Author: Ellen

Instead of boring my friends with my need to catalog my life through music, I'm putting it here.

The Gold

Manchester Orchestra – The Gold

I don’t know what it is about this song but it’s like a slap in the face whenever I hear it. It’s like a shock to the system and my face starts to sting and tears well up in my eyes. Maybe it’s the harmonies in the chorus. It could be the lines, “What the hell are we gonna do, black mile to the surface, I don’t want to be here anymore, it all tastes like poison.”

What the hell are we going to do? I feel like it’s a critical week. The Senate race in Alabama, the fight for Net Neutrality, the tax bill, the continued attacks on Mueller. It’s the fifth anniversary of Sandy Hook this week and the House just passed a bill to allow concealed carry nationwide despite whatever stronger state laws may be on the books.

Black mile to the surface. All of these horrors raining down on us every day makes it feel like we’re drowning in bad news, constantly. I can’t even see a light at the end of the tunnel it’s just black all the way. Even if 45 resigned or was impeached tomorrow, there’s still Pence. There’s still Ryan and McConnell, there’s still Bannon, there’s still the Koch brothers and the Mercers, there’s still Kim Jong-un and Putin. They still stole Merrick fucking Garland’s seat on the Supreme Court. I don’t want my children to grow up in a fascist state.

I don’t want to be here anymore.

It all tastes like poison.

“You can’t open your eyes for a while you just beat that moment down.” I feel like that’s what I’ve been doing for the whole past year. Holding my breath and knowing but not letting myself feel the full weight of what we’re facing. It’s all been just as bad as I expected and it won’t surprise me when it gets even worse, but I still feel like not enough people are paying attention.

I read a really depressing essay about how this segment of society has always been with us and probably will always be here, even if we beat it back with the next election cycle (or two). The supporters of 45 have an outlook on life that’s just so removed from the way I see things that I can’t wrap my head around how we reconcile with this destructive element. They truly want to destroy the very things I always believed our country stood for. They have straight up contempt for the freedom of the press, the rule of law, due process, equal rights.

I am bruised and lisping but still able to spit out truth, justice, and the American way.

 

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Among the Americans

10,000 Maniacs – Among the Americans

One can no longer be surprised or shocked by the “new low” that 45 now inflicts upon us day in and day out. Yet still, I was stunned by just how awful today’s completely unnecessary show of his vileness was. Oh how I wish those Navajo code talkers had started saying something, anything, in their native language after he made his remarks. It would have scared the crap out of him.

His attempt at a dig at Elizabeth Warren was probably the sort of thing you could have predicted, and I’ll bet some White House staffer was standing around sweating it out, just counting down the minutes hoping to get through it before he could screw it up. Uh, it doesn’t work like that. He’s going to say something horribly inappropriate and/or offensive no mater who it is or what the circumstances are. I don’t understand why anyone shows up at the White House these days. It’s a given that he can’t be welcoming, genuine, grateful, or anything approaching normal human behavior.

But then to even hold this “ceremony” in front of a portrait of Andrew Jackson, who had signed the Indian Removal Act which forced other Native American tribes from their ancestral lands; that was no accident. I don’t begin to think Mango Mussolini is aware enough of history to have come up with the idea but as we have come to expect, those with devious designs know that just winding him up and turning him loose will net them results.

It’s a distraction, it’s just a distraction, you hear people say. Don’t lose focus! The tax bill! Net neutrality! The CFPB! Court appointments! Mueller investigation! It matters though. It all matters. I can be outraged at all of it.

There is Power in a Union

Billy Bragg – There is Power in a Union

This past August, while we were in Sweden visiting my mother-in-law, I had the chance to see Billy Bragg. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen him but they were all a long time ago, in the 80s and 90s. His songs from that time were often railing against Thatcherism and corporate greed, songs in defense of workers and the oppressed, all of which are eerily just as relevant today as they were 25-30 years ago.

Sweden isn’t a complete paradise but given how things are here now, I couldn’t wait to leave everything behind for a few weeks this summer and immerse myself in the future liberals want. The prospect of a Billy Bragg show was the cherry on top. I go to shows by myself all the time and I’ll often travel some significant distances to get there. But traveling for a show and traveling and catching a show while you’re there are two different things. For some reason I have been dying to catch a show while traveling for years and years. Maybe it’s the element of doing what the locals do, or the sheer luck of having a band you’d want to see be in the same city and it’s not sold out and the tickets aren’t too expensive. The stars align.

