Eminem: Revival

I took my time before writing about Revival by Eminem.  I have to listen repeatedly without distraction before I can fully absorb a new album.  Songs are stories layered in code.  I’m better at taking in stories created by intuitive artists.  Intuitive artists seem to slide into my world more easily than technical.  It’s as if they glow.

Eminem is an intuitive and a perfectionist.  I find it fascinating, but I also empathize with him.  It’s probably exhausting.  I read an incredible review of Revival.  It’s incomplete, but I’m sure there was a word limit.  You can’t truthfully summarize Eminem in a single article.  He’s a whole person.  😂

I’ve enjoyed playing along with the album on my drums.  It’s challenging, but fun to play.  I can’t stop singing, River.  I think this is a pre-album.  It’s something for us to absorb while he grows into his next self.  It’s Marshall Mathers mid-transformation.  Unlike the reviewer, I’m excited, about future Eminem.

Amy Lee and Evanescence are there, too.  Synthesis is a hint of great things to come, as well.  While I agree with much of what the reviewer stated, I suspect he doesn’t realize it’s excellent news about Eminem’s future.  Slim Shady died.  Buh-bye.  Marshall Mathers began his career by spitting in The Muses eye.  She’s had him in a headlock ever since.

Apparently, it’s where he needed to exist to be Slim Shady.  It’s forced him to grow up.  Stevie Nicks gently coaxed me into growing up.  I like my journey better.  😂  Shady didn’t survive the transition, thank goodness.  Stagnation murders creativity.  Marshall knows his best is ahead of him.  He just needs to figure out how to be gentle and silent before The Muse.

Jay Z figured it out.  It’s beautiful.  His last album, 4:44, is a manual.  Stevie Nicks is a teacher.  Beyoncè and Sheryl Crow are as well.  I hope Marshall hears them and recognizes his inner Jedi.  I hope his story continues to evolve in the light.  Perhaps Yoda says it best;

Luminous beings we are, not this crude matter.

 

 

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“You see your gypsy”

 

Stevie Nicks creating magic.

I’m in Denver for a consultation with a new client, (on my pay-it-forward endeavor for Stevie Nicks.) It’s a difficult challenge, but I’ll work it out. The client recently suffered an injury to his spinal chord. He’s played the guitar longer than I’ve existed. I suspect he used to be famous, but I’m not going to ask (because every way I’ve thought of asking so far fails the rudeness test, miserably.)

He thought I might use one of his gazillion guitars to begin. (I recognize their value from the hours I’ve spent perusing expensive guitars on Musician’s Friend.) As if. We’re starting with a notebook and a pencil. I asked him how much he needs it to look like a guitar. While he thought about it, I started counting them. Sixteen guitars in that room alone!

As a musician, I know he’s got some in their cases with humidifiers. I also know he has at least one beat-to-shit sentimental guitar that’s probably older than me. Plus, a 12-string, (because we all buy one eventually.) And that doesn’t even account for the classical guitars presumably in a closet. Just holy shit, I’m in guitar heaven.

I asked him if I could hold the one that most likely cost more than my car. He said no, and that’s when I decided I like him. He invited me to stay at his house while I work out his new instrument, but I said no, thanks. (In my mind, I saw Michelle Obama getting ready to give me The Look if I dared do anything but decline politely.)

Denver is accommodating to my lifestyle. They have Lyft and Uber, but I only use Lyft. Uber is too shady. I don’t understand why neither are available in South Dakota. (Oh, right. It’s still 1960 there.) My client is currently unable to use his left hand. He’s not hopeful it will improve, so I’m building for the status quo.

Other than sentiment, there’s no reason to make it look like a guitar. I told my client the prototype is always fugly, but the final version isn’t. I’ve gotten a sense of his style from looking around his place. I’m going home tomorrow to build and code, which will take a while. He’s also a fan of Stevie Nicks (and has seen Fleetwood Mac in concert several times.) Because you know it’s the first thing I asked. I’m off to think.

