Chewing gum delusion

Pretty self-explanatory
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A rope leash
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Chewing gum delusion

Postby A rope leash » Wed Jan 30, 2019 2:24 pm

He has been my hero for four decades. He saved Rock and Roll from the unwieldy beast it had become, busting it down to a few basic elements…keyboard, guitar and drum…love, angst, and anger. I was in the freaking Air Force at the time. I didn’t have need for much else.

On the other end now, I couldn’t be more grateful to Elvis. He spread his gifts among the musical genres, and walked his artistry through his life and career as a parent would a child. There’s something very solid about Elvis Costello. He’s always quite earnest, and while he may falter, he never shrinks. He’s gotten away with being himself, and defying the paradigm. Whatever criticism that is thrown his way becomes immediately suspect in the face of his obvious and very individual mastery. Rare is the song that doesn’t teach. Mindless jingles are rarer still.

Well, you know, I need something to listen to as I drive down the road of life and also as I drive down the road. It might as well be something good.

During my young life folks often mentioned that they enjoyed my writings. This was back when people wrote letters to each other. Teachers always shined upon me with their praise, but I always just saw it as a big so what. The library is stuffed with books. Being a writer is pretty much just another job. Writing for success is a capitalistic endeavor, one that is bound to corrupt itself. Writing for satisfaction is something else entirely.

Yet, Elvis seems to be doing both. I’ve always wondered how a millionaire musician like Elvis can stay in touch with the emotions and concerns of common people, but he seems to have kept his connection intact. His songs are consistently relatable…an international man with an endlessly local eye. For someone like me, lost in random life, it seems impossible.

So, what sparks this missive? Cathead got a tax refund and we hung a television on our wall. So, I hooked the sound bar up to it and stuck in the Detour DVD. We lay in bed watching it, and about two-thirds into it I notice that Elvis is chewing gum. I say to Cathead…is he chewing gum? She doesn’t respond.

Then comes Jimmie Standing in the Rain, a performance that never fails to drag an involuntary tear from my eye…there’s just something about the Buddy Have You Got a Dime acapella exit that gets me every time. So, I’m wiping the tears from my eyes, and Cathead says yeah I think he is chewing gum!

Well, that’s just about the limit. He can chew gum while making me cry. It’s funny to cry then laugh, but my Earth, why this?

My philosophy of writing has always been to take it easy. I don’t have a chance in the world of selling anything nor do I want to deal with that business. I don’t mind an audience, but I’m not looking to sell tickets. I try to be entertaining, but I’m mostly writing something that I myself would like to read, because I’m writing for my own satisfaction. The delusion I work under is based on my calculation that in a world of six or seven billion people there must be nearly a million “great unknowns”. So what if we’re all hobbyists? At least it’s pure.

So, as I continually project a commonality with Elvis that is plainly invisible, it occurs to me that I must march on to this list of questions and curiosities that has compiled itself in my head whilst driving around listening to Look Now. You can’t make someone cry and laugh while chewing gum and not get a record. So here’s the punishment!

First off is Under Lime. This is the latest Elvis “hit” that’s not a personal favorite. Going all the way back to Alison, some of the Elvis songs that are foisted as “hits” don’t particularly appeal to me. 13 Steps Lead Down comes to mind. The Other Side of Summer. But what the heck is going on in this song? A sexual tryst between a show-biz has-been and a young intern? Does it actually happen or does it almost happen and he suddenly needs a pill? Was it assault, or did she acquiesce? It isn’t clear, but I do have visuals. I can see the movie. I have a character in mind when I think of Jimmie, and he looks a lot like Elvis. Hmmm?

Don’t Look Now is such a sweet little piece. So lovely…but what’s he talking about will you be thinking of me / later on, when you’re alone? Is it what I think it is? Of course it is, and I often laugh at things that are hard to talk about, probably because I’d rather laugh than talk about it.

