What a weird, weird, exhausting week…

Well this has been a hell of a week. What a roller-coaster! I’m just going to write about it kind of stream-of-consciousness-like…

On Friday, as my previous post covered, I found out that my aunt Shirley died. That kind of thing tends to re-write your plans to begin with. By Saturday evening, I knew that the proceedings would take place on Tuesday and Wednesday and I scheduled it accordingly to be there. I planned to still go into work on Monday for a half-day, and tie up a few loose ends in the afternoon.

So…I drove to work Monday…almost. I was within shouting distance of the building, sitting at a stoplight. I was the first one behind the line, not moving at all. A lady in oncoming traffic fell asleep behind the wheel, veered off to her left and slammed right into me. Plans re-written again.

My car is a total loss. The driver was (I’m pretty sure) uninsured, and caused damage to five cars (including her own) before waking up. On the plus side, I cheated the Reaper AGAIN. On the minus side, he got my car. I don’t really care about the car. I mean I NEED one…but a car’s just a car. It’s by the grace of God (or somebody) that no one was hurt or killed, and that’s what’s really important. For now, I’m in a rental and I’m still breathing (I feel great, actually).

I skipped over a few things with the weekend to tell the part about the car, though… A few things did go as planned. Some of them GLORIOUSLY as planned. On Friday, my roommate and I hung out and had some good food. On Saturday, we both went over to the home of our friends the Lynns and hung out, then out with some friends called the Duvalls…then back to the Lynns. 🙂 And it was great. And on Sunday, we helped the Lynns move into their new apartment (down the street) with a bunch of other people that I like, too (including one of the Duvalls, as I’m sure you were wondering). So–before the big crash–I got to hang out with good friends and learn some more about some NEW friends. And that’s good. Who gives a shit about the car, when you’ve got good friends, right? (And Jeremy, Brandon, and Kaylene–in case I don’t say it enough, you guys mean the world to me.)

…then Monday…which, yes, was a bummer…but at least I got the day off, I guess…

Anyway… Went to Shirley’s visitation and funeral on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. Closed casket…which I understand, but somehow that just never feels like saying goodbye to me. But then I wasn’t asked, and it isn’t my place to say it. Most of the family that is able to travel turned up for it. It was great to see everybody and share some stories. When we arrived at the graveside, it was lightly snowing. I’ve always thought that kind of thing would be beautiful…but it was mostly just freezing. Still, it was a nice service, and a fitting memorial to Shirley. Someone pointed out that she probably would’ve gotten a laugh at us all standing out there, freezing. One last laugh for Shirley. Way to go. (And family–in case I don’t say it enough, you guys mean the world to me, too.)

And today I went to work, and life resumed as normal.

It’s been a weird week. I’ve laughed and cried and at least once shouted “What the hell, lady???” (Though in my defense, that was inside my car, to myself. I then got out and immediately went over to her car to check on her–she was rattled but not hurt, and I did my best to help her calm down and get out of the car. I am sad to report that I was the only one to check on her at all.)

And…despite the things that were bad or sad or whatever… I feel good. I don’t know what it is…but I feel good. Maybe I’ve grown as a person. Maybe I’ve let go of a few things. Maybe I sustained a severe blow to the head that made me unable to feel sadness or anger. Hard to say. But whatever it was, I think Patterson Hood put it best in his song, “A World of Hurt…”

“It’s great to be alive.”

Have a good weekend, y’all.

————

Current Listening:

Frank Black – Christmass

Billy Talent – Dead Silence

Sex Pistols – …Bollocks (Because today was Johnny Rotten’s birthday.)

Rest in Peace, Aunt Shirley

I have no idea how long this will be for a few reasons, and only one of them being because I’m writing it on my phone. But I wrote a whole mess of words about a guy I barely knew in my last post. How can I possibly write less about a member of my family? Well…I’m more private about my family than I am people I barely know for one… But also, I’m sad to say that my family is a lot like yours probably is… Sometimes individual members don’t see each other for extended stretches and you don’t have as much to say. Such is the case now–but that doesn’t make us any less family or the death any less sad.

