RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Thursday, February 29

SONG OF THE DAY: Searching For That Lady

Was digging through records to take with me for spinning tonight at a Cuban restaurant in town, and I was missing some 45s I’d meant to spin. I figured the Record Gods were holding out on me, so I didn’t press it. But then two whole boxes of 45s, including the ones having the key Peruvian cumbia 45s I meant to have with me, showed up behind a demolition derby trophy I got at a junk store. The Record Gods teased me, but came through.
I have a sort of chaotic method to organizing my life, which is going to become annoying as I get older and forget things more rapidly. Mostly everything is sort of sorted into levels of importance or dopeness, so I know certain boxes of 45s are top notch, some are good, others are mid but might contain gems, and some are banished to the upstairs hallway and I really should get rid of them probably (although what if my tastes change and there are hidden gems?). So nothing is alphabetized, I kind of have a hip hop 45 box and a cumbia 45 box, but other than that, it’s pure chaos method, where the cream rises to the top of the box chain, and I just go with that. That leaves me always searching, because I don’t have a perfect order where I can go, “Oh, I want to find this one particular New Horizons 45,” because it’s just in the whole mass of 45s, somewhere. And for someone who desires total control and order in their world, that’s probably difficult. But I enjoy the magic, of finding lost gems, realizing I have a clean copy of something I thought was only scratchy the last time I played the other version, and just general faith that the Record Gods know I’m acting with pure heart and will always reward me because of that. But as I’ve gotten older, in fact older than I thought I’d ever live to be, I realize I love and value magic far more than order. I don’t want instability, so basic order is nice. But having everything mapped out and predicted feels very non-magical to me, and likely ain’t my metaphysical heritage anyways. So we keep it chaotic good around here, and likely always will.

Wednesday, February 28

SONG OF THE DAY: Rhinestone Cowboy (kudzu'd)

Authenticity in a consumer culture is always gonna be impossible to nail down. Fake ass people who practice the same persona for long enough eventually appear to be authentic as opposed to the folks they cribbed from in the first place. Nostalgia for old fabricated bullshit starts to seem more real than the current fabricated bullshit, and it all just gets all mixed up and around in the bins of shit you’re expected to sift through to consume, that authenticity is completely lost and somewhat irrelevant.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what is a person’s culture, especially in some place like America where most of the population is not from there historically. Most of us have had most of what would be our historical culture lost in the process of assimilation to American life, and few of us speak the same language as our ancestors 4 or 5 generations back. So what is our culture now? On the surface, by design, it seems to be what we buy into, or consume. American culture, on that superficial level, is big trucks, spacious houses with engineered landscapes, giving the appearance of rural but not too far off giant clusters of box stores where we can restock our identity with convenient ease. But let’s be real, that’s not a culture so much as a lack of culture. Culture is what we practice, regularly, and yeah, it can seem like by that definition, the big trucks and suburban lifestyle is still our American culture. But culture also should have some lasting value, into the future. And just buying shit has no lasting value… it’s a constant struggle against the high and low tides of economic factors to maintain that bullshit.
I’ve been thinking of culture as what I practice, but in two directions – past and future. So whatever I practice regularly is my culture, and it reverberates as far forward into the future as I practiced it regularly into the past. That means, so like I’m learning banjo now (very early stages lol). But also, I had kin who came out the mountains to Amelia County back in the 1930s or ‘40s, who brought bluegrass music with them to Southside Virginia. So it’s in my familial history. But my dad didn’t play, nor did my grandfather (who I never met). But the folks before them did, extensively, so that practice maybe echoed forward to me, maybe not. But the more I practice it, the more I can connect with that practice, and carry it forward. Maybe. It might die because I find it too frustrating, who knows?
But also with writing haiku, I’ve practiced that super extensively, on daily basis even, for upwards of at least 20 years now. That’s an extensive practice. It’s part of my being, and everywhere in my life (and mind). As an individual, that’s part of my culture, but being I’m the first in my family to do that, it’s not really my culture… yet. But the events I’ve created, and sharing my practice with others has led others to practice it as well, and it spreads that culture of writing haiku. It moves from familial cultural activity to communal one instead. But I’ve put a lot of life into that, and I’d say it’s part of my identity, at least to others. (I remember when I got to do workshops in the old Richmond City Jail, and one time I showed up and one of the women students who was incarcerated, as we all stood on the line waiting for entry into the classroom, saw me and exclaimed, “Hey! It’s Haiku Guy!” The personal practice I had shared had become my identity to her.)
I say all this, because as a kid, there was a lot of country music spinning on the turntable. But it was mostly outlaw shit, and pop country was seen as weak and not relevant to our fucked up rural life. You never would’ve heard my pops playing John Denver or Glen Campbell. But 40  years later, as rural America is more suburbanized, and Wal-Mart Supercenters touch down every 40 miles or so across the vanishing country landscape, “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” feels nostalgic, for a simpler time. Or “Rhinestone Cowboy”, seems less like the embracing of materialistic bullshit urban culture that it did when I was a kid (under the influence of paternal thinking) and almost like a cry against that very world. But also, I’m applying the filters of time on it from today. And slowing it down (as I am wont to do) just adds that extra layer of fucked – “Where hustle’s the name of the game… and nice guys get washed away like snow in the rain.”
Now, strangely enough, a rhinestone jacketed dude strumming guitar would feel more authentic than the big truck driven to Costco to fill up on La Croix 12-packs. Except the rhinestone jacketed guy might just be the young adult sign of the Costco visitor, with a scraggly fu manchu mustache, cosplaying country in a different way than his dad. It’s impossible to tell, unless you get to know somebody, to see if what they’re showing as an identity is what they’re actually practicing as a culture. I don’t necessarily have time for that all the time, so I’ve been extending benefit of the doubt a lot more often lately (no time for drama), but also, the eyes always give it away to a certain extent. You can tell how real somebody is by looking in their eyes. I think. But I could be full of shit.

