Playing the Changes

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The music, once lifeblood, is wallpaper now.

Distraction packaged to a T. No more introspection.  No more grand concepts to espouse. Where once we found a wellspring of honest communication, a power for true consciousness raising, an untainted form of collaborative self-expression, now we see these things collapsed and eclipsed by the weight of ego and braggadocio.

Somewhere, there was a change. The true talent of expression has given way to the vapid skill of claiming talent at expression. Have we gone so far down the rabbit hole that we are willing to accept this as our escape from the world? Does the call for shallow entertainment carry further than the call for meaning?

Deaf, dumb, and blind, the children dance to rhythm without reason, and rhyme to meet a word count. Futile exercises in formula. Mindlessness. It’s hard to speak wisdom when appealing to the masses. It’s hard to pull the weeds from the garden when you’re sitting on the fence. Still, what’s good to sell is good to buy, and what’s easier to sell than the surface?

We stand close enough to the canvas to see the finer strokes, but not the bigger picture.

The middlemen are multiplying. It’s getting harder to make out the voice of an artist among the others squabbling for position in his work. Platforms are sold according to expected outcomes, and advertisements bring more revenue than human beings.

It’s the coldest kind of war. The separation of life from life. And those who sell the mortar want to build the walls.

In consequence, only marketable beauty is allowed the privilege of generating art. So much for being made of star-stuff, as it turns out, you need to look the part. When you rely on the promotion of others, you need to play the game by their rules. No biting the hand that feeds you.

Short of some cultural revolution, it’s nothing more than a waiting game now. We’ll lack the means to fight the fight when there’s no one left to show us how. And one by one, the men and women who used to lead the way fade away.

When our daughters and our sons have been diluted, then maybe we’ll decide to make a difference. And even now we gamble on the fact that our hindsight will remain just good enough to remember how. To protect innocence.

Meanwhile, we continue to buy these lies. Cheap at the price of the true artist’s livelihood.

Stars are born. Hope dies.

The bottom line is the bottom line.

 

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Poem – “Public Consumption”

 

If this is your calling, you’d best stop this fuss

You haven’t the time. It’s a spent luxury

Exhale for luck. Odds are for supper

Evens supplies for the next work to be

 

The painter who hangs on the wall for a change

Sees Darwinist nature in sharper relief

While the young art collector, the market projector

Determines his fate with a glimpse of his teeth

 

She’s an unfaithful mistress

Unshakeable sickness

She’ll enrich your life and paint you a clown

You’ll gain traction with charm

But right now

Her arms are holding you

Down

 

If you must take the chance, put your shoes on to dance

You must play the game or be lost in the noise

And if fashion desires, you’ll stay for a while

Losing your passion as you serve with the boys.

 

And you may find it strange, as they move into range

The audience turns on the fool at the feast

At the end of the day, something’s got to hang

You may as well make it a canvas, at least

“Perhaps It’s Time…” New Song.

As some of you will know, I’m working on putting out a new album in the near future, once I’ve solved some equipment issues on my end. In the meantime, here’s one of the tracks, “Perhaps It’s Time…”

Lyrics:

Pity the children left behind

born at the top of a steep incline

gifted the slagheap that we designed

told we were justified.

They’ll play on grass we paved as we tell them to act their age

but perhaps it’s us who need to change

Think of the leaders, through whose fingers

promise slipped when ego lingered

so content to leave the world

unbalanced and uncertain

Think of the chosen ones who stand

in wings and leave the stage unmanned

caught in history’s remand

beneath the velvet curtain

Pleasure is the game we close our eyes to play

So perhaps it’s time we make a change

We shake ourselves from childish stares

extolling the virtue of a world unfair

the cold of the cynic is all the rage

perhaps it’s time we make a change

 

To be content seems quaint when all of this remains

put distraction down and make a change.

Pete Townshend Strat Update!

sjm-l-oslsun-0813-18You don’t have to go any further than this very blog to know Pete changes his stage setup frequently, but recent times have brought a simple, unusual change to Pete’s stage guitars.

At the Outside Lands festival (perhaps earlier), Pete was sporting a series of his usual Strats, with a new feature.

Above the piezo volume knob behind the trem system, his Strats now feature an emory board, on which Pete can be seen sharpening his pick during the set!

 

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Roger Waters’ Black Fender Stratocaster

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During the “Us and Them” Tour, Roger has been playing what appears to be a vintage Fender Stratocaster on a few tracks. There isn’t much information online, but it’s clearly a well-worn instrument, which if it’s a genuine Fender, suggests either a custom shop model or a real vintage instrument. There doesn’t seem to be a CS logo in pictures, so my bet would be on the latter.

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The small headstock and Transition logo suggest a 60’s instrument, earlier than the large headstock came in (very late ’65). To my knowledge, Fender don’t produce anything like this guitar at the moment.

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UPDATE 10/10/2017

Gus Seyfert, who worked on “Is This The Life We Really Want”, and toured on the “Us and Them” tour with Roger, often posts gear pictures on his Instagram page.

https://www.instagram.com/gusseyffert/?hl=en

It would seem that both this Stratocaster and the interesting bass I posted about a little while ago belong to him.

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Roger Waters studio bass*

IF you are enough of a Roger Waters fan to be reading this filler post, you might want to head over to @deadskinboy on instagram and follow his profile. He often posts fantastic, intimate and detailed pictures of Roger, which I gather he takes himself.

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I wont post too much from his account, because it’s not mine to use, but he did post an image recently which piqued my interest, which I thought I’d share.

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This is Roger, apparently in the studio, playing a bass which has been previously unseen in connection with him. No reason to assume it’s his, but for a gearhead, it’s certainly an interesting change. Perhaps he is taking a step away from the sound of the Duncan quarter-pounders in his original Precision, or perhaps this is an occasion of convenience. Time will tell!

Mike Oldfield’s Pink Fender Stratocaster

strat_1961_1Frequently spoken of by the man as his favourite guitar, Mike Oldfield owned this Strat from 1984 to 2007.

It is a 1963 Strat, serial number L08044, in fiesta red (visibly a very pink looking red, perhaps due to finish fading, perhaps due to a non-factory refinish either before or after original sale) over sunburst. During the time it was owned by Mike, it was used on 15 albums, and consistently for live work and music videos as well.

Mike has been known to use modified guitars (his 1959 sunburst Strat has an extra two way switch between the original pickup selector switch and the middle tone, a common mod for extra pickup combinations), But it seems from pictorial evidence that this is a completely stock Stratocaster, with the exception of the fact that the volume knob has apparently been exchanged for one of the tone knobs, perhaps because the numbers have worn off the volume.

It was reportedly last used during rehearsals for the 2006 Night of the Proms in Antwerp (this is borne out by photographs of these rehearsals), before it was sold via Chandler guitars to a fan for 30,000 pounds.

The pictures below are in chronological order, and show that the Strat picked up a little more cosmetic damage while in regular use by Mike. More pictures are available at http://tubular.net/instruments/

 

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“To France” video, 1984

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“Tricks of the Light” video, 1984

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“Tricks of the Light” video, 1984

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“Tubular Bells II” Premiere, 1992

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“Tubular Bells II” premiere, 1992

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“Tubular Bells III” premiere, 1998

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“The Millennium Bell” Premiere, 1999

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Night of the Proms rehearsals, 2006