Jazz on a Summer’s Day

Jazz on a summer’s day
sleepy jazz on a rainy evening
jazz on the night of a full blue moon.
Jazz on a transistor radio in the next room.

Jazz in a whiteout blizzard
jazz on a foggy morning in the surf
jazz on a summer’s day
jazz when the falling leaves fall.

Jazz in a coffee house with wifi
jazz in a clean well-lighted place
jazz high up in the trees
jazz on a yacht in the tranquil bay.

Jazz trio at the wine bar
jazz aboard a tugboat
on the Mississippi jazz live at five
jazz out a picture window.

Jazz on a crosstown bus
jazz at a sock hop
jazz in the cold grotto
jazz in an empty church.

Jazz from a food cart
jazz in a classroom
jazz in Healdsburg
jazz in Drytown.

Jazz in a confessional
jazz working on the railroad
jazz in a sweatshirt
jazz in jail.

Jazz it kind of got away from you
jazz on steamboats fixing everything
jazz at The Coming of the Toads
jazz in and jazz out of a blue collar.

Jazz on a jukebox
jazz at Terre Rouge
jazz in a red convertible
jazz on a Martian moon.

Jazz in the slow lane
jazzy walk around the block
jazz down on Stark Street
jazz at low tide.

Jazz rumbles across the trestle
jazz if you go out in the woods today
jazz between Scylla and Charybdis
jazz on the air.

Jazz in Seattle in a coal car
jazz at a concert in the park caldera
jazz in the near light like a candle
jazz in the faraway dark quiet.

Jazz alone and jazz together
jazz out there and jazz in here
just jazz at a rent party cleaning
up after they’ve all gone home.

Jazz about this and jazz about that
jazz when flat and jazz while sharp
streaming jazz in a steamy heat
jazz on a fine summer’s day.

Universe as a Looper

Having recently acquired a Roland Boss RC-1 Loop Station Looper Pedal, and after several faulty attempts to quickly master the electronic musical gadget, and with the Mars Rover Perseverance and related NASA coverage in the news, and having just come off a few posts with the theme of home, I’ve begun thinking of the universe as a looper.

To begin in the middle of this current loop of thought – I read with interest an opinion piece from The Atlantic, “Mars is a Hellhole: Colonizing the red planet is a ridiculous way to help humanity” (Shannon Stirone, 26 Feb 2021). It’s a guns versus butter model argument. Says Stirone, taking the Earthbound wealthy would be Mars colonizer Elon Musk to task: “Musk has used the medium of dreaming and exploration to wrap up a package of entitlement, greed, and ego. He has no longing for scientific discovery, no desire to understand what makes Earth so different from Mars, how we all fit together and relate. Musk is no explorer; he is a flag planter.”

A counter argument might suggest that Musk’s enterprise is not quite the United Fruit Company, nor is he spending money on Mars, but here at homebase Earth, creating at least some jobs, presumably, and advancing knowledge in the general and random way that can lead to discoveries that tangentially do help Earth, however speculative or foolhardy they may seem at the outset. At the same time, at least part of the wealth created goes toward philanthropic efforts.

In any case, surely the universe will continue its looping design with or without Musk, with or without Earth, for that matter.

The looper pedal is used to lay down a series of recorded notes or chords (or electronic noises or sounds) that then play back while being added to, overdubbed, with additional series of notes or chords which in turn loop back around – in the RC-1, for up to 12 minutes before relooping. The key is the overdubbing and the circular motion. There is a beginning and an end to the loop, but no end, theoretically, to the looping phase, each one of which has a bearing on all the rest, and no end, again theoretically, to the overdubbing, each dub contributing to a new whole.

I’m now in the process of creating a musical composition using the looper. It will be a fugue that begins with a big bang and expands with overdubbing and recapitulations for the entire 12 minutes available to approximate a musical cosmological model of the universe. I’ll use 12 loops within the loop, ending by then recording the finished now finite whole loop using the Garage Band app on my laptop, and erasing the original from the looper station to free it up for more creations.

I do wonder how this fugue I’ve planned will help humanity, or will aid in space exploration or the colonization of Mars. It seems certain it won’t. But the universe will not be able to ignore it. My fugue will be part of the big looper and its seemingly even greater indifference.

False Start

Darts – birds hitting their marks. Feathers painted in plastic. Flickers, scrub-jays. Black gloss enameled crows. Black capped chickadees. Bushtits. The sorrowful hot guitar trill of a song sparrow. They voice the old songs, their beaks cracked, worn plectrums. A few sit still on a telephone wire while another takes a solo. To-wit. To-hoo. Clack, clack, clack.

