So we saw Rush on Friday night. I wasn’t on the 5th row this time, dancing in my chair next to Kara like in 1978. Nor was I on the right hand side of the coliseum – but still pretty close to the stage – laughing with Diana in 1981. I was near the back of the ampitheatre – smiling with Jim in 2007. The music was just as wonderful, and the company too.

So I’ve seen them in three out of four decades……am I feeling old now?


Well then…. the days they do fly. So much has been going on that I can’t even begin to keep up. Perhaps things will slow down in …oh…March?

Anyway – I’m sitting in a hotel in Chinatown at the moment. The reason? Well – first and foremost – we flew up here to see the Sneakers show – the first one since 1979 – at the Bowery Ballroom this past Saturday. The bonus was that Mitch Easter played (with Shalini and Eric – doing some Let’s Active tunes) and the the dBs finished out the evening.

I’m not sure when was the last time I saw The dBs. Or Let’s Active – for that matter. (My band did open for them on July 15, 1984…I do remember that, and lest you think that’s too weird a thing to remember, let me point out that in the recording of the show Debbie wishes everyone a happy day after Bastille Day. Kinda burned on my memory, that one.) Of course – I’d never gotten to see the Sneakers, but played their little ep incessantly after Chris sent it to me when I was in junior high.

I’ll write more later on this, I’m sure – but right now I’m tired – and tomorrow’s going to be a long day (we’ll be filming some stuff in NYC with an actor who if I told you who it was I’d have to kill you. or me. or someone, I’m sure)

So anyway – Saturday was an awesome night – meeting new friends, seeing old ones and feeling kinda old – but kinda not.

And for a moment it was 1980 all over again.


So I have to ask – have you toyed with

Because it sure is toying with me. How does it know me so well? Right now it is sweeping me up in an Abba song from the classic album “The Album.” How did it know? I have no Abba on my iTunes. I have no Abba on my iPod.

And yet, it knows.

It has delved into my childhood and found the album that – for reasons still unknown to me – that my father and I both liked and would happily listen to together.

Now – what you have to understand about my father – is that he would listen to just about anything with me. We watched Rush videos together in 1978. We saw Kate Bush gyrate on Paul Schaffer’s piano, and Elvis Costello sub in for the Sex Pistols on Saturday Night Live.

There’s really nothing that my dad wouldn’t listen to with me.

Or for me.

He and my mom would listen to my radio show on WQFS and he would greet me at the door singing “Wild in the Streets” when I came home.

But knew that we listened to Abba.

I’m not sure how much my dad listens to Abba at the moment. My mom pretty much has an Eric Clapton CD in the player most of the time. And he listens to that happily as well.

But for whatever reason – he picked Abba as the music that we could truly agree upon.

I’ll have to tell the parental units the next time I talk to them.

*news flash*
now I’m completely flummoxed. It’s playing Lady Saw’s ‘Give me the reason’ – which is the most completely inappropriate ‘our song’ that could ever be – and yet, because it was the number one song in Nevis during our honeymoon, it’s has become ‘our song.’

How do it know?


And yet again – the incomparable SallyDallyDo has struck…

The “Up-to-Three” Music Meme: The rules are that you can name fewer than three, but only up to a maximum of three, and, when required, you have to list specific songs.

Song(s) That I Loathe to the Core of My Being
* The Electric Slide – by whoever did it
* Anything by Mariah Carey

Musical Artist(s) That I Loathe to the Core of My Being
* Mariah Carey

Rolling Stones Song(s) I Love
* She’s A Rainbow
* Paint It Black
* Ruby Tuesday

Beatles Song(s) I Love
* Tomorrow Never Knows
* Happiness is a Warm Gun
* And Your Bird Can Sing

Who Song(s) I Love
* Love, Reign O’er Me
* Pure and Easy
* I Can See For Miles

Reggae Song(s) I Love
* Rivers of Babylon – Melodians
* Give Me the Reason – Lady Saw
* Miss Jamaica – Jimmy Cliff

Country Song(s) I Love
* Chatahoochie – Alan Jackson
* Wagon Wheel – Old Crow Medicine Show
* Ruby Pearl – Hackensaw Boys

Movie Soundtrack(s) I Love
* Garden State
* Storytelling
* Wings of Desire

Musical Soundtrack(s) I Love
* Carousel
* Cabaret
* A Chorus Line

Cover Song(s) I Love
* Who Knows Where the Time Goes? – Susannah Hoffs and Matthew Sweet (originally Fairport Convention)
* Hurt – Johnny Cash (originally Nine Inch Nails)
* Bron Yr Aur Stomp – Carbon Leaf (originally Led Zeppelin)

Contemporary Top-40 Artist(s) I Secretly Love
* I haven’t paid attention to the top 40 in so long I don’t even know who I should feel guilty about…

Song(s) That Bring Me to Tears
* Dancing at Whitsun – Maddy Pryor and Tim Hart
* Veronica – Elvis Costello
* Oh England, My Lionheart – Kate Bush

Song(s) That Make Me Shake My Behiney
* Dacing Queen – Abba
* Mas Que Nada – Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66
* Hungry Wolf – X

Classical Composer(s) I Love
* Debussy
* Bach
* Frazelle

Rap/Hip-Hop Song(s) I Love
* Hey Ya – Outkast
* Three (Is a Magic Number) – De La Soul

70s Disco Song(s) I Love
* No. I just can’t.

