that as a 52 year old makes John insane. There is nothing that makes him want to grab a kid by his shirt and shake him more than failing to appreciate where Reckoning belongs in a list of R.E.M. records. The question is: Is he ranking those later records more highly because he has a teenage connection to them, or is he coming later and is able to listen to all the records?

The same is true for albums of The Beatles. Merlin oscillates between Rubber Soul and Revolver, while the White Album is very good, too. John says that the correct answer is Revolver. Merlin was not alive when any of those albums first came out. His ultimate example is Led Zeppelin: Being there and hearing them played on the radio and having come up at a time when Led Zeppelin II was the new Led Zeppelin album is such a different experience, and it is difficult, let alone pointless to try to explain to somebody how it was to have been there.

Merlin’s biggest beef in that context is the word ”best”. Why can’t we just say: ”Here are the R.E.M. albums in order of how much I like them!”, but then there would be nothing to argue about. Merlin could say with Rush: ”It starts at this point in the graph, it goes up here, it peaks there, and then it goes down from there!” and John would know exactly what albums he was talking about.

John doubts that any band that started recording in 1970 made it past 1982, with Rush as one of the exceptions, they even had a record in 1990. The first time Merlin saw them live was probably 2005/06. John does not want to incur the ire of Pink Floyd people because he understands that the David Gilmour era is amazing and absolutely still canonical Pink Floyd, and he is John’s favorite member of the band, but it is a different band without Roger Waters.

There was surely a time when he was sitting and arguing about the album Presence (by Led Zeppelin) as though there was something controversial about it, trying to figure out ”What the fuck!” about Presence. We don’t live in a world anymore where Led Zeppelin talk is any kind of currency anymore. There is no way you can go into a room today and divide people by how they feel about Presence. It is the one with the weird cover by Hipgnosis, the family sitting around the table with the obelisk, which Merlin did not remember at first, like the Gorilla with the basketball (The Invisible Gorilla Experiment) - ”I know, I know”

The transition of music from being about wizards to becoming serious (RL408)

A couple of days ago John was thinking that the early Gen-X, which he is a part of, was raised on music where an awful lot of purveyors of it were English young people and were presenting themselves as wizards and their music was about Satan, no matter if you talk about Judas Priest or Rick Wakeman (from Yes). Merlin was watching Heavy Metal Parking Lot last night for the first time in years, which is such a good movie (from 1986) and it is on YouTube. There is also a followup from 2006 where they catch up with people who were in Heavy Metal Parking Lot. Rick Wakeman would actually wear a floor-length cape on stage, that guy is a fucking wizard! Jimmy Page lived in Aleister Crowley’s house. There we a lot of wizards!

A lot of English wizards are cheapskates, though, tithing it all to Satan! John and Merlin were still listening to wizard music even when the serious young people started to turn to music that was defiantly not about wizards and that presented itself as being authentically from the streets, but the put-on there was that it was a bunch of middle-class kids claiming not to care about anything. John’s young life was spent in the conflict of this wizard music being so cool but at the same time also being so un-cool because it was just a bunch of old English dudes pretending to be wizards and John really should be more serious, which involves having his music to be less fun and more angry.

The next generation grew up post-transformation of Hip Hop from serious-minded enlightenment revolution based to ”These are the real stories of pimps slinging rock!”, the late 1980s where Hip Hop went from being a New York phenomenon to being a phenomenon where college-educated blacks were talking about the real story of the world in a way that was supposed to be edifying, like a De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, or Jungle Brothers era, that was all serious music and it was meant to lay out the truth of the world and it was forward-looking and laid out a path to a different world.

Through the aperture of NWA that opened up into a different world where they were not trying to make a better world, but they just wanted to tell it how it is and the music was reportage, but from there it went right into wizards worshipping Satan, just that the wizards were in an imaginary world of Crunk Cup (?), although still representing itself as reportage, just that it is fantasy. The old Satan wizards were not fun, back in the 1970s they were dark and dangerous and scary and the musicians were dying of heroin, it was plausible that they were actually worshipping Satan, and they were gritty people, huffing Amyl Nitrite.

There is a lot of history and also wizards in Iron Maiden. Jack the Ripper was about wizards. Charge of the Light Brigade were wizards, every one of them. ”You take my horn, but I’ll take yours, too!” (lyrics The Trooper by Iron Maiden) ”Who’s zoomin who?” (song by Aretha Franklin) Do the wizards look like they are in the Charge of the Light Brigade or are those soldiers taking style from wizards? It is exactly the kind of question a wizard would ask. Just because you are wearing a waist coat does not mean you are in a Metal band, but you were probably in a Dr. Who episode, who was a absolutely a wizard, although after the fact.

There was Dr. Who happening all the way back, but John came to it later because they didn’t have that on his short wave radio. The first episode is from 1963 when Jimmie Page was sitting in his short pants and he was wondering which way he was going to go tonight? He had a guitar, but he didn’t have a Tardis, and the next best thing is a cape, it is like a porta-Tardis. There are a lot of wizards in Harry Potter, literally, and they all have capes.

The Kennedies own some property on the Cape (Cape Cod). There is zero Metal in the Kennedies, but there is lots of Metal in Harry Potter. The whole thing just seems like a Heavy Metal Magazine from the UK in 1985 and names like Hufflepuff and Schmuffinschmurz are just like band names. Those people are a little fresh faced at first, but if your name is Lady Amenorexia (?) you can put a curse on somebody.

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