Friday, February 29, 2008

Book Review: Parental Advisory: Music Censorship in America by Eric Nuzum

The back cover of Eric Nuzum's Parental Advisory: Music Censorship in America describes the book as a "thorough and complete chronicle" of music and artists that have been censored or suppressed in Uncle Sam's land. In this sense, it's pretty accurate.

Over the course of several hundred pages, Nuzum covers music censorship according to a variety of themes including race, religion, drugs, and the good ol horizontal tussle. However, Nuzum's book is far from an objective history. Much of it is little more than a very slanted tome that takes far too long to say nothing more than (to use the technical terms) censorship sucks and freedom of expression rules.

At its best, Parental Advisory gives a detailed account of music censorship in the United States. Nuzum covers all the key events including the uproar caused by the skinny Elvis Presley's swinging hips, John Lennon's "bigger than Jesus" comment, the rise and influence of the PMRC (Parents Music Resource Center) in the 1980s, and attempts by various groups to regulate heavy metal, gangsta rap, and goth rock.

The author does a nice job showing how several key characteristics of censorship have been repeated over the decades:

• Some concerned parents, religious leaders, and politicians always feel the current generation's minds and morals are being poisoned by filthy popular music. For them, music of the present day is far more violent, sexual, and dangerous than music at any other point in history. Music now viewed as both quaint and benign (e.g.: Cole Porter, Bobby Darin) was once viewed as threats to the very moral fabric of the nation.

• Violent tragedies (such as the Columbine shooting in 1999) almost always trigger a backlash against certain types of music, leading to the inevitable Congressional grandstanding and calls for tighter regulation of the music minors have access to.

• In many cases, those advocating parental warning stickers, bans on certain albums, and other forms of censorship don't have the first clue about the music's actual content. In one hilarious story, Nuzum describes how wild rebel John Denver's song, "Rocky Mountain High," was banned by radio stations for its supposed drug undertones. Similarly, Frank Zappa's Jazz From Hell was slapped with a parental advisory sticker for explicit content. The album was entirely instrumental.

• It doesn't take much to get the censorship ball rolling. Musicians who have the misfortune of getting on the radar of an overzealous politician, conservative watch group, religious leader, or everyday parent who complains to the authorities can quickly and easily find themselves at the center of controversy.

The book's major drawback is that it is not a balanced history. Nuzum doesn't really question the motives of the performers who find themselves being censored (with the notable exception of Marilyn Manson). In this way, he sees every artist who was ever suppressed as essentially a crusader for free speech and artistic expression.

In many cases this characterization is accurate (Frank Zappa), but in other cases, it's clear certain artists were more concerned with gaining notoriety — however negative it was — than with fighting as First Amendment soldiers (like 2 Live Crew). This is not to say such acts should have been censored (any music fan realizes the grave implications of any form of musical censorship), but it would be naïve to think certain artists didn't exploit the attention for financial gain in the form of increased record sales and sold-out concerts.

The book fails to place censorship in the larger context of how it influences American culture or society. How censorship has impacted artists as they record and release music, whether consumers avoid (or prefer) censored artists, and the long-term impacts of censorship on freedom of expression are never addressed. There is more to censorship than Congressional hearings, altered album covers, and manic reactionary conservatives. Unfortunately, Nuzum rarely covers these areas.

Music fans interested in a thorough, though biased, history of music censorship in America should enjoy this read. However, readers looking for a thoughtful analysis of how censorship has impacted music will likely be disappointed.

Book Review: Crazy Diamond: Syd Barrett and the Dawn of Pink Floyd by Mike Watkinson and Pete Anderson

Originally published in 1991, Crazy Diamond was one of the first serious attempts to document the life of Pink Floyd founder and cautionary tale Syd Barrett. Recently updated after Barrett's death in 2006, it's still the best Barrett biography I've read.

Its greatest strength is that it looks past the mythic and questionable tales of Barrett's post-Pink Floyd life to create a revealing portrayal of the musician as a person, not a caricature of LSD abuse or the many other labels both fans and music journalists have applied to Barrett ever since he disappeared from the music scene in 1967.

The book takes a chronological approach to Barrett's life, including how he first became interested in art and music at a young age, the founding of Pink Floyd and the band's influence on the psychedelic scene. It also follows Barrett's exit from the band and his two solo albums, and of course, his mental issues. These include his well documented behavioral "eccentricities," and retreat from public view, as well as the possible factors that resulted in this retreat.

