Migraines…and Music?

by Belle Waring on March 31, 2015

MIGRAINES ARE THE WORST. Well, no, I mean, obviously having your children be sick and not having money for the doctor is the worst.* Our domestic helper here in Singapore is prone to really bad migraines and yesterday she was totally felled, lying down in the dark and vomiting so much I had a hard time bringing her water–since you can’t drink water just after you’ve thrown up. We have O.R.S. but she hates them, and she was so miserable I didn’t want to force them down her. It is so hard to make her rest when she’s ill that if she ever listens or lies down of her own accord we know she is feeling truly awful. John half-hoped some common unknown environmental factor was the culprit and that she and I would both get better when we moved out of our old, colonial-era house. Sadly, no. I have also been having terrible migraines for the last 18 consecutive days, and unfortunately they are remodeling in the flat upstairs. This has been a source of unhappiness. THEY HAVE BEEN DRILLING.

I have also cut my pain pills down slowly over the last six months, which was clever and virtuous of me, but now I don’t have enough pain medicine and I’m like “I forgot quite entirely how horrible this was! Pain! It’s your body’s way of saying, ‘hey something is probably sort of broken or something.'” Also topamax, medicine which I take for migraines, and which I am taking more of, makes you stupid. It’s called “dope-a-max” for a reason. The combination of all these factors has made it difficult for me to learn my Japanese characters (kanji), I’ll tell you what. This is some Harrison Bergeron shit on the 24th floor. I got all 15 right on the practice quiz Zoë made for me and then I blanked on a full five when I took the real quiz half-an-hour later on Sunday evening. Years of caring about academics make it very painful for me to do badly on quizzes. Really, it is like a knife in the guts. If she would just give us a list of the English meanings it would be OK. But our tutor gives us an actual sentence with any other, as-yet-unknown-to-us kanji spelled out (in Japanese they can write the pronunciation in hiragana or katakana on top of them, small and light; they would do this for very rare words, I think, in an adults’ book, and they do for commoner ones in a book for children or learners), and then the hiragana or katakana for the kanji we are meant to have learned underlined, and we have to write the kanji below that. So we need to read the sentence correctly as well as remember that, for example, ‘ka’ can mean ‘borrow’ as well as like five other things (I say this, and we have learned only about 50 kanji so far.) Violet continues to enjoy mocking me (in the most friendly, cheerful way imaginable!) about my troubles, criticizing my disinclination to use the large full squares in my notebook (I have small, very neat handwriting, and the big boxes don’t appeal), and writing Chinese characters in the margins that are similar but a million times harder, just to put things in perspective for me.

Now, a person can listen to music in this situation, but sometimes that’s just like turning the whole thing into a rock concert. It’s better than drilling, though, usually. I don’t like to listen to podcasts, but John does and he listened to one about a year ago that was an interview with Brian Eno. In it, the interviewer was saying how much he loved Here Come The Warm Jets and Eno said that he hadn’t actually listened to it in over twenty years?!? This was flabbergasting and wrong and bad, since we should all be listening to it, be we Brian Eno or no which, on balance, we are unlikely to be. I feel awkward about your experience of this song, because on the LP, the harsh intro of the next song, “Blank Frank” starts really soon after the last note of this–sooner than the start of a hypothetical next measure. I thought of linking to within a youtube clip of the whole album but am not certain it would come off. It’s distinctive and crucial, though, so I recommend you listen to the whole of Here Come The Warm Jets on principle.

This song somewhat resembles the Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” in that the sad, sweet vocals only enter after what seems an unexpectedly-long music-only intro, and that it is shorter than you want it to be, such that you want have to re-play it.

I have also been listening to soothing Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, especially this, “How I Long to Feel That Summer in My Heart” from 2001. It has a pretty, Velvet Underground guitar line purling down, as well as the shimmery folk more typical of the band’s later work. (They rocked out in Welsh, as well, and sang silver-sweetly in Welsh (pretty fan-made video here of rural Wales…)

New Values is an underrated Iggy Pop album, and “Don’t Look Down” is my favorite song off it. OK, it’s my slow jam? “I’m Bored” is also great, in a more classic Iggy Pop way, with the great rock sex-you-up line, “alright doll-face, come out and bore me.” “Don’t Look Down” is a successful rock song with saxophone. There is a non-zero number of songs in this category, but it is waaaaay easier to do wrong. I have been intending to make a definitive list at some point. One always thinks of the failures, and not of, like, The Stones’ “Rip This Joint”? (“Wham bam, Birmingham/Alabam’ don’t give a damn…”)

Bringing it all back home (which is not a motel**) we have a Love song…that is a folkish, successful rock song with baller horns, albeit trumpets. It’s not additionally in Welsh, unfortunately. That would be kind of amazing.

