April 6, 2010

Dear Dan, I know you’re a busy man, constantly on the go. Whether it be at a console, or traveling to another live show, always on the go. Nice bike. Sorry to hear you had to take a hacksaw to it. The Germans usually get things right, but not always I suppose. I guess after that breakdown in Florida, way back when, when a buck was worth something, you didn’t want to go Harley again. Can’t say I blame you. But I would never have guessed you’d choose a New BMW. I would never have guessed that. On the other hand, if brother Bob were buying a bike today, I would have no problem guessing. I would guess a 1948 Norton. You know what I mean? How can anybody not love that man? Have you ever done a song for him, Dan?

April 6, 2010 - Okay, back to the story board. Do you still have a few things bottled up, Dan? A few things that have yet to be uncorked? Perhaps some unfinished business on the keyboard? A little something up your sleeve? Perhaps a few new riffs that are still searching for a home?

I’m sorry about brother Ron, he certainly didn’t deserve what happened to him! His demise was through no fault of his own, and contrary to what you believe Dan, I believe in fate. You see, I believe that fate is faultless. Fate may be cruel or loving, it may be just or unjust, but it has no faults! However, I will say this, Dan, in your defense, a bad temper mixed with Cajun food is bound to lead to no good. I can see where it might be harmful. Brother Ron was one heck of a cook. There were a few occasions when I had the pleasure of tasting his work while Ron was slaving in the kitchen.

I recall the first time I ate in his establishment. There wasn’t an empty chair. Your mom, I think she was blonde then (but I would have preferred dark hair) was very pretty, petite, and I saw no despair. She seemed quite content. The maitre d, dressed in a plaid jacket, was cordial and informative. People at my table ordered from the menu, and then it was my turn. “What does the kitchen recommend?” I asked. “Blackened catfish in a light mustard sauce,” he said. “Is Ron in the kitchen?” I asked. “Yes he is,” he said. “Then I’ll go with the kitchen.”

We smiled.

The meals came and people began trading plates around the table with, “oh you gotta try this,” and, “just wait ‘til you taste this.” Everyone seemed so proud of their choice, everyone thought they had ordered The Best Plate, and wanted to share their good fortune with the person sitting next to them. But lo and behold, they were all wrong. The Best Plate was placed before me, blackened catfish in a light mustard sauce. I placed a forkful in my mouth. A very pleasant taste, but oddly enough, I did not taste the mustard sauce. And then a few seconds later it hit me. It was as if a soft, delicate breeze, with just a hint of mustard, had surfaced and was floating within me. It was remarkable. Not wanting to seem illiterate, Dan, I thought of flower petals, but all I could say was, “Wow.” I thought I said it softly, but I must have said it too loud. Next thing I know, my plate is being passed all around the table; it seemed like ages before it finally was returned to me. If I were to write a review of this plate, I’d have to give it six wows. I hope we didn’t disturb the other diners sitting near us, with all of our wows.

Ron was not in a position to give his creations away, but he didn’t charge a ridiculous amount of money, his price was most reasonable. Much like your shows are today. Affordable for the masses. It doesn’t require a week’s pay, or enough hay to feed a thousand horses, to see Black Dub play.

Where do we go from here, Dan? Another session with Black Dub? A revision of sorts? Another stab at some new dubs? A new brown study? Or, maybe a studio album, with the expressed intention of reaching the masses. Songs for the radio, about four minutes in duration. Songs from the past, the way you would have them performed, if they were brand new and in your studio, right now! If these old songs, in their original form, were being aimed at today’s crowd, how would you approach them? Carole King’s” Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” is an incredibly nice ballad, but it wouldn’t receive massive airplay today. It was brought to life in a spectacular manner by The Shirelles but it just wouldn’t cut it with today’s younger crowd. Whereas, Steve Forbert’s “It Isn’t Going To Be That Way,” just might. It’s hard to say. I’d like to hear Trixie give it a shot. Here is the key for this song, Dan, and here’s how you unlock it. You ask Trixie to sing "It Isn't Going To Be That Way," while you play it, and you ask her to think about her dad. The song lends itself to that. Together, just you and Trixie, and Trixie’s dad. It need not be sad.

Do you remember that Nash The Slash album that had just four songs, I think, two on each side? It was beauty! You could play it at thirty-three-and-a-third or forty-five rpm’s, and it sounded great either way. They don’t make them like that anymore.

