From The Desk Of Amy Rigby: “Petty: The Biography” By Warren Zanes

Amy Rigby is back with The Old Guys (Southern Domestic), her first solo album since 2005’s Little Fugitive. A veteran of NYC bands Last Roundup in the ’80s and the Shams in the ’90s, Rigby recorded the 12-track The Old Guys with husband and musical partner Wreckless Eric in upstate New York, where the couple resides. Not only is Rigby currently on tour in support of her new LP, she’s also guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

Rigby: Back in 2016, I was on the road with Tom Petty. Let me tell you, it was a ride. The sheer size of the operation, the level of skill and expertise. Hit after hit, night after night. The volume of fans—the volume. But in the end, it  came down to one thing: the music.

Actually it only felt like I was on the road with TP, because I was driving from solo gig to solo gig in my Subaru, listening to Warren Zanes read his inspiring, enlightening Tom Petty biography. I learned answers to many questions I never knew I had about our dear departed blond one, and it gave me much to think about on the subject of art and ambition; how where you come from can point you where to go but not what to do when you get there.

A great aspect of Warren’s book is his connection to his subject—first as a fan and then as a musician himself, whose band came from the trenches to open a tour for one of their heroes and experienced first-hand a music business that these days exists in the mists of time like King Arthur’s court. Read it or listen to his audiobook version. It can’t bring Tom back, but if you liked him, you’ll end up loving him. And if you loved him already, you’ll feel proud and a little bit sadder forever.

From The Desk Of Amy Rigby: The Hudson Standard Shrub

Amy Rigby is back with The Old Guys (Southern Domestic), her first solo album since 2005’s Little Fugitive. A veteran of NYC bands Last Roundup in the ’80s and the Shams in the ’90s, Rigby recorded the 12-track The Old Guys with husband and musical partner Wreckless Eric in upstate New York, where the couple resides. Not only is Rigby currently on tour in support of her new LP, she’s also guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

Rigby: I admit I’m becoming an upstate New York cliché. I’ve lived in the beautiful Hudson Valley (along the Hudson River, just at the foot of the Catskill Mountains) for more than half a decade now and have the Subaru, the hiking boots and the well-worn tale of that time I hung out with the Band to prove it. (OK, not true. What about Mercury Rev—do they count?). I’m also a yogurt snob and farmers’ market devotee and work in an independent bookstore that serves local beer and cider. It’s not the life I pictured for myself because such a life in a place like this didn’t exist a decade ago, but I love it. I also love supporting the small businesses that have sprung up in an area that is fairly rural. One of those is the Hudson Standard. They make shrub, a delicious fruit and vinegar-based concoction you can mix into cocktails, or add to soda in the summer, or hot water in the winter. The perfect tonic to calm myself down after being cut off by a massive pickup truck with a Trump bumper sticker. Nowhere is perfect.

From The Desk Of Amy Rigby: Eve Babitz

Amy Rigby is back with The Old Guys (Southern Domestic), her first solo album since 2005’s Little Fugitive. A veteran of NYC bands Last Roundup in the ’80s and the Shams in the ’90s, Rigby recorded the 12-track The Old Guys with husband and musical partner Wreckless Eric in upstate New York, where the couple resides. Not only is Rigby currently on tour in support of her new LP, she’s also guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

Rigby: I work part-time in a bookstore/bar, and when a certain type of young o,r really any-age woman asks who to read, I say Eve Babitz. It’s not that men won’t be interested, and I’m sure some of them are, but Eve wrote books about the type of girl I wished and still wish I could be—sexy and tough and brilliant and powerful—in sentences that are all of those things. Her novels and/or memoirs are set in 20th century Southern California when Hollywood and European émigré culture gave way to rock modernity, and it all just feels so glamorous in a slightly shabby way.

Her characters are kind of aimless and sometimes her prose is, too, but that’s part of what make them so enticing—they dazzle just by being, while I pant in envy and admiration and forever feel like one of Helen Gurley Brown’s mouseburgers in comparison, sweating to keep up.

From The Desk Of Amy Rigby: The Outer Banks

Amy Rigby is back with The Old Guys (Southern Domestic), her first solo album since 2005’s Little Fugitive. A veteran of NYC bands Last Roundup in the ’80s and the Shams in the ’90s, Rigby recorded the 12-track The Old Guys with husband and musical partner Wreckless Eric in upstate New York, where the couple resides. Not only is Rigby currently on tour in support of her new LP, she’s also guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

Rigby: Growing up in Pittsburgh, you had two choices if you wanted to go to the real beach (at an ocean, not some fake beach like Lake Erie): Wildwood, N.J., or the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Maybe it had something to do with the highway system—east across I-76 toward N.J., or east and then south, 76 to 95 to 64. My family drove 10 steaming hours every summer, seven of us packed in a station wagon, crossing into a mythical place known as the South. We stopped at a supermarket in Virginia called Piggly Wiggly, where there were dark green collards in bunches and jars of pig feet lining the aisles. There was an endless bridge to get to this sandbar in the Atlantic where there was nothing but Jockey’s Ridge, the largest natural sand dune on the east coast, plus the ocean, a few seafood restaurants and, way, way down at the end, the Cape Hatteras lighthouse. It was the essence of beach with no aesthetics intruding—no particular architecture or cuisine except for a few items that hinted at the South like hush puppies and sweet ice tea called simply “tea.” Decades later between gigs in North Carolina, I went back expecting it to be all built up and commercialized like the rest of the places I’ve loved. But the Outer Banks was the same. The ocean has eroded the coastline a lot, but you can’t argue with that giant sand dune.

