Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Dispatch From Escalatorville: More page views than Pliny the Elder's blog (maybe)

I live in a relatively small town. This is sometimes really cool, sometimes not.

Here's one of the cool things:

I can, on occasion, have dinner at a good friends apartment and then, on the walk home, pass by the house of a random stranger having a cookout/chillout in their backyard - and blaring the latest album by said friend on their porch stereo.

Pretty neat, if I do say so myself.

Thoughts of a Simple Man
On the way home from the store one evening, I heard a local band at a local alcoholery play a cover version of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama."

Now, if one is a musician in a southern town, and in particular a southern town less than 50 miles from where Lynyrd Skynyrd was born and bred, then you are expected to know at least a song or two by those local boys done good.

Anyhow, in that particular song, there's a vocal part after the line "In Birmingham they love the Governor" wherein original back up singers Clydie King, Merry Clayton, and Sherlie Matthews sing "Boo! Boo! Boo!" to cement the meaning behind the song [Taken from the Wikipedia: "In 1975, (Singer and Writer of the song Ronnie)Van Zant said: "The lyrics about the governor of Alabama were misunderstood. The general public didn't notice the words 'Boo! Boo! Boo!' after that particular line, and the media picked up only on the reference to the people loving the governor...Wallace and I have very little in common," Van Zant said, "I don't like what he says about colored people."].  They sing the line so emphatically and royally that it becomes a  key moment in the tune.

This brings me to my point of frustration, and I'm being nitpicky, for sure, but if I wasn't nitpicky, then I wouldn't write half of the things I do. Y'see, it's that very small but crucial part that cover groups screw up the most. Bands use that minuscule pause in between the words "Governor" and the first "Boo!" to make their presentation either too ornate, too explosive, or too discombobulated  - always. It takes the oomph out of the song.

It was done so perfectly the first time around, why should it be messed with?

Now, if you are in one of those bands that permeates the south and is frequently pestered by obnoxious music fans to cover a Skynyrd tune, please try to avoid showboating it. If your guitar slingers have the chops to pull off a decent version of say "Freebird" or "Gimme Three Steps," then by all means, go ahead.

If yer gonna be extremely flowery about it though, please don't. You can worship Skynyrd, you can cover Skynyrd, you can even mock Skynyrd (heck I doubt they could care less) - BUT - you can never out-do Skynyrd,
and don't you ever forget it.

(This hatches an embryonic scheme in my brain, however. I'd like to see a regional Lynyrd Skynyrd Invitational Tournament - a battle of the bands as it were. Each performer would do one Lynyrd Skynyrd cover, any tune they like, and will all perform on a single night. The winner gets named the best Skynyrd Salute of that year - and maybe a few prizes. If enough folks get behind the idea, we'll see what we can do to get it going. Send me your thoughts/band suggestions/audition videos via a comment on this blog, or to - I'm frikkin' serious.)

Original Gangster?
It happened again. From a block away I could hear the massively loud truck stereo. A roving group of tipsy, would be frat boys from a college without any fraternities tried to clumsily sing along with the track they were blasting. A sloppily chanted "Heey. Heey"  -  a pause, then again - "Heey. Heey."

I could feel the pumped up bass line in my chest as they rolled and rollicked past me. I recognized the faux gangbanger anthem in my head as soon as they drove beside the space in which I strolled.  It was indeed Dion's "Runaround Sue."

Paging Clarence in Bedford Falls
If you ever want to have one of those George Bailey days, wherein you see how the world would look if you never existed -  here's any easy way (because suicide can be messy): leave your house for your daily routine about 5 minutes earlier than usual.

I have done it (I don't know why, I have no reason to get to work any earlier than I actually do - plus, I've timed my morning rituals to be perfectly punctual). In any case, I tried this a few weeks ago and was amazed at how much of the universe is out and about directly before I am. I left my abode literally 5 minutes earlier than usual - nearly got run over by two cars emerging from their respective driveways, got howled at by at least three dogs, and said hello to so many unrecognized joggers that I lost count.

Strange how the world works, especially when it's on a schedule that's not mine.

There is no more Hanging Up, There is only Hanging On.
I overhead half of a cell phone conversation a couple weeks ago, but I think I got the whole story.

"Yeah, you'll have to make a right but then it's just a half block from my house,"
the call receiver spoke.

They continued, " Oh, there you are! Yeah, just drive right up, I can see you from here."

Now in normal communication, with normal people, this is where the conversation via phone would have ended, with the party on the phone hanging up to greet the driver in person. Nope, not in Escalatorville, folks.

"Oh yeah, now just turn into the driveway, you have plenty of room. Perfect!"

And it continued,
"O.K., just drive around to the back of the house and park, I'll meet you there in a moment."

"In a moment?" I wondered to myself, "You are literally three feet from the person you are talking to!"

The caller then went in the front door of their house, and I walked away. As I got a half block beyond, I heard the caller again, distantly, as they exited out the back door -"Oh hey, you're here, I'm glad you made it..."

Call Me Zachary, I write humor (Don't hate the player, hate the game.)
So, I can understand the bumper sticker (slightly) that states

"God is my Co-Pilot,"  because, hey - if you're gonna fly through the air,  you might as well be on the side of the guy that invented sky, right?

However, the other day I saw a bumper sticker that read:

"Jesus Is My Designated Driver"


First of all, you know he was a wine drinker, don't you?
Also, Jesus has never seen a car, so he probably wouldn't know how to turn the engine over, much less be able to navigate.  The GPS would freak him out;  A mysterious, omnipresent voice knowing where one is at any given time, shouting random, various directions and tasks?

Yeah - who'd believe that?

Also, even Jesus is gonna pray that you don't have a stick shift.
(You may have to think on that one for a moment...)

Even sadder than the joke? It's probably been done already.
I want to form a reggae band that does covers of classic country-rock singles. We can call ourselves "the Dread-Necks."

Dancing on the High-Wire of Self Promotion
Nearly forgot to mention that we're doing a live show. Yup - you read that right. 'A Night In Escalatorville' marks it's audience laden debut on Saturday the 27th of October. The show is  a combination of monologues and readings based on stuff n' stories found throughout the 5 year history of this very blog - as well as original songs written and performed by yours truly. We're pleased to be inaugurating the shindig in one of the old city's newest venues -King Hall- taking a place on their monthly schedule betwixt the schlock films and rock shows - groovy!

If you are in the St. Augustine area, check in and check it out. More info's available on our Facebook event page. Just click on 'A Night In Escalatorville'. ----

The Dispatch From Escalatorville
Z.F. Lively, Proprietor/Middle Aged Earth Dancer -send yer band links and rad thinks.

P.S.  Gaaah! Read the reviews.

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