Hold It All

Category: Music

The River Boat Captain, He Knows My Fate

My mother was chagrined when I went from listening to the Beatles at age 13 to Bob Dylan at 14. “At least the Beatles can sing; how can your ears stand that?”

Neither she nor I could have conceived that four decades later Bob Dylan would be a Nobel laureate of literature.

Some of his songs that have put me in a trance over the years: Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll, Brownsville Girl, Series of Dreams, Highlands, Like a Rolling Stone, Not Dark Yet, Absolutely Sweet Marie, Thunder on the Mountain, Blind Willie McTell, When the Levee Breaks. And the Japanese cover of My Back Pages by the Magokoro Brothers. Oh, and Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts.

I recently went back to Jonathan Cott’s collection of Essential Interviews with Dylan over the years. (I must have given that book as a graduation present to two or three SLU students. For some reason, “Girl from the North Country” comes to my mind.) What follows—first, what some of the interviewers said about Dylan; second, some classic Dylan musings; third, a list of singers he cites, worth getting (re)acquainted with.


Elusive, oblique, mercurial, and always in motion, he has resisted in both his life and his work being categorized, encapsulated, finalized, conventionalized, canonized, and deified. Xii

He has a superb ear for speech rhythms, a generally astute sense of selective detail, and a natural storyteller’s command of narrative pacing. 22

He has more presence that anyone I’ve ever met. 340

He brought the linguistic beauty of Shakespeare, Byron, and Dylan Thomas, and the expansiveness and beat experimentation of Ginsberg, Kerouac, and Ferlinghetti, to the folk poetry of Woody Guthrie and Hank Williams. 368

During a recording career that now spans 35 years, Dylan has been a cornucopia of inconsistency. Visionary and crank, innovator and conservator, irritant and stimulant, skeptic and proselytizer, rebel and sellout, pathfinder and lost patrol: Dylan has been all of those things, and many more. 392 Read the rest of this entry »


“I Want to Write a Song Like Dylan…”*

November 1987 I attended the world premiere of Louisville band Led Pelvis in Lexington, Kentucky.

Led pelvis

*from “Country Metal”

The Beatitude of Playing Bach

Arnold Steinhardt, Violin Dreams, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006

Like the hundreds of other people who had gathered at Saint Pius V Church for Dan Horkheimer’s funeral last August, I was moving between despair and disbelief in trying to assimilate the fact of his murder.  As I walked into the church, I saw at a distance a familiar face—Cece Weinkauff, who was playing violin before the Mass.  Eleven and a half years earlier when she was 14, Cece played Massenet’s Meditation at Mev’s funeral in Saint Francis Xavier College Church.

A few weeks later, she and I visited at Kayak’s on Skinker.  She enthusiastically recommended Arnold Steinhardt, Violin Dreams, which I promptly ordered and read. It’s a captivating memoir detailing his quest for the perfect violin, his journey to becoming  a world-class violinist, and his routines and rituals, such as carrying photos of the greats in his violin case to remind him of the nobility of his calling (like Heifetz). There’s so much in the book he doesn’t address, as it evidently isn’t relevant to his dream life, his real life, that is, his immersion in violins, their power, pedigrees, “personalities,” and magic. Read the rest of this entry »

The Good News of Bach, 3.14.2017

Listening to the Concerto in D Minor for Two Violins, BWV 1043, performed by Anne-Sophie Mutter and Salvatore Accord (English Chamber Orchestra).


Start to listen here at 20:02 m.

From Cheryl Sullivan in Santiago, Chile

la tumba de Víctor Jara
que alma más apasionada
que letra más bella

The tomb of Víctor Jara
What a passionate soul
What a beautiful letter


War Isn’t Over

Dear Laura

Last night I was reading Frances Fitzgerald’s Fire in the Lake:
The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam

This afternoon I listened to a playlist I made
Of songs from the Vietnam War era

(Or, as the Vietnamese call it
The American War)

One of the songs I first heard in 1975
John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Happy Xmas (War Is Over) Read the rest of this entry »

Band name ideas 

You could make a fortune.

Maybe Curiosity Saved the Cat

I feel like I have a wealth of strange and unique band names inside of my brain. So I am going to share some.

  • Day Old Sangria
  • Poor Man’s Bruchetta
  • Parked at a Walmart

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Remembering the Dead/115

As every cell in Chile will tell
The cries of the tortured men
Remember Allende, and the days before,
Before the army came
Please remember Victor Jara,
In the Santiago Stadium,
Es verdad – those Washington Bullets again

–The Clash, Sandinista


Victor jara 2

Profession of Faith

“I believe in God—Bach’s God.”

Glenn Gould

Old Music by Colin McLaughlin

For years, I was obsessed with my mandolin. It was my travel companion–out of town, long walk, over night–I always had my trusty mandolin slung over my shoulder. It got worn down and weary looking, but it sounded bright every time I ran my hands over the wood and metal. A near perfect union.

I miss it. Ever since I played it at my mothers funeral, it won’t sing for me. It used to be I’d walk in the room and it’d wink and coax until I picked it up, like a persistent child raising its hands, wanting to be held. Now it’s an old piece of wood with a shadow over it. I try and play–but I always end up tossing it aside, upset. My mom wanted her sons to play “I’ll Fly Away” for her friends and family that day, as we did so many times by her bedside. It was a frequent request of hers those last months. I did not hesitate to oblige. In hindsight, I don’t know how I did it.

My banjo has no shadow over it, even though I played it for her just as much when she was sick, if not more, than the mandolin. But in that dark parting, it was the mandolin that accepted the burden of bringing that day to mind for years to come. Now my banjo is my best friend–I aspire to be the human equivalent of it: humble, goofy, nostalgic, playful, vaguely southern but in a welcoming way, happy and sad at the same time. We miss the elusive lady that made us a trio. She soaked up grief like a tired kitchen sponge. My old mandolin.



–Colin is taking my on-line class, Be in Love with yr Life.  he is a student at Saint Louis University.