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What’s Bob Eating… » What’s Bob Listening To?
What's Bob Eating?

Archive for the ‘What's Bob Listening To?’ Category

You Gotta Love Those Avetts

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

I’m Back

I have been busy and I am back at this business of boring the world with the everyday experiences of my life. Some will be sorry but I suspect that most of them have not lingered long at this place anyway. If you are reading this, Thanks.

What’s Bob Listening To?

It’s A Brand New Day

I can’t remember the last time I played a new CD over again after listening to it the first time. I just fired up I And Love And You by the Avett Brothers for the third listen. I guess you know where this is going so beware.

On listening to the new Avetts CD it struck me just how aware these guys are as to where they are going. They know they have left some things and perhaps some folks behind. But that is what happens in life. You grow or you don’t and if you don’t then we all know what happens to you. So long. Farewell. Been nice knowin’ ya.

Much has been made of the new disc and how it’s just not those old boot flingin’, stompin’, shoutin” boys we have come to love so well. But come on now. It’s not really quite that way. There are banjos and shouting on this disc. What the hell is wrong with a piano and drums?

If I thought that all of this was a terrible thing for the Avetts, and I most certainly do not, I would still have to admit that the song writing is as strong as ever. These are not three chord progressions or sing-song bouncy love songs. The lyrics and rhythms are as strong as ever and there is more. There is much more. What we have is a clean representation of their ability as musicians and clean is not necessarily a bad thing.

The important thing to me is that they know very much that they are moving on. In the opening title cut they tell us so. They speak of New York and all that the big city means. They are heading north. They are going to the evil world and taking their banjos, cellos, guitars, pianos and yes, even the devils own instrument, the drums with them. The addition of piano and drums to the majority of the tunes is a compromise in some folk’s eyes, but to me it speaks of reaching out. It speaks of extending the warm hand of their talents to those who have a narrower view of the musical world. You know, the majority of dim wits that buy records. If you hate compromise then I can see where you might have a hard time swallowing this new Avett attitude but most people who are true artists want to share what they believe is of value with the rest of the world. Or at least a bigger portion than the fringe crazies that some of us belong to. They want to be successful if they can and we all need to let our ears grow just a little. This CD is a stretch in that direction.

I am blown away by And It Spread.

This is classic Avetts with the new twist of drums but still retaining that great bass and cello foundation. The stompin’ is there. The shoutin’ is there. And the poetry has never left. A+ in my humble opinion.

At bottom the whole idea that the Avetts have left their roots and abandoned those crazies who helped them reach this point in their career is why some of those good old folks out there are having a hard time swallowing this. I personally believe they have allowed their feelings to be hurt and are being incredibly selfish. No artist creates and then hopes that he will achieve a minimum of success and be happy with a small cadre of followers. Is there any sense in this? Check out the lyrics to The Perfect Space. This sounds like a production from Sgt. Pepper. Who are these guys?

“I want to have friends that I can trust that love me for the man I’ve become not the man I was”

Oh they know they are changing.

“I want to have pride like my mamma has and not like the kind in the Bible that turns you bad”.

And then we have Ten Thousand Words.

Everything in this poem speaks of self knowledge and the roads we take.

“We love to talk on things we don’t know about”. Yes. I know. That applies to this scribbling as well. In the end it makes no difference what I have to say about these simple men making simple art, but…. I gotta tell you that if this art is really so simple then why don’t we have more of it in the world? I’m crazy but I gotta tell you I think this is the stuff to be crazy about.

“Quick to point out our shortcomings”.

Oh yeah.

There is much more in this astounding music and inspiring self analyzing lyrics then I am capable of expressing. Listen to the CD. If you don’t like it fine. I personally find much to impress and inspire.

Kick Drum Heart.

The heart of the Avetts will probably always be connected to the kick drum that is such an important instrument in their live performances. That explosive electricity is key to what we all love about these guys but it can reside in their hearts and always be a part of their sound without holding them back. The screaming and the pounding rhythm will reside with them forever. But do not try to hold them back with the musical limitations of your ears. Turn your back on them if you must but they have made it quite clear to this listener that they will continue to venture forth, exploring new sounds and poetry as they see fit. We would be wrong to confuse breaking new ground with conforming to some mythical musical framework. Sure we have heard piano and drums before but nobody complains if Neil Young uses them, or Bob Dylan or any of the other giants who have turned their backs on their so called fans to explore new directions.

