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bear by san

March 2017



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phil ochs troubador

I had a heart for art's sake, but no stomach for the business--

This post brought to you because elisem knows all sorts of people whose albums I have been buying for years, and reading her journal keeps reminding me to dig them out and listen to them.

How did I live 24 years of my life without John Gorka? That's what I want to know. I first heard of him when stwish gave me a copy of Jack's Crows with the comment, "He's just like Bob Dylan if Dylan didn't suck." It's become kind of a love affair since. Like Janis Ian, Phil Ochs, Hugh Blumenfeld, Ferron and, most recently, Vienna Teng, Gorka is one of the guitar and/or piano-thumping folkies I turn to when I need music to give me strength.

I used to think joy was the break between sorrows
Like peace was the break between wars.
I'm still partly new now but mostly older
And I cannot say I'm so sure.

I never trusted happiness as far as I could throw it.
Always preparing for the worst 'cause I would know it.
All of that hammering in the dark:
Like a new Noah working on his ark.

--John Gorka, All That Hammering

You know, he might just be on to something.

(you can download that song for free here, along with the rest of the Temporary Road album; I particularly like the title song, and played it to death while I was working on Worldwired. And Can You Understand My Joy, for obvious reasons. Also, The Gypsy Life is a favorite.)

Also, I don't want to even think about how many times I heard this song before I understood it:

Don't want to waste what I have to give
In all of the time that I've left to live
Don't want to waste what I have to give
In any of the time that I've got left
I can do more than I thought I could
Work brings more luck than knocking on wood
There's random bad and random good
Work brings more good luck

You ask the world
And the world says, "No."
It's the world's refrain
Mine says, "Go."

--John Gorka, Morningside (which you can listen to here; this song saved my sanity if not my life during one of the worst winters I've ever been through, and it's still my motto.)

...unless you are a true bad boy, conscience is a constant threat.



John Gorka is most excellent, if dark. Have you heard the album "Land of the Bottom Line"?

I've got a mean streak
It's not a dotted line
it's a matter of fact
It's a piece of my mind
It's a mean streak
It's improved and new
Hit me once
And I'll show it to you

My sanity savers are "You're Aging Well", by Dar Williams, and Dar's cover of "Better Days" by the Kinks.
Land of the Bottom Line is one of my favorite albums, ever. Like you, one of his songs meant the world to me when much of world was otherwise hard to understand (I talked about that here. I adore the man.

Will download music when I get home.

Thank you for the links; I fell in love with "All That Hammering" via a cover that wasn't that great, and looked off and on for years for the CD with the original. It had slipped my mind in recent online music searches--so it's a lovely surprise to find it. Can't wait to hear it sung by the man himself.


How did i not know John Gorka? Thanks for the recc!
If you like Gorka, you might also like James Keelaghan.


Thank you for introducing me to John Gorka! I must now own some, if not all, of his music!

mini rant

"If Bob Dylan didn't suck?!"

I mean c'mon... he influenced everyone and yet he sucked.

I like Gorka - but Dylan's lyrics are WAY more mature... and yeah, maybe his voice isn't pretty - but this is art, not American Idol... of course, I like Cale and Wainright and Waits too...

Have you listened to any of Jacob (The Wallflowers) Dylan's stuff... I like it a lot.

Re: mini rant

*g* I can't stand the Wallflowers. I mean, lunge-across-the-room-to-turn-it-off can't stand. I have an allergy to whiny emo boys, though.

I like Bob Dylan okay, but I frequently prefer other people covering his tunes... and I'm more likely to find myself reciting Gorka's lyrics, or finding them applicable to my life. The sensibility is lot more humane and a lot less angsty and self-absorbed, and while the poetry is less experimental, I'm not convinced it's less sensitively written. Also, I'm a sucker for linguistic cleverness, and Gorka has it in spades.

I'm not going to comment on maturity, except to say that that's obviously a judgement call.

I like Cale and Waits just fine. Wainwright falls under "whiny emo boys" for me. Although I do like one song of his--"Rebel Prince."

stwish is the musician in the family. I'm not.

Re: mini rant

AHhhhhh, I see it now...

I LIKE emo boys, especially with guitars...



PS - I do like the Gorka I listened to today. I put If I Could Forget To Breathe in my top rotation.
I confess my favorite Gorka song is still the one he co-wrote with Christine Lavin, "Sensitive New-Age Guys." *g*

Did you know he and Richard Shindell were a duo when they were in college?