When the Levee Breaks

We are in the midst of a severe drought. In my part of the world that can be taken literally, but I am not talking about water. Let me ask you something, friend. When was the last time you heard a real rock song on the radio? When was the last time you heard a guitar thrashing and symbols crashing like waves against the breakwater? The grass in my town is slowly fading to a dusty brown. It matches the color of the thirsty earth from which it struggles to grow. But this Summer, in the middle of a dying field, I sat in front of a stage and the rain came.

It started innocently enough: the closing strains of a Neil Young cover band spread over us like a clear blue sky. But as Done. took the stage something in the air was changing. There was a tension, coming from the ground itself, of expectation. And as the opening riffs poured out of ten foot speakers into the parched ears of the gathered crowd, the sky darkened and the land itself sensed something was coming that it had sorely missed. The dank smell of vegetation, dry for so long yet feeling the coming downpour, rose from the earth as the power chords came down from above. But higher still, from the metallic-gray clouds, a sudden chorus of thunder burst out. Yet, even as the fire of their steel strings and symbols was quenched by the sudden deluge, the band’s music rose like a tsunami over the thunder, filling the ears of a crowd in desperate need of rock and roll. And this day they would thirst no longer.

The audience, and the earth, drank it all in. The music, and the storm, built and raged. At last there was so much electricity in the air that the clouds themselves exploded with it. Steaks of lightning spread across the sky as the thunder kept time with the bass and drums, flashes illuminating the roiling surface of the clouds. In the end the forces of nature won out, as they always will. The show was ended and the crowd dispersed, sent splashing for shelter through growing torrents of rainwater. But soon the storm had passed. And although the air was still heavy with moisture and charged with electricity, we craved more. I look forward to the day when rock and roll comes as frequently as the rains, and we no longer roam the sere wastelands of radio pop. Until then, I’ll dance like lightning in the thunderclouds as I listen to Done.

December 13, 2015

(Throwing Copper)

In July of 2015, Done. played a benefit for Relay for Life. I encourage you to visit their website to learn more about their cancer-fighting fundraisers.


Misty Mountain Hop

Listening to Runaway, acoustic, under a hilltop oak tree as the sun liquifies into the Pacific. Cody and Aaron with their heads bent over their cheap guitars, furiously raking the strings. Mike, lips pursed and brow furrowed, slapping his four-string bass as hard as he can in order to be heard. Cody occasionally looks up, slack-jawed, at Mike’s playing, his blue eyes blankly staring into the rhythm, his large forehead bobbing slightly. Aaron never looks up. His eyes, widened as if in terror, like two ice-blue planets, never leave the strings of his guitar, tracking up and down the neck with intensely focused fury.

Later, Aaron corners me. On top of a hill, surrounded by nothing but grass and trees, he corners me. This is something Aaron excels at.

“Don’t say anything, just listen to me,” he says, getting his face right in mine, fist up to my chest.

This is usually how it starts. At this point I have nowhere to retreat.

“Give me your top four Done. songs, no particular order,” he demands, as if my very manhood is in question. Then he quickly takes a step back, hands up, palms forward, as if to suggest that I have a choice, that I don’t have to answer. “I mean, obviously Runaway, but what about the rest?” he adds.

Aaron wrote Runaway after reading an article in the paper about a former marine who killed himself in prison, awaiting trial. The band had been jamming out the song for at least a month and not even Mike or Cody knew what it was about. I came by the garage one night and he had just told them. They played the song for me and then they told me the story. This marine had killed a young Iraqi girl’s entire family then raped her to death in her own home. The song is written as a warning to her, as if Aaron’s driving rhythm could tear a rift through time and space, allowing her to hear his lyrics and escape death.

“Of course Runaway is up there,” I reply, working myself up to his challenge. “And Done, of course. Creamsicle… Yub Nub.”

“Really?” he asks, his face contorted in fake disbelief, “Yub Nub?” As if this was some kind of eccentric choice made merely to test him.

“Absolutely,” I say, “and of course,” I pause dramatically, “Reason Why.”

“Yeah! Got to have one of the classic hits on the list,” he replies, grabbing my shoulders and shaking me. Then he moves off, satisfied for now.

I first heard Reason Why at least a decade ago, played by the earliest iteration of the band. But songs evolve just like bands do. Now, the song is an instrumental: its lyrics having been dropped for some likely arbitrary reason when the guys decided to remake the band in a new image.

That image is Done. Done with all the things that slow you down and make you weak. Done with all the periphery distractions. Done.

Hello, we’re done.