A discussion on July 11

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Thank you to all those who have faith and selected me to pick the next album for the Riff’s July Album of the Month discussion. I appreciate the shot, and I hope you’ll be there and be excited to discuss the album I’ve selected.

It’s so tough to narrow down choices, and I was inches away from nominating these:

Santana’s Abraxas

Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush

The Handsome Family’s Through the Trees.

Prince’s 1999.

I even thought about Sinatra’s September of My Years.

I considered records by The Clash, Against Me!, Marvin Gaye, and I had to fend off…


Washed Out and summer friendships

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Back at the end of 2013, The Bitter Southerner announced its list of top “southern” albums of the year, and on that list was a record called Paracosm by a band named Washed Out. I had never heard of them (him), but after sampling a song or two, I decided to head on over to my favorite record store and pick up the CD. I may have picked up a few more on that list, but my musical memory has lost whatever they were, or maybe it was that Paracosm eclipsed, overwhelmed, everything else.

How…


With music, not weapons

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I wasn’t thinking of the Bruce Springsteen song from Born in the USA, though that’s not a bad thing to consider or listen to on a suddenly pleasant, cool Sunday afternoon. …


Weeds and Wildflowers May Prompt

“Home,” that is

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“Alabama, Arkansas
I do love my ma and pa
Not the way I do love you.”

My daughter kept playing this song one summer in the not-too-distant past. I like to stay up on current music, but I had missed this one (just the tip of that submerged iceberg of sounds I don’t know that I don’t know about). So as she played it, I started whistling and singing. And she smiled at me.

My original home is Alabama, and aside from Arkansas, the rest is true, too.

My daughter (we’re talking about my almost 27-year-old younger daughter) is on…


Waiting for Lefty (Photo courtesy of Pinterest)

I can still hear her slamming into the back screen door when I wouldn’t let her inside the house. Lefty. She was used to having the run of my friends’ place, of coming inside whenever she wanted and jumping all over whomever got in her pathway.

It’s funny that I have no problem today with Max’s jumping. It drives my wife nuts, but I think Max is priming us for being grandparents one day, you know, the kind who let their grandchildren get by with all the things they would have never let their own children do.

Like the time…


Gary Puckett and the Union Gap

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They didn’t write their own songs at least, but when you examine the hit recordings of Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, this late 1960’s pop/soft rock band, a few things jump out at you, or at least they should.

First, when I say “creepy,” I’m not talking about the obvious gothy-kitsch of the 90’s Marilyn Manson, who turned out to be a true creep, and I’m not talking either about the more obvious and campy “They’re Coming to Take Me Away” (Napoleon XIV) as strange and unsettling as it might be. And yes, “creepy” is a subjective term. I…


Weeds and Wildflowers June Prompt

For birds, cats, and all of us

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Up the street and through the woods
a sign posts, Nature Habitat, city registered.
We walk by, my little dog and I,
and he notices the squirrels, the chipmunks,
while I see the hawks, the great heron, a crow or two.
Sometimes a scrawny gray or orange fox pads by.
We all notice each other, and though my dog strains and cries,
the fox simply yawns and moves on as an owl cries longingly.

So many creatures still. More birds than I can name.
A ground hog sits high but rushes underground
after we close in, some twenty feet away.
And all the…


Celebrating Juneteenth

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So here we are at Juneteenth, thinking about how the previous administration wiretapped members of Congress, and me thinking that the FBI could have taught them some other tricks like wiretapping Black leaders back in the ’60s to show that men were men, regardless of skin color, political persuasion, or reverence for a higher authority.

I don’t know about you, but my heroes haven’t always been cowboys, lawmen, soldiers, or certain state and national politicians. It’s funny how we pick and choose whom to adore.

My mother loved JFK, my father believed mightily in Harry Truman, my maternal grandmother lived…


How I got Bowie-d

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Remembering songs and how it felt to be transported out of safe space and into other, more dangerous avenues seems almost like a full-time occupation for me these days. I suppose that loving rock and roll, soul, and even certain pop sounds wasn’t easy for many of us back in the 60’s and 70’s, especially in the deep south where many of us earned badges of honor simply by going barefoot in our local mall.

Things happen quickly when you’re fifteen, though not so much if you’re waiting for the day you’ll get your driver’s license. It’s funny that that…


Fussing and Hollering and Grooving to Music Books

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A disclaimer: not all of the books coming here are centrally about music, but as sonically-tracked emphasizers, or complements to plot, they pack some kicks. Others, as you’ll see are included because, apparently, the Heebie-Jeebies are visceral and more of a thing than my daddy ever let on.

Also, we can all bless Keith R. Higgons for wanting us to join him in blowing his bank account apart. Since I’m an “educator,” my research into books is an allowable expense, so please don’t let my book-wantonness take you into the BLACK (my my hey hey).

More than anything, though, have…

Terry Barr

I write about music, lit culture, sports, food, and my Alabama past in One Table One World, MuddyUm, Indelible Ink, Literally Literate, and The Weekly Knob.

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