70s Supergroup Song(s) I Love
(first -just let me say that I define supergroup in perhaps a slightly different way than most…)
* Watch The Sunrise – Big Star
* Open My Eyes – The Nazz
* The Wild One, Forever – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Metal Song(s) I Love
* Ace of Spades – Motorhead
* Stonehenge – Spinal Tap
* Last Caress – Metallica (Danzig cover)

New Wave Song(s) I Love
* Venus – The X-Teens
* See Me – The Brains
* Not Juliet – Male Model

Soul/R&B Song(s) I Love
* Mercy Mercy Me – Marvin Gaye
* Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
* Think – Aretha Franklin

Power Ballad(s) I Love
* Yeah. That’d be a no.

Pre Rock and Rock Era Songs I Love
* Sing Sing Sing – Benny Goodman
* She’s Got You – Patsy Cline
* Sabre Dance – Woody Herman

Punk Song(s) I Love
* Out of Step – Minor Threat
* Pay to Cum – Bad Brains
* Pretty Vacant – Sex Pistols

Singer/Songwriter Song(s) I Love
* Greek Song – Rufus Wainwright
* Red Dirt Girl – Emmylou Harris
* Dixieland – Steve Earle

MTV Video(s) I Love
* Crash – Dave Matthews Band
* Hell – Squirrel Nut Zippers
* Hurt – Johhny Cash

“None of the Above” Songs I Love
* Going Underground – The Jam
* Forever Autumn – Justin Heyward
* Fanfare for the Common Man – Emerson Lake and Palmer

Guilty Pleasures
* Take on Me – Aha
* Dancing Queen – Wing
* The Sign – Ace of Base

Songs to Have A Little Fun (*ahem*) To
(if by ‘a little fun (*ahem*)’ you mean ‘clean the litterbox to’ – and how could it possibly mean anything else? I offer the following)
* Love Cats – The Cure
* Rats – Rasputina
* Fiddle About – The Who

Tag! Y’all are it!


Oh dear.

The Madcap has ceased to laugh.

Where’s my bike……?



29 years ago – on May 31st – I went to my first real rock concert.

When I found out that tickets were to go on sale – I asked my parents if I could go. My mother – being extremely savvy, and also rather on top of what was going on in the music world – uttered the fateful words.

“Sure. That is, if you can get tickets…”

Which I promptly managed to procure.

(There’s really nothing like a determined 13 year old – may I point out.)

So – at the tender age of 13 – I, and a herd of little friends went to see Led Zeppelin at the Greensboro Coliseum on their 1977 tour. We felt important. We felt grown up. We felt invincible.

It was festival seating – before the Who disaster in 1979 – and rather unlike anything we had ever encountered. We made it to the – I don’t know – 5th row maybe? (Again – 13 years old, small and determined) and I would have made it to the front row had not one of our number passed out. The crush was pretty horrific – I recall being moved along by the crowd without my feet touching the floor. I recall feeling a little less invincible.

I was faced with an awful choice – awful for a 13 year old Led Zeppelin fanatic, that is…but I gave up visions of the front row to drag her to safety.

Safety has interesting faces, though. In a crowd of thousands, I managed to drag her straight to where friends Jon and Mike were sitting with Mike’s big brother Chris and his bandmate Will. Safe harbor. And an awesome view. Better than anything down front.

The show started late – very late. But to make up for it they played for 3-1/2 hours – til about 1:30 a.m. They played the usual standards – ‘Rain Song,’ ‘Stairway to Heaven,’ ‘Dazed and Confused.’ But they played ‘That’s the Way,’ ‘Bron Y Aur Stomp’ and ‘Battle of Evermore’ too. Songs that evoke things that are impossible to explain. Songs that first made me understand the divinity that lies within music. Heady stuff for a 13-year-old. Especially this 13-year-old.

Pretty awful if you’re the 13-year-old’s parents. Luckily the moms had formed an impromptu support group and the designated mom to pick us up called in progress reports to keep the other moms sane. They probably all aged quite a bit that night.

So every year on May 31 or sometime near it – I toast the band, I think fondly on friends.

And I thank my parents.


I know, I know….I fell off the face of the earth again……

Not much to say – nor much time to say it, but here’s a quick nautical Christmas poem we have in the library at Ye Olde Boat Museum from 1922 to brighten the day… the best to you all!

Bill’s Christmases
by Cicely Fox Smith (from her book Sea Songs and Ballads, 1917-1922)

“Christmas,” said Bill, “on Christmas cards, it’s winders all aglow,
An’ lots o’ stuff to eat an’ drink an’ a good three feet o’ snow,
An’ a bunch o’ bouncin’ girls to kiss under the mistletoe.

