about half a song: I Don't Know Anything (When It Comes to Love)

Posted on: Sun, 08/14/2011 - 02:32 By: Tom Swiss

Wrote about half/two-thirds of a song tonight:

Oh you know you make me melancholy
Like no one else can do
So I'm sitting here at home alone
Just thinking about you

You're a hundred miles away at least
And yet you're in my mind
Whatever I try to do it seems
I can't leave you behind

So I'll just sit here and sing
Wanting and wondering
'Cause I don't know anything
When it comes to love
Don't know what to do, about you, and me

I wonder if you think of me
I wonder what you feel
I wonder if I'm fooling myself
Or if this is really real

'Cause I want you to be happy
And I want you to be free
I'm just hoping in your life
There might be room for me

So I'll just sit here and sing
Wanting and wondering
'Cause I don't know anything
When it comes to love
Don't know what to do, about you, and me

So I'll just sit here and sing
Wanting and wondering
'Cause I don't know anything
When it comes to love
Don't know what to do, about you, and me

guitar in the shop

Posted on: Tue, 07/26/2011 - 13:16 By: Tom Swiss

So here's the irony: I bought this banged up Ovation ("the Big Coleslaw Container", as Bob Pyle put it -- and no, his song isn't about my specific guitar) back in 1994 or 95 so because I had a sentimental attachment to my Gibson, my uncle's old guitar, and I was reluctant to take it out where it might be damaged. (The Gibson is older than I am, a 68 I believe.)

Photo by Phil Laubner

I then proceeded to take that Ovation out to many parties and open mics and jams with friends, then to paid gigs, then to Japan, as well as to Starwood, FSG, and PDF. I've busked on the streets of Baltimore with it, played it in an improv psychedelic jam in Kyoto and in the "Amemura folk jamboree" in a basement bar in Osaka, wrote several songs on it, and played it in my living room on lonely nights.

And as you might guess, I've developed quite a sentimental attachment to the darned thing.

Last night I noticed something alarming about my old friend: her neck had started to come loose from her body. Thus, this morning she was delivered into the hands of the luthiers at Appalachian Bluegrass in Catonsville. (No, I don't play bluegrass, but they're the best acoustic guitar shop in town.) And it's a curious thing that I actually felt a twinge almost like leaving my dog at the vet.

Getting this fixed may actually end up costing more than I paid for the the guitar, all those years ago. (It also needs to have the bridge re-attached.) From a purely "rational" viewpoint it might make more sense to go buy another guitar. But if we were purely "rational", we wouldn't make and listen to music, would we?

So, yes, the Buddha tells us that attachment is the origin of suffering, and yes, tools can be the subtlest of traps, and yes, there's a samurai maxim that any old weapons and armor are good enough, but screw you, I'm going to pay what it takes to get this ol' axe fixed.

shaman and showman

Posted on: Tue, 07/12/2011 - 13:29 By: Tom Swiss

Tripped across this interesting little bit in an interview with Jim Steinman, the songwriter behind the classic Meat Loaf album Bat Out Of Hell:

...This goes back to Jim Morrison and The Doors, my favorite group from the '60s. They always used the word Shaman a lot, Shaman being the tribal leader who would conduct the rituals. The sorcerer or the tribal leader and the guy who would hand out the magic mushrooms.

Or the guy who would say the right prayers. Basically it's if the Pope was cool, he'd be a Shaman, the biggest Shaman. It was always interesting to me that Meat [Loaf] was kind of like a Shaman, which is so close to showman. I don't know if there's any connection linguistically but a great showman to me is also a Shaman, in that tears open doorways and lets you see things behind doors that you would never see.

And creates altars so you could worship things that you're not aware of. It shows you the underbelly and that's always interested me more than anything else. What, the secret underbelly of things.

Frank Zappa monument dedication and concert

Posted on: Fri, 08/27/2010 - 16:24 By: Tom Swiss

September 19 will be Frank Zappa Day in Baltimore -- featuring a stretch of Eastern Avenue being marked as "Frank Zappa Way", the dedication of a bust of Zappa (a gift from a Lithuanian fan club), a talk at the Creative Alliance by Gail Zappa, and a free concert featuring Zappa Plays Zappa", Plus an after party at the Creative Alliance with Big In Japan, Telesma, and DJ El Suprimo.

Event details at (Warning: most annoying website I've seen this year. Their design team -- indeed, any design team producing a Flash-based site for anything but games or video -- needs to be keel-hauled.)

Frank Zappa and Linux

Posted on: Thu, 06/03/2010 - 17:50 By: Tom Swiss

In a ha-ha-only-serious investigation, Robin 'Roblimo' Miller explores the link between the music of Frank Zappa and the GNU/Linux operating system, the Free Software (free as in freedom, not (necessarily) as in price) alternative to corporate bastards like Microsoft and Apple.

And this is why he can say, with total authority, that Zappa's "Dinah-Moe Hummm" is totally about Linux, at least in spirit, while the song "Montana" with its talk of zirconium-encrusted tweezers and dental floss, "is obviously about Mac users."


In the early 70s Zappa wrote and performed a song called "Penguin in Bondage," a foretelling of the various anti-Linux lawsuits and threats from SCO, Microsoft, and other evildoers.

Zappa was also a heavy user of the Synclavier, an electronic music-machine that was a precursor to today's "studio on a computer" recording and sound editing software. Today, I strongly suspect Zappa would be using Linux and Ardour for most of his recording and composition.

open mic at Cacao Lane; Buddha at the bar

Posted on: Fri, 03/28/2008 - 22:55 By: Tom Swiss

Went to the open mic at Cacao Lane Wednesday, played a few songs - longest I've played since I crushed my finger, and didn't have any pain. Hooray!

Interesting episode afterwards:

the Buddha said, "do not drink alcohol"
I've never quite agreed with the Buddha on that one

and he's not
here, now
sitting at this bar
next to a young man who wants to buy us all shots
to toast the memory of his dead girlfriend

if I were the Buddha
maybe I could say something amazing about the
illusory nature of birth and death
that would help ease his pain

but I am not the Buddha

a song about Marion

Posted on: Tue, 03/18/2008 - 01:55 By: Tom Swiss

St Paddy's Day - or Irish Pride day, as I prefer to think of it... down to Leadbetters for a few in honor.

For a while I've had just a line or two from a potential song about me sainted Irish grandmother in the back of my head...

This is a song about Marion
A girl I never knew
An Irish lass from Baltimore town
With a heart so sweet and true

Now Marion could play the blues
In a dark and smoky bar
Or she could sing a hymn so sweet
T'would make your soul see stars

This is song about Marion
A girl I never knew
An Irish lass from Baltimore town
With a heart so sweet and true

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