Me and the ghost went dancing underground again

Because we don’t take the time to stop, to breathe, to write…it becomes time…joy demands her place upon the stage. Until they tell me no, I will keep returning to the underground and weaving sonic tales and soundtracks to movies that no one ever realized they were starring in. Here within these purple walls beneath these wooden beams.


Corpus Christi Carol aka Down In Yon Forest…

Corpus Christi Carol, a song that tends to wake you up and make you go “WTF?”

Whence listening passively to Christmas music and suddenly hearing lyrics about sentient falcons, mysterious lovers, purple gowns, strange abandoned hallways and wounded knights abandoned on tabletops…what kind of Christmas Carol is THIS?

It is technically only a “Carol” in the sense that it is a sacred hymn. The text itself has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas and everything to do with the Fisher King legend. Beautiful, Apocryphal and a gorgeous relic of mythical mystery.

An ancient medieval hymn/carol. Passed down through the ages as “Down In Yon Forest,” an English (and Appalachian?) folk ballad which grew heavier on the “Jesus love” and lighter on the weird death and rebirth and mystical wound elements across the centuries but pretty much held on to its essential weirdness.

Popularized in the pre and post World War II era, as a young, ambitious 19 year old composer named Benjamin Britten penned a work called “A Boy Is Born” and included a version of the Carol.

Popularized AGAIN when Jeff Buckley  recorded a haunting and archaic sounding version on his album, Grace.

Here is some more in depth examination, for your perusual:

It is, and shall always be, a beautifully odd and anachronistic relic of Arthurian genesis. Also, it’s lovely and I want to sing it soon.


Mermaid Falls at Sunset in Winter

I often find myself haunting Downtown streets in invisibility mode. Watching my world like an interesting movie. Meaningless meanderings. But habit all the same.


Sunset on the Avenue and a new era is beginning. Remember how you wondered when you’d wake up and feel like a grown up someday? It finally happened last night as I watched my daughter’s concert. All of these high school hopes onstage anxious and impatient for lives not yet begun.

Meanwhile, I discover that I am not a movie myself.

Rather, a long running series with twists and turns, but an established arc. I find I like the latest cast of characters. Although the plot sometimes leaves a bit to be desired.

Sunsets painted on the Avenue in periwinkle and rose and amber watercolors. Lives painted in various shades of blue and grey.


Myth Of The Day: Sunshowers and Fox Weddings

A rain shower during sunshine, which many cultures call “the devil’s rain” or “the devil beating his wife,” is known in Japan as “the fox’s bride going to her husband’s house.”

It is not only a myth told and retold, but a yearly seasonal ritual ceremony that happens every October, even still.

Once upon a time there was a young white fox, whose name was Fukuyémon. When he had reached the fitting age, he shaved off his forelock and began to think of taking to himself a beautiful bride. The old fox, his father, resolved to give up his inheritance to his son, and retired into private life; so the young fox, in gratitude for this, laboured hard and earnestly to increase his patrimony. Now it happened that in a famous old family of foxes there was a beautiful young lady-fox, with such lovely fur that the fame of her jewel-like charms was spread far and wide. The young white fox, who had heard of this, was bent on making her his wife, and a meeting was arranged between them. There was not a fault to be found on either side; so the preliminaries were settled, and the wedding presents sent from the bridegroom to the bride’s house, with congratulatory speeches from the messenger, which were duly acknowledged by the person deputed to receive the gifts; the bearers, of course, received the customary fee in copper cash.

When the ceremonies had been concluded, an auspicious day was chosen for the bride to go to her husband’s house, and she was carried off in solemn procession during a shower of rain, the sun shining all the while.* After the ceremonies of drinking wine had been gone through, the bride changed her dress, and the wedding was concluded, without let or hindrance, amid singing and dancing and merry-making.

The bride and bridegroom lived lovingly together, and a litter of little foxes were born to them, to the great joy of the old grandsire, who treated the little cubs as tenderly as if they had been butterflies or flowers. “They’re the very image of their old grandfather,” said he, as proud as possible. “As for medicine, bless them, they’re so healthy that they’ll never need a copper coin’s worth!”

As soon as they were old enough, they were carried off to the temple of Inari Sama, the patron saint of foxes, and the old grand-parents prayed that they might be delivered from dogs and all the other ills to which fox flesh is heir.

In this way the white fox by degrees waxed old and prosperous, and his children, year by year, became more and more numerous around him; so that, happy in his family and his business, every recurring spring brought him fresh cause for joy.

(From Tales of Old Japan, by Algernon Bertram Freeman-Mitford.)

Street Life

Home again, haunting the streets (and airwaves)of my beloved city, devising ways to juggle all the bills till the new job starts, missing my love as he returns to work for 8 days in a row before another free weekend. Less than 48 hours ago I was hanging out in Downtown L.A. discussing David Bowie with Australian rock and roll demigods. I shared in their gin and tonic supply and snuck a nibble of backstage brie off the catering tray before wondering if the rules of live rock performance were like the rules of Faery. Perhaps I’ll now have to return to the Teragram for one night a year in perpituity or until someone breaks the spell. I suppose that if those are the terms I can learn to abide by them. Now I’m in an ice cream shop back home and they’re making me pay. My backstage passes have no currency here, and the soundtrack is upbeat indie rock and they sillier kind of vintage Stones, nothing terribly mythic. The sidewalks are all but made of fat, lazy pigeons. I wish they would get off of my cloud.

