I Lied

Once again, I lied. I said, that’s the last cigarette, that’s the last drink, that’s . . . whatever. I lied. Five minutes later I lit the next cigarette and poured myself another one. Because I felt like it. Not because I needed it, not because my will was too weak, no . . . simply because I felt like it. Just because fuck it.
I am fascinated by the human ability to lie, especially to themselves.
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Listening to Eine Sirba from 17 Hippies. Enjoying it. Two in the morning, drumming on the table, drinking my third ouzo (the one I said to myself I wouldn’t drink) after a bottle of wine, halfheartedly hoping I am not disturbing my neighbors. It’s not the music, I have headphones on, but the drumming. Or maybe the whistling. I have a horrible tendency to whistle to the music I am hearing, and when I have headphones on I can’t hear myself whistling, so it is in all likelihood completely out of tune (got a good ear, always in tune if I am listening), which would, presumably, make the disturbance worse. Sometimes I wonder if all the women who left me did it because of the whistling, out of tune or not.
Probably they can’t hear me, I think to myself. The neighbors, that is. Another little lie, maybe. I never hear them, except when the new neighbor next door taps her toothbrush in the morning. She’s a cute young blonde who always looks sad. Her bathroom, that is to say her bathroom sink, apparently, is attached to the wall where my head rests on my pillow in bed on the other side. Every morning she taps her toothbrush against the sink in a certain way: tap-tap, tapetetap-tap (took me a while to figure out what sound that was). Jesus. Like a damned alarm clock. I know then that it is 6:45 am. Way too early for me. I don’t hear a thing otherwise, she probably showers and all, but it’s just the tapping I hear. It’s really bizarre actually, and I have to grin every morning when I hear it. Then I fall asleep again, in the comfortable knowledge that she has at least derived some sort of satisfaction from tapping her toothbrush against the sink the way she always does.
But I digress. Lies. Well, I say to myself, don’t take them too seriously, those lies. And don’t worry about the whistling. If I can put up with toothbrush-tapping at 6:45 am, they can put up with whistling at all hours. Ahem.
Can’t seem to stop digressing today. Now listening to Chest Fever from The Band. I don’t know why, but I just love the organ melody in that song. That’s no lie. More ouzo… another cigarette. And now Demon Kitty Rag from Katzenjammer. Yep.
So, I’m on a roll now. Gotta work tomorrow, and that’s the reason I lied to myself that I would not drink anything after that bottle of wine. I just know that no bus will come and knock me on my ass on the way to work, so I’ll have to deal with the hangover all by myself. Oh w4ll . . . Dammitz . . . hard to type with a cigarette between your fingers. Never could stand having the thing hanging in my mouth for more than two seconds. Lithium from Nirvana. Yeah. Yea-yeaaa-yeah. Not gonna crack, and so on. Turn it up.
Oh. Mekons. Dancing in Your Head. One of my favorites. A song that literally forces me to drum on the top of my desk. And whistle to the guitar riff . . . sorry, neighbors. Not. Another lie.
Ah, hell. I’m going to bed. Hah, I lied! But I will, soon, just one more . . .
Mr. Hellstrøm whistles to Down By the River from Milky Chance.