From The Desk Of Amy Rigby: “The Temptations” Miniseries

Amy Rigby is back with The Old Guys (Southern Domestic), her first solo album since 2005’s Little Fugitive. A veteran of NYC bands Last Roundup in the ’80s and the Shams in the ’90s, Rigby recorded the 12-track The Old Guys with husband and musical partner Wreckless Eric in upstate New York, where the couple resides. Not only is Rigby currently on tour in support of her new LP, she’s also guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

Rigby: Everybody loves the Ramones (even if they’ve never heard the Ramones), and everybody’s seen Rock ‘N’ Roll High School, directed by Allan Arkush, but I think everybody should check out The Temptations miniseries from 1998, also directed by Arkush. The recent death of lead singer Dennis Edwards (post-David Ruffin, he powered psychedelic hits like “Cloud Nine” and “Ball Of Confusion”) reminded me how much I loved this group when I was growing up. Yes, they were the acceptable face of soul to suburban America, but they were dazzling to hear and behold no matter who you were or where you came from.

Arkush was schooled at the elbow of Roger Corman and brings that visceral element to anything he directs—even a recent episode of dying-swan TV series Nashville. You can feel his love for the artists and music in the performance segments. Produced by longtime Motown executive Suzanne de Passe with Pittsburgh standing in for Detroit (sorry Motown!), it’s full of great actors working to original live-performance recordings punctuated by classic biopic soap-opera elements (broken relationships, addiction, poverty, newfound wealth, shady business dealings, betrayal). It feels like the last of a breed of music-biography film that didn’t try so hard to be of quality. Ray is an early example of that self-conscious, hyper-conscientious strain—so well done that watching it more than once feels like too much work. The Temptations doesn’t try to tell you what to feel or why the group was important—it lets the music performances do that.

From The Desk Of Amy Rigby: AeroPress

Amy Rigby is back with The Old Guys (Southern Domestic), her first solo album since 2005’s Little Fugitive. A veteran of NYC bands Last Roundup in the ’80s and the Shams in the ’90s, Rigby recorded the 12-track The Old Guys with husband and musical partner Wreckless Eric in upstate New York, where the couple resides. Not only is Rigby currently on tour in support of her new LP, she’s also guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

Rigby: Like Patti Smith, I drink a lot of coffee. In her book M Train, she’s always grabbing a container in a deli—quality isn’t important, it just has to be hot and black. I’ve been a fan of Ms. Smith since Horses, but learning about that accepting part of her nature made me love her in a whole new way. I wish drinking any old coffee was that easy for me. When I first started touring, you had to bring your own coffee apparatus along or risk styrofoam and non-dairy creamer. Carrying a drip cone, filters and coffee from Porto Rico or Open Pantry—the only two places I can remember back in those New York City days that sold bulk beans—was a small way to control the road experience. Now every town of any size has at least one almost-decent coffee place, but it’s still good to carry along an AeroPress. Less fussy than trying to do a pourover, it’s just esspresso ground coffee, filter, hot water, press and top up with more hot water. You don’t even have to clean it until you want to use it the next time (though the AeroPress literature frowns on this slovenly behavior).

From The Desk Of Amy Rigby: Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird”

Amy Rigby is back with The Old Guys (Southern Domestic), her first solo album since 2005’s Little Fugitive. A veteran of NYC bands Last Roundup in the ’80s and the Shams in the ’90s, Rigby recorded the 12-track The Old Guys with husband and musical partner Wreckless Eric in upstate New York, where the couple resides. Not only is Rigby currently on tour in support of her new LP, she’s also guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

Rigby: Recently, I ran into our local WalMart to buy some copy paper. It was freezing cold outside (upstate New York), and a nice thing about WalMart is you have to walk about a mile through the store to reach the office-supply section, so in frigid winter or blistering summer, there’s some exercise thrown in. As I sprinted past the acre of Valentine’s Day merchandise, I heard a familiar keening: “Freebird” coming through the PA. Have you listened to it lately? Maybe I was missing my husband, who I’ve done many a van journey with. Pre-gig, post-gig, we often listen to the first Lynyrd Skynyrd album. When it gets to “Freebird,” we raise our water bottles toward the windshield: “To Ronnie.” Then we get into the song. Not in an ironic way. It’s too late and we’ve come too far for that. Just a life-affirming, the-road-goes-on-forever kind of way. That’s how I felt as I listened to “Freebird” through the WalMart loudspeakers. I rounded a corner near housewares and almost hugged a man in hunting gear. I just wanted to ask him, “Hey, weren’t they something? Can’t you just picture Allen Collins in red, and Gary Rossington at Knebworth, with Ronnie Van Zandt leading the charge?” Instead I turned around and headed down the storage-tub aisle. I didn’t want a stranger to see me cry.

