Son Volt : Notes Of Blue

I think if you went back 22 years to 1995 you’d find the running thoughts on the trajectories of Son Volt and Wilco would beblue significantly different than what actually ended up happening. While Wilco’s debut album A.M. was decent enough, it didn’t hold a candle to the gritty and windswept Midwest epic that was Son Volt’s Trace. That album came out of the gates like an album from a veteran crew of musicians and a weathered songwriter. Farrar seemed to have been an old man in a young man’s body, full of insight and stoicism. It felt as if we were seeing the makings of a true national music treasure.

Then Wilco released Being There and that trajectory changed.

That’s not to say it lessened the output of Son Volt. In fact Farrar and crew pretty much kept up with Tweedy and Co. on the album front, just with far less fanfare. But where Wilco felt the need to reinvent and experiment with each successive record, Farrar seemed to want to keep things familiar; keep things part rocking, part dusty Midwest boot stompin’. Straightaways, Wide Swing Tremolo, and American Central Dust all visit the familiar ghosts that apparently haunt Jay Farrar’s dreams with touches of crackling murder ballads and barnstorming rock and roll. Son Volt may have not been ones for sonic experimentation and melancholy soul searching through obscure wordplay, but they’ve always been a band you could count on to bring the rock and roll with true inspired songwriting.

Son Volt have returned with their best record in years. Notes Of Blue doesn’t wander too far away from the path often taken, but what they do with their familiar sounds is big and exciting. Jay Farrar sounds more like a young whippersnapper than an old and weathered son of a gun.

“Promise The World” sounds familiar yet new. Ghostly pedal steel accompanies  Farrar’s acoustic strum as he sings “Don’t get down as the Cavalry doesn’t arrive/It’s only in Hollywood they didn’t get it right” he sings over a loose and breezy loop of yesteryear. “Back Against the Wall” pulls similar mid-tempo punches. It’s like Wildflowers-era Petty sitting in on a Jayhawks session in mid-1994. Then we get to the punchy and fun “Static”. It’s like all those comments about “alt-country” written by guys like me got stuck in Farrar’s craw and he cranked his amp to 11. Farrar pushes the song in the red with blues-tinged vocals and biting slide guitar. This is a hell of a barn burner. “Cherokee St” gets down and dirty as well, with a bluesy stomp and a tasty Delta blues flavor. “Lost Souls” blows up into a Drivin’ & Cryin’ fit of burning tube amp rage. This is a suit Farrar is well fitted for and he should wear it out on the town more often.

Elsewhere, “The Storm” has a Ry Cooder feel with its acoustic slide and Paris, Texas existential breeze. “Cairo and Southern” might be the most breathtaking piece of music Son Volt has put to tape in a very long time. There’s an atmospheric and wandering feel to it that pulls you from the moment. Part Bert Jansch and part Red Red Meat, “Cairo and Southern” feels like a centerpiece track even though it’s nearly at the end of the album. “Threads and Steel” ends the album like a cowpoke gunslinger version of “Peter Gunn Theme” or Link Wray’s “Rumble”. “There’s a man goin’ round takin’ names” Farrar sings like the spirit of Cash is rolling through him.

Notes Of Blue proves that Farrar and Son Volt stick to their guns, and even occasionally unholster those smoke wagons and fire a few round into the night. To think you’re going to get anything more than a solid Son Volt album when a new one arrives is just wasting time. Jay Farrar isn’t one for naval gazing or being the tortured artist. He’s just the same quiet dude writing dusty barn burners on the back porch or sweaty practice space that he’s always been. I’m sure he occasionally puts down the stoic stance and cracks a joke or two. I’m sure of it.

