A Happy New Year 1999 Letter
Looking back or Looking ahead?
January 1, 1999
If 1999 is to be "the year we're all gonna get everything we want, but it's gonna take a lot," which I now proclaim, then what's is going to take? A lot of money? A lot of time? A lot of love? I guess I should change it to "it's going to take a lot of everything," but that's pretty vague.
The first comment coming my way was, "Bad timing on your part, CVS, ruining my New Year's eve." I was just trying to tell the truth, but the truth is a mother, and sometimes it's better to leave that mother behind, so to speak.
The word on the street, at least on my street, is that December was Freedom From Guilt Month. The first half was indeed, but the last two weeks were guilt-ridden and I suffered the lack of clarity. Could have been from holiday sweets and too much Christmas cheer.
In December I went to bars, the occasional party, tolerated overhead lighting for another season. I listened to more of the old songs than new, but I did try to find new songs to like. I danced in December. I danced the twist, I did the shimmy, I did the screw. I danced on bars, on floors of all types, while playing guitar, danced on two pianos at the same time, and maybe danced with you.
My Hawaii Five-O TV show episode archive is nearly complete, I have 255 of the 279 total episodes on video. Mind you, there's a handful that are truly entertaining, the rest are often forgettable. When Danno breaks down in a sickening yelp with tears because his fiancee - who suddenly appears is then immediately murdered - is entertaining, as is the plaintive moment where McGarrett sheds a manly tear for a dead Chin Ho.
The guest stars help make for a good 5-0. Appearances by Andy Griffith, Paul Williams, Casey Kasem, Sal Mineo, Robert Reed, Marty Sheen, Gavin McLeod, Cindy Williams, Marion Ross, Susan Dey, William Shatner, Erik Estrada, and the other guy from CHiPs, whatever they named him, do make for some collectible TV moments. So what, you say? So nothing! I sleep with earplugs in so the VCR doesn't wake me when it fires up at 2 a.m., or later some nights. Some of these episodes are better than your garden variety 007 movie.
In October I went to England with the Saturn V. It was so good that bass player Tom Ward decided to move to New York, the next best thing to London itself. We were the ambassadors of twist, and while we brought the twist to swingin' London, we were mostly just bunch of ugly rude Americans. Except Tom, of course, who behaved himself and kept all of us informed of our faulty manners, and some local terminology:
Mind The Gap
Give Us A Bell
The Line's Engaged
Huff The Gear
Chuck It In The Bin
The Removers Are Here
He Was Meant To Arrive At Half Ten
The Saturns recorded at Pathway Studio, a place I remember credited on some old Elvis C. songs. "Stranger In The House" was recorded there, probably on that old Brenell 8-track machine. The upright piano probably hasn't been tuned since Nick Lowe was last there. About a million bad English punk bands have recorded there, spitting into the U47s and spilling cans of lager into the mixing board. It was freezing cold and damp, smelling like rotting hay, which confirms that my home studio is just like England after all.
I'm sure you've heard that the food is bad, and the beer is good in England. It's true. I drank about a thousand beers, and they were all wonderful, I suppose the experience was enhanced since I was on vacation. In comparison to the countless beef and ale pies, kebabs, and fried cod and chips meals, the Indian food was remarkable.
The only language problem I had was when the guy in the Kaisers thought I said during dinner that I didn't like the Kinks, one of his fave bands:
"No, I like the Kinks, I do! I didn't say I didn't like them, I do like them! Hell, yes! Where did you get that from? I like the Kinks."
"I thought I heard you say you didn't like them. The Kinks are the greatest fuckin' band in the world! Ever! I was going to have to fucking kill you."
"No, no, like the Kinks over here...Jesus God. Another beer please."
I fell down the stairs at the Charlie Hotel, nearly broke my back, and definitely woke up the entire house. There was much giggling during tea and breakfast later that morning. Everything there was made for small people, so my size 12 shoes slipped on the steps at 6 a.m. I hit my head, smashed my spine, banged my ribcage, crashed on my ass. Then I went to bed.
All that improvisational introductory ad lib stuff I do to warm up the first set of a Saturn V show has turned up a few names for my alter ego:
Little CV Wonder
Sir CVS (the White Knight of Soul)
Otis von Redding
So now I'm cooking up a batch of rock and roll tunes that have either an R&B inflection or a soul rave up. Problem is so far it sounds more like Bob Seger or Kiss than it does like Booker T. or James Brown. Could it be the contamination of my mind with hundreds of repeated listenings to "Odessey and Oracle?" No, it was probably that Mott The Hoople boxed set!
I suppose if this is the year when anyone is going to get everything, it's going to take a lot of thought to see it, but not too much thought, hopefully, to do it.
Perhaps we could deem 1999 the Freedom From Guilt Year.
Chris von Sneidern
San Francisco, Calif.
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