Peter Case

Notebook

Sugar

so white & dry & innocent but evil—the sweetness that creates a sucking sound—a light in every dark heart—candy lives that go down easy  attention spans that spin at the sour—the dirty truth you have to get down on your hands & knees to ride—the faint trail in the dust that leads out through the lines—white footsteps in the green wet grass straight to—SUGAR ISLAND where the deal goes down—kill for a mouthful to bury this turpentine taste—the big size drinks at the asphalt corner stand—in a big plastic sweating cup—each sip leads unbearably to the next ’til yr teeth fall out, your waist is dragging like a swollen hula hoop—yr breath is shorter than a fullback’s book report. Sugar has its spot at the very top of the pyramid, like King Tut or the Sphinx—sugar the universal solvent—more potent than alcohol? A brighter name in the Poison Hall Of Fame—oh we all love to lick the pan—let our tongue lead the way through wisps & crisps of alleys & chiffon floating sweetness—her voice was thin & pinched everybody called HER sugar & she gave them something very sweet that soon rotted their teeth—its a ballast without it I fall sooner than later like learning to walk on Saturn or Jupiter where my weight is doubled but no float is for free—you pay in perfect pounds—its an aphrodisiac—or not? A replacement.

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Dylan (what I’ve taken away)

The companionship of Watching The River Flow, later Tangled Up In Blue, and others—Dignity I pulled the car over when I first heard it on the radio—Jokerman–I brought home and alone listening was transfixed—it was riveting—so alive—earlier I learned that white & black folk music go together—that the sound of the words is as important as anything—somehow it led me to Shakespeare—Kerouac also a part of this—the WORD—Eliot as a kid—Stevens—now Notley—that life is an adventure, an opportunity, is important.    Life—is holy—Death so powerful—the mystery—anima—the invisible world—the champions of civil rights—the dignity & value & stature he brought to rock & roll & folk—music etc—is no small thing—he made me want to live, to strive, to contend—wisdom of the street—the vision the powerful sweep & scope—Chimes of Freedom—It’s All Right, Ma—Baby Blue—he sang for freedom of the spirit & the soul—”the guardians and protectors of the mind”–“it is not he or she or them or it that you belong to”– ““an’ mine shall be a strong loneliness dissolvin’ deep/t’ the depths of my freedom/an’ that, then, shall/
remain my song”

–“don’t put on any airs when you’re down on Rue Morgue Avenue”—“when you ain’t got nothing, you ain’t got nothing to lose” —“she’s got everything she needs she’s an artist, she don’t look back” —“she never stumbles, she’s got no place to fall”–  like Bob in ’64-’65—(“he never stumbled” said Penny)– when I was a teen—“somebody got lucky but it was an accident”–  “goin’ back to New York City I do believe I’ve had enough”– (marvelling at the chaos of life & New York.) The beauty of Girl From The North Country—Went To See The Gypsy hit me in my 1971 isolation—at my biker friend Rose’s Cadillac dealership, waiting in the parking lot for her to get off work– in the days before I left town for good—the last song that moved me like that for a while—’til Billy—which also I loved & identified with–Billy’s trouble as I was on the lam 70’s style—so vivid & finally got that great inscription in the pink lyrics book perused at the SF bookstore two thousand miles from my home—“to all those high on life—from all corners of the wild blue yonder.”

*  Long Time Gone, an early Dylan song, from my cd “HWY 62” on Omnivore Recordings, 2016.

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they turned me into a donkey

patient & strong  grey bristle-haired & cute, stubborn according to legend, silent in speech except for their call, the horn-like voice, four feet on the ground, straw bound and watching always watching—swishing flies with their broom-like tails—the soft snoot the adjustable & attenuated pointed twitching ears, the huge forward teeth in rows chewing corn, hay, carrots—the silky muzzle—the forbearance of the animal—here in all being but a passenger amongst humans—no they’ve been passengered but carry men women & children on their backs—the odors of dirt & manure—hay & the dry breeze—in their little barn over the hill & dale of Caulkins’ farm—which was really just a place, a home, with donkeys—four of them that we’d visit—Jesus arrives in Jerusalem, the Kings enters on a donkey’s back, greeted by seismic crowds, waving palm fronds—was the little animal frightened? Did jesus ride side-saddle? Was the donkey rewarded in Heaven or on Earth? The wild burros of Hawaii, on the big island, wandering the black volcanic ash & fields by the blue ocean—life of a donkey equals low man on the totem pole—the respect and trust of Balthazar—traded & whipped from town to town—credited as living brick but a donkey can feel, is sensitive, crys big tears, freedom tastes sweet, Platero—if they want they will but if they dig in forget it—are you like that donkey?