Dance

Holy fuck, I’s a learnin’ to dance, just when I thought I’m an old dog, no new tricks. Never say never, I always said, and now it’s come to dog me down.
All the music I love becomes a new dimension. I mean, I’s a thinkin’, each time I hear those songs I love, what beat is that, how could I dance to that with my partner? Y’know, partner-dance; anybody can dance alone.
Christ, crazy fucking world. The things I do for love . . . and it doesn’t even hurt, haha. Well, in fact, it does. It’s not the dancing that hurts, but rather the music you have to listen to while learning. You can’t learn it alone, not really, even with a partner, so you go to a dance school. You’ll never guess what kinda music they play there . . . well perhaps you can. Not exactly alternative music, if you get my drift. Just thank your stars you’ve never had to dance to German Schlager. I don’t think my partner realizes what sacrifices I make, just for love. It’s like a monk breaking his oath of silence, if not worse. Christ, sometimes I think murdering little children would be less taxing.
Nevertheless, I love it. There’s nothing like dancing with a woman you love. You notice there are dances which suit you, or her, and then there are dances that suit you both. You move together, synchronized, like fucking clockwork, but easy . . . it just fits. It’s no effort anymore, once you’re on a certain level; your feet move of their own accord, and you sway like a fucking reed in the wind, enjoying every beautiful moment of being in phase with another human being, a person you love. It’s like good sex, no joke.
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And the greatest part, when you have a willful woman like I do, is that the man leads. Muahahaa. The man leads, no matter what. Uhm, I still have problems with that, since my partner can already dance, and I am completely unsure of myself and fuck it up all the time. The fact is, I’m not a good lead, though I’ve gotten better. But, oh well, she has to live with that, and it’s some compensation for having to dance to German Schlager. We then step on each other’s toes, and break apart and stop, and grin at each other, because we know exactly what is happening there. Her smiling eyes say, if I am to follow, you’ve got to lead, you son-of-a-bitch, I demand it of you. Show me what you can do. What can I do, but rise to the challenge as best I can? And I enjoy it, leading in spite of myself, in spite of the little voice in me that says she could lead. Gotta admit it turns me on. As I said, like sex. Put that little bitch in her place. Dangerous thought, that, but it’s a thought that only occurs to me when I know she wants it. Sensitive little romantic bastard that I am, I do know, when it gets down to the nitty gritty. Then it’s time to dance.

Interview With the Author No. 222 (x3)

Hellstrøm: God?
God: Yes?
Hellstrøm: Okay, just wanted to make sure you’re there.
God: Yeah, right. So what’s ’bout this new book?
Hellstrøm: Same old same old, man meets woman, good conquers evil, love wins over hate, indifference and fatalism.
God: Aha. Very original. You guys never do learn, do you.
Hellstrøm: Well, God, the human race is…
God: I wasn’t talking about humans. I was talking about authors.
Hellstrøm: … well. *clears throat* I always wanted to ask you a question, God.
God: Yeah?
Hellstrøm: What kind of music do you listen to, I mean like, when you’re chillin’, and have time to listen.
God: Jazz.
Hellstrøm: Fuck. I hate jazz.
God: No big deal.
Hellstrøm: D’ya mind if I ask some more questions?
God: *raises his bushy patrician eyebrows* If you must.
Hellstrøm: I must. Just wondering how long you’re going to go on like this, letting people kill each other in your name.
God: As long as it takes… *sighs* say, who’s interviewing who here?
Hellstrøm: Haven’t the slightest.
God: Me either. So, what else you want to know?
Hellstrøm: What is the answer?
God: What… to which question.
Hellstrøm: The question.
God: Oh, please…
Hellstrøm: No, really…! *clears throat* Really! *grins*
God: *frowns* You tryin’ to ace me out, man?
Hellstrøm: No, no, Jesus, heh, I mean God, no, I mean, uh… well, you know what I mean.
God: *laughs heartily* Yeah, I know. Thanks for the interview.
Hellstrøm goes home and listens to 100% Song from The Mekons.
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Music is Everyone’s Possession