Title quote from Gypsy by Fleetwood Mac.  Photos are from Stevie Nicks Official website.

Recent poems

I haven’t written much poetry recently.  I wrote far more before I got out of the Army.  As a kid, I wrote poems whenever I was overwhelmed with strong emotions.  In the Army, I wrote even more often because the Hurry Up and Wait lifestyle gave me lots of time.  When I pursued higher education, I only wrote academically.  When I worked for a major tech company, I wrote existentially.

I’m going to share my most recent poetry here.

Too

Too, by Unabashed Autist

Unabashed Autist is my other blog.   My former Twitter handle (I quit forever) was @digitalnicotine.  We Rise, inspired by Maya Angelou’s poem; Still, I Rise.

We Rise

Below is what I wrote while recovering from a significant setback in my AI (artificial intelligence) development.

unicorn suicide

And finally, All Manner of Things Unwell.

All Manner of Things Unwell

Always be prepared to rock

I spent most of today practicing my instruments.  My drumming is continuing to improve.  The Viral Top 50 on Spotify was fun to play along with (for the most part.)  Lots of Latino music, and some reggae.  I have preset kits for both genre’s, but they need to be adjusted.  Latino music is too broad for one preset.  These songs are hip-hop, not mariachi.

I practiced my bass and electric guitar using my computer and Amplitude.  I need to invest in a wireless audio interface for my iPad Pro.  I spent some time doing scales on my acoustic guitar, too.  The weather was mild and melted most of the snow, today.  I took advantage and played my violin outside in the park.  Someone put five dollars in my case!  I wasn’t soliciting tips, (and it’s probably not even legal,) but yay anyway.

I was playing Hi-Lo by Evanescence.  I kind of wonder how it sounded to the few who wandered by (since I was listening to the song with headphones while playing.)  I’m in the planning stage of soundproofing my home office playroom.  It consists mainly of researching cheap alternatives to the bullshit kits sold for outrageous amounts.

rock, baby

My apartment is soundproof already by construction.   I can only hear my neighbors when they’re in the hallway near my door.  I just need to tighten it up a bit so I can play (and record) my violin indoors all winter.  I’m also thinking about building a riser for my drum kit.  I like the bass pedal a little too much, and when I play along to music, I let go and climb inside the beat.  (Sometimes I wish I could stay there forever.)

I don’t have issues with blisters anymore.  It turns out, the gloves I ordered were too big, and the friction from the excess fabric was the culprit.  (Fitting gloves also eliminated my tendency drop sticks.)   I’m such a doof.  It blows my mind how such minor adjustments can make a significant difference.  I haven’t touched my acoustic-electric bass since I got the cheap electric version.  (I need to pass it on to another musician because it’s a decoration now.)  I’m off to read.

 

Eminem

Eminem is about to drop a new album.  I’m buying the CD to support him as an artist.  I love the single, Untouchable.  It reaffirms the fact Eminem is one of the first people to publicly slam white privilege.  This time, he elaborates beautifully with Untouchable.  Eminem uses his voice to address lots of important issues, of course.  He’s a striving spirit who is driven to be his best self.  (That’s all I ask of anyone.)

He makes mistakes, like everyone else, but he recovers.  He grows and evolves from the experiences life throws at him.  He’s also a smartass, which is one of my favorite traits in a human being.  The duet with Beyoncè is a gentle reminder from both artists we need to keep our expectations in check.  I can’t imagine having so many people look to me to amplify their truths, while simultaneously entertaining, relating and reminding us we’re not alone.

It made me listen to Stan, again.  I didn’t forget, but it was still a joyful experience to refresh my memory on Eminem’s incredible abilities as a poet.  It probably seems like my taste in music is unusual, but to me, all my favorite artists have something in common with each other.  They’re exceptional poets.  They’re storytellers.  They’re able to stand out, despite my being overwhelmed by the vast number of performers vying for my support.