 

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My Guitar

discolored from rain on the tarmac near Detroit—TSA left the snaps half undone—and now it looks bruised—my old twelve string—called it “the cannon”—it’s loud & deep—sometimes feels alive in my hands—a sound I’ve developed to express the american red brick honky tonk beauty I’ve been feeling since 1970 or so—the twelve string is a spiritual  instrument—I said it for laughs but it’s got a lot of truth to it—the thinner octave strings suggest another parallel dimension—a realm that follows & corresponds to this one—this heavier plonk—jangle the quicksilver brightness of the treble—the deep notes with their higher twins—cut through the air—through depression, despair & boredom—through objectivity & abjectivity—the twelve string—extra arms in the fight for light—harder to bend—but more worth it—still pliant—people say “oh, it’s samey I wouldn’t want it on every song” and I don’t either but maybe I could—makes the most of a simple phrase—always the ghost—the top-end reminder of the spiritual—twelve gates to the city—my protector—a wall of sound?—blues on the twelve—Hendrix—Leadbelly—Keith Richards—it’s heroic—John Hammond Jr. at McCabe’s that night on a guitar just like this one—maple—blonde—tuned way down to C—to see—needs to be treated with blessings, gratitude & respect.

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On Tour! Come on out…

On this track, it’s Case & Ridgway bringing the noise!  I’m out on tour solo, now, and playing a few gigs with my pals Dead Rock West, rocking the house, I promise.

Tour listings and links at www.http://petercase.com/gigs/

 

Here’s another jam, from McCabe’s, with Ron Franklin, and DL Bonebreak from X!

 

12 hour turnaround

you get up to the room after navigating a freeway & a service road—then, a crowded motel office—now crossing the parking lot with luggage—two trips with arms clinging to instruments & clothes on hangers—the next door neighbor eyes you suspiciously—or is that hostility in his eyes—predation? the door clicks behind—the light is felt for, your fingers do the walking in the dark—and they come on—the aroma? is it an odor? its a dry & chemical cleaner thats been used—the room is chilly—there is one thin garishly colored cover for the bed—orange & blue—and from experience you know the heater will either misfire or fry you—But some time without having to keep an eye cocked at the highway—time to close yr eyes & fall into inner space—play some music through the tiniest & tinniest of speakers—reading—writing—‘rithmetic—the little stale schoolhouse—drinking lots of water from plastic bottles—in this room the near-by highway presents as a steady roar—gotta get some sleep so I can drive tomorrow but its so much fun just being in this dump alone & not moving.

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On Tour!

Still out here on the road, gang. Don’t forget I’ll be at the 30-A Songwriters Festival in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida this weekend, then next week in Atlanta, Carrboro and Charlotte. I’ll be appearing at all of those shows with my pals Frank and Cindy from Dead Rock West, which is going to be super fun, I’m really looking forward to it! After that, I return to the West, playing for KC Turner in Sonoma, CA at the Hop Monk on Jan 28. In February I head North to Portland, Eugene, Seattle, and Prosser,in February, then back home for a series of California dates in March. I’m working on tunes for a new album, and also some surprises for the coming year. Check out the gig listings on the menu, and feel free to check out the posts in latest words (see menu), you’ll find a ton of stories and music in there to dig. Hope to see you all.  Also, be aware of the Heart Hunters debut CD, American Eclipse, which I produced, and is coming soon! Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, there are links on the site. I’ll try to post as many tour photos as I can, you never know what’ll turn up…

http://petercase.com/gigs/

 

