Persevering Through


Relentless Absurdity
 

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RIPOSTE
     
by RIP RENSE

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LENNON'S GREAT LOST SONG
(Oct. 9, 2018)
(copyright 2018 Rip Rense)

                John Lennon’s so-called “house husband” years really are so much bunk, so much (double) fantasy. Oh, he had retreated, yes, and he was intent on spending fatherly time with his young child, Sean, and he did, by all accounts, become adept at baking bread.
               But to buy the public relations put out long ago by John-and-Yoko, one would think the five years of withdrawal from performing and public appearance amounted to a bucolic, even beatific seclusion in which he had found supreme contentment. Nope.                Lennon was notoriously complicated, (“an enigma even to himself,” as Cynthia Lennon once told me) and that hardly stopped, as if he was bathed in revelation and spiritual insight between 1975 and 1980. He periodically “sneaked out” to visit May Pang, for example, smoked copious amounts of dope, watched copious amounts of TV (mostly switching around), day-slept, had the occasional flare of temper (as Sean would attest), and fought ennui and depression.
               His reported psychological “breakthrough,” alleged to have occurred while taking the wheel of a sailboat during a June, 1980 storm off Bermuda rings true, however, and seems to have prompted him to rediscover muse and motivation, as it led promptly to the songs for Double Fantasy and Milk and Honey. Lennon called the maritime event “the most fantastic experience I’ve ever had,” and those close to him attested to the profundity of the moment.


Lennon at home, 1980.

               Yet it is not as though he abruptly rediscovered songwriting, after a long, fallow period. Lennon, as is now well-known, never stopped writing during the “househusband” time; never stopped playing around with song fragments, ideas, even fairly complete works. Left in the wake of his fiendish murder were countless cassette tapes of songs-that-might-have-been, including the demos for “Free As A Bird” and “Real Love” that, for better or worse, became Beatles songs. (One demo-turned-Beatles song remains unreleased, the reportedly completed “Now and Then,” in McCartney’s possession.)
              A number of these home recordings were, creditably, issued on the Lennon Anthology and the Lennon Signature Box, but the overall curation is open to criticism. While it’s laudable that the complete, beautiful take of “India, India” (written in 1968), for example, was released on Signature (why, oh, why was this not presented to the so-called Threetles for a reunion track!), one is left to wonder, couldn’t something more creative have been done with all the demo material? Couldn’t some of the fragments have been completed by other artists, old friends of John’s? Couldn’t old Lennon musical colleagues have been enlisted to provide full accompaniment on the more complete songs? What might an orchestral composer, say, Carl Davis, do with this music? Or what, for that matter, could Sean and/or Julian do with it? Apparently, we will never know.
              Which brings up the point of this piece: that something should be done, at the very least, with one of the loveliest, most poignant and reflective songs Lennon ever wrote, a song that exists only in several home “takes,” a song that does more, in my view, to capture the alienation and sadness of Lennon’s five-year retreat---or perhaps anyone’s alienation and sadness. . .

                Memory oh memory, release me from your spell
                Today is all I need to know
                Why do you have to haunt me when I thought I'd let you go
                I hear you whispering through the cold and lonely snow
. . .

                The song is “Memories,” and it began---as first reported, I believe, on the old Lost Lennon Tapes radio program---as “Tennessee,” a heartfelt paean to the works of Tennessee Williams. (About as unlikely a song and subject as Lennon ever ventured.) The first and only known recordings of  “Tennessee” date to 1975, and feature unusually reflective and sincere poetry. A sample:

                Tennessee, oh Tennessee what you've shown to me
                Your words like water pure and clear
                The sadness of your soul reveals the music of the sphere
                And sealed beyond your spirit mind
                Your poet's love and fear

                America, America
                Your heroes are alive
                Your faded fear and glory will survive
                The madness in your soul supplies the all consuming fire
                Beneath your spirit (unknown) lies the Streetcar Named Desire

                 (Note: I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the words; they are an approximation from listening on Youtube.)