Who said that? John Lennon, no wonder. „Its only the publishers who think it belongs to them.“
You know why? Well, you’re probably thinking about the artist’s right to make money from his work and so on. I can understand that viewpoint. But what you have to realize is this: I can take a song in my head, and play it for myself. Again and again. So who does it belong to then? Am I supposed to pay a percentage each time I listen to it in my head? Who is monitoring that? And when I make variations on it? When I improvise, based on the original, who does that belong to?
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The same thing applies to any book I’ve read. When I think of passages from a book I’ve read, do I have to pay the author something for those thoughts? There are people who can repeat a book they have read page for page. When they repeat that, do they owe money to the author? When I write, I often paraphrase things I’ve read, or use the ideas presented there and go off on my own little tangent. Is that plagiarism?
I am sure you would agree it is not. The question is, where is the border? The second question is, who should decide where that border lies? I’ll say this much: I do not believe a lawyer, or a committee of lawyers, can decide the question.
Music can be so beautiful, it straightens your lopsided head right on out. It hits you between the eyes and pierces your brain like a white hot knife. It sends you floating on high, transported from this world. and then it hits you low down, below the belt. Man, it hurts, makes you cry out like you’ve been stuck with a knife, like a stuck pig… and you have been. Music twists on knobs you never knew you had. Music can turn you inside out. I wonder, can you write like that? No. No author ever wrote something that can twist me like that.
Listening to Tea with Cinnamon from Katzenjammer. This song reminds me of two women at once, and that kills me. Depends on the mood though. Sometimes I hear it and just think: yeah, yeah, skip it.
Music kills me anyway. There are songs I can hardly hear without crying. Not while they remind me of anything, necessarily, but because the music speaks with me. It is so beautiful, so poignant, that the tears just plain squirt. It isn’t sadness, but rather an overwhelming sense of deep feeling that forces me to cry. The tears may be of joy, or fear, of love lost… or found.
Once, many years ago, I was in the cathedral in Cologne, seeing the bloody sights. As chance would have it, there was an amateur choir of five men there, who happened to be visiting, and spontaneously, right next to me, they sang a chant they obviously knew well. Some kind of gregorian shit, y’know. I tell you, it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard. It reverberated in those (holy) chambers in such a way that I burst instantly in to tears. I was in bliss, not because of God, God forbid, but because of the simple beauty of it. The beauty of their combined voices, those combined tones, in that incredible chamber.
The Germans say: he lives near water. Someone who cries easily „lives near water“. Well, I live near water, in certain situations, fucking badly damaged romantic that I am. Crash and burn, baby, crash and burn, says the little cynical bastard in me. It’s when you burn that you start to feel, and when you feel you realize you are alive, and that life is worth living. Life always begins in the ashes of death. So get up, and listen to some music. Listen to the tears. Listen to the water flow.
All those feelings… who do they belong to? Whose song is it, when you listen to it? Who wrote that song? Do you think those fellows in the cathedral knew what they did to me? Do you think they cared about making me pay for my experience? That is what John Lennon was talking about. He wanted to change the world, and that was all he cared about. He knew that every single person would make their own song out of what he created.
Listening to Come Together as rendered by the Butthole Surfers. But it doesn’t matter what I am listening to, really. The point is that I am listening.

Give Me the Ska Beat

I don’t know quite what it is, but music that would otherwise be abhorrent to me sounds great when it’s played with a ska beat. Give me that brass, baby. I dislike jazz, but there are a lot of jazz elements in ska, I don’t care much for hip-hop, but when I listen to ska with hip-hop elements, hey, I like it. Heavy metal can go hang, as far as I am concerned, but combine it with a ska beat, and I am delighted. I recently heard a popular carnival song from Cologne –this is music that can instantly rob me of the desire to live– with a ska beat and those wonderful horns… and I liked it. Can you explain to me why that is?
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East-European Ska

Guttural ska. Root-punk-ska, combined with east-european influences, Klezmer, Russian traditional shit, Hungarian, Czech, what-the-hell-do-I-know and so on… it’s worth listening to. I love music that has mixed influences.
Perhaps some of you may not know all of the different influences that went in to rock ’n’ roll. Rock ’n’ roll is crossover if there ever was such a thing. People talk about independent and crossover like it was something new… they talked about music like that in my youth too. What a joke. There is and never was any music that isn’t crossover. Any good band has many influences and is inspired by the bygone.
I remember Allen Toussaint, I saw him play piano in a small place in New York, damned if know what it was called. It was one of the moments which made me believe in music, no matter that I never had the talent to be a true musician.
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He played piano… he was alone. He played a song that began in classic, for which, at the time, I had no real ear. But nevertheless I could hear the beauty in it. And slowly, virtuously, he mixed it with cajun elements, with elements from rock, and soul… he made a melange out of it. In the end he was playing New Orleans blues piano. And he showed, effortlessly, beautifully, how all music stands together, how classic influences rock, soul, blues, punk, ska… how everything influences everything, to this very day.
I’ll never forget that experience.

The Power of Music

Music. I listen to it a whole damn lot. It takes me places I can’t get to alone. It transports me. It makes me laugh and cry, it makes me curse humanity and revel in love. It puts me in a state of absolute tension, it relaxes me to the point of sleep. It tells me tales I’ll never understand rationally, but I know I understand. It massages my soul, and it stirs my intellect. It’s so raw it hurts, and it goes down smooth, like the best malt whiskey. I don’t know of anything on this world that balls so many irreconcilable opposites together, often enough in a single song that just plain hits my nerve.