Salsa Party on the Moon

In the news, water discovered on Earth’s moon: Not so much water apparently though that NASA will start shaping surfboards for its astronauts; nor is discovered quite right – confirmed or proven more precise. Meantime, of course, what with someone always turning up the global warming thermostat in the house, we’ll soon be wanting to bring some of that moon water down to Earth. And where there’s water, there could be also be tomatoes. And where there’s tomatoes, there could also be salsa. Now, a salsa party on the moon – countdown! And where there’s water, there’s sound, so the previously assumed to be silent moon, if you put your ear to the crater, just might produce some good vibes after all; and what’s a salsa party without music?

You Can’t Go Home Again

Sylvie. 30 Day Letter. Termination. Goodbye, Seattle. Country Blues Song.

You can’t go home again. Neither should I have stayed on another week at Hotel Julian. The subdued rhythm of my pastoral turned boisterous with the arrival of the fleet, and my absence in Seattle and now my prolonged and somewhat mysterious trip south caught up with me, testing Walter’s patience, and as he was wont to do at any sign of disloyalty among those with a seat at his table, he terminated me. There was of course more to it than that. The Walter Team was disestablished. It would be near impossible to disambiguate the transactions. In any case, I was no longer Risk Manager to the gods. Sylvie said Walter had sent me a 30 day letter. I could transfer to a desk in Morocco or take my leave, but the 30 days had already expired, and I had been cut loose with a modest severance bonus. Sylvie was on her way to spring training with her Single A team in Costa Rica. She had leased the Queen Anne house to some moonshiners out of the hills somewhere in east Skagit who planned to set up a microbrew. She had taken the liberty of putting my severance into a fund of fund of funds with no guaranteed rate of return but with a reputable track record. While I would not yet have to give up my weekly room status for a berth in the bunkroom, I would have to scout around for some part time work. I would not go back to Seattle though. I would take my risks elsewhere and in due time. Come Thursday night of my second week on board I climbed the Hotel Julian fire escape up to the rooftop bar and grill where I drank a slow beer and listened to Jack Tar and the Flower Girl with the Weathered Weary Blues Band messing around with some country blues with players on guitar, banjo, harmonica, a snare drum with a single cymbal, a Flatiron mandolin, and a stand up bass. Flower Girl nearly keeled me over with this song:

“Back Home Again”

What I know about love, I wrote on a postage stamp,
and mailed myself half way up to the moon.
I’m in stardust singing – I do, I do, adieu.
I’m out on the road, and I can’t go home again.

I was born in the back of a beach bum shack,
again and again, then I sailed the seven seas.
I never made it back home again.
Adieu, adieu. You can’t go home again.

She was born in a coral of a rodeo,
off a road they call Route 66.
Between the cowboy and the clown she broke free.
Goodbye, goodbye. She won’t be back again.

The moral of this story, the point of this tale,
if you ever leave home, you can’t go back again,
because you won’t be there when you arrive.
Goodbye, my love, goodbye my love, goodbye.

And it’s home again, I want to come back to you,
see all my family and all my old friends too,
but it’s true what they say, you can’t go home again.
Goodbye, my love, goodbye my love, adieu.

Note: Hear “Back Home Again” played on the guitar
here: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CEAoxkhIXgq/

“You Can’t Go Home Again”
is episode 23 of
Ball Lightning
a Novel in Progress
in Serial Format at The Coming of the Toads.
(Click link for continuous, one page view of all episodes.)

Pretty, vacant, and we don’t care

Watch the stars as they collide
Erase the dots in your eyes

What do the lyrics say we can’t hear
The singer and the song disappear

Pretty vacant and we don’t care
Pretty vacant and we don’t care

What’s your name the color of your hair
Saw you down at the LA fair

Have so much no need to share
Look at us oh what a pair

Pretty vacant and we don’t care
Pretty vacant and we don’t care

“Pretty, vacant, and we don’t care”
was part of an originals set played on
Live at 5 from the Portland Joe Zone last night,
and included:
Bury My Heart in the Muddy Mississippi
If You’ll Be My Love
Two Riders Were Approaching
Goodbye, Joe
She Shakes Me Out

Virtually Nowhere

Writing for the New York Times Sunday edition for June 28, California veteran-reporter Shawn Hubler, reporting from Davis, California, on the ghost town effect Covid-19 is bringing to college towns across the country, and wandering around the abandoned town UC Davis keeps flush, notes, apparently sans irony: “Outside the closed theater, a lone busker stood on a corner playing ‘Swan Lake’ on a violin to virtually no one.” I know the feeling.

Meanwhile, musicians across the globe are turning to virtual possibilities to keep their chops up in front of a live audience. Amateurs too are getting into the act, as evidenced by the creation of the “Live at 5 from the Joe Zone” shows, nearly nightly live broadcasts (5 pm PST) via Instagram “stories” and “IGTV” posts, featuring myself, a nephew, and three brothers, to wit: “The Joe Zone nightly Live at 5 with Joe@ketch3m@johnlinker@charleslinker@kevin_linker: Portland, Salem, Healdsburg, Ione, Drytown.” Listeners tune in to hear music and stories while watching the player, and comment live, often talking, virtually, to one another, via their online comments.