*We can afford to take her to the doctor but Zoë is still quite sick, so send good vibes her way plz. Doctors that can’t do anything are unsatisfactory, howso’er affordable they be. That’s a fancy way of saying “Thanks, Obama LKY.”
**I have gotten John to agree that Love’s “A House is Not a Motel” can be the theme song for the opening gruesome, yet twee, montage of the Wes Anderson horror movie.



Glen Tomkins 03.31.15 at 2:55 pm

Two people with really bad migraines in the same household, acting up at the same time, does make you look for environmental triggers, if not causes. And if you’re having actual migraine headaches on 18 consecutive days (as opposed to “really bad headaches”, which certainly exist, but aren’t the same thing as “migraine headaches”), then that would be classified as triggered migraine.


Belle Waring 03.31.15 at 3:21 pm

I think I triggered them by going on a course of hormones intended to “reset” my cycle which had been on continuous “let’s cause death via blood loss” for over 60 days. I finished the hormones and that seemed to stop the artisanal butchering of hogs in my uterus, which was good, but also started “max death by you will kill yourself to make your head stop” which was less good. I meant to mention in the post that one side effect of migraines for me is that I hear imaginary music. Small background noise of consistent low volume gets transmuted to songs playing softly, in quite varying genres. Unknown ones that I make up. I am temped to write them down but don’t know how to read music. It’s a funny kind of hallucination.


Dave Maier 03.31.15 at 3:22 pm

Sorry to hear y’all are feeling poorly and cannot remember your kanji properly. Good vibes to all coming your way.

But somehow this has led to a music discussion to which (unlike some others of yours …) I can actually contribute. Warm Jets is a tough case, and I can understand why the Domed One doesn’t have it on heavy rotation just now. Of all his records, it sounds the most (and of course there is a very good reason for this) like a 1973 debut* solo record by Roxy Music’s recently departed synth player. Even of what he called the four “idiot energy” records I do think it has held up the least well, as in spots (e.g. “The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch”) it is a bit, shall we say, twee. I still like it though: Phil Manzanera and Robert Fripp are all over it, and yes, “On That Faraway Beach” is lovely. But I haven’t listened to it in twenty years either.

If you like that lyrical side of his vocal records don’t forget side two of Before and After Science (I tend to skip “Here He Comes” though), or all of that titanic masterpiece Another Green World.

Successful rock songs with saxophone, though, that’s a poser. I’ll be interested to see what others come up with.

*not counting (No Pussyfooting)


mdc 03.31.15 at 3:31 pm

Bowie, “Young Americans”

Not just saxophone, but 5-plus minutes of constant, unrelenting, hard grooving David Sanborn.


mdc 03.31.15 at 3:33 pm

Ok, maybe doesn’t count as “rock song”?


Dave Maier 03.31.15 at 3:35 pm

No, I’ll accept “Young Americans”. Maybe there’s other Bowie too?


js. 03.31.15 at 3:40 pm

I guess if you like Morphine, the list of “good rock songs with a saxophone” is suddenly a lot longer? I used to be into them back in the day but haven’t really listened in ages. Good call on “Young Americans”, by the way.

And Belle, sorry to hear about the migraines.


Philip 03.31.15 at 3:47 pm

Good vibes being sent. My mum never rests or lies down when ill either but when she was going through the menopause she’d get terrible migraines, including the vomiting, that lasted about three days at a time. Anything more than small amounts of alcohol and some foods would trigger it, or it could just be at random, if she took a pill when she first felt the symptoms coming on it could help otherwise she’d be lying down in a darkened room and throwing up.


James Wimberley 03.31.15 at 4:06 pm

You can get flavoured oral rehydration salts. I don’t vouch for this, but it’s worth trying.


Adam Hammond 03.31.15 at 4:13 pm

“Successful rock songs with saxophone, though, that’s a poser. I’ll be interested to see what others come up with.”

Do I get flamed for bringing up pop rock? You’d have to say Huey Lewis and The News had successful songs (which is the fundamental meaning of “pop” after all).


Jared 03.31.15 at 4:26 pm

Good luck with the kanji. Use the whole box! It helps you learn proper proportions for each part of the character. Or better yet, buy some brushes and do some calligraphy.

I’m hearing some Leonard Cohen in that Iggy Pop song, with the spooky monotone voice and the backing vocals.

