AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

"The real trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery."
-Fred Alan Wolf

31 January 2021

Robert Earl Keen, "Footprints in the Snow"

Now some folks like the summertime when the they can walk about
Strolling through the meadow green it's pleasant there no doubt
But give me the wintertime when the snow is on the ground
For I found her when the snow was on the ground

Sara Watkins, fiddle ...


It's sandwich time.

Happy Birthday, Manzanera


Phil Manzanera was born on this day in 1951.

"Oh Yeah!" with Roxy Music ...

How can we drive to a movie show
When the music is here in my car

Starved.


We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private: and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.

C.S. Lewis

Thanks, Kathy.

Peace.


Thomas Merton was born on this day in 1915.

There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence to which the idealist most easily succumbs: activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of our activism neutralizes our work for peace. It destroys our own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.

Thomas Merton, from Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

Heard.


Jackie Robinson was born on this day in 1919.

"And he climbed high on the cliffs above the sea and stripped bare his shoulders and raised his arms to the water, crying: 'I am a man. I live and breathe and bleed as a man. Give me my freedom…'

When the people saw him they scorned him for his naked shoulders and wild eyes and again he cried: 'I am a man and I seek the means of my freedom.'

But the people laughed at him, saying, 'We see no chains on your arms, no weight on your feet. Go! You are free…' And they called him mad and drove him from their village. His soul wept, for it knew the weight of chains, and tears fell like tiny stones into the well of his loneliness, and his heart was as empty as a giant hall is empty after a feast.

And the man journeyed on until he came to the banks of a stream, and he saw the beauty in the water and he laughed for he felt the strength of the stream flowing throwing his veins, and he cried: 'I am a man' and the majesty of his voice echoed off the mountaintops and was heard above the roar of the sea and the howl of the wind, and he was free."

David Robinson, from "The Baptism"

Reason.

Peale (Rembrandt), Thomas Jefferson, 1805


If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union, or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated, where reason is left free to combat it.

Thomas Jefferson, from his Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801

Servitude.


All life is servitude. And so a man must become reconciled to his lot, must complain of it as little as possible, and must lay hold of whatever good it may have; no state is so bitter that a calm mind cannot find in its some consolation.  Apply reason to difficulties; it is possible to soften what is hard, to widen what is narrow, and burdens will press less heavily upon those who bear them skillfully.

Seneca

Happy Birthday, Schubert

Abel, The Young Schubert, 1814


Alfred Brendel performs Piano Sonata No. 21 in B-flat major, D.960 ...

30 January 2021

Ray Wylie Hubbard, "The Messenger"

Understand.


In art there is the fact of failure, and the fact of partial success. Our metaphysicians must understand this. Works of art can fail so easily; it is so difficult for them to succeed. One man will fall silent because of lack of feeling; another, because his emotion chokes him. A third frees himself, not from the burden that weighs on him, but only from a feeling of unfreedom. A fourth breaks his tools because they have too long been used to exploit him. The world is not obliged to be sentimental. Defeats should be acknowledged; but one should not conclude from them that there should be no more struggles.

Bertolt Brecht

Todd Snider, "Can't Complain"

We're all waiting in the dugout
Thinking we should pitch
How you gonna throw a shutout
If all you do is bitch

Happy Birthday, Brautigan


Richard Brautigan was born on this day in 1935.

YES, THE FISH MUSIC

A trout-colored wind blows
through my eyes, through my fingers,
and I remember how the trout
used to hide from the dinosaurs
when they came to drink at the river.
The trout hid in subways, castles,
and automobiles. They waited patiently for the dinosaurs to go away.

Richard Brautigan

Least.

Thompson, Rising, 2011


It was the hour in which objects lose the consistency of shadow that accompanies them during the night and gradually reacquire colors, but seem to cross meanwhile an uncertain limbo, faintly touched, just breathed on by light; the hour in which one is least certain of the world's existence.

Italo Calvino

29 January 2021

Excellent.

An excellent book ...

Happy Birthday, Paine


Thomas Paine was born on this day in 1737.

Society in every state is a blessing, but a government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one.

Thomas Paine, from Common Sense

Self-examination.

