what do the ramones and kurt b. reighley have in common?
Sometime toward the end of the seventies I stood in a record store parking lot probably wearing faded jeans, black boots, a Dead t-shirt, denim jacket and long hair. In the midst of my short tenure for Warner Bros., I had arranged with the folks at Sire Records to have the Ramones cruise down to Philly for an autograph signing. About an hour past the appointed hour a dirty U-Haul truck with New York plates pulled up and as the rollaway door in the back lifted up, a huge mushroom cloud of smoke came tumbling out along with a black clad army of people not like me.
The band were all bones, hair, leather and shades. The women were hard, skinny, fishnets and heels. They needed smokes, food and drink. In the blink of an eye I was transformed into the Artie Fufkin character from Spinal Tap. I didn’t get punk. Not the people, the music, the scene. Looking back, I realize that it scared the crap out of me.
I share this only because that same feeling came roaring back the other night as I was reading Kurt B. Reighley’s “United States of Americana”. I still have another forty or so pages left to go, but this “field guide to the new American roots movement” is making me question many of my choices and actions. The concept of reaching for “authenticity” as Kurt puts it seems as foreign to me as a night at Max’s Kansas City, but damn if I’m going to let this opportunity pass me by.
I may have missed punk but I shall not let fear keep me away from this new movement.
Last Friday I traded in a cheap non-American made Les Paul and bought myself a hand made mountain dulcimer (click here). On Sunday morning I began to listen sequentially (not shuffle mode!) to all seventy-two of my Carter Family tracks. All of a sudden I’m rethinking my usual digital diatribe as it relates to the future of music. I mean…maybe I’ve been blinded by science and the future of music is the past. I like the notion that it’s not even black vinyl we need to move back to…it’s wax cylinders and 78’s. Yeah. How did I miss it?
Even before the book, I’ve been “re-rooting” myself without the prompts. Six months ago I became a vegetarian and I shop at our local farmer’s market. I’ve given up completely on Walmart and Target. What I have left on the top of my head is growing out longer these days and although I’m not ready for that handlebar mustache, the bushy beard thing could be an option. Hawaiian shirts are going to charity and flannel is back. (It gets awfully hot out here in the desert. Does Pendleton make shorts?)
To be very clear…I really am enjoying this book. That Kyla sold Kurt or his publisher a banner ad and that I clicked on it and purchased it is a fortuitous event.
Most likely there won’t be much canning or pickling going on here, and there shall be no deer heads residing on my walls despite the return of taxidermy as art form. I don’t plan to put the house up for sale and move into a log cabin, and we do need our vehicles.
But the notion that we’ve traded genuine authenticity for technology and the price we’ve paid is making me think hard. At my age, shall fear keep me stuck with what I know, or can I be open to new ideas…even if they are the old ones we once dismissed?
“Nothing is new, except that which what was already forgotten.”
“Well I don’t care about history
Rock, rock, rock’n’roll high school
‘Cause that’s not where I wanna be
Rock, rock, rock’n’roll high school
I just wanna have some kicks
I just wanna get some chicks
Rock, rock, rock, rock, rock’n’roll high school”