7.8 out of 10

 

 

Friday Thoughts

So it’s Friday. You made it through another work week. How’d you fare? Was it a good one? Not so good? I hope things weren’t too painful for you. Me? Ehh, work has become a function like breathing, blinking, or going to the bathroom. It’s a necessary function, but one I don’t really think about all that much. It provides me with the funds to put a roof over our head, heat under the roof in the winter and cool in the summer. It puts gas in our cars, clothes on our backs, and music in our ears. It allows us family vacations, dinner for two, trips to the comic book store, record shop, and Starbucks. It gets us into the cinema, the museum, and the amusement park. It allows us to be generous to others when they don’t quite have enough. It gives me reassurance that if someone gets sick we can afford to get them better.

These are things about my job that I am forever grateful for. Things I do not take for granted, or ever will for that matter.

But this is a job. Not a career, or a dream position. I have been and always will be just a cog in the machine. I don’t get any sort of satisfaction in the workplace(other than what I mentioned above.) I’m not saving lives or changing the world(though they’d have me believe the opposite.) No matter how much good we do in the world, the bottom line is money. If they can save some bucks and keep those top end bonuses nice and fat by canning some folks in the Midwest and pushing more manufacturing to Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, China, and Mexico then that’s what they’ll do(and have done.) They did it just two weeks ago. 25 people clocked into work on a Friday and within an hour they were offered packages and sent on their way. Some had worked there for a year. Some had worked for 30 years. Some had spotless records; some not some much. It was a big, painful surprise.

I’m not saying I didn’t sweat it for about 3/4 of the day. I did. There was no rhyme nor reason that those that survived could see. It felt pretty random. This happened back in 2013, too. Back then we knew it was going to happen. They warned us. It was still bad, but at least it wasn’t like a random bullet flying through the picture window of a peaceful household and taking someone out. We were prepared for the worst that day. More than a few friends were let go then. More than a few were let go a couple of weeks ago.

So the last couple weeks have been tense. Still reeling from what happened, and a little sickened by management’s willingness to just move on to the next thing. A few of us see the writing on the wall. More work will head over borders south, west, and east. Less work will find its way to our plant. If the place is still running in three years I’ll be surprised. Shocked, really.

It’s time to figure out what I’d want to do. Not for a job. I’ve done the “just a job” thing for 24 years now. Something not so soul-crushing. Something I look forward to go to everyday. That would be something, wouldn’t it? My dad has been my inspiration in all of this. He had a job, too. Not a career or a passion. Just a job. For 50 years he plugged away at the same company supporting our family of four so we could live a reasonably comfortable middle class life(by 1970s-80s standards.) At 17 years old he lucked out and got a Journeymen apprenticeship at a Chicago-based printing company that had built a plant just 20 miles from his house in Northeast Indiana. He’d planned on going to the Indianapolis School of Art once he’d graduated high school(my dad’s an amazing artist), but with this job opportunity he felt he couldn’t pass it up. He lied about being 18 on the application and went for it. Figured he’d work a couple years then head to Indianapolis. He met my mom, then met my older brother(just three months after he and my mom were married), then 50 years later life got away from him. He did continue to put his artistic abilities to good use by drawing caricatures and comic strips of people he worked with that pissed him off. Some of them were hilarious and quite biting satire(think Mad Magazine and National Lampoon for references.)

My dad comes over and has coffee with me every Saturday morning. We rarely talk about work, though. He’s been retired for over 2 years now. He worked 50 years and 6 months at that place. He went to work whether he felt like it or not. He had a responsibility and he didn’t take it lightly. That made an impression on me growing up. It showed me that it’s not always about you and what you want. Sometimes you sacrifice your wants for everyone else’s needs. That’s just how it is. But with how things are at work nowadays, I’m thinking it’s time to pare down the money going out the door. Take stock of things. I may not find a job that will give me the benefits and money that I’m currently getting, but if I can get rid of some of this existential heft then I think it would be worth it.

Now might be the time to make that change.

I guess I’ve got a year or two left to figure it out. Until then I’ll keep plugging away, plotting my next move, and continue being a cog in the machine. I’ll keep looking forward to Fridays and movies, trips to the comic book store with my son, and date night with my wife, and all those things that keep us a tight knit family crew.