More than forty years ago a young and upcoming folk singer followed a musical whim and started playing electric music. In an apparent attempt to turn his back on his real fans he struck out in a new direction and took a lot of grief over the whole thing. The good news is that he is still making recordings and is a virtual god in the musical pantheon of America. God willing, some of us will still be listening to the Avetts forty years from now.

As always. You listen. You decide. I personally can’t wait to hear what they do next.

One thing I believe with all my heart is that they will be writing and performing music no matter how large or small their audience is. As a fan though, I have to admit that I would love to see them succeed.

“They say don’t take your business to the Big Time, I bought us tickets there”.

Don’t tell these guys not to change. They are going their own way and we will ultimately benefit from it.

Posted in General, What's Bob Listening To? | 1 Comment »

Where is Bob and What the Hell is He Doing Now?

Friday, June 12th, 2009

Can You Hide in Your Own Home?

Can You Hide in Your Own Home?

The title is not meant to be rhetorical. These are just a couple of the questions I have been asking myself recently.

Physically, I am residing in eastern North Carolina. Mentally I am living in the world of the books and music that I’m currently enjoying. Emotionally I am drawing closer to my immediate family and spiritually I am trying very hard to listen to the still, small voice inside of me.

Now as to what in the hell I have been doing besides not writing very often on this blog, let me give an explanation of myself.

First of all, what has Bob been eating? I have been dining way too much at fast food places and they are never that good. Some places have better fries then others and some do their burgers better but all in all they are a waste of time and money because they are seldom fast or cheap. At least not like back in my youth when they were first starting to appear nationwide. My life has been hectic and way too many times I have just made quick and easy choices.

Fortunately I have been eating other things and in other places besides these dens of inequity. I have already written about Ralphs and since I live close by now, I have had the pleasure of dining there several times. I also intend to visit and undoubtedly write about several of the other barbeque places that abound in this section of the beautiful state of North Carolina. Word has reached me recently that there are a multitude of barbeques and styles in South Carolina as well. All in good time, all in good time. Other places of local interest where my wife and I have had very good dining experiences include David’s Restaurant and the Second Street Lunch. All located in beautiful downtown Roanoke Rapids, NC. Check them out when you visit this fair city.

We are still getting the house we are living in set up so my cooking has been limited but I manage to fry some bacon and eggs on occasion and my normal breakfast of peanut butter, banana and soy milk has been maintained. This is probably as good a time as any to talk about just what this house is like. We live about a mile down a private road in a newly constructed house that backs up to a small pond and wilderness. The place is very peaceful and the quiet is deafening. Our back yard is filled with squirrels, rabbits and song birds. In the first two weeks of living here we have observed two turtles digging holes and burying their eggs, a flock of wild turkeys, several hawks and a large groups of my favorite birds (vultures) as well as a happy group of six baby skunks. I have only recently learned to carry a camera with me wherever I go.

Escape of the Hawk

Escape of the Hawk

It was several days of living here before I heard my first car and have only seen a couple of them drive by since then. The quiet is very nice but it is also a great place for serious music appreciation. No matter what volume I choose, it seems to be impossible to disturb any neighbors. Yesterday I listened to about two and a half hours of Wagner at a volume level that allowed me to truly appreciate his genius. We listen to a wide variety of styles and often fall asleep at night with some Miles Davis or John Coltrane playing. With no one to bother and only ourselves to please, life is good.

Another great feature of the silence that surrounds us is that it provides an atmosphere extremely conducive to reading and it seems like weeks since I have been able to sit down by myself and do just that for an hour or so. I’ve been filling in some of the blanks of my Shakespeare education and rereading a few of my favorite classics. It’s has been more than thirty years since I read The Scarlet Letter and I am enjoying it even more than the first time. Perhaps because I am older I am able to appreciate more of Hawthorne’s humor. Some of his passages, especially in the introduction, had me laughing out loud. Quite an image I guess, a funny old bearded man sitting in a chair in a quiet empty house all by himself laughing out loud. As I mentioned previously, life is good.

