Posts Tagged ‘lp’

Art of the cover: Year of the Rabbit inaugural edition

May 31, 2011

Technically it’s the year of the Hare. The metal Hare, even, which sounds like a band name: TONIGHT ONLY — Metal Hare with openers Loose Gravel — $3 cover charge — featuring Open Trench and Soft Shoulder! (I get a lot of band name inspiration from road signs, sorry). But I’m going with rabbit.


via.

Elegant both physically and intellectually, Rabbits will always stand out from the crowd either as extremely stylish dressers or because they create an individualistic fashion statement of their own.

(source.)

It happens.

Music Moment: Cat Stevens, “Peace Train”

May 6, 2011

Cat Stevens — Peace Train

I’ve been smiling lately. I really have.


Photographed by Julie Lansom.

Now I’ve been happy lately,
thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be,
something good has begun


via.
Oh I’ve been smiling lately,
dreaming about the world as one
And I believe it could be,
some day it’s going to come


With Shelley Duvall, via.
Cause out on the edge of darkness,
there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country,
come take me home again


Now I’ve been smiling lately,
thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be,
something good has begun


Richard Hamilton.
Oh peace train sounding louder
Glide on the peace train
Come on now peace train
Yes, peace train holy roller


Everyone jump upon the peace train
Come on now peace train

A few weeks ago, I came home triumphantly wielding a near-mint Cat Stevens LP from a trip to a nearby touristy mountain town — only to see in going through my collection that at some point in the past I’d brought that exact record in pretty much the exact same condition.

My organization skills may be in the toilet, but the important thing is, I’m consistent.


via.

Get your bags together,
go bring your good friends too
Cause it’s getting nearer,
it soon will be with you


With Carly Simon, via.
Now come and join the living,
it’s not so far from you
And it’s getting nearer,
soon it will all be true


Now I’ve been crying lately,
thinking about the world as it is
Why must we go on hating,
why can’t we live in bliss

I’ve been trying to balance my recent heady busy-ness in the areas of work and returning to school with the activities I love, like country driving, taking pictures, listening to my records, and of course spending time with my mad rad friendohs.


via.

Cause out on the edge of darkness,
there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country,
come take me home again.

I don’t know by what trick or trends in behavior I’ve done it, but, despite recent roller coasters of emotion, anxiety, and obligation, I still just feel really happy and mellow about things in assessing the Spring, even accounting for the ups and downs.


via.

I have this optimistic and even confident feeling as I enter the Summer. Here’s hoping it sticks around. I feel like everything is beautiful.

In related news, did you know you could smoke banana peels? The brown spots talk about their dreams while they sizzle and pop. Fact.

(Not fact.)

Flashback Friday, New Years’ Resolution Reality Check #1 — Music Moment: Les Paul and Mary Ford, “Goofus”

December 10, 2010

This entry was originally posted on January 12, 2010 at 3:55 pm. It contains the second of my New Years’ Resolutions for 2010. Over the next several Flashback Fridays, I will be taking them out, dusting them off, and seeing how well I followed through. I do not anticipate it always being pleasant, but the truth can’t be.

Les Paul & Mary Ford – Goofus

This recording of “Goofus” (King-Harold-Kahn, 1930), one of my favorite songs, is just instrumental. It’s performed by legendary husband-wife duo Les Paul and Mary Ford (so, so, so much more on them another day).

The Paul-Ford version topped out at #21 on the Billboard chart on its release in the early Fall of 1950. The ensemble Paul and Ford had gathered is plucky and fun, although I have heard recordings from the ’30’s with saws and washboards which sort of put ukes and slides in the shade, but you work with what you got, and they did a great job re-popularizing a well-loved classic.

It really gets me that there was a time in this country when there was a) a set of songs that everyone knew, and b) a time when you picked up an instrument and sat down together and played, sometimes just as a family, but often as part of a larger community group. What happened? Radio killed the vaudeville star, but, moreover, the vaudeville star took group singalongs and skit shows down with him. No more public singing.