The shows last anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour. These are not group performances. If we could figure out how to do that virtually, we might give it a go, but for now, each of us takes a night in our respective hometown pandemic quarantine digs and creates a solo show for the live entertainment of our loyal followers. The other night, I had 5 listeners in my audience (go ahead: irony, satire, and sarcastic comments all accepted with good grace). There were, at one point, 6 listeners, but one apparently came and went. It happens. But that was also a slow night. I’ve had as many as 14 live listeners, at once. Ok, ok, still not exactly Arena Rock. And, but, in any case, that’s not the point.

If one saves the live show via IGTV, most followers eventually find it, but at which point it’s a kind of rerun. The key is to catch it live. But of course 5 in the evening is not necessarily the best time-fit for any given listener. I’ve not saved my shows beyond a few hours, if at all. I caught grief last week for an immediate delete, since Susan thought it was my best show yet, but the rerun dilutes the live effects. And the show is intended as a real quarantine activity, a virtual get-together, a virtual hoedown or hootenanny.

Of course, all towns are potential ghost towns (there appears to be a gene for it they are born with), and all performances are played potentially “for virtually no one.” Still, Davis is but a rock’s throw from the much larger Sacramento (about a 20 minute drive) and just over an hour to the Bay. Not to mention it’s a major Amtrak stop for the north-south Starlight Special. In many other small college towns across the country you can already hear the whistle’s last blow and watch the tumbleweeds filling the streets.

If You’ll Be My Love

I’ll paddle out through sharks for you
live on Desolation Row with you
burn all my books for you
if you’ll be my love

I’ll walk the pirate’s plank for you
smoke a cigarette or two
join the National Guard for you
if you’ll be my love

I’ll sleep with deadly snakes for you
crawl through caves of spider nests
I’ll be a bee for your nectarine
but I won’t sting your sweet flower

I’ll barbecue my ribs for you
wash the dishes and take out the trash
change the cat litter and watch TV with you
if you’ll be my love

I’ve nowhere to go to take you to
no gold ring from Saks Fifth Avenue
I’ll write a letter of love to you
if you’ll be my love

Now these days I sing to you
memories of long-ago
don’t you think it’s time that you
let me be your love?

But you don’t want to live yesterday
and not necessarily for all time
and love seems so far away
in a song like some kind of oldie

The song “If You’ll Be My Love” performed Live at 5 (PST) from the Portland Joe Zone on June 20, 2020.

Note: the last two lines in the third stanza were substituted in the live version with these:

I’m a bee flying around your room
looking for the flower of your love



Goodbye, Joe

Hey Joe, where you going all tangled up in blue?
Gonna change my attitude, walk on down the avenue
Fly away on a magic carpet ride down to Graceland.
Goodbye, Joe

Hey Joe, what kind of mood you in with that cat-like grin?
I’m moving off the dark side of the moon
Going over to see Jerry Lewis at the Paradise.
Goodbye, Joe

Hey Joe, what’s that seaweed vine around your neck?
After months at sea I washed up on a beach
Now I’m drinking water from a coconut cup.
Goodbye, Joe

Hey Joe, who you seeing, hanging out with these days?
When the going gets tough, the tough get lonely, that’s what she said to me.
Gonna put on a tie and suit up for a career in the red dust.
Goodbye, Joe

Hey Joe, where you going with that book in your hand?
This here book is Penina’s Letters.
Going down to the water and toss the whole book off the jetty at D&W.
Goodbye, Joe

Hey Joe, why do you sing songs when we know you can’t sing?
This is my song to the world that’s always singing to me.
I’m taking voice lessons from a locomotive trapped in a tree.
Goodbye, Joe

Hey Joe, what’s that in your DNA?
Trains, uniforms, wheeled and track vehicles
Off the rack guitars and SWR surf films.
Goodbye, Joe

Hey Joe, been down to the cathedral lately?
You don’t need a church to pray.
Jesus said, two of you gathered in his name,
and he’ll take you home, he’ll take you home.

I’ll be performing “Goodbye, Joe” from the JoeZone, live at 5 (PST), tomorrow, Sat Jun 6, on Instagram: @joe.linker

She Shakes Me Out

She shakes me out, she jiggles me down
starts me dancing like a rodeo clown.
Twist to the left, twist to the right
never do we get too way up tight.

She stays so near, she goes so far
she ain’t no Facebook or Internet star.
She’s seen over here, she’s been over there
all night and day, everywhere.