Gotta love that Burnt Sugar. A real hit but don’t tell the radio. But, once again I am left wandering through the words trying to figure out exactly what in the world he is going on about. It seems to speak of an ex-husband, then of a man she’s dating, or a succession of men. Typical Elvis, he talks around it, counting on the connotation and dismissing the denotation. Anyway, a gal’s been burnt in her marriage so watch out, right?

Okay, Stripping Paper. A dear song if there ever was one. If you’re stripping wallpaper, you won’t get to the paint until the last verse, but the paint is in the first verse. Once you’re at the paint, there’s nothing left to strip, but Elvis somehow strips more to see what came not much later. Perhaps these small logistical traps are what keeps trunk songs in the trunk, I don’t know. I try not to dwell on it, it’s absolutely moot, but my brain won’t let it go.

I can do a pretty good flambé vocal of Unwanted Number. I can’t get pregnant though, so I feel pretty silly singing it. It bothers Cathead that Elvis sings girl songs when he’s a guy. She forgives him, though, and sings it well herself. Fun.

To avoid my tendency to rant about history and politics, I only have two things to say about I Let the Sun Go Down: French horns and whistling. No doubt while chewing gum.

Mr. and Mrs. Hush is a song about marriage. I just figured it out, I think. His marriage. How do you know when you’re in love? Desire, uncertainty, longing, jealousy, passion. Funky tune dig that bass. I would love to see this performed at a jazz festival. Extended.
With the missus.

Well, once again, with Photographs Can Lie, I have to ask how Elvis can write from the female perspective and even sing it without shyness. It takes guts and sincerity, and a careful plotting. This song rips direct to the pain caused by infidelity, even to those not directly involved. It’s close to perfect, I’d say, as is the next selection, Dishonor the Stars, a beautiful love song that makes me think that Elvis must truly be in love. It’s impossible to be cynical about it…it’s a love song to be sung at weddings. Gee, Cathead, whaddya think?

Of course, Suspect My Tears should be playing somewhere out there on the radio, but I never hear it. I call it the Elvis curse, and the conspiracy realist in me understands it fully. His mouth has got him in too much trouble, and folks in the business are only tolerating him to a certain point. He can make records and sell them, make appearances to promote them, but heavy airplay in America just isn’t going to happen. Because Radio Radio. Because Shipbuilding. Because Tramp the Dirt Down. Because Invasion Hit Parade. Because 20% Amnesia.

But that has to be okay, I guess. The purse strings are the puppet strings. Perhaps Elvis traded a bit of stardom for cherished integrity. In the song He Gives Me Things, Elvis lays out the easy corruption of persons under the influence of money and people with money. It’s tempting to go off on an angry tangent when contemplating this song. Elvis combines the friction between ordinary persons and the wealthy with the friction between love and human nature. Anyone can be bought, even the love of someone’s life, if the price is right. Want conquers love, and greed rots it. Elvis works in that world where hopes are dashed and trash is praised, and comes out not unscathed but quite intact, still, basically a huge screw you I’ll do it my way, and while I’m at it, I’ll hold a mirror to your face.

Time to test with a yellow vest, I guess. The division is clear, the monster's exposed. I listened to the bonus disc several times, and it turns out that I am one of those that likes Adieu Paris. The sneering sarcasm comes out, even if I don’t have a translation for the language. The rest of the disc is lovely, but it does leave me hoping that the trunk songs are all out and now we can expect something fresh before too long, hopefully before he’s too far into his seventies.

Something jazzy with his wife, please. Maybe something orchestral after that. Then try to save Rock and Roll again. We’re not too old.







...and cheers for the tears, dear Elvis…







Edit:

My failure to mention my favorite song Why Won't Heaven Help Me is completely Freudian!
Last edited by A rope leash on Thu Jan 31, 2019 12:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Chewing gum delusion

Postby sulky lad » Wed Jan 30, 2019 8:00 pm

I can honestly say, Rope, that I adore every post you write ( whether I even understand them all or not) and treasure your thoughts and musings.....I'll have to read this several times to get it ( like listening to Elvis' music) but this is such a gorgeous, considered and profund piece that I just wanted to say thanks and God bless. For a country boy from Devon, England to find peace and fresh air in your writing says a lot about your ability to relate to all our human condition !

