John Frusciante – Favorite Songs

Two of my current favorite songs are off of John Frusciante’s 5th solo album “Shadows Collide with People” (released 2004).

John Frusciante

John Frusciante

In the song “Carvel,” his vocal style simultaneously evokes the conflicting emotions of pain and exultation. It calls to mind what I envision surfing must be like — riding a wave of barely contained passion, he lets out enough to flow and really express himself, while still maintaining control. And yes it does make me want to eat a Carvel cake.


“Carvel”

When I try I force it out
Never looking in only out
Now is the time for millions to lose
Never the same since I lost you
Running me out of town
Wishing the best around
Would only get off my back
Heaven receives you and throws you back

Sending a dummy to my God

Driving to eat a Carvel cake
Somewhere you know isn’t where you think
Have you gone away
Have you gone, have you gone away already
(come back, come back, come back, come back)

All the good times are on their way
Up and down that’s how energy stays alive
And I wouldn’t have it any other way

 

I’m one of those people who listens to music as a mood altering tool, and I’ve found that nothing helps a low mood like pleasing harmonies and a beautiful melody. And since I’ve always had a soft spot for acoustic, which is supplemented with a little electric here, this song really does it for me.


“Song to Sing when I’m Lonely”

A song to play when I’m lonely
Win and never play a game again
No one to face when I’m falling
Holding tight to dreams that never end

I’ll be you
I do
I’ll be you
No one’s afraid to be called by another name
No one dares to be put down where they don’t belong
Nowhere’s anyone reason
Everything dying and leaving
Out with these faults and you make me baby
Faking a movement but no one’s seeing it
No one always finds peace flung
No one chooses to beat my pride down

Symbols pierce right through me
People fail to be drawn up
Sunlight to fate accumulates
Loving pain to be clung to

 By luminous bodies
Only waiting for long signs to be wrong
And true to us
Out of place in my own time
Drowning thinking that I’m dry
Holding onto facts that’ll never be proven
Faking an action cause no one’s looking
Hello when I’m crashing
Feel nothing when my life’s flashing before my eyes
You should’ve threw me down
Is the content so much

Beautiful Sounds – Musical Saw and Volume Swells

It was back when I was a teenager that I first saw the movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”  The story impressed itself upon me deeply.  I could relate to the main character, who became my personal definition of an anti-hero, and his fight against a system that appeared to be doing good but may have been a tad misguided. Although his methods may not have been correct, his actions brought hope to the struggling people around him.  I still identify with the main theme of freedom of the human spirit. But more than the plot or message of the movie, today I’m thinking about the intro music. It was the first time I heard the unique, beautiful sound that is the musical saw.


Somewhat related but not entirely, there’s a song intro which I absolutely love. I think part of what I like about it is that it reminds me of a musical saw. The other part I like is that it’s music straight from the soul of John Frusciante. Here’s a clip of the Red Hot Chili Peppers playing “Don’t Forget Me” live in France. The song itself is alright, but I’m much more taken by the intro and guitar parts. I’ve been known to watch the first 1 minute of this video over and over — you can see the peace and love on John’s face as he’s playing.


If you want to hear the other guitar parts, they occur:
from 2.44 – 3.00
from 4.01 – 4.33
from 5.03 – 5.37
Or you could also watch the whole video (please disregard people fighting invisible ninjas).

 

And last but not least, here’s a moving rendition of “Ava Maria” by Austin Blackburn on the musical saw.

John Frusciante

Serendipity brought me back to John Frusciante.  Although I was a fan of the free-spirited energy of the Red Hot Chili Peppers back in the 90’s, I hadn’t listened to their music since then.

It wasn’t until I started making Spotify playlists that ‘Pretty Little Ditty’ reappeared.  Overcome by a wave of nostalgia, I went to YouTube to watch a live version.  There’s this great video of Flea and John, foreheads pressed together for a moment, playing with what can only be described as brotherly love.

