Image for post
Image for post
Image by Gary Chapin (Photo of couple by Damir Spanic on Unsplash)


To somebody somewhere sometime

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Brigid Chapin

This is a companion article to Steven Hale’s piece, All Music is Old Music, which I loved.

I too have been moved by the Riff Challenge to remember an album that I loved upon its release, and which left a mark. I can think of only a few that hit me that way, but hit me they did. I wrote about Yes’ 90125. I was there for the release of Rush’s Moving Pictures and Genesis’ Abacab and Van Halen’s 1984. Your psyche readily quickens around music when you’re 16. Not so much later. …


Interview with a Titan

Maintaining the social contract again and again and again

Image for post
Image for post
Drawing by Brigid Chapin (edited by Author)

Transcript from an interview with Sisyphus, March 2021

Reporter: — levels are okay? Check. Check.

Cameraman (Off Screen): indistinguishable murmur

Reporter: Here he comes. Okay — Five, four, three, — , — HELLO! We’re here in the underworld talking to the famously reclusive Sisyphus! You may recall that Sisyphus was sentenced by Zeus to roll an immense boulder up a hill for all eternity only to have it roll back to the bottom, again and again and again.

Sound of rock rolling up a hill

Sisyphus: Grunt — NNNNNNN — argghhh — Mother — f*&^ing — f*&^ing — goddamn —


Pre-human Outrage

Keep our subspecies out of your mouth

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Crawford Jolly on Unsplash

Dear Pres. Biden,

What the heck, man? It’s not enough that our very name has become synonymous with knuckle dragging ignorance, and that people think of Captain Caveman or those Geico guys when our subspecies comes up. Now you go and compare us to Republicans? That’s hurtful. The fact that we’re pre-human doesn’t mean we’re subhuman! We’re from the stone age, but we’re not made of stone! Neanderthals had well developed brains with more than adequate occipital lobes. We have feelings, Joe!

This is so like you modern humans.

Yeah, Neanderthals were unable to adapt to climate change and disease…


You are right that the earlier pop songs he wrote are more in reach ... I guess I was thinking more of his elegiac stuff "Holly Holy" or "Shiloh" or " Soolaiman," I recorded "Play Me" and my family liked it, but it's not getting released beyond the group of people who are required to love me.


Neil Diamond, bitches.

Image for post
Image for post
Image Amazon

There is no such thing as an objective musical experience. I get that. My feelings about Neil Diamond and this particular album will forever be shaped by two facts. First, it was a favorite of my mother’s and thus a part of my world well before memory allows. Second, it was a favorite of my mother’s, who was amazing and passed away in 2004.* Oh, man, this record!


Poetry

One day closer to death

Image for post
Image for post
Source Wikimedia Commons

My 54th birthday (if you count
the day of my birth), though
according to common Earth practice,
I am 53 years old, but

I’ve been calling myself 53
all year long. Not because I want
the undeserved hot mess glory of
achieving the 16th prime number, but

because the diff between ordinal and natural
feels arbitrary, imposed, and not
entirely worth locking down. All
year has been my fifty-third
year, and you cannot convince me that
“being my 53rd year” and
“being 53” is a useful
distinction.

I can be first and last and next and another and 53 and…


A Thoughtful Editorial

Human sacrifice is the reason for the season

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Jonathan Cosens Photography on Unsplash

It can be annoying. Already the decorations are going up and the Arbor Day carols are being played over the speakers in the Dollar General. “The holiday is not until April 30!” you say, “Can’t they at least wait until Easter is over.” It’s crass and commercial. It’s a diminishment of our tradition. An attack on the values that made our country great. I, too, cringe at the ubiquitous Lorax cartoons shilling watery beer and rough toilet paper.

The threat is more serious than that.

Maybe you don’t see it, as retailors try to squeeze every bit of blood they…


Jazz Gateway

The most beautiful sounds ever to be rendered onto magnetic tape?

Image for post
Image for post

My jazz journey had a lot of important early stops. Fats Waller was a first love. Then a bunch of big band stuff. Then Duke Ellington and this record, Ellington Indigos, a set of ballady/bluesy pieces, mostly Ellington standards. It’s the kind of smokey record that someone puts on in a TV show, when they bring the lights low and start dancing with their beloved person. And your sister says, “Who has music like that just lying around?”

I do. I have music like that. Though I have not, generally, been a fan of the “ballads” album. It’s a genre…


Riff Album Challenge

I love you maybe. You left a scar.

Image for post
Image for post
Yes, 90125 (1983)

Being a prog fan in the early ‘80s meant living in a world where your brothers, uncles, and sister’s boyfriends spent a lot of time telling you how music used to be so much better. Like, back in the early ’70s. “I saw the Lamb tour like three times, loser.” That’s the kind of thing you’d be putting up with when you put Genesis’ Abacab on your mom’s stereo.

My sister bought me the 1972 Yes album, Fragile, for Christmas in 1982. I don’t know why, really. “I just thought you’d like it,” she said at the time, and she…

Gary Chapin

I write. I have always written. I write about education and other things. I play accordion. I have an extraordinary ability to be fascinated by things.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store