the red light was my mind

While driving up the lonesome I-5 last weekend, I came to realize that my default road-tripping band is the Rolling Stones. Especially the gritty, rootsy Stones, circa 1969-72. Ahhhhh it’s just so good to listen to while driving down a narrow highway in the desert. Perfect examples are the albums Let It Bleed and Exile on Main Street. The Stones are a rock & roll band, but when you listen to these albums, they’re full of bluegrass, gospel, country, blues (mmmmm blues)…all of which were the inspiration for rock & roll in the first place. I love that about the Stones: they really appreciate roots music.

Speaking of blues, I have to share this video. It’s an old Robert Johnson song that was covered by the Stones in the late 60’s, and this is them doing it again in 1995. Personally I like this version even better than the 60’s cut; it just oozes so much wonderful blues:

Also, my dad sent me a link about Keef’s new book, which comes out next week(!!!). I’m so buying it the day it comes out.

Picnik, NaNo, and Gaga

Today has been a day of great discoveries.

Firstly, I finally started uploading apartment pictures to Picasa, and in the process I discovered Picnik, Google’s very own photo editing program. Basically, I was looking for an easy way to get those cool Photoshop effects (vignette, upped contrast, etc.) and Picnik can do it all with just a couple of clicks! It even has a 1960’s effect, which I immediately started abusing at every possible opportunity, haha (see example here). So anyway, that’s how I spent most of my afternoon.

Then – I already forget how I found this…MSNBC? – I came across NaNoWriMo. Apparently November is “National Novel Writing Month”…and for 11 years now, a growing group of people have been participating in the event (how have I never known about this?). The rules are pretty simple: you have 30 days to write a 50,000-word novel. At the end of the month, you upload it to the website, which verifies the word count, and get a “handsome winner’s certificate and web badge”. No first place, no prizes, just the satisfaction of having completed an entire novel in 30 days. It’s pretty much right up my alley. A cool project and method of distraction that – in my current state – just might be possible. On top of that, there’s no real competition, just a lot of people encouraging and helping each other out in order to reach a common goal. These people even get together for weekly “write-ins” in their local libraries, etc. Cool! Anyone care to join in? Who knows if I’ll actually finish (if my “summer” list is any indication), but it’s certainly worth trying. Commence brainstorming……….now!

And finally, to top off the great discoveries of the day:

"He has his finger on the pulse of our generation"

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of reading. Finished Ravi Shankar’s autobiography Raga Mala, as well as Suze Rotolo’s memoir A Freewheelin’ Time. Both were fascinating, and described – in detail – places that are extremely allusive and appealing to me. The beginning of Ravi Shankar’s book presents such beautiful imagery of India that I am getting really hungry to go there (someday). And the beat/folk scene described in Rotolo’s book make Greenwich Village in the 60’s come alive again, with its underground venues and brick apartments. The parts about Bob Dylan were fascinating as well. Highly recommend both books!

Interesting note: I have seen many “Greatest Songs Ever Written” lists and “Like A Rolling Stone” always seems to be (if not number one) at the top of the list. It’s certainly always the top Dylan song. And while I agree it is fantastically written and sounds great, there are other Dylan songs that I think should come first. Of course this is all my own humble opinion…but what about “The Times They Are A-Changin'”? I know it seems obvious, but when you take the time to think about it – not only are the lyrics incredible, but that song was so powerful at the time it was written. Maybe those lists are trying to look at the music and lyrics objectively (not in context), but to me, part of what makes a song so great is how it related to that point in history. Rotolo made a great point of this in her book: in the early 1960s, the new generation of young people were already starting to recognize the problems surrounding them, and beginning to stand up for change. Dylan’s song served as an anthem for this new outlook, whether he meant for it to or not.

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’
For the loser now will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’