I’ve been interested in the “rock sax problem” for a long time. Only Ones, “The Whole of the Law.” Galaxie 500 has a sax version of “Blue Thunder” which is the only reason to buy the Portable G500. Big Star, “Jesus Christ,” big solo right after he says “… and we’re gonna get born now!” Don Cherry played with Lou Reed in the mid-70s, with interesting results.


david 03.31.15 at 4:33 pm

ORS goes well with orange syrup, the cheap F&N orange syrup from the supermarket. Crucially, the syrup also makes ORS taste less awful if it decides to come back out, thus mitigating the wonderful vomit-nausea-vomit cycle.

Ambient jazz is overrated, imo. Playing those ten hour youtubes of thunderstorms works much better as white noise.

If you are staying on a condominium now, there’s probably an exercise room or such that is usually empty during the day. That might move you away from the drilling.


Dave Maier 03.31.15 at 4:38 pm

“Do I get flamed for bringing up pop rock? You’d have to say Huey Lewis and The News had successful songs (which is the fundamental meaning of “pop” after all).”

No, no flames from me anyway – we’re casting a wide net here. On the other hand, “pop” doesn’t seem to me to be the fundamental meaning of “successful.”

For the record (not to imply that Jared doesn’t know this), Don Cherry is a trumpeter, so whatever Lou Reed work we’re talking about would seem more relevant to the “rock brass problem” than the “rock sax problem” (unless that multitalented man took up the sax for the occasion?).


davidly 03.31.15 at 4:41 pm

I know this kind of thing happens, it happens to me often enough, but shortly after I started reading this, and before I scrolled to the first vid-embed, I began humming the piano theme to OSFB in my head (fortunately for me, devoid of ache, for now).


Tiny Tim 03.31.15 at 4:59 pm

Of course not against The Pill or related hormones designed to treat women’s health problems, but I do think there’s a strange lack of public discussion of side effects. Mrs. Tiny Tim tried to start taking birth control 3 times since we were married (re-start, as she was on them previously), each with a new cocktail, each time with even worse unbearable side effects.


Tiny Tim 03.31.15 at 5:03 pm

should have added: each time doctors responded basically by saying “well, just stay on on it a bit longer it should get better.” it didn’t.


Jared 03.31.15 at 5:23 pm

Oh, my mistake. Further research reveals that Lou Reed’s regular band had a sax in the mid-70s, Marty Fogel. So that’s mostly him on the bootleg I have, and Don Cherry appears only for a few solos.


The Temporary Name 03.31.15 at 5:23 pm

Successful rock songs with saxophone, though, that’s a poser. I’ll be interested to see what others come up with.


chris y 03.31.15 at 5:34 pm

Baker Street, classically. Pleasantly unusual among rock songs in using alto rather than tenor. Slightly more obscurely, Hazel O’Connor, Will You.

Sorry to hear about Zoe; wishing her a speedy recovery.


chris y 03.31.15 at 5:35 pm

Also of course the Beatles, “Lady Madonna” but that’s too easy.


Metatone 03.31.15 at 5:37 pm

I come from an extended family of migraine sufferers.
We’ve found that some common preservatives in bread/flour seem to be a trigger for both sides, beyond some of the obvious ones***. Took us years to track that down, but it’s made a big difference. It’s a real bear finding triggers though…

Music wise, migraine – calming ragas is my only suggestion.
Surbahar or sarod.

*** Obvious ones I’m prone to: coffee, certain kinds of flashing light, certain hangovers.


e julius drivingstorm 03.31.15 at 5:42 pm

I’m reading up on niacin. You know that burning red flush of the skin you get as the vitamin reams your capillaries? I wonder what it does in the brain. I seem to remember a study showing that niacin promoted about a 15 percent increase of IQ in subjects whose scores were less than low normal. The version of nicotinic acid that cancels the burning sensation is niacinamide, but I’m thinking the uncomfortableness is a feature not a bug.

But, don’t smoke.


The Temporary Name 03.31.15 at 5:42 pm

Brian Eno’s Thursday Afternoon has rescued me many times.


With original images (naked lady alert!) here:


bob mcmanus 03.31.15 at 5:46 pm

Furigana, the little characters, are also to help distinguish between wildly different pronunciations/meanings for a single kanji character, and of course proper names which are impossible without help. Supposedly cutting the number of official or common kanji after WWII in half helped a lot, but furigana used to be ubiquitous. I am pretty sure the oldest extant copy of Genji Monogatari uses furigana.

