Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Troggs – "Too Much of a Good Thing" (1967)

Too much of a good thing
Is gonna be the end of me

[NOTE: The story of how I finally identified The Last’s “She Don’t Know Why I’m Here” roughly 25 years after first hearing it on legendary Washington DJ Steven Lorber’s “Mystic Eyes” radio show is an oft-told tale.  Suffice it to say that the first 2 or 3 lines post featured that song, and that a number of subsequent 2 or 3 lines posts featured other songs that I first heard on the “Mystic Eyes” program.  Here's the first installment of my three-part interview of Steven Lorber, the brains behind “Mystic Eyes.”]

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Q: Steven, I know you’re a big fan of 2 or 3 lines.  

A:  2 or 3 lines first caught my attention because it was about music.  But I found the personal elements of the blog more enchanting than the music history information, which for the most part I already knew.  It was the way you put your own personal observations about what was going on in society in general and in your life in particular at the time the featured song was released.  I liked the way you brought yourself into the picture.  

Steven Lorber with his record collection
Q:  My original plan for 2 or 3 lines was to make it mostly about the music, but it’s turned out to be more about me.

A:  And I would say keep going in that direction.  

Q:  I’m glad you feel that way, but I don’t need any encouragement to write about myself.  But enough about me – let’s talk about you.  I remember from hearing other interviews you've done that you lived in Pakistan when you were growing up.  What took your family there?

A.  My father was an engineer who was hired to help draw up plans for dams and other flood-control structures on the Indus River, which is the longest river in Pakistan. We ended up spending eight years there.  It was kind of a bizarre way to grow up, going to an American school while living in a third-world country that was so behind the times.  We had to boil the water that came out of the tap the whole time I lived there, and every six months I had to get a barrage of shots – shots for cholera and typhoid and hepatitis and so on.

Q:  Did you ever come back to the U.S. during those eight years?

A:   Yes, every two years we got to go back home for three months of home leave.  I would use that time to load up on and hamburgers and milkshakes and records.

Q:  Other than the records you brought back from the States, what were your sources of music when you were living in Pakistan?

A:  We had American families constantly coming in and others leaving, so every year a new bunch of kids would come in and bring their records.  My school had maybe 300 kids in grades one through 12, and everyone was friendly – if you were in 5th grade, you knew the people in 6th and 7th grade and you all hung out together.  You found out who had the records, and you borrowed them or went to their house, and you listened to them ad nauseam.  And we all had transistor radios, so we could listen to the BBC late at night and hear what was going on.

Q:  What were some of the records you remember listening to back in Pakistan?

A: Everyone had Beach Boys and Beatles records, of course.  Even my father was a Beatles fan – I remember he came back from one of his trips to the States with the A Hard Day’s Night album.  Someone had the Seeds’ first album on GNP Crescendo Records, and the Seeds became really popular in my group of friends.  Also the first Love album – not Forever Changes, but their first album – we listened to it a lot.

[NOTE:  The Seeds’ eponymous debut album, which  was released in 1966, included the group’s biggest hit, “Pushin’ Too Hard.”  The British music magazine Uncut described the album as “[a] brilliantly simple, headlong surge of fuzz-drenched guitar, bubbling organ riffs and [Sky] Saxon’s raw, throat-tearing vocals.”  AllMusic said that The Seeds “is probably the best album by any of the original American garage bands, without the usual time-filling cover versions and elongated jams.”]

Q:  How old were you when you moved back to the States for good?

The Fillmore East
A:  I spent my last two years of high school in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, which was a suburb of New York City.  The first thing I did when we moved to Fair Lawn was convince my parents to let me take the bus across the George Washington Bridge to hear Country Joe and the Fish, who were very big in Pakistan – very big.   I ended up seeing a lot of great shows at the Fillmore East between ’69 and ’71, which was when I moved to Washington, DC, to go to college at Georgetown.