             
Whatever Lennon’s reputed affinity for the work of Tennessee Williams might have been, it was not enough to stop him from rewriting the song in coming years as “Memories”---with a very complete, multi-verse version in 1980, and the long-standing fragment, “Howling at the moon,” worked in as a “middle eight.”  While the lyrics read as if in finished form, there are a couple of rougher patches that, one assumes, Lennon might have worked on further. He accompanied himself tidily at the piano, and overdubbed syncopated acoustic guitar lines here and there.

                Memory, memory, you're meaning less to me
                Watching late night movies on TV
                Motionless I see them as they drift before my eyes
                Crystal-clear and sparkling
                Reflecting through my mind

                Wondering, wondering, Is that really me?
                Running ‘round in circles like a fool
                Ah, with such absurdity
                It's a wonder I survived
                Ah, the angels have been good to me
                I'm glad to be alive

                Sometimes, I think the daylight
                Daylight has come too soon
                Hoping for something that’s better
                Than howling at the moon. . .


                (Note: “absurdity” sounds like “insanity” the second time he sings it, later in the song.)

               What immediately strikes is how the song has gone from “Memories, memories, release me from your spell” (1975), to “Memories, memories, you’re meaning less to me” (1980.) In other words, it’s clear that Lennon has tried to come to terms with the “memories” that haunted him, and has been “released from the spell.” These seem the poetic utterances of a 40-year-old man settled in philosophy, perhaps fair to say a man changed by having singlehandedly navigated that Atlantic storm. (If anyone were to record this, I would counsel starting with the 1975 verse, and then segueing to the later lyrics, as it the singer is answering the tender question he poses at the outset.)
                It’s also clear that Lennon worked thoughtfully on the lyrics; they do not read like “place-holders” to be rewritten later. They are marked by the characteristic poetic quality found in all his tender, contemplative ballads, and, rather chillingly in retrospect, they might read more like the mulling of a person reaching the end of life, rather than embarking on middle age. To wit: the very Buddhist line, No friends and yet no enemies / But teachers that all have been. No greater wisdom was ever expressed by any sensei or swami.

                Verse three:

                Endlessly, endlessly like driftwood on the sea
                And memories are flooding on in
                And the cats just listen to someone else's dream
                No friends and yet no enemies
                But teachers all have been. . .
 

                The melody of “Memories” could not be more evocative of the subject matter. Questioning, plaintive, it sounds almost like something from reverie, dream. And as with Lennon’s composing habits (perhaps all songwriter and composers’ habits), the song’s music had been in his mind quite a while, and was adaptable. In other words, there was a basic melodic idea put aside in Lennon’s musical lexicon long ago, waiting for lyrics deemed best-suited. (Obvious example of this: “Child of Nature” morphing into “Jealous Guy.”) And the “Memories” music does crop up here and there in his other work; you hear bits of it in “India, India,” “Watching the Wheels,” “Grow Old With Me”---even, and this might be stretching a point, in Paul McCartney’s “Hey Jude.” (Compare the change on the line, “Motionless I see them. . .” and “Remember to let her under your skin.”)
               “Memories” was “finished” in 1980, but Lennon kept it on the shelf during the sessions for what became the Double Fantasy and Milk and Honey albums. Perhaps he wanted to polish it further, perhaps he rejected it altogether---though given the work expended on revising and writing it, this seems unlikely. I prefer to think that he was saving the song for a premiere spot on a future record. The demo is of far too poor quality, sad to say, to be completed by other musicians. But. . .
               This song is far too moving, lovely, and meaningful to be forgotten in a pile of what-might-have-been cassette demos. It is a substantial utterance by Lennon in the prime of life, when he was, in my view, yet evolving as a melodist and lyricist.
               “Memories” is, in short, the great lost Lennon (solo) song, and it begs to be realized properly, preferably by someone who appreciates it, and can sing at as affectingly, or nearly so. Sean? Julian? Both? Or someone who brings no baggage or emotional complication---say, Alison Krause? Pity that Joan Baez, who is releasing her final album, didn’t know about this one, as it seems very fitting for her voice, and as a kind of valedictory.
                Meanwhile, “Memories” remains unfinished, raw, lost on bootleg and Youtube. . .
               Endlessly, endlessly, like driftwood on the sea.

Listen:
Late version:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wL1G3_kqZBE
Earlier version:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pe_TmwO3iVw

                                              (printer-friendly version)
 

Longtime Venice High Teacher A.H. "Bud" Rotman Dies
full obituary here

           Riposte Extra!
           L'Kikki pour L'art
      
    The greatest artist you have never heard of.

                                            full story


© 2018 Rip Rense. All rights reserved.

RIPOSTE EXTRA!
WHERE IS THIRD BEATLES REUNION SONG? here

         

Read "Who's a Whore?" a fun little verse for all sellouts to, I mean investors in. . .China!
here

             E-MAIL: 

RIPOSTE column is published when the author is motivated, which has become quite an infrequent occurence in recent years.

We get e-mail! Here's our all-time favorite:

I think if humanity upsets you so much go live in alaska, or somewere
where you don't have to put up with the people who make your life
tolerable to say the least.

Paul Manners


Dear Paul,

I can now add you to that list! FYI: "alaska" is capitalized. "Somewere" is spelled "Somewhere." And you meant "intolerable," not "tolerable."

Rip Rense

THIS CAN'T BE HAPPENING?
 IT IS.

READ DAVE LINDORFF


"There is no more truthful, well-researched, important commentary, even if you don't agree with it."---Rip Rense
 

 


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Once upon a time, in a Los Angeles far far away, there were. . .newspaper wars. There were five---count 'em, five---papers in town, and as many as 12 editions per day for each one. Rob Leicester Wagner, grandson of original Daily News reporter Les Wagner, is the only writer ever to put the history into a book. This was an uncrowded, freeway-less time of paste-pots, cigars, Red Cars, and just a touch of alcohol. Red Ink, White Lies.
ORDER IT HERE

ClownA Verse to You:
Starring Rip Post resident laureates:
 the late great Scott Wannberg, Charles Bogle, Raj Bavnani, even Rense himself.

Enjoy samples below, and. . .
visit the poetry archive
and don't trip over
 yourselves to purchase:

here

VAGINA HOTEL
I walked into the Vagina Hotel
just because of the name
Tell me, I said, why is this hotel named for a vagina
and the proprietress
who claimed to be a poetess
said, why, does that threaten you
No, I said, I've never been threatened by a vagina
but then, I've never met one that could talk, either,
so I can't be sure
Misogynist loser, she said, so I moved on
Feeling hungry, I stopped at Vagina Burger for lunch
Tell me, I said, to the waitress,
Why is this place called Vagina Burger I mean
that's not very picturesque
Oh, she said, are you threatened by the word, vagina?
No, although I admit I find it a rather ugly sounding word
I mean, couldn't they have called it a morning glory or a midnight moon or something
She snorted and walked away, mumbling "asshole"
So I left and went to Starbucks where a woman on a laptop
had a bunch of books next to her called My Vagina, Your Vagina, Our Vagina, The Cat in the Vagina, Of Mice and Vaginas, Huckleberry Vagina, and The Vaginas of Wrath
Oh, and that one by Naomi Wolf called Vagina: a Biography
What are you staring at, snapped the laptop woman
Oh, sorry, I said, I couldn't help but notice your books
Do they threaten you, she said
No, books don't threaten me, I rather like them
Then why are you staring
Oh, well, I've never seen so many books about vaginas, and naturally
it piqued my curiosity
Are you threatened by vaginas, she said
No, I'm threatened by aggression, mostly, at least to some extent
But I do wonder how a vagina could have a biography
Does that threaten you, she said
Well, let me think about that, seeing as this question keeps coming up
Stupidity and arrogance threaten me, and hostile, defensive people threaten me, and guys with lots of neck tattoos of bloody knives and Jesus threaten me, but a biography of a vagina, no
that's too ridiculous to be threatening
Laptop woman's eyes got as big as ignorance and she said
What do you mean, ridiculous!
Oh, well, it's like this: the idea that retreating into a frame of mind where one's sex organ is exalted, where one's very self-worth is focused on one's sex organ, where an obsession with one's sex organ is conflated with philosophy, and in the case of the vagina, is somehow construed as "feminism" and "empowerment," well
this strikes me as asinine and puerile
and a mite indelicate
Laptop woman's eyes got as big as vaginas and she hissed get away from me you fucking pervert or I'll call security
I momentarily wondered what security's phone number might be, and happiness's, goodness's, and joy's
Then I moved on because I felt threatened
---
Charles Bogle

 

Il perche non so
mi chiamano mimi
il perche non so
my name is this
I don’t know why
things pump into
neurons
sensory flesh
groceries into bag
dogs play in yard
bestial shouts from windows
supernova roses expand
petals to Betelgeuse
super apes trail offspring
hungry
no cookie
love pondered
gland obeyed
sun nuclear fire
moon barren
little mites feast
littler mites
amoral
pernicious
chanters hum
terrified pray
wail impotent trill
murders of joy
painter wipes fix
moment gone and beauty
crack and fade
universe and skin
blue eyes and harlequin
il perche non so
---Charles Bogle

Raj Bavnani Reads!
Heard it once? Hear it twice!
Listen to Raj Bavnani's
 end-of-year poem, as read on KPFK-FM.

 

Listen at:
 
http://rense.gsradio.net:8080/rense/special/Raj_Bavnani.mp3
Raj read this epic poem for 2010 Jan. 3 on "The Music Never Stops," with Barry Smolin, on KPFK.
 
slums of gold
the slums of gold
are having open houses for all the affable c.e.o.'s and financial wizards who have taken their bailout money to build shiny brand new executive bathrooms and finance relaxing weekend retreats far from the noise and fear of the street.the slums of gold have king size beds that will make the most tired and achy executive feel so human and tender.
special guarded elevators will take these new stylish tenants to the penthouse,but wait a second, sometimes the penthouse has no roof and the vultures soar overhead awaiting their next happy meal.
the slums of gold find themselves eventually under a fierce rain which washes that fake gold off revealing corroded iron and brokedown wood.
it's a new year
homicide will soon reach its deductible
and its bills will reduce greatly.
the slums of gold are having a block party.
bring all your favorite yes men and women,executives.
bring your bylaws and meeting minutes.
you'll have to budget the air
inhale just so much oxygen.
the banks glow in the dark.
they begin to pull up stakes
and slither across the earth
looking for food.
meanwhile,all humans with no health care whatsoever become kings and queens for one day.
they are asked to pose for high profile pictures.
as soon as you're through coughing up blood could you smile and say cheese.
the c.e.o.s have blood in their underwear.
should they panic?
should they take a happy pill?
all the happy pills forgot their distemper shots.
they are not agreeable this morning.
when you go to open them up to ingest one they bite your fingers.
---Scott Wannberg, 1/24/09

i didn't see all that much but boy do my eyes hurt
in the hallowed building
that forgets where it lives
i saw a way of life
try to shove itself into a tube of toothpaste
the teeth of the world
chatter
when love runs naked
through the battle
that dances up and down
the road out of town.

periodically the reaper fellow
comes through selling subscriptions
but frankly his pitch needs grease
and the navy can't tread the water
you shower in.

i didn't see all that much
honest
but boy do my eyes hurt
every time you ask me to leap off the ledge
i remind you i still haven't earned anything
resembling a wing

tell the rage
to act its age and smile
once every now and then
anything it can throw at me
i've already fielded
in a time
when popcorn fell from the sky
and wounds grew gardens.

going home time
finally slipped through the wire,
treat it gentle,
pass the veneer
ache no more
for at least a minute, anyhow
heard a rumor
we were being pulled back
to a rhythm
that wouldn't break us.

