Archive for music

The Air Crackles With Protest

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , on February 1, 2017 by Mike


There’s a lot to protest since Trump’s inauguration and, rather than continuing to bitch on FB and Twitter, I thought I would write a real got-damn protest song. Something for the next civilization of radioactive mutants to uncover when they pore over soundfiles and try to figure out what happened. They may listen to this and say, “File 637,455,231a. Check yes for angry, and yes for impotent. Next.” I still bitch on FB and Twitter – we can’t stay silent, people.

Click for Soundcloud track




Music and Time Travel – A Night With Susto

Posted in Music, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 21, 2017 by Mike

susto-with-fan_finalAs you get older, you move further and further away from your past selves. One of mine, as an example, is Wildman Mike. Though he still appears now and then, makes a headline, and disappears again like Bigfoot, Wildman Mike resides in the past and survives mostly in embarrassing photos and fuzzy group memories. Once in a while though, if you’re lucky, you get to reconnect with a past self and it’s like a reunion.

A few weeks ago, my wife and I were invited downtown by another couple to see Susto, a band out of Charleston, SC. None of us had any idea who Susto was so I spent a good week watching YouTube videos, reading snippets, and finding out what I could about these guys prior to the show. This is what’s it’s like to discover an unknown band through social media and word of mouth – something that is new to me, a guy who entrusts our local hip radio station to keep me current. But a band doesn’t need radio. They just need a genuine presence and a unique quality that gets people talking and buying tickets.

As it turns out, susto (the word) is a Spanish term that refers to when the soul gets separated from the body, connoting something akin to a panic attack due to trauma, and is treated with the ritualistic, plant-based hallucinogen ayahuasca. Susto (the band) is a five-piece group that can rock or skirt Americana with songs that are both introspective and visceral, and their personal themes elicit personal reactions. The songs conjure the emotions every lost 20-something experienced as he wandered between reckless youth and the vague frontier of What Comes Next. Front man Justin Osborne has a southern growl and backstory that involves anthropology studies, living in Cuba, and getting ACID BOYS tattooed onto his knuckles as a means to remove the mainstream path as a viable option, forcing him to pursue music do-or-die, music as the potential Promised Land for a talented misfit with an aversion for the middle of the road.

There’s drugs, alcohol, a party on every periphery, but the festivities have a dark undercurrent and these aren’t wide-eyed wannabes writing about their first acid trip – these are the guys the next morning. Tired, reflective, the ones at a table at the Waffle House. They’ve been up all night (up for years, even) having their circuits rewired and worlds spun like a bald, dirty basketball on God’s index finger. I’m the dad at a nearby table with the wife and kids in booster seats. I can tell by their eyes where they’ve been and what they’ve seen because I’ve seen it too, maybe 25 years ago but I had the same fleeting glimpse into the other place, the place without the veils, it’s just hard to remember what was behind them all these years later.

This isn’t about a specific song or album though Susto is currently touring in support of their new CD – “& I’m Fine Today” – and the opening one-two punch of Far Out Feeling (soaring and disco-tinged) and Hard Drugs (a dreamy introspective country ride) is a thrilling combination that sets the tone. But to just know the new record is to ignore the gold stuff from their first self-titled release – Dream Girl and County Line, and all the mysterious tunes you will hear at the live show that will simultaneously pull you in and spin you around amid the other listeners undergoing a similar transformation.

These songs are transformative for everyone – they were surely transformative to write and to play, but they also do work on the listener. At least this listener – a 45 year-old existing in two chronologies at one time. Wildman Mike came to the show but behaved – he’s grown up too, maybe. We reflected on our own good times, the ones flecked with blackness, feeling and refeeling what it meant then and what it means now. The music coursed through it all, the source and destination.

In another time I would’ve been right there on the porch of the Australian Country Music Hall of Fame, their renowned Charleston gathering spot, HQ, crash pad, and hub of revelry for this new generation of Merry Pranksters. Though I’m the old dude at the party, it feels good to be here. Nostalgic but nice. I raise my High Life and tell them that the good times change shape, but they do continue.

Ultimately Susto is not the condition – it’s the treatment.

The current lineup of Susto includes Justin Osborne, Corey Campbell, Jenna Desmond, Marshall Hudson, and Dries Vandenberg. A 6-song set from Audiotree will give you a preview but go see them live – they’re playing all around the US for the next few months. Visit their website here.