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Re: Chewing gum delusion

Postby A rope leash » Thu Jan 31, 2019 12:31 pm

Wow, thanks for the praise, sulky!

To be honest, something like this just builds up in me and has to come out. I'm grateful to have somewhere to put it where it can be appreciated.

A nice shot of dopamine for me this morning...smiles and waves to you and to anyone else that trudged through it!

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Re: Chewing gum delusion

Postby Jack of All Parades » Thu Jan 31, 2019 3:46 pm

Wow! Any artist should consider himself fortunate were they to connect with a reader, a listener, or observer as EC appears to have connected with you. I do hope he stays a companion as you continue on your 'life's drive'. Perhaps it was a Faustian bargain EC struck back in the day- one in reverse that allows for an impact upon others like yourself for multiple, multiple decades in lieu of lucre. A divine bargain. My friend Alexv turned me on to your posts many years ago. He has always said you and ElVez were the two he enjoyed following. He did not steer me wrong all those years ago. As an aside, you might want to treat yourself to that Freakonomics interview EC did at the end of 2018. He speaks to a great many of the notions you touch upon here and his discussion of poetry is alone worth the listen. Happy driving.......
"....there's a merry song that starts in 'I' and ends in 'You', as many famous pop songs do....'

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Re: Chewing gum delusion

Postby A rope leash » Sat Feb 02, 2019 1:34 pm

I remember Alex and ElVez. It's amazing how long this forum has lasted. I wonder where people go...phones and Facebook, I suppose.

Or maybe I ran them off.

Thanks for the kudos and the recommendations. I shall check it out!

Thanks also for the encouragement. I submitted online four poems to The New Yorker and to Poetry about six months ago. I was amused last week when I received email rejections from both of them. Quite expected. Both mentioned that they were "grateful", and both sent me subscription offers. I feel a bit like a grain of rice.

Posting on forums was popular for while until Ed Snowden came along a revealed how everything is gathered by the government. If anyone has read me over the years, they know I'm fun, but I can also be brutishly controversial. Corporations are now cracking down on alternative viewpoints. The Monster is exposed, but continues as if it remains invisible. My brother swears that the Internet is seined for good stuff to steal, and he never posts photos of his paintings. When I post compositions, it's meant as a gift.

So what! Right?

It's to laugh!

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Re: Chewing gum delusion

Postby Jack of All Parades » Mon Feb 04, 2019 4:14 pm

I, too, have trepidation when it comes to dealing with the 'Monster' these days. Have limited my activity for reasons you enumerate. My daughters swear off sites entirely.

Your prose has always reminded me in a good way of the late Barry Hannah- the dialect, the ribald antic humor and the syntax--particularly the Hannah of "Airships'', "High and Lonesome" and "Bats out of Hell".

Good on you for sending your creations out. I am not man enough. Plus who needs to read yet another take on what something might mean. I would rather spend my time reading the actual poems. Time is wasting and as the ancients consistently intoned, fleeting........... Are you familiar with the work of Max Ritvo, Ada Limon or Simon Armitage? Would be curious about your take on them if they are your cup of tea. I have a sneaking suspicion their work would tickle you. I look forward to continued laughs.
"....there's a merry song that starts in 'I' and ends in 'You', as many famous pop songs do....'

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Re: Chewing gum delusion

Postby A rope leash » Tue Feb 05, 2019 11:48 pm

To be honest, I'm not a big fan of poetry. I only submitted a few poems online one day when I discovered how easy it was. I found out the other day that I can submit via email to a local literary agent, and I might try that. It's like playing the lottery, I guess...can't win if you don't play.

I did a cursory investigation of the three poets mentioned. It's hard to engage sometimes. I couldn't find any free poetry online from Ada Limon. What I read of Mr. Ritvo seemed intriguing, but it's like a lot of modern poetry...it might as well have been written in a paragraph. There's no music. I'm glad to see Mr. Armitage using rhyme judiciously...I can recall a time when using rhyme was uncool. Trends and fads, you know.

