I wasn't sure what my column's topic this week was going to be about. A moment in Giant Eagle this morning as I bought a roll of Scott's toilet paper and a roll of paper towels (I often get the purposes mixed up) decided for me. In the meantime, I'd been mulling over three ideas: 1) A preview of this year's kinky sex rave at Trauma's new basement addition, an invitation-only exhibition of "15 rooms of psycho-sexual terror" called ironically enough, "Bliss," as promoter Nick Wolak of Evolved put it to me. "I've been concerned Trauma's been getting vanilla-fied over the years. This'll put the edge back on. Nobody from the Doo-Dah Parade will be able to complain," he said with a laugh, referring to Evolved's suspension-pulling team hauling a huge truck, a cringe-worthy spectacle that had a few Doo-Dah folk complaining. Hey, Trauma is his party and he'll cry if he wants to, or from what he told me, have things going on that'll have you moaning the passport for extraction from the exhibition, 'ambulance.' Not your ordinary cock-ring/taint-piercing night out, I'd wager. 2) A couple of Tom Waits-type song-characters I nicknamed Poncho and Lefty who clean out abandoned homes and apartments for landlords and banks sold me 700 jazz, R 'n' B and easy listening albums Saturday morning. Ranging from rotten moldy condition to pristine, it's the kind of haul that had me smiling as I went to bed and rushing to work the next morning to start the great combing, sorting and organizing. Loads of Satchmo, Duke, Ella, Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Wes Montgomery, etc. plus gooey white people's gently melodic stuff which I now find so appealing in the morning--Mancini, Mantovani, Misty Strings, Warm Farts, etc.--and the wonderful covers that go with them. Namely extremely tasteful and/or cheesy artiness and same said description of the women, who are definitely objects of passions but done so elegantly. Poncho was an aging deaf Puerto Rican and Lefty his huge, corpulent boss, so out of it his eyes were sweating. He also made Poncho do all the work. Good guys, though. Great story. 3) The one idea that'd been nagging me for several weeks at least, especially since I heard the new Daft Punk and realized I, like Elvis Costello, am a man out of time; like Robert Heinlein, a stranger in a strange land; like Nietzsche, I've concluded the death of rock is being followed by an era of piety and nihilism; everything new sucks, in other words. If you don't believe me, just ask the kids, most of whom aren't alright. They're fucked up. They've been told by the preachers of the great self-esteem hoax that every thought they have and utterance they make is spun gold. And it's simply not that way, not that way at all. We have a generations of wussies listening to music which only encourages their wussiness. Bad business, that. And thus they love the new Daft Punk, "Random Access Memory" a banal and lukewarm rehashing of disco's banal and lukewarm period, namely the stuff that had no black in it, no Negro funk/soul revolution, no human spark of rhythmic electricity, just drum machines programmed on 'mild' and traumatically boring. Anybody who listens to this will end up squatting to piss. So it was this morning as I rounded the corner and went down the toilet paper aisle in the Grandview Big Bird when I heard it, the siren song of soul which made me decide I should write about MY musical passions, the various music which give my waking hours ultimate meaning in ways I know and don't know, the music born of suffering which I listen to during the day and it roams my brain at night in the morning when I awake, still pulsing, still echoing, never leaving me lonely. The song emanating like heaven descending via the Big Bird's omnipresent ceiling sound system: the late great Ray Charles belting out "Hit The Road, Jack," Ray singing with blood in his soul or soul in his blood for perhaps the greatest call-and-response chorus in music history. His sweet-toned female backing singers telling him, penniless and no good that he is, to go; he retorting with pleas of mercy ("You don't mean that"). Knocked me on my ass, hearing that so early in the morning. Ray was Moses calling down from the Temple of Soul and telling me to write what you feel so I am. Thirty years of paying dues in this town and I'm going to write about music I love so much that if you don't end up loving it to, then hit the road. Jack. 1) Most overlooked Booker T. and the M.G.'s album ever (after Melting Pot) is "Booker T. Set," a snapshot of top 1968 American pop tunes done Memphis soul instrumental style, including "The Horse," "Love Child," "Mrs. Robinson," "Sing A Simple Song" and a stoned soul sexy slow version of the Doors' "Light My Fire," so steamy you'll have to take a four-hour bubble bath. Talk about American exceptionalism--our pop charts were a true melting pot and then this racially integrated band of rhythmic geniuses put their instrumental icing on the American cake. Glorious. 2) My jazz motto these last several years--"so much Miles, so little time." His "Filles de Killimanjaro" has been haunting my player and brain for six months now and no amount of listener fatigue has set in. Fractured, abstract, intensely beautiful, this is Miles transitioning from acoustic to electric jazz with his second great quintet, including Herbie Hancock (later Chick Corea), Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams and Ron Carter (later Dave Holland). Hendrix's “The Wind Cries Mary” makes a disguised appearance, lovingly deconstructed by Miles and company. Coincidence that Filles was recorded in 1968 or was it, as Sinatra sang, just "a very good year?" 3) Maybe I read too much history, or too many newspapers but this is one sorrowful planet. And some of the saddest, most beautiful music known to man is traditional Jewish music. David Grisman and Andy Statman with their mandolins melodically move me like no string'n'wood album ever with "Songs of Our Fathers", a 1995 release on Grisman's Acoustic label. "Shalom Aleichem," "Chassidic Medley: Adir Hu/Moshe Emes," "Shomer Yisrael, For the Sake of My Brothers and Friends,"--track after track of melancholic masterpieces. Eastern European Jewry have a claim to the blues almost like no other oppressed peoples on the face of our forlorn earth. From all that suffering comes beauty--sometimes. 4) Cymande was an early '70s British band of expatriate Caribbean dudes who made one of the most feeling soul/R 'n' B/reggae/funk albums to ever be given birth by three continents’ worth of music: America, Africa and Europe. Despite occasional lyrical platitudes, there is a sublime persistence the likes of which makes this album one of the most addicting, loving piles of groove I've ever heard. It holds up superbly to repeated listenings. Imagine Quincy Jones producing Marvin Gaye during his "What's Going On" period. Sound good? 5) Here's what people don't get about the blues: the blues cats played blues to get out of their emotional funk, not to be sad bastards like today's emo clown movement. And when it comes to this man, ANY record by Muddy Waters is one of the greatest platters ever made. His "Trouble No More: Singles (1955-1959)" has been pushing my ass along for years now. He can be fierce, he can be playful, he can be sublimely sexy. The joy in his jump never lets me down, never ever lets me feel sorry for myself. The obvious joy of electric blues aside, the stuff will make you TOUGH. And sometimes that's exactly what you need in these times, especially with women.