Holly an’ robin redbreasts too, as rosy as can be,
An’ waits an’ chimes an’ all such gear as you never get at sea,
But it’s different things as Christmas means to a ramblin’ bloke like me.

The first I ever ‘ad at sea I was ‘ardly more ‘n a nipper,
An’ I’d took an’ signed, bein’ young an’ green, in a dandy Down-east clipper
With a bullnecked beast of a bucko mate an’ a rare tough nut of a skipper.

An’ we dined ‘andsome, so we did, off biscuits an’ salt ‘orse,
An’ finished up with scraper duff an’ sand-an’-canvas sorce,
An’ them as growled got seaboot soup by way of an extry course.

I’ve ‘ad my Christmas ‘ere an’ there, I’ve ‘ad it up an’ down,
I’ve ‘ad it sober on the seas an’ drunk in sailor-town,
I’ve ‘ad it where the folks are black an’ where the folks are brown,

And under many a tropic sky an’ many a foreign star,
In Perim, Portland, Pernambuck, Malacca, Malabar,
Where the rum bird-‘eaded totem poles and the gilded Buddhas are.

I’ve ‘ad it froze in Baltic cold an’ burned in Red Sea ‘eat,
I’ve ‘ad it in a Channel fog as busy as a street,
An’ once I ‘ad it off the ‘Orn, an’ that was sure a treat.

I was in the clipper Sebright then–a big ship, ‘eavy sparred,
With every sort o’ flyin’ kite an’ a seventy foot mainyard,
An’ ‘andlin’ ‘er in a gale of wind, I tell you, it was ‘ard!

We come on deck for the middle watch, an’ save us, ‘ow it blew!
A night like the devil’s ridin’boots, that never a star shone through,
An’ the seas they kep’ on poopin’ ‘er till we ‘ad to ‘eave ‘er to.

We snugged ‘er down, we ‘ove ‘er to, an’ there all night lay she,
With one mainyard arm pointin’ to ‘eaven an’ one to the deeps o’ the sea,
Dippin’ ‘er spars at every roll in the thunderin’ foam alee.

Till the wind an’ sea went down a bit an’ the dawn come cold an’ grey,
An’ we laid aloft an’ loosed the sails an’ squared the ship away.
An’ a chap beside me on the yard says, ‘Bill, it’s Christmas Day!'”


It’s been a week of Oyster Wars and sleeplessness – of wounded Confederates and intense design charrettes.

It’s been a really awful, wonderful time.

But I’ll recount the wonderful.

We (and I mean that in the institutional sense because the Apprentice School and Hampton Roads Crane and Rigging did all the work) placed the replica turret on top of the replica Monitor this week as well as began filming for the battle film (hence the wounded….and I understand that they wounded some Union dudes too, so it’s all fair in cinematography and war…).

We began the long and wonderfully rich experience of reinterpreting thousands of years of maritime history with some really incredible, creative people. It felt like a doctoral exam – but much more fun.

We drank a toast to the Immortal Memory last night with several old friends – yes, nearly a month late – but no less heartfelt.

And I sang of the Oyster Wars once again today with one of my favourite old salts during a conference presentation.

And now – I really need to sleep. But it was glorious fun……


Okey dokey – I’ll play.

1. The person (or persons) who passed the baton to you.

2. Total volume of music files on your computer.
Between this one and the now resurrected laptop, I’d say around 15 GB

3. The title and artist of the last CD you bought.
Wing Sings the music of Abba

4. Song playing at the moment of writing.
“16 Military Wives” by The Decemberists

5. Five songs you have been listening to of late (or all-time favorites, or particularly personally meaningful songs)
Songs of late:
* “Fourth of July” – Shooter Jennings
* “Corpus Christi Bay” – Robert Earl Keen
* “What About” – Carbon Leaf
* “Four Blue Walls” – The Dukhs
* “Wagon Wheel” – Old Crow Medicine Show
(I know – there’s a definite skew towards alt-country these days…)

6. The five people to whom you will ‘pass the musical baton.’
I’m hiding the names to protect the innocent.



It appears that we are, in fact, buying a new house. Although the term “new” is used liberally in this case in that while the house is relatively new to us, it is in reality nearly 100 years old.

So we spent the weekend trying to ‘fluff’ the current abode in the hopes that such fluffing will make it more attractive to prospective buyers when we finally do list it. A storage space later and we almost look ok.

Right now I’m listening to/watching ‘The Last Waltz’ which is an incredible film in my book. I must have watched it 10 times when it came out and to this day I still think that the song ‘Evangeline’ is one of the best things to ever exist. I remember writing about it in my journal (yes I had one even then…) and I believe the phrase ‘seeing god’ appeared on the page.

Well – I still believe that you can find the divine in the most interesting places. And it’s still there – in the frames of that film.

May all of you stay forever young….