People just don’t do that often enough anymore, I think. I remember reading, quite a few years back, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (I consequently did not see the movie), and, in one of the super-tolerable parts, a character aged in her mid-70’s during the 1990’s was remarking on the emptiness of the sounds one hears walking the streets in the present day. She recalled being a child and teenager in the ’20’s and ’30’s, and how you could not so much as hang the laundry without hearing someone whistling or singing a street over or while walking past the yard.


“One Last Tickle on the Ivorys,” St. Ebba’s Lunatic Asylum, by Christopher O’Donovan on the flickr.

The idea of that touched me very deeply, because it resonated. I have always liked music, and always known a little about the history of radio and the record industry, being a big vinyl guy, and I’m not saying even at all that radio itself massacred town talent shows, I think increasing materialism and isolationism happened to dovetail with that new mass media, and long story short: it should change back. We need more of that old way of doing things, especially now, when so many people have lost hope and there are young people growing up for whom there are no stories about uncles who sang Irish tenor or great-grandmothers that could play the spoons.

It’s always fun to find out what hidden talents your friends and neighbors have (unless those talents are taxidermy and soundproofing basements), and it brings communities closer together. I think I remember hearing that a song is like a prayer times two, or some such thing, and I believe it. Everything is better with music.


“I Wanna Be a Majorette,” by Eleanor Hardwick.

I used to perform in singing groups and church choirs, and even participated in competitive choral groups in High School. The older I’ve gotten, the more I have grown very shy about my singing, but why? Half of what I hear on the radio has been triple-processed and slickly produced, and who cares if someone hears me fall a little flat? The spirit and song in my heart that made me so happy, that urge to open my throat that I couldn’t repress, that hasn’t changed, so why do I let fear and modern ideals of social behavior fence me in?

Holy cow, I think I just found my second resolution of 2010: Make a joyful noise. Join me, y’all!


Reality Check: I did not do as well as I wanted on this one. I started sporadically singing in my friends’ “band practice” Rock Band video game nights, but I did not join my church choir, which was what I really wanted to do. Partly intimidation because the director is an old friend, partly feeling too busy (excuse). I guess where I feel I really failed is I did not keep that song in my heart that I felt when I had written this originally. I need to try to get that feeling back.

The Girls of Summer: Carrie Enwright, Miss July 1963

June 21, 2010


Photographed by Ron Vogel.

I’d like to juxtapose the original text that accompanied Ms. Enwright’s Playboy gatefold appearance with some excerpts from a review of The Playmate Book (Taschen, 2006) by Joan Acocella, a writer whose work I like and find thought-provoking.


Hugh Hefner, the founder and editor-in-chief of Playboy, always said that his ideal for the magazine’s famous Playmate of the Month, the woman in the centerfold photo, was “the girl next door with her clothes off.”

(Acocella, Joan. “The Girls Next Door: Life in the centerfold.” Review of Gretchen Edgren’s The Playmate Book. The New Yorker. March 20, 2006.)

Okay: agree.


In other words, he was trying to take his readers back to a time before their first sexual experience, a time when they still liked their stuffed bear and thought that a naked woman might be something like that.

(Ibid.)

Mm. Mainly disagree.

It’s my opinion that the prose and pictures, especially in the early years, treated the reader as a fellow experienced swinging single dude, talking man-to-man. We have talked before about how the pictures are composed to have an implicit male presence, like the reader is the model’s partner and has only just stepped out of frame, maybe to take the picture he’s looking at. Take the following as an example:


Picnic laid out with thermos and two cups. Hello.

Like the best of mid-July days, Carrie seems to be destined expressly for the informal, easygoing pleasures of life, and is, as a consequence, a refreshingly unaffected companion.

“I am,” says [Ms. Enwright] in thoughtful self-summation, “a very healthy, well-adjusted, fun-loving kind of girl.”

(“Summer Idyl.” Playboy, July 1963.)

A non-threatening introduction, yes, but pretty come-hither. Not exactly teddy bear fare — and neither is the pose particularly “cuddly.”


There is one basic model. On top is the face of Shirley Temple; below is the body of Jayne Mansfield.

(Acocella.)