Not many rappers reach me.  I don’t enjoy song after song about men mistreating women for being women.  That’s probably explanation enough.  Eminem doesn’t go out of his way to avoid insulting people.  😂  But he’s not one of the rappers whose entire message comes directly, and entirely from his dick.  I don’t enjoy listening to anyone verbally masturbate aggressively; which is all some of them seem to offer.  No.

The only thing I like about that type of rapper is the irony;  Especially when you notice how many openly homophobic rappers feel the need to share intimate details about their alleged sex life with random strangers, (most of whom are of the same gender.)  It’s mildly amusing to listen to someone rap about how powerful they are while also threatening to kill anyone who tweets negatively about them, in the same song.

I enjoy Cardi B. and Nicki Minaj.  Those are my girls when it comes to rap.  Also, Rhianna.  I’ve listened to a lot of rap recently since I practice my drums to Spotify’s Top 50 Viral Songs playlist.  It’s hit and miss, and I skip songs I don’t like.  I’ve discovered it’s an excellent introduction to new artists I wouldn’t otherwise hear.   I can’t get enough of Motor Sport.  I’m off to read.

 

 

Stevie Nicks III

I thought about it, and I decided the best way I can repay Stevie Nicks for all she’s given me is to pay it forward.  Also, I now ask everyone in my world if they know about her.  I don’t want anyone to miss out.  My young prodigy in Mexico City has thanked me repeatedly for introducing her to Stevie Nicks.  She just started Middle School and is all about Stevie Nicks and Shakira.

I remember being twelve.  It was a painful year.  There’s a lot of loss at that time of our lives.  It’s led me to be available as often as possible to my prodigy.  I’m her cheerleader.  I’m the woman who will listen and relate to her side of the story whenever she clashes with her peers or parents.  I’m the person in her world I longed for when I was twelve.  I wanted a big sister who was there for me.

I decided I’ll remain grateful for all Stevie Nicks has given me.  Paying it forward will appease my guilt over the unbalanced relationship of a fan to the Queen of rock.   I’ll continue to make sure everyone I encounter is aware she exists.  I guess I’m one of her cheerleaders, in a way.  I’ll also keep teaching violin to both kids and adults.  Music is a joy magnet.  Besides, you’re only old when you no longer feel the need to rock.  (I’ll never be old.)

The other way I’m going to pay it forward is by building more electronic drum kits for disabled people.  My foster brother has cerebral palsy.  He’s been a drummer since he was eleven, but in his forties now, his body is becoming more difficult to control.  So he asked me to build him a custom kit.  He’s in a local metal band, so playing slower won’t cut it.

He even gave me my first real bass pedal in trade.  (It’s fabulous.)  I geeked out and used accelerometer and tilt sensor technology with piezoelectric triggers.  (Good thing there’s no PETA for gadgets is all I’ll say about it.)  It looked hideous in a prototype.  The final version is all black, so it’s more aesthetically pleasing.  He loves it.

It took him about a week of playing with it obsessively to map the new kit to his brain.  Now he’s awesome again.  It was so fun to build, and I learned a lot in the process.  As he ages and his abilities change, it will only require adjustments in the software.  I think Stevie Nicks would be pleased if she knew one of her fans is helping others keep joy in their lives through music as a way of saying, thanks for all she gives.

“Don’t look up now, but the little girl’s got a grenade.”

I was checking my mail on the ground level of my apartment complex moments ago.  I wear headphones almost always, especially since I decided to embrace creativity wholeheartedly.  I was wearing my Grado’s and listening to Synthesis by Evanescence.  They’re my best cans, and excellent with orchestral and rock music.  (Probably every other kind, too.)

I’ve decided never to leave my apartment with them on in the future.  For a few reasons.  First, because I thought they were ugly so I replaced the earpads (when they wore out) with one red and one blue, instead of the original all black.  Unfortunately, instead of making them look cool, it makes them stand out in addition to being ugly.  Second, because I just got caught saying, “I effing love this album so much I feel like crying again.  Thank you, Jesus!”