…and with no offense to anyone else in the family, Shirley was always one of my favorites.

Shirley was not well for about the last year of her life. Good news is she’s fine now. Bad news is that our family lost one of our most colorful, hilarious, tell-it-like-it-damn-well-IS members. Shirley was a wonderful person with a wicked sense of humor and wit so sharp it could cut through marble. You never wondered where she stood or where you stood with her. She would sometimes come across abrasive but she didn’t want to hurt a fly–she was just honest and smart and funny.

In a lot of ways, Shirley was everything I hope to be some day if I ever grow up–God forbid! And I’m going to miss her more than I would’ve known if you’d talked to me before 1:00 this afternoon.

When Shirley started having serious health problems last year, I was quoted as saying, “She’s got to get better. We need her.” I’m very sad that she’s gone. But I am glad that her year of suffering is over and now she gets to be herself again–probably more herself than ever. And I bet it took her a while to get past St. Peter. Oh, not for theological reasons, but because she was probably throwing out zingers at every entrant coming up behind her–Heaven just got a lot more fun.

One of the things I always remember about Shirley is that when I was a kid, I really wanted a metal detector. (I don’t know either. I sucked when I was a kid.) Shirley (and Uncle Benny) bought me one from Radio Shack. It wasn’t much to write home about and I never found anything with it…but I had my fun. And the last time I saw Shirley, she asked me if I still had it. I laughed at the memory and so did she, and I said, “No, I gave up the metal detector for the guitar.” She laughed and said, “Well you’ll probably get more girls that way.” Vintage. (The truth, by the way, is that I accidentally left it in Kevin Garrison’s garage, and I don’t know what ever happened to it or him…sorry Shirley.)

Rest well Shirley. Save me a spot at the cool kids’ table up there.

Rest in Peace, Craig Lieske

I was very saddened to hear that the touring crew of the Drive-By Truckers suffered a MAJOR loss today. In fact, the whole world is poorer for losing a good, funny, kind man in Craig Lieske. Craig served as DBT’s “Merch Guy” for close to ten years. As a long time fan, I saw a lot of Craig at the Rock Shows, and he always had a smile and a story, if you had the time. He was a hell of a guitar player too. He died very suddenly last night after playing what is said to have been a GREAT set with his band Thundercrack. “I can’t die now…I’ve got another show to do…”

The last time I saw Craig was at the Pageant here in St. Louis–the night the Cardinals won the World Series, no less. I’m not sure if he recognized me or not–though many people online contend he recognized EVERYBODY if you ever talked to him… But he was so, so kind when we talked. I was wearing the shirt I bought at my very first DBT show (circa 2003-2004?) and he did a little bit of a double-take on it. He said, “Man, where’d you get THAT?!” and I said, “I bought it about 10 years ago from (drummer) Brad’s WIFE when SHE was running the merch!” Craig paused, then his eyes got wide and he gave me a big “WOOOOOOOOW!” and a slap on the back.

In the past, Craig has knocked a few bucks off a purchase or two once he’s realized you’re a regular. I have this poster hanging on my wall.

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In the corner, you can see a post-it with the price on it (which, incidentally, Craig wrote himself).

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He sold that to me for half-price because it was the last one and he’d been using it in the display. The poster’s now a nice memory of a great concert…but also a nice memory of Craig. I’m glad I didn’t take off the post-it when I framed it.