[NOTE:  Rock promoter Bill Graham opened the Fillmore East in March 1968.  It closed in June 1971.  The performers who played at the Fillmore East in the three-plus years it was open included the Allman Brothers, Joe Cocker, Derek and the Dominos, the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Traffic, the Who, and Frank Zappa.  Click here to read a classic 2 or 3 lines post about a 1971 Black Sabbath show at the Fillmore East.]

*     *     *     *     *

Here endeth part one of our three-part interview with Steven Lorber.  In the next 2 or 3 lines, we’ll cover Steven’s years at WGTB, the late, lamented Georgetown University station.

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American boomers know the Troggs’ #1 hit single, “Wild Thing,” and most of them probably remember the group’s 1967 hit, “Love Is All Around.”

But the Troggs did so much more than those two hits.  While I wouldn’t put the Troggs on the Mt. Rushmore of British Invasion groups instead of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Kinks, or Who, they were a great band that is underappreciated and underrated today.

Steven Lorber and his ex-pat friends listened to the Troggs in Pakistan in the sixties.  He regularly featured the Troggs on his “Mystic Eyes” show on WHFS, and he continues to play their music on his WOWD “Rock Continuum” program today.

“Too much of a Good Thing” was released on the Troggs’ third studio album, Cellophane, in 1967.

Click here to listen to “Too much of a Good Thing.”

Friday, November 15, 2019

Mazzy Star – "Fade Into You" (1993)

I look to you
To see the truth

[NOTE: In this fifth and final (finally!) installment of our interview of 2 or 3 lines, 2 or 3 lines reveals what you can expect from everyone's favorite little pop music blog in the year to come.]

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2 or 3 lines: I understand you have some big plans for the blog’s 11th year.

2 or 3 lines:  That’s a fact, Jack!  Starting with this interview of myself, which is unprecedented.

Q: Assuming that this interview ever ends, what can we look forward to next?

A: I’ve interviewed a number of musicians for 2 or 3 lines – Chris Wilson (frontman of the Flamin’ Groovies), Joe Scott (the brilliant arranger behind the Arbors’ cover of “The Letter”), Diane Quinn (Tru Fax and the Insaniacs) and the multitalented Niagara (Destroy All Monsters and Dark Carnival), just to name a few.  I think those interviews represent the very best of 2 or 3 lines, and I want to do interviews more frequently in the future.  So after we finish with my interview of myself, you’ll be treated to an interview of Steven Lorber – the DJ behind the legendary “Mystic Eyes” radio show.  

Q: To circle back for a minute, the music that Steven played on “Mystic Eyes” – in particular, The Last’s “She Don’t Know Why I’m Here” – was the inspiration for 2 or 3 lines.
A:  After the Lorber interview, I’m going to feature a number of the other songs from all those “Mystic Eyes” shows that I recorded on cassette tapes in 1980.  I’ve recently gone through all those all tapes, and the experience was a revelation.  There was so much great music on those tapes – music that I might have never heard if it weren’t for Steven Lorber.  I could easily do a year’s worth of posts featuring only great songs from those tapes, most of which would be new for the vast majority of 2 or 3 lines readers.  

Q: Is that the plan?

A:  Not exactly.  Starting with the next 2 or 3 lines, it’s going to be “Mystic Eyes” songs for the rest of November and all of December and January.  As those who read 2 or 3 lines regularly know, I post every single day in February – and twice on SuperBowl Sunday.  

Q:  This year is a leap year, so can we expect “30 Posts in 29 Days”?

A:  I may decide to skip the post featuring a song by the SuperBowl halftime performer and give you “29 Posts in 29 Days.”  I’m not sure yet if I’m going to bother featuring a Jennifer Lopez or Shakira song.

Q:  Have you decided on the “29 Posts in 29 Days” theme yet?

A:  I have.  This year’s theme is going to be underrated and overrated artists – the odd-numbered dates will feature songs by underrated artists, and the even-numbered dates will feature songs by overrated artists.  

Q:  Oooooh, I smell controversy!  Some of your readers are going to be bitter when you opine that some of their favorites are overrated.