 

discolored from rain on the tarmac near Detroit—TSA left the snaps half undone—and now it looks bruised—my old twelve string—called it “the cannon”—its loud & deep—sometimes feels alive in my hands—a sound I’ve developed to express the american red brick honky tonk beauty I’ve been feeling since 1970 or so—the twelve string is a spiritual  instrument—I said it for laughs but it’s got a lot of truth to it—the thinner octave strings suggest another parallel dimension—a realm that follows & corresponds to this one—this heavier plonk—jangle the quicksilver brightness of the treble—the deep notes with their higher twins—cut through the air—through depression, despair & boredom—through objectivity & abjectivity—the twelve string—extra arms in the fight for light—harder to bend—but more worth it—still pliant—people say “oh, it’s samey I wouldn’t want it on every song” and I don’t either but maybe I could—makes the most of a simple phrase—always the ghost—the top-end reminder of the spiritual—twelve gates to the city—my protector—a wall of sound?—blues on the twelve—Hendrix—Leadbelly—Keith Richards—it’s heroic—John Hammond Jr. at McCabe’s that night on a guitar just like his one—maple—blonde—tuned way down to C—to see—needs to be treated with blessings, gratitude & respect.

 

This picture from back when the guitar was brand new!

 

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Shakespeare and the Outsider

by Jack Kerouac

The secret of Shakespeare: two parts: one, he wrote costume poetry for the state — There’s your fortune — Had (amongst his Ovids and Montaignes) a copy of Plutarch’s Lives and a book about Kings of England, and set the scene like a

Hollywood Historical Costume Picture (think what he would have done with DeMille equipments on the Redcoats of Canada, the court of Catherine the Great, Napoleon and the whiff of grapeshot) — Made dandies, couriers, ladies, fools and generals and emperors talk with yapping mouths — a bwa a bwa a bwa BOOM! the eannon offstage. This is poetry, dramatic poetry. The vision of life, in which he was swilled like a pearl in a pigsty, a gloriously magnificent singer. “In peace,” he says to the nobles in the boxes, “there’s nothing so becomes a man/as modest stillness and humility;/When the blast of war blows in our ears,/then imitate the action of the tiger.” — This is like Krishna’s advice to the melancholy prince in Bhagavad-Gita. It’s given by King Henry V with scaling-ladder in hand, at Walls of Harfleur Act Ill Sc I, and for reason  “. .you noblest English/Whose blood is fet from fathers of warproof!” — Then our Immortal Bard played the Gallery with Nym — And played a form of Tao (Chinese No-Action) with “Boy”:

BOY: — Would I were in an alehouse in London! I would give all my fame for a pot of ale and safety.

Shakespeare’s real Gimmick Poetry is in Nym. Boy, Ariel, Clown, Pistol, Fool, the Gravedigger etc. — then, to unfold the story, his monologues and soliloquies unfold the plain explana-tion concerning the backgrounds of the play. It’s just a shining technique in the darkness, and goes out only when the stars go out. Face, if you will, Gentlemen, the stars never mind.

Part two, the singing of “mellifluous and honey tongued Shakespeare”: — A teenage boy raped under an Avon apple tree by an older woman, married and then cuckolded via his older brother Edmund Shakespeare the Villain, on the road to London not roomed in the inn, in London holding the reins Of the horses outside the theater, is asked “Hey Willie can you come in here and carry a spear?” and later “Will, can you add some lines to that last act?” and finally “Ah Sweet Will, how can you ever top that?”

He stands by himself alone in Heaven as the greatest writer in any language in any country anytime in the history of the world: — “Mankind and this world have never been so sharply sifted or so sternly consoled, since Lucretius, as in Shakespeare’s tragedies” (Oliver Elton). — Compared to him Homer groaned, Dante too — Cervantes could not combine drama and poetry in concentrated spates individualized like Othello or Hamlet or King Henry V breaking your heart year after year — Tolstoy threw a fit — Goethe marveled and bit his lip — Nietzsche was driven wroth — Dostoevsky sighed— Blake and Smart smiled — The Japanese and Chinese poets would have covered their ears and run wondering from London — Burns quivered — Pound fell into unreasoning jealousy based on Provencal lilts — Donne and Vaughan and Herbert grinned — Chaucer sat up in his grave and glanced curiously that away — Balzac irritably sharpened his pen quill and tried again and marked his master — Villon stared inspired into the future — Moliere shrugged and concentrat-ed on mere mores — Dickens exulted — Carlyle glared furi-ously into the dark looking for such light — Masey, Dan Michel and Spenser mourned in their cloaks — Modern idiots like Apollinaire, Mayakovsky and Artaud simply spat at the stars in defiance of him — Johnson nodded — Pope bowed — Melville smiled over the bow — Whitman accept-ed — Emily Dickinson saying about flowers

Spiciest at fading, indicate

a habit Of a laureate

understood, and James Joyce leered to comprehend.