From The Desk Of Amy Rigby: Joshua Tree Inn, Room 8

Amy Rigby is back with The Old Guys (Southern Domestic), her first solo album since 2005’s Little Fugitive. A veteran of NYC bands Last Roundup in the ’80s and the Shams in the ’90s, Rigby recorded the 12-track The Old Guys with husband and musical partner Wreckless Eric in upstate New York, where the couple resides. Not only is Rigby currently on tour in support of her new LP, she’s also guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

Rigby: Years back, I played a quiet little gig at a coffee shop in 29 Palms, near Joshua Tree, Calif. I can’t remember the name of the place, but they made a mean Guinness milkshake. (It actually tasted good for the first few sips and then kind of sickly.) What I remember most of all though is that the promoter booked me into Room 8 of the Joshua Tree Inn. This is the room where Gram Parsons died, and it felt kind of ghoulish at first. His music was hugely important to me—back in the ’80s when my first husband, Will Rigby, played Return Of The Grievous Angel for me, the world of country music suddenly cracked wide open and I realized you could honor tradition by tossing it away. The thought of laying down to sleep where Gram ended made me kind of scared, but I had to do it. Yes, I took out my guitar. Yes, I wrote in the guestbook, some cosmic blatherings like all the other faithful who’d checked in (and hopefully out). I will say that I slept like an angel, and I’m not a good sleeper. If you can ever go stay there, do it.

From The Desk Of Pete Astor: “Envoi” (The Past)

Pete Astor has been a staple of the British indie scene since the early ’80s, fronting a diverse number of outfits including the Loft, the Weather Prophets, the Wisdom Of Harry and Ellis Island Sound. He launched a solo career in 1990, as well, and is also a senior lecturer in music at the University of Westminster. Astor’s latest release is One For The Ghost (Tapete). He’ll be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week, writing about the origins of these songs and how they relate to the LP’s theme of past and future, complete with illustrations he created with Susanne Ballhausen.

Astor: Full disclosure: A couple of years ago, this happened. So, you may have to forgive me for how much of this guest editorship has been about the dreaded past. But, remember, the worlds that everyone share, no matter how different their histories are. Something happens in people’s brains around the age of 13 or 14—it could be chemical, it could be cultural; it’s probably both. But this seems to be the time when your musical brain gets formed. I remember our maths teacher organising a school trip to see Hawkwind at Clacton Town Hall. By the way, there was no “maths” element to the trip, and I’m so glad that there was no health and safety to ban the experience. I think that probably nailed it for me.

Lemmy was still in the band, and to see him puffing on a big cigarette when they came onstage was enough to signpost me towards a world of endless possibilities. I knew then that Hawkwind were part of the same team that I had been reading about in On The Road, the same outsiderdom that Arthur Rimbaud inhabited—all of it, the great alternative to something or other. And it probably started all of this.

Hawkwind and more in the One For The Ghost DNA:

From The Desk Of Pete Astor: “Dead Fred” (Astaire)

Pete Astor has been a staple of the British indie scene since the early ’80s, fronting a diverse number of outfits including the Loft, the Weather Prophets, the Wisdom Of Harry and Ellis Island Sound. He launched a solo career in 1990, as well, and is also a senior lecturer in music at the University of Westminster. Astor’s latest release is One For The Ghost (Tapete). He’ll be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week, writing about the origins of these songs and how they relate to the LP’s theme of past and future, complete with illustrations he created with Susanne Ballhausen.

Astor: As a teacher/ lecturer in music, I’m always looking at ways to make work. I should also be clear that when I say I teach music, it doesn’t mean anything technical—I know a G from an Am, but that’s as far as that stuff goes. What I’m interested in is creativity, making good things: creative practice to give it its official name. Basically, the kind of thing they taught/teach in art schools which allowed Pete Townsend to see Gustav Metzger lecture at Ealing College and map his auto-destructive ideas onto what the Who did.

Not nearly as grand or messy, I love finding good writing spurs for coming up with words; New York poet Bernadette Meyer has some really good ones, Kenneth Koch has a brilliant book, Rose, Where Did You Get That Red?.

Closer to home, I’m a big fan of poet Paul Farley, and he had this thing where he said when writing about something you should make two columns, then in one column, you should say things about the event that are factual; in the opposite, you should put fantastical, absurd or plain untrue things in contrast to each fact. This is how this song started; sometimes it’s impossible to write about something head on—the light’s too bright—but coming at it sideways like this unlocked something for me. About four years after that initial splurge and many hours of play, this came out.

Some endings: