Short & Sweet (For Once) ;c)

Sunday, February 28, 2021

 Hey folks. Just a very quick post to say hello. 

It was a busy week here both at work and home, particularly home. I'm in the middle of hunting for a new apartment, which is always time-consuming and stressful. I have a few prospects to investigate in the next few days; hopefully by this time next week I'll know my next address. More on that in the next post.

That will do it for now. Hope everyone has a good week! 


I"ll keep the music portion of the post brief as well - but I'll make it count. :c) 

PJ Harvey released the demos from her 2000 masterpiece Stories From the City Stories From the Sea last week. It's a great record, and this is my favorite song: "You Said Something":

Her singing is so evocative - so much so that although she never tells you what they said (note that she never specifies if it's a man or a woman), I think we can guess. :c)

Ciao, all...

Musings: That Restless Kind of Feeling

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Hello all. Hope everyone is doing well. 

We had yet more snow again this week here, and a continuation of the usually lengthy cold as well. It looks as if we're finally going to be back to normal temperatures here starting this week (around 40°F / 6°C), and some rain tomorrow. 

With any luck the sidewalks will be mostly clear by the end of the week. It's been a long time since it's been safe to walk for an extended distance, let alone run, and I've been raring to ramp up both activities. It's been too long without them, at least at the levels I like. And need.

That feeling of restlessness is pretty pervasive in my life right now, and consequently has been on my mind quite a bit lately. I inadvertently hit Shuffle while listening to music a few days ago (I tend to listen to entire albums - old school, I know), and this song popped up:

"Restless" is from Gordon Lightfoot's 1993 album Waiting For You. It was recognized as a return to form after several somewhat sterile, overproduced albums (albeit with some hidden gems), and "Restless," the leadoff track, was rightfully hailed as one of his major works. (He apparently feels the same way, as he plays "Restless" at nearly every concert since the album's release.)

For me, this restlessness has been uncomfortable. But listening to his reflections on it made me look at it another way:

There's a kind of a restless feeling and it pulls me from within
It sets my senses reeling and my wheels begin to spin
In the quietude of winter you can hear the wild geese cry
And I will always love that sound until the day I die
There's a kind of a restless feeling and it catches you off guard
As I gaze off at the distance through the trees in my back yard
I can feel that restless yearning of those geese as off they roam
Then trade that for a warm bed and a place I can call home

As is so often the case, it's all a matter of perspective, isn't it? 

That restlessness isn't a bad thing to be overcome.

Instead, if you allow yourself to listen, it's that quiet inner voice telling you not to settle. 

Not to give up. 

To keep striving. 

It was a message I think I heard for a reason this week. 


Friday night I listened to what might be my one Desert Island Disc (if, God forbid, I could only have one): Bruce Springsteen's Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978). 

I've written about the album a number of times here. He recorded the album after a protracted legal battle with his former manager over the control of his career that, for a time, looked as if it would prevent him from being able to record again. 

Springsteen prevailed, but he was profoundly changed by what had happened. Born To Run, his previous album, was filled with songs about protagonists looking ahead with hope. 

Darkness, by contrast, was about those same characters several years later. Their youthful idealism has been battered by the harsh realities of the world. The songs were no longer about triumph, but instead were about survival.

That said, they were not about hopelessness, but about vowing to carry on no matter the odds:
Talk about a dream
Try to make it real
You wake up in the night
With a fear so real
You spend your life waiting
For a moment that just don't come
Well, don't waste your time waiting  

I came across a 2010 interview he gave around the time of a deluxe reissue of the album. Reading it this weekend, I was struck by something he said about his state of mind as he headed back into the studio to record what became Darkness. He and Gordon Lightfoot have a similar attitude about the virtue - the necessity - of giving your all in pursuit of your vision: 

“The only thing I was always nervous about was not living up to what my potential might be,” he said. “That frightened me the most. I didn’t think I was the most gifted performer or singer. I felt like I was given a heavy dose of journeyman’s talents, and that if I worked those things with everything I had, they could coalesce into something that was specifically mine.”