I Ain’t Going Anywhere

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2017 by Mike

Here’s a little ditty in case your country band is looking for new material – especially songs that use needless profanity and indirect themes. Pardon the one-take demo feel. I am a busy dad and today it’s supposed to snow here in southeastern NC, so this was recorded between pitiful questions from my kids like, “Where’s the snow?” and “When will it snow?” Also, if my wife listens to this and considers the lyrics below the embedded video, these characters are fictitious. Don’t let the first person format fool you.

Sturgill Simpson, feel free to record this. Or maybe Lyle Lovett. Or even Jackson Browne if you’re ready for a drastic career departure – I also have a freshly penned anti-Trump protest song if that’s more in line with your current mental state. I understand. Let’s make 2017 the Year of the Unknown Songwriter.


This 9 to 5 it ain’t no way to live

And I just can’t find a fuck to give

I ain’t getting paid

I barely get laid

And my motivation’s standing on a cliff


This worthless feeling, it ain’t nothing new

Buckling down seems like the thing to do

Just when I start to stand tall

I go and piss on it all

And undermine you know who


Who cares

What’s the use

Guess my board’s blown a fuse

And there ain’t no warranty on that repair

You can try to inspire me

You can coldcock or fire me

But I ain’t going anywhere


Every time you tell me that you’re done

I hear you ain’t happy and I clearly ain’t the one

You list my inactions

And your dissatisfactions
With your mama saying “girl, you better run”


I’m supposed to shit or just get off the pot

But I can’t tell if I need to go or not

So I sit there a-thinking

Just stewing and stinking

Idling with everything I’ve got


I don’t care

What’s the use

Guess my board’s blown a fuse

And there ain’t no warranty on that repair

You can threaten to leave me

But you just best believe me

Honey, I ain’t going anywhere




Turning Music Into Stories

Posted in Music, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 29, 2016 by Mike

iphone ideas

Ten random songs came up on my run yesterday. My iPhone was tuned to Pandora’s Steely Dan station, (thus the bounty of Steely Dan songs in the following list) but the overall selection of tunes was based on sonic algorithms unknown to me.

I found myself inspired by the lyrics coming into my head and thought, if you excised certain lines from basically any song, putting focus on those lines would be a great way to generate writing ideas. Whether you’re a poet, songwriter, novelist, or unclassifiable dabbler, droughts can affect the creative juices now and then. Why not go to a readily available source (your smart phone) to help generate inspiration?

From those ten random songs, I pulled interesting lines and thought it would be a neat exercise to build stories from them, using the words as pre-selected epigraphs. So use any of the following epigraphs to launch your next great short story or novel (or short and silly Facebook post). Or pull from your own Pandora playlist, if you don’t like these. Share anything you come up with! If nothing else, you will be reminded that Donald Fagen is a master lyricist.

It was still September when your daddy was quite surprised to find you with the working girls in the county jail. I was smoking with the boys upstairs when I heard about the whole affair.

S. Dan


Woman, let’s stay together. Loving you whether times are good or bad, happy or sad.

Rev. Al Green


There’s a special place for lovers, one we understand—there where neon bends in daylight sky. In that sunny room she soothes me, cools me with her fan. We’re drifting. A thousand years roll by.

D. Fagen


Listen to the wind blow. Watch the sun rise. Run in the shadows. Damn your love, damn your lies.

F. Mac


The things that pass for knowledge I can’t understand.

S. Dan


You know, I saw Miss Lucy down along the tracks. She lost her home and her family and she won’t be coming back. Without love, where would you be now?

T.D. Brothers


I said to my reflection, “Let’s get out of this place.”



I am so into you I can’t think of nothing else.

Atlanta Rhythm Section


The mourners are all singing as they drag you by your feet. But the hangman isn’t hanging and they put you on the street.

S. Dan


Like a gangster on the run, you will stagger homeward to your precious one. I’m the one who must make everything right—talk it out till daylight.

S. Dan



Reflections That Arise From Near Constant Playings of Kidz Bop CDs

Posted in Family, Gags with tags , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2016 by Mike

As a parent, when you’re not watching repeated viewings of the same movie (see Reflections That Arise From Near Constant Viewings of The Croods), you’re in the car listening to the same songs over and over again. And even though you control the knobs, it is never your favorite album coming through the speakers. The kids may be in the back seat but their loud whining will break you down every time. Parents of young children know that their own wants and preferences are meaningless and they won’t have control of the entertainment devices again until the kids are shipped off to bop final

We have a 7- and 3-year old so we listen to a lot of Kidz Bop. Kidz Bop is a music label/marketing brand that produces child-friendly versions of popular songs. Picture a boy band five years younger with two of the boys replaced by quickly budding 5th grade girls. Swapping verses between singers and using the choruses as a chance to sing loudly and emphatically as a unit, the Kidz Bop Kids bring youthful energy to hit songs you’ve likely never heard before.

