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Underrated

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Leslie West (right) and Felix Pappalardi

Sometimes I find myself listening to music that's been on the shelf for who knows how long, and sometimes when I do this, I find music that didn't really appeal to me back then sounds fresh and vital now.

I never really cared that much back in the early '70s for the guitarist Leslie West. I can't say why. But this morning, to cure an earworm, I cued up the live side of Mountain's Flowers of Evil. Mountain—made up of West, the bassist Felix Papplardi, Corky Laing on drums and Steve Knight on keyboards—had a hit with "Mississippi Queen," but most fans of classic rock probably couldn't name another song by the band. I liked the band's music; I just never thought much of West.

The earworm wasn't "Mississippi Queen." It was a guitar solo by West that starts the live side of Flowers of Evil. What impeccable chops. I never appreciated how nuanced his playing was back then—how fluid he was, how he left spaces between notes and phrases to let them breathe. Upon a closer listen, I was hearing all sort of little things that I've never heard before.

West has lost of ton of weight from his days with Mountain, and he has lost a leg to diabetes. But something tell me—or something hopes—his fingers are as supple as ever.

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Wish I'd Said It

Nota bene: “Fear has governed my life, if I think about it. ... I always feel like I’m not good enough for some reason. I wish that wasn’t the case, but left to my own devices, that voice starts speaking up.” – Trent Reznor

“I hate to say this, but not many people care what you do. They care about what you do as much as you care about what they do. Think about it. Just exactly that much. You are not the center of the universe.” — Laurie Anderson

"The path's not yours till you've gone it alone a time." – William Carlos Williams

“Filling this empty space constitutes my identity.” – Twyla Tharp

"My definition of peace is having no noise in my head." – Eric Clapton

"The wreckage of the sky serves to confirm us in delicious error." – John Ashbery

"We are all here by the grace of the big bang. We are all literally the stuff of the stars." – Dwight Owsley

"For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream." – Vincent van Gogh

"It is only with the heart that one can see right; what is essential is invisible to the eye." — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

"Forget about being a perfectionist, because entropy always wins out in the end." – Darren Kaufman.

"Impermanence. Impermanence. Impermanence." – Garry Shandling

"Fame is a vapor; popularity an accident; the only earthly certainty is oblivion." – Mark Twain

"There is no realm wherein we have the truth." – Gordon Lish

"Actual life is full of false clues and sign-posts that lead nowhere." – E.M. Forster

“Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe." – Frank Zappa

“I try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip.” – Elmore Leonard

“The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.” – Voltaire

• Journal title and subtitle: Ian Hunter, “Man Overboard”

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