killers will eventually get monuments erected in their honor.
and the pigeons will rejoice
through impending snarling weather
asleep on the side of the road
you will find civilization
rolling dice in pitch black night
one more round for the survivors
wherever they crawled off to

the highway refuses to comp you
pay as you attempt
anything
meteors aim their best profiles
at our hacienda
raise your vulnerable face
to their fire
tell them the story
you never finished
the one about the woodsmoke
the shiny people
and when its time
to wander upstairs
to a room that goes on for hours
place your heart on mine
make some music
they claim vaudeville is coming back
together
we'll bring down
the leaking
roof
---scott
florence,oregon
10/27/09
tom russell
blood and candle smoke

A Verse to You Archive


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cover by David Allen
read all about it
 

cover by David Allen
Twelve Brilliant New Stories
read all about it
 

the greatest grateful dead album
 the grateful dead never made.


 
PERSUASIONS OF THE DEAD
20 TRACKS. 2 CDs. 12 GUEST ARTISTS.
The Persuasions, Brooklyn-grown street singers who became the most important and powerful a cappella group in American history, interpret the songs of Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead. Songs that still are among the most original and engaging in American music.
Sheer poetry, meet sheer melody.


"enchanting!"
---grateful dead lyricist
 robert hunter.

produced by Rip Rense
 mixed by Marc Doten

cover illustration by Luis Genaro Garcia

SPECIAL GUESTS ARTISTS: Country Joe McDonald, Mark Karan (Ratdog), Jackie LaBranch and Gloria Jones (Jerry Garcia Band), Grateful Dead keyboardist Vince Welnick, Dongming Qiao, James King, Alyn Kelley, Eric Thompson, Peter Rowan,  Pete Grant, Mary Schmary.

"Deadheads, take a hit from this double disc dose of the real thing. Persuasions fans, this may be the last time you'll ever hear a Persuasions line-up with original lead, and once-in-a-lifetime talent, Jerry Lawson. . .These tracks are stories that happen to have been set to song, not songs that happen to have a story."
---Jonathan Minkoff, Recorded A Cappella Review Board.

"Album producer Rip Rense calls the marriage of these two acclaimed artists "a surprisingly natural fit." He couldn't be more right. It works because these tracks are more than just covers; they're tributes. Each arrangement is designed to draw something new out of the original. Many of them include actual instruments, such as piano, guitar, and baritone saxophone."
---Nicole Maria Milano, Recorded A Cappella Review Board.

 ZOHO ROOTS
 AND RENSART PRODUCTIONS

LISTEN TO SAMPLES AND ORDER
 

THE PERSUASIONS
LIVE AT McCABE'S GUITAR SHOP!


The Greatest A Cappella Group in American History
in its only LIVE NIGHTCLUB ALBUM.

Everyone knows, or should know, that as great as Persuasions studio albums were, you did not experience The Persuasions unless you saw them live. Rip Rense set about capturing this vocal lightning in a bottle at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in 1999. Yes, it’s just like being there.

NINETEEN SONGS.
70 MINUTES OF MUSIC AND JOY.
5 SONGS NEVER ON A PERSUASIONS ALBUM.

PRODUCED BY RIP RENSE AND MARC DOTEN
FOR RENSART RECORDS.


"The Persuasions have come to save your soul. America is safe again."
---The Bluegrass Special


"Live at McCabe's is a great find, a reminder of this act at its best."---Soultracks.com

"You need to buy this album!"
---
Contemporary A Cappella Society

"We came out smokin'!"
---Jerry Lawson.


 listen to samples
 and order

NOW ON iTunes!

"Their signature album."---Floyd Kucharski.

 

the rip post's exclusive
TRIBUTE TO THE ORIGINAL
L.A. DAILY NEWS!


"the only Democratic newspaper
 west of the Rockies."


INTERVIEWS!
 WITH THE ORIGINAL "NEWSIES!"
RARE PHOTOS!

MEMORIES OF L.A.'S ALL-BUT-FORGOTTEN MOST BELOVED NEWSPAPER.

