Attic musings: Linda Perhacs rediscovered

Linda Perhacs rediscovered

During college hanging-around-the-student-radio-station days, I would often sit with headphones on and listen to the new album releases, usually from someone I never heard of but they must be good because someone recorded their album, right?

Sometimes an album would blow me so far out of the water that I had to tell everyone I knew, “Holy cow, you gotta hear this album.” If there was a turntable nearby, I would sit them down and make them listen. If you knew me then, you probably remember that about me, and often you would nod patronizingly and say, “Sure, Warren, very nice, thank you.”

But a handful of albums really sank in. One of them was Parallelograms by Linda Perhacs. I think several of my friends actually went out and bought the album after hearing it. Continue reading “Attic musings: Linda Perhacs rediscovered”

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To whom you owe your best work, and why it matters anyway

What do you do when your best work is behind you? Is that what stopped Harper Lee after To Kill a Mockingbird and Margaret Mitchell after Gone With the Wind?

When your best work is behind you – but wait, how do you know? All you know is that work was pretty darn good, and maybe in the end it will, indeed, turn out to be your best, but there’s still work to come, and hopefully the next one will be pretty darn good, too – maybe not that good, but who knows it won’t be better? And why bother to compare?

Do you refrain from writing “Happy With You” because you already wrote “Yesterday” and “Maybe I’m Amazed” and, let’s face it, those were better?

What if – what IF – what if you CAN do better than your best previous work? You have to try – you have to go for it – that’s why you do this, after all. That’s (hopefully) why you do anything – because you owe yourself your best effort.

(To hell with “you owe the world your best.” The world doesn’t have to live inside that body with you – it’s your psyche, your soul, your consciousness and your conscience, and only you know how hard you tried and if you could have done more or better, and you know what? Only you care, when you get down to it.)

Sit down and do your best, or get up and do your best, whichever is more appropriate.

In the Attic: Celebrating the Ryman

emmy lou - ryman

As Wrigley Field and Fenway Park are to baseball, as Lambeau Field is to football, so is the Ryman Auditorium to country/bluegrass/folk music.

Having made the pilgrimage to the Ryman four (!) years ago, I have experienced the magic of that hall firsthand, and so I was intrigued to stumble across Rolling Stone’s list of “The Top 10 Albums Recorded at the Ryman Auditorium.”

I assured its authenticity by ensuring that “Circlin’ Back” was on the list and immediately purchased the No. 1 album they listed, “Emmy Lou Harris and the Nash Ramblers at the Ryman” – on vinyl, of course, a crisp two-record set on the incomparable Nonesuch label.

Oh. My. Goodness. Continue reading “In the Attic: Celebrating the Ryman”

Attic: 5 songs to evoke summer

It’s been a cool and wet spring here this year – people have been making a lot of jokes about summer only lasts 24 hours in Wisconsin (and voiced a lot of concern whether the corn crop will actually reach “knee high by the Fourth of July” this year).

In truth, it’s only today that summer even begins, officially, with the solstice. Sometimes “that was the longest day of my life” is voiced in exasperation, but when you’re talking about hours of daylight, it’s just fine. People like walking in sunshine, and the more the merrier.

The sun is coming up this morning; maybe it’s been waiting for the music … Continue reading “Attic: 5 songs to evoke summer”

Uncle Warren’s Attic: Wanting to Live Forever

planning the week

I wrote this song 33 1/3 years ago – two chords and a phrase – on a morning when I felt just the way it says – and writing the first verses opened up the final answers that flowed out in the climax.

It did not take long to write. That day I fully understood the concept that songs, poems, stories, are all just out there waiting to be discovered, waiting for someone willing to be a vessel for the words and music, because I don’t know another explanation for how this song got written. It seemed to come out of nowhere, and at the same time it expressed something deep inside me. Continue reading “Uncle Warren’s Attic: Wanting to Live Forever”

Uncle Warren’s Attic: Whirlwind by Maddie Poppe

Whirlwind - Maddie PoppeWe still watch American Idol closely and enjoy the revived version featuring judges Katy Perry, Lionel Ritchie and Luke Bryan, which just wrapped up its second season after crowning the 17th Idol, one Laine Hardy.

The program faded on Fox after gaining a reputation for selecting fairly generic “white guys with guitars,” and I’m afraid Hardy fits that stereotype, but last year’s winner, Maddie Poppe, broke that mold and so did almost everyone in this year’s Top 10 except for Hardy. Continue reading “Uncle Warren’s Attic: Whirlwind by Maddie Poppe”

Uncle Warren’s Attic: She Remembers Everything by Roseanne Cash

she remembers everything

Roseanne Cash told a story in her memoir Composed that inspired Steven Pressfield so much that he included it in his book Turning Pro, about the mindset needed to make a living creating art.

She had a dream one night that she was at a party at Linda Ronstadt’s house, and she walked up to Linda while she was talking to a man named Art. She tried to inject herself into the conversation, but Art looked at her dismissively and said, “We don’t respect dilettantes,” and turned away. The dream cut to the core of the uneasiness Cash had about the way her career was going, and she took her music more seriously from that day.

Rosanne Cash She Remembers EverythingThe story moved me, and when I found Roseanne Cash’s new album, She Remembers Everything, in the vinyl section of Barnes & Noble, it came home with me and has been spending a lot of time on the turntable. Continue reading “Uncle Warren’s Attic: She Remembers Everything by Roseanne Cash”

Uncle Warren’s Attic: 5 show stoppers

It wasn’t so long that I put Simon & Garfunkel’s immortal 1966 album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme on the turntable and – as happens every time – had my breath taken away by Art Garfunkel’s glorious rendition of “For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her.”

It’s one of those songs that, when I hear it, everything else stops. I fall into a trance, overwhelmed by the song’s beauty, the flow of the lyrics, the smile it brings to my soul and (often) the tears it brings to my eyes.

(And by the way, is it possible any more to think of any of those four herbs without thinking of the other three? They go together musically like peanut butter and jelly.)

Here are four other tunes that do that to me, two you surely know and two that may be new to you, unless you know me well.

Continue reading “Uncle Warren’s Attic: 5 show stoppers”