Turn it up loud, turn it down soft
turn it all the way off.
She never says yes, she never says no
she knows when to say let it all go.

She don’t wear silver, she don’t wear gold
she’s never been bought, she’s never been sold.
She rides me high, she rides me low
she rides me fast, and she rides me slow.

Turn me loose, I have no choice
she rides me like a pet mongoose.
She be hep, she be cool
she never ever don’t be cruel.

She sings the old songs, fingerpicks a guitar
she don’t care if all the words go wrong.
She walks the streets, visits the sick
she don’t mind being in the thick of it.

She knows how to live, knows how to die
she looks me straight in the eye.
Color me blue, color me green
she’s the best thing I’ve ever seen.

She heats my beans, toasts my buns
and I hardly ever get the runs.
She shoots pool, shoots the shit
she ignores all the rules of it.

She hits a home run, lays down a bunt
she lays it all on the line.
She knows how to fly, knows how to fall
knows how to climb this here wall.

She knows how to pray, knows how to sin
she always knows the shape I’m in.
She knows how to work, knows how to play
knows to go home at the end of the day.

She knows how to give, knows how to take
she knows how to ask if there is some mistake.
She knows how to swim, knows how to sleep
she knows how to make that midnight creep.

She knows how to laugh, knows how to cry
not every guy in a suit is a spy.
She likes a tete-a-tete with a cat or two
down by the water.

She likes it slow, takes it easy
drinks a bourbon in the salsa garden.
The sun makes her happy, but rain makes her glad
Her blue eyes seldom cry.

She forgives, she forgets
she’s got rooms to let.
I do her dishes, scrub her pots
change the diapers, that’s my lot.

The bells of Saint Mary’s, down by the sea
the waves they did cry.
The day she got married, on the radio
angels they did fly.

She took a walk, on the mild side
she went to bed, and fell asleep.
She shakes me out, jiggles me down
I get up in the morning like a working clown.

“She Shakes Me Out” is a song I wrote and performed on my show “Live at 5 from the JoeZone” on Instagram on Monday, May 18 (now deleted). I used the chord progression:

Bb7  Bb9  Bb7b9  Bb9 
Eb9  Eb7b9  Eb7  Eb7b9 
Bb7  Bb9  Bb7b9  Bb9 
F9   Eb9   Bb7   F9

Tune in to Live at 5 from the JoeZone most nights (PST), a pandemic quarantine social distancing live video hour (or less) of music, talk, stories, and such to help pass the time and ease the mind.


Two Riders Were Approaching

Two riders were approaching
on hogs and wearing leather.
“Let’s stop here,” said one to the other,
“for a cool drinking beer.”

They passed the time on songs
that ofttimes rhymed.
On the trail or in the big city.
They parked the hogs in the gutter.

At the bar the one he uttered,
“What’s that you got in the vat?”
“Saltwort Ale,” the barkeep did tell,
combing his beard with a hand.

“Two lights for us, my friend,
the day grows warm and thin,
the dust is finding its corners,
the dogs want shade and water.”

“No light here,” the barkeep says,
“and we don’t serve no rhymesters.”
“But we are the two riders,
two riders who were approaching.”

“This here’s a craft brew pub,
not some seedy tavern.
Take your hogs and dogs across the tracks,
go see John Wesley’s mother.”

The two riders went back to riding.
On the trail where we last heard their cry,
they were still approaching.
Two riders were approaching.

“Yippi-yi-yo,
yippie-ki-yay,
we’re gonna go
our own way.”

Yippi-yi-yo,
yippie-ki-yay,
we’re gonna go
our own way.”

“Two Riders Were Approaching” is a song I wrote and performed on my show “Live at 5 from the JoeZone” on Instagram on Saturday, May 9 (now deleted). I used the chord progression Am Dm E7 Am. I changed a few words and lines here, and I discarded here a few of the lines sung live, as follows:

“…where the hodads hang their hats”;
“The hogs are hot and tired”;
“I don’t care if you’re the four horses of the apocalypse.”

If I ever play “Two Riders” again, I’ll probably change it some more.
Meantime, tune in to Live at 5 from the JoeZone Saturday nights (PST), a pandemic quarantine social distancing live video hour (or less) of music, talk, stories, and such to help pass the time and ease the mind.

I wrote this song, as I explained on “Live at 5,” to celebrate the latest Bob Dylan recordings, his first with all original songs in eight years. The title of my song, “Two Riders Were Approaching,” is the penultimate line in the Dylan song “All Along the Watchtower.” As I asked my audience, “Have you ever wondered what happened to those two riders?”

Photo: Pic I took of a photo at the Oregon Historical Society “Barley, Barrels, Bottles, and Brews” exhibit in 2019: two musicians and a bartender at the Cowdell Saloon in Antelope, Oregon, 1913.