But you see, the business is tied up in money and academia. Institutions are proud to promote the poets they "produce". Mr. Armitage, I note, is a professor of English. Words and the history of them are his expertise, and he has a ready audience with plenty of pull. He writes a few pretty good poems, and gets a ready stamp of approval for the front of the line. By this, he earns the right to call himself "poet", and he has the properly bound books for sale to prove it. On the other side, I'm Nobody.

I decided long ago that I was going to do something different. I was accepted to a university after community college, but I decided to get drunk and divorced instead. I disappointed some teachers, but I could see the path they had taken was not for me. I do not want to be stuck in cloistered academia. I don't want to be stuck in anything. Even back then I understood that being a successful writer meant writing what the masses want to read, and what the business can sell. That's not art, it's process. It's a job. I also felt that many professional writers had not lived real lives...that is, they were born well enough and had advantages, and they tend to write about that. I wanted to live a real life outside the yoke, and write from the point of view of the average person. It's not easy when you actually have to do what average people do, and then find time to write about it. You can't just be a poet, you know, and expect to be introduced as one.

Over the years it's become a therapeutic sideshow, an endeavor that really has been more about satisfaction than it has been about success. I'm content with it, but I am rather practiced and I do have this pile I could send out. Some recognition would be great, but what I really need is tons of money so I can write the big one.

No strings attached!

:mrgreen:

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Re: Chewing gum delusion

Postby Jack of All Parades » Wed Feb 06, 2019 3:19 pm

Poetry is the reverse for me- sustenance. But I do share your distrust of academia. I did not go onto Graduate School and abhorred the thought of a Business degree or Doctor of Law. I, too, wanted to live a bit and make my own way. I have for near 50 years now. No regrets- a wonderful wife and three beautiful daughters. I have made do with less. I like your notion of an examined life. Good on you. May you hit that literary lottery one day.

P.S. Ritvo is deceased-two books only but boy are they special and Armitage is the real thing-by all accounts a regular Joe but one with a deeply muscular lyrical talent.
"....there's a merry song that starts in 'I' and ends in 'You', as many famous pop songs do....'

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Re: Chewing gum delusion

Postby A rope leash » Wed Feb 06, 2019 11:04 pm

What bothers me about poetry is that it's quite personal, but also universal. Expressing one's humanity is not as easy as it sounds.

Last year I was doing a bit of soul-searching, and I wound up going through some old writings. Of course, I'm wrecked by reading some of it, making my own self cry, as it were. But, I had been wondering about how I might get a foothold into the poetry world, and I thought maybe I could get on an open mic somewhere and begin a reputation. I don't know why I thought I could do this, but I made an effort to memorize and perform a couple of my poems. I quickly realized there was no way I could replicate the voice in my head using my own vocal chords. The reading in my head is strong and profound, but out of my mouth it's me being sarcastic. That's the thing...poetry reflects the poet's humanity, and no one is ever going to respect you as a poet if you can't get up there and own it in front of everyone. That's damn difficult for me, but when I'm writing poetry, it doesn't seem so. That's because writing it is sort of a relief, my personal grumblings let out to run, a therapeutic release.

Anyway, out of that episode I wrote this poem that I wound up sending to the New Yorker...




this boom in my head
poetry

I wrote it for you


so shut up


who was I to give a hulking damn?

I’ve got it for you
so that’s about it

you read it but it wasn’t the boom

yeah you said

yeah

it’s a whole thing, you know
put together

sounds like a bang to me loud and clear
in my head


you read it
yeah


wherever are you now?

where is that steaming poem so hot for you

?

(stone dead in the stacks of a poorly written past, but)

disinterred and resurrected
it pins me as I read
staking my heart

beyond tears I see

boom


it’s written for me




See, I don't mind sharing, especially with people I know will be considerate. As for what happens when it's unleashed on an internet forum, I don't care. Maybe someone will steal it, but it's still mine. I've posted so much stuff on obscure forums it's become kind of silly, really. It's a way of showing off, I guess, and setting myself back to zero.

