A Reaction to Gordon Raphael’s new book. The World Is Going to Love This: Up from the Basement with the Strokes. London: Wordville, 2022
The following is not a proper review of the book. This is a Reaction.
The review will come. I just received this in the mail last week. I’m compelled to share my initial thoughts and reactions as the Spirit reveals these Cosmic Intersections.
Divine Intersections of geography, time, and homosapiens
I held his image in my hand as he rolled across my social media feed. Both mystic and personable, I realized this middle aged man, a bard with a mop of dark hair, wove stories about the 1980’s punk scene in Seattle. Those kinds of stories latch onto a deep part within my psyche. I love hearing these stories, not only out of nostalgia but also a concern and desire for working artists and musicians to be encouraged once again in that magical place known as the Emerald City. I’m deeply saddened that working class folk are being priced out, and therefore dampening future possible scenes to emerge.
In my hand, he shared a few other videos, revealing a bit of his wizardry with multiple keyboards and synthesizers. Synthesizer is my favorite instrument, and I found him increasingly intriguing.
My curiosity drove me to keep asking him questions about places and music from the ’80s and ’90s. I would respond where I was at that time, which bands I remember, hangouts or venues I knew of, likely 15 to 20 years after Gordan was there.
Perhaps I’m a bit naive to strike up a conversation with this wizard who’s experienced worlds I could only fathom. After all, I’m an awkward kid from an isolated small logging town far from the glamour of New York, London, or Berlin. Yet Seattle is the city where awkward small town kids, not quite fitting in, go to thrive. (My hometown isn’t much different or far from Kurt Cobain’s hometown.) Yet I have blood in the soil of Seattle and sweat washed off in the baptismal font of Puget Sound.
I have a deep history with Seattle. My mother’s family settled in West Seattle as early as the 1890’s. As a kid in an isolated, small town I just loved visiting my Swedish grandpa, Grandpa Mauritz, in the city. It felt so alive! To this day, I gawk at buildings, signs, lights, and people in wonder. (I try not to gawk at people…I’m genuinely fascinated by others.) As a teenager, I fell more in love with the city as bands came pouring out and into my plastic, cream colored Radio Shack radio/tape player with pink buttons. When I turned 30, I finally fulfilled my dream and moved to the heart of the city in Belltown and spent a decade there. I do hope to move back someday.
While I was an awkward kid growing up in the wild rainforest near the ocean, Gordon Raphael was traversing the sonic frontiers of our beloved city, cultivating partners and conspirators in music scenes of Seattle. Back then, the city had a stronger sensibility of the working class, soon to be overshadowed by the yuppies of Microsoft, Starbucks, Frasier, and eventually Amazon.
A bit into the time I was listening to Gordon’s stories in the palm of my hand, he mentioned that he was in a little band called Sky Cries Mary in the ’90s.
Wait, what? *Memory in brain unlocked*
He said it as if he were looking at an old piece of art created in college, forgetting that it existed and considering whether to put it in the next garage sale or not.
I moved from the small town in the woods to go to The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA in the late ’90s. I remember seeing Sky Cries Mary at the Capitol Theatre. I didn’t know the band, at the time except that they had a big reputation. Coming out of a sheltered youth, I was thirsty for going to see bands, watching artsy films, and befriending all kinds of fascinating artists and weirdos. I remember being overwhelmed with the mystical sounds and psychedelic projections. Were there dancers? I think there were dancers. Was there a fog machine? Or was that just pot smoke?
Here we are, 25 or so years later, a Reverend and a Sonic Mystic sharing space in a digital dimension. I hadn’t thought about that band or that experience in years. Gordon Raphael went on to other bands and becoming an award winning (TM) big time music producer for artists like The Strokes and Regina Spektor. (I haven’t made it to that part in the book yet. This is not quire a review, remember?)
Near Misses and Collision
On the evening of June 27, 2022 I came home to this book I ordered from overseas. That same evening, I was sharing music stories with a social media friend in Texas who has an extensive record collection. Mentioning the band Skinny Puppy, I realized that I had one of my ex’s cd binder (very ’90s, I know). He loved Skinny Puppy, so I set out to find it. (I couldn’t find any Skinny Puppy.) I happened to be recording my search for my friend, addressing this Librarian of Vinyl from the palm of my hand…and at the very end was this.
Discovering that I have this album and receiving the book the same day cannot be coincidences. I know this means Spirit is up to something, so pay attention. Follow where She is leading.
The CD filled my living room with mystic voices and sounds. Receiving the waves, my body remembers in thoughts beyond words; emotions to be revisited but now with the ability to be met with greater care which 44 year old me is equipped to meet. My 20 year old self was definitely ill equipped.
But Wait…there’s more!
I already wrote a good chunk more of this….reaction.
Watch this space for part 2, coming before my birthday (July 14).
Check out Gordon Raphael’s website here. You could get lost for hours. Don’t worry, it’s a good thing! www.gordotronic.com