If you decided to do a studio album, one that could not be taken on the road because of the various players involved, the crème de la crème, I was thinking maybe if Sarah Neufeld wasn’t all tied up with Arcade Fire or Bell Orchestre she might add an interesting touch. Sarah takes her work very seriously. She once said that she plays so hard, sometimes she thinks she’s going to barf. Sarah plays the violin, whereas your dad played the fiddle, but I wonder if he could relate to that?

Perhaps you know someone with a soft horn, or someone that is wicked on a B3 organ, or a harpsichord. Perhaps a Richard Newel. Maybe bring Bill Dillon back into the fold if you deem that a song requires a specific sound. Perhaps a song recorded in Hammond Castle with the ambience all around. With Brian and Daryl and Trixie and You, at the core, the sky is the limit. The songs that you decided to do, need not be classics, nor need they be obscure. Knocking On Heavens Door, versus, Flood, by Junkhouse. A Classic versus Obscure.

There is one thing that I think is critical, if you were to take on this endeavor, Dan. The words, need not be as elaborate as the original song, yet on the other hand, you may want to expand upon them. I’m of the minimalist mindset. I don’t like a whole lot of clutter in a short story or a song. Every line need not be poetic, but if not, it must be there for a specific reason. Otherwise junk it.

Here’s the beauty of this project, Dan. You get to stay home for a period, it need not be a lengthy period, Dan, I don’t want to spook you. You know, you could do a little here, a little there, in the studio, while still gallivanting around on your bike and singing your heart out and playing your guitar like the devil. Which brings me to this, Dan. Whatever you do, don’t sell out. There aren’t many left that haven’t sold out, Dan. Other than you, I can only think of Neil Young. Neil will never sell out. Never! I’d bet my life on it. WAIT – I don’t really know that much about the man, so why would I bet my life on him? For all I really know, he could be in serious negotiations with Pepsi at this very hour, and I wouldn’t be the wiser. So, I take that back, I wouldn’t bet my life on him. So that leaves you, Dan. Do you think it would be a safe bet? Could I bet my life on you? Whoa! I think I just remembered someone else that didn’t sell out. Trini Lopez. I don’t think he sold out. Is he still alive?

America! Classic.

Dan, stay away from the “Sounds Of Silence” and songs like that. The songs that I speak of should have Lanois written all over them. Ten new oldies, Dan, or maybe twelve if you want to get biblical. Remember when Malkovich was in that restaurant, in the movie, “Looking For John Malkovich?” Same thing applies here. Here is what each of the songs would sound like, if they had to be whittled down to one sound: Lanois - Lanois - Lanois - Lanois - Lanois - Lanois - Lanois - Lanois - Lanois - Lanois - Lanois - Lanois. (That's twelve if you're counting)

Okay, I gotta run along now, Dan, I’ll talk to you later - take care.

April 6, 2010 - PS; I’ll be happy when you trade that bike in for a two-seater sports car. Maybe brand new, maybe even an electric sports car that purrs like a kitten. Or maybe something older, a classic that’s been totally redone and brought up to date. New engine, transmission, new electronics, and a kick-ass sound system that is clear as a bell. No thumping, just a solid bottom end. Four wheels Dan, and even then the other guy might not see you. I don’t want you to come off that bike Dan, though no fault of your own, the driver of that Van just didn’t see you. So over the Van you go. Instinctively you protect your hands, but instinct never had a chance, it happened so fast!

Dan, forfeit the two wheels and the roar. You don’t have to give up the leather, but you can forget about the lean. I want to see you buckled in, listening to music or just listening to the ambience all around. I want to see you in another machine. I had one close call, Dan, and I never rode again. If Fate is going to do me in, She’ll have to find another way, I thought. Superman fell off a horse one fateful day and he was devastated. Had it been me, and given a choice, I would have chosen death, and taken my chances. I’m either going to a better place or I’m just going, going, gone. But I don’t want to stick around just for the hell of it. I’m expecting a lot more from you, Dan, and I don’t want some guy in a Van fucking things up. I’m only happy when I know you’re safe and sound.

PPS; I don’t know if you read much, Dan, some people like to read but most people don’t. I don’t know if Neil Peart’s Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road, would be worth a read? There he was, no longer a member of Rush, on his BMW, traveling through all of North America, and writing. He set out to conquer his doubts, and to contemplate the woes within him, he was driven there by grief. I don’t know, it might be a half decent read.

PPPS; I write to you joyfully, with a sense of humour, a gentle sadness, a solemn gratitude, and a quiet concern. Thanks for your indulgence.

Your Good Friend
Tommy D____
Professor of Smozology