Craig would often jump up on stage with the band during their encore and play a little lead guitar. He seemed to get a kick out of it any time I’d ask, “We gonna see you on stage tonight?” before the shows. Last time I asked he said, “Probably not, since they got me back here tonight” (the Pageant has a merch room that’s outside of the main stage area) “but thanks for asking!” Always cordial. A Southern gentleman. Pissed off that I’m not going to hear him play “Buttholeville” again. (Yes. “Buttholeville.” I can’t excuse everything they’ve ever written…)

I’ve got a handful of other stories I could tell about brushes with Craig. But I’m almost starting to feel like I’m bragging and dropping names. The truth is that Craig and I weren’t on a first name basis. We weren’t best friends. We never visited each others houses, and we didn’t keep in touch between stops to St. Louis on a 500-day-a-year touring juggernaut…

But god damn it, it sucks that he’s dead.

Over 10+ years of following a band, sometimes you feel a little bit like you KNOW them…but Craig is the first merch-guy I ever felt that way about. Probably the last. Rest in peace Craig. See you at the Rock Show in the sky.

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Lovingly stolen from the Drive-By Truckers’ Official Facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/drivebytruckers

“Don’t kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he’d eat you and everyone you care about!” – Troy McClure

Time for another chapter from “Stuff in Derek’s Head.” Here’s stuff!

  1. On Facebook (and in real life) I have been asking people what the first album was that they bought with their own money. Facebook thread got over 30 responses. Guess people like nostalgia. First one I ever bought with my own money was Aerosmith’s first record. I was under the age of 10…the record had been out for over a decade (or so–not sure on the original release date) and I liked “Dream On” a lot. Over time, I drifted away from Aerosmith, once I reached the age of finding sexual metaphors silly and embarrassing ..but I’ve kept up with them a little and popped the Greatest Hits into the player in the last week or two. Lots of songs I really love–some I forgot I loved…and I’ve had the outro of “Rag Doll” stuck in my head all week.
  2. I want to clear something up… (***Serious face.***) I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago after the Newtown killings about how I don’t want kids. It addressed that I’ve said that for a long time and I got into the “why” of it–and it’s more than the selfishness people expect, and it’s not the stereotypical guy stuff… A couple of people have been nice enough to ask questions or chat with me about it since…and just to be clear about the subject, since people keep asking. No…I don’t WANT kids…but that’s not to say I’d never HAVE them. If I fell in love with someone and she needed to have a kid (or so) to be happy, I could do that, and I could be a good dad, and love the kid(s). It’s just not a life goal, and in the current world-climate, frankly I find it scary. But it’s not a deal breaker…so if you were considering someone for me as a blind date, go nuts, I guess…
  3. Been writing new songs by the butt-full. (Trying to get “by the butt-full” to catch on. So far, no one likes it.) Handed the band five new songs on CDR last night. I’m excited about them. My writing’s taken some different turns in recent weeks, and I am looking forward to exploring the new material with the band. Even got a few POSITIVE lyrics in there. (I know, right? Weird!) I’m challenging myself to write differently and cover different subjects, and I’m pretty happy with what I’m coming up with. Hope the other guys are, too… Unfortunately, it seems that any time I hand out a CD of 5-10 new songs, two of them make it and the others sink…and often my favorites are the ones we never touch. We’ll see what happens with this batch.
  4. Kind of big announcement that isn’t totally being announced yet because it isn’t actually ready… In February, I’m going to be updating my website to offer downloads of my music, and I’m working with software that is going to allow me to set the price at a variable rate. In English… Starting in February, if you want to download any of my music through my website, you can pay WHATEVER you want. I’ll even take $0.00. I just want people to listen to it. (Actually I’m not sure it’ll let me do $0…but maybe $0.01?) As far as I’m concerned, that rule is already in effect for CD purchases. If you want one for free let me know and I’ll get you one (or even all three releases). If you’d feel bad taking them for free and want to give me $5 or $10 or $7,000…I’ll take it. Whatever. And I won’t be offended if you want them for free. At this point, I might even prefer it that way. (Please note this applies ONLY to SOLO Derek Brink releases. Anything done with a different band is subject to whatever prices that band sells their stuff for–I can’t give you free Michael Feldman or Two Hangmen CDs because that involves someone else’s bank account.) So…look for the downloads next month…or if you want a CD, talk to me NOW.
  5. Speaking of Mike Feldman… I think I’m done with his new album. It’s fully mixed and mastered. Awaiting his final review. There might be one small fix needed if I over-did it on the reverb on a vocal track…but otherwise, we’re done. Exciting! It’s a great record he can be proud of, and I hope you’ll all check it out once it’s available for purchase.
  6. Shara Lyn Puckett is one of my oldest friends. We’ve known each other 21 years. (Our friendship can now legally drink.) She lives in Haiti now and has gotten engaged to a guy from there. Didn’t see that coming in fourth-grade, I can tell you! (But probably could’ve by high school.) I wish her all the best. Proud of the work she’s doing.
  7. I know this is a deeply divisive issue, and I apologize in advance for any hurt feelings…  But…  Contrary to everyone I went to Bible College with, I just wanted to take a second and applaud President Obama for being the kind of politician willing to risk his career and legacy to say what his base actually WANTS him to and what he actually BELIEVES rather than saying what he thinks will be the easiest cop-out he can offer. And shame on the Christians and other dangerous lunatics who wish him or others harm, as represented in my Facebook feed. (Please note, I am NOT talking about all gun-owners–just some very specifically scary ones.)  And that’s all I’ll say about it. (However, I am awaiting a long rant in the comments about abortion–which isn’t the issue…sigh…)
  8. Been reading “Science Set Free” by Rupert Shekdrake. It’s good. It explores the concept that we’ve been assuming the “laws” of science are true without actually testing them. And so far, he’s proven several of the “laws” are at best predictable habits and not necessarily firm absolutes. Very enjoyable read from a scientist who is applying the Scientific Method TO the Scientific Method.
  9. I’ve spoken of the band a little bit. We’ve been calling ourselves Two Hangmen for a while. Made sense when it was just me and Dave. But now that there’s also a drummer, we’re looking for a new name. (However, there’s a good chance that Dave and I will do another two-man recording project as “Two Hangmen” in the not terribly far-off future…so we’re not abandoning that.) I’m throwing everything I can think of at the wall to see what sticks, but nothing has yet. Band names are hard. Difficult to please everyone. I know I’ve thrown out a couple I was in love with and they were rejected. It happens. Hopefully we’ll land on something soon. Otherwise, we’re getting dangerously close to being Rod Torfulson’s Armada featuring Herman Menderchuck. (10 Internets to anyone who didn’t have to Google that reference.)