My husband is a good sport who doesn’t mind that I go off on my own to concerts but as he hadn’t been to the venue before and we weren’t sure about the bus situation to get me back to his mother’s apartment afterwards, we figured we should do a dry run the day before. Diagonally across the street is a huge old chocolate factory that has been transformed into a theater arts high school and cultural center. Down the street just a little farther is a square with a daily farmers’ market, lots of ethnic restaurants, and a statue called Arbetets ära (The Honor of Work). It shows a group of men and women holding up a large boulder with the city in relief on the stone. My husband told me the now defunct worker’s newspaper Arbetet, used to be in that same two-block stretch. This was a working class neighborhood going way back.

I managed to get to the club in time to join a short but growing line of people waiting for the doors to open. I came early since I didn’t have a ticket but this also allowed me to snag a spot just at the edge of the stage. There wasn’t an opening band and Billy was either solo or with CJ Hillman accompanying him on a variety of stringed instruments. He played a lot of old favorites and he talked about the fact that his old songs are still just as apt, given the state of the world today. There were newer songs too, about climate change, building walls, white supremacists, abdicating facts, and Brexit. He talked about not giving in to cynicism and the need for us all to believe in each other. Not to worry, there were plenty of songs for the lovelorn too.

But the best moment came toward the end, when he dedicated the next song to the striking dock workers in Gothenburg and launched into “There is Power in a Union.” I wish you could have been there. To be in a foreign country, surrounded by people with their fists in the air, all passionately singing “The union forever, defending our rights, down with the blackleg, all workers unite, with our brothers and our sisters, from many far off lands, there is power in a union.” It makes me tear up just remembering it. When the song ended, Billy Bragg said he hadn’t heard that rousing a sing along to that song in many years. I was up front so I couldn’t get a picture but I found one on Instagram later that caught the moment.

When the show ended and I made my way outside, past the dozens of bikes parked across the street to get the bus, across the street from the old factory, down the block from the workers statue, I was so glad he had played that song there. It felt so perfect. And I am so happy that after years of hoping to see a show while we are in Sweden, this was the show that finally made it happen.

I had contemplated going to see Billy Bragg in New York when he was here in October but I decided it wasn’t going to top my August show in Malmö and I love having that memory to think back on when things look dark. I read a number of super depressing things today that really made me despair that we’ll ever prevail against these forces of fascism. So I came back to this post that I had started just after our vacation and am feeling a little better about things now. These dark forces we are fighting are really dark. Sleep well. Be ready. We are not alone. I’ll be next to you with my fist in the air.

 

P.S. Did you watch Pride yet? Get on that!

Together

Nordic Giants – Together

This song seemed like a good one to pick for Black Friday.

I was too tired yesterday to stay up until after everyone else had gone to bed and I don’t like to sequester myself when I’m with family on a holiday so I missed a day. Oops. I meant to get some posts written and schedule them in advance but that didn’t happen either. November is really a poor choice for nablopomo, if you ask me. There’s too much going on. My kids only had one week all month that was a regular full week. February would probably be good and it’s a couple of days shorter too, but oh well. I presume you all had better things to do yesterday anyway.

Today was filled with more family dropping by and more food. I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving too.

 

Beastly

Vulfpeck – Beastly

Someone told me to check out Vulfpeck a couple of months ago and so I headed to YouTube so I could see as well as hear the band. This was the first song that popped up and I was intrigued by the top comment.

Man that guy on cowbells is laying down the shit… now if lunchbox on bass would just stop slacking

This was not what I expected them to sound like given how they look.

I’m Not There

Tracy Bryant – I’m Not There

Pulled from my Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify. This week actually had a number of songs I liked that I hadn’t heard before. It’s always kind of a crap shoot, this music selection by algorithm, so I usually don’t even check out that playlist. However this morning I didn’t have anything in mind that I wanted to listen to and I was curious what was in there.

Thanksgiving vacation is here so I’m off from work for a number of days and hopefully I can get a bit more time for a couple of posts that are lying around in limbo waiting for me to finish them.

 

Ain’t No Stopping Us Now

Poi Dog Pondering – Ain’t No Stopping Us Now*

Not for the first time I have discovered myself in a video at a Poi show. I like to think I’m a good dancer. The video evidence suggests that may not be true. It doesn’t stop me from dancing, in fact I’m one of the people usually leading the charge. They’ve even created a new ticket category at the venue where Poi has been playing the last few years just for dancing. Only for their show. I checked the whole calendar and none of the other concerts had a dancing/standing ticket. I am pretty sure I have played a role in that.

*Original by McFadden & Whitehead