That's a remarkably humble assessment from one of the great American songwriters. But the message really hits home: it's about putting in the hard work to find something uniquely yours. If that approach is good enough for Bruce, it's certainly good enough for the rest of us, no? :c) 

And frankly, that's what transitioning is (if you do it the right way, at least), isn't it? Taking a leap of faith in the pursuit of being yourself, in spite of the uncertainty and fear, and then doing the hard work to make it happen. And if we can do that... we can do anything. A good message for a Sunday evening. Or any evening, really. :c) To quote a line from another song of his about living to the fullest: "Mama always told me not to look into the eyes of the sun/Oh, but Mama/That's where the fun is." :c)


Part of the hard work Springsteen put in realizing his vision for this album was only including work that fit that vision. During the Darkness sessions he recorded, then gave away, songs that other artists made the centerpiece of their albums. He gave this song to the Pointer Sisters, who had a huge hit with it in 1979:

Most famously, he wrote and recorded "Because the Night," then gave it to Patti Smith, who recorded her classic version (with revised lyrics) that became a major hit in 1978:

A stark, riveting version that featured a ferocious, extended guitar solo from Springsteen was a nightly high point on the legendary tour following the album's release. This is from his show at The Capitol Theatre in Passaic NJ on 9.19.78. It's my favorite Springsteen show. Watch and you'll understand why:

Never get tired of watching that!


I thought I'd end with a song Springsteen co-wrote with Southside Johnny Lyon and Steve Van Zandt (a/k/a Miami Steve of E Street Band fame). "Trapped Again" was a highlight of Heart of Stone, the 1978 album from Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes. How this song wasn't a massive hit boggles the mind:

It really has that late-Seventies Jersey Shore sound, doesn't it? Such a great song.

That will do it for this one. Have a great week!

More Musings, The Sequel: A (Slight) Change of Plans :D

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Hello all, and a happy Saturday/Sunday to everyone. Hope you're doing well.

This is just a brief post I'm putting up about a change of plans I decided on this week. In fact, most of it will actually be about the songs that came to mind when I decided to write this. lol That said, the main reason I wrote this, as you will see, is so I've committed to this decision in writing. :c) 

I mentioned in my last few posts that I had three writing projects I'm going work on, and that I'd decided to start with a series of posts about my experience having my GCS in Montreal. After that, I would tackle two other projects I've had on the back burner for a long, long time. 

These are larger, more complex - and, in the case of the project I had planned to work on after the Montreal series, more challenging and painful: my childhood.

Well, I started work on the Montreal/GCS project this week, spending about eight hours total over four nights. And it was going well.

But after the second night, I began to feel myself being drawn to this second, more difficult project. This feeling didn't subside after two more nights of writing.

I've learned to trust my instincts, particularly on important matters such as this.

So, I've decided to put the Montreal/GCS project on hold for the time being. 

Instead, I'm finally taking on writing about the one thing I've never really allowed myself to truly face, even after all these years. 

Why now? I don't know. But that voice inside is never wrong, for bad or good.

So, I started late last night, and then for the entire afternoon today. About nine or ten hours, all told.

I haven't gotten to the challenging part yet. But it's coming up.

And this time I'm ready. Once and for all.

I'm not going to post it until the entire thing is done (in multiple posts, based on how much I've already written). It's going to take a significant amount of time. 

But I will finish it. 

And I will post it.

And based on my experience in finishing the other posts in The Chronicles of Cass series, it will be an exorcism as much as, if not more than, it is a writing project.

I'm going to post about other topics in the interim to keep up the discipline of posting, so it won't be total radio silence. :c) So keep your eyes on this space! 'Til next time...


I heard a song early in the week that I suspect may have played a role in why I decided to switch up the order of my upcoming posts. I don't think it was a coincidence that I came across this particular song at this particular time.

It was written by Colin Hay, who was the singer and main songwriter in the Australian band Men at Work. The band's first two albums were quite successful, particularly their debut, Business As Usual (1982), which was a massive global hit. 

