Archive for November 2009

Emotionalism: Lessons Learned From the Avett Brothers, Songwriting or Otherwise

November 17, 2009

Without it being too cheesey, I think it is kind of rare these days to take some great life lessons away from music.  Most of the new music out now is either about shaking your ass at the club or it is so riddled with run of the mill poetic cliches that you can’t really extract the real meaning anyways.

I think this is the reason why the Alt. Country/Americana/Folk genres have exploded in the last few years.  Not because of some of the clever marketing ploys like labeling the music “Punkabilly” or “Trash Grass.”  Sure, that’s cool and all…but what makes it all stand out are the stories and the way they are told by the songwriters.

For me, right now, the Avett Brothers are the kings of this.  Instead of using some overworked cliche linking “sunshine” to “happiness” or “rain” to “loneliness”, they’ll just flat out tell you they are lonely and not only the story behind it, but a couple of helpful hints to avoid a similar path.

So, with that said, here is a list of things I’ve taken away from listening to their last couple of albums.

1.  If you’re a songwriter:  Stop beating around the bush.  It’s ok not to write those ambiguously poetic lyrics about that girl who left you.  Instead, write the lyrics like you were recounting the story to a friend.  I’m not saying to throw poetry out the window entirely.  Only that it’s ok to say exactly what you mean.  In fact, it helps break up the dullness of those aforementioned overworked cliches.

2.  If you’re a Dad:  Cherish your family.  I speak from experience when I say that us Dads oftentimes get caught up in what we want to achieve in our lives, overlooking our wife and children.  Stop every once in awhile and pay attention to them.  Especially your wife.  You’ve probably been too stubborn to realize it, but she’s the one that holds it all together.  I promise you, without her the ass end would fall out of everything.  Pay homage to that as much as you can.

3.  If you’re a singer:  Use your real voice.  No, not that one that sounds like an injured Tom Waits.  And no, not that one that sounds like a beat up Howie Day.  Sure, you can develop some raspy qualities, but stop trying so hard to do so.  Now I’m no singing coach.  I’ve just played a few hundred shows and have sort of experienced some things first hand.  People love it when it sounds like their best friend just came over and spilled their guts to them.  Ok, that actually sounds gross, but I think you know what I mean.

4.  If you’re a sibling:  Cover your brother or sister’s back and don’t take them for granted.  Blood really is thicker than water, but it can be thinned by lies.  You’ll meet some super great friends in your life, but nothing touches family.  Be true to them.  I actually could have summed this up with a line from the Avett’s:  “Always remember there was nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name…”

5.  If you’re none of these:  Then you’re shit out of luck if you’re reading this blog.  I’ve got nothing fo’ ya.  Sorry.

I could go on and on, but I’m afraid I’ll start to sound like a cheesy blow hard.  Plus, I can’t take too much seriousness in one day.  I need a laugh or two.  And a joke or two about farts and poop.

Actually, maybe you have a lesson or two you’d like to share?

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Dave on Youtube:  http://www.youtube.com/jakobfreely

Dave on Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/jakobfreely

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5 Fatherly Lessons Learned From Being The Shocker on Halloween

November 11, 2009

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We were nearing the eve of Halloween and my wife calls me “Hey Dave, I’m at the costume store…what do you want?  They have a pirate outfit and this Shocker costume thing.”  A SHOCKER COSTUME? I thought.  This is going to be money.

Before you read on you must know that I’m a pretty good dad.  I quit playing music every weekend and traveling the country to be home more and I have generally put my son before me in every case.  But I’m kind of sloppy.  I like to drink.  I really like to say F*ck.  And given the choice between a “Pirate Costume” and a “Shocker”….I’ll take the Shocker EVERYTIME.  In fact, if you had a suit made of big old hairy floppy balls, I would actually wear that everywhere.  Then I’d walk door to door holding Howie’s hand and when we knocked upon the door and it opened he’d say “Trick or Treat”  and I would feverishly flop myself all over the people passing the candy out.

Juvenile?  No.  At least I expose the skeletons in my closet.

Turns out, this Shocker costume was the most horrible asshole stupid costume I could have ever gotten.  The fingers wouldn’t stay up, it was uncomfortable, and the costume just overall bombed.  Bigtime.  At one point some guy decided to interrogate me in front of 15 other people asking, “What are you supposed to be bud?”  I was like “The Shocker”.

And no one laughed.

He said “Oh…I thought you were supposed to be a big middle finger.”

Anyways…I learned a few things about life and fatherhood from this experience.  And since numbered lists are all the rage with blogging these days, I figured I would jump on the bandwagon before it runs out of gas.  Or steam…or whatever in the balls a bandwagon uses for power.

1.  Read the instructions
How many of you actually read instructions when putting something together for your kids?  You are a liar if you say you do.  Welp, it is time to tear them from the plastic.  If I would have even looked at the instructions for the costume I would have seen that you are supposed to STUFF THE G*D DAMN FINGERS WITH PAPER.  Then they wouldn’t have fell down.  Then I would have looked like the Shocker.  Then I would have conquered the world.