Blake, The Angel of Revelation, 1805


The negation is the Spectre, the Reasoning Power in Man:
This is a false Body, an Incrustation over my Immortal
Spirit, a Selfhood which must be put off and annihilated alway.
To cleanse the Face of my Spirit by self-examination,
To bathe in the waters of Life, to wash off the Not Human,         
I come in Self-annihilation and the grandeur of Inspiration;
To cast off Rational Demonstration by Faith in the Saviour,
To cast off the rotten rags of Memory by Inspiration,
To cast off Bacon, Locke, and Newton from Albion’s covering,
To take off his filthy garments and clothe him with Imagination;         
To cast aside from Poetry all that is not Inspiration,
That it no longer shall dare to mock with the aspersion of Madness
Cast on the Inspir├Ęd by the tame high finisher of paltry Blots
Indefinite or paltry Rhymes, or paltry Harmonies,
Who creeps into State Government like a caterpillar to destroy;         
To cast off the idiot Questioner, who is always questioning,
But never capable of answering; who sits with a sly grin
Silent plotting when to question, like a thief in a cave;
Who publishes Doubt and calls it Knowledge; whose Science is Despair,
Whose pretense to knowledge is Envy, whose whole Science is         
To destroy the wisdom of ages, to gratify ravenous Envy
That rages round him like a Wolf, day and night, without rest.
He smiles with condescension; he talks of Benevolence and Virtue,
And those who act with Benevolence and Virtue they murder time on time.
These are the destroyers of Jerusalem! these are the murderers         
Of Jesus! who deny the Faith and mock at Eternal Life,
Who pretend to Poetry that they may destroy Imagination
By imitation of Nature’s Images drawn from Remembrance.
These are the Sexual Garments, the Abomination of Desolation,
Hiding the Human Lineaments, as with an Ark and Curtains         
Which Jesus rent, and now shall wholly purge away with Fire,
Till Generation is swallow’d up in Regeneration.
 
William Blake

28 January 2021

April Wine, "I Like to Rock"

Rise.


The great poems, plays, novels, stories teach us how to go on living, even submerged under 40 fathoms of bother and distress.  If you live 90 years you will be a battered survivor. Your own mistakes, accidents, failures and otherness beat you down. Rise up at dawn and read something that matters as soon as you can
.

Harold Bloom, from Take Arms Against a Sea of Troubles: The Power of the Reader’s Mind over a Universe of Death

27 January 2021

Happy Birthday, Mozart

Lange, Mozart at the Piano (unfinished) , 1789


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on this day in 1756.

It is a mistake to think that the practice of my art has become easy to me. I assure you, dear friend, no one has given so much care to the study of composition as I. There is scarcely a famous master in music whose works I have not frequently and diligently studied.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

The Piano Concerto No. 20 for Piano and Orchestra in D-minor, K.466; Mitsuko Uchida performs with the Camerata Salzburg ...

26 January 2021

God's.


God's Country became a state on this day in 1837.

God knitted a mitten of wood, rock and lime,
Made a foundation to last through all time.
He planted his palm with Hemlock and Pine,
Then blessed it with rain and sunshine.
In all the world there’s no other land
That God himself patterned from his own hand!
Michigan.

Millie “The Chisler” Miller

Happy Birthday, MacArthur


General Douglas A. MacArthur was born on this day in 1880.

Rules are mostly made to be broken and are too often for the lazy to hide behind.  You are remembered for the rules you break.

Gen. Douglas A MacArthur

Remember.


Remember everyone deployed.

25 January 2021

Ended.


The Battle of The Bulge ended on this day in 1945.
Care must be taken in telling our proud tale not to claim for the British Army an undue share what is undoubtedly the greatest American battle of the war, and will, I believe, be regarded as an ever famous American victory.

Sir Winston Churchill

Happy Birthday, Harwell


Ernie Harwell was born on this day in 1918.

Dignity and exhuberance ...

Seek.