…and that’s all for now. I got political and that’s something I try not to do very much on the blog–we’re here to have a good time–so maybe I’ll keep this one shorter.

————

Current Listening:

  • Aerosmith – Big Ones (Compilation)
  • Lou Reed – Perfect Night (Live in London)
  • Derek Brink – Demos for whatever the hell my band is called…

What happens when I don’t know what kind of music I’m in the mood for…

Derek: “Think I’ll start the day with a little Bowie.”

Brain: “Sure. Makes sense.”

Derek: “Now The Cure.”

Brain: “Yeah, alright.”

Derek: “Now Aerosmith.”

Brain: “Weird transition, but whatever.”

Derek: “Think maybe some Captain Beefheart.”

Brain: “What?”

Derek: “Now how about a little Cheap Trick.”

Brain: “After Beefheart??”

Derek: “Enjoyed the Cheap Trick, but now back to Aerosmith.”

Brain: “Did you know they’re touring together?”

Aaaaaaand scene.

In which DB is excited about DB’s first CD since 03!

(Advanced apologies for all the spelling errors my phone is suddenly not catching.)

Like the rest of the world, on Tuesday I found out that there’s going to be a new David Bowie record in March. I can not begin to express how excited I am about that! I love Bowie so hard it’s almost upsetting to think about. My brother texted me around 9:30 with the news, and it took all my power not to get up and run around the building with excitement, just yelling gibberish.

Don’t judge me.