A:  If they can’t handle the truth, that’s their problem – not mine.

Q:  Then what?

A:  After February, I’m going to go back to “Mystic Eyes” songs until I run out of great ones.  I’m guessing that will carry us through March, April, and May.  In June and July, I’ll announce the new inductees into the 2020 2 OR 3 LINES “GOLDEN DECADE” HIT SINGLES HALL OF FAME and the 2 OR 3 LINES “GOLDEN DECADE” ALBUM TRACKS HALL OF FAME – and because this is a very special year for 2 or 3 lines, August will be devoted to the music of the first group of inductees into a brand-new 2 or 3 lines “GOLDEN DECADE” hall of fame.  Stay tuned, bubelah! 

Q:  It sounds like 2 or 3 lines will be focusing on music – not you – over the next year. 

A:  That’s the plan.  Of course, a famous general once said, “No plan survives contact with the enemy.”  We’ll see if my plan does any better.   

Q:  Anything else up your sleeve, Great Wizard?

A:  Actually, yes.  I talked earlier about why I cut back from doing three posts a week to two.  I’m going to make up for that by cleaning up some of the more notable 2 or 3 lines posts from past years and reposting one each week.  I know there are a lot of people who came a little late to the 2 or 3 lines party, so those posts will be new to them.  Since a lot of my older posts are in desperate need of a makeover, I’ll be killing two birds with one stone. 

*     *     *     *     *

2 or 3 lines:  I have to say that today’s featured song is something of a surprise.  I didn’t think you were a fan of nineties indie music with breathy female vocalists.  “Fade Into You” sounds more like something a teenage girl with a crush on a guy who doesn’t know she exists would like, but not something you’d be into.

2 or 3 lines:  You know what they say – never ASSUME, because when you ASSUME, you make an ASS out of U and ME.  

Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star
Q:  Where did you first hear “Fade Into You”?

A:  I have no idea.  It’s on the American Honey soundtrack, so maybe that’s where I first heard it.  I don’t know any of Mazzy Star’s other songs.  All I know is that song absolutely paralyzes me.  I should probably be embarrassed to admit that, but I’m not.

Q:  You often choose to feature a particular song in order to send a message.  Is “Fade Into You” intended to send a message?

A:   I suppose.

Q:  And that message is?

A:  That you don’t know 2 or 3 lines – not really.  Most of the music featured on 2 or 3 lines isn’t all that surprising.  But sometimes I surprise you.  Sometimes I surprise myself.

Click here to listen to “Fade Into You.”

You can use the link below to buy the song from Amazon:

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Yardbirds – "Happening Ten Years Time Ago" (1966)

Walking in the room I see
Things that mean a lot to me
Why they do I'll never know

[NOTE:  Today's 2 or 3 lines features the part four of our groundbreaking interview with . . . 2 or 3 lines!  Just click here if you missed part three.]

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Q: The prolific novelist Joyce Carol Oates once wrote, “I am inclined to think that as I grow older I will come to be infatuated with the art of revision, and there may come a time when I will dread giving up a novel at all.”  She has also said, “I probably spend 90% of my time revising what I’ve written.”  How much time do you spend revising 2 or 3 lines posts?

A:  One reason I force myself to post at least twice a week is to force myself to stop revising and move on.  It’s tempting to revise, and revise some more, and keep revising – but sometimes less is more when it comes to revising.  At some point, you have to stop revising and post the damn thing and move on to the next one.

(Not me!)
Q:  How would you describe your writing process?

A:  I throw everything into my first drafts – I just keep writing until I can’t think of anything more to say.  For me, the process of revising is mostly deleting stuff.  The more time I spend on a post, the shorter it gets – and shorter is almost always better.  But there comes a point of diminishing returns when it comes to editing something I’ve written – the writing becomes less spontaneous and more labored.  If I’m finding it hard to stop revising a post, that usually means there’s something seriously wrong with it.  My best posts are those that were easy to write and required relatively little editing.