If you listen to enough of these albums, you will start to make weird observations. Here are some of mine:

  1. Do pedophiles listen to Kidz Bop CDs in their cars and houses? Seems like they would.
  2. I imagine the contract for a Kidz Bop Kid would last 3-4 years, maybe from 11-14 years old – covering the span of time that the kid can dance and sing, but before gangliness and acne show up.
  3. Those contracts must be quite rigid: the kids likely have to maintain fitness, style, and can’t pursue solo work to avoid one becoming more popular than the group and putting the whole dynamic in turmoil.
  4. Though reluctant to admit it, these songs can be educational. Kidz Bop 29 has the song “FourFiveSeconds” on it and one lyric confounded both my wife and me. Four or five seconds from what?? Turns out the word is wildin’ and, according to the Urban Dictionary, it means: “To do something really over the top, extreme, crazy or wild…” and the stiffs over at Oxford Dictionaries define wilding as, “The activity by a gang of youths of going on a protracted and violent rampage in a public place, attacking people at random.” So again we see the importance of the apostrophe. We’ve also learned that the “or” between the fourth and fifth second is unnecessary; we now use this phrase around the house to sound hip (e.g., “Kids, we’re about fourfive seconds from supper—wash your hands.”)
  5. I think they should build a show around Kidz Bop Kid tryouts so we can see young naïve hopefuls get dream-crushed by heartless judges – we could watch the show with our own sniffling children and say, “Do you still want to be a rock star?”
  6. Grown-ups are required to bash kids’ music but honestly, the more your children force the CDs on you, the better they become. Now when I hear the original artist singing a song I’ve only heard from the Kidz Bop Kids, I always prefer the Kidz Bop version. The production is of high quality, the performances are crisp and perfectly engineered, and the song’s message is now universal and safe for consumption. Are people trying to whitewash material for kids? Some people are but most are helping them grow up too fast. Kidz Bop music helps put off some conversations until it’s time to have them. And you can dance to it, if you’re a kid, or working from home and no one else is there to witness such a thing.
  7. Who has the job of rewriting questionable song lyrics into sanitized kid-friendly versions? They should make a throw-back album and try their hand at 2 Live Crew, featuring the song, “We Want Some Pudding.”






The Ballad of the Unliked Post

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , on October 26, 2014 by Mike

Here’s a song for everyone that’s poured their heart out on Facebook and had their post completely ignored.

Click here for link to the song

The Ballad of the Unliked Post

When I show up on your wall
you don’t stop to skim at all
you scroll me right away
And don’t consider what I say

I get skipped when I get deep
Or my length puts you to sleep
Or the bias in my lead
Makes you disinclined to read

I’m the pathetic unliked post
I’m the post ignored the most
As invisible as can be
Nothing’s as sorry as me.

I’m here and then I’m gone
Hey, is this mic on?
Disappearing ink
Has more impact I would think

Perhaps I shouldn’t care
There’s a lot to see out there
And how can I compete
With all the genius posts you meet

The recipes you share
The invites to the fair
The sentimental sayings
The dumbass games you’re playing
Every type of quiz
A million snot nosed kids
I can’t compare
With the magic everywhere

I’m the pathetic unliked post
The post ignored the most
As invisible as can be
Nothing’s as sorry as me.

interesting man_no likes

Free Lullaby

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , on May 30, 2014 by Mike

Sleepy sound file



It’s time to go to bed, Sleepy

When the daylight is gone

And your brain is all wrong

And the covers are calling your name

It’s time to go to bed, Sleepy

Kick off your clothes

And stretch out your toes

Because tomorrow is more of the same


When the great big world

Is closed for the night

And you’ve done all you needed to do

Lay right down

Don’t make a sound

Let the dream guys come see you

Sleepy, why ain’t you sleepy?


It’s time to go to bed, Sleepy

Cut off the TV

There’s no more to see

Four hours is more than enough

It’s time to go to bed, Sleepy

Put down the book

Don’t give me that look

There’s no time for educational stuff


When the sun rolls over

And faces the wall

And the clocks all start to yawn

Lay right down

Don’t make a sound

Hail the dream train and hop on

Sleepy, why ain’t you sleepy?


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