Somewhat disagree. I believe there was slightly more variety in the Sixties and Seventies than Ms. Acocella sugests, but I admit I am omitting the portion where she talks about some of the noteworthy veers from the norm (Joni Mattis, yay!) and I don’t want you to think she didn’t acknowledge that in her review. Please be aware that she did. Don’t want to look all biased.


[Playboy draws] simultaneously, on two opposing trends that have … come to dominate American mass culture: on the one hand, our country’s idea of its Huck Finn innocence; on the other, the enthusiastic lewdness of our advertising and entertainment.

(Acocella.)

Agree. Yes. 100%. That is its appeal, that the magazine attracts that dichotomy in American consumerism and in our own idea of beauty, sex, and ourselves.


Hence the surprise and the popularity of Playboy. The magazine proposed that … sex for sex’s sake, was wholesome, good for you: a novel idea in the nineteen-fifties.

(Acocella.)

Agree. This also undermines the beginning sentence with its teddy-bear going-for-innocent-investigative-interest suggestion, but I’m okay with undoing that assertion because I disagreed with it.


“I don’t much care whether I eventually live in a mansion or in a tree house, so long as the man I’m married to is fun to be with.”

(“Summer Idyl.”)


[As the pin-ups progressed] We get the great outdoors: Playmates taking sunbaths, unpacking picnics, hoisting their innocent bottoms into hammocks. Above all, we get youth.

(Acocella.)


Most of them have chubby cheeks, and flash us sweet smiles. At the same time, many of these nice little girls are fantastically large-breasted. Strange to say, this top-loading often makes them appear more childlike. The breasts are smooth and round and pink; they look like balloons or beach balls. The girl seems delighted to have them, as if they had just been delivered by Santa Claus.

(Acocella.)

Ha! Somewhat agree. That Santa. He always knows. But this shoot and Cheryl Kubert are both good examples, just as recent citation on this journal, of gatefolds that featured a model mainly not smiling. Ms. Enwright even keeps her mouth closed.


What is so bewildering about [modern vs. old-school] Playboy centerfolds is their [the modern ones’] utter texturelessness: their lack of any question, any traction, any grain of sand from which the sexual imagination could make a pearl.

(Acocella)

Very Strongly AGREE.


[Hef’s] father was an accountant, his mother a Methodist disciplinarian. He has said that there was never any show of affection in his house. One suspects that there was likewise little evidence of jazz or hors d’oeuvres -— pleasure for its own sake. This is what he set out to sell: an upscale hedonism, promoted by the magazine’s articles and ads as well as by its nudes.

(Acocella.)

Agree, but not sure that it matters.

“For a while I was cashier at the Hollywood Paramount, which was my closest fling with the movie business. Then I worked as a salesgirl in a candy store. Trouble was, I have this terrible sweet tooth and pretty soon I was eating more candy than I sold.”

(“Summer Idyl.”)


“Right now I’m living with my mother and studying like mad to take my state boards in cosmetology. My most active hobby involves artwork, from making seed mosaics of Siamese cats to painting wild, wild oils. I get excited over my finished products — but then, I’m not critically minded.”

(Ibid.)


“I’m crazy about progressive jazz, lasagna, and playing practical jokes on people I like.”

Hell, yeah, lasagna and jazz! This girl is all kinds of easygoing and wonderful. Practical jokes, eh? such as what?


“I have been known to secretly put in cold mashed potatoes as the bottom scoop of someone’s root-beer float, which is a terrible thing to do, but fun!”

(Ibid.)

I have never done that nor even thought of it. Holy god, I can’t wait to do this. She is a comic genius and I am trying this, stickety-stat!


Bookworms are hottttt … even when they are only pretending for a photoshoot.

“I am not the type who always has a book going. I rarely read novels, but occasionally I get on a self-improvement kick, the most recent of which was plowing through Hayakawa’s Language in Thought and Action.”

(Ibid.)

I don’t know why, but I feel like the editors forced her to say she read it all when maybe the truth was that she only started it. Just a feeling. I’m about to talk about why they might’ve done that in a second.