I know.   I’m going to go ahead and assume I’m sofa king banned from the atheists only mixer this year.  I’m pretty sure both of my neighbors are relaying this unfortunate incident to whoever was nearby as I type this.  If I were as selfish now as when a teenager, I would wish (to myself) the North Korean IIC (Infant in Charge, because that’s a thing now,) would drop a missile directly on my present coordinates.  The worst part is, I said it loudly because I’m a doof who talks (and sings) louder when wearing headphones.  (Even though every single time, I immediately regret it.)

You can see why I still pray and maintain an internal dialogue with Jesus, right?  I can’t afford to give up harmless habits that make being me a little less (word that works here.)  So I don’t.  I’m glad I gave up dropping F-bombs as if I was getting paid.  I should probably stop using effing, feck, and the like, as well.  (Pretty sure no one is confused about what it’s replacing.)  The only silver lining I can think of right now is that this might be actual evidence I’m funny.  Just not on purpose.  And not to me (until I get over myself.)  My neighbors were laughing (hard) when I fled.  Sigh.  I’ll take it.

Title quote from ImperfectionSynthesisEvanescence 2017.  (Poets:  IKR!!)

Stevie Nicks II

Stevie Nicks

I have to say it.  I love Stevie Nicks.  You probably just rolled your eyes.  You may agree she’s incredible, but don’t feel compelled to announce it on the web.  I’m sure there’s someone who fascinates you so much you behave similarly in their regard.  Heh.  I’m not going to roll my eyes back, in case your person is Amy Lee or Beyoncè (for example.)

I’m probably at that point where I need to chill for a bit (one week unless I still feel guilty.)  Stevie Nicks has a lot of fans.  I’m talking holy shit level.  I suck at being a fan.  I don’t even know most of the rules, so I’m winging it.  I’m assuming I’m her worst fan, based on the fact I didn’t know about her seven months ago.

It’s probably shocking information to those who don’t know I spent most of my life under a figurative rock.  Then I saw Rhiannon live on Midnight Special on YouTube.  And well, duh.  I remembered the song from childhood when my older siblings played music after I was tucked in for the night.  Unfortunately, I heard it faintly through walls and got the lyrics wrong (so much.)  I’m not going to share what I thought I heard (because I want future me to have enough dignity left to recover from this.)

The only music I had at that point was Disco Duck, a few Christian (indoctrination) cassette tapes for children, and the soundtrack for Free to Be You and Me.  (I can still recite that entire movie.)  Most of my siblings were teenagers+ when I was born, so they didn’t share their music (or anything else cool.)  I heard Fleetwood Mac on the down-low.

In May, I heard You Make Loving Fun on the radio while filling up at the gas station.  I finally knew the name of the band that used to sing to me while I pretended I was sleeping.  I purchased a Rumors CD (and downloaded it because Amazon Prime still wasn’t fast enough.)  I headed to YouTube to see if there was any live footage.

After watching them perform Rhiannon,  I immediately searched for Stevie Nicks.  Then I cried for a bit (and felt betrayed by everyone I’ve ever met because that happened in 1976 and I just found out.)  I got over myself because it was my only option.  The fact they’re still performing is the best consolation ever.  If you know someone who has never told you they love Stevie Nicks, please check and make sure they’re aware of her.  Life is hard enough, you know?  Spread the love.

I’m going to take a week(ish) off from obsessing over her because I feel guilty.  I don’t have anything to give her back.  I’m floored by how much I’ve learned from her just since May.  (Music is the ideal method of reaching me and teaching me.)  I don’t understand this world at all.  I can’t figure out how I’m allowed to receive so much for less money than I spend on video games.