Q:  Here’s another Joyce Carol Oates quote: “Writing is a solitary occupation, and one of its hazards is loneliness. But an advantage of loneliness is privacy, autonomy and freedom.”  Do you agree?

A:   Yes.  As Oates noted, you have privacy, autonomy, and freedom when you’re alone.  But it’s easy to become bored when you’re alone.  Working on 2 or 3 lines is one of the ways I keep myself from getting bored.  It’s also one of the ways I distract myself from feeling lonely.  I usually don’t mind being alone – which is fortunate, since I think I spend much more time alone than most people.  But sometimes I do mind.

*     *     *     *     *

2 or 3 lines:  Here’s one more Oates quote: “One of the qualities of writing that is not much stressed is its problem-solving aspect, having to do with the presentation of material: how to structure it, what sort of sentences (direct, elliptical, simple or compound, syntactically elaborate), what tone (in art, "tone" is everything), pacing.  Paragraphing is a way of dramatization, as the look of a poem on a page is dramatic; where to break lines, where to end sentences.”  Any thoughts on that?

2 or 3 lines:  She’s absolutely correct when she says that paragraphing is important.  Nothing annoys me more than paragraphs that are too long – I find it almost impossible to read a book with long paragraphs.  The blog format I use has a much narrower space for text than a typical webpage does, so my paragraphs can look very long unless I keep them very short.  But I would keep my paragraphs very short regardless.  Paragraphing is not the only aspect of the look of 2 or 3 lines that I worry about, of course.  I worry about every aspect of the graphic design of my blog – including what font to use, what photos to use and where to put them . . . all that is important.

Q:  You’re not worried that you’re elevating form over substance?

A:  Form is just as important as substance.  The presentation influences how the reader perceives content.  If I’ve learned one thing about great pop music in the ten years I’ve been writing 2 or 3 lines, it’s that the arrangement of a recorded song is just as important as the words and music.  The same is true of 2 or 3 lines – how I present what I write is just as important as the words themselves.

*     *     *     *     *

Q:  I’ve noticed that the posts from the blog’s first year or two do look different than more recent ones. 

A:  I’m truly appalled by how amateurish some of my early posts look – so appalled, in fact, that I often won’t share one of them with a friend or potential interview subject until I’ve gone back and cleaned it up.  In fact, one of my long-term goals is to clean them all up – I want every post on the blog to have a consistent and professional look.

Q:  Give us some examples of the specific changes you’ve made over the years to clean up the appearance of 2 or 3 lines posts.  

A:  When I started writing 2 or 3 lines, I used the 16-point Georgia font.  But I eventually switched to 18-point Georgia for the body of the posts and 20-point Georgia for the two or three lines of song lyrics at the beginning of each post.  Not only does that make the blog easier to read, it also encourages me to shorten my paragraphs further – the larger font makes them look longer.    Also, I’ve stopped embedding Youtube videos of the featured songs a couple of years ago – now I use “click here” links for those songs.  And I used to make a dash by hitting the hyphen key twice.  But then I learned about en dashes, which I prefer to em dashes because you can make an en dash on a Mac by pressing two keys, while an em dash requires you to hit three keys.  I also put a space before and after my en dashes.

(The official font of 2 or 3 lines)
Q:  I’ve noticed your earlier posts use straight quotation marks, while the newer ones use curly quotes.  Do you plan to go one way or the other with all of them?

A:  [Pause.]  You don’t expect me to believe you actually “noticed” that, do you?  Someone told you about that – probably hoping that you would ask me about it and get me all riled up.

Q:  No comment.

A:  There’s a good reason that I have both straight and curly quotation marks in 2 or 3 lines.  I’m not going to go back and change the straight ones to curly ones, or vice versa – which would require me to do a lot of cutting and pasting.  I may be obsessive, but I’m not that obsessive.  But you can be assured that each individual post will contain only straight or curly quotes.  I won’t have both types in a single post.  

Q:  Well, that’s relief! [Laughs.]

