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Does Elvis Costello Bassist Steal Thunder with New Memoir?

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“Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.”

Bruce Thomas, bassist for Elvis Costello’s original backing band The Attractions, makes quick work attributing a quote popularized by Costello to its originator Martin Mull. It’s one of several examples in Rough Notes that attempts to take Costello down a peg or two – but at best paints Bruce as George Takei to Costello’s William Shatner. And why not? It’s made a household name of Mr. Takei, at least.

Bruce’s books are the only fly-on-the-wall accounts of the Costello machine – until Elvis’ book Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink drops in October. As any bass player knows, timing is everything, and this one is in the pocket.

Band dynamics are a bitch, and I’m sure Mr. Costello shares some of the blame for falling out with Bruce. Still, in my estimation, Bruce Thomas owes a hell of a lot to having worked for one of the best singer-songwriters of his or any generation.

Of course the E-Street Band take is personally when Springsteen works without them, and maybe Doug Stegmeyer did ultimately kill himself when Billy Joel decided to move in another direction. Springsteen, Costello and Joel’s most important records would be blank discs without the vested interest of these musicians, friends, and confidants – so the resentment is real, I get it.

q88125Thomas paints himself as the voice of reason in most every situation here. He’s the one that named The Attractions, created Steve Nieve’s moniker, tried to explain the famous Ray Charles/James Brown incident to Michael Jackson, and destroyed a tape where an interview caught drummer Pete Thomas (no blood relation) dragging Costello through the mud (only to unearth the story here?).

The demise of The Attractions is written as to make the whole thing sound mutual yet somehow Costello’s “fault.” Even when he criticizes himself, it’s done in a self aggrandizing way. Like how the likes of Chrissie Hynde, Tom Waits or Jim Keltner preferred Bruce to play functionally as opposed to creatively – as if asking Bruce to serve the song is somehow beneath him.

But honestly, whose memoir isn’t going to be self-serving? I know mine would be. You think I’m gonna say that someone else deserves most of the credit for my success? Would you? Also, Bruce is ultimately an artist, and true artists can be notoriously difficult chaps. Just look at Costello himself.

Truth be told, Thomas is an excellent writer. He has a way of taking swaths of time and condensing them into hyper intelligent chunks. Whole eras are boiled down into well executed and often beautifully illustrative paragraphs. I actually enjoyed reading it and recommend it to hardcore fans that know what a grain of salt tastes like.

Despite the drama, The Attractions did reunite for a few great great records and tours (and to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) but it’s no wonder Costello tours with the exact same band minus Bruce – even calling themselves Elvis Costello & The Imposters with the mutli-talented Davey Faragher on bass.

Rough Notes attempts to take Costello down a peg or two – but at best paints Bruce as George Takei to Costello’s William Shatner.

Is he a great bass player? No doubt. His playing was integral to many of those songs. Is he a great writer? Indeed. You may even be interested in his fictionalized accounts of touring or his Bruce Lee biographyWill anyone know who he is in fifty years? No. Not to diminish his contributions, but look at the bands of other renown front-men, like Willie Nelson for instance. Willie’s bassist was on-board since 1968 yet you can’t tell me that guy’s name or that he died in 2011. Only hardcore fans know that stuff. It seems Bruce really did publish this memoir at the last possible moment it would be of interest.

Bruce Thomas knows which side his bread is buttered on. He just doesn’t want you to know he knows it. Read his book and see.

Brooklyn's own MC Krispy E has an opinion about most things you can put in your ear, eye, and mouth holes.

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OPEN LETTER TO CONGRESS

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Dear Members of Congress,

The tipping point is here and we need to put aside our political differences to save this country right now! Silence and remaining behind party lines is no longer an option. A unified address by our elected officials in Congress on the issue of police brutality and equality under the rule of law is required to begin the healing process as well as ensure the future of this nation.

There are three steps that immediately need to be taken to bring this to fruition. The arrest and charging of the three remaining individuals involved in the death of George Floyd must occur as the first step of good faith. The second step requires clear and transparent action items stated to the public in order to address the issues at hand. Those action items should include:

  • The revision of Qualified Immunity to specifically address the problematic assertion that “Qualified Immunity means that government officials can get away with violating your rights as long as they violate them in a way nobody thought before – Institute of Justice
  • The reforming of Civilian Review Boards with the purpose of increasing the decision-making abilities on the disposition and discipline of police officers.

The third step is the creation and funding of a systemic racism task force with the goal of dismantling systemic racism.

  • Accelerating judicial system reform
  • Equating the public education system
  • Eliminating redlining

These are just the preliminary steps that will begin the framework of the changes we need enacted to better the experiment called the United States.

I look forward to seeing a response in the form of action on the behalf of the citizens of this country.

HB aka The World Traveler is fully committed to exploring and sharing with you what the world has to offer in travel and music. Get on board and enjoy the ride!