Our move from the west coast was hard. We had fun on the trip and enjoyed staying with our daughter while we got a place of our own here in Carolina, but it was stressful as well. Change is never easy and the best relationships are strained when the quarters are close. We were lucky to have family that has watched over us and helped us out. That is what family is supposed to do and we are grateful. We want to be there for any of them if they need us.

For the present we are enjoying the quiet of our new home. There have been and will be many kinks to work out and life is always made up of some percentage of struggle, but we know we are blessed or watched over or just plain lucky. Call it whatever you want, it’s all the same to me. I hope to do a lot more writing at this new location and some of it will probably end up here. Thanks for looking in from time to time and keep up the good fight. Life is Good.

P.S. Just a couple final thoughts. I know that not everyone likes to have their words or thoughts placed on public view. Many people are reluctant to leave comments as they don’t care to have the world see them. If you feel like leaving a comment but do not want it published, just say so. I will respect your requests. Of if you would like to drop me a line independently of this site, just send your emails to rkwhaley@gmail.com. I will be placing the address on my home page in the near future.

Sweet Potato Pie and Coffee

Sweet Potato Pie and Coffee

One more thing. Check out the sweet potato pie my wife bought at the local hospital and brought home for me the other day. Yum yum. Yes, it was tasty and yeah, it is gone.

Posted in A Piece of Pie, General, What's Bob Listening To?, What's Bob Reading? | 2 Comments »

We Are Back in the South

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

A Big Ol' Southern Breakfast

A Big Ol' Southern Breakfast

Let’s make this simple.

We left Oklahoma.

We crossed Arkansas.

We reached Memphis and then went on a little further.

Now we are in a hotel room and I am having a hard time drawing together the strength to write a post about today. So let’s break it down and make it simple.

There was a light rain falling when we loaded the car in Oklahoma today. We were lucky to drive out of it after about an hour or so and have had very nice, but windy, weather all day. We stopped for lunch at another Cracker Barrel and my wife saw an interesting electronic tablet they were using to organize their seating and serving. She was quite excited as they claimed they were the only Cracker Barrel using this particular device. You should probably check out her post as she will undoubtedly be talking about it. http://www.managemypractice.com/road-trip/

For lunch I had a big old southern breakfast of country ham (you know, really salty and thin sliced), scrambled eggs, a hash brown cheese casserole, grits, fried apples (great with the ham), biscuits and cream gravy. I gotta tell you it was pretty darn good and filling. I did not order pie as they really do not serve a good one.

After lunch we hit the road and ended up here in Tennessee. Short and simple.

We did have a great night’s sleep last night in that rather unusual place we stayed. The kid with the basketball did stop playing with it outside our door and the screams of delight subsided. We slept so well that we actually slept past the time I had originally planned on arising. That’s ok. We needed the rest and I know it made the day go better.

The high point of the day for me was the music we chose to guide us out of Oklahoma.

As the light mist continued to fall we pulled up some good old Mahalia Jackson and what a beautiful sound filled the van. Whenever someone tries to tell you that the devil has all of the best music just smile and point out Mahalia to them. Yes indeed she did it right. When I hear her singing I hear, Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin and Gladys Knight. I know they all owe her a great deal. Sweet, sweet sounds.

Along the road today I started to really notice the road kill that litters our highways. I saw a lot of it today and it made me think of all of the dead critters I have seen in my lifetime along the road of life I call my biography. I recall skunks, and possums. I have seen a bear cub and a several horses and cows as well as innumerable deer. In just the last week I have seen a rattlesnake, an owl, a hawk, a dog, a crow and a raccoon. One time long ago I saw a fox. The casualties are endless. So many creatures destroyed by the passing American automobile.

Progress claims many lives but we should not let that stop its forward motion. As if we could.

Roll on and watch your step. Move carefully forward and try to shed no blood. But do continue to move forward. Thanks for all the comments and thanks for taking the time to read this garbage.

Posted in Cruising With Bob, General, What's Bob Listening To? | 3 Comments »

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