A:  There’s one other change I’ve made to 2 or 3 lines in recent years.  I now use five spaced asterisks – centered, not left-aligned – to indicate a change in topic.  Like this:  

*     *     *     *     *

Q:  I’ve noticed these in your recent posts, but haven’t given much thought to them.

A:  I have.

Q:  Obviously.

A:  Those five centered asterisks perform two functions.  First, they break up long posts – make them easier on the eye.  Second, they free me up as a writer.

Q:  How so?

A:  Let’s say I write an uninterrupted 20-paragraph post.  Each paragraph needs to be logically connected to the next, which isn’t easy to do – if you want to change the subject within a post, you have to come up with some kind of transition.  It’s very constraining and limits your choices as a writer.  But those five little asterisks create a clean break between what comes before and what comes after.  I can switch topics without worrying about transitioning from one to the other – the asterisks take care of the transition.  It’s like abrupt cutting in a movie – you can jump from place to place as you like.  I might have a thought or an anecdote that takes only a few paragraphs to communicate – I can just drop it in without worrying about formally connecting it to what comes before and after.

Q:  Who would have thought that five asterisks could make such a difference?

A:  Believe me, that device makes a huge difference for me as a writer.  It’s impossible for me to overstate how significant a discovery that was for me.

Q:  More significant than using en dashes instead of em dashes?

A:  I know you’re being sarcastic, but I couldn’t care less.  In case you’ve forgotten, I’ve been writing a wildly successful little blog for TEN YEARS, so I might know a thing or two.

*     *     *     *     *

2 or 3 lines:  Speaking of ten years, today’s featured song is titled “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago.”  Not to be a nitpicker, but there should be an apostrophe after “years,” which is possessive – “Happenings Ten Years’ Time Ago.”  

2 or 3 lines:  I noticed that as well.  I thought about just adding that apostrophe without telling anyone, but that would have been wrong.

Q:  The Yardbirds had a great run in 1965-66, when they had five singles in a row make it into the Billboard top 20.  But “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago” didn’t do as well.

A:  It was a top 40 hit, but I don’t remember hearing it when it was new.

Q:  You’re celebrating the tenth anniversary of 2 or 3 lines, so I’m not surprised that you chose to feature a song with “ten years” in the title.  Did you find it by doing a Google search for songs with that phrase in the lyrics?

A:  There you go assuming too much again.  No, I didn’t do a Google search for “ten years” songs – I was randomly flipping around Sirius/XM channels in my car earlier today and came across this song.  One of the reasons I picked it was that it had “ten years” in the title, but there were other reasons as well.

Q: Such as . . . ?

A:  For one thing, it’s a great song –  I think it’s as good as any Yardbirds song, which is saying something.  For another, serendipity is a recurring theme on 2 or 3 lines – that’s the way I’ve discovered a lot of my favorite songs.  Call it luck, or coincidence, or kismet, or “God’s way of remaining anonymous” (in the words of Albert Einstein), but the fact remains that if I had turned off my radio two minutes earlier, I would have missed “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago.”  It deserves to be featured today for that reason alone.  

Click here to listen to “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago.”

And click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Friday, November 8, 2019

Suicidal Tendencies – "You Can't Bring Me Down" (1990)

I'd rather feel like sh*t
Than be full of sh*t

[NOTE: Today, 2 or 3 lines (and so much more) presents part three of what is shaping up to be an interminable interview of 2 or 3 lines (the blogger, not the blog) by 2 or 3 lines (ditto).  Click here to read part two of that interview.]

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2 or 3 lines:  One of the very first 2 or 3 lines posts featured the Eurythmics song, “Would I Lie to You?”  Here’s a quote from that post: “Everyone lies.  Men lie.  Women lie.  I don’t think dogs lie, but cats certainly do.”  Do you still believe that?

2 or 3 lines:  Absolutely.  Especially the part about dogs and cats.

Q:  You embedded a video of a live performance of that song in that post, and said that you did so because it included a really good saxophone solo.  [NOTE: you can click here to view that video.]  Was that a lie?

