Write-a-thon, Lucky Day 13: I still haven’t found what I’m writing for

Posted: July 5, 2013 in music, Record reviews, Writing
Tags: , , , ,

Nap nap 1

I started building models when I was a kid. At first I built cars and ships, but my sister, who was a tiny Megatron, would play with them and break them. I finally started building planes and spaceships because I could hang them from the ceiling. Some of them survive in my parents’ basement, forever suspended in mid-flight. My system worked!

After a few years of model-building and before I discovered the existence of that mysterious other gender, I tried mixing parts from different kits to make one model. It was fun to spread everything out on a table or on the floor and look for ways to rearrange the pieces. Actually, the fun was in the unexpected combinations, like adding the engines from the starship Enterprise to the wings of Gary Powers’ U-2 spy plane. I also did some experimenting with Army tanks and Rat Fink hot rods before switching to aviation.

Today in Write-a-thon World, I spent a lot of time rearranging my notes and some episodes I’d already written. I was fired up by some unexpected combinations. This has always been a good way for me to break out of a stall.

Actually, I have found what I’m writing for
I’m writing about working for a living in a place where your comrades are competent and engaged and your leaders are inspiring. It’s a fantasy novel.

Today in Deborah World
Special D rescued a lost dog named Rudy. Rudy is safely home this evening after his unexpected dinner-time adventure.

Random Pick of the Day
Fred Neil, The Many Sides of Fred Neil (1998)
As always, I am indebted to my loyal readers (all three of ’em). Loyal Readers Laurel and Darwin have entered a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young phase. Their neighbors are either mystified, repelled, or rocking along with them.

Is it time for a re-evaluation? The stars are lining up! CSNY’s brand of folk-rock isn’t at the top of my list, but my readers have rarely steered me wrong, and I can’t deny the band’s signficance. Sure, it’s easy to laugh at these geriatrics. But everyone who stays around in rock for more than a generation becomes laughable. It goes with the territory. Rock is a young person’s game. (The same thing is true of idiot bloggers.)

I hesitated before plunging into the CSNY catalog. I love lots of those songs, but I wasn’t sure I could again face the sticky-sweet “Guinnevere,” or “Love the One You’re With,” which was ruined for me by the Ewoks who sing it at the end of Return of the Jedi, or “Marrakesh Express,” which should’ve been recorded by Muppets. How was I going to do this?

The way I do almost everything: by reading first. I almost immediately discovered something I didn’t know, rescued from the Citizen Kane-like warehouse of things I don’t know: the existence of folk-rocker Fred Neil (1936-2001). Stephen Stills cited him as a major influence. While I worked on my book today I listened to the 36 tracks on The Many Sides of Fred Neil, and wow, am I impressed. These songs, almost all of them from the ’60s, are almost all of them timeless. Add some instruments beyond Neil’s lone guitar and you could almost hear CSNY. On one song, “Look Over Yonder,”  an eight-minute jam in which Neil is essentially jamming with himself, you can hear the foundation of Neil Young’s “Down By the River”/“Cowgirl in the Sand.”

I’m not dissing other doomed male folksingers of the ’60s, but I like Fred Neil better than Tim Hardin, Tim Buckley, and Phil Ochs. And those are three interesting guys.

Neil’s biggest success was someone else’s: he wrote “Everybody’s Talkin’ ” (1966), the hit by Harry Nilsson from Midnight Cowboy. This afternoon, almost 50 years later, I finally heard the original. It’s raw, it’s powerful, I played it three times.

I’m ready for “Love the One You’re With.” As the Lone Ranger says to Tonto in their stupid new movie, “Let’s do this.”

  1. Number 9 says:

    Harmonies! It’s the harmonies! (and a few good songs)

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