Inside The Studio With the Grateful Dead

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Image courtesy of The Guardian

Published in Far Out Magazine, November 13th, 2020

The Grateful Dead’s American Beauty celebrated its 50th anniversary last weekend. Released on November 1st, 1970, it’s the second of two albums — following Workingman’s Dead — that The Dead recorded and released that year. In fitting fashion, Rhino has packaged and released re-issues with sought-after live shows for both, and extraordinarily rare outtakes and demos that give windows into the studio sessions that transformed their sound.

These streaming only studio sessions, dubbed “The Angel’s Share”, show the construction of a new sound for the band, one that would grow to define them. These sessions show a band moving past the psychedelic sounds, and the blues-infused jams of their three previous efforts into a more grounded cohesive unit. …


A fable about darkness

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Photo by Joshua Bartell on Unsplash

“The world goes dark,” the old man said to the boy. “At night, it surrenders its light to the darkness. It’s how the night gains its power, spreading darkness to all the evil spirits of the underworld. As Autumn turns to Winter and people go inward to the hearth, these dark spirits gain strength.”

The boy listened intently to his grandfather under the light of the rustic lantern.

“But there’s one night that stands out more than others. It’s a night of total darkness, where the waning crescent moon slips behind the earth, shrouding our village in shadows.”

“On this night, people lose themselves to the darkness, falling into paralytic states that render them helpless. The spirits roam free, slipping into the bodies of the weak and wounded, feasting on the light of their souls.” …


A beginner’s guide to killing time

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Photo by AbsolutVision on Unsplash

We’re all in it now. If you’re lucky, the biggest impact the COVID-19 lockdown has had on your life is this immeasurable void of time you’ve been tasked to fill. As someone who prizes isolation and solitude, it’s everything I ever hoped and feared, a blessing and a curse.

We’ve all seen the memes that express the irony of how sitting on your couch can — and will — save the world. I feel like it’s a moment that gamers have been training for all their lives. …


Reconnecting with your Roots

In 1990, small and medium-sized farms accounted for nearly half of all agricultural production in the US. Now it is less than a quarter. - The Guardian

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

I take the backroads. They open up over the rolling Midwestern farmland just outside of Wapakoneta, Ohio, birthplace of Neil Armstrong. The road signs change the farther I get from the town center, taking the names of the families that have worked the land for the last two centuries. Farming is a part of America’s DNA.

I head down Glynwood, cross over to Buckland River Rd, scoot across Fisher, and finally find myself on Schlenker Road approaching a property that’s been in the family for the last 150 years. …


Number 4: Your Butcher

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Peter Sargent, The Butcher Shop; Photo: Isabel Infantes, East London Advertiser

I don’t mean the clerk across the counter at the supermarket. I’m talking about a proper stand-alone butcher shop, the kind that makes sausage onsite, hand cuts meat to order, and won’t let you leave the shop without telling you the best way to prepare it.

The butcher is one of those old world figures that binds a community together. They have direct ties to your local farmer, your food, and the neighbourhoods they serve. You develop a rapport with them, and in return, they welcome you into this wild menagerie of goods.

When you enter one, there’s no mistaking where you are. There’s no ambiguity about the origins of your food or the world you’re stepping into. A proper butcher shop displays a respect for the cultivation and presentation of animal products. …


Why we make the pilgrimage to the past

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Published in Far Out Magazine on Feb 3rd, 2020

The upper Midwest braces for another arctic winter this year. As it does, the tragic plane crash that claimed the lives of Buddy Holly (22), Richie Valens (17) and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson (28) turns 61.

It’s widely regarded as ‘The Day the Music Died’, a phrase coined by Don McLean’s 1971 autobiographical song “American Pie”. McLean’s retrospective track is said to symbolize the end of American innocence. For McLean, this reaches back to his own experiences as a newspaper delivery boy. …


What really happens when you hit send?

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Photo by Immo Wegmann on Unsplash

I just wrote the perfect cover letter. One that defines exactly what I’m looking for, all while carefully crafting the journey that brought me to this exact point in life. It’s the perfect ratio of whitespace to text, the right balance of professional history, company knowledge, and personability.

As I pause to convert it over into the PDF file that I’ll collate with my umpteenth CV update, I’m hopeful. It’s here where a cover letter truly lives and breathes before being sent into the incinerator.

In light of this, I sit up, place the laptop on the coffee table and decide to give it a proper life and read it aloud. At least the odd apartment complex maintenance tech or the neighbor who’s trapped in the throes of an equally purgatorial post-grad job search will have a taste of its brilliance. …


The Man Behind the Myth

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Photo courtesy of alwaysontherun.net

Published in Far Out Magazine, December 7th, 2019

It’s fitting to speak of Tom Waits in milestones, especially now that the gravel-throated luminary closes in on a new decade. Waits turns 70 this Saturday. It’s a milestone that caps off a year that featured the 20th anniversary of Mule Variations and a key part in Jim Jarmusch’s latest film The Dead Don’t Die.

Waits is one of those rare renaissance figures that, regardless of the time period or the story he’s stepping into, he brings heart, honesty, and truth to it. …


American Beauty: 20 Years Later

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Kevin Spacey as Lester Burnham in American Beauty (1999)

Published in Far Out Magazine, Sept 15th, 2019

September 17th marks the 20th Anniversary of American Beauty (Mendes, 1999), the epic film about a man in the throes of a midlife crisis. The film features Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey), a middle-aged magazine executive, father, and husband looking for a change.

Lester’s voice introduces the film, narrating an aerial shot that sweeps over his suburban neighborhood. Right as the film cuts to an overhead view of Lester, alone in his bed, he delivers the line:

“I’m 42 years old. In less than a year, I’ll be dead… And in a way, I’m dead already.”


How drive-thrus are changing the Midwest

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The Kewpee Turntable; image courtesy of Kewpee

What do we think of when we think about drive-thrus? For most of us, it’s just a quick, convenient meal on the go. It’s something we indulge in from time to time to either treat ourselves or as a simple means to an end.

If you’re like me, you drive through without a second thought as to how or why it works, or even where it came from. You take it for granted that it just is what it is. …

About

Andrew Clark

Writer/ editor and musician based in London, UK.

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