I’ll keep working for the weekend.

 

 

Forest Walker : UV Sea

Occasionally I’ll come across an album that stops the world around me when I listen to it. The music committed to that record holds aa1798958000_10 type of special magic that can’t really be explained or dissected, as any attempt pales in comparison to the art itself. What some hear as “noise”, I hear as the unlocking of the universe for the duration of time that lives between hitting play and the last note that floats along like embers of a dying fire. Albums like Steve Reich’s Music For 18 Musicians, Terry Riley’s A Rainbow In Curved Air, JD Emmanuel’s Wizards and Jonas Munk’s Absorb Fabric Cascade are journey records. The encompass their own musical galaxies. They set fire to your imagination and pull you into these worlds of repetition, looping time, and dense atmosphere. Los Angeles-based composer and violinist Forest Walker has added to my list of big idea albums with his new release UV Sea. It’s a classical album for the modern age. At times dark and foreboding and at times sunlit and shimmering, UV Sea is a stunning LP for deep thinking and existential pondering.

So here are some things I know about Forest Walker, according to a one sheet I found on him:

Forest is a composer based in Los Angeles, California. His work focuses on deconstruction of mythologies of sound. He prefers his burgers medium rare, his TV from the year 2000 with a strong female lead, and his reverb tails a little longer than maybe he should. He holds a master’s in Composition and Music Theory from NYU and currently an engineering position at Hans Zimmer’s Remote Control Productions.

“Deconstruction of mythologies of sound.” That’s an important thing to know, as if I’d read that prior to listening to UV Sea I would’ve assumed I was seeing pretentiousness at work. But once you hear opening track “Desert Lighthouse” you start to understand that whole “deconstruction of sound” thing pretty well. The work of Steve Reich comes to mind immediately in the piece’s opening salvo of staccato notes and drone-like bliss. There’s a beautiful mix of organic and synthetic as the song rolls along. It’s a stunning piece that feels like first light after a long night of darkness. “Amendment of Fundamental Axioms” sounds like mechanical experimentation. New age music for androids. It has sci fi elements to it, with dissonant squeals that battle against what sound like strings hanging in the air. “Saved Video of a Postcard” hints at darkness around the corner. It radiates a tempered tension. The existential equivalent of something lurking around the darkened corners, but in one’s own mind. It’s an exquisite melding of the musical forms of Philip Glass and Johnny Greenwood.

Walker composes as if there’s a scene to tell with each piece. What may come off as merely atmospheric soundscapes are far more richer than that. There’s something far more vast than that going on, and last track “Realtime Lapse” feels like this cavernous work of art. It encompasses this vast space with sound and scope. It’s thoughtful and purposeful noise. It could score the beginning of the universe, or it’s undoing both equally and perfectly.

Forest Walker’s UV Sea is another album to lose yourself in. To my ears it’s essential, forward-thinking classical music with experimental undertones. It invites you to sink into it’s drone-y spaces, both dark and light, and see how you come out the other side. You’ll be all the better for it.

8.3 out of 10

Big Jaw : Fort Fun

Clint Roth, aka Big Jaw, is a name you may not know but give it a little time. He’ll be a name you’ll know soon enough. I’ll give youbig-jaw some highlights: Roth grew up in the Midwest but is now based in Austin, TX. He’s one of those incredibly talented cats that can play everything. On top of that he can write hella good songs, too. He’s everything that makes up the perfect storm in regards to musician/singer/songwriters go. He even touts a pretty manly mustache.

As Big Jaw, Roth has put out two extremely solid EPs. The first was the exquisitely raucous Appetite For Construction, which he followed up with the riff-heavy Photophobia in 2014. Roth returned to the confines of a small practice space and pushed himself to create. The result is the newest Big Jaw banger called Fort Fun. It’s everything you’ve come to expect from Roth, and then some.

