6/7/51 ~ 11/12/97

On Music

Music has always been one of the big mysteries to me.  It still draws me in.  I can remember back in Berlin when I was four years old, playing concertina in the building courtyard for any neighbor who'd listen.  I heard a Dobro once in my dreams when I was young, took note of that sound, and went looking for it.


If as James Baldwin once said, that the Blues are not quotable, then where does that leave the great Blues singers?  A song is a repeat of an earlier song being a repeat of another.  Carried to its logical conclusion, that no word has credence unless it is a new word.  Here then is the compromise for the singer: to make each note, line, word, song sung for the first time.  The emotion must carry it.  It has to be delivered with convincing "humanness" to be always on the verge of going into non-human spaces.  Carry the song up to new heights with new interpretations and new possiblities.  No matter how many times a word has been used in the past in whatever contexts, it must be made a part of the "now".  If LOVE has been used billions time billions of times then when it is used to describe the feelings of LOVE now, with all the wisdom and experience that only the present minute can possibly have.  It must be real, be new, in the now.  (1986)

To Play Prague

It is clear to me now, the reason for it all.  The why's of why I'm doing what I'm doing.  Now, oh I don't want to lead you to think I've found the answer to all questions.  No.  Just one of them. Just a slice - one answer.  I've just read a letter - translated in Czechoslovakian, by someone unknown to me but known to my aunt.  Ah, my aunt.  That seems an odd word for me to use.  I have never had any contact with this sister of my father.  Not once was ever a word exchanged.  Oh I always - had knowledge of - my father's distant relavives.  Not distant to him I assume, but on the other side of the planet to me.  She spoke to me as family.  She wrote words like Dearest and beautiful.  And here is where the revelation came to me.  She said if you're ever in Europe again to come see them, and how welcome I would be.  The reason I'm doing this thing - is to go back to the old country.  But not as a tourist or vacationer.  I'll go back on a working tour, playing, and I will show these never remembered, but now constant family of aunts and uncles and cousins my own age, that the father I know had not been a failure, not ruined his life with illness of heart, but had produced me, a success who's come back to his native soil a realized vision of freedom.  (1988)


Rock n roll died - and like all other huge movements - not by a single blow but with a whole series of death knells.  The first Christion Rock radio station, the day Elvis made his first Hollywood movie, the day John Lennon died, and on and on.

There is no more expuberance in rock n roll - like the early days.  Exuberance of the Everly's, the Beatles, of Chuck Berry.  There is no exuberance in Quiet Riot - no naivete.

So yes it is dead - not in a coma, dead.  It is now institutionalized rebellion.  (1988?)


From beer to panty hose.  The music I love to play has been usurped by the beer commercials.  They've stolen one of the best things I love about life and kidnapped it to sell beer.  That reason alone would be enough to stop playing that gritty blues slide guitar with the thumping bass and snare.  (1992)


What the heck am I gonna do?  I'm setting myself up for failure aren't I?  Trying to make a living in the totally nutty business of music.  Any sane person would recognize the lunacy of it and move on to something more profitable like computer chips or teepee building.

The music industry does not need a forty something solo kinda dude with a non - voice and no attitude.  They want kids with lotza meanness and attitude to give the finger to the world and profit to the label.  Heroin addiction is very profitable if it's mentioned in the convenient way for the interview - It'll be the one thing that will always be talked about in a oo la la kind of way - what a rebek - is ne on it now?  How exotic - to visit the land of drug induced vomit.  Rainer you're gonna fail in this business of crap and more crap and louder crap and then even louder crap with videos.

Touching death and feeling life is not sellable.  It's just not a 90's kinda thing we can market.  Now if you had a drug habit, now that would be okay - how about a drinking problem, that would be almost as good.  Clarity of vision and love of your kids - well no can't really sell that right now - but hey, we'll be in touch ... NEXT!  (1996)

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