Black Flag – My War

27 Dec

Black Flag
My War
December 1984
SST Records
Producer: Greg Ginn, Spot, Bill Stevenson

1. My War (Dukowski) – 3:46
2. Can’t Decide (Ginn) – 5:22
3. Beat My Head Against the Wall (Ginn) – 2:34
4. I Love You (Dukowski) – 3:27
5. Forever Time (Ginn/Rollins) – 2:30
6. The Swinging Man (Ginn/Rollins) – 3:04
7. Nothing Left Inside (Ginn/Rollins) – 6:44
8. Three Nights (Ginn/Rollins) – 6:03
9. Scream (Ginn) – 6:52

My War is the second full-length album by Black Flag. It was released in 1984. A whole three years after Damaged. And I have to admit I didn’t buy it when it was first released. By the time it came out I was out of high school and going to trade school. I don’t think I bought anything punk for a better part of a decade.

Greg Ginn played bass in addition to guitar; Dale Nixon (credited for playing bass on the album) is a pseudonym that he would pull out whenever he didn’t want to use a bass player.

My War was released after a long period where the band could not release any albums due to a legal dispute with Unicorn Records.

The first six songs on the a-side of My War are similar to the material on 1981’s Damaged, but the three songs on the b-side proved that Black Flag was moving away from the band’s early, fast-paced material which is probably what go them so many youtube views. All songs on side B play at about half the pace of the band’s earlier material, each clocking in at over six minutes, and display a gloomy, ominous sound indebted to Black Sabbath. My War is generally cited as being a major influence on many bands in the sludge metal and grunge genres. Two of the songs featured on the album are solely written by Chuck Dukowski (“My War” and “I Love You”) though he was no longer a member of the band by this point and does not perform on the album.

The song My War was featured in the soundtrack of Grand Theft Auto V.

If you don’t own it, go and buy it, stop reading! Go buy it.

Stand-out track: My War (for Ginn’s guitar work alone)

Rating: ** * Two out of three stars

On to the story . . .

I haven’t done this in a while, so I decided I’d throw a two-part fiction piece at you . . .

Barney Part 2

“Yeah, the physical therapy convention. Remember we talked about me going to after the bachelor party?”

“Goddamn it, Barney! Just admit you’re drunk again and don’t know where the fuck you are!”

“Whoa, Virginia. What’s this about? I’m in . . . New Mexico. Should be home tomorrow.”

“You know what? Don’t bother. The wedding’s canceled!”

The line goes dead. Barney tries to shake the cobwebs out of his brain. Time to think.

Barney rustles his office receptionist out of bed . . .

“Josie, I need you to get to the office. Get my platinum American Express out of my desk and call me back on my cell.”

“Barney, where have you been? Virginia has been calling the office, non-stop and I’ve had to reschedule every appointment you’ve had for the last week.”

“Josie, listen you know I love you. Now, I need you to get to the office and call me.”

Thirty-seven minutes later . . .

Josie reserves Barney a first-class plane ticket home, wires him some money to get clothes from the only store for miles, K-Mart. Sends Virginia one hundred roses and a fruit and wine basket. A long gushing apology letter is attached to the basket, written by Josie.

Once Barney is on the plane Josie texts Virginia Barney’s arrival time, and says, “Should I pick him up?” Knowing full well that after the letter and roses Virginia was in seventh heaven, Virginia insisted on picking him up.

Virginia pulls up top the curb at LAX in her three-month-old BMW. Barney is standing there, clothed head to toe in Kmart’s David Taylor collection for men. Some of Barney’s bluster was gone.

Josie wired Barney $500.00. Somewhere under $100.00 was spent on clothes. Barney had $50.00 left. The airport bar in New Mexico had made a tidy profit that afternoon.

Barney hopped in the car, kissed Virginia. Turned on the radio to KLOS, an old John Cougar song came on:

“And when you drink sometimes, you try to liberate.
And you stagger in the front yard till you find the gate
That swings on that thin line of love and hate.
And baby, just let it go.

Yeah, I’ll be with you in your weakest moments, uh huh.
Yeah, I’ll be there with you in your weakest moments.”

Barney suggests they take the canyon over the hill into Calabasas to avoid the freeway. Virginia nods. Smiles slightly. Loves him, but is still unsure.

Barney starts to fall asleep. He’s drunk and not recovered from his bachelor party and his lost few days in New Mexico.

Once in the Canyon, the sun had fizzled for the day. Barney wakes up. Reaches under the seat and finds a flask he left in the BMW two weeks ago. Ah, this is what he wants.

Barney unscrews the top of the flask and throws his head back. He chugs as much as his throat will allow.

Virginia reaches over to grab the flask. The car starts swerving; she doesn’t see the man walking his two German Shepherds on the side of the roadway. Virginia knocks the flask out of Barney’s hand, swerves to miss the man and clips one of his dogs.

The BMW goes over the embankment, rolls and hits a tree. Barney goes through the front window.

Barney lands hard. He’s out cold for twenty or thirty seconds. Once awake, he pushes himself up. He staggers looks around but isn’t sure what has happened.

The tree has pushed the driver side door into Virginia. After the airbag inflated she has about an inch and a half of space to move her head. The steering wheel is pressed against her chest. She doesn’t know how long she can breathe like this. Then she smells gas. She yells for Barney, “Get help. Hurry!”

Barney staggers and yells, “Hang on, I’m going.”

Barney gets a half a mile from the car. His head is spinning. He sits on the guardrail on the side of the canyon. He gets dizzy, smells smoke, falls backward and passes out.

Barney stands looking down at an old, unkempt tombstone.

He holds a paper bag in his hands. A small bottle of Gilbey’s Vodka that he purchased for $3.49. Barney wishes he didn’t drink, but he needed something to take the edge off. Virginia would be mad.




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One Response to “Black Flag – My War”

  1. 1
    Eddie Cook Says:

    Great story!

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