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Thank You Tulsa Oklahoma / Generational Responsibility

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Every generation has an unintended mission as it relates to the liberation of their people. That mission is based on the circumstances and is revealed either midway through or after that generation’s mission is complete.

Through land ownership and intellect, the post slavery generation (Reconstruction/Tulsa – Black Wall Street) revealed what was possible if America dared engage on a level playing field. They did an EXCELLENT job!!

Through newly established media, The Civil Rights generation exposed the world to racial injustice and an undelivered promise of liberty and justice. They did an EXCELLENT job!

The Hip Hop generation reinvigorated the notion of wealth, ownership, propagated messages of inequality and exposed the daily tribulations of Black American life to ALL of America. It was my generation’s obligation to gather overwhelming empathy and build an irrefutable emotional case against racial injustice. We did and EXCELLENT job!!

Through technology, Millennials unintended obligations seems to be gathering overwhelming and irrefutable visual and literal evidence against racial injustice AND expose it via social and regular media. They are doing an EXCELLENT job!!

Now that a select few have assimilated, gained some empathy and chosen to walk alongside us, they are also experiencing similar atrocities and destroying the sentiment that prior instances of injustice were one-offs and not systemic injustice.

As today marks the 99th Anniversary of the Tulsa Oklahoma Race Riots, I would like to acknowledge those who have shown us what was possible post slavery in America. There is a HUGE difference between returning home and trying to find a home in the first place. The candle lit by that generation is the same beacon that will navigate our eventual return. THANK YOU!!

Sidebar; All generations have had a separate and unintended but equally important mission. What is common is that all generations have had to endure to even make minor progress. We have no choice but to do the same. Sidebar Complete.

Alfred Obiesie is a writer with over 12 years of online content contribution (Onetrackmine.com, Cartermag.com, Essence.com) and author (You Made It a Hot Line; The most influential lines in hip hop.) The book chronicles hip hop lines from the genre’s most notable artists spanning almost 40 years. It is illustrated by Grammy award winning Illustrator Shah Wonders and has garnered praise from multiple media outlets (Sirius XM, Vibe, Brooklyn Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library, etc...)

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Realigning Your Moral Compass / Don’t Be Humble

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Remember when “keeping it on the low” was a high-valued asset in the lunchrooms of yesterdays past? It was a glorious and magical time where your ability to not divulge information or “brag” would lend you the trust and respect of all… except maybe the person who wanted said info. Conversely, being known as conceited or loose lipped oft resulted in social suicide. Once you understood and practiced the basic tenets of social operation, you were free to roam about the country. Then along came this thing called life and what was once generally accepted social order now requires constant questioning. Oh to be young again!

These days, you may find yourself at a moral crossroads where keeping information “on the low” could result in literal career suicide and stagnation of financial growth. I’ve seen coworkers get promoted because they would inform the entire world of every menial task accomplished like closing the fridge door in the pantry. I’ve also seen coworkers not be given any credit and as far as to be laid off because no one was aware of their value or responsibilities.  Who knew life was gonna be so complicated (besides every single adult?) Of course, “keeping it on the low”  a.k.a humility is just one of many self-inflicted moral codes we use to navigate for a majority of our lives. There are many others (selfish, greedy, manipulative, etc…) Now what if you hadn’t assigned a negative or positive value to these sentiments from the outset? Would you still be so hesitant to engage in their practices?

For the sake of proving my point, What if these “negative” moral codes were simply tools that could not be judged but simply used? Is it manipulative to convince someone to put a gun down and not shoot up a room full of people? Was Winston Churchill being manipulative in his efforts to convince the U.S to join WWII? Is it greedy to understand how much financial assets are required to provide the lifestyle you deem worthy for you and your family then pursue accordingly? Is it selfish to know when to tune the world out to achieve a goal that will be to the worlds eventual betterment?

The world is grander than whatever lunchroom your adolescent moral GPS was manufactured in and navigated you through. Once you graduate to encounter those larger moral obstacles, you rapidly realize that what got your through it before may not get you past it now if you cannot realign your moral code. It seems once one masters a particular set of skills, they immediately become obsolete as life advances everyone to the next level. What’s more likely is a majority of our decision making tools (like morals) are choice and should be treated as such and continuously revisited.  Good Luck.

 

Sidebar; To the aspiring entrepreneurs keeping their amazing ideas “on the low” until they blow up, you are delaying your own successes. To those who find the pursuit of money / capitalism as greedy /evil, you are delaying your own gratitude. Sidebar complete.

Alfred Obiesie is a writer with over 12 years of online content contribution (Onetrackmine.com, Cartermag.com, Essence.com) and author (You Made It a Hot Line; The most influential lines in hip hop.) The book chronicles hip hop lines from the genre’s most notable artists spanning almost 40 years. It is illustrated by Grammy award winning Illustrator Shah Wonders and has garnered praise from multiple media outlets (Sirius XM, Vibe, Brooklyn Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library, etc...)

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