So here’s a little background on Fort Fun, from the man himself:

A little over a year ago, I got a one month lockout in an hourly rehearsal facility here in Austin. I loaded all my recording gear, and guitars, amps, and drums, into a little 14’x14′ room with other hourly rehearsal rooms on three sides and above(think Pantera cover bands in Quad) . I went in with no ideas of what I was going to do. No songs started. My goal was to put myself in that space as much as possible over that month when I wasn’t at work, and see what came out. I wasn’t going to edit my output while I was in that space. I just let myself be free to mess around with any idea that popped up and see where it led.

Where it led was to a five song EP called Fort Fun and the mesmerizing album opener “Homesick”. It opens with woozy synth sounds(think the intro to “Fly Like An Eagle”) before the song blows open with big guitars and drums. Roth sings “Drop acid by the covered bridge/ Write with satan’s chalk/Ditch all your uniforms/Before you run from the cops”, as the song moves along like some long lost mid-90s alternative track you might’ve heard on 96.3 in its heyday. “Tell Me What I Want To Hear” sports a driving rhythm and lyrics like “I Am A Dancer Trapped Inside /The Body of a Lamppost /Let’s Get Weird With It Tonight /And Dance Until The Sunrise”. This is one of those songs you can’t help but play air drums along to. It’s an infectious jam. “If We Could Breathe In Space” sounds like neo-futuristic power guitar pop. Jazz-inflected chords float above the proceedings as Roth makes good use of space and atmosphere. It’s a truly unique track. “Third Ontological Dimension of The Body” is a short interlude of  buzzes and beeps that Roth said he got all the source material from a pinball arcade. “Restless Heart” could also be called “Workingman’s Blues”. Riff heavy rocker talking about day jobs and girls that just don’t get it. $7 to his name, watching a Tom Cruise racing flick, and fine dining in soup kitchens. This track has it all, and it’s a hell of a way to end the EP.

Big Jaw make hard-driving rock and roll with touches of power pop and 90s alternative, as well as something unique in Clint Roth as a songwriter with an ear for sonics and melody. Fort Fun continues Roth’s winning streak and makes good on the promise of Photophobia. It’s an adrenaline-fueled joy ride. A hot wired batch of tunes ready to burn rubber.

7.8 out of 10

Causa Sui Revisited Part One : Summer Sessions Vol. 1 – 3

In lieu of the boxset Live From Copenhagen dropping next month, I thought I’d hit up a couple of my favorite Causa Sui albums. You know, chat ’em up, break ’em down, and generally just wax ecstatic about some of the amazing records that have been bestowed upon this world by these rock and roll Danes. So by all means go grab a beer, your favorite Danish snack, or put on your favorite pair of party slacks and dig in.

img_2841Would it be wise to recommend to the uninitiated listener a three volume record set as their first foray into the Causa Sui musical world? Hell if I know, I’m not all that wise. So instead of playing it safe and throwing Euporie Tide out there, I’m saying you should jump head first into it and dig into Summer Sessions Vol. 1-3. These albums, for me, are where it’s at. The first Causa Sui record, self-titled, was a toe dipped into the psych and stoner rock waters. Lots a Fu Manchu and Kyuss love happening on that album, but had these guys kept on that road(complete with fuzzed-out guitars and vocals) I don’t think I’d be sitting here talking to you folks about Causa Sui. While they were very adept at the genres, they were merely sewing their oats. They got the crunchy rock out of the way so they could crack open their heads and let the serious mojo ooze out. Summer Sessions Vol. 1-3 take you on a musical journey. Intellectual noodling. Free form psych. Interstellar jamming. Three records that have it all, and then some.