Resentment can be transformed into a governing emotion and a social cause, and thereby gain release from the constraints that normally contain it. This happens when resentment loses the specificity of its target, and becomes directed to society as a whole. That, it seems to me, is what happens when left-wing movements take over. In such cases resentment ceases to be a response to another’s unmerited success and becomes instead an existential posture: the posture of the one whom the world has betrayed. Such a person does not seek to negotiate within existing structures, but to gain total power, so as to abolish the structures themselves. He will set himself against all forms of mediation, compromise and debate, and against the legal and moral norms that give a voice to the dissenter and sovereignty to the ordinary person. He will set about destroying the enemy, whom he will conceive in collective terms, as the class, group or race that hitherto controlled the world and which must now in turn be controlled. And all institutions that grant protection to that class or a voice in the political process will be targets for his destructive rage. That posture is, in my view, the core of a serious social disorder.

Sir Roger Scruton

Pass.


Enough! enough! enough!
Somehow I have been stunn'd. Stand back!
Give me a little time beyond my cuff'd head, slumbers, dreams, gaping,
I discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake.
That I could forget the mockers and insults!
That I could forget the trickling tears and the blows of the bludg- eons and hammers!
That I could look with a separate look on my own crucifixion and bloody crowning.
I remember now,
I resume the overstaid fraction,
The grave of rock multiplies what has been confided to it, or to any graves,
Corpses rise, gashes heal, fastenings roll from me.
I troop forth replenish'd with supreme power, one of an average unending procession,
Inland and sea-coast we go, and pass all boundary lines,
Our swift ordinances on their way over the whole earth,
The blossoms we wear in our hats the growth of thousands of years.
Eleves, I salute you! come forward!
Continue your annotations, continue your questionings.

Walt Whitman

Don't.

Happy Birthday, Burns.


Robert Burns was born on this day in 1759.

John Barleycorn

There was three kings into the east,
Three kings both great and high,
And they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn should die.

They took a plough and plough'd him down,
Put clods upon his head,
And they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn was dead.

But the cheerful Spring came kindly on,
And show'rs began to fall;
John Barleycorn got up again,
And sore surpris'd them all.

The sultry suns of Summer came,
And he grew thick and strong;
His head weel arm'd wi' pointed spears,
That no one should him wrong.

The sober Autumn enter'd mild,
When he grew wan and pale;
His bending joints and drooping head
Show'd he began to fail.

His colour sicken'd more and more,
He faded into age;
And then his enemies began
To show their deadly rage.

They've taen a weapon, long and sharp,
And cut him by the knee;
Then tied him fast upon a cart,
Like a rogue for forgerie.

They laid him down upon his back,
And cudgell'd him full sore;
They hung him up before the storm,
And turned him o'er and o'er.

They filled up a darksome pit
With water to the brim;
They heaved in John Barleycorn,
There let him sink or swim.

They laid him out upon the floor,
To work him farther woe;
And still, as signs of life appear'd,
They toss'd him to and fro.

They wasted, o'er a scorching flame,
The marrow of his bones;
But a miller us'd him worst of all,
For he crush'd him between two stones.

And they hae taen his very heart's blood,
And drank it round and round;
And still the more and more they drank,
Their joy did more abound.

John Barleycorn was a hero bold,
Of noble enterprise;
For if you do but taste his blood,
'Twill make your courage rise.

'Twill make a man forget his woe;
'Twill heighten all his joy;
'Twill make the widow's heart to sing,
Tho' the tear were in her eye.

Then let us toast John Barleycorn,
Each man a glass in hand;
And may his great posterity
Ne'er fail in old Scotland!

Robert Burns

24 January 2021

Warren Zevon. "Mohammed's Radio"

 With Jackson Browne ...

Dog.

Guy Clark, "Dublin Blues"

Enjoy.

Continuous.

Sargent, Elizabeth Winthrop Chanler (detail), 1893


Cultivate an ever continuous power of observation. Wherever you are, be always ready to make slight notes of postures, groups and incidents. Store up in the mind a continuous stream of observations.

John Singer Sargent

Happy Birthday, Zevon


Warren Zevon was born on this day in 1947.

