Ticket Stubs & Liner Notes by Tim Hunt
Main Street Rag Publishing, 2018. 84 pp.
Reviewed by DM O’Connor
Even before the advent of the internet, say in the mid-80s, somewhere between Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Madonna’s Like A Virgin, Rock and Roll became simply Rock. Or to be super specific, Synthesized-Pop. Analog became digital and technology opened the door to Electro-pop, House, Techno, Drum and Bass or whatever you want to label the sound you hear in the elevator, the gym, on the dance floor. This music eschews melody and lyrics. If these are your go-to sounds, then Ticket Stubs & Liner Notes by Tim Hunt is not your playlist. However, if you know how to change a needle on a record player, remember when jukeboxes took coins, can still rewind a cassette tape with a pencil, or ever had a briefcase full of 8-tracks, then Tim Hunt’s poems will, well—as BB King sang, I don't care if you're young or old, let's get together and let the good times roll.
Ticket Stubs & Liner Notes is divided into four sections: Soundcheck, 1st Set, 2nd Set, 3rd Set, and Encore. The prologue is “Tickets, Please.” The epilogue is “Program Notes.” Remember the hours spent combing over album covers? No? Well, Hunt’s intention is to replicate the glory days of Rock and Roll, when music was tuned into on the car radio, when albums were bought and cared for like religious totems, and when concert tickets were referred to as “miracles.”
This is history, man, check out the sound check, “Concerto for Air Guitar:”
In the cathedral of the crowd’s
adoring roar, you kneel
and light the guitar,
worshipping the flames
of flickering silence.
In “Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus” the speaker is claiming his relevance to a younger generation, Virginia, who we might assume is a daughter or student. The speaker admits:
It is boring to say I remember when, and then
toss in those exaggerations: walking barefoot
to school in the snow, how we didn’t have
iPods or even cell phones and you had to go
next door to knock to share something…
The poem continues to delve into the difference in immediacy that technology has brought:
Virginia, there was a time before YouTube
and YouPorn, Google and Siri, Ask Jeeves,
when everything was hint and innuendo…
The final stanza concludes with the speaker posting on the youngster’s Facebook wall, asking to name a few radio stations. Since the youngster cannot or doesn’t the speaker names his:
and K-R-A-K, CRACK, THE Country Voice of the Valley,
the announcer spelling the letters, then the words all
dipthong and pooped K’s and a gunshot ricochet
to that whine of early George Jones, nirvana’d
hot rods and white lightnin’ and the race was
on. But mostly KFRC 610, where The Who was
T-t-ta-talkni ‘bout my generation, and I too
could want to die before I got old, forever.
Ticket Stubs & Liner Notes is an ode to the ghost of American culture and lost youth. Full of popular references that have mostly faded away: TV shows, radio station names, disbanded bands, lyric snippets, all swirl together to form a historical document, which is as comforting and dangerous as nostalgia. If you know the references personally, the memories come flooding. The accomplished poem, “Childhood Illness” is basically an elegy to the power of TV and how it used to be a form of parenting through: I Love Lucy, Father Knows Best, My Little Margie, The Bob Commins, All My Children, and American Bandstand, are all mentioned. Millennials might need a translator, or at least, Wikipedia.
T.S. Eliot wrote that “culture may even be described as that which makes life worth living.” Dramatist, Hanns Johst wrote, “when I hear the word ‘culture’ I reach for my revolver.” Personally, I love reading descriptions of concerts, of discovering and seeing Van Morrison, Jimmy Hendrix, Thelonious Monk live and in the flesh. Those late night cross-country drives listening to AM schlock that I would never choose brought me closer to the people who did. I used to be able to read the Beats and feel like hitting the road. Nowadays, I can barely walk down the street without a curated podcast.
Tim Hunt composed a lovely album. Ticket Stubs & Liner Notes is an archive and a memoir, which if you’ve lived, you will love.
and ceiling are dark, a harmony of spaces that
cannot be scored—each note a shrug. There are no
discoveries. Just memories. Offered forward
as if this might be the last time.
“Thelonious Monk at The Village Vanguard, New York City (1st Take)”
DAVID MORGAN O'CONNOR is from a small Canadian village on Lake Huron. After many nomadic years, he's based in Albuquerque, where stories and poems progress daily. His writing has appeared in more than 50 print or online publications. He reviews, interviews and blogs monthly.