What have I been doing? Well thank you for asking, I have been busy shredding my fingertips to the bone on my brand new Eko guitars. I bought two of them, these fine reproductions of Italian electric 6 strings from the 60s, with tiny orange amps to go along with them. One is treble and one is bass and they are sisters and they sound great together and apart. They are semi gothic, as one is called “the ghost”, as the front of it is covered in textured pale plastic that gives it a white and shiny Casper look, perfect for covering “the monster mash” or other such novelties. The other is halloweenie pumpkin looking, with cut outs in the front that make the hollow body into a jack-o-lantern. I am ready for fall sounds and it’s still summer so I am doing well. When the leaves turn, I will be ready to rock.
I have been spending days woodshedding – which is in musician terms – practicing intensely all alone in a woodshed. This I picked up from Jon Brion, who has spent a lifetime woodshedding and he knows those who have come from the shed and those who haven’t by their sound. I have been playing for a long time now without getting better, but since my woodshed (actually my Atlanta apartment) isn’t occupied during the day, I can play all I please without offending others.
My main focus has been playing Billy Bragg songs. Up now are “A New England” and “Saturday Boy”. “St Swithin’s Day” is up next. I have been going to see Billy Bragg since 1985 – many gigs in San Francisco, both solo affairs that he is best known for and with backing bands such as the Red Star Army. Later he would go on to much renown with the amazing Wilco – oh how I adore Jeff Tweedy – but the songs I long to play are his earliest, when it’s just him, his estuary accent, his longing heart and progressive politics and his absolutely brilliant playing.
Mostly what billy bragg fans go on about is his lyricism, his poetic genius, which is true and pure and simple. We also marvel at his attention to the world at hand, looking to make it all better, for everyone. I know that when I was in London last year, he was spending lots of time at Occupy LSX – entertaining the people gathered to fight the establishment in the bitter cold of English fall. He’s rallied for the miners, made songs to mobilize the union, and sang as only a lover can.
I spent a good deal of my youth thinking that I would marry Billy Bragg, but I ended up married to another and it’s all turned out well anyway.
And I can finally play his songs, at least my own baby version, anyway.