"Rottweiler Blues"

Got a Glock in the bedside table
Machine gun leaning by the bedroom door
Kevlar vest in the closet
Well, I wear it when I go to the store

Shadows on the window
Rustling in the hedge
Faces at the peephole
Footsteps on the ledge

If you come calling
He'll be mauling with intent to maim
Don't knock on my door
If you don't know my Rottweiler's name

Halogen lights in the driveway
Guardian Angels living next door
One hundred pounds of unfriendly persuasion
Sleeping on the Florida porch

Slackers in the market
Bangers in the mall
Skinheads on the golf course
Hunting for their balls

If you come calling
He'll be mauling with intent to maim
Don't knock on my door
If you don't know my Rottweiler's name

Well, he's dreaming about an intruder or two
And the promise of burglar blood
He's yearning to chew on a gangster tattoo
And to hear the proverbial sickening thud

Shadows on the window
Rustling in the hedge
Faces at the peephole
Footsteps on the ledge

If you come calling
He'll be mauling with intent to maim
Don't knock on my door
If you don't know my Rottweiler's name

Affirmation.


The great artists of the past were aware that human life is full of chaos and suffering. But they had a remedy for this and the name of that remedy was beauty - the beautiful work of art brings consolation in sorrow and affirmation in joy. It shows human life to be worthwhile. Many modern artists have grown weary of this sacred task. No longer does art have a sacred status. No longer does it raise us to a higher, moral, or spiritual plain. It is just one human gesture among others, no more meaningful than a laugh or a shout. Art once made a cult of beauty. Now we have a cult of ugliness instead. Since the world is disturbing, art should be disturbing, too. Those who look for beauty in art are just out of touch with modern realities. Sometimes the intention is to shock us, but what is shocking first time round is boring and vacuous when repeated. This makes art into an elaborate joke, though one by now that has ceased to be funny. Yet the critics go on endorsing it, afraid to say the emperor has no clothes.

Sir Roger Scruton

Soft.

Dixon, Sunset of a Dying Race, 1909


I do not know. Our ways are different from your ways. The sight of your cities pains the eyes of the red man. But perhaps it is because the red man is a savage and does not understand.

There is no quiet place in the white man’s cities. No place to hear the unfurling of leaves in spring or the rustle of insect’s wings. But perhaps it is because I am a savage and do not understand. The clatter only seems to insult the ears. And what is there to life if a man cannot hear the lonely cry of the whippoorwill or the arguments of the frogs around a pond at night? I am a red man and do not understand. The Indian prefers the soft sound of the wind darting over the face of a pond, and the smell of the wind itself, cleansed by a midday rain, or scented with pinon pine.

The air is precious to the red man, for all things share the same breath―the beast, the tree, the man, they all share the same breath. The white man does not seem to notice the air he breathes. Like a many dying for many days, he is numb to the stench. But if we sell our land, you must remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also receives his last sigh. And the wind must also give our children the spirit of life. And if we sell you our land, you must keep it apart and sacred, as a place where even the white man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow’s flowers.

Chief Seattle

Treasure.


Studying texts and stiff meditation can make you lose your Original Mind.
A solitary tune by a fisherman, though, can be an invaluable treasure.
Dusk rain on the river, the moon peeking in and out of the clouds;
Elegant beyond words, he chants his songs night after night.

Ikkyu

Gratitude.


Ray Wylie Hubbard on gratitude ...
so someone asked me about my spiritual practice. i thought for a moment and told him, "i play an E chord without the 3rd." 

i wasn't trying to be a smart ass but ever time i read some joseph campbell or listen to lightnin' hopkins or see judy meeting me at the airport or some one comes up and tells me they enjoy my songs or i come up with a cool groove and some words that fit, i get this feeling that i'm right where i'm supposed to be and i'm doing what i'm supposed to be doing and i get grateful that i'm still teachable and able to learn new things.

now for me the real quest for the grail isn't dressing up in armor and riding off from the kings castle into a dark forest to test your courage...its how do i handle myself when i get up at 4 am to make a 6 am flight..and the guy next to me didn't shower that morning and the lady right behind me has a beautiful baby but the little critter poops 3 times from la to austin and the seat belt sign is on so she can't change him right away..

if i say its karma then i got to figure out what i did to deserve this.

if i say its luck then i should never gamble again.

if i say well it's the way its supposed to be and i ain't gonna always be here to be aware of such moments and i'm still very fortunate to be able to afford to travel and gig then i can endure such aromas as i'm sure there are worse.  well then i don't flair up, i breath through my mouth and remember i was a baby once who stunk up where ever i was and that i used to stay up all night and get on a plane ever now and then wearing yesterday.

it was a good flight, we all walked away, and the days that i keep my gratitude higher than my expectations, i have really good days. 