As far as learning Japanese, even though I listen to it every single day, I only play with it every few months, dedicate myself for a couple weeks, then give up. I just seem to forget what I learn too fast, unless I dedicate hours per day to it, for years. I don’t even know my kana. I have tried all sorts of methods, even copying the whole Halpern dictionary in his order (got 1/3 thru.) Have tried in contexts, the famous facing page edition of “Ten Nights of Dream” with audio files; the Learning Kanji through Manga series; Pimsleur; started Shimizaki Toson’s Ie a while back. Just this week I looked at a raw edition of Chobits. My non-fiction reading generally uses a lot of romaji, and I started a notebook where I copy the romaji, the first translations, and the go get the kanji. Got rikaichan up in the browser corner, and when I say rikaihan has no romaji, I mean non-existent: kanji, kana translations of kanji and English only (with the exception of proper nouns and names)

Good choice of music this time. I don’t suppose prog counts, and not sure “Pictures of a City” of Wake of Poseidon counts as your kind of song. “Money” etc. I of course listen to as much blues and blue-note jazz as rock or Renbourn so I get more than my share of rough sax.


bob mcmanus 03.31.15 at 5:55 pm

This house used to have a episodic migraine sufferer, but fairly mild and rare (3-4 times a year), and way down after menopause. AFAIK, she took and still takes the old boring cocktail: belladonna, aspirin, caffeine, phenobarbital.


mdc 03.31.15 at 6:45 pm

“other Bowie…”

“Modern Love” is a great song, and has a sax solo, but I wonder if it’s just sort of stylistic furniture in that song.

No one mentioned “Jungleland.”


NickS 03.31.15 at 6:48 pm

Successful rock songs with saxophone, though, that’s a poser. I’ll be interested to see what others come up with.

Steely Dan mention a saxophone in “Deacon Blues” and here’s nice list of Steely Dan songs with quality sax solos (though several of them aren’t proper Steely Dan songs — either from solo albums or Two Against Nature which doesn’t really count).

I don’t know if they count as rock but “Dr Wu”, at least, should.


b9n10nt 03.31.15 at 7:35 pm

ummm (re: Saxophones)…

Tears for Fears “Working Hour” astoundingly beautiful sax intro.

more recently:

St. Vincent “Digital Witness” = sax-based groove.

Tears for Fears “Working Hour” astoundingly beautiful sax intro.

tune-yards: “Bizness” sax cathartic bridge


another Jim 03.31.15 at 8:31 pm

Greatest rock sax solo? Stooges. “Fun House”. No contest.

Well ok there’s also The Treniers … and “Sex Bomb”, but I wouldn’t recommend that for a migraine.


js. 03.31.15 at 9:00 pm

an interview with Brian Eno. In it, the interviewer was saying how much he loved Here Come The Warm Jets and Eno said that he hadn’t actually listened to it in over twenty years?!?

Eno interviews are generally amazing. I remember listening to one on NPR a few years ago, where Eno was like, “You know, we really shouldn’t call modern music ‘music'”! The argument was that just as we distinguish film from theater, we should distinguish modern recorded music from whatever Mozart and co. were up to. Amazing!

Meanwhile, to the commenter who upthread saying that Warm Jets doesn’t hold up all that well or some such nonsense: I think you maybe need to listen to the album 100 times over the next week possibly. Or really, just as long as it takes you to see the error of the ways. I depart from the critical consensus in thinking that Taking Tiger Mountain and not Another Green World is the true transcendent masterpiece, but each one of those four albums is super, and frankly, they age like Helen Mirren.


mjfgates 03.31.15 at 9:02 pm

Does a full horn section count? If so, Chicago, everything they ever did. Of course that also brings in half the ska bands ever, but then Tiny Hat Orchestra was an amazing thing so why not?

Also, about Topamax, my wife was on a dose for a while that a) didn’t kill the migraines and b) was the absolute worst for her brain. She was losing capabilities, pretty much all of her higher math and chemistry just gone forever. It turned out that the right thing to do in her case was actually to increase the dose further. Scary, scary stuff, but once she was at the correct dose it did for the migraines and, interestingly enough, most of her hypervigilance.


Christian T 03.31.15 at 9:15 pm

Try this “Tsitramon” or “Citramon” from Russia, your heart will start pumping high blood pressure and then your body will sweat for 5 – 10 mintes and you will feel very cold. In 15 – 20 minutes no more pain. I call these pills, NZT, from Limitless movie.


