“Thirteen” By Big Star Needs the “Wagon Wheel” Treatment

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I still love “Wagon Wheel.”  I hear it live almost every single time I’m on the food truck and there’s an acoustic guitar somewhere in the same county.  Honestly.  It’s become something of a national anthem.

But seriously, have you ever heard “Thirteen” by Big Star?  It’s the best.  Garbage did a great cover, Wilco a decent one, and Evan Dando the best after Big Star’s original.

Even if you think you don’t know Big Star, you know Big Star’s lead singer.  Alex Chilton was only 16 when he cut another one of rock’s greatest records, “The Letter,” as lead singer of The Box Tops.

Five years later, “Thirteen.”  I discovered it via Spotify a few months ago, and it’s been in my head all day.

Karma Police

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I love that song. I love the video.  I love everything about it.  The car. The spooky headlights. The words, the way Thom Yorke sings it, everything.

A few years ago I heard or read Bono talking about the Christian idea of grace, which he says is the opposite of karma.  Karma is about the balance sheets and grace is supposed to be about ripping them up.  If you’re like me and struggle with anxiety, even the freedom of grace can feel like karmic obligation.  I know that’s strange.  I don’t always feel that way.  But managing and overcoming my obsessive compulsion means looking at my own feelings and actions more closely than is often comfortable.  I believe in grace, but sometimes I let my brain chain me to things my heart knows are silly.  I don’t believe in karma, but sometimes I let my brain say “well, just in case…”

Also, “Creep.”

Happy Birthday, Leonard Cohen. Ring the Bells that Still Can Ring.

Leonard Cohen is trending on Facebook.  I hovered over his name in my newsfeed to find that today is his birthday.

Happy Birthday, Leonard Cohen.

A few days ago, a friend sent me this:

I had been reading the Louise Penny trilogy
(A Trick of the Light, The Beautiful Mystery [monks term for plain chant]
and How the Light Gets In.)
Her inspiration was Mr. Cohen.
She prefaces the one book with the following acknowledgement:
“Finally, I’d like to thank Leonard Cohen. The book is named after an excerpt from his poem/song—“Anthem.”

Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering,
There’s a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.

I first used that stanza in my second book. When I contacted him to ask permission and find out what I’d have to pay for it, he got back through his agent to say he would give it to me for free.

Free.

I’d paid handsomely for other poetry excerpts, and rightly so. I’d expected to pay for this, especially

given that at the time, six years ago, Mr. Cohen had just had most of his savings stolen by a trusted
member of his team.

Instead of asking for thousands—he asked for nothing.

I cannot begin to imagine the light that floods into that man.

And now you’re holding my imperfect offering.

It was written with great love and gratitude and awareness of how very lucky I am.”

Leonard Cohen is 82 today.  I hope you’ve been blessed by his mind and his words like so many others have.