Op-Ed Piece: Painted Animals

               By Devon Wendell

 

It would be wonderful to grab “Doc” by the neck and toss his fucking ass in front of a Los Angeles Rapid Transit bus and never look back. It might be the most beautiful and honest contribution to art that I could make at this point. I created the ruthless bastard so I can easily rub him out with one broad brush stroke.

 

John Lee Hooker gave me the nickname “Doc” many years ago because he simply couldn’t remember my real name and I then designed this entire persona out of an unhealthy mixture of boredom and terror. The character traits root back to my 3 years of intense acting classes at NYU. My then acting instructor Maggie took one look at me before my first class and said “You’re very shy. If you learn this craft you can go anywhere. You can be a better musician, performer, and be more outgoing than someone who isn’t shy”. No shit?

That was exactly what this young emotional cripple desperately needed to hear and she was right, or so I thought. It was an exciting prospect that I could become this well oiled and perfectly orchestrated fraud; one of the many prismatically painted animals running around New York City, manically butchering away at every situation involving human contact. And no more fear at all, or so I thought. I could follow the illusion as far as it could take me and I did just that.

 

One thing I hadn’t bargained for was the inability to idealize or romanticize any fantasies, disguises, or bullshit. This started to sink in when I was approaching 40 a few years ago. Much of it also has to do with being a sober alcoholic/addict and being further away from the external poisons. The paint chipped away from the brightly shinning beast and at the core of it all was me, “Devon” and a few naked and lingering insecurities which I had to let go of or they would’ve killed me without mercy. It all happened at just the right time when it was getting harder to distinguish “Devon” from “Doc”.

The only problem I’m facing now is that there are certain aspects of the “Doc” character which I love but he’s looking more and more like some vile, malicious ghost or cigarette ashes on some half broken, faded- blue glass ashtray.

So as I write the lyrics for an upcoming album that I can’t afford to record in a dead music industry; my lyrics are centered on a most bloody and violent murder of someone who never truly got what was promised by that acting teacher 22 years ago.  Much of what was promised I could never use anyway. But whether I’m “Doc” or “Devon”, I’ll never be like most of the friends that I grew up with that now have successful jobs, 2.6 children and singing them low-down cul-de-sac blues in the crotches of some dreadful Jersey suburbs. And we can both live with that just fine.

 

 

 

 

Poem: Salvation’s On The Line ©

                                        By Devon “Doc” Wendell

 

You won’t let yourself into my tired kingdom anymore

See my sleepy eyes closing, my bones rest upon the floor

My road to you may not lead anywhere so I take my time

The brick wall was harder than I expected and salvation is on the line

 

When that train comes I’ll head out for good and for the good of-me

Take the pieces I’ve saved for you before there’s nothing left to see

The steam will rise to the promised skies and the bells they will chime

The mirror is never what I’ve paid for and salvation is on the line

 

I’ll be searching for a warm bed and just one more place to hide

No you won’t love me or give me nothing and lord knows I’ve tried 

The strangers gather to cry in prayer and I’m not that far behind

This lonely night of ramblers finds me dying and salvation is on the line

 

The clouds hum and whisper for the words I write for you

They’ve been sinking beneath the mountains that quickly pass my view

We all carry heavy burdens and our senses forget the times

And it takes a lifetime to remember when salvation is on the line

 

Salvation’s On The Line Ⓒ 2007

 

 

A Dedication To “Saint Marty”

         By Devon “Doc” Wendell

I have the freedom the do whatever I choose on this site and I’m loving every moment of it. There is no way I can talk about music, life, and spirituality without talking about Marty Grebb. He is like a second father to me and is without a doubt the most genuinely spiritual person I’ve ever known.

MartyPIC
Marty Grebb

   Marty is a legend, to say the least. He’s played with, written for, and arranged some of the most incredible music with everyone from Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, Eric Clapton, Etta James, Leon Russell, Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal, The Buckinghams, The Fabulous Rhinestones and hundreds, maybe thousands more. Marty’s abilities as a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist (guitar, keyboards, bass, saxophone) are second to none. There’s love in every note and nuance he plays or sings because there’s love in everything this man does.

I started talking to Marty on the phone many years ago during one of the bleakest periods of my life. Death and insanity were at the foot of my door on a daily basis. A mutual friend suggested I call Marty and we’ve been close friends ever since. I needed someone to help steer me away from the darkness with love and kindness and that’s what Marty gave me and continues to give me. Now I am able to reciprocate.

One of the greatest experiences of my musical career took place at Melrose Music studio in 2010. I was in a band with John M. King and drummer Sean Bilodeau. We made a terrific album called Cinders Still Burnin’ with David Williams and were doing some phenomenal gigs in Hollywood at the time. We had come up with this funky instrumental while rehearsing for a show at The Viper Room and decided to record it but it needed something more. I asked Marty if he’d add some juicy Hammond B3, organ to it since he’s one of the finest B3 players on Earth. He simply said “Sounds cool”. He came down to the studio, gave me a hug and just laid down the most soulful B3 and Wurlizer tracks imaginable.

We didn’t have to speak. We warmed up by playing some of Miles Davis So What and smiled like two kids in a candy store. No words were needed. We all recorded this track live in the studio and Marty locked in and gave it some powerful texture and depth. We did one take, maybe two. I’ve been in the studio with guys like Bernard “Pretty” Purdie, Chuck Rainey, and Paul Griffin and there’s this very fast magic that happens with cats like that and so it was with Marty Grebb. That dedication and love takes the music to a place larger than you could ever imagine.

Other times, Marty and I have done live radio broadcasts together and then would go for long drives around Los Angeles listening to Miles, ‘Trane, and Ahmad Jamal. he’s always there when I need to be properly grounded, which is quite a lot of the time. We musicians think and speak a different language than the average civilian and we get right to the heart of the matter the second we speak on the phone or see each other.

I’m happy to know Marty’s out there right now playing the music of his old comrades The Band with The Weight. He’s still touching people’s hearts and opening their eyes to a better way of life. This piece is long in coming. Why now? Well, I just learned that Marty Grebb is engaged to his sweetheart Bridget Sweeney so I decided to send them this as an early wedding present. I am so happy for the both of them and so blessed by the man I often lovingly refer to as “Saint Marty” in every way possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poem: Song For A Silent Creature ©

                             Song For A Silent Creature ©

                              By Devon “Doc” Wendell

 

She’s a dark hour conductor of graceful beauty and blooming electricity with eyes of seductive sorrow and a voice to call upon the ages.

She’s a bashful lion tamer of wrath and the heaven’s tired and watchful creatures with a silence to embalm the solitude and a hand to turn the pages.

She’s a sudden morning of gleeful dances and childhood magic with the laughter of a restful kingdom and hair that shrouds the relentless surrender.

Shes’ a walking keeper of the secret seasons of decadent longing and bursting strings with a kiss of endless mercy and a final harvest moon in December.

 

 

R.I.P. Michael Brecker And A Warning To Cancer And God.

Michael Brecker Pic

Michael Brecker

 

By Devon “Doc” Wendell

Today is the ninth anniversary of the death of the great Michael Brecker. I have so many vivid memories of watching Michael play on many different sessions in the studio during my tenure at Donald Fagen’s studio in New York. Michael played with everyone on the planet and all genres of music. He was beyond great and is still missed every day by musicians all over the world.

This also got me thinking of some of my other friends and heroes whose lives have been robbed by cancer and illness such as Paul Griffin, Laura Nyro, Lou Reed, David Bowie, Albert Collins, Eddie Hazel, Jef Lee Johnson, and way to many more to mention. Some may say “oh they’re in a better place” or some other rotten cliche quip that hurts the brain like that.

The truth is that I’m pissed off. If cancer were a person, I’d pull his/her fucking lungs out and stomp on them.  Then I’d go for the shit head’s eyeballs and the nuts (assuming it’s a male). I’d take my time on the dreadful bastard and I’d enjoy every second of it. No matter how violent I could get, nothing is more violent than cancer. That drawn out torture that the victim faces is senseless and cruel as is the treatment.

I also can’t help but see a countless number of dangerous sociopath assholes whose daily decisions hurt the lives of thousands upon thousands of people. They somehow get to live on and on. We no longer have Michael Brecker but we have a putrid fucker like Donald Trump spewing hatred, fear, and ignorance to frightened little monsters and greedy tycoons with cash popping out of their assholes. It’s bullshit. I can’t do anything to harm you cancer and or you god, if you’ve got a hand in this but I can hit you with my words and hit hard. You fucking coward who has to hide in the shadows.

Michael Brecker was such a beautiful human being and musician. If there is some god or higher power making these calls on who stays or goes and how they depart then I have a problem with it too and I’m not afraid to express it. Paul Griffin was so humble. Even if he had someone like Bob Dylan calling, if he was in the process of teaching you some priceless lesson about music, he’d let his machine take Bob’s call. He was the genuine article. And you took him and forced him to wither away in horrible pain, whatever you are. How depraved.

I don’t want to wake up tomorrow and write about another one of your victims who lived a life of love and virtue. If that makes me some kind of heathen or sinner then strike me down now but first you are forced to swallow my words. I only fear myself so you have no power for the time being.

This is how I have felt every year since the death of Michael Brecker or my old school pal Elisa Bond, Paul Griffin, and practically an entire phone book full of names who cancer has killed. Call it a moment of weakness and pain on my part but here it is regardless. I write this piece for all of them and their friends and families left behind to continually ask “why?” And even worse to ask “why now? ” ” Why so soon?”

