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I’m not exactly sure how our paths crossed. But one day it seemed as if he was circling the edges of the group just close enough that I became aware of him.

We were a raggedy bunch and that’s where he stood out. His clothes were crisp, always shined loafers, never wore sneakers, and the part in his hair was as sharp as the crease in his pants. We were the others with hair that was weeks past growing out and t-shirts that were about as baggy as our cut-off jeans.

He brought his guitar down to the group and began playing a few chords and picking away at the strings with a more thoughtful talent and subtlety that I hadn’t heard yet on the radio. I was still stuck somewhere between Shindig and The Moody Blues and individual notes were as rare as Friday night dates.

We became friendly and I would often head up to his apartment where his room was a wonderland of six and twelve string guitars, banjos and stereo equipment. Or at least I thought so since living my life on a fold out couch in our living room didn’t afford me many luxuries except for an old Heathkit stereo my father built with one working speaker.

Aside from his picking, he looped around some music on his reel-to-reel from names and not bands – Phil Ochs, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez. Bob Dylan and the occasional satire and piano of Tom Lehrer. We listened to WBAI and their own eccentric  lineup like Bob Fass, Larry Josephson, and Larry the Bagelman. (A few years later, while pledging a fraternity, I was ordered to bring a bag of bagels to the studio by a WBAI loving brother…another story for another time.)

Then he introduced me to Richie Havens and the oddball open E-chord tuned guitar.

Listening and understanding just about every stringed instrument, he had figured out how to play it by ear – that’s how he picked up most of his music. Then he played some Havens both on his own and on the stereo.

I followed Havens for a while. He was a regular at the Cafe Wha? down on McDougal street where Ed Sanders and The Fugs used to play and was one of the first Greenwich Village streets I began circling lost among button stores, middle eastern restaurants, head shops, and cafes with The Hip Bagel sign swinging in the breeze around the corner from the Cafe Figaro. Some of his songs still stick in my head, his voice a clear rasp over the single guitar that he seemed to play like a drum. He sang with his eyes closed inside the song and always carried this beatific smile framed by a thin rough beard.

Havens passed away this week. Just one more transition for me from young to old.

He took a few of my stories with him…

“I’m going straight into what I’m doing.
The direction for my music is heaven, of course.

We gear all things to the realm of heaven…”

If I Possessed a Printing Press by George Hamilton IV:

This was actually the “B” side of Only One Love released in 1957.

Now spend the day trying to get this out of your head…has a good beat and you can slow dance to it…gotta find The Brunette now…

[h/t to Letterology for the lead in..]

C2C (once known as Coups2Cross) is an electronic/urban music group based in France who use their turntables as musical instruments. They’re winners of multiple awards for their style and abilities – including their sense of humor.

Sometimes I go this way…get happy…it’s Sunday…

More music with video here



It was a concert ripe for appreciation…if not a bit of snark.

The show was hard to avoid since it was on every other channel from cable to regular broadcast. They made a lot of noise and hopefully many donations for Sandy relief.

But I couldn’t help wondering whether there was more gray hair on the stage or in the audience. And Roger Waters definitely gets the Clint Eastwood Empty Chair Award for wandering the stage grinning at the audience for several minutes before he finally picked up the microphone.

Bon Jovi – leather shirts and medallions? Really? By the way guys, drop the skinny jeans and too short shirts. Muffin tops really affect the mood.

Why was Adam Sandler’s guitar taken away before he started? Why didn’t they leave the guitar and take Sandler away? Who suggested that he add his own crazy bar mitzvah bad-boy lyrics to Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah?

By 9:30 I’d had it and my daughter switched over to one of her Wives of New Jersey reality shows. I knew the Stones were coming on but figured I’ll DVR it and come back tonight. But the thought scares me.

