Jacaranda Blue (and orange too!) Mr. Airplane Mansplainin’ the Divine Prophet Miss Margaret Garrett
Maybe being utterly fucking full of myself renders me wholly incapable of aspiring toward being like anyone else that’s within grasp to accomplish being like, but recently it’s struck me that practically every artist that I’ve ever been deeply inspired by has been female. It’s been empirically proven with more than one test hypothesis that I do not look good in drag, so it’s wiser for me to set goals that are within reach. In other words it’s highly unlikely I’m going to be wearing that low cut red number that invoked a lot of demeaning criticism…
Aaaand I’m just leaving this one here for now.
Anyway, seeing the only male standout exception in my music heroes roster that comes to mind is Ludwig Van Beethoven, who was considered by pretty much every single one of his contemporaries to be a condescending sanctimonious prick, the fact I’m willing to own such flaws in myself shows an ironically deep humility that cancels out such negative personality traits of mine by channeling them into a more useful and positive direction.
And so ladies and lowly germs, behold the face of modern feminism.
This is something my wife dubbed me (in those exact words) after I’d run this stuff by her for an opinion. Yeah, I have since come to know this as sarcasm. Honestly ladies, I am utterly embarrassed.
Now that we’ve made first contact, I’m going to break character here and admit that I’d originally intended to break character here for an entire article and shit-can the jokey shtick I’m usually putting out here.
However apparently as predictably ‘me’ as my desire to follow in the footsteps of dear old Ludwig Van until I’m way better than everything I’ve learned and surpass him is my inability to alter that which defineth me… For now as always was and always shall be, I am simultaneously an organic creature driven by instinct alone; and a mindless, autonomous tool controlled by the buttons and levers of society’s unfeeling machine:
I AM A CLOCKWORK ORANGE.
No matter how streamlined and effective any constructed facade of some newly-donned skin the serpent shows you, the same venomous bite lurks in waiting.
Everyone still with me here? GOOD.
Because O My Dear Brothers – and O My Dearest, Dear Sisters – now my perception comes to me as clearly and undeniably does that which defineth mine very essence, as does it my entire purpose in
Fuck, that’s a horrible motif. What the Christ was I thinking? I mean what is this, movies for guys who like movies night? Anyway, sorry. Look, one of those deeply inspiring artists that I’m not even going to attempt to match and eventually surpass in ability and artistry is Margaret Garrett, guitar player for Delta Blues by way of Boston, Los Angeles, and various jetset parts unknown – duo Mr. Airplane Man.
And now I’m gonna break character again and let go of my colossal ego here. I don’t know that I’d ever be able to even approximate her goddess-given gift. It’s just hers, man. It’s also the Delta Blues spirit that goes by the name of “mojo.”
Yeah, tell that to “dude who’s into guitar tones and cool sounding tube amps” over here:
“So anyway what’d you use for an amp on [2002’s Moanin’]?”
Honestly I can be such a tool sometimes…
“BOYS AND THEIR TOYS.”
That said, if only to placate me she eventually did say it was probably an old Silvertone amp of hers. Most boys would have been content with that, but this boy just had to push it even farther and just had to ask if she’s “had any formal musical training.”
Yeah, I actually said ‘training.’
Honestly, boys are like sooo stupid sometimes.
It’s in the mix. It’s in the bag, it’s inherent… it’s the mojo. She gets it, she’s got it, and she delivers the high and mighty holy fuck out of it in this beautiful, dynamic arrangement of classic blues standard “Jesus on the Mainline.” (From Moanin’.)
So anyway, I hit up Margaret for info on Jacaranda Blue, which is the first release from Mr. Airplane Man in…
we’ve missed you, ladies.
Love this song. Easily my favorite track on Jacaranda Blue, which was few months away from being released when I first heard it. And again, LOVE THIS. The heart of it remains grounded in the familiar roots of Moanin’ – but man, the new sounds being delivered are a heady psychedelic soul journey. I’m particularly digging the vocal on this song.
Margaret was also kind enough to point me in the direction of her SoundCloud page for more music to hold me over while I waited. More great stuff here and trust me, if you poke around you will see god eventually. Also, two words:
CIGAR BOX GUITAR… SHUT THE FUCK DOOR.