The book is nicely rounded out with the critical and commercial responses to Barrett's only Pink Floyd album, The Piper At the Gates of Dawn, why Barrett continues to hold people's interest despite a scant recording career, and how his decline is eerily similar to that of other artists.

In any book about Syd Barrett, there will inevitably be a focus on his mental decline. The authors do an admirable job of chronicling this without turning into hack armchair psychologists. What becomes clear is that starting around 1967, Barrett became increasingly withdrawn, and his behavior increasingly bizarre, with the initial and obvious culprit being his extreme regimen of acid intake. The authors also suggest other factors, with varying degrees of plausibility, including the singer's sensitive personality, his fear of the fan worship he found himself subject to, and a never-diagnosed mental condition (possibly Asperger's disease).

The well-known stories are all told again, including how the musician would be completely uncommunicative, would sometimes play the same note over and over during concerts, and would, as one contributor to the book stated, "travel in his own mind." Pink Floyd member Nick Mason is more direct, describing Barrett as an "f---ing maniac."

Barrett's post-Floyd life is also examined. After releasing two solo albums, including the brilliant and disturbing The Madcap Laughs, Barrett essentially lived a solitary existence until his death in 2006. From what details we do know, he had little human interaction outside of his family, and passed the time by painting, walking, riding his bike, and watching television. Attempts by music fans and journalists to speak with the legendary Pink Floyd founder were either met with adamant refusals or only a few cryptic words. When Barrett was spotted, the details were strange and perhaps apocryphal; no doubt these stories have helped shape the image of Barrett that still persists to this day.

In some ways this book is not easy to read. Many of Barrett's flaws are exposed, including violent episodes against both former girlfriends and music business executives. The irony is that the book discusses the intimate faults and shortcomings of a man who, regardless of whatever mental conditions he had, wanted his privacy from the world at large respected.

The authors do an admirable job of walking the fine line between accurate biography and dirt digging. They also show how the notion of Barrett as a throwback to the suffering artist living in splendid artistic isolation is complete and utter BS. The great unanswered question is what would have happened to both Pink Floyd and Barrett had he essentially not gone off the rails.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Local Woman Listens To Grandson's iPod

When Kirksville High student and self-proclaimed “Northeast Missouri music czar” Larry Walforten forgot his iPod on his senior class trip to Thousand Hills State Park last week, he was more than a little peeved.

“All my friends had Fall Out Boy, Rick Astley, Cameo, and all the other musical visionaries of the 20th century to make this trip bearable. For five nights I had to listen to the sounds of a gently running river stream, the howls of the coyotes, and the calming, steady calls of the owls. Who wants to listen to that crap on a camping trip?”

Yet nothing prepared him for the shock he experienced when he returned home from the trip. His grandmother and legal guardian, 89-year old Eunice Walforten, had discovered Larry’s iPod. While Larry was suffering from both a lack of music and a massive sumac rash he caught on the second day, the woman was busy dissecting every song in her grandson’s collection.

“I discovered the device when I was cleaning Larry’s room on Monday morning. Larry’s a good kid, but he’s a total pig, just like his deadbeat long-gone father," the grandmother stated. “At first I thought it was a garage opener, and then a device for smoking marijuana,” Eunice readily acknowledges in between sips of Sanka.

Although she admits to not following music trends since “Richard ‘Rabbit’ Brown serenaded people on the Pontchartrain,” this hasn’t stopped Eunice from becoming very opinionated regarding Larry’s musical preferences. “I don’t think this young Dylan guy will amount to much,” Eunice says dismissively. “What’s a four-legged forest cloud anyway? In my day, someone who talked like that would rightly be committed.” Yet Eunice does say this “Dylan whippersnapper” has potential: “I absolutely loved Empire Burlesque, and I haven’t heard anything better than `Under The Red Sky' in a long time.”

She likewise dislikes the artists found in Larry’s seldom listened to “Music Cred” playlist. “This Waits fella barks, yelps, and howls like a deranged madman. Unconventional and challenging sounds have no place in my music world.” Eunice also fails to see the charm in Neil Young, the last artist in this playlist. “I’m not too keen on that voice, but I do predict Mr. Young will become a shrewd businessman whose concert tickets will one day cost hundreds of dollars.”