Summer Sessions Vol. 1 opens with a psyche crusher called “Visions Of Summer”. It’s like early Santana, the Doors “Riders On The Storm”, and Miles’ Bitches Brew all rolled up into this exquisite and tasty delight. Latin-flavored rhythms intertwine with dreamy keys, tasteful big riff guitars, and some punchy bass. It ebbs and flows between heavy moments and atmospheric horizons. It flows between late 60s idealism and early 70s “f*ck it, lets burn it down” machismo to stunning effect. If you’re looking to make a statement, “Visions Of Summer” is a hell of a way to greet folks. And at nearly 25 minutes you’ve got time to step away for a smoke(or make an omelet) and come back before you miss anything good. “Red Sun In June” has a nice jazzy feel in the tasteful drumming of Jakob Skott, while Jonas Munk lays on some heavy phased-out guitar. This track feels like a companion piece to a hella summer buzz. Bloodshot squinted eyes look past a blazing sun burning its way down into the ocean as you melt into the summer sand. Smooth. As. F*ck. “Portixeddu” is this spaced-out exploration into the heart of the sun. Whizzing noises and some serious grooves(more cowbell, please) fly past your ears as the Causa Sui crew mine some serious desert rock voodoo. “Soledad” sounds like some heady Meddle-like Pink Floyd haziness. I also think this track hints at future endeavors and vibes the Sui cats will explore with their Pewt’r Sessions.

Summer Sessions Vol. 2 greets us at the door with some Andre Segovia overtones in some classical guitar vibes and specter-like sounds before getting all dirge-y with the behemoth called “Rip Tide”. Imagine a cross between Black Sabbath and Hendrix’ Experience and you may have an idea of what you’re getting into with this hell of a track. Munk finds his inner Jimi while the Skott and Kahr do a damn fine job of laying down some serious Redding/Mitchell vibes. Then when you least expect it Johan Riedenlow lays down some seriously squanky sax that brings on the Interstellar Space vibes. “The Open Road” is this intense psychedelic freakout. Munk, Kahr, Rasmussen, and Skott can make some of the best freakout noise out there. Riedenlow shows up once again to lay down some serious bebop sounds. It’s 14 minutes of heady noises to clear the cobwebs from your tired minds, folks. “Cinecitta” is nearly a new age vacation from all the noisy grandeur and bombast. You can almost feel the breeze coming off Kattegat or Skagerrak as you let the mellow vibes come over you. The epic ending to Vol. 2 comes in the form of the atmospheric and expansive “Tropic Of Capricorn”. Whether Henry Miller’s classic novel or the December solstice was the inspiration remains to be seen. Regardless, this 23-minute epic ride that sounds like a cross between Hawkwind and At Fillmore East-era Allman Brothers Band will satisfy every aspect of music lover. It’s a beautiful mix of classic rock and jam-inspired musical exploration. You can’t go wrong here. Not one damn minute is wasted.

Summer Sessions Vol. 3 kicks off with “Eugenie”, a doomier track than we’re used to hearing from Causa Sui. Riedenlow shows up for some more nuanced saxophone, but the real star of the show here is Jonas Munk’s guitar display. He makes good use of the Crybaby pedal and let’s the dirge do the talking. “Red Valley” hints at Euporie Tide and its ability to go from doom-laden riffs to more upbeat, head in the clouds optimism. “Red Valley” has become a staple of Causa Sui’s live show and for good reason, it rocks. “Lonesome Traveller” feels like a “Red Valley” reprise, while “Santa Sangre” opens like Billy Thorpe’s “Children of the Sun” on mescaline. There’s a feeling of earth and soil with this one, as if the music is emanating from the cracked ground under our feet. This is one where the sax should’ve sat out, as it feels like it breaks up the massive tension created from the rhythm section and Munk’s guitar work. Still, that’s a small complaint. “Venice By The Sea” sets us off on a course into the sunset. It’s an adios to the explosive riffs and crystalline expanse of the world Causa Sui created for us to exist in.