Annie Lennox of the Eurythmics
A:  That statement was an obvious lie, which means it wasn’t a lie at all – it was hyperbole, or maybe irony, but it wasn't really a lie. 

Q:  You were a lawyer who spent a good deal of your career thinking about the difference between truthfulness and deception.  As you know, literally truthful statements can still be deceptive.  Silence can be deceptive as well.  You said earlier in this interview that what you’ve written in 2 or 3 lines is honest, even though much of it may not be literally true.

A:  There’s a Will Ferrell movie about a pair of male figure skaters called Blades of Glory – do you remember it?  Ferrell quotes the Black Eyed Peas song that includes the phrase "lady lumps,” and one of the characters says he doesn’t know what “lady lumps” means.  Ferrell responds, “No one knows what it means, but it's provocative . . . it gets the people going!”  Sometimes I just have to say something provocative – something that gets my readers going!  

Q:  I’m pretty sure I know what “lady lumps” means.

A:  Me, too.

*     *     *     *     *

Q:  Are you saying that you exaggerate at times for effect?

A:  Correct.  But what I say is essentially true – at least from my point of view.  It may not be true for you, of course – like beauty, truth is in the eye of the beholder.  But it’s what I don’t say that creates the real truthfulness issue.

Q:  What do you mean?

A:  To the extent that 2 or 3 lines is dishonest, it’s because of what I don’t say.  Every time I type something that’s true, and then delete it because I’m worried about how one or more of my readers will react to it, I’m being dishonest.  As time goes on, I seem to be censoring myself more and more.

Q:  What motivates this self-censorship?

A:  I will tone down what I write or even avoid a topic altogether because I’m afraid I’m going to offend someone.  I’m not talking about my readers generally – I don’t really care whether some stranger halfway around the world is pissed off by something I write.  I’m talking about readers I know personally.  There have been cases where something I’ve written has affected my relationship with someone, which can make you a little gunshy – I find myself picking a more neutral topic or at least watering down what I say.  But there’s a bigger problem than that.

Q:  Which is . . . ?

A:  I’ve written posts that I hope will favorably impress one or more people – make them like me or think more highly of me.  I can’t claim that everything in those posts is really honest.    

Q:  This sounds like this is a significant concern for you.

A:  It is.  Maybe it would be better if no one knew who wrote 2 or 3 lines.  If I was writing anonymously, I could be much more honest.  

Q:  It’s never too late to start a new blog and keep your identity a secret.

A:  I’ll never do that.  I’m much too needy – I want attention and I want praise from my readers.  

Q:  Do you readers give you that?

A:  Sometimes, although not enough of it. 

*     *     *     *     *

Q:  What about criticism?  Do you get many negative comments from your readers?

A:  Some people take what I say way too seriously.  When I’m critical of a song or performer that a reader is a fan of, it’s like I’ve attacked that reader personally.  Come on, man – just because you don’t like what I say, do you have to take it as a personal affront?

Q:  Give me an example.

A:  A few years ago, I wrote about “Yellow Submarine,” by the Beatles.  I said it was a bad song.  Sorry, boys and girls, but it IS a bad song.  

Q:  And some of your readers took umbrage at that.

A:  You would have thought that I had written that their children were ugly.  I was accused by one person of spreading “disinformation.”  

Q:  I’m looking at an online dictionary, which says that “disinformation” is “intentionally false or inaccurate information that is spread deliberately.”  

A:  Which is obviously a 100% unfair characterization of my “Yellow Submarine” post.  I didn’t make up facts, or quote people out of context – I just said that it was a terrible song.  I think it was clear that what I stated was just my opinion.  It's fine if you have a different opinion and think that my opinion is stupid.  Although you’d be wrong, of course.

Q:  My mother used to say, “Opinions are like elbows – everyone has a couple, and mine are no prettier than yours.”

A:  I heard a slightly different version of that saying – but about a different body part.

Q:  Yes?