“I love Nina Simone, Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra … — oh, so many more. I’m very congenial toward most performers, and I enjoy nearly all.”

(Ibid.)

Again — wonderful taste. You find that so often in the Sixties write-ups, though, that the girls are prompted to talk about foodie foolery, jazz, politics, photography, and art. I’m not sure when that fizzled out, but it has. And I can totally admit that probably 30% of it was bullshit and only 7 out of 10 of these girls knew what they were talking about (if they even said it to begin with) or collected Bird and bebop on vinyl and the like, but I still feel good about the fact that it was important to the editorial staff for their vision of the ideal Playmate that these intriguing, intelligent statements seem true. Ms. Acocella addresses this:


That, in the end, is the most striking thing about Playboy’s centerfolds: how old-fashioned they seem. This whole “bachelor” world, with the brandy snifters and the attractive guest arriving for the night: did it ever exist? Yes, as a fantasy. Now, however, it is the property of homosexuals.

Today, if you try to present yourself as a suave middle-aged bachelor, people will assume you’re gay.

(Acocella.)

Ha! and again, I have to say agree, not in that groovy archaic pursuits are strictly the male provenance of neato gay guys (I like any man that goes for records and cares about dorky esoterica) but, yeah, society-wide, that would be the humorous judgment in the sense of stereotyping.

You know. Like when Bart and Millhouse tried to be Playdudes. That was hilarious. All pimped out in smoking jackets up in the treehouse.


“Too much of the time I use my heart and not my head. I’m really a very gullible girl. I wish on first stars and believe in miracles.”

(“Summer Idyl.”)

That is very sweet and touching. It is not full of trying-to-be-sexy artifice, nor is it overly cloying or disingenuous.

“Of course it’s a trite observation, but what I want most in life is happiness. What else is there?”

(Ibid.)

And who can improve on that desire? Well-wished, Ms. Enwright, and I hope she found her happiness. That’s not trite: it’s natural.

What Ms. Acocella observes in the unnaturally smooth, airbrushed featurelessness of the current crop of sexless-and-vaginally-shaved-for-maximum-Barbie-resemblance centerfolds mostly found on the newsstands today is resonantly true.

I guess what I’m saying is this: Yeah, there may have never really been a sophisticated scotch-sampling bachelor like the ones to whom Hef designed the magazine to appeal, and there may never have really been a girl next door with her clothes off that just happened to discourse freely on jazz LP’s and modern art while whipping up beef bourguignon in her skivvies, but isn’t the fantasy of that time period, quaint as it may seem now, so much more touching and oddly innocent than the weird highly-structured and false fantasy being sold today?

It is to me.

Take-Two Tuesday — Music Moment: Grant Hart, “You’re the Reflection of the Moon on the Water” from new LP Hot Wax

June 8, 2010

Originally posted on November 14, 2009 at 1:07 pm. This song still WAILS. So good, seriously.

Grant Hart – You’re the Reflection of the Moon on the Water

Grant Hart is best known for his drumming and writing with Hüsker Dü and for co-founding Nova Mob. This track comes from his fourth solo album, Hot Wax, which came out October 6th. It’s awesome.


“Blonde” by abless on flickr.

Witchy and melodic and also super-strong, with this really wicked organ-and-rides vibe that makes it driving and Doors-y, the song is basically the same four verses repeated and I didn’t even notice until I typed out the lyrics. The music is so insistent that it just seemed natural. Hart has said that the lyrics are inspired by the Dalai Lama and the composition by Patti Smith; both influences are totally there. You’re going to love it! Listen!


You’re the reflection of the moon on the water
You’re the reflection of the moon on the water
You’re the reflection of the moon on the water
but you’re not the moon

You are the scent of the sea on the night wind


You are the scent of the sea on the night wind
You are the scent of the sea on the night wind
but you’re not the sea

You are the shadows from the light of a fire
You are the shadows from the light of a fire
You are the shadows from the light of a fire
but you’re not the light

You are the sound of the rain on the dry earth
You are the sound of the rain on the dry earth
You are the sound of the rain on the dry earth
but you’re not the rain

You’re the reflection of the moon on the water
You’re the reflection of the moon on the water
You’re the reflection of the moon on the water
but you’re not the moon

You are the scent of the sea on the night wind
You are the scent of the sea on the night wind
You are the scent of the sea on the night wind
but you’re not the sea

You are the shadows from the light of a fire
You are the shadows from the light of a fire
You are the shadows from the light of a fire
but you’re not the light


PSA: August is going to be Sharon Tate Month around here.* Did You Know? Pass it on.