 

Vanishing Angel

      By Devon “Doc” Wendell

So, who says I can’t put my own poetry and song lyrics on this site?  It’s all mine and none of you out there can begin to predict what I’ll do next. Even I can’t. I make this town nervous which brings me endless joy.

In 2009 or 2010 I recorded an album with my close friend John M. King called Cinders Still Burnin’. I played about 10 different instruments on the project and to top off my narcissism, I contributed the lyrics to a song which I called Vanishing Angel. I had written it as a poem 8 years earlier and it morphed into a hillbilly song that several artists wanted to record. John was the perfect man for the job. He  added a chorus which you can hear on the record. I wanted to present the poem/song as it was originally written. Remember that all of my work is copywritten and I have a  gang of ruthless attorneys who drink human blood and eat living dogs in their spare time so don’t try to steal a word of this or you’ll have to answer to them.

 

Vanishing Angel ©

By Devon Wendell

 

Good morning vanishing angel, you’re talking just to me

They’ve beaten and they’ve robbed you and they will not let you be

This trembling stranger burned that road and my door is open wide

So call me when the moon breaks up oh angel don’t you cry

 

Good morning vanishing angel, you sit alone in your room

You’re counting all the years you’ve lost in the pale mid -afternoon

This forgotten talker wants you clinging to his side

So crawl out from the rocks and mud oh angel don’t you cry

 

Good morning vanishing angel with your endless melodies

Fill the empty hallways love as your fingers bless the keys

This rainy day collector knows you can make it if you try

So break down in my loving arms- oh angel don’t you cry

 

You caught me with my guard down as I buried my final dream

But that don’t really matter now and nothing’s as it seems

The night had blown through a dawn that never came

Angel took a hold of me now and everything has changed

 

Good morning vanishing angel, you kill them without words

I left this poem at your door but you think it’s too absurd

This murderer of daydreams will try to love you bye and bye

So shake off the evening’s fingerprints oh angel don’t you cry

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Farewell To David Bowie

   By Devon “Doc” Wendell  (  Dedicated to Pietro Scorsone)

 

A close friend recently tried to point out to me how “lucky” my life is to always have been in professions that have allowed me to be around many of my musical idols and heroes. I’ve never looked at it like that. Not even close. From my experience, heroes tend to disappoint you when you meet them or have to work with them in some capacity. And although the awful redundancies of rock n’ roll most often match up with the awful redundancies of life, neither of these depressing realities were the case with David Bowie.

 BOWIE Pic 

I met Bowie at several New York City art gallery openings and industry parties over the years and he was just as intriguing, charming, and magnetic off stage as he was on. He never disappointed me, quite the contrary. He was always dressed immaculately and smelled like a million bucks. He was a consummate intellectual and a master conversationalist. I remember him laughing and putting people on but not in some malicious way. He was constantly observing the world around him with a keen and playful eye.

Bowie knew a lot about jazz and I was lucky enough to have had lengthy discussions with him on the works of Max Roach and Eric Dolphy. How incredible is that? Bowie was a chameleon. He could morph into many different characters and take on a variety of attitudes and moods. This could often be dangerous because once you start down that road, it can get difficult to leave the characters onstage. They become a part of you and reality can get quite blurry in the process. This can consume you and leave you following many illusions but Bowie always managed to maintain control of it all.

 Like his old comrade Lou Reed, Bowie helped bring rock n’ roll into the avant-garde with originality and sincerity. The rock n’ roll landscape was expanded by his many visions.When listening to Bowie, you see with clarity that anything is possible in music; that rock n’ roll could reach farther than simply trying to emulate old American R&B and blues records.

As soon as one Bowie record would be released, I would already start anticipating the next one and no two Bowie explorations were even remotely alike. Is there anything on this earth that even slightly resembles his departing album  Blackstar? Not in your life. Bowie made the most beautifully transcendent piece of art out of the acceptance of his ultimate and final journey from this planet with Blackstar. No one else could have pulled this off as eloquently as Bowie did. He didn’t disappoint in death either. That is the beauty and alchemy of David Bowie.

 Bowie never aged like the rest of us mortals and I never imagined him dying under any circumstance. If I had, I would have envisioned him creating some grand piece of theatrical and musical performance art out of death and in the process discovering some brilliant loophole that would  have somehow enabled him to transcend mortality. That endless electricity and those kaleidoscopic perspectives on the universe that his music gave us would make this notion seem not so far fetched. If anyone could have done it, it would have been him. But David Bowie is gone. Before you let this fact bring you down too far, look at all of the loving live tributes to his legacy taking place all over the world. Look at how people of all races, religions, and backgrounds are expressing their love for this man on social media and in the press. Most of all, listen to the music. The immortality exists there and no wretched force of nature will ever be able to change that no matter how powerful. – Goodbye David.