Because (and here I want to present a new theory that really should be looked into by proper technicians of Shakespeare Research), when Shakespeare says “Slaves as ragged as Lazarus in the painted cloth, where the glutton’s dog licked his sores,” or “Greasy Joan doth keel the pot, and birds sit brooding in the snow” (combining the thought as well as the SOUND of the ellipse of a Japanese haiku) or those awful lines conspired around “Tarquin’s ravishing strides,” or “and pat he comes like the catastrophe of the old comedy,” I always wonder “Where did he get that rhythmic sound?” and always think “That’s what I like about Shakespeare, where he Raves in the great world night like the wild wind through an old Cathedral” (the training of that). Condell and Heminge reported that his handwritten manuscripts were hardly blotted, if at all, as he apparently flowed in his writing and wrote in an inspired hurry what he immediately heard sound-wise while his steeltrap brain kept shutting down on the exigencies of plot and character in that sea of ravening English that came out of him. And my hunch is that in spite of the many ponderous double entendres that take some thinking, he did it all more out of intuition, than out of deliberateness and the craftiness Of that. My theory is that Joyce fully understood this, the first man to do so since 1615 with the possible exception of Laurence Sterne: — who refused to be austere and severe to cover up the glory of Shakespeare. The prose of Shakespeare, “the most natural and noble of his age,” as it appears in the plays, as apart from the verse, did not persist in English literature but languished with its “tendons and sinews of the language” under the avalanche of the “leisurely and amorous romance” Of “French influence and example” that became the rage at the time, and was followed by big heavy laborings designed to vigorously counteract so-called Elizabethan “Euphuism,” thus alack, the crasser part of English became known as “English prose,” on through Johnson, the mathematical cant-ing absurdities that followed, and the prose of the London (and New York) limes. Today they find cotton to stuff up one meager idea inside a huge pillow of a paragraph. This dullard’s guile is known as “bombast,” derived from the Middle French bombace, meaning cotton, the stuffing and padding of speech with highsounding words all inflated and fustian and turgid, the long arid clauses grimacing with supe-riority the useless adverbs deadening satiated verbs (“inerad-icably misinformed” or something) the “latters” and “form-ers” and “a prioris” and “per ses” and “presentlys” and “con-sequentlys” all told and only for the sake of using cuty-dried phrases a thousand times over without any definite meaning, like in politicians’ windbag talk, in a word, CANT. The rich natural hoarse singing, the ringing complaynt of the Bard and the very art of it was forgotten for favor of the pursy Drab, and the Pundit, and the very Grammarian.

James Joyce over 300 years later attempted to become “Shakespeare in a Dream” and succeeded. Finnegans Wake is pure raving Shakespeare below, beneath, all over “I no sooner seen a ghist of his frighteousness than I was bibbering with vear a few verset off fooling for fiorg for my fifth foot” — and this which is only the end of a long rant-sentence is pure Shakespeare Sound and Rhythm but with Irish long-winded specialties as dark as the peat in Yeats. “THERES SCARES KNUD IN THIS GNARLD WARLD A FULLY SO SVEND AS DILATES FOR THE IMPROVEMENT OF OUR FOERSES OF NATURE BY YOUR VERY

AMPLE SOLVENT OF REFRACTING UPON ME LIKE IS BOESEN FIENND” — Your Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary and even your antique Stormonth Dictionary won’t help you here: “Pappaist! Gambanman! Take the cawraidd’s blow! Yia! Your partridge’s last.”— Smash! Crash! — Yah! — Cannon offstage, BOOM! — “and” (Shakespeare) “such as indeed were never soldiers, but dis-carded unjust serving-men, younger sons to younger broth-ers, revolted tapsters and ostlers trade-fallen, the cankers of a calm world and a long peace — ” (which passage proves

Shakespeare heard sound first then the words were there in his QUICK HEAD). “Well/To the end of fray and the beginning of a feast/ Fits a dull fighter and a keen guest” he adds— and everybody knows how folk sayings always seem to pop out of tongue-sounds instead of out of “thinks,” like in “It’s about to clabber up and rain all over” or, “Can’t pour piss out of a boot,” or even the old Medieval Quebecois saying, “Ya pus Plus faim qu’la mer a soif. ‘

For softer sounds, the divine punner listened to softer rains in his brain: Duke of Burgundy speaking about France:—“. . .her fallow leas/ The darnel, hemlock and rank fumitory/ Doth root upon, while that the coulter rusts/ That should deracinate such savagery:/The even mead, that erst brought sweetly forth/ the freckled cowslip. . .” Or Hamlet on his father’s love of the Queen: ” . .so loving to my

mother/ That he might not beteem the winds Of heaven/ Visit her face too roughly” — (In a sonnet, there “Since first your eye I eyed”) — and in Lear the daughter mourns like a dove: —

.. to watch —poor

perdu ! —

With this thin helm?

