“Because it’s true. If you want to accomplish anything of value in this thing called life, you really do have to pay your dues before you pay the rent, even if you’re deep into your thirties before you realize what this actually means. That We Have Higher Obligations To The Cosmos Than Mere Survival – any cockroach can pull off survival. And if you don’t grasp this, don’t go calling yourself an artist. At least, I think that’s what’s going on here. Because the Pavement crowd were definitely artists, seeing the middle 1990s for the colossal screw-up they were – the demise of so-called grunge, the co-option of pretty much everything that had felt so fresh and necessary barely three years previous, the crooked rain falling in prolonged deluge, smelling of sewage and other assorted poisons … and yet, beauty to be found in strangest, least likely of places. And truth … even if you’re a Smashing Pumpkins or Stone Temple Pilot fan. Damn, I love this song. Forget everything else I just wrote. It just feels like smoking strong marijuana and drinking good beer. In the rain. Who needs more?” (Philip Random)
“It’s hard to get a specific date on Bucky Skank, just sometime in the 1970s, probably post 1972, which I don’t even know for sure, it just feels right that it came from the Black Ark, Mr. Lee Scratch Perry and his Upsetters being known for their stoned and wistful wandering both in and out of time. The groove is odd, almost broken. The lyrics are mostly nonsensical to my non-Jamaican ears. But it always brings a smile.” (Philip Random)
“The release date for Catch A Fire says 1973 but I didn’t have the right ears for Bob Marley and the Wailers (and reggae in general for that matter) until at least 1980. And Concrete Jungle was pivotal in that evolution, and marijuana. By which I mean, Old Ted (one of my more dependable dealers at the time) insisted that I get high on some particularly effective herb, and listen to Catch A Fire with him. ‘Because marijuana will never be free until Jamaica is free.’ Which sounds a bit vague now but trust me, it made profound sense then. And it all started with Concrete Jungle, first track on the album, one of the best bands ever in all creation, slowly slipping things into gear for a revelatory journey through the concrete and shadows of Babylon and beyond.” (Philip Random)
“There ought to be a law that when a band changes its sound as thoroughly as the Doobie Brothers did in the mid-1970s, it should also be required to change its name, if only so future generations don’t get forever stuck confusing the cool, rocking stuff with the soft, latter day sponge ball stuff. Anyway, for the record, the Doobies peaked in about 1973 with an album called The Captain and Me that didn’t just boast mega-hit rockers like China Grove and Long Train Runnin’, it also had a stretched out mini-epic called Clear As The Driven Snow. Apparently it’s about cocaine abuse, but it’s always been more of a marijuana fave of mine.” (Philip Random)
“Nobody was paying much attention anymore to the Steve Miller Band come the 1980s, which means the spaced out analog synthetic bliss of 1981’s side long Macho City got mostly overlooked. Which is a pity. Because there has never been enough spaced out groove music, particularly during the 1980s. Ronald Reagan’s War On Drugs in full effect, the marijuana getting stronger and stronger. Something weird was going down. I’m still trying to figure out what.” (Philip Random)
In which Neil Young gets deadly serious in the wake of various deaths in and around the band (Crazy Horse) and weighs in with a public service announcement on the topic of smoking a little marijuana and going for a long drive if the times get too troubling. Because there’s nothing like a rear view mirror to put things further behind you than they really are. Which is kind of the opposite of Roll Another Number, which was already two years old before anybody ever heard it, the album in question having been held back for being just too grim.