Seen the arrow on the doorpost

“And I know no one can sing the blues, like Blind Willie McTell” – Bob Dylan, Blind Willie McTell

9 months is a short time. It’s not an under appreciation of child-birth, it’s just my thought for the day. Today my brother got on a plane, which tempted me to play John Denver’s Leaving on a Jetplane but I withheld. We’d been living in the same city (five minutes away from each other) for the last 9 months, but today he headed off to live somewhere else. It’s been the first time since I was in college that we’ve been living in the same city and it has been a lot of fun, but like I said, 9 months is a short time.

“I traveled through East Texas. Where many martyrs fell”

We have the same nose. Voice too. A lot of similar mannerisms. And we both love Bob Dylan. People say we’re very similar to each other, which is probably true, but at the same time I think we’re becoming more and more different over time. Which is great, don’t get me wrong. I’m a fucking fool and he’d be a saint if only he believed they existed.

“Smell that sweet magnolia blooming”

My brother’s a special guy. He’s a great brother, the best actually (as cliché as that might sound), but above that he’s a special guy. If I took out all the great things he’s done for me I’d argue I’ve never met anybody like him. If you ever bump into him, get to know him. He’s a special guy.

“He’s dressed up like a squire. Bootlegged whiskey in his hand”

Around 2005 he spent 6 months in China and came back with a suitcase full of burned CDs and DVDs. I looked though the CDs and he’d clearly been hitting Dylan hard. As you can see special and smart, sorry ladies, he’s not single. When I say listening to Bob Dylan hard, I mean he’d been listening to a bunch of live concerts, bootlegs and everything he could get his hands on. Blind Willie McTell had been the priced jewel from his efforts. He came back thrilled of having discovered this song that Dylan wrote about a blues man who lived during the first half of the nineteen hundreds. It’s a great song… really, it’s a shame he’s not single.

“But power and greed and corruptible seed, seem to be all that there is”

I’m taller. Actually we’re the same height, but I always look about a foot taller in pictures, so I’m taller. Funnier is still up for grabs. Taste in movies, me. Looks, up for grabs. Everything else… his. No doubt about it. So far I haven’t written much about one my grandfathers (I only mentioned him briefly in a previous post), but for the purpose of this post I’ll say that until he died he was the most honorable person in my life. A father of nine, a loving husband and an incredible grandfather, when he passed away we all had our wind knocked out of us. I cried like a baby, as did everybody else. It was hard to envision being without somebody who gathered so many good qualities.

“Them charcoal gypsy maidens, can strut their feathers well”

Now we’re a big family, and my grandfather influenced all of us in one way or another… but if you ask me who reflects his personality and good nature the most, it’s my brother. I used to think nobody had inherited my grandfather’s good nature, just a little of this and a little of that, but now I’m convinced it’s my brother who reminds me the most of my grandfather. Hardly ever a bad thought, if he has one hardly ever will it become a bad gesture, and if it does he’s always the first to realize it. I can’t say that of a lot of people. I’m grateful we shared the last 9 months because I think I’ve gotten to know him even better than I did before. I enjoyed my brother the brother as much as I always, with the added perk of discovering more about my brother the special guy, the one I was talking about before. I hope I get to live 5 minutes (or 10) away from him at some other point during my life. 9 months is a short time.

“And I know no one can sing the blues, like Blind Willie McTell”

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What have I got?

If I were given the chance to see any female artist perform live, living or dead, I wouldn’t hesitate at all, Nina Simone. It would have been great to see Janis Joplin, I would’ve loved to see Joan Baez in her prime, seeing Patty Smith again would be cool… but above all Nina Simone. It’s the mixture of talent with attitude that I think would’ve made seeing her perform in person (preferably in a small venue) an incredible experience.

“Ain’t got no love, ain’t got no name”

She’s not somebody I remember listening to when I was growing up, I just kind of stumbled onto her on my own after hearing her songs in movies and television shows. A commonly referenced movie scene is at the end of Before Sunset when Julie Delpy does an imitation of her for Ethan Hawke and plays the song Just in Time. Most Nina Simone fans know this scene, and I’m sure most share my take that it’s the best scene in the movie, hands down. I also recall hearing the song Sinnerman (one of my favorites) in an episode of Scrubs. From there I went on to buy a few of her albums and she’s became one of my favorite artists. She’s one of the greats, no doubt about it.

“I got my mouth, I got my smile. I got my tongue, I got my chin. I got my neck, I got my boobs”

I like almost all of her songs, many aren’t even hers, but she was so talented she could take pretty much any song and just run with in. She’s covered Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne… George Harrison’s Here Comes the SunMr. Bojangles (which Dylan popularized, but is not his). You have to be a beast to cover these songs and get away with it, but then again her talent was special, saying she was a beast might not even begin to do her justice.

I’ve got life, I’ve got my freedom

So Nina Simone is someone I’ve listen to regularly and who I never get bored of. She’s great for setting the mood in a room with other people and works just as well to listen to alone. I always say that only a handful or artists are really good companions for when you want to lie down listen to music and drink by yourself… Nina Simone is the founder and honorary lifetime president of that club. Ain’t Got No, I Got Life is one of the reasons why…

“And I’m gonna keep it”