the male muse… a rarified and mythical creature


We hear about the ‘muse’ often in art.  It’s an ephemeral thing – a idea, a feeling, inspiration, a thought.  And usually, its a gal.  You may know that nearly every song in the 70s was written about Joni Mitchell or Patti Boyd-Harrison-Clapton.   We don’t get to hear about the men. Here is one.

Every song written in the 90s was about 1 guy.  Before I hand it over to you, let’s talk about the song.  Would, from Alice in Chains.  Far Behind from Candlebox, the entire Temple of the Dog album.  This guy started Pearl Jam.  He was never in Pearl Jam…but he birthed it.  How so?  By dying.

Every great Seattle song seems to be about a guy no one knows, and was never famous.  Andrew Wood.  Andrew Wood led ‘Mother Love Bone’, which was Pearl Jam minus Vedder.  He was wildly charismatic, and deeply loved.  You know you mean something when dudes write songs about other dudes.  I can’t think of another male who has had the impact of songs written that Andrew Wood had.  On any idea in classic rock radio, you are far more likely to hear a song about losing Andy Wood than about John Lennon, or Kurt Cobain.

You know Seattle was an epic rock scene of the 90s.  Besides the great bands is another reason the Seattle scene and sound was so magical… partnership.  The bands (Mudhoney, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Screaming Trees, Mother Love Bone… et al) were all friends.  It wasn’t competition.  Soundgarden did a record with Alice in Chains.  Find the amazing and largely unknown Alice in Chains EP called ‘Sap’.  It’s largely acoustic and stands with anything else Alice in Chains did.  One of the songs is credited to ‘Alice in Mudgarden’.  In one song, you get Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, and Mudhoney!  and… it’s beautiful.  Let’s give it a listen, eh?

Chris Cornell was everyone, and recording with everyone.  Cornell wrote an entire album about Andy Wood.  They were more than friends or acquaintances…  they were roommates.  This is technically its own band, Temple of the Dog.  Know who is in that band?  It’s Pearl Jam, mostly minus Eddie.  Pearl Jam and Soundgarden even shared the same drummer (Matt Cameron) for decades.

You couldn’t even plot the Seattle crossover scene with a Visio jam… but I bet several have tried.

Wood died from a heroin overdose, and his death damn near broke all of Seattle.  That death also inspired a generation.  I think one of the things that hurt the most for those who knew and loved Andy Wood… its that he never got his big break.  He was on the verge SO hard of greatness.  His band had just finished their debut masterpiece called ‘Apple’, and of course he died right before it came out.  It’s available, and contains the fantastic song you know called ‘Chloe Dancer Crown of Thorns’.  This community of love and partnership and brotherhood was perfectly captured in Cameron Crowe’s ‘Single’ movie… and soundtrack.

*** sidebar – I was at Pearl Jam last night, and they played ‘Crown of Thorns’

While we are here, I want to mention a few tribute songs that I don’t think are well known, but are just beautiful perfection.  Warren Haynes wrote ‘Patchwork Quilt’ about Jerry Garcia.  Paul Simon wrote ‘Late Great Johnny Ace about John Lennon.  I included above not just clips to performances of the songs, but separately the lyrics.  The lyrics stand alone as great art.  You may notice the latter clip is from Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Concert in Central Park’… but was edited out of future releases.  It was on the VHS, but was removed from subsequent recordings and DVDs.  Know why?  Well… watch the video linked above.  A couple of minutes into the song, a fan runs on stage and attacks Paul Simon rambling about John Lennon.  Its an incredible moment captured on film, and its a shame it has been wiped out.  The moment happens at 48:40.

So cheers to those who came before and inspired us.


Friday Fives

1. What sitcom perfectly depicts your life?

Two Broke Girls.  Not sure if you are familiar with it.  however, once I describe it you will be FREAKED by the similarities.  Two hot girls who are in their late 20’s waitress in a divey greasy spoon restaurant outside of NYC.  Their upstairs neighbor is a feisty polish cougar, and their ambition is to get out of all this and open a cupcake shop.

The parallels almost terrify me.  I have considered legal action, but it is kinda fun watching my real life play out on the screen.  It is like watching my own auto-biography.

2. What TV moment really made you smile?

Chris Cornell covering Pearl Jam’s ‘footsteps‘ the other night on Jimmy Fallon.  It’s kind of a surreal full circle moment.  Chris and Eddie sang that song together on the Temple of the Dog album, but with different lyrics.  So, there are 2 songs which are musically identical.  One is Pearl Jam’s ‘footsteps’, and the other is Temple of the Dog’s ‘Times of Trouble’.  Eddie Vedder sings on both.  Make sense?

3. You are stuck in the world of your favorite movie/tv show, what do you do

duck dynasty?  I would go fishing.  They own all that land.  Think of fishing on your own land;  You could cheat SO hard.  You could have fishing competitions with buddies.  You can get all liquored up on the boat and drive back to the house, because you are on private property the whole time.  Dynamite fishing?  You bet your ass!  Literally shooting fish in a barrel?  Positively!

4. In the movie Die Hard, Hans dies while falling backward while Beethoven’s Ode to Joy plays loudly in the background.

How does your death scene montage play out?

something like this.