Dean C. Rowan 03.31.15 at 9:40 pm

A successful rock song with saxophone, albeit not one for migraine sufferers, is Blurt’s “My Mother Was a Friend of an Enemy of the People.” Also, X-Ray Spex’s “Oh Bondage! Up Yours!” But again, not for the faint of heart or hearing. I can’t quite figure out why I’ve never grown to appreciate much of anything by Eno.


dn 03.31.15 at 9:48 pm

Iggy Pop has a track record when it comes to making successful rock songs with saxophone:


Christian T 03.31.15 at 9:59 pm

Music? I think Tycho is perfect. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mehLx_Fjv_c


Helen 03.31.15 at 10:23 pm

“good rock songs with a saxophone”: You wouldn’t really call Laughing Clowns a rock band (they defied classification) but they certainly rocked out on this one.


The Temporary Name 03.31.15 at 10:28 pm


Dave Heasman 03.31.15 at 11:04 pm

Does George Thorogood count as rock? Bruce Springsteen? Roxy Music reputedly had a sax player but I recall nothing of him. The sax player on “Lady Madonna” was Ronnie Scott. Sonny Rollins played on one Stones track. I never much liked Bobby Keys, but he was good on “Rip This Joint”.


Dave Heasman 03.31.15 at 11:05 pm

My pal Paul McPherson’s coffin entered the chapel to the sound of “Ready Teddy” above..


The Temporary Name 03.31.15 at 11:24 pm

Roxy Music reputedly had a sax player but I recall nothing of him.

He co-wrote this ridiculous thing that I love:


oldster 03.31.15 at 11:26 pm

This site has a very entertaining list of mini-reviews of sax solos in pop music from the 80’s:


Click on a title to see the author’s comments, e.g.:
“Men at Work: Who can it be now”
Middle school level of difficulty, too long, boring, and bad continuity.

The symbol for “excess vibrato” is cute, too.


TheSophist 03.31.15 at 11:30 pm

Excitable Boy? Gotta love a little Zevon.

Red Army Blues? The winner in the extremely crowded category of “Scots/Irish rock songs about the Eastern front.”

And, blatantly OT, the new Mark Knopfler is very good.


oldster 03.31.15 at 11:34 pm

And I don’t know if it’s rock, but I know it rocks.


I love the contrast between the rambunctious, gap-toothed horn-player and the suave, smooth-as-silk citified rhythm guitarist. Both super cool, in their own ways.

And if you could blow a sax just for pure joy, wouldn’t it be like this?


oldster 03.31.15 at 11:36 pm

On a different topic, what is this??

“since you can’t drink water just after you’ve thrown up.”

Lot’s of people do. I do. In fact, after I have thrown up, I want a glass of water to rinse my mouth several times, and then a toothbrush to clean my teeth. It helps reduce damage to the enamel, as well.


floopmeister 04.01.15 at 12:11 am

If you want rock and sax, then you can’t go past Hawkwind’s magnum opus Master of the Universe. Six minutes of psychedelic freak out of which 2 and a half is a saxophone solo played through a wah wah pedal and sundry other layers of distortion.

A different rock sax sound it certainly is:


Lynne 04.01.15 at 1:04 am

Sorry to hear about the migraines, and about Zoe. That is a bad combination, sick yourself and worried about a sick child. Healing energy duly sent.


Bill Murray 04.01.15 at 2:02 am

Depending on you definition of successful and rock, I would add

1. X-Ray Spex “The Day the World Turned Day-Glo”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjVVhJ-INWQ
2. Romeo Void “A Girl in Trouble is a Temporary Thing”
3. Romeo Void “Never Say Never”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4x0fPZrPV3M
4. The (English) Beat “Tears of a Clown” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VY98T36ZC60, probably many others I will not list


PJW 04.01.15 at 2:16 am

Clarence Clemons, perhaps most notably on Jungleland. Fellow migraine sufferer here. A new pillow I’m using seems to have helped decrease their frequency from roughly four times a month to about once a monyh. Don’t know for sure if it’s the pillow. My migraines almost always come mid-day on Thursday afternoons. I have zero interest in music when the headaches are on but I generally experience something like euphoria when they leave. I think Nietzsche may have written about this phenomenon in one of his meditations on illness.


ZM 04.01.15 at 3:05 am


“Galaxie 500 has a sax version of “Blue Thunder” which is the only reason to buy the Portable G500. ”

I love that song



Belle Waring 04.01.15 at 3:07 am

Plain water right after puking will make you vomit again. You can rinse or brush your teeth. You’re meant to drink something like ginger ale that the ice has melted in so it’s a bit diluted and flat. WOKE UP JUST NOW WITH DEATH WHY?! I sleep 12 hours a night often, but this just makes me wish it were bedtime, and that’s no kind of life.


js. 04.01.15 at 3:15 am

I find soda or sparkling water, sipped slowly, works ok, but yeah: still water is rough.