Now these three records were originally meant to be listened to separately, as they were all released at different times. Last year all three records were sold together as a box set and I have to say that I think as a whole the three different Summer Sessions volumes compliment each other quite nicely. You really get the vibe of this massive journey. Waves breaking in the distant background, voices carrying over the valley below as music swells and builds along the lakeshore. Late night jams lift into the blackened sky as synapses pop and spark in minds being blown. Causa Sui’s Summer Sessions Vol. 1-3 feel like a musical microcosm of the death of the Summer of Love and the birth of the darker era known as the 1970s. Jams took on darker tones. Music was more about satisfying the artist than the listener. If the listener dug it, then great. If not, well that was their problem.

Summer Sessions Vol. 1-3 are the point where Causa Sui let loose their most creative tendencies and never stopped.

Up next: Part Two

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Strand of Oaks : Hard Love

In lieu of me discussing some strange childhood trauma that correlates to a record purchase starting the work week out, I thought I’d give the floor to my good friend and fellow writer D.M. Jones. He’s written a stellar review of the new Strand of Oaks long player ‘Hard Love’ and needed a place for it to land. I said bring it on over to my place. So here he is. Enjoy. – J. Hubner

by D.M. Jones

What has Strand of Oaks, aka Tim Showalter, been up to since his sorta/kinda breakthrough Heal hit in 2014? More of the same:image1 touring tirelessly, morphing his “indie-folk darling” status into “indie-rock darling” status, and generally greeting the world with arms wide open. The latest full length, Hard Love, reflects Showalter’s commitment to taking it all in—the good and the bad—with an open heart. In interviews, he has referred to questing for joy rather than happiness; seeking out the joyful moments in life is attainable, while sustainable happiness rarely is. Hard Love rocks out with epic moments as it wears its heart on its sleeve. If that sounds like a description of vintage Bruce Springsteen, then you’re not far off in catching the spirit of the record. Showalter’s driving keyboards and tough guitars may not sonically recall Springsteen, but his earnestness does.

The album-opening title track builds to from a pulsing synth and breathy vocals to a sturdy marching rocker, with lines like “Calling you just to get over here, just to give a damn” demonstrating right off the bat that, as always, Showalter is more than willing to lay bare his soul. The song also shows that there’s maybe more than a little U2 lurking in his musical DNA. “Radio Kids” recalls some of the more musically aggressive moments on Heal, with lyrical vulnerability completely intact. By contrast, the spare, piano-and-vocal “Cry” works at a level of intimacy only a truly honest artist can pull off. When Showalter sings the line, “Hey, you’re making me cry,” you’re pretty sure there’s a tear or two hitting the studio microphone. The soulful “Salt Brothers” shows off Showalter’s vocal gifts, then he lets it all hang out on the raucous “Rest of It.” Following such a raveup, one might expect the record-closing tune to be something of a ruminative outro. But the 8-minute “Taking Acid and Talking to My Brother” (in which no acid is actually taken) is actually a climax to an already strong string of tracks. Showalter experienced his brother’s near death and coma, and this song channels the surreal feeling of total helplessness he and his family felt.

By fully living in the moment, the artist is better able to communicate the perception of that moment to others. That’s Showalter’s gift to us on Hard Love.

Lost My Shape, Trying To Act Casual

Last week we had my parents over on Valentine’s Day to share a massive pizza and some cake with. It was a nice evening of chit chat and laughter(it usually is with them.) After we ate we were in the living room talking when the conversation went to my childhood. My dad made the comment “You could be peculiar at times. You always got upset when we weren’t acting “normal”. When things were out of place it really bothered you.” At first I laughed, then I realized he was right. What shocked me was that my dad remembered this about me. I’d always known this to be true, that if things were off or my parents weren’t acting like my parents that I’d panic. But I never realized they noticed my (erratic)behavior. I guess parents notice more than you think, kids.