5. Baseball’s World Series is on, no one seems to care. What other former major event still keeps going, to your amazement?

I have zero interest in all sports except NFL football.  I don’t even watch college football.  For example, I don’t even know if Basketball is being played right now.

Friday Fives

iTunes Five

1. What song do you play the most?

‘All in All’ by Toad the Wet Sprocket.  It’s on ‘in Light Syrup’, and it will change your life.  Funny, it only made the outtake album after they broke up.  It is triumphant. Btw, in case you are a fan or casual listener… they are somewhat back together, and still gig as Toad.  I can’t say enough good things about this band.  They are under-rated, and under the radar.  Some of the best music of the ’90s.

2. What song do you play the least?

Anything by Kiss.  Oh my god do I hate Kiss.  Last year, Brian,  Ginther, and I all swapped hard drives to trade music.  Result?  I have, like, 6 Kiss albums.  I am pissed, and everyone is a suspect.  Even though my iPod is only 1/3rd full, I removed all the Kiss immediately.  Ok, I did keep Beth.  That song is dope, but don’t tell anyone I like it.  It’s like digging ‘Glee’.  Just keep that a secret, broseph!

Listening to Kiss is like taking a Bon Jovi album, and removing what little musicality there is.  Then, make sure it is poorly engineered.  After that, replace every single lyric with an overt reference to sex, as written by a 9 yeawr old.  Then, you have Kiss.  I’d rather listen to dance music, and that just hurt to type.

3. What’s the last song you added?

A lecture from Scott Berkun.  I am reading a really cool book from him right now.  Details over here.  But, that isn’t a song, is it?  So, the real question is what is the last music I bought.  Probably Brandi Carlile’s new disc.  Her album ‘the Story’ is amazing.  Five Stars.

4. What’s your favorite playlist?

* caution > monster tangent alert

I put together an annual Christmas Rock list, but I am really using Pandora for everything now.  I just discovered Pandora two days ago, and it is a game changer. I am not even using my iPod anymore.  I had heard about Pandora for years.  I knew it took your music and gave you similar music you would like.  Well, that idea kinda offended me.  See, I don’t need ANYONE telling me what I would like.  Plus, I have everything… so what can Pandora do for me?   didn’t need Pandora.  I thought it was beneath me as a master musicologist.  I was wrong.

Pandora just got loaded onto my Roku box (through Netflix) so I loaded it.  It asked me what I wanted and I said ‘Jerry Garcia’.  So, now is plays Jerry Garcia bootlegs, bluegrass band music, Grateful Dead (live and studio), Bobby Weir solo, the Allman Brothers, Van Morrison, early Dylan, the Band.  What can I say?  Oh, and it played the Beatles.  How the hell did they get the rights to the Beatles?  Seriously, that shit is better protected than Fort Knox.  I bought three of those Beatles re-master releases this fall, and I don’t think I am technically allowed to listen to them.   Apple records is kind of evil.  ‘All You Need is Love”?  My ass, these guys are more litigious than Scientology. Anyhow… it was 100% correct, and I didn’t have a LOT of this stuff.  It was right, I was wrong.  Go ahead and mark the day and date on that sentence.  You don’t get to see it often.

So, I loaded a Pearl Jam list (those are my two favorite bands, see).  It is possibly even better.  Even though I have everything studio album PJ has, Pandora plays their live cuts.  Remember, for the last ten years, Pearl Jam has released every single concert they have played.  So, there are thousands of soundboard bootlegs out there I could never collect.   Also, it picked similar bands I would like:  Stone Temple Pilots, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Smashing Pumpkins, and solo Eddie Vedder stuff.   Yeah, they are dead on with those.

Now, what is cool is that my new cell phone (the Palm Pre) also has Pandora on it.  So, at work and in my truck, I used to plug my iPod to listen to music.  No longer.  I plug my cell phone into my computer and truck speakers.  I stream the Pandora wherever I go.  When I get home, I throw Pandora on the home stereo system through the Roku.  This is the really good quality, because it beams it through the whole home theatre system.  Pandora does all this for free, too.  I was so smitten, though, that I bought the upgrade.

I also made some other stations:  Billy Joel, Johnny Cash, Metallica, and Bob Dylan.  However, the Jerry and Pearl Jam channels are so good… I haven’t been able to stray.  I listened to the Jerry Garcia channel for 9 hours at my desk yesterday, and did the same with Pearl Jam today.  On the PJ channel, they are even throwing down ‘Temple of the Dog’.  That is some deep catalogue dopeness.  Temple of the Dog is Pearl Jam playing with Soundgarden before either band formally existed.  It is disgusting good, find ‘Hunger Strike’.

5. What kind of iPod (or MP3 player) do you have?

My iPod is pretty new, but is a ‘classic’ design.  It is a 120 gig repository of yumminess.  To be fair, though, I really use my Palm Pre for almost everything.  I loaded about 12 really good albums on the memory card, and I have Pandora for everything else.

* seriously, I do NOT watch Glee.  Anyone who says otherwise gets punched straight in the babymaker.  Got it, buster?  Don’t even joke about that.