Okay –  it was for an excellent cause. But dang – couldn’t they at least get the guy from the Fillmore East to do the amoeba light show instead of those mashup graphics in the back? Heck – he’s gotta be somewhere in New Jersey in one of those gated retirement communities…

If you must, The Daily Beast has a collection of best moments

More photos here

Donate here

I’ve gotta take my nap now…

Eric Clapton performs at 12-12-12 benefit concert for Sandy victims and survivorsClapton – always at his best…
Image © Lucas Jackson / Reuters

…and I’m in that kind of mood…sound up, please…

25 years and my life is still
Trying to get up that great big hill of hope
For a destination
I realized quickly when I knew I should
That the whole world’s MADE UP OF this brotherhood of man
FOR whatever that means

And so I cry sometimes when I’m lying in bed
Just to get it all out, what’s in my head
And I, I am feeling a little peculiar
And so I wake in the morning and I step outside
And I take A deep breath and I get real high
And I scream from the top of my lungs,
What’s goin’ on

More here…

Just so you know…I had a major crush on Linda Perry…she’s the one in front under the steampunk hat and goggles…I’d give it up for Brunette and Brutal any day…I am such a boy…

From the director’s comments:

this film is a celebration of sigur rós’s music and the benefit it is having in the elevation of consciousness that is happening with humankind. people are finding strength in love, care, and respect for themselves, each other, and the world we live in.

for the last twelve years meditation has been a way of life for us. going within, releasing emotions, moving through negativity, judgment, discouragement, and the fears that are so often in the mind.

in meditation we are able to feel and move through our emotions allowing us to drop deeper within our hearts. from this depth of heart we are finding more acceptance, compassion, love, gratitude, passion, clarity, intuitive thinking and much much more.

Sigur Rós has funded a dozen film makers, asking them to create these moving images from the impressions they have of the music found in the album, Valtari.

These additional videos can be found on the group’s website

Wide River to Cross
There’s a sorrow in the wind
Blowing down the road I’ve been
I can hear it cry while shadows steal the sun

But I cannot look back now
I’ve come too far to turn around
And there’s still a race ahead that I must run

I’m only halfway home, I’ve gotta journey on
To where I’ll find, find the things I have lost
I’ve come a long long road but still I’ve got some miles to go
I’ve got a wide, a wide river to cross

I have stumbled, I have strayed
You can trace the tracks I made
All across the memories my heart recalls
But I’m still a refugee, won’t you say a prayer for me?
‘Cause sometimes even the strongest soldier falls

I’m only halfway home, I’ve gotta journey on
To where I’ll find, I’ll find the things I have lost
I’ve come a long long road but still I’ve got some miles to go
I’ve got a wide, a wide river to cross

I’m only halfway home, I’ve gotta journey on
To where I’ll find, I’ll find the things that I have lost
I’ve come a long long road but still I’ve got some miles to go
I’ve got a wide, a wide river to cross
I’ve got a wide, a wide river to cross

Levon Helm
May 26, 1940 – April 19,2012

Discovered this band on Nan’s blog this morning – and found a session they played with Carlos Santana. Great heartbeat from Tinariwen and a lead from Carlos…

[..and a h/t to Steve Layman for reminding me…]

Back in the day when women were women and men were…..Santa?

Factoids via
“Santa Baby” is a 1953 Christmas song written by Joan Javits (the niece of Senator Jacob K. Javits), Philip Springer, and Fred Ebb.[1] Although Tony Springer[2] is listed as co-writer, he was a legal fiction created for purposes of membership in the performing rights organization BMI.

The song is a tongue-in-cheek look at a Christmas list sung by a woman who wants the most extravagant gifts like sable, yachts, and decorations from Tiffany’s.

Living several lives here and trying to unscramble all these eggs…problem is that bits of one end up in the other.

General pandemonium at work, end of the year crises, projects in final stages or in flames, and trying to keep clients and company from losing their minds.

Heard this one on the radio yesterday morning and it stuck with me all day. Should help you get thru…check out the cassette player in the dash at the opening…cars and girls…convertible as time capsule…



© Bill Israel

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