A:  Never mind.  Let me give you one other example of how ugly things can get with.  A few years ago, I wrote a post that was probably too snarky by half – not the first time I’ve done that, of course – and a couple of my readers took offense.  So I went back and toned it down – took out the gratuitous snarkiness — but those readers still weren’t happy.  One of them who should have known better questioned the authenticity of a quote from a well-known figure that I used. 

Q:  Not everything you read on the internet is true.

A:  Take my word for it – this quote came from an interview of this guy by a well-known national publication, and there was no reason to think that his quote wasn’t accurate, or that he had subsequently changed his opinion.  Let’s face it – the reader had been blindsided to learn that this iconic figure, who was a hero of hers, had criticized something that she thought was great.  She couldn’t handle the truth, so she simply denied it. 

Q:  I’ve noticed that 2 or 3 lines hasn’t touched on politics for quite some time.

A:  I’ve been avoiding writing about politics because PEOPLE HAVE LOST THEIR MINDS when it comes to politics these days.  People with different opinions on political questions used to be able to debate the merits of their respective viewpoints without going ballistic and calling names and accusing one another of bad faith – which isn’t the case any more.  So 2 or 3 lines won’t be touching the 2020 election with a ten-foot pole.  

*     *     *     *     *

2 or 3 lines:  Today’s featured song, “You Can’t Bring Me Down,” was released in 1990 on Lights . . . Camera . . . Revolution! – which was Suicidal Tendencies’ fifth studio album.  I’m sure it was no accident that you chose to feature it today. 

2 or 3 lines:  You got that right.  It’s not my favorite song ever, but it’s got the right attitude – and having the right attitude is very important.    

Q:  The lyrics you quoted at the beginning of this post are reminiscent of the favorite catchphrase of 2 or 3 lines – “He (or she) is so full of sh*t that his eyes are brown.  I’d be a rich man if I had a dollar for every time you described someone using those words.

A:  And every time I’ve described someone that way, I was 100% correct. 

Q:  I can’t disagree with you.

A:  You’d be full of sh*t if you did.

Q:  What color are your eyes?

A:  Not brown.  Not even a little bit.

*     *     *     *     *

Click here to listen to “You Can’t Bring Me Down.”

And click on the link below to buy the song from Amazon:

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Tru Fax and the Insaniacs – "The Problem Is Me" (1982)

I’ve got friends, status, money, health
I’m popular, good-looking
There must be something else

[NOTE:  Today's 2 or 3 lines features the second part of our groundbreaking interview with . . . 2 or 3 lines!  Just click here if you missed part one.]

*     *     *     *     *

2 or 3 lines:  You’ve reached an important milestone.  Ten years is a long time to keep a blog going.

2 or 3 lines:  Truer words were never spoken.

Q:  Do you plan to keep going?  Will 2 or 3 lines be around for another ten years?

A:  If I live that long.

Q:  [Knocks on wood.]  So no thoughts of pulling the plug?

A:  I might have done that after the first year.  But the longer I go with 2 or 3 lines, the less likely I am to pull the plug.

Q:  But isn’t it tempting?  Think of all the additional time you would have to fiddle about – not in the Uncle Ernie sense, of course – if you weren’t committed to producing new material for 2 or 3 lines every week.

A:  Pulling the plug would take a lot of pressure off me – which may sound silly, because that pressure is 100% self-imposed.  

Q:  So why not do it?

A:  I’m still hoping that 2 or 3 lines will become something better than what is currently is.  Did you take Latin in high school?

Q:  I did – but that was a long time ago.

 A:  There’s a Latin saying “Dum spiro, spero” – which can be translated as, “While I breathe, I hope.”    As long as you’re alive, there’s a possibility that things will get better.  A baseball team can be down to its final out – even its final strike – but as long as the game isn’t over, it still has a chance to win.  Maybe that chance is very small, but it exists.  And as long as I keep 2 or 3 lines going, there’s a possibility that it will grow into something much greater than what it currently is.  But as soon as I pull the plug on it, that possibility disappears.    