The emotions that arose were so deep and real that I was compelled to watch more Chili Peppers videos, if only for the purpose of hearing John’s soulful playing.  It was then that I discovered everything that’s happened in John’s life in the decades since I’d last tuned in.  Like many who walk off the beaten path, what Frusciante experienced during that time was truly life-altering.  Some might say that it’s a miracle he’s still alive.
(to read more about John’s life, see his wiki)

“I used to always see things in the outside world as being ‘the enemies of an artist.’  I don’t see it that way anymore.  To me, everything an artist needs is inside of himself, and it really doesn’t matter what’s going on in the world. Nothing else matters.  You don’t need to have things perfect, you don’t need to have a lot of money or a beautiful girl.  If your job in life is to create, you can find inside yourself what you need to make beautiful art and beautiful music.  But you might have to clean yourself out, spiritually or physically.  You gotta constantly purify yourself, living in the city, around human beings.  There might be people close to you who affect you inside yourself in such a corrupt way that it screws with your ability to do what you do.  But if you make sure that the people who are close to you are good people who are there for you and love you, you can create your temple everywhere you go.”

Not only did I become interested in hearing what he’d been up to musically in the years that had passed, I also had a growing interest in him as a thinker.  His originality of thought pointed towards a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of music and existence that I found compelling.

“Music is not something that you are in control of.  It comes from somewhere else.  If you’re that middleman between the cosmos and the real world on Earth that the music comes through, you are very lucky.  When you record music, it’s not your job to try to control anything.  It’s more about being in the right place and flowing with the energies that are in the air around you and with the people that you are making the music with.  The second that someone thinks music comes from themselves, and that they are the ones responsible for it, is when they go off track.  The most important thing you could realize is that you are the least important part of the whole process.  Music is going to be made whether any one artist is here or not.  If John Lennon or Jimi Hendrix had disappeared, music still would have gone on, changed, grown, and been the beautiful thing that it is.  You take away the music, all you have are the individuals, and they don’t mean anything.  The individual is nothing, it’s the music that’s in the air all the time that’s important, and you have to be humble in the face of that.”

In reference to the media and their fascination with image, he had this to say:

“It’s not because Jimi Hendrix looked the way he looked.  It’s not because Jimi Hendrix danced the way he danced.  Or because his name was f**king Jimi Hendrix.  It’s like these things are just meaningless, yet the way the business uses these media tools has perpetuated this idea that what’s important is that he’s the greatest guitarist ever, and he’s Jimi Hendrix, and there’s his picture, that’s him.  And it’s like, you know, the only real picture of him is his music.”
(to read a synopsis of this July 16, 2008 interview, click here)

His solo work is just as riveting as his life story.  It’s been a long time since I’ve listened to anything that has had the evocative power that John’s music has had on me.  He’s a natural artist with a real penchant for melody and arrangement.  Here’s a song from his album “Curtains,” called “Anne.”  Currently one of my favorites, the album has simple but beautiful acoustic guitar.

Time to Wake Up

Been gone awhile…  It’s time to wake up from my 7 months of hibernation.  There have been some subtle inner adjustments that may very well equal bigger changes in the future, but for now the main difference is that there are some new things on the radar these days.  I’ll just briefly hit the high points:

I’ve started watching more movies.  Thanks to Redbox and Netflix, I have access to new releases as well as goodies from the past.  This was a great boon during the phase I recently went through, where I was watching everything I could that Tom Hardy had been in.  What a talented fellow!  He has a commanding presence and an almost palpable charisma, but it’s not until you see him in a few different movies that his acting ability truly becomes evident.  The first few times I saw him, it didn’t register to me who he was, as he’s one of those actors who disappears into his characters.  I came to appreciate his range and intensity of emotion after seeing him play diametrically different roles.  I recommend “Stuart: A Life Backwards” and “Bronson” as contrast.

As Tommy Conlon from “Warrior”

 

After much anticipation, Guild Wars 2 was released this past August.  I’ve been playing it quite a bit since then, and am only just now taking a little break.  In the months that it’s been out, I’ve met some new friends through the Wayrift [WAY] guild and leveled my main character Gavin Whitehawk to level 80.  As for the game itself, it’s visually stunning.  It has a different style of graphics that appeals to my sensibilities, somehow stylized and realistic at the same time.  The gameplay is engaging and dynamic, and while you’re playing you get the feeling that the developers wanted players to really enjoy their experience.  By that I mean, a lot of little aggravations that are customary in games of the past are noticeably absent.

Gavin and a land-bound ship

 

Lately I’ve been treating my ears to the  emotive stylings of John Frusciante.  He is simply amazing.  My favorite songs are from “Curtains” and “The Will to Death,” and I can safely say that his guitar playing must be what love sounds like.  You can feel that he’s putting every ounce of his being into his music and it’s heartbreakingly beautiful to behold.  He’s a true artist and I have a profound respect for his work.  Thank you for existing!

Been listening non-stop for the past several days.