2.  Listen to your wife (or girlfriend or mom)
I still won’t do this because it sucks, but she had a couple of suggestions that were better in hindsight.  I thought I was going to kill the world with my Shocker costume.  I was so immersed in my delusions of grandeur that I couldn’t even hear the warnings spewing from her mouth.  All I could hear or see was how awesome I was going to be and how this costume was going to revolutionize Halloween itself.

3.  Stand Up and Own It
The only REAL time that this costume was awkward was when I felt embarrassed about its shittiness.  Once I settled on the fact that it was too late to turn back, I stopped taking the costume off and started looking people in the eye.  Even with all 5 fingers flopping down to the floor, I would answer “The Shocker” with full confidence when asked what I was supposed to be.  I think you could actually walk into a room completely buck ass naked and if you own it…people will love you for it.

4.  Strike those first two and follow your gut
Some say life is short.  Some say life is loooong. No matter what you believe, one thing holds true…when we get older the only things we have are memories.  Good or bad, we can usually at least laugh at most of them.  If I would have went as some stupid teddy bear thing, no one would have cared either way and I would have one less story to share over a beer or in the nursing home one day.  Or better yet, over a beer IN the nursing home…

5.  Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously
If I were Captain Anal, I probably wouldn’t have worn a costume at all, much less a Shocker.  I got some pretty dirty looks that night from some other Captain Anals.  Actually, Captain Anal would be a sweet costume.  That’s what I’m going as next year.  Wait, that actually sounds kind of twisted…what if people thought that I was actually into…nevermind.

Thanks for the advice…That was a shitty list, Dave.

Yea, well aside from “reading the instructions” and “listening to your wife” I think it’s all fairly manly/good fatherly advice…I won’t repeat the first two ever again because I actually felt myself turn into a woman for 5 minutes as I was typing them.

Seriously though, what would you add to the list?  Go any costume idears?

p.s.  Go check out Noah and the Whale’s Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down. Just bought that one and it is awesome.  It’s also perfect bath time music…It makes the whole wrestling a demon child down into the water much more peaceful.

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Dave playing some cover songs and generally actin’ a fool:  http://www.youtube.com/jakobfreely

Follow Dave on Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/jakobfreely

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Tub Turds

November 10, 2009

HowieKnome

My wife and I have officially “started our new lives.”  I put quotations around “started our new lives” because we do this every Monday.  Or, I guess every Sunday.  Or the actual idea probably starts every Friday then it grows like a seed until eventually on Sunday we wake up, write out a full plan for getting in shape, eating right and just flat out cleaning ourselves up.

Then by either 8pm Sunday evening or first thing Monday morning the entire damn plan vanishes into thin air.  Never to be seen again.  Until Friday afternoon that is…after a couple of beers…and a pizza…and some ice cream.

But this Monday, welp, this Monday was different.  WE WENT TO THE GYM.  And it was embarrassing as holy hell.  I’ll leave that for another post, but lets just say that before we left, while the dude behind the counter was making our deliciously horrible smoothies, I freaked out like the guy on Ghost that is wandering through the streets being haunted by demons.

That is, I looked at the guy behind the counter and said…”Uh, man…I’m gonna f*cking throw up…”  Then Shawnda (my wife) walks up behind me and as I was freaking out thinking I was about to pass out, throw up, and shit myself in front of everyone, I almost knocked her and my son to the ground stumbling to the locker room. 

And from the entire scenario that played out in my head, I honestly was most afraid of passing out and shitting myself.  You just can’t explain that.  And there is no point in your life where that is generally accepted by people…”Oh well, he just wasn’t feeling too well.”  Nope.  No one will say that if you pass out and shit yourself.  I promise you.

Even when you are 85 years old, if some dude passes out and shits himself, you are going to tap your cane against your buddies shin and elbow him in the side, wink, and go “That ol’ boy passed out and shit himself…haha”

Anyways…what does this have to do with Tub Turds?  I’m gettin’ there…

There is no better “cool down” to your workout than cleaning your son’s shit out of the bathtub.  There I said it…I know it’s gross.  And NO I don’t really believe that cleaning a dump from the tub is a good cool down.  But it happened and we have to deal with it…

Do you have kids?  Has one of them ever shit in the tub? 

I wonder if I did this when I was a kid.  I mean, this dump looked like it came from a goat or something.  Or actually it looked like a giant bigfoot thing crapped in the tub.  We generally feed our son very good food…but this was on another level.  Ok, I’m gagging now.

Anyways, long story short, I threw everything in the tub into the trash.  And I would’ve thrown the whole damn tub in the trash and burnt the house down, but we’re renting the house and it’s not my tub.  Either way, some people bleach the toys…not in my house.  You shit on your toys, I’m either burning those f*ckers or they’re scheduling a monday morning rendevous with the trash man.

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Videos of Dave singing and generally “actin’ a fool” here:  http://www.youtube.com/jakobfreely

Follow Dave/Jakob Freely on Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/jakobfreely

Download free Jakob Freely tunes:  http://www.jakobfreely.com/downloads.