I don’t pirate.  Ever.  I don’t steal books from libraries, etc.  But right now I feel pretty close to a thief.  I feel like I’m the big (bad) brother trading my dorky little sister a few shiny pennies for a handful of crumpled up paper money.  Only the sister is no doof she’s Stevie Nicks!  Oofda.  So I’m hoping I can figure out how to cope with this inside of a week.  Who knows; maybe my supposedly exceptional IQ will turn out to be useful for something other than early detection of probable mental illness.  I hope.

Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks is beautiful, brilliant, and human.  The above photo barely captures her energy and joy when she performs.  I regret I didn’t know about Stevie Nicks until about six months ago.  I still experience brief moments when I resent those around me who failed to bring her to my attention.  Fortunately, I get over myself quickly.

Instead of crying over missing out, I’ve spent my time studying her career so far.  I’ve spent hours watching interviews on YouTube.  I’ve purchased her concert DVD’s and her documentary;  In Your Dreams.  I also bought her entire catalog of music.  Then I listened intently to each song in CD order.

I do this with my favorite bands because it seems rude to skip around willy-nilly.  Plus, listening to all the songs in order often tells you a story you wouldn’t pick up on otherwise.  Songwriters are storytellers.  Stevie Nicks is one of the most prolific songwriter’s I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing.

I’ve been a voracious reader since I learned the skill.  It’s the form of communication I understand best.  I’m autistic and write about my journey in that respect on another blog;  Unabashed Autist.  The way I connect with others is by reading or listening to their stories.  I find it far more intimate than a face-to-face conversation.

Famous people have persona’s they use to engage with their fans.  It’s usually a mere glimpse into the person behind the persona.  I can’t imagine what it’s like to be famous.  The thought terrifies me.  It leads me to believe this practice is a form of self-preservation for celebrities.  I fully grasp the need for personal space to grow and experience.

Stevie Nicks’ persona began as a mysterious, beautiful woman who could sing as sweetly as a bird, and with enough edge to cut deep.  She captured a lot of hearts by doing what came naturally to her.  I could almost feel the crowds wondering how someone so talented and beautiful can be so vulnerable in front of thousands of people.

After watching hours of footage, I was able to recognize what was happening behind the mystery.  It’s about trust, respect, and genuineness.  Humans are naturally attracted to others who trust them, respect them, and are genuine.  I don’t know much about celebrities that predated my birth, but I think this was a new approach to fandom.

Stevie is incredibly attractive in ways you don’t often see in rock stars.  Of course, her sex appeal was inevitable.  I don’t think she’s thrilled about that aspect of her magnetism.  I’m not sure, though.  It seems to me the topless album cover photograph traumatized her the way rape traumatized me.  Stolen free will.  I know exactly how strongly this can affect people.

When someone shows you trust, you usually want to do the same in return.  It’s a necessary ingredient in healthy relationships.  Stevie trusts her fans enough to allow them to come close and even gently stroke her hair while she performs, sometimes.  This information blew my mind, but I’m a Gen X’er.  (Punk rock may have given me the wrong impression of what to expect from an audience during a concert.)

Stevie Nicks

Another example is how honest she is about her past drug use.  I don’t think I would have recognized the clues in her cocaine-fueled past performances.  (I suck at reading subtle cues in general.)  I’m glad she opened up and shared with us how things went down.  It made her present anti-drug stance powerful.  She knows what she’s talking about because she lived it.

It changed how I feel about drugs.  I no longer use weed.  Before I discovered Stevie Nicks, I experimented legally in Colorado.  I went on one of those tours where you get massively high on a bus while riding all over Denver.  It demolished all my rote fears about drugs.  I was in a vulnerable spot and didn’t realize it until someone I respect explained why it’s not worth it.

When a compelling storyteller reaches you and explains their wisdom, it’s a gentle guide away from potential disaster.  It increased the trust and respect I feel for Stevie Nicks.  I know she didn’t have to do that, and I’m grateful.  It’s not what I expected from a rock goddess.  The mysteriousness surrounding her persona only actually exists for those who aren’t really listening.  I’ll share more about what she’s taught me soon.  ?