Cargo, the 1983 follow-up, wasn't quite as successful commercially (although it still did very well), but showed real artistic growth. Unfortunately, their third and final album, 1985's Two Hearts, was a disappointment both commercially and creatively. 

The band was dropped by their record label and, after several fruitless years trying to recapture the magic, they broke up. Several years after that his record label dropped Hay from his contract as a solo artist as well after three unsuccessful albums. 

He entered a dark period in his life, trying to reconcile where he currently was - on his own, with no recording contract and no audience to speak of - with where he had been - worldwide fame, Grammy awards, platinum albums, and on and on. 

The result of that struggle became the basis for his most beloved, and enduring, song as a solo artist: "Waiting For My Real Life To Begin," first recorded for his 1994 Topanga album. No need to elaborate further; this wonderful, moving live version speaks for itself:

The American TV series Scrubs , ostensibly a sitcom, used this song to great effect in one of its best episodes, "My Philosophy." While ostensibly a sitcom, "My Philosophy" demonstrates how it could, and frequently did, segue in an instant to powerful drama. Both this episode and show are well-worth your time. Also, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the terrific 2015 documentary about Hay, also titled Waiting For My Real Life To Begin. It's wonderful.


After their debut, Men At Work were unfairly labeled by many as a lightweight, jokey band. But like their spiritual cousins Barenaked Ladies, there is frequently more going on for the careful listener. "Overkill," written by Hay, was released as the leadoff single from their second album Cargo. Both the song and its excellent video made it clear that Men At Work, and Colin Hay, had much more to offer than easy laughs:

In an interview, Hay was once asked which song he was proudest of writing. He cited "Overkill," particularly what he acknowledged were its deeply personal lyrics:

I can't get to sleep
I think about the implications
Of diving in too deep
And possibly the complications

Especially at night
I worry over situations that
I know will be alright
It's just overkill

Day after day it reappears
Night after night
My heartbeat shows the fear
Ghosts appear and fade away
Ghosts appear and fade away 
Ghosts appear and fade away
He went on to say that after completing "Overkill" he knew for the first time that he was a real songwriter. And rightly so, as a song that still stands up decades later proves the point.


Since this post is about changes, I thought I should end with a few songs about change. First up is "Change," from Patty Griffin's 1998 Flaming Red album. Her albums are almost exclusively acoustic-based, with Flaming Red as the lone exception. An out-and-out rock album, Flaming Red is a showcase for Griffin's hurricane of a voice. If you've never seen pictures of her, she's a tiny slip of a thing, but that voice is a force of nature, as this song shows.

Next, a second song about change - one that spans decades. 

Woody Guthrie's daughter Nora invited Jay Farrar (Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt) to add music for some of her father's unpublished lyrics to commemorate Woody's 100th birthday in 2012. Farrar, in turn, invited Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Will Johnson (South San Gabriel and Centro Matic), and Anders Parker, a New Orleans-based songwriter to collaborate.

The result from the ad hoc collective was called New Multitudes, which served simultaneously as the name of the group, the album, and one of its songs. Critically acclaimed upon its release in 2012, Farrar, James, Johnson, and Parker supported the album with a brief nine show tour. 

I was fortunate enough to see them at their final appearance at the 2012 Newport Folk Festival. As good as album was, watching them perform live was even better. The guitars were turned up, adding a real edge to the songs. 

That being said, my favorite songs from the album are two of its quietest. The music for "Changing World" was composed by Jim James; his one-of-a-kind voice sings the verses, while all four members share the chorus.

My other favorite song, written by Will Johnson, is "Corine, My Sheba Queen," a hushed duet with James. Anders Parker provides the gorgeous guitar parts.

This song in particular sounds as if it could have been written yesterday - or 200 years ago. The stunning black and white photography perfectly captures the song's shimmering, ghostly beauty.


And on that lovely note will this post end. Have a good week, all...

Musings: A Beautiful Forest

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Hello all. Hope everyone had a good week, and is having a good weekend. 