Dean C. Rowan 04.01.15 at 3:33 am

Water triggers vomiting, but sugary drinks settle the tummy. This is one reason doctors recommend popsicles for people with upset stomachs and diarrhea, for which hydration is am important remedy.


david 04.01.15 at 4:17 am

My comment dropped into moderation queue, alas. But I agree, avoid still water. I’d avoid flat drinks like decarbonated ginger ale, too, really.


peter ramus 04.01.15 at 4:59 am

Going on fifty comments about rock ‘n roll saxophone and lacking two relevant words: King Curtis.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WfDYssJMqs&w=372&h=280%5D


christian_h 04.01.15 at 5:07 am

Belle, I hope you both feel better! Thanks for writing beautifully as always.


davidly 04.01.15 at 8:32 am

I am attempting to think your pain away! Oh man, waking up with the headache is just awful! That started in my adulthood. As a kid, if I ever got to sleep, I could count on it being gone when I awoke. Now, I sometimes get two different kinds: a cluster, and then one from sleeping too much.

I have tried much over the years by way of medication. Usually what I end up stooping to is too many tablets at once. Fortunately I don’t get nauseated as often as I used to. I used to puke every time I had one, usually after several hours.

I once received a dose of morphine once. Visiting me in the hospital because of another illness, my brother was so distressed at my crying from my headache – and I was on IV only, anything oral forbidden at the time – he called my mother on his way home who called the hospital and insisted they give me a shot in my IV. What followed was perhaps the most glorious moment in my life. Up there anyway. Not because of some high, but because the pain just melted away in real time. Of course, that’s no long term solution.


davidly 04.01.15 at 8:47 am

The sax-ist is Andy Mackay. Per several Eno interviews, Mackay recruited Eno into Roxy Music, which in my book would make him responsible for the latter’s ever having dove (diven?) into music. At least with that chronology and form.

Mackay plays an overdubbed sax septet on Here Come the Warm Jets’ Some of Them are Old. Not exactly a rock song, but his work on Roxy’s Do the Strand comes to mind, and countless others. He also plays keys on On Some Faraway Beach, embedded above by ours truly.

Romeo Void is an excellent example of quality sax on rock, which is — I mean, come on — synecdoche for a whole slew of inspired rock ‘n’ roll from the ’50s and ’60s, without which we wouldn’t be where we are now.

Speakin’ o’ which, we owe our virtual lives to the author, who in spite of the unbearable, has provided something much more so.


Agog 04.01.15 at 11:03 am

All this stuff about saxophones is fine, but nobody’s mentioned the guitar in ‘Baby’s On Fire’ yet… [there are no words]

Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci’s first album/collection (Patio) can be enjoyed by anyone who was once teenage, IMO. And that reminds me I was going to get Euros Childs’ latest. Thanks!


Peter R 04.01.15 at 11:27 am

Discussion of sax in rock songs, and nobody’s mentioned the Psychedelic Furs yet? Duncan Kilburn did some good stuff on early Furs. For instance, you can’t get away from the sax riff on Dumb Waiters: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrX9Mg4ersQ.

Love and Rockets used some sax too, but I can’t think of a particular song off the top of my head.


otpup 04.01.15 at 1:37 pm

@Peter 59. Ditto on the early Furs (P Furs, if you like). It’s not heroic rock solo sax more punk, velvet underground atmos sax but it definitely integral to the mood and sound.


otpup 04.01.15 at 1:43 pm

Belle, No one with such regard and intimate knowledge of HCTWJ deserves migraines (actually no one does). Feel better, to you and any others afflicted.


Maria 04.01.15 at 3:05 pm

Seconding Lynne @46, Belle, re. the good vibes and also less worthy wishes your migraines would go t0 hell. bastard things.

I don’t know why, but when I get them – 3 or 4 times a month at the moment – more often than not it’s a Tuesday.

Reading all the odd and hard-found things people on this thread have found that help with migraine, you really get a picture of how completely messed up they are and how little we understand them.


Lynne 04.01.15 at 3:44 pm

Maria, I get migraines, too. :( Many fewer than I did pre-menopause, thank God. I find that if I act early and ice the back of my neck and the base of my skull and take an analgesic, I can sometimes avoid them or at least minimize them. FWIW. A strong trigger for me is bright sunlight piercing my eyes. Since I love a sunny day, this is unfortunate. I resisted the icing for years even though a friend told me it helped with her migraines, because it seemed counter-intuitive.


JanieM 04.01.15 at 3:58 pm

Chiming in along with others to wish you both well.

