Thursday, August 02, 2007


You don't think we should tax . . . ?

Doc Nagel's Top 100 Things

88. Writing/falling into new tunes. I just love 'em. If I were making a seriously concerted effort to make this list a ranking, this would probably be higher. Instead, it comes in #88 because, no sooner than we finished putting together another disc of our own stuff, but I've started writing or completed a half-dozen or so more tunes. A couple of them have been percolating a while, but two have come into being just in the last couple weeks, both of which are really promising.

I don't think of names or themes first, usually (one notable exception being "Mt. Diablo Windy Day Rag"), so I assign fairly random names to the tunes while I'm piecing them together. This time my working titles may stick, because at least in two cases they bespeak the mood of the tune: "Small Apartments In Large Cities" has a feeling that I associate with same, and is also more or less insanely complicated (there are - lessee - 26 chords in it, as of this writing); and "Working Title: Oasis" has a very satisfying habit of resolving the melody, so it feels like it could be about reaching an oasis.

I'm very nearly entirely untrained as a guitarist. I play what it occurs to me to play. I think that's what folk, rock, and blues music, and every other people's music, is really about, so I feel in good company. I had exactly 3 lessons when I was 17. Otherwise, I've learned things watching other guitarists or, in fact mainly, by spraining my wrist on the fretboard. In truth, I am able to make anything at all happen on a guitar because of three people and one animal: my loveliest, who inspired me to pick the thing up again after 13 years; my friend Jim "The Most Optimistic Man In America" "Talks Trash To Pete Townshend" Williams, from whom I learned how to find a finger-picking pattern and how to play "The Needle And The Damage Done"; my brother Mike, who was the first to show me that it's cool to play; and the cat, Morgan, who inspired an early song and who would always come to hear me play.

87. Mornings. I just love 'em.

I am not a morning person. I regard morning persons with suspicion, if not scorn. Nevertheless, I adore the morning. I love waking up. I love getting out of bed. I love morning light streaming through morning windows as I stumble down morning stairs into the morning kitchen to make ridiculously strong and badly needed coffee. I love every single thing about the morning, up to and including the ritual claw assaults and murder-by-tripping attempts of my beloved cat, Lancelot.

I even like mornings that are sickeningly early, waking to get on the road at 4 am for instance. And at that hour, or really at most any hour, I greet mornings in ill humor, but still, I love 'em.

I almost always get up before Lauren, which I also love, because one of the very finest aspects of mornings is the feeling of being the only one up in the household. Man oh man oh man, is that a great feeling. And it's one, I feel certain, you either get or you don't.

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