You are the sound of the rain on the dry earth
You are the sound of the rain on the dry earth
You are the sound of the rain on the dry earth
but you’re not the rain

Verses repeat a final time.


Also by abless on flickr.




*In a beautiful and upbeat, positive “respectful-celebration-of-her-life” way — not in a scummy, explotive, tragic “let’s-dwell-on-stupid-asshole-murderers-and-not-the-people-whose-lives-they-took” way, because I am fully fucking sick of that shenanigans overshadowing her beauty, talent, and sense of humor. (Sorry to drop massive f-bomb out of nowhere but there is just no call for how much horrifying b.s. people still bloodthirstily associate with her instead of letting her good deeds and fun performances stand on their own.) Call it Sharon Tate’s ACTUAL LIFE Awareness Month or something. Join me for that!

Music Moment: The Zombies, “This Will Be Our Year”

March 12, 2010

The Zombies – This Will Be Our Year

The warmth of your love
is like the warmth of the sun
and this will be our year
took a long time to come

I haven’t been writing much lately, not because I have nothing to say, but because I have had too much to say, and too little free time in which to say it. But thankfully I’ve had the chance to talk things over with good friends both in person and on the telephone this week, and that’s released a tremendous amount of pressure.

Don’t let go of my hand
now darkness has gone
And this will be our year
took a long time to come

Besides the counsel of Miss D, which is always uplifting, I also got to hang out with Panda Eraser, Mr. Kite, and the Mister earlier this week. Lady K called several times and I also got to talk to the o.g.b.d., who was again surprisingly encouraging, kind, and thoughtful. They all really helped me clarify the things that were on my mindgrapes and squeeze some goodness out of them.

And I won’t forget
the way you held me up when I was down
and I won’t forget the way you said,
“Darling, I love you,”
You gave me faith to go on

My grandmother has been staying with us. It was a move that was supposed to be a brief visit but is now most likely going to be as permanent as possible. While her physical health is still great, her mental decline is staggering. She had always had a sharp tongue, a quick mind; if I had ever dreaded her visits or had negative feelings about her in the past, it was because we had equal minds and could clash over things (especially her daughter, my mother, of whom I was defensive and felt she was too critical). That mercurial and impish figure of my youth is gone. My grandmother now is a million miles from the Dorothy that I thought would be living with me. I am so glad she’s here, and that I’m able to have with her even those few minutes of a time where she has drifted “in,” but the pain of the remainder of her waking hours, her confusion and fear, her redundancy and pacing, is sometimes breathtaking.

Now we’re there
and we’ve only just begun
This will be our year
took a long time to come

What I am now fearing even more than the pressure of her moments of anxiety and loss now is when a physical declination in her health sets in; when I and, when she’s free, my mother are no longer adequately equipped to provide for her physically. I hate to picture her completely unaware of her surroundings, somewhere where no one knows her. I know places like that are full of loving and compassionate people, but what scares me is the times when Grandma has enough on the ball to know that she is in an unfamiliar place, and expresses fear and the sense of being lost.

The warmth of your smile
smile for me, little one
and this will be our year
took a long time to come

She told me several days ago when I came in to get her ready in the morning that she’d woke from a nightmare and been up for several hours, reading, to settle her nerves. “Bethy,” she said, “I dreamt I flew home and I didn’t know a single soul that was in my house. It didn’t look like my house. Other people lived there, people that I had never seen. It was all completely strange to me.” She said the worst part was that then she woke up here, and she thought her dream had come true until she saw a picture of my daughter and I on her nightstand and remembered she was here for what she thinks is a visit. (Given her nightmare, I suspect part of her knows this visit could be permanent.) She concluded by saying, “I don’t mind telling you — I’ve never been so frightened in my life.”