The grandmother also says she’s found herself constantly returning to the music of Black-Eyed Peas and on-stage urinator Fergie time and time again. “Now this gal’s got some real talent and a lot of important things to say, just like FDR in one of his Fireside Chats,” Eunice says enthusiastically. Fergie’s originality and cutting-edge tunes also impress her. “I doubt any musician has ever come up with a better generic, non-offensive, mediocre, and crassly commercial sound.” Yet Eunice doesn’t like Fergie’s chances of reaching the big time. “The American record-buying public’s well-documented disdain for such fluff rife with product placement might end her career though; this type of music never sells millions of albums.”

Larry reports that his grandmother’s constant opinions about his music have left a strain on their relationship. “My grandmother listens to the same music as me,” he laments in complete resignation. “Think it’s cool that an old woman knows all the lyrics to Jay-Z’s ‘99 Problems’ or that she no longer thinks Timbaland is a country in Eastern Europe? Well, it’s not.”

Larry also believes that his grandmother’s discovery of his music collection has cheapened the music for him. “Take Public Enemy for instance. That group understood me; they knew what it was like to grow up as an oppressed, suffering, and moderately affluent white kid in rural Northeast Missouri. Now she plays It Takes A Nation Of Millions for her friends during their games of Mah Jongg.”

Larry isn’t giving up hope though. “I plan to start exploring something called ‘indie rock,’ whatever the hell that means. From what I’ve heard, no one listens to that stuff. It’ll be years before she catches up to that music.”

Book Review: The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse by Gregg Easterbrook

Gregg Easterbrook’s The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse is not an easy read. The first several chapters nearly suffocate under page after page of statistics, poll results, and findings by researchers and other academic heavyweights. However, if the reader sticks with the book long enough, it proves itself to be a fascinating and thought-provoking study of how quality of life has continued to trend upwards, while personal happiness continues to decline.

The author’s investigation of how quality of life continues to improve is decidedly heavy, and is by far the most difficult and overwhelming part of the book. It’s fairly academic and dry. People who suffer from insomnia could try these first few chapters as non-pharmaceutical sleeping aids. Nevertheless, Easterbrook eventually shows how key areas in quality of life — including income, medical care, and housing — have all improved in the last several decades. He includes many examples of how people, especially in the Western world, by and large live with comforts previous generations could only dream of, and how these luxuries are taken for granted.

To his credit, Easterbrook does acknowledge that some trends are troubling: many in the world still live below the poverty line, and there has been an increase in obesity, especially among children, in the United States. The author is also clearly concerned with unchecked, excessive wealth. He rails against the appalling greedy practices of corporate CEOs while millions across the world still suffer from malnutrition, high rates of disease, and short life spans.

Easterbrook then turns to a sometimes-rambling discussion regarding the possible reasons personal happiness has not increased in step with an improved quality of life. The usual suspects are mentioned: genetics (people might be evolutionarily conditioned to focus on the negative); accumulation of material goods (having carpeted steps for your doggie might not make you any happier); popular entertainment (watching reruns of Walker, Texas Ranger won’t fill the void in your life); and SUVs (driving an armored tank across America’s highways and byways might not shield you from feeling miserable).

Cynics could of course argue that Easterbrook doesn’t say anything more than the accepted and tired cliché that “money doesn’t buy happiness.” Nevertheless, this middle section is by far the most engaging and interesting element of the book.

A few flaws emerge in Easterbrook’s discussion of why happiness has not increased. First, he never really establishes a working definition of “happiness.” For some people, happiness might mean a beautiful house and a beautiful wife; for others it might mean a high-paying job, copious amounts of booze or drugs, season tickets on the 50-yard line, or bizarre and strange sexual practices.

Second, he only marginally acknowledges that relying on polls to gauge trends in human happiness is inherently problematic; someone polled one day as being “happy” could have a different outlook on another day, or hell, five minutes after being asked the questions the first time. Easterbrook also sometimes comes across as a dry intellectual by focusing on poll numbers a bit too much. He tends to de-emphasize the impact that daily events (loss of job, birth of child, filing of restraining order) have on a person’s outlook on life in favor of broader and impersonal categories.

Easterbrook’s book ends with ideas of how people can possibly increase happiness in their lives through simple steps like forgiving others, reducing stress, reading more and watching television less, and realizing material possessions cannot ensure happiness. Sure it’s perhaps borderline motivational speaker and somewhat sappy, but he makes his case and doesn’t get overly dogmatic or preachy.

Easterbrook shows that as long as people rely on material possessions to make them happy, it’s likely that this unhappiness will continue or increase. This isn’t to say that Easterbrook is against free trade; however, it’s clear he thinks the race to acquire more and more will not lead to happiness.