I think the first Bowie song I remember liking is “Space Oddity,” but as a kid I didn’t have a lot of use for him. I remember him playing at the Concert for Life in the 90s and I basically enjoyed it–first time I’d ever heard “Heroes” in full, as far as I recall. And I remember that at that same event, he took a second between songs to pray the Lord’s Prayer. And to this day, I only know the Lord’s Prayer because of that.

But I didn’t REALLY get into Bowie until my 20s–after he’d stopped playing his hits. Sure I found “Outside” interesting and every now and again I’d hear a Bowie song I basically liked…but I don’t think you’re meant to really love and “get” Bowie before you’re 20 or so. At least not NOW. In the 70s, sure…the world was Bowie’s and the world was weirder than hell. But if you were born post-1980, I think you have to go through a couple of things and be at least on your way to being a grownup before you realize, “Oh… ‘Life on Mars?’ actually has something to say.”

I recall seeing the Pay Per View concert (I think circa the “Earthling” record) of Bowie retiring his hits, and him ending with a solo acoustic performance of “Space Oddity” and feeling like I’d missed out on something special–even though I’d seen it. Then there was a BBC special airing of the “BBC Sessions” live performance. Bowie doing songs you wouldn’t necessarily have picked if you were the one drawing the list… A man at the point in his career where he could choose to do WHATEVER he damn well PLEASED…

And I was on board. I was hooked. And I immediately ran out and bought “Hours” and “At the BBC.” And then started devouring all the Bowie I could get my hands on. Saw him back on the “Reality” tour, just before his 10 year semi-retirement. Tickets were too expensive…but worth it in the long run. Great show. I went out and bought grey Chuck Taylors, because he wore some at that gig.

Then ten years of silence…and reports that he was now introducing himself to others as, “Hello, I’m David and I’m a father of two…” We all assumed the Thin White Duke had hung up his crown. Or robe. Or whatever Dukes wear.

I went on a bit of a Bowie kick a couple months ago, sparked by being in Vintage Vinyl and them playing some of the “Reality” record. Had the thought of, “It’s such a shame that he’s done…” Then–like lightning from a clear blue sky–NEW RECORD IN MARCH! And of course the critics immediately pan it because they haven’t listened to anything he’s written since “Diamond Dogs” and don’t realize that he’s grown, matured, and does whatever he damn well pleases…while the new single (“Where Are We Now?”) almost immediately climbs to being the #1 download pretty much worldwide. (Suck it, X-Factor…) The song is breathtaking and the critics are fools, just venting their frustrations at being fooled. So, so Bowie–and if his long-time producer who was in the room for the sessions can be believed, I can hardly wait to hear the rest–which he called “great ROCK songs.”

The way I see it. 2013 is shaping up pretty great already.

“In America, first you get the sugar, then you get the women, then you get the money.” – Homer Simpson

Been forever since I’ve done a “random” post. So let’s do one now! Why not?

