Monday, March 18, 2013

“I Don’t Know Where She’s At”

I’ve always suspected the dinosaurs
want to come back to enjoy chasing us
and, more to the point for them, eating us.

Do hippie girls want to come back and draw
flowers on their cheeks and create a movement
to throw away cell phones and computers?

I don’t know where she’s at
I think her phone ate her
Now it’s calling me
But she’s not there

I don’t want to answer
But I’ve got to answer
It might take me there

I don’t know where she’s at
any place she’s at
Is a better place
Than here


That chord progresson basically is just GM7, F#m7b5, Bm7, Am7. It’s flexible, just supports the melody.

I made up this little song on guitar, and on guitar I play it much more freely and with a more complicated harmony that what’s here, but this is the gist of it. This is a version I can play on keyboard, and improvise a little with, double up on some chords, break some chords into arpeggios and such. I can’t even come close to playing as freely on keyboard as guitar, but this is the first song, I think, as simple as it is, where I can begin to feel myself getting more relaxed at the keyboard.


I was thinking about different places, and how strange this place is—I mean the contemporary world in general—for a few different reasons lately. I’m not going to go into depth about them today, but I am going to review them a little.


A few weeks ago at the Walgreens near here, the magazine delivery guy brought a so-called “Rolling Stones Special Collectors Edition” anthology of Bob Dylan interviews from Rolling Stone magazine over the decades. It’s like a thick magazine but it’s kind of a cross between a magazine and a thin book. Anyway, it cost $12 so I wasn’t going to buy it. But every time I went into Walgreens I found myself flipping through the thing, reading a section and putting it back. So, after about a week of that, I gave in a bought a copy. As I was taking a copy off the magazine rack, I noticed that the copies still were packed tightly. I don’t think anyone else had purchased even one copy of the thing.

Then today when the magazine guy came, after just a few weeks, he pulled out all the copies of the Dylan thing and tossed them into his recycles & returns bin.

Poor Bob Dylan. I’m not a big fan of the guy as an individual, but many of his songs are extraordinary. And his album “Blood on the Tracks” I think is one of the greatest albums ever released. And now, apparently, there is so little interest in him that nobody—well, just me, one old schmuck—nobody is willing to shell out twelve bucks to re-read old interviews.

Poor Bob Dylan. And I wonder about our own time. I mean, I wonder if the idea of Bob Dylan has passed: An individual with no corporate or political association writing and singing songs just for the songs, just for the sake of the songs. I think the time for such things—at least here—may be passed.


I was thinking about this, too, because over at a so-called “electronic music” website I saw a post about a complex new computer-based synthesizer that created sound patterns based on random parameters—Insane, Starship Control Panel Controls Sound Morphing-Synth in 3D: COSMOSƒ. It was so wildly convoluted that my first thought was to imagine two young musicians—like, say, John Lennon and Paul McCartney as kids—sitting down with the tool and trying to use it to write a song. I mean, according to the accepted legend of the Beatles early years, John and Paul did sit down with their guitars and struggle to learn the basic chords, teach each other what they learned and plunk out songs together.

And when I was a kid I knew teenagers who did that kind of thing.

But with technology today, are young musicians really going to sit down and struggle through it to master simple chord progressions, to write “songs,” as songs have traditionally been known?

I don’t know. But I got to thinking then about the biography of Henry Mancini I read a couple of weeks ago, “Henry Mancini: Reinventing Film Music” by John Caps. Mancini grew up listening to big bands around the 30s and 40s. He first learned to compose in that paradigm, big band instruments, saxophones, clarinets, trumpets, trombones and occasionally a piano or a bass or a guitar. His success at that got him a job at a movie studio and he learned to compose orchestral arrangements. And Mancini stayed within those paradigms his whole life—for better and worse—even when rock music was re-defining the entire world of pop music. Mancini was great at what he did, and he did beautiful work. But by staying within only those two paradigms he essentially made himself completely irrelevant to the world around him.

I wonder about chords and chord progressions themselves now.

Electronic music—modern music—is basically about sounds and transitions between sounds, and rhythms. Chords and chord progressions are, at best, a secondary consideration to a lot of modern music.

So I wonder if the whole paradigm of a “folk singer” like Bob Dylan has become totally irrelevant to the modern world, as absurd, even, as Mancini creating orchestral arrangements when, say, the Who were smashing guitars and such, or the Doors were doing beautiful organ/guitar/vocal creations.

I’m beginning to think that this world, here, has moved on—for better and worse—moved on from chords and chord progressions and songs built on such things.

I don’t know.

It makes me wonder.