“The World Says” is unusual. Karl Hendricks recorded albums almost always as a trio, and 2007’s The World Says is the only album by the four-piece Rock Band. On a record informed by Crazy Horse’s guitar duels, the title track stands alone as a piano and (mostly) acoustic guitar musing. Here’s the first verse:
When I showed up from Bermuda
They didn’t act surprised
When I threw myself in front of a train
They pulled me back, said “Not this time.”
And when I joined the Army
They didn’t give away my LPs
I licked the inside of a urinal
They just blessed my sneeze
If you’ve ever tried to disappear
Then you’ll know what I mean
You keep insisting you’re invisible
The world says you’re seen
Some songs show their value through sales; Billy Ray Cyrus grew wealthy from “Achy Breaky Heart” years before his daughter became a celebrity. Other songs show their value in resonance to the listener. “The World Says” is one of those songs, for me.
The summer of 2007 found me traveling to Seattle to help my Uncle John. He had gone there to see if an experimental trial could arrest his mantle cell lymphoma. John endured two years of treatments and this was his last best hope. We met with nutritionists, therapists, and doctor after doctor to get him ready for the trial, but the cancer was too advanced to let him proceed. He was gone within four weeks.
I did not find comfort in much at the time, but “The World Says” was therapeutic when I felt powerless. I am forever grateful to Karl for giving me that.
Karl died this morning. If you did not know him, his modesty and kindness belied his talents. He spent more than a quarter century as a buyer at and owner of Pittsburgh’s best record store, enhancing the musical literacy of so many of us who lived in western Pennsylvania. Karl Hendricks was as much a civic leader of Pittsburgh during that time as anyone, without even considering the music he created.
If you did not know his music, you can learn about some of the best rock music made the past quarter century and give some money to his family by purchasing his records from Bandcamp or Comedy Minus One. They are all worth it, from the cover art to the guitar playing to Karl’s lyrics.
Karl’s writing is better than anything I can provide, so please listen to him instead of me. When he sold his store last summer, I posted a list of favorite songs of his and repeat that list now as entryways into his catalog. Thanks always to Karl.
10. “Know More About Jazz.”
9. “Baseball Cards.”
8. “Underdog Park.”
7. “Naked and High on Drugs.”
6. “The Ballad of Bill Lee.”
5. “The Official Shape of Beauty.”
4. “The Mens’ Room at the Airport.”
3. “Nogales By Tuesday.”
2. “The World Says.”
(This link is the only one on the list not to one of the Bandcamp pages. It opens a solo video Karl made in 2011. More on why it tops the list here.)