That’s what I’m scared of. That’s why I feel like no matter how hard it is, or how hard it continues to get, I can’t let her go.

You don’t have to worry
All your worried days are gone
this will be our year
took a long time to come

And that’s why I value so greatly all the kind ears of my friendohs right now. I am so lucky to have a support system to whom I can slip away and bitch and moan and noise my anxieties. Whether it’s over sushi, pints, the phone, or wherever, thank god for them. I had thought last year was going to be the most challenging of my life, but this year is shaping up to build on the growing I did then (to put a positive spin on it, rather than say, “this year sucks too”).

And I won’t forget
the way you held me up when I was down
and I won’t forget the way you said,
“Darling, I love you”
You gave me faith to go on

One of the things I’ve been doing to keep Grandma from getting agitated and restless during the day, which is when she paces the house and starts to worry about her money, her belongings, how she is going to get a plane ticket home, etc, is I’ve begun taking her on little day trips and out to stores and such. Even to just window shop, because a) to be brutally frank she does not know the difference whether we buy something or not, and b) it is not as if either of us is made of money and she is happy to people watch.

Tonight, I’m taking her to a vintage-through-the-present hair show at Panda’s cosmetology school, and she seems to be looking forward to that, because she keeps asking me when it is; if they will be videotaped or live models; and whether we have the tickets already. (“7:00 pm,” “live,” and essentially “yes.”) So that’s hopefully going to go well!

Now we’re there
and we’ve only just begun
and this will be our year
took a long time to come

This Sunday, after church, the o.g.b.d. is taking kidlet and I to lunch, and then much later in the day he and I are going to what is probably the last theater in America showing Sherlock Holmes right now. I’m looking forward to seeing it one last time before it leaves theaters. He had expressed interest in it last week after surprising me by suggesting we catch a movie sometime together when my mother was free, to give me a break from caring for my grandmother and have a fun night out, but he said that he was pretty sure it was no longer showing in our area. So he was super-pumped and surprised when I talked to him today to confirm our lunch plans with kidlet and told him that I’d found a nearby second-run theater that was still showing it through this weekend. The way Robert Downey, Jr. plays Sherlock as very herky-jerky, pugilistic, intense, and accidentally brutally honest really, really, really reminds me of the o.g.b.d.; I wonder if he will notice it, himself. I’m not going to say anything and we’ll see if he brings it up first.


Anna Karina with Jean-Claud Brialy.

Yeah, we only just begun
yeah, this will be our year
took a long time to come.

I had talked with Panda about how I am persona non grata with all the women in his life, and, just by talking about it, I started feeling less horrible about it. As Panda pointed out, even if I don’t understand it and it hurts me, the bottom line is I can’t change someone else’s mind, and I’ve done my best. And we agreed, as I had done last weekend with the LBC and Miss D before the drag races, that probably his wife will come around, and she is only acting this way because she is still hurting from whatever chain of events lead to their split (I have not felt it was polite to pry into any specifics about that). I pray that will be the case, but it’s good to know all my girlfriends agree on this, too. So I’m hoping to have the opportunity to talk to him about these revelations, because I really feel like we are in this cool new place where we are a simple team again, in our queer and broken way.

All in all, I’ve had time to adjust to these new turns of events and I think I am going to pull through. And thank god for it.

Daily Batman: Gotta have tunes

January 25, 2010


“Utility belt ipod” by JamesLillis, via shirtoid on the tumblr.

From all the shit the one I got to buy is music
From all the jobs the one I choose is music
From all the drinks, I get drunk off music
From all the bitches the one I want to be is music


Music is my boyfriend
Music is my girlfriend
Music is my dead end
Music is my imaginary friend
Music is my brother
Music is my great-grand-daughter
Music is my sister
Music is my favorite mistress


Music is my beach house
Music is my hometown
Music is my king-size bed
Music’s where I make my friends
Music is my hot hot bath
Music is my hot hot sex
Music is my back rub
My music is where I’d like you to touch (Cansei de Ser Sexy (CSS) — “Music Is My Hot Hot Sex”)

Music Moment: Les Paul and Mary Ford, “Goofus”

January 12, 2010

Les Paul & Mary Ford – Goofus

This recording of “Goofus” (King-Harold-Kahn, 1930), one of my favorite songs, is just instrumental. It’s performed by legendary husband-wife duo Les Paul and Mary Ford (so, so, so much more on them another day).