“Every cove to his gentry mort,” Shakespeare might have added, and it was Joyce who wrote that last line, in Ulysses, mindful of how poetry is done by mouthings and brainwaves and wizardries of inwit and not necessarily always by slow measured inductive introspections sunk in anguished consultation about should and shouldnots.

But Joyce was never able to combine drama with such poetry, and treacherous plots with sighs like that, and cries, and be, ampngst all writers of all time, Divinest Thaumaturgist, Forever.

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Quote from a letter in the book Epistolary Rex

“I tour playing music for a living, have done for years and years. It used to be the records mattered, (and they still do to me and a few others), but basically for most people they seem like an adjunct to the concert line, now. Once upon a time music was a gateway to the forbidden world, to magic, the invisible, to danger too… and the extent to which that is still true is a measure of its worth as a calling. It can’t be about the money. It’s gotta be about love, spells, the feel, where you get ’em, secret knowledge, turning the world around, freedom, true escape and redemption, or there’s no point in playing it, and less than no point for people to listen.”

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John Lennon BIRTHDAY (belated)

When I was a kid John Lennon was one of my biggest heros. At 16 years old I read the Rolling Stone interview, and JL said something like ‘I’m the kind of person, when I have a hero, if I find out they wear green socks, I’ll run out and buy green socks’  and  I immediately started to wear green socks myself. Wore ’em for years. I know that’s fucked up.

He did a photo spread in Look Magazine, with Yoko, it must have been around the time of  the making of the White Album, and the pictures made a big impression on me. Him and Yoko were posing in a big empty house that they’d just moved into. She was sitting with him and he was playing the guitar, and  I just really admired him, with his girl and guitar in a big house where nobody could tell him what to do. It was one of the things that clarified, at the time, my ideas about life. Of course, my image of him was rubbish. He was mad, painfully insane, destroying his mind with drugs, about to break up his great band. But that flux was part of what was great about him. I would consciously, and unconsciously, imitate all of that before too long myself.

I identified with the depth of his problems, as expressed in Yer Blues. That was my favorite for a while. My band ‘Pig Nation’ performed it at every gig we did, through 1969 and 1970. Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan were my other biggest living heros, and that song kind of summed it all up for me.

‘I’m lonely, want to die,’  Pig Nation used to rehearse in my parents basement and my Mom once called down the stairs: ‘Boys, play that nice song about suicide again!’

I’d seen the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show every time they were on. That was the first time I ever talked back to a grown up. My Dad was making cracks about their hair and I told him to be quiet. He got me good for that one! That was the first trouble JL got me in. I still have a 1964 diary somebody gave me for Christmas. ‘Saw the Beatle last night on TV. Mom and Dad think they stink. I think they’re great!’  Then me and a couple guys skipped outta school at lunch, and went downtown. I was 9, what is that, 4th grade?  And we stood in the drugstore reading the first Beatle magazines ’til the guy asked us to buy something or leave.  My first adventure with truancy, thanks John.

So you see, he was a big one for me. I became a songwriter in 1965, right after ‘I Feel Fine’ came out. Me and George Pope, my first songwriting partner, wrote ‘Stay Away,’ that was my first tune. We played it in my band, The Telstars, and that was it: all I ever wanted to do, after that.

I could go on and on. But I think you see. I spent three years living and playing on the streets of San Francisco. That was sort of my ‘Hamburg’ period. Me and my pals would play 12 or or more hours a day, everyday. During this time, I didn’t give a fuck about anything, just like I knew JL didn’t when he was a young rocker. It was a dark time in a way, but it taught me that I could project rock and roll.

When he died I was in the Plimsouls. That night me and Eddie Munoz had just written our song Shaky City. When the news sunk in,  I cried my guts out. What a disaster.   Eddie didn’t cry. He just said ‘ They kill all our heroes.’

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