Roads Ahead

This road goes on about an hour too long and I can’t tell storm clouds from window tint and we are finally near the end of our Grand Bohemian Adventure. I no longer feel like Kerauc or Patti Smith so much as I do someone waiting for a midstack number to be called at the DMV and my travelling companion is getting an antsy look as the nine year old boy two seats ahead loses the last of his cute and starts intoning a mantra of “mom,mom,mom,mom,mom,mom…” ad nauseum. Finally I spy the outlines of houses in the outskirts of the neighborhood I grew up in. We aren’t quite home but we are home enough. That’s one adventure down. Did you get what you needed? Did I? It might be a while before the next chapter unfolds. But there will be one. And I can wait until it comes.

Hymns and Churches

Many a Sunday night of yore, my preteen self stretched out catlike on my canopy bed, staring up at the yellow awning above, thinking “deep thoughts” and listening to the Test Department.

Susie Dunn’s Test Department on KLPX was the successor to the greatly missed “Virgin Vinyl with Jonanthan L.” and the only real alternative or college rock radio offering in Tucson in the late 80’s  short of the extremely limited range, campus only KAMP radio and the occasional successful pirate station signal.

One night I had my mind blown by what sounded like a mirthful, deranged John Lennon soundalike set to psychedelic guitar at the speed of punk. It was “Somewhere Apart” by Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians. And all the see through things were crawling from the sea.

Another night I heard The Mighty Lemon Drops and was astounded to learn that they were related to The Clash.

It was on one such Sunday that I heard a song unlike any of the others. It was jangly and weird and absolutely mythic, a Sphinx and a cipher of a song. It was “Under the Milky Way” and it had me enthralled. But it was Tucson in the late 80’s and I was all of 14. I lived in the suburbs and had a measly allowance of about $3 a week. Which meant the odds of me snagging a copy of the cassette in the meagerly stocked alternative offering of the corporate mall record store at a time when I had anything near the money to pay for it were slim to nil. So I taped a copy of that song (and “Reptile” a couple months later) and forgot about the band for a bit.

Flash forward to a road trip of sorts. A mini tour of California with my Baptist youth choir. We stop at a mall in San Jose on the way to our outdoor concert in Yosemite National Park that evening. I sacrifice some of my food money to buy two cassettes at a well stocked record store. They are the soundtrack to Labyrinth and Starfish.

Getting back on the van, a fellow traveller nods at my bag. “What’d you get?” I show him my selections. “Ah,” he nods “they’re called The Church, but they’re not a Christian band, you know, right?” “Yes, I know.” “Great album anyway.” “Oh. Good.” It was.

Found a seat near the back where I could sit by myself, headphones on, eyes partly closed, meditating on this music, a reverent and secular sermon, all the more magical for the ancient redwoods looming above me on the winding and majestic road into Yosemite, my reverie occasionally interrupted by the real life absurdity of vicious semiautomatic water gun fire as the more aggressive tenors ambushed each other through the windows each time one of our vans neared the other. The bus was half soaked and I was half amused but all the same my soul was touched and I’d been changed.

I was obsessed with that album all summer and into that year. But that was also the year I discovered Bowie in earnest. Kind of not a fair fight, that.

In 1990, I finally scored a CD player, spoils of my accident I guess. I got to recover to a soundtrack of U2 and The Wall and Bowie and Roxy Music and The Replacements and Tin Machine, which was just more Bowie. And a new album by The Church came out that year and I had such high hopes. But it was Gold Afternoon Fix and I was comparing it, unfairly I suppose to BOWIE. And such ended my brief affair with The Church for about 25 years.

Music lovers are a fickle bunch. But I missed a number of psychedelic mythic masterpieces in the intervening decades.

Good luck, then, that at last I met The Acolyte, that he might lead me back into the flock and into the arms of the faithful.



There is beauty in the balancing

Your secret worst fear is everyone’s secret worst fear. That the person who loves you for all the things you most love about who you are will hate you for all the same things you hate about yourself.

There come points at which you have no control. The world falls down as the sky falls down in the whole of the planet in the halls of our homes. The world falls down unless we hold it up in the falling.

And sad as it makes us it’s only going to fall again. But there is only hope as long as we keep holding it. Like turtles on the backs of other turtles.

Video D’Jour: Antmusic

Back in the days when music videos were all we knew of rock and roll, Adam Ant finally made me forget about Luke Skywalker. The timing on this video is exquisite, but what else might one expect of a post-punk tribal gypsy-pirate-highwayman rock band?

This is before more than half the band got pilfered by Malcom McLaren to become Bow Wow Wow. At which point Adam Ant gave them all the proverbial finger and hired TWO drummers. Unplug the jukebox and do us all a favor.