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2 or 3 lines:  It’s clear that 2 or 3 lines is very important to you.  Can you articulate why that is?  

2 or 3 lines:  One reason that I write 2 or 3 lines is that I feel a need to explain myself to the world – to communicate who and what I am.  I recently came across a quote from a Swedish academic named Jenny Sunden that may explain the motivation for 2 or 3 lines as well as anything: “In order to exist online, we must write ourselves into being.”  That’s what I’m trying to do with 2 or 3 lines – I’m writing myself into being, and sharing that being with my readers . . . especially my children and my grandchildren (when they’re old enough to read).  

Q:  Do you see 2 or 3 lines as a kind of legacy?

A:  I suppose 2 or 3 lines is a legacy in the sense that it’s something tangible I’m leaving behind, but it’s of more than casual interest to only a very small number of people.  The fact that people worry about their legacy proves how vain we are.  

Q:  Speaking of being vain, do you think it’s at all vain to have yourself conduct a lengthy interview with yourself about yourself?

A:  I’ll ignore your interruption and continue with my response to your question about whether I see 2 or 3 lines as my legacy.  I’ve come to terms with the fact that no one will remember what I accomplished as a lawyer, and that I haven’t written a great novel or created some other memorable work of art – but the vast majority of lawyers and novelists and artists will be forgotten relatively quickly after they die.  The most meaningful legacy I will be leaving behind isn't 2 or 3 lines.  It's my children, and my grandchildren, and so on.   A lot of what I write is intended to enable them to know me better. 

Q:  You once paraphrased the famous Louis XIV quote, “L’├ętat, c’est moi” – which can be translated as “The nation is me” – as “Le 2 or 3 lines, c’est moi.”  That statement can be read in two different ways.  Maybe you’re simply saying that 2 or 3 lines is wholly your creation – that you’re the chicken and that 2 or 3 lines is your egg.  Or maybe you’re saying that you are what 2 or 3 lines says you are.  Which is it?  

A:  Both, I think.  Most people would say that someone is what he is rather than  what he says he is.  Of course, no one knows a person as well as that person knows himself.  An honest autobiography is always going to be more revealing and comprehensive than a biography.  While autobiographies aren't always honest, everything I write about myself in 2 or 3 lines is the truth.  Not necessarily in an objective sense, but everyone knows that there’s really no such thing as “objective” truth. 

Q:  Was what you wrote about your hot (age-adjusted) French girlfriend the truth?  Did she really exist?  

A:  Absolutely!  

Q:  We haven’t heard anything about her in a long time – just sayin’.

A:  That’s because she’s now my hot (age-adjusted) French ex-girlfriend.

Q:  I’m sorry to hear that.

A:  Not half as sorry as I am. 

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2 or 3 lines:  Let’s shift gears and discuss today’s featured song.  It is well-known that you love irony, and I’m smelling more than a whiff of irony in the lines from today’s featured song that are quoted at the beginning of this post.  

2 or 3 lines:  I can’t deny it – I am one ironic son of a b*tch.

Q:  Is the singer of “The Problem Is Me” being ironic?

A:  You bet your *ss she is.  She doesn’t really believe the problem is her – she believes someone else is at fault.  After all, she’s popular and good-looking, she  has money, status, etc. – how can she possibly be the problem? 

Q.  Good question.

A:  But the real irony here is that the singer really is the problem.  Theres a type of irony called dramatic irony, which is when a character in a play or a movie says something that he or she believes is true, but which the audience knows is false.  Here we have an ironic variation on dramatic irony: the singer intends her words to be ironic, but we know that what she is saying is actually true.  

[NOTE:  Here endeth part of the 2 or 3 lines interview of 2 or 3 lines.  Click here to read part three of the interview.]

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Click here to listen to “The Problem Is Me,” which was released in 1982 on Tru Fax and the Insaniacs’ first and only (to date) album, Mental Decay:

Unfortunately, “The Problem Is Me” is not currently available for purchase from Amazon or iTunes.