This entire project is a wormhole born of grief. This is what I have been doing to channel the energy from the loss of a beloved pet, who was my best friend for sixteen years.
This is the dark music I needed to make, the underlying theme of which is time, structure and impermanence. The initial intention was a single, long piece of 12 minutes but it quickly turned into a much larger, longer and more complicated monster.
It’s been fraught with both artistic and technical difficulties at each and every step of the way and that’s perfectly fine with me, because every moment I’ve spent lost in this maze is a moment that I wasn’t keenly aware of a painful absence.
The music is heavy, dark and often angry. I’m not really a bass player but since I’m doing this by myself, I do the best I can with the bass lines.
The main guitar riff of the song is the only part that is rehearsed. The rest is all improvisation. I make multiple passes at the entire form and then string together the best parts of each one. As of right now, there are at least three pieces to this work; we’ll see how it goes.
Here is my cover of “Hoochie Coochie Man”. This tune was written by the preeminent Godfather of the Blues, Muddy Waters.
The lyrics are heavily laced with references to the Hoodoo conjure tradition of the American South. One commonly misunderstood line is:
I got the John the Conqueror Root
I’m gonna mess with you
To mess with someone was to put roots on them, meaning to cast spells on that person.
The root known as John the Conqueror (Ipomoea jalapa) is widely regarded as one of the most powerful roots or Plant Spirits; if not the most powerful.
The root, all by itself, was potent and to possess it was to hold power to exert one’s will. However, to possess a mojo hand (aka, mojo bag), made and empowered by a knowledgeable rootworker, was an awe-inspiring thing.
It was not a simple matter to travel to Louisiana and get a mojo, especially for a Black person, who had less opportunities and greater obstacles. If you wanted the magick, the only way to get it was to find a skilled doctor.
This was a man or woman who knew how to coerce the Spirits to work on their behalf. First, you had to find a rootworker and then you had to convince them to make a hand for you and pay them whatever their fee was, no questions asked.
Any rituals they prescribed you or tasks assigned must be followed scrupulously. But once you had a mojo hand, especially one containing John the Conqueror, it meant that you were a force to be reckoned with.
I’m doing all the guitar, bass and vocal parts on this track. I added Slight Return to the title as a little tip of the hat to another major influence of mine, the immortal Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix was well aware of the lore mentioned here and his song “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” references similar themes.
During the last verse, you’ll see a quote, placed over a pic of Muddy Waters. It comes from the movie Crossroads, starring Ralph Machio; not to be confused with the movie Crossroads, starring Britney Spears.
It’s the story of a young, classical guitarist who dreams of nothing but playing the Mississippi Delta Blues. He’s a classical music major at The Juilliard School of Music but is mostly obsessed with Robert Johnson, arguably the greatest blues man ever.
This is my cover of the song “The Weight” by that excellent group known simply as The Band.
“It consisted of four Canadians and one American: Rick Danko (bass guitar, vocals, fiddle), Garth Hudson (keyboards, accordion, saxophone), Richard Manuel (keyboards, drums, vocals), Robbie Robertson (guitar, vocals), and Levon Helm (drums, vocals, mandolin, guitar).”
I’ve had a deep love of this song for as long as I can remember. It’s got a fun, upbeat vibe to the music but the lyrics (as the title suggests) are very heavy.
It’s a song about loneliness, disappointment and suffering. It’s about asking where you turn when all your best laid plans have fallen apart.
When I do a cover song, I usually try to reinvent it to some degree. I try to put something of my own mark on it. In this case, it didn’t feel right to completely reshape the song. There are really only two ways that I’ve wandered away from the original.
One is that I had to somehow fill up the empty space left by Garth’s piano playing. I chose to do that with harmony guitar parts, because guitar is my instrument and I gave them a simple and slightly somber quality, to accent the lyrics.
The other is that I shortened the chorus and used heavy effects on the vocal harmonies. I’m doing all the vocal, guitar and bass parts on this. The drums are by Stinky the Robot, my computer-based drummer, who is even more difficult to work with than a real drummer, if that’s even possible.
Special thanks to the following people for providing the evocative video footage that helps bring to light our social problem of the lost and disenfranchised. Homelessness and mental illness are entirely too prevalent and much more needs to be done.
We can’t be a healthy society unless we take care of our own and that means everyone, however unpleasant it might be to look into that chasm and think “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” We must do more… much more.
If you have the means to do so, please donate your money and your volunteer time to one or more of the many quality organizations that offer help to the homeless, the mentally challenged and to stray animals. Most of the people and animals on the street got there by bad luck and they deserve a second chance.
Here is my cover of The Velvet Underground’s excellent song, Sweet Jane.
The images in the video are “famous Janes”, with the exception of course of the two photos of the old Stutz brand motorcar, which is referenced in the lyrics.
All bass, guitar and vocals are me.
The drums are by Stinky the Robot… because that’s a good name for the drummer who lives inside my computer. He plays only what I program him to play, he’s drunk only half as often as a human drummer and he smells better.
The .mp3 song file is available for patrons, over at:
Nothing like a crime of passion to spice up your Saturday night. Here’s a little bit of murderous rage, tucked into a nice, folk song for ya. This is “Hey Joe”, a live cover song video by my band, Magus & The Plastic Infinity.
Words and music to the original are by Billy Roberts. Obviously, Jimi Hendrix is who made the song famous.
Guitar and vocals – Trent Boswell
Support the creation of more music, poetry and madness by Trent Boswell, at:
When you lose control And door dogs yelp for your soul The world just frays apart But we know where to start To pull it back together And this time for the better Now we know we must let her Slip inside our minds She protects us in the climbs We climbed a little too high, Passed through the fear to die We know that space and time Is not where we stand Don’t you think we would understand? If we were supposed to know But here is the matter at hand We know how to roll We don’t need no control Over all that we have known We know how to roll
The world it moves too fast Then it moves too slow And then it moves too fast But don’t you think we know The confusion that we cast It all comes back together But never quite the same Now you’ve been and you know I was there and I saw you roll I watched you lose control Over all that you had known Watched you pull it back together And this time for the better Now you know you must let her Slip inside your mind She protects you in the climbs You climbed a little too high Passed through the fear to die But we know that space and time Is not where we stand Don’t you think we’d understand? If we were supposed to know Well here is the matter at hand We know how to roll We don’t need no control Over all that we have known We know how to roll