BILLY'S POETRY & JOURNALISM
We took April and drove it onto open road,
collapsed into each other,
one more betrayal, an admission I paid for and bought outright.
Love can deceive and still be love.
We took possession of the bandstand,
held on for dear life in a Denny’s
an saw the great balloon pitch ostrich by ostrich
into the impaling fence.
It was before noon when I followed the birds.
- from Rain Shadow Review
A Dangerous Place
The kid couldn't shut up, endless war stories her must've picked up along the way.
Claimed his dad rode for the angels back in So.Cal and that his uncle had been an origninal member of the Doobie Brothers.
He kept a secret recipe for kitchen speed folded up and hid inside his legal work along with a perfumed letter that held a single pubic hair from a girl he'd known on the streets.
Looking back, perhaps he just needed a place to unwind, he was ahead of his own shadow, he didn't sit on the fence, hell, he slept on it.
Awkward, playin' chicken with strangers, unblinking eyes and 'Hey Bro, you gonna finish everything on that tray?”
Like the whole mess, system, was just some giant self-improvement class with concertino wire.
He was wrong, of course, it was far more sinister than that.
Mark was ten days and a wake-up from leaving it all behind.
A November morning, he was woring on the heavy bag. Twack, twack, foom, his pocket radio cranked up, tiny earplugs sending the signal through, feet moving and again, twack, twack, thwack. A horse, nostrils flared, clipped bursts of air, meeting fists against the bag, eyes wet, alive, and breathing hard.
A wind moving cross the yard, detonation of future sin.
It took twelve AA's tied up in a sock to get his head right. From behind it was like fly fishing in mud.
Rifle tower, cameras on each post, guards in pairs choking walkie-talkies.
A flash, and he broke through the skull, pulsating adrenaline and if there had been orders to stop, he could not.
A branchless trunk collapsed to the ground, grass splashed with liquid.
Standing above, hollowed out with wicked interpretation.
The young man dropped the bloodied sock and raised his hands straight up. These children, once angels, we brought them to you.
Check out the archive of Billy Sedlmayr's writing for the Tucson Weekly here
or browse a curated selction of his articles below.
"Richard did something more than make tools of writing available to groups of flawed men. I think he let us retrieve something true in ourselves that could not be eroded or beaten out of us. The sound and scratch of pen to paper that would stand alone, harbor the individual, and keep some kind of humanity alive in us."
"Thunders was the guy nailed into the barrel, pushed slight into the current and down Niagara Falls to bash wildly against wood. The power of the descent hitting the bottom where you split apart or pop back up to the top. Applause—the winning hand— skill, fearless, in a thousand shitty clubs, where the hand turns the amplifier up further still, and the other half is only here to invite a room full of strangers to watch you destroy the attributes whose balance is self-consuming, drowned in the iconic orphan junkie."
"Repeated listenings of Harvest gave me a lesson that in the structure of a record, the more space the better. So much was being crammed into our lives, into the world, that this love of music brought the listener and the artist closer. "
Image credit: Gary Burden
On Rainer Ptacek and the Giant Sandworms first-ever gig
"Recently, I found an old box of cassette tapes—things even I couldn't destroy. I came upon a green TDK with the words 'Giant Sandworms 1st Gig' scrolled on it. A neighbor still owned a tape deck—the old kind. I took it home and ran a pencil through the spools to loosen up 30-some years, sat down, switched off the light, pushed play, and for a second, I could almost make out the faces ..."
"There has been nothing like them before or since...
Those boys were meant to shine."
"This band looks forward in a world so scary, one can't help but daydream of the past and reap nostalgia's reward. it's where nothing can hurt you, nothing can stand in your way."
"This was Mayfield's music, his label, and his vision. From the first song to the last, the album provokes conversation. It’s trashcan fires, tenements and crime, black on black. This is urban renewal, welcome to it."
"And I play that song and smoke two or three Lucky Strikes and won’t let go, can’t, 'cause these are the ones, the very reason we ascribe to rock ’n’ roll."
"The yearning and distress in Elton’s voice and melody, from the time I first heard it in 7th grade to right now, to me, is testimony to his truest talent."
"'Honky Tonk' finds Billy Cobham cutting the tempo, half-digging into his hi-hat and kickdrum, and percussionist Airto Moreira is rubbing his hands over skin, bending the air
with wooden birds and howler monkey sounds. Hancock's theme moves in and out of air holes ... Man, Miles must've laughed to himself, mumbling, 'Tropical baby, pretty fuckin' Tropical.'"
"Nyro’s original stuns the listener with melody, piano and insight that is fresh right now, right this very moment Mister or Misses President. "Come on people/Come on children/Come on down to the glory river/Gonna wash you up/Gonna wash you down/Gonna lay that Devil down … “In my mind I can't study war no more/Save the children/Save the country now …”"
"Louise chipping away at her Les Paul Jr. as she begins a narration of a lover’s ups and downs, free of metaphor or apology. Harmonies come strong and large behind her words, an amalgamation of Billy Sherrill’s production sound adjoining some sharp lost Byrds track when Gene Clark was burning up songs like cigarettes."