  1. Had a good New Year’s Eve. Spent it at a small gathering at the home of my friends the Lynns. My roommate was there, and I met a couple of new people. Guy called Jeremy (need to meet about 15 more Jeremys for them to catch up with how many Daves I know) and a girl called Dani. This is going to sound…actually I have no idea how it’ll sound…but it was good to meet new people. I don’t think it’s a secret that I’ve been a little bummed out recently–I get like that sometimes, and sometimes it lasts a while. New Year’s Eve helped. Meeting new people that I liked helped. I don’t know…it might not be that either of those folks ends up being a long lasting, close friend or whatever (or they might)…but meeting new people that I liked made me feel like, “Maybe there’s a future after all.” I guess it’s the little things. (And the champagne and the Guinness didn’t hurt either!)
  2. On a similar note… I’m not really one for New Years resolutions… I typically think they’re pointless and fleeting… But I have made the decision to DO more stuff in the days ahead. I forgot that I like getting out and seeing people and having fun. (Yes, I FORGOT that I like having FUN.) TV and guitars are OK…but so are other peoples houses, and game nights, and coffee houses, and maybe even the odd bar if you get there early enough that the sloppy drunks haven’t taken over.
  3. Doing my yearly reading of “Catcher in the Rye.” Enjoying it. Probably do the yearly reading of Hamlet afterward…just knock ’em both out in one go.
  4. Other books in my cue:
    Willie Nelson – “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” (Already read a lot of it–short stories and thoughts composed while Willie was on the road. Light read. Nearly Finished.)
    Neil Young – “Waging Heavy Peace”
    Kurt Vonnegut – “Letters”
    Tana French – “In the Woods”
    And I’m also looking forward to the pending release of Joe Hill’s “NOS4A2” (Say it out loud if you don’t get it.)
  5. Been working on a new CD for Michael Feldman. It’s going to be called “Shadowland.” It’s got some really good material on it, and I’m enjoying the work. I’ve been adding my own stamp to it, too. He drafted me to do some background vocals throughout the project (on one of the songs, I built him a full choir part!), bass on one track, and I’m even playing piano on another. It’s been fun. I think we’re 1-2 mixes away from it being finished. In partial payment for the record, he gave me a guitar. (Last time he did that, it was the Telecaster I play regularly.) This time it’s an ESP Ltd model in kind of a cherry-burst. Inlays all around the body and neck. There’s a Duncan noiseless pickup and a humbucker in it. Nice guitar–high end of the ESP/Ltd brand. Enjoying playing it very much. I’ll try to put some photos on the Tumblr page soon.
  6. I’ve been somewhat frustrated musically lately. I’ve been playing and writing a lot…but I’m not sure what to do about it. Some of what I’m coming up with is so far removed from any project I’m working on at the moment that it’s just going to have to sit until I figure out what to do with it. And the solo stuff is fun, but what am I really doing with it? Any more, I give away more CDs than I sell and it is TOUGH to get someone to pay for a download these days. Somewhere after Steve Jobs’ people invented the iPod, music became free…and that kind of sucks both as a musician and as a fan. Only thing that’s really making sense right now for me is Two Hangmen (band with my brother and Dave Knobel–which has at least one too many members to be called “Two” anything). The songs I’m writing for that are stronger and more focused. Really hoping the band finds its feet and gets some gigs on the calendar soon.
  7. There’s a free-standing Panda Express by my house. (I was previously only familiar with them as a mall eatery.) I’m eating there maybe too much…but THAT much food for $7 isn’t a bad deal. Though I do miss the mall…
  8. Took down at least most of the Christmas decorations last night. Funny…all that glitter and the bright lights… Made me forget that the house is a mess. Now I just feel like I need to take a week off to clean up the place.
  9. So a couple of weeks ago, I found and bought a Doctor Who scarf (like the one Tom Baker wore on the show back in the day). I was excited to find it and I like wearing it…and I’ve gotten TONS of people coming up to me and talking about Doctor Who since. It’s kind of cool. You’re instantly friends with folks because they recognize a stupid affectation you’ve adopted. 🙂
  10. My responsibilities at work have been revised in recent days. I think I’m more comfortable doing what I’m doing now and I think I’m doing a better job of it. So that’s good news.
  11. Been having some shoulder pain lately. I think it’s a result of all the guitar playing and also I’ve been sleeping in weird positions lately. Well…and on Friday my nieces and nephew were climbing all over me, so that could be part of it too. (They get heavy fast when they’re slamming into your chest!) Particularly noticed it at work. Lots of shoulder and arm twitching and aching things. (And no…it’s not a heart attack…stop it.) Just enough to be irritating and make it on the blog. 🙂

Well…got used to three day work weeks over the holidays.  Kind of exhausted what with having to go in on a Monday and all! I’m going to try going to bed. Haven’t been sleeping right lately, but might gain some ground tonight.  Here’s hoping, anyway!

Current Listening:

  • Elvis Costello (Best Of)
  • Jason Isbell – Live in Alabama