This song is great… but I didn’t get the netspeak jargon of the title at first, so I pronounced it phonetically… sorta like “Sew-Ehsz.” I still like to say it that way because I’m stubborn, and because once again…
BOYS ARE STUPID.
When I asked about the cigar box guitar, which she played on the SoundCloud material, she told me about the guy who built the pretty little thang. Ehh, here’s Margaret talking about both.
And it’s somewhere around this point in discussion that asinine ‘training’ question of mine gets answered in the finest way. Margaret’s talking about learning through observation – as in hanging out and just basking in the glow of the art someone is creating nearby and interpreting it into something of your own which meets with something you’d have instinctively created yourself, and where meet the two.
Like an apprenticeship. Which is a time honored traditional way of learning how to do art… which, like any language is best learned by exposure to fluent speakers and becoming immersed in it. And also like any language, there’s different dialects, accents, and other nuances often best learnt via observation and approximation. So here’s where I say, “Oh, so you’re an intuitive learner.” Which Margaret answers with a resounding “Yes!”
TELLING YOU BRUH, THIS CHICK JUST ‘GETS IT.’
Anyway, I remembered reading at some point that Margaret had been close to the late Mark Sandman (of the band Morphine) and that she’d considered him to be somewhat of a mentor. She says:
“Mark was a mentor in many ways… musically he inspired me. That low slinky sensuous vibe he created, his voice… its texture and delivery.
“The poetic nature of his lyrics. The rhythm heavy riffs; the dynamic – all of it. He created an experience that was transportive. He was all about feeling and much less about technical prowess. His music was so personal and yet never overly sentimental. He was playful and self aware.
“Of course he was very innovative and experimental but still tended toward creating a simple compelling hook (musically and lyrically). I’d say all of that resonated with me.”
Margaret cites this Morphine song as an inspiration for Jacaranda Blue. It’s a very beautiful song.
This song in turn was written for – again, a beautiful and sorely missed man. His art is likewise beautiful across the board. We all miss him.
Listen everyone, I’ve got another direction I’d really like work this thing into, and I do realize that everyone’s probably tired, but please bear with me and pick up your scripts, then backtrack to the ‘snake’ part:
Hypothetically let’s say I’m some ancient and venomous serpent coiled round a tree bearing fruit containing likewise ancient and potentially venomous knowledge to be gained by anyone who would ingest it.
Everyone still with me here? GOOD.
Now let’s say the Divine Prophet Miss Margaret Garrett walks down to the crossroads overlooking my tree of knowledge, seeking to partake of its gift-bearing fruit, and perhaps in doing so gaining knowledge by which to better herself and her art.
[Contemporary-themed dramatic re-enactment]
Why, I’d probably say something like, “Your money’s no good here ma’am… and you’ve always been –
Strike two goes to creepy Overlook Hotel bartender dude. Again, what was I thinking? Back to the stupid guy movies thing and It’s like I’m this authoritarian control freak director working the crew, talent, the entire fucking project, et al., to the brink of exhaustion and yelling “cut!” just as things start picking up. I don’t wanna be that guy, it’s just too much work. And all work and no play is kinda boring, amirite?
Jacaranda Blue is available as a digital download, on compact disc, and on vinyl (emphasis on the ‘blue’) here:
You can also find the download on iTunes and probably as well the other usual standbys, but the site’s a more genuine and direct line to the artist. Plus hey, blue vinyl. That’s worth buying a turntable.
Now somebody please write something about this band with a focus on Mr. Airplane Man’s drummer, Tara McManus. She’s wickedly talented, and everything her friend says regarding her devotion to percussion instruments and percussion in general puts even more cred on her drumming, which is great. Really, someone please do it. That’s a request, not a demand.
I mean, who do you think I am… Stanley Kubrick?
Hey, so obviously a lot of things I’ve said here are intended to be funny – and humor is an effective way of reaching and bonding with others via shared likes and dislikes. But when people say things that aren’t all that “funny” to someone else is where a head check’s in order. If anything I’ve put out here is bothersome to anyone in any way whatsoever, then that’s something that I need to stop putting out.
Please feel free and you are encouraged to hit me up. I’m completely serious.
Thanks for taking the time to read.
*you can’t even script this stuff.