“Metal Monkey Girl’s Origin Story” Published in The Junction

At eleven, my daughter has spent the past several years listening mostly to pop while landing somewhere between pale interest and monkish patience where it came to my classic rock. Don’t get me wrong. She’s always giggled at the Pink Floyd song with the timeless “do goody good bullshit” lyric. And smiled at how the Eagles’ lyric about riding up and down the highway, not seeing a goddamn thing, frequently lulls the devils of radio censorship into such a stupor they can’t do their dirty work. To her, though, classic rock sans the cussin’ has been a cupcake without frosting — just a motherfucking muffin.

Long ago I decided not to be that jerkface pushing my auditory agenda. Whatever her music of choice, no soapboxing about you kidses noise today. Having spent the last decade or so steeping in sounds of the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s, I could be at least a little objective about the past: some songs were great, others were fine-ish, others were the non-Disney Happy Meal toys of music — cheap plastic pleasure — from the kidses of yesterday. And moreover, what business was it of mine. The “respect their autonomy” credo inherited by this generation of parents isn’t a bad one as generational gospel truths go. Don’t push him into sports. Let her do what she wants with her hair. Don’t garden their playlists while they sleep.

I lay this groundwork before talking about the Foo Fighters’ Concrete and Gold album for two reasons. To establish

  • that the alluded-to musical eras I have loitered in were long. Looong. It’s taken me the better part of one decade to properly anthologize — and, to an extent, eulogize — three other decades. And in the grand scheme of things, it’s been only recently that I’ve gotten around to the few, the proud, the people committing rock and roll now. Forgive me, Fighters of Foo.
  • that I’d assumed all my classic rock, even at its most David-Gilmour-led-Pink-Floyd pastoral, was too hard or structurally unfamiliar for my daughter’s taste, so (not that it mattered . . .) I shouldn’t expect us to often be on the same page musically.

Enter the Foo Fighters.


Check out the rest at The Junction!


Syd Barrett Will Save Your Psychotic Soul

Re-posting an abbreviated version of this one, which I was fortunate enough to have featured in The Junction. The full essay now appears here.

It’s no good trying to say what went wrong with him.

By all appearances, Syd Barrett — original frontman of Pink Floyd — lost his mind. But whether he was schizophrenic as rumored or on the schizo spectrum or otherwise porous to effects of the psychoactive buffet of the day or once got hold of some diabolical drug in hippie drag or had a mood disorder with psychosis-mimicking features or was just a genius and fuck you if you can’t keep up, none of us know.

Hell, don’t know and it wasn’t so long ago I saw the guy in Starbucks. Though — and here’s an important caveat to that and future notes — we do know about me.

Syd Barrett, photographed by Mick Rock (1969)

My own beast of brain (schizoaffective disorder) doesn’t result in full-scale visions left and right, but when it crests, its sweet spot is intrusive daytime images roughly the clarity of hypnagogic hallucinations. Graphics of dialed-down opacity that last about as long as a John Irving double-semicolon sentence. So it isn’t only when one takes the form of a resurrected rock star that they tend to be distinguishable from the flesh-and-blood set.

To contextualize, then: I don’t mean I saw Syd Barrett but he said nothing illuminating because there was so much else to discuss (Roger Waters touring solo, the fickle zephyrs of Bitcoin, etc.) so not even I know. I mean I saw Syd Barrett recently so I’m a fucking loon, and not even that qualifies me to say what was what with him.

The data available on what was eating Syd Barrett at this point is vulnerable to compiler’s bias; my own information comes from qualified and unqualified corners of the web along with the biography Comfortably Numb: The Inside Story of Pink Floyd by Mark Blake.

Even sidelining the popular notion that Syd had, at minimum, a psychological predisposition that LSD acted on like a bank-vault explosive, madness is a good lens through which to review his album The Madcap Laughs and, specifically, “No Good Trying.”

Read the rest in The Junction.