gall and gumption

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Band with No Name and Many Names

1.) I'm quite certain he doesn't know, as he refuses to go anywhere near the Internet or computers.

2.) If anybody can tell me how I can find out who put these up I'd be grateful. Oh dear me.

Oh it makes me so sad to remember all those songs. Jesus Christ it makes me sad. I haven't been sad about it for years. I was mostly relieved and busy. I want to download them all but I'm afraid to listen to them.

How weird is it that yesterday, totally unaware of the existence of these things online, I made this little note about that period of my life:

For years after I left Jamaica I felt vaguely oppressed by the feeling that I ought to look to some Law of Propriety and Taste to find what was good. Everybody was getting this and other information from somewhere in the culture, but somehow my antenna were not tuned to the messages. I didn’t want this feeling, but it took me a while to get rid of it. It seemed to me that people who didn’t have this feeling had a more direct access to interesting experiences than I did, whereas what I was experiencing was different flavors of the same thing: What Is Approved.

Other people, like my friends, were somehow more free to enjoy themselves. I believed (all this I think was left over from the very conventional social ideas I brought with me from Jamaica) that the way I’d get to be free to enjoy myself was if someone gave me permission. How this was to happen was not quite clear. At a certain point it seemed hopeless, and I felt cursed.

The feeling of being shut out from experience, of being disqualified and not permitted, was the cause of a few years of horrible depression. I mean that really nasty kind where you’re trying to climb out of a hole and someone keeps swinging at you with a shovel to keep you from getting out, and the person who is swinging the shovel at you is yourself.

Strangely, I had never felt the need for permission with respect to books. With books I read whatever I wanted to read, and – this is important – I knew from the books themselves that what I wanted to read was good. I knew my judgment was good. When I read critics to find out about new books, I’m judging the critics. So during those depressed few years, I taught literature courses that were packed with reading, and, in spite of the depression, really inspired most of the time. The classroom was one piece of real estate I felt I owned; everywhere else I was a squatter, in those depressed days. You would not know from the liveliness and ease in the classroom that I went home and pretty much just curled up in bed for the rest of each day. But I had torpedoed my teaching career by giving up the tenure-track job.

These songs are the soundtrack to that whole period. I'm leaving out a lot of the story I suppose. The band had no name. Every time they played a gig they called themselves something different and Shawn would make a painting that was basically a poster for the band. The names were incredibly goofy. And then he would produce these tapes at his own expense. And here someone has digitized them and made them into free downloads and he has no idea.

I really thought I was over blaming myself. I mean, I saw the songs, and I remembered what I wrote yesterday, and it's like matches and gasoline. Well, maybe if you hadn't let yourself get so depressed... Well, maybe if you had been more aware, more considerate, more understanding... OK I know that's not true. Did I misunderstand something back then? Fail to do justice? I really couldn't see or understand a lot of what was going on then. And that's why I had to leave. Did I miss something? Did I try hard enough? Was it my fault in some way that I just couldn't see then? Am I that clueless now? Can you understand a little about why I stayed so long?

2.) Someone explain to me again. I know some of you were around.

I have the journals I wrote during that period. I haven't looked at them in more than 10 years. I remember how much work these guys put into these songs, and I'm moved to see that someone still cares about them and wants to get them out there.

But what odd things come along with that feeling.

Such as now I start to wonder: what if I'm depressed now? What if the reason life seems bearable is because I am totally numb with depression? Because here a feeling comes lurching up out of the past quite by accident and I feel like I've been punched in the gut.

3) If someone is willing to burn me a CD, please drop me a line and I'll give you more details. Then I can put it in a box with the journals and not altogether lose the songs, even if I don't feel quite equal to listening.

They're completely original and clever and funny. "Sleigher" is the Christmas album. I am almost certain he has no idea that they are there.

Here's my address again, just paste it:


At 1:30 PM, Blogger buckner said...

My guess is that since Scott Bell is a member of all the bands listed he would be your culprit.

At 10:48 PM, Blogger Kia said...

Well, good for Scott! I wonder where he is these days. I hope he's still making music.

At 11:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like you need a half a glass of water.



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