As for migraines — I used to get what I always thought were sinus headaches. They had a component of vague nausea and they usually lasted a couple of days. A doctor friend of mine suggested that they were migraines, but I never went to get diagnosed, so who knows. I get them much less often now — post menopausal? Just generally leading a quieter and less stressful life? I don’t know.

Then one day a couple of years ago I was sitting at my computer and my vision went wonky. I figured out (thanks to the internet) that I was having a migraine aura, which I have to say was a lot less awful than having a headache, but still a little scary.

Then I started to have them from time to time, as if it was now a thing for me. Occasionally a headache followed, although more often just a familiar vague feeling of non-well-being. I still didn’t ask a doctor about it, but I did poke around on the internet reading about the myriad things people think might trigger migraines.

End result: I re-replaced all the compact fluorescent light bulbs I’d been installing in my house with good old incandescents (I bought what might well be a lifetime’s supply at Lowe’s before they stopped selling them; lucky timing).

I’ve had auras again only twice and very mildly in the almost-year since then. Both were at times with some combination of 1) heavy, humid, storm-coming-on weather; 2) stress; 3) working for long periods in places with fluorescent lighting.

All I can say is I’m glad it was (apparently) light bulbs, and not chocolate.


rea 04.01.15 at 4:31 pm

Gang of Four’s “Natural’s Not In It”–no sax, but contains a migraine.


mrearl 04.01.15 at 4:36 pm

Farther back, Dion, “The Wanderer.”


George de Verges 04.01.15 at 6:28 pm

First, I have nothing to offer on migraines but intense sympathy. Since I am late to this party I hope your suffering, and that of your helper, has ended, or at least lessened.

Also, as a man who retained nothing from two semesters of Spanish except the shame of failure, please just keep us updated on your proficiency with kanji.

As for music, I am always amazed at the odd gaps in the education of your correspondents, all of whom have more mental horsepower than yours truly. Rock-n-roll saxophone? Y’all kiddin’? No. 54 before Peter Ramus says the only two relevant words, “King Curtis.” He dominates. His influence hangs over all subsequent sax solos, the world being divided into the Bobby Keys I-will-ripe-off-the master mimics, and the Andy Mackay I-will-pretend-I-never-heard-King progsters.

Finally, trying to be helpful with your headaches and thinking about music, I offer Blossom Dearie and Lush Life. If you have heard this it will be a visit from an old dear friend, and if you haven’t it will be a meeting with a sympathetic stranger. Hope it helps. Take care.


Chris Grant 04.01.15 at 8:41 pm

If you haven’t already given it a try, butorphanol is worth looking into. It’s fast-acting (~15 minutes) so you can wait till the pain really sets in, and therefore avoid medicating for aura-only events. It’s nasally-administered, so you don’t lose your medication if you experience nausea. At least in the US, it’s not high on the control list (Schedule IV). Effectiveness? It works for me, but YMMV.


Dean C. Rowan 04.01.15 at 11:00 pm

How can we have forgotten rock’s own paean to Adolf Sax? FEAR, “New York’s Alright If You Like Saxophones”! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Q_odSgDQeE


deliasmith 04.01.15 at 11:19 pm

Cluster headaches. These are four or five agonising headaches per day, at clockwork-regular intervals, that persist for a season, then go away for months, then come back. The individual headaches last about 30 minutes and, according to Oliver Sacks at least, are the most painful thing you can experience.

I overcame mine by the expedient of giving up alcohol, completely. All alcohol. Completely. Not a drop for eleven years. I can drink now because I am 64 and old men generally grow out of the affliction.


Dave Heasman 04.01.15 at 11:34 pm

George @ 67 – I was going from the OP – “rock” meaning white boys post 1967, where saxes were rarer than before – fewer session-men on records. Rock and roll, however is full of cracked bells and washed-out horns, Plas Johnson & Jackie Kelso, Lee Allen, Sam “The Man” Taylor, Maxwell Taylor; and Bill Black’s pal Ace Cannon who did the solo on Elvis’ “Reconsider Baby” to check just the obvious. Oh and Jim Horn & Steve Douglas. After about 1967, not so much, very few sax players as integral members of rock groups, more guest appearances like Branford Marsalis with the Grateful Dead


Dave Heasman 04.01.15 at 11:39 pm

Sorry, Maxwell Davis.


Dean C. Rowan 04.02.15 at 12:07 am

Big Jay McNeely


otpup 04.02.15 at 1:26 am

Putting my link where my mouth is.
I remember this was the first musical teaser I ever fell for when the intro to India was in the trailer for Basquiat but never showed up in the film soundtrack (great lost opportunity).