This book isn’t perfect. Cute catch phrases like “reference anxiety” are used too often and have very little actual meaning outside of a college political science course. There are a few rants that should have been excised, and the initial chapters are repetitive. Easterbrook sometimes tends to get a little starry-eyed in addressing ways to solve the world’s problems, chief among them global poverty.

The Progress Paradox makes a compelling case that people will likely continue to become increasingly unhappy and discontent if their focus remains a bigger house, a better car, and other material possessions. Easterbrook manages to make his case without sounding like either a Luddite or a total reactionary.

Satire: Jerry Falwell Unhappy With Afterlife Living Conditions

In his first public statement since his (un)timely demise, the Reverend Jerry Falwell on Thursday complained that his current heavenly environment is "hotter than freakin' hell." Sweating profusely from his podium and flanked by bodyguards dressed like Ziggy Stardust, Falwell said, "Who do I need to talk to about this heat? I'm sweating more than a lesbian liberal prostitute at one of my television broadcasts. I'm on fire here."

Falwell's complaints were not limited to the fiery temperatures, however. The former televangelist, who reports he now spends his time in the Great Beyond compiling the ultimate Lilith Fair compendium, is apparently also quite upset with his current roommate, poet and truly all-around troubled woman, Sylvia Plath.

"All day long with her it's 'daddy this' and 'daddy that.' And those awful non-rhyming lines she recites all the time. I'm a quiet, reserved, respectful, contemplative person, and I've never been one to criticize anyone whose lifestyle, beliefs, hair color, shoe size, favorite sports team, or preferred Laffy Taffy flavor are opposed to mine, but I cannot help it. In this case our personalities simply clash." Falwell reports that when the poet starts reciting new lines, he plays his Sony Walkman and relaxes to the sweet tones of Conway Twitty.

Fallwell also addressed other concerns in his brief press conference. He's clearly not thrilled with the afterlife's intellectual curriculum. "Crap classes like Science In Intellectual History, The History of Women in Warfare, and Introduction to World History? C'mon, who needs that type of stuff? What good can possibly come from an in-depth, well-informed, and carefully studied examination of such diverse topics? What's a guy gotta do to get one farkin course about important things like the inevitable fall of the hedonistic United States, the history of hate mongering, or how Temptation Island is the best show Fox ever aired?"

Falwell is also peeved about the non-academic activities offered. Aside from his ongoing ambitious Lilith Fair project, and another task he was only willing to refer to as "Project Ultimate Doom," he's having trouble filling the hours. "The only athletic activity offered is amateur wrestling," Falwell morosely lamented. "I've never been one to criticize or condemn anything involving close male physical contact, but the simple fact is that my knees are too wobbly to allow me to participate." Referring to his knee, Falwell said, "Feel that there? That's pure bone on bone, no cartilage left."

Afterlife officials commented they were investigating the complaints, but weren't willing to make any promises. "Sure it's hot, but it's always hot down, er, up here. What does he expect? There's not a whole helluva lot we can do about it - if you catch my meaning."

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Concert News: The National/Modest Mouse/R.E.M. Mega Tour

According to a report from and confirmed by R.E.M.’s and Modest Mouse’s handlers, Modest Mouse and The National will serve as the opening acts on R.E.M.’s upcoming tour. Representatives for The National had been listening to Boxer too often, and were too lachrymose to respond with anything other than muted whispers and resigned attempts at defiance.

This will mark R.E.M.’s 437th official tour, and will be in support of upcoming release Accelerate, the follow-up to turd-in-the-punchbowl Around the Sun. Although fans’ expectations are that the new album will crush Around the Sun like a grape, it must be pointed out that the new album is being released on April Fool’s Day. Not to mention that Athens, Georgia's finest have been stuck in a vacuum of suck since the release of New Adventures in Hi Fi.

Tour dates and ticket prices have not yet been announced. If ticket prices are set based on the number of times Michael Stipe preens and gives the audience sinister glances or the number of times Isaac Brock barks and yelps, fans can expect to pay a premium.

Regardless of past studio album transgressions, R.E.M. still remains a great live act, even if Mike Mills has retired the sequin jackets from the Monster era, Peter Buck still looks a little surly on stage, and Bill Berry no longer mans the skins. Coupled with Modest Mouse and current best band on the indie planet The National, this tour should hold nice treats for fans of any of the three bands.