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Re: Chewing gum delusion

Postby Jack of All Parades » Fri Feb 08, 2019 9:41 am

Thank you for sharing that. First- it is a poem-no question. Not ramblings. I like its immediacy. I like how it circles back to that opening 'Boom' and your interior monologue with yourself. It is a love lyric on a number of levels and it piquantly questions the dynamics of relationships, both externally and internally. I like that there is a resolution in the final recognition that you might ultimately be addressing yourself.

My one quibble is with this section:

"where is that steaming poem so hot for you

?

(stone dead in the stacks of a poorly written past, but)"

I have a personal dislike for alliteration-it has always seemed the easiest of clues designed to alert the reader that they are reading a poem. For me there is a straining in those three lines- an attempt to be 'poetic' that the remainder of the poem avoids. If it were me, I would edit it out or come at it in a different manner.

I fear I risk boring the Forum with my thoughts on your poem. If you care to continue a conversation on poetry send me a Private Message and I will gladly share my private email address. Despite EC's stated appreciation of poetry, I can hear board members thinking there is a better platform for this conversation.
"....there's a merry song that starts in 'I' and ends in 'You', as many famous pop songs do....'

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Re: Chewing gum delusion

Postby A rope leash » Fri Feb 08, 2019 5:26 pm

I don't mind boring people.

A poem is never finished. This one was rewritten a couple of times, but it's mostly a product of sudden inspiration and thought flow. I don't approach writing in a technical manner. For me, it's thought collection, message, and flow of presentation. I'm not asking if it needs a rhyme here or a metaphor there. If they come up I use them if I like them. In the case of the above mentioned alliteration, I really hadn't noticed it.

But, there it is, the reason why so many unknowns don't bother to share or submit: The fingerprints of editors, and the mouths of critics.

The artist remains the artist so long as the artist produces. If the artist produces crap, that's for others to decide. If the artist relies on others for affirmation, then the artist risks losing internal focus and begins catering to the audience. It's called the road to "success", where most artists fail, quit, or sell out. I'm too lazy to make a job of it. I only do it because I want to, and I enjoy it. It's also very helpful when sorting out the brain.

I can only hope others enjoy it and aren't too bored.

Poetry is boring.

There, I said it.

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Re: Chewing gum delusion

Postby Jack of All Parades » Sat Feb 09, 2019 9:12 am

I apologize for the editing. I assume if someone shares they are looking for some feedback. My bad. I need to practice better self-editing.

I don't think you believe poetry is 'boring' for one minute. You would not consistently express yourself, as you say you do, in that medium if you did. It sure can be lonely, though. Your insistence in that it is self exploration, self explanation, self expression and ultimately, self satisfaction I endorse. One writes the poems because you hear them internally, as you have stated, and have to release them. Audience be damned.

Do you need an audience? No, but that, too, is nice. If you do not have one does that lesson your poems? Not in the least. You have something to say and you express it. Should it find an audience, great. If not, you are going to continue your poetic efforts just the same; it is oxygen for you. This is a way of circling it back to this forum for me-you have this in common with EC. You both have an 'inner focus' that moves you to produce, over many years-you consistently react to your current selves and give 'voice' to that reaction. An audience is always welcome to follow along, should they care to try.

I look forward one day to opening The New Yorker, or similar journal, and reading your 'self-expression' in print; an 'audience' having found you.
"....there's a merry song that starts in 'I' and ends in 'You', as many famous pop songs do....'

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Re: Chewing gum delusion

Postby A rope leash » Thu Feb 14, 2019 12:06 pm

You definitely just made my Valentine's Day list, Jack. Love to you because you get it, man.

You know what you're talking about. You hit the poem's weak spot, and I agree with your assessment of the target. No doubt I'll have to tinker with it.

Nothing's boring if you like it. Poetry is actually very brave. Humanity doesn't really want to show it's face, because being the human race is kind of embarrassing. Nothing nails it like a good poem.

Thanks for the good wishes. I hope to see you in The New Yorker as well, or maybe just right here in the good old Elvis forum!


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