I can remember being 5 or 6 and trying to wake my mom up. She was on the couch and had fallen asleep. It was close to 11pm and I’d woken up from a bad dream. I’d gone out and found her on the couch with TV on in the dark. She was snoring(family trait) and I tried waking her up. My mom was a heavy sleeper and was prone to talking in her sleep. She slowing opened her eyes and seemed to be talking nonsense, which made my already nervous state even worse. I was half crying telling her to wake up when I think she was awake and looking at me like I was insane. I turned around and my dad was up and getting ready for work(he worked third shift at the time.) They both looked at each other like “WTF??”

I suppose this is something you don’t forget as an adult.

There were other instances. Complaining in a restaurant about a pizza not having enough meat on it(valid complaint, but in my 8 year old brain I thought “What if people look at us?”). On a pontoon with my parents and grandparents and we run out of gas in the middle of Lake Manitou. They were all a little on the intoxicated side and my dad started yelling “Help me! Help me!” in between bouts of laughter(we made it to shore unscathed.) I was horrified. And there were the late night games of Monopoly and UNO that would go on till midnight, on a school night. My brother and I had to finish the game regardless. “Finish what you started, guys.”

My parents didn’t seem like my parents in those moments. They just seemed like these people I resembled physically. They weren’t the loving couple that helped me with my homework, took my brother and I to amusement parks in the summer, fed us, clothed us, loved us, and generally made our lives pretty amazing.

They were just these people. People acting like other people than my parents.

I can remember having nightmares when I was really young that my parents were taken over by strange entities. I’m sure a lot of that came from watching Invasion of the Body Snatchers and V as a kid. One dream I remember was being at a construction site and I was inside a house that was just framed out. I was lost and couldn’t find my mom and dad. These people show up and they were outlined like two adults that could’ve been my mom and dad, except that the shapes were filled with television static. Outlines of two bodies walking towards me, but within the outlines was just analog static with occasional sparks of lightning inside. They spoke but it was in these buzzing tones. They were supposed to be my parents, but obviously they weren’t. It was terrifying to my pre-science fiction-loving mind. I’d had another dream around the same time where I’d woken up in the middle of the night and walked out to the kitchen and found my dad making coffee. I immediately ran into my parents bedroom and my dad was also in their bathroom shaving. Two dads, identical, in two different rooms of the house. Which one was the real dad? Who do I ask for a glass of water?

Now, being 43 years old and having read more than my share of psychology books I can see that it was a fear of change and a fear of losing my parents. I think its a pretty normal thing for kids, it just manifests itself differently with different people. And I can also look back and see that in those moments when my parents weren’t acting “normal”, they were just being themselves. At that young of an age I only knew mom and dad. I didn’t know them as individuals. I didn’t want to see them “having fun” or “goofing off”, or as just people(or not paying attention to me, dammit.) That’s confusing! But now that I’m in those shoes I can completely understand. You can’t lose sight of who you are. Sure you’re mom and dad, but sometimes mom and dad need to be individuals. You lose sight of who you are deep down, or who you once were and things get a little complicated. Maybe you’ll start resenting yourself and what you’ve become.

Hell, I don’t know. I’m not a psychologist.

So yes, I was a peculiar child. When things weren’t as they should’ve been I’d kind of freak out. I might be that way a little still, but at least the nightmares stopped(all but those back in high school nightmares.) And strangely enough I’m relieved that my parents saw how peculiar I could be, and yet they still seem to think I’m okay. Same with my family.

I think I’ve made my normal self as the dad that listens to vinyl, drinks micro-brews, reads comics, makes music in the basement, and loves science fiction. My kids would worry if I started reading the paper daily, watching football, drinking light beer, and going to church. Over the last few years I’ve made a concerted effort to “be me” in all aspects. Maybe that’s the difference between me and my parents. Parenting was more of a role 30, 40 years ago, as opposed to who a person was. I was used to the roles and not the individuals. Hopefully my kids know me as dad and that guy spinning records.

Or just the neurotic guy that sits in the living room often typing on a Chromebook.