I’m even told that this here dinosaur band called R.E.M. has had something of a lasting impact on current bands like Modest Mouse and The National. With the quality of music being released by these bands, it’s clear that this influence came from albums like Murmur and Reckoning than Up, Reveal, or Michael Stipe Sings the Ballads of Appalachia.

Book Review: Eye Mind: Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators by Paul Drummond

With a collective drug intake massive enough to knock out a Clydesdale, frequent harassment and several busts by police, in-fights, mentally fractured band members, one violent death, and one classic album, the story of the 13th Floor Elevators is a music journalist’s wet dream. What’s surprising is that it’s taken so many years after the band’s disintegration to finally get a biography that looks past the myth and provides a detailed account of the band. Paul Drummond’s Eye Mind: Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators is both an exhaustive study of the band’s story and how the band fit (or didn’t fit) into the 1960s musical landscape. Fans of the band or music history won’t be disappointed.

Drummond covers every aspect of the band, including the Elevators’ rise as one of Texas’ premier live acts, the brief national notoriety gained by the single “You’re Gonna Miss Me,” their failed attempts to break out on a national scale, and their record company’s shoddy management techniques. The band’s (primarily Hall’s) psychedelic philosophy of transcendence, drug regimens, and struggle against Texas’ police force and how these influenced their albums, live performances, daily lives, and relationships with each other are also addressed.

Central to the book are in-depth details about the band’s primary members: drummer John Ike, lyricist/jug player Tommy Hall, guitarist Stacy Sutherland, and vocalist/yelper Roky Erickson. While Erickson is probably the biggest draw for fans of the band, Drummond presents all the major and minor players in the Elevators’ twisted tale. Although Drummond is obviously a fan of the band, for the most part he doesn’t let his bias interfere with providing an objective account.

Tommy Hall, depending on one’s point of view, was either a certified genius or a misguided druggie with half-cooked ideas about LSD, the path to enlightenment, the meaning of life, and other HEAVY concepts, and how the Elevators’ music could be used as a conduit for communicating cosmic truths (what that term actually meant to the band is a convoluted mess).

This portrayal of Hall is often unflattering; the lyricist comes across as a pompous ass, a bully, and the worst kind of drug user. Convinced that LSD was central to a greater understanding of life (one story even recalls how Hall attempted to distribute acid to young schoolchildren), and filling his head with writings by philosophers whose names seriously need to buy a vowel, Hall insisted the band take acid prior to performing, in an attempt to convey the psychedelic experience to the audience. Drummond shows how this dogmatic insistence to play on LSD, coupled with Hall’s abrasive and conceited personality, led to numerous fights within the band, and more than one lousy live performance.

Of course, Roky Erickson remains the central figure throughout the band’s history. Either a cautionary tale about the dangers of consuming LSD like Mentos or a misunderstood left-of-center genius (or both), the singer’s tale is one of addiction, mental instability, and varying degrees of recovery. Drummond’s book traces Erickson’s life carefully, with a central question being when the singer’s mind cracked, what caused it, and whether Erickson either faked or exaggerated his mental illness.

What becomes clear is that at some point starting around 1967, Erickson’s behavior became increasingly erratic and bizarre. The singer would often get sidetracked and turn up at the wrong venue or not all, became increasingly paranoid, and claimed that he was receiving transmissions from Russians and Martians in his teeth. In one famous story from the 1980s, Erickson was discovered in his home with several TVs and radios turned to different stations at maximum volume; another time, he was arrested for driving zero miles an error. With symptoms that included traces of autism, schizophrenia, and the inability towards self control, it’s certainly hard to accept Erickson’s later claims that his mental illness was largely a ruse.

A number of causes for this mental decline are proposed. Erickson’s liberal use of LSD, often fed to him by Hall, clearly had its adverse effects, although the singer’s coddling by his religious mother and friends, the various chemicals he received at the sinisterly-named Rusk Maximum Security Prison for the Criminally Insane, and Erickson’s sensitive personality cannot be ruled out either.

Despite a few relapses – by 1999 Erickson appeared to be completely helpless and lost man-child when he didn’t have a guitar in his hands, as shown in the You’re Gonna Miss Me documentary – he appears to have largely recovered. Some of his solo “Horror Rock” work almost rivals anything from the Elevators’ classic Psychedelic Sounds album, and Erickson’s also managed a few concert appearances in the last few years.

