The Soundtrack of SILVER BROWN

The New Jazz [Part III]: ZZ Top

That Little Ol’ Band from Texas! Okay, so not exactly “new” per se. They’ve been recording and touring since before I was freaking born. No lineup changes or anything. Same three guys, for half a century. Or tres hombres, if you will. Two of them famously bearded long before it became cool to be so, the third never having any use for a Beard because that’s already his name. A band I have always liked. They experienced their heyday during my formative years; I was about eight or nine years old when Eliminator came out, which wasn’t even their best album. Before I had even heard of prog or jazz fusion or Frank Zappa, or even before high school when I was heavily into Queen, I looked on ZZ Top as one of the greatest bands on the planet.

It was was more than just their wild and woolly mountain-man image, one that was lamentably underused and underrepresented in clean-cut Reaganite America’s rock output. It was those distinctive guitar lines. That tone! What timbre! Nobody else can make a Gibson sound the way Billy Gibbons can; the man truly has a masterful control over his instrument. Even when ZZ Top went through that weird phase in their career when they really started overdoing it with the synthesizers and drum machines, the guitar stylings of The Reverend Willie G have never failed to impress. He always makes his solos longer than they need to be, often throwing in two or three solos a song. He’s a student of the blues and that’s just the way he rolls.

Since we’ve all heard songs like “Legs”, “Tush” and “La Grange” a zillion times over on classic rock radio, I wanted to focus here on the more underrated and lesser-known musical gems on offer from this band. Like their ahead-of-its-time meditation on drunk driving…

…or a few of the countless tracks they’ve dropped over the years that would be considered politically incorrect by today’s standards but are still great…

…or this, which is probably the greatest song you’ve never heard. Even greater, it’s a live version…

Finally, I give you this. Remember that episode of Seinfeld where Elaine was dating that guy who froze into some kind of hypnotic trance whenever he heard the song “Desperado” by the Eagles? Well, whatever “Desperado” was to that guy is what this song is to me. Especially after a bong hit or two.

I am oft inspired to spontaneously tweet grandiose proclamations whenever this tune fills my eardrums. I leave you with a couple of my greatest hits…


The Green Grass of SILVER BROWN

Her Majesty

I am pleased to announce that Her Majesty (my bong) has delivered her throne speech at the official state opening of patio season. Her Lords were most impressed. Especially when the Speaker of the House recited the Heart Sutra mantra 108 times and then belted out some old blues tune at the top of his lungs.


The Green Grass of SILVER BROWN

My New Dog Whistle

My trusty silver bullet. Rest in peace, little guy. 2018-2019

My other favourite holiday is coming up. Merrie 4/20 everybody. At the slight risk of pooping the party, it is with a heavy heart I announce that my go-to smoking implement is no more. Thankfully, I speak not of my bong Her Majesty, who is resting comfortably in her royal chambers until such time that she is summoned by the Parliament of Summer to make her grand entrance and throne speech at the state opening of patio season. No, I’m talking about my other pipe. My trusty silver bullet. I accidentally dropped it in a dumpster.

As many of us know, The Man has been oppressing and persecuting smokers for decades now, and because I’m such a slimy piece of worm-ridden filth, he won’t permit me to partake of my bad habit in convenient areas that are continuously well-sheltered from the wind, like the inside of my own apartment. Hence, I must necessarily go outside to see a man about a dog, regardless of whatever inconveniences the elements pose to hinder or frustrate the smoking experience.

The wind was being particularly inconvenient while I was out having a wake n’ bake in my usual neighbourhood. Inconvenient enough that I couldn’t get my lighter to stay lit long enough to toke. In order to remedy that situation, I tried leaning inside a nearby dumpster, so I could make use of its large lid as a barrier against the tormenting gusts. The ploy worked like a charm the first time I tried it, but when I attempted the same technique to smoke the last of the resin left in the bowl, I accidentally dropped the whole damn pipe. One moment it was clenched in my teeth, so I could have both hands free to work the lighter. The next moment it had plummeted to the bottom of the dumpster like an aluminum stone. There was a layer of negligence somewhere in between those two moments; I was admittedly a lot more mellow on the second attempt.


The silver bullet’s final resting place. At some distant point in the future when we at long last have world peace, this might be a holy pilgrimage site where people will go to leave offerings of sacred phalluses.

I did briefly consider climbing into the dumpster to retrieve the pipe, but ultimately decided against that. Too legally risky. Especially with all those security cameras around. I can smoke ganja in plain view of those cameras and not get arrested, because this is Canada. But climbing inside a dumpster is another matter entirely. The local authorities might not take as kindly to that.

So instead of going through the trouble to get the old pipe back, I opted to simply buy a replacement. Smoking implements of this type are not expensive; I only paid five dollars for the silver bullet, and it’s not far-fetched to assume I should be able to pick up something similar for similar. Why, there just happens to be a head shop literally right around the corner from that dumpster! Ain’t Canada grand?

Should you drop in, don’t mention anything to them about me. I’ve been told I’m not young and pretty enough to be a social media influencer.

I would go there later that day to pick up this snazzy new red thing on my keychain…

If you were born after the summer of 1989, this keychain is most certainly older than you. Now get off my lawn.

This is one of those stealth pipes, of the type that will be increasingly seen as charmingly quaint as more and more people and governments reject Nixonian pruditude and awaken to the healing powers of Our Lady of 420. Not quite an exact replacement, but the closest approximation the local head shop had in stock at the time. It’s similar to the silver bullet in that it’s small and sturdy and can be easily tucked away in a pocket and forgotten about when not in use. Close enough for me.

At first glance, it looks like an ordinary pocket flashlight. Of the type that people are less and less wont to carry these days, on the grounds that flashlights are as common a feature on modern smartphones as cameras. Like I said, charmingly quaint.


But wait… why does it have a hole in the side of it like that? Aha! It’s not a flashlight! It’s a Transformer!


This guy packs quite the mean punch for such a little thing. More than the silver bullet did. Way more. After two tokes from this Transformer, it dawned on me immediately that the silver bullet was a very utilitarian pipe. Not a peace pipe. It was not an esoteric whistle to call out to the animal spirits and departed elders who continue to roam Turtle Island. No, it was just a pipe. Just a metal chamber with a rubber mouthpiece, and nothing more. A training wheel the vehicle of my mind no longer had any use for, now that it had grown wings of fire, its motor roaring with the vibrations of ten thousand thunders. Verily, the silver bullet had died and resurrected as a phoenix reborn. I now had a god whistle. Like a dog whistle, only backwards.