Ray Wylie Hubbard
Ray's recent gig on Austin City Limits is HERE.

23 January 2021

None.


I don't see pitches down the middle anymore - not even in batting practice.  I looked for the same pitch my whole career, a breaking ball. All of the time. I never worried about the fastball. They couldn't throw it past me, none of them.

Hank Aaron

Calm.


Go first in the world, go forth with your fears
Remember a price must be paid
Be always too soon, be never too fast
At the time when all bets must be laid
Beware of the darkness, be kind to your children
Remember the woman who waits
And the house you live in will never fall down
If you pity the stranger who stands at your gate

When you're caught by the gale and you're full under sail
Beware of the dangers below
And the song that you sing should not be too sad
And be sure not to sing it too slow
Be calm in the face of all common disgraces
And know what they're doing it for
And the house you live in will never fall down
If you pity the stranger who stands at your door

When you're out on the road and feeling quite lost
Consider the burden of fame
And he who is wise will not criticize
When other men fail at the game
Beware of strange faces and dark dingy places
Be careful while bending the law
And the house you live in will never fall down
If you pity the stranger who stands at your door

When you're down in the dumps and not ready to deal
Decide what it is that you need
Is it money or love, is it learning to live
Or is it the mouth you must feed
Be known as a man who will always be candid
On questions that do not relate
And the house you live in will never fall down
If you pity the stranger who stands at your gate

Gordon Lightfoot

Hank Aaron, Rest in Peace


Hank Aaron has passed.

Gordon Lightfoot, "Restless"

Still I get that restless feelin' when I hear a whistle blast
See an image from the past
Of an old schooner flyin' down a sky that's overcast ...

Prevent.


I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.

Thomas Jefferson

Happy Birthday, Manet

Manet, Lilacs in Crystal Vase, 1882


It is not enough to know your craft – you have to have feeling. Science is all very well, but for us imagination is worth far more.

Edouard Manet

Happy Birthday, Reinhardt


Django Reinhardt was born on this day in 1910.

"Jattendrai Swing" ...

20 January 2021

Happy Birthday, Hill


Ian Hill was born on this day in 1952.

"Electric Eye"...

Liberty.


Liberty is traditional and conservative; it remembers its legends and its heroes. But tyranny is always young and seemingly innocent, and asks us to forget the past.

G.K. Chesterton

Doors.

Guesses for what is behind the Capitol Building's smallest doors are as varied as the architectural details that encompass the Capitol campus. The correct explanation for their existence involves Christmas Eve, the Library of Congress and engineer Montgomery Meigs ...


Mind's.


Tis true my form is something odd
But blaming me is blaming God
Could I create myself anew
I would not fail in pleasing you.

If I could reach from pole to pole
Or grasp the ocean with a span
I would be measured by the soul
The mind's the standard of the man.

Isaac Watts

Madeleine Peyroux, "Anthem"

19 January 2021

The Decemberists, "The Wrong Year"

Happy Birthday, Poe


Edgar Allan Poe was born on this day in 1809.

Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.

Edgar Allan Poe

Walk.

Lifesaver.

The Police, "Driven to Tears"

Interest.


Interest is the most important thing in life; happiness is temporary, but interest is continuous. 

Georgia O'Keeffe

XTC, "King for a Day"

Live.

The Chameleons, "Paper Tigers"

Talking Heads, "Don't Worry About the Government'

I see the states, across this big nation
I see the laws made in Washington, D.C.
I think of the ones I consider my favorites
I think of the people that are working for me

Some civil servants are just like my loved ones
They work so hard and they try to be strong
I'm a lucky guy to live in my building
They own the buildings to help them along



Preview.


Your imagination is your preview of life's coming attractions. 

Albert Einstein