Craig 04.02.15 at 1:50 am

Have you looked at James Heisig’s “Remembering the Kanji” series? I’m about 1200 characters into volume 1, and I consider it a pearl of great price. But I’m an autodidact, which has it’s own advantages and disadvantages. My teacher uses whatever textbooks I tell him to. (Is that an advantage, or a disadvantage? It is not entirely clear.)


Scamp Dog 04.02.15 at 2:59 am

Agog@58: That guitar solo in “Baby’s on Fire” was Robert Fripp, wasn’t it? I’m going to have to give that a listen again; I recall loving the way Fripp’s solo interacted with the percussion (or percussive sounds of some sort). Here Come the Warm Jets was my introduction to Brian Eno, and I’ve been a fan ever since.


Agog 04.02.15 at 9:38 am

Scamp Dog: yes. I really hope someone has written a thesis about it.


JPL 04.02.15 at 11:44 am

From Davidly @57:

If the sax player in “On some faraway beach” is Andy Mackay, and Mackay recruited Eno into Roxy Music, then I would suspect that Mackay was recruited into Roxy Music by Bryan Ferry, which makes Ferry probably ultimately responsible for the presence of a sax solo in “On some faraway beach”; which now gives me license to take the other side of Roxy Music and follow Bryan Ferry into his solo career and post here one of my favourite songs, “Don’t stop the dance”, which I can never listen to without listening to it again several times. The album version has more saxophone, played IINM by David Sanborn, but I’ll put up this live performance, because it’s nice to see the band really cooking.

BTW, Sanborn was sitting in with Paul Shaffer tonight on Letterman, and going into the first break he played the Junior Walker tune “Shotgun” (oldster @ 43 above). (I always liked “Shake and fingerpop” from that LP.) WRT the Q of influence, probably any sax player who plays in the style of Sanborn, Clarence Clemons, etc., in addition to being influenced by Junior Walker and King Curtis, will express admiration for the music of Hank Crawford. (And BTW again, Clemons has at least one whole albumful (“Hero”) of rock songs with sax that sound pretty good to me — check out “Temptation”, for example.)


davidly 04.02.15 at 12:34 pm

Good call, JPL. There are tidbits of the rock sax throughout Ferry’s solo catalogue.

Apropos Sanborn: perhaps you already know this, but he co-hosted a show called Night Music on NBC in the late eighties/early nineties that featured a broad range of great live music performances, much of which included sax because he often sat in with whoever the guest was that week. It was mainly avant garde jazz stuff, but included plenty that crossed into R&B and R&R territory.

Back to Ferry: He and Eno had had their disagreements in-&post Roxy, but they set it all aside in 1994 when they wrote this song together, on which Mackay plays alto sax:
There’s another song on the album called N.Y.C. that has none other than the great Maceo Parker, of James Brown fame.

BTW: Just to clarify, it’s Some of Them are Old that features Mackay’s saxophone. He only plays keyboards on On Some Faraway Beach.


Dave Heasman 04.02.15 at 1:01 pm

JPL @ 78
“I would suspect that Mackay was recruited into Roxy Music by Bryan Ferry”

Well, I think they formed it together when they were both teaching at Pimlico Comprehensive; Ferry had been singing soul covers, and Mackay had graduated from Reading in Music and English, specialising on the oboe but playing tenor with the Nova Express at uni. I think Simon Puxley had some influence on their early direction.


Dave Heasman 04.02.15 at 1:02 pm

Oh, and if you like Bryan Ferry you might like, or even prefer, Richard Hawley, who also likes a good tenor.


Marshall 04.02.15 at 3:46 pm

don’t nobody remember the Coasters? A tenor riff used to be a basic. The rest of the time that guy didn’t have much to do … I vaguely recall a David Bowie video that made that joke.

I was prescribed darvon for migraines … my feeling, I might as well have the headache. These days they don’t hurt, I just can’t see. I never had a string like that though. Christ have mercy on you and all yours.


Dave Heasman 04.02.15 at 4:50 pm

The Coasters used King Curtis, but he wasn’t in the group, he was a session man. The Coasters’ guitarist, identifiable on “Yakety Yak” and “What About Us” was a group member – Adolph Green. Maybe they used him on live gigs to tune up and school the pickup backing band.


Maria 04.02.15 at 7:39 pm

Lynne, that’s a good tip, thanks. I’ll give it a whirl next time. Can’t hurt!


PJW 04.03.15 at 2:48 am

Just Waiting on a Friend by the Stones has some stellar sax and might be one tune I could handle on a migraine. There’s some good lore about the sax here, Jagger telling the musician he Jagger could conjure the sounds he wanted by having the musician watch his snaky dance movements.

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