The Paul-Ford version topped out at #21 on the Billboard chart on its release in the early Fall of 1950. The ensemble Paul and Ford had gathered is plucky and fun, although I have heard recordings from the ’30’s with saws and washboards which sort of put ukes and slides in the shade, but you work with what you got, and they did a great job re-popularizing a well-loved classic.

It really gets me that there was a time in this country when there was a) a set of songs that everyone knew, and b) a time when you picked up an instrument and sat down together and played, sometimes just as a family, but often as part of a larger community group. What happened? Radio killed the vaudeville star, but, moreover, the vaudeville star took group singalongs and skit shows down with him. No more public singing.

People just don’t do that often enough anymore, I think. I remember reading, quite a few years back, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (I consequently did not see the movie), and, in one of the super-tolerable parts, a character aged in her mid-70’s during the 1990’s was remarking on the emptiness of the sounds one hears walking the streets in the present day. She recalled being a child and teenager in the ’20’s and ’30’s, and how you could not so much as hang the laundry without hearing someone whistling or singing a street over or while walking past the yard.


“One Last Tickle on the Ivorys,” St. Ebba’s Lunatic Asylum, by Christopher O’Donovan on the flickr.

The idea of that touched me very deeply, because it resonated. I have always liked music, and always known a little about the history of radio and the record industry, being a big vinyl guy, and I’m not saying even at all that radio itself massacred town talent shows, I think increasing materialism and isolationism happened to dovetail with that new mass media, and long story short: it should change back. We need more of that old way of doing things, especially now, when so many people have lost hope and there are young people growing up for whom there are no stories about uncles who sang Irish tenor or great-grandmothers that could play the spoons.

It’s always fun to find out what hidden talents your friends and neighbors have (unless those talents are taxidermy and soundproofing basements), and it brings communities closer together. I think I remember hearing that a song is like a prayer times two, or some such thing, and I believe it. Everything is better with music.


“I Wanna Be a Majorette,” by Eleanor Hardwick.

I used to perform in singing groups and church choirs, and even participated in competitive choral groups in High School. The older I’ve gotten, the more I have grown very shy about my singing, but why? Half of what I hear on the radio has been triple-processed and slickly produced, and who cares if someone hears me fall a little flat? What made me so happy, that urge to open my throat that I couldn’t repress, that hasn’t changed, so why do I let fear and modern ideals of social behavior fence me in?

Holy cow, I think I just found my second resolution of 2010: Make a joyful noise. Join me, y’all!

Movie Moment: Ghostbusters (1984) – Janine Melnitz edition

November 20, 2009

I think about Ghostbusters a lot. Maybe more than anyone should. But I find it uplifting and comfortable, like slipping in to bed at the end of a long day: it’s just right. I also used to use Ghostbusters as an age gauge: since I was able to see this in theaters — albeit pretty young — then if you were not born when Ghostbusters came out, the cultural divide between us was insurmountable and it would be creepy to date you. For the record, I’ve lifted that. I’m well up to Mannequin (1987) now. Call me!

Anyway, Annie Potts portrayed Miz Janine Melnitz, the Ghostbusters’ secretary, and here is some of that.


Type something, will you? We’re paying for this stuff. And don’t stare at me, you got those bug-eyes.

[pause]

Janine? Sorry about the bug-eyes thing. I’ll be in my office.

Cue Brian Setzer and the Stray Cats. I have this soundtrack on LP and I’m not ashamed.

Music Moment: Grant Hart, “You’re the Reflection of the Moon on the Water” from new LP Hot Wax

November 14, 2009

Grant Hart – You’re the Reflection of the Moon on the Water

Grant Hart is best known for his drumming and writing