Saturday, June 28, 2014

Sturgill Simpson

My wife and I are going to see Sturgill Simpson in Bowling Green, Kentucky, in a few weeks.  Until about a month ago I had never heard of the guy.  Actually, that's not true.  My law partner had mentioned his name. Given that our music tastes are very dissimilar, I was not all that intrigued.  The extent of my interest at that time was a quick Google search, which turned up a picture of a guy who looked like the fellow who changed my oil last week. 

But... a month or two later, Suni came home from running some errands one Sunday to say she had just heard a guy on NPR that sounded “just like Waylon Jennings.”  That was worth my attention.  To Spotify I went.  I first found High Top Mountain, Simpson's 2013 debut record.  One listen to "You Can Have the Crown," and I was hooked.  How can you not like the line "They call me King Turd up here on Shit Mountain.  If you want it you can have the crown"?  The lyrics are somewhat tongue in cheek, but what got me immediately was the raw '70s country sound.  Yes, his voice sounded like Waylon Jennings, but it was the overall sound that was remarkable to me. There is not a bad song on this album, period.  There are reviews of High Top Mountain from Saving Country Music, AllMusic, No Depression, American Songwriter, and this half-ass review from the Boston Globe. (Spoiler alert: Simpson's sophomore album would be much more widely reviewed).

Simpson's new album, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, is a nod to the 1972 Ray Charles album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, which is considered to be a groundbreaking crossover album.  But the added prefix is no minor addition - there is a "meta" feel to this album, to say the least.  My gateway to delving into the story behind the music was this article in Rolling Stone.  The piece is Joseph Hudack provides a good introduction to who Simpson is and what he is all about.  

My favorite track on Metamodern Sounds is "Living the Dream."  It is just a great country song.  But there is so much more than meets the eye on this album.  "Turtles all the Way Down" is an interesting song, to say the least.  (You can read the lyrics or watch a video of Simpson singing it).  It's probably the deepest country song I have ever heard, and it is bound to offend lots of folks here in the Bible Belt.  One of the most interesting lines from the song:
Marijuana, LSD, psilocybin, DMTThey all change the way I see, but love's the only thing that ever saved my life
This is interesting to me, because I recently read CNN Correspondent Amber Lyon's story entitled "How Psychedelics Saved My Life," in which Lyon tells the story of how she overcame her PTSD and anxiety after traveling to Peru, where she experienced ayahuasca therapy.  I have learned that the idea that psychedelics have immense healing power is not a new one.  For years there has been evidence that government propaganda regarding these substances has done many an enormous disservice.  The information is out there.  Like this article from 2010.  And this article explaining that LSD can cure alcoholism. 

I don't think anyone will confuse Simpson's literary inspirations with those of Kenny Chesney's.  Simpson digs The Phenomenon of Man by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the French philosopher and Jesuit priest; the Emerson essay called Natureand Dr. Rick Strassman's The Spirit Molecule.  (There is also a documentary video available on Amazon, or there is a PDF here).  He also listens to Terrence McKenna lectures.  McKenna was called the "Timothy Leary of the '90s."  (Wiki page.  Website).  Like everything, I am going to research this to death, starting with this Thomas King lecture, which apparently inspired Simpson's title.  

There is no shortage of publicity for Simpson lately.  This piece by NPR's Ann Powers is also worth a read. Simpson explains why he's not writing country drinking songs:
I just reached a point where the thought of writing and singing any more songs about heartache and drinking made me feel incredibly bored with music. It's just not a headspace I occupy much these days. Nighttime reading about theology, cosmology, and breakthroughs in modern physics and their relationship to a few personal experiences I've had led to most of the songs on the album.
In this NPR piece, Simpson explains how he got to Nashville, where he writes from, and his "last great existentialist dilemma." 

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Running Skill - Great Vid from Vivobarefoot

Here is a great video on running posture and foot strike.  These are really good drills to use daily in your office or wherever.  One of the best instructional videos I have seen.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fall on the Horizon

The weather is getting better and fall is in the air!

Football: Yesterday sucked, getting blown out by Florida yet again.  I wish I could say that I didn't see it coming.  But everyone whose blood runs orange saw it coming from a mile away.

Iowa got beaten as well, losing a close game to Pitt.  Waylon slept through most of it. 

Weird end to the week: I had a hearing in Lewisburg, Tennessee, last Friday and took along one of our younger associates, Greg Fuller.  It was a weird day.  I lost the hearing, despite the fact that the other side cited absolutely no legal authority whatsoever.  Some weirdo tried to run us off the road on I-65 North, then we ran out of gas at the I-40/75 split near Knoxville.  I guess I was too busy listening and talking to notice that I was low on gas.  Luckily, Nick Peterson, a friend and colleague, pulled over just in front of us only seconds after I had coasted to a stop.  Talk about lucky!