We're expecting more snow tomorrow here in Boston - not a lot by local standards (3-5"/7.5-12.5 cm), but we had a storm earlier in the week that dumped over 16 inches in the town where I live, part of a trend of above-average snowfall so far this winter. One of the few positive things about working from home continuously since last March is not having to deal with commuting in bad weather. Small blessings, and so on.

As mentioned in my posts from last weekend, I'm determined to write much more often this year. One of the ways I'm going to encourage myself to follow through on that is to say up front what I want to actually write about. I'm generally a pretty determined person when I set a goal for myself, but I can get derailed when my depression flares up. When that happens, just getting through the day is an achievement.

That being said, I already mentioned the first thing I want to write about in my last post: my GCS (Gender Confirmation Surgery), which I had in Septembr 2017 with Dr. Brassard in Montreal. I'd planned to write this a long time ago, but, well, see above. So, that is first on the agenda.

After that are two topics - projects, really, given their size and complexity - are things I've had in mind for some time - since I started this blog in the first case, and in the past year for the second. So, this is just a brief post to get myself on the record, with witnesses (virtually speaking) for those times when I need to push myself.

For more, follow along below the jump. :c)

And Then There Were Three...

Monday, February 1, 2021

Wow - three straight days with new posts! I guess three really is... well, you know. ;c)

This one will be brief, however. As I mentioned in my last post, I'm open as to what I'll be writing about. It will definitely be about where I'm going - or hope to be going - but it might be useful to look back as well. 

There were several things I'd planned to write about here that never happened, for one reason or another. I was chatting with my friend A this evening, and she immediately brought up the topic I was thinking about: my surgery in Montreal, back in...

September of 2017(!).

Damn, it was a while ago.

Anyway, this feels like the best thing to write about first. It was the culmination of my journey to be myself... and also where I think I lost the plot a bit afterwards. Hopefully writing about it will shed some light on why.

I don't know how much detail I'll go into, partly because, well, some of it I simply don't remember, thanks to the drugs. lol I promise it won't be a minute-by-minute account, nor will it be a photo essay. :D It *will* discuss the experience before and after, though, which I hope people will find interesting. (Spoiler alert: nurses are angels, as are the staff at both the clinic and the post-surgery recovery center.)

And as mentioned above, I'm hoping that writing about the experience will help me process it - and my entire transition, really. I never really went into detail here at the time, but it was a challenge. My therapist told me recently that it was one of the most difficult she has seen - not physically (although it was at times), but emotionally. 

I have a hunch that my instincts are telling me this is a good topic to start with because there are things associated with it that I've never really let myself feel, or process. I think I know some of them, but others... not so much.

So, I guess there's no time like the present, right?

I likely won't be posting every day, but I hope to do so at least a few times a week. And I may digress for a post or two if the mood strikes. But overall I want to start exercising these particular writing muscles. and there's no other way than to write.

Until the next time, then, stay safe, and we'll see you soon. :c)


It's been so long since I've done these regularly that there are many albums I've never written about here. So I'll start with two of my favorites from last year.

First up is a track from Jason Isbell's stellar album Reunions. "Only Children" is a spare, haunting elegy. I'm reluctant to say more; it reveals its secrets with repeated listenings. And it's worth the time. 

The video is a quiet stunner too. I'm generally not a fan of conceptual videos (as opposed to performance clips), but this is definitely an exception. It's certainly open to interpretation; all I'll say is that things are not what they seem.

Second is a song from an artist I did write about last year (well, late 2019, actually): the pride of Ottawa Ontario, Kathleen Edwards. She took a six year break from her music career to open a coffee shop and recharge her batteries. 

The result is my favorite album from last year. One listen to "Glenfern," the lead track from her album Total Freedom (performed here at her coffee shop, Quitters - see my earlier post for the story behind that name!), will show you why. It's an affectionate, nostalgic look back at her marriage to Colin Cripps, who is now a member of Blue Rodeo. Clearly the time off did her a world of good.

And as a bonus song, how could I not include this one? Count along, everyone...

Never get tired of that one. And am I the only who finds it quietly moving? Such a lovely song.

That will do it for this post. See you in a few days, folks!


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