Thursday, February 22

SONG OF THE DAY: Bust A Move (kudzu'd)

I have the first haiku slam of the year in a few hours, and I’m horribly disorganized and unprepared, so I don’t have time to babble some writing like I normally would for these song of the day lists that I think my sister, my girlfriend, a guy in Australia, then like a rotating cast of 2 out of 9 others will see. Nonetheless, if you are currently wavering in personal decision making, let me and this song just put a mark in the affirmative column for you to bust a move.

Wednesday, February 21

SONG OF THE DAY: Maskeraad

Funk is Universal, and it’s in every single human soul… if allowed to flourish. The saddest thing to see is how whole segments of society have stifled their natural funk for so long that they’re not even seen culturally able to be funky. If you’re such a person, I suggest you get a big metal barrel for burning things that you put outside, and burn that fucker at least a couple times a month, preferably when the moon is bright, although to be honest, it’s just an important to soak up the new moon vibes as well, which is counterintuitive if you’re counting on light. But fire, plus lunar reflections and stardusting your crown, these are all things that help ferment the funk back in your soul. If you do it right, you should start smelling like woodsmoke half the time. If that’s a problem, well, then you are choosing whatever path of your life requires you not to stink like woodsmoke over the the path that leads you back to a natural funky nature. So at that point, you’re making the choice to not be funky. That’s sad. No amount of progress promised by civilization is worth losing our funk.

Tuesday, February 20

SONG OF THE DAY: I Won't Love You Again (kudzu'd)

Been playing a lot of slowed oldies lately. Like a lot. Even drifting back into the doo wop days. That shit sounds great slowed down. Civilization is coming apart at the seams so it only makes sense we’d shift space-time and jam slowed oldies around pallet fires. Seems natural.

Monday, February 19

SONG OF THE DAY: So Low (kudzu'd)

Different pattern to this one, same rhyme scheme but I made the lines more separate. Feels a little sing songy to me, which ain’t my style, but fuck it. It’s a freestyle exercise. Also, I love this fuckin’ song slowed down so much. Carried me through some introspective moments the past few months, lol. Also, in the last line, I am using "funk" as positive funk flows in your life, not the wack ass "in a funk" type of funk. Funk is good. Funk not only soothes, it removes.

Dwelling in negative light will tarnish your soul, 
and this world will create reasons to dull your shine; 
but never let another's judgments slow your roll, 
continue feeling, even if not feeling fine. 

Systems designed to engineer order surround, 
but we all got born free DNA deep inside; 
cellular memories of fingers in the ground, 
and ancestral tendencies to cross vast divide. 

Abide by heart... brain thinking's got limitations 
(like compromised morality while chasing wealth); 
people got the same hopes regardless of stations... 
a simple life of happiness, freedom, and health. 

Unneeded complications leave us feeling drunk; 
simplifying life also amplifies the funk. 

Sunday, February 18

SONG OF THE DAY: Five Minutes of Funk (kudzu'd)

There’s no greater statement in favor of The Power of Lounge than the fact that if you slow down “Five Minutes of Funk”, it becomes seven minutes of funk. Everything could be so much nicer if we just stopped hustling so damn hard.

Saturday, February 17

SONG OF THE DAY: We Got To Hold Ourselves

Hey man, let's keep the vibes as light as can be while this heavy ass world seems to spin further off kilter. I don't really know what to say to nobody, because though I've had shit going on, all in all life is good. And I know a whole lot of people really getting put through the ringer right now. If you have anything resembling downtime in your life, whether it's a weekend or an afternoon or you're just magically feeling better than normal for a few hours, allow yourself the space to lounge. Just because the shitstorm eases up for a few hours doesn't mean you have to rush out and try to accomplice all the undone tasks that's been building up in your head. Let yourself lounge. We wasn't made to juggle all we juggle. We was made to sit in sunshine and feel the warmth.

Tuesday, February 13

SONG OF THE DAY: I Just Can't Leave You Alone (kudzu'd)

Been in a down state but I think I might have pulled out. Time will tell. It always does. But I did another freestyle sonnet.

Many folks' most perfect beats are fashioned from junk; 
funk found has deeper bass than that easily made 
with the comfort of space. And yet, I can't get drunk 
off resentment for suburb punks whose parents paid 

every step of the way. We're all born without 
picking where, and all of us gotta navigate 
the same oppressive conditions, though ain't no doubt 
from different positions. Too easy to hate, 

and get full nelsoned by woe is me misery. 
I gotta find heartfelt rhythm which keeps my feet 
in motion, seeking futuristic history 
which always begins as oral tale told with sweet 

optimism and hope... the only way to roll
dwelling in negative light will tarnish your soul.