THE OAKS
A NOVEL
BY RIP RENSE

"Staggeringly well written. . .sweet. . .funny. . .sad. . .elegaic. . .not a thought nor sentence out of place."
---Keith Snider, San Francisco.

review: ''EDGAR SAWTELLE' VS.
 'THE OAKS,'

 by Barbara Weeks here.

review:Susan Christian Goulding's
Daily Breeze column on "The Oaks" here
.


FLASH! MAN CHAINS SELF TO OAK TREE, READS 'THE OAKS' AGAIN AND AGAIN! here


TO ORDER

"I stayed up to finish the last 100 pages.”
---Dave Allen, Thousand Oaks.

""This book deserves to be read by hundreds of thousands of people It is a gem that talks to a diverse group of people: those who grew up in dysfunctional families(!); Southern Californians who will love the suburban anecdotes; teens and everybody who has ever been a teen with all the awkwardness those years impart. It's also quite funny. Readers simultaneously laugh while groaning over these horribly insensitive 'adults' raising Charlie, who is much more adult than they are."
---Susan Christian Goulding,
columnist for the Daily Breeze,
 People Mag. Correspondent.

 REVIEWS, SUMMARY,
 SAMPLE CHAPTER


Rense interviewed about "The Oaks"
in Ventura Star
here.


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---------------------------------------------------
***********************************************************
LESS THAN SATISFYING ENCOUNTERS WITH HUMANITY---ILLUSTRATED.
THE DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION. . .
Measured by its attitude.



"The greatest book I've ever read---in the bathroom."---Mike Ball, Glendale, CA.

"You have more 'less than satisfying encounters' than any three other people I know.  I've given this some thought and my conclusion is that it is your unhappy fate to be something of a "schmuck magnet." Unpleasant-incompetent-self-aggrandising people enter your close orbit with greater frequency
 than the rest of us."
---Bob Ballenger, Encino, CA.

230 pages of LTSEWH's.
 
WITH ORIGINAL ARTWORK

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THE DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION---
Measured by its language.


The long-running column (L.A. Times, The Rip Post) is now 210 acid-dripping pages exposing rigidly conformist slang, pin-headed outbursts, 'cool' patois, abominable cliches, infantile drivel, smug rejoinders, mandatory peer-enforced buzzwords and iPhone-speak that Americans are spewing from their 500-word vocabularies as their knuckles hang ever closer to the sidewalk.


ORDER HERE

HERE IT IS: THE MOST IMPORTANT SPEECH MADE BY ANYONE IN THE LAST 60 YEARS. WELL, MAYBE. THE GREAT BILL HICKS.

The Rip Post Interview!
SHIN3

ALL FOR TAIKO, AND TAIKO FOR ALL.
How two educators and a scientist came to
 devote themselves to the drum.

HERE
also. . .

DR. HU!

CHINESE MEDICINE DOC EXTRAORDINAIRE!
HERE


AND. . .
SIMON LENG,
AUTHOR OF "WHILE MY GUITAR GENTLY WEEPS: THE MUSIC OF GEORGE HARRISON"

AND. . .
"Mr. Smolin:
teacher, deejay, recording artist--
on Mata Hari, Daktari, high school students, John Donne, the future of the planet, and his album. . .

HERE

plus: 'Breakfast With The Beatles' host Chris Carter, and more HERE

 

MUSIC BOX
HARU NO UMI
GRACE MOORE: UN BEL DI VEDROMO
GRACE MOORE: MI CHIAMANO MIMI
LAWRENCE TIBBETT: ON THE ROAD TO MANDALAY
CHALIAPIN: DOWN THE PETERSKY
GIULINI CONDUCTS FRANCK


FOR THE ENTIRE MUSIC BOX, CLICK HERE

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THE GREAT MCGONIGLE
W.C. Fields Fan Club
Great Quotes by the Great Man
Juggling Hall of Fame


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JOIN THE SONS OF THE DESERT!
Now Accepting New Members! Click here! Or here!

READ IT! THE GREATEST PORN NOVEL EVER WRITTEN!
 BY THE GREAT WALT VICKERY!


ORDER YOURS HERE!

 

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