At its depressing worst, the Elevators’ story reads like a from-the-depths-of hell version of VH1’s Behind the Music. All of the clichés are there: regional fame and a failed attempt at national stardom, massive and naïve drug use, gross negligence from a record label, band squabbles, time spent in both prisons and mental institutions, failed reunion attempts, and tragic personal stories for the band’s members (especially in the case of Sutherland, who was accidentally shot to death by his wife in a drunken/drug-fueled argument). Yet despite the Elevators never achieving the attention in their heyday that should have, the band has been cited as an influence by bands such as Spacemen 3 and R.E.M. In some cases, specifically that of Roky Erickson, the band’s story is one of perseverance and survival.

Drummond’s book was meticulously researched and is deeply detailed. It’s the first definitive history of the Elevators and also serves as a nice study of 1960s psychedelic culture. With many new photos and interviews with the band and other key players in the Elevators’ scene, Drummond’s book is a great read for both fans of the band and fans of music history.

Band of Horses and an Open Letter to Snow

Dear Snow:

There’s no easy way for me to say this. Wait, yes there is: I hate you. As Ugly Kid Joe once so eloquently sang, I hate everything about you. There’s a reason dogs urinate on you, plows sweep you away into back alleys, and everyone south of Morehead, Minnesota views you as a slushy pain in the ass. Crazy skiers, snowboarders, and ESPN X-Games executives and sponsors excepted, nobody likes you. I’m also starting to despise your bastard cousins Sleet and Hail.

Don’t act so surprised; we both know things were coming to this. Like Fredo betraying his brother Michael in The Godfather II, we’re past the point of reconciliation, forgiveness, or understanding. All that’s left is raging, indescribable, Baldwin vs. Bassinger loathing.

Sure we’ve had some good times over the years. You managed to get a good number of school days cancelled for me, and I’ll never forget wadding you up into little icy balls of mayhem and hurling them at my father as he begged me to quit screwing around and start shoveling.

But then, on January 31, 2008, the day of the Band of Horses concert in St.Louis, you decided to turn my fair city into Hoth. Of course many St. Louisians responded in typical snow-mania fashion: grocery stores were violently plundered, canned goods thrown into shopping carts with merciless haste and venom, the local stations began running dramatic and sinister “Winter Storm 2008” music and taglines, and drivers in armored SUVs tooled down the highways and byways as if they were leading the siege of Vicksburg.

As I sat in my cubicle and watched you fall steadily to the ground, I noticed you accumulating like the snotty brat you are in alarming fashion. Even so, I knew that nothing was going to deter me from seeing Band of Horses. After all, I’d endured much more treacherous weather in the name of the concert-going experience. I’d learned how to handle nasty weather with a good degree of patience and perspective; three consecutive days spent in line for Bob Dylan shows with freezing rain, below-freezing temperatures, and a whole army of Dylanphiles discussing everything from Dylan’s hats to Dylan’s shoes to Dylan’s role in the late 1990s economic boom have that effect.

Yet a strange thing happened when I began driving on you. My quasi-reliable General Motors vehicle slipped and skidded a little, then a little more, and then a lot. Like Sasha Cohen on ice at the Olympics, my car was wobbly, shaky, and clearly a head case. But for the grace of front-wheel drive did I make it home without hitting an abutment or being steamrolled by those pesky jumbo SUVs.

I didn’t make it the concert; to drive on you would clearly be tempting the cruel fates of a car insurance deductible and towing costs a little too much. I’m assuming the show went on as scheduled and was probably outstanding; nothing online indicates the show was cancelled. I can only imagine that hearing Band of Horses live is far better than listening to either Everything All the Time or Cease To Begin or the Ford commercial that features the song “Funeral.” Now, if St. Louis music trends hold true, the next time the band hits St. Louis, they’ll be opening for a more-established act in a massive, impersonal amphitheatre.

Don’t tell me this shows that I demonstrated good judgment or common sense; that’s no consolation. Even if the concert would have been cancelled, you simultaneously ruined my plans and made me look like a total chickenshit. A few years ago, nothing short of the skies opening and Jesus himself descending to earth, Liar by the Jesus Lizard blasting from his iPod, would have prevented me from missing a St. Louis concert by one of “my” bands. And even then I would have strongly considered attending the performance and dealing with that little apocalypse thing later.

Snow, you and I are no longer on speaking terms. Like Michael Corleone dealing with Fredo, I want advance notice when you’ll be coming around, so I can make sure I’m in a different part of town. And when Band of Horses returns to the STL in a couple years and is opening for Once Forgotten But Now Suddenly Relevant And Respected Dinosaur Act at the St. Louis Enormo-Dome, it won’t make up for missing this show.

Fix you good,