Greg and I talked politics and what not for the seven plus hours we were in the car together.  He got me interested in Ayn Rand, of whom I have heard but never studied.  I think I will order some of her books.  From what little I have read about her general philosophy, it is at least worth a look.  

Great Dinner: Suni and I went to eat at Swank's on Friday.  It is a new restaurant that opened here in Maryville.  The owner also co-owns the daycare where Waylon goes.  The food was very good.  We started out with calamari, which was excellent.  I had the leg of lamb with swiss mashed potatoes and hericot vert.  Suni had some appetizers.  As we were the first time we ate there, we were impressed. 

Waylon's not biting this week: Waylon's behavior has been markedly better this week.  I was to go out of town on Thursday night, and I just decided to get up early the next morning instead.  He had been so good all week, and now I have little doubt that his improved behavior has more than a little to do with me being at home all week.  I have come to the conclusion that I really have little choice than to just suck it up and stop staying overnight so much. 

Days gone by: I didn't realize until this weekend that my old buddy from high school, Jeremy Bates, is the current talk of the NFL.  See here and here, too.  He is the quarterback coach for the Broncos, who are tearing the League up offensively.  I am so happy for the guy.  He is the hardest worker I have ever known and extremely bright.  The guy competes at everything.  And I do mean everything.  You make think that pissing contests are proverbial.  To most, they are... but not to Jeremy.  I can attest to that.  I used to tell people when he went to UT to play football that I wouldn't be surprised if he won a Heisman trophy.  Things didn't work out and he transferred to Rice, but I bet he will be an NFL head coach before he's 40.

Here's Jeremy in his own words

Iowa or Bust!: I'm headed to Iowa on Thursday for Coe's homecoming.  I'm flying into Dubuque Thursday night after depositions in Nashville that day.  It should be a great time. 

Sunday, July 20, 2008

More Insomnia

The throes of insomnia remain.  Wasn't there a movie made about this shit?  Anyway, luckily I have a serial killer, a country music star, and nine Supreme Court Justices to keep me company as the rest of the family sleeps. 

devil_white_city supreme_conflict Waylon_book

Suni hates it when I am reading three books at a time.  Sometimes, you just need a break from one of them. 

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Ahhh... Milk, Cookies, and Wonder Pets

Today has been a pretty uneventful, unproductive start to the weekend. Waylon and I did get to enjoy some Nila wafers and milk while watching the Wonder Pets on demand. (Today they saved the baby sea lions and the joey… again… for about the thirtieth time).

It is really hot here today, and is supposed to be in the 90s for the next few days. I wish we could summer in Nova Scotia.

Tim Whitehead has rejoined the land of the living bloggers.
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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Good Weekend

We had a great weekend! On Friday, Suni and I went out with our friends Nick and Cami to Foothills Milling Company, the local gourmet restaurant that happens to be the best at which I have ever eaten. On Saturday night, we were fortunate to have houseguests, my cousin Brad and his wife Kelly.

I was surprised to learn that John McCain won the South Carolina primary. But now I wonder whether Fred Thompson will drop out of the race. I hope that is not the case.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

For years I have had a fascination with Bill Clinton, stemming mainly from his undeniable intellectual brilliance and my feeling that someone who has been the subject of such persistent and virulent attacks over the years must possess qualities worthy of that affront.

When Clinton’s autobiography, My Life, came out several years ago, I bought it with every intention of reading it. Alas, three years later and two thousand miles from where I purchased the book, I actually started reading it. With an all-consuming law practice and a nine-month old, finishing this 969-page book is a monumental task.

Three hundred and thirty pages into it, it is about what I expected. The book has been criticized as being long winded, and perhaps this statement shows by ignorance, but I actually find myself wishing Clinton had explained things more thoroughly.

I have learned a great deal about politics, i.e. the way elections are won on the ground. I have also had my interest piqued in various subjects. Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank is one example. Clinton’s mentioning of various books has also forced several books onto my already lengthy “books I must read” list. I picked a couple of them up at my local library last week. Suni is less than convinced that I will read any of them before they are long overdue. She is probably right, but I am going to try. The two books I picked up are ones I have always wanted to read – You Can’t Go Home Again by Thomas Wolfe and On the Road by Jack Kerouac. Actually, I don’t think the latter was mentioned by Mr. Clinton. Instead, I was instilled with a desire to re-read On the Road after discussion at the wedding of a good friend in Galena, Illinois, back in the fall.

A New Beginning

After having a relatively successful run at blogging a few years ago, I have decided to give it another go after losing my old domain – This blog will be decidedly different from my old blog, primarily in that I have absolutely zero interest – at this point, at least – in developing a readership outside my family and friends. In fact, I really don’t want people who don’t know me reading this blog at all.

So, as I write this initial entry at 4:46 a.m. on Christmas Day, 2007, I have high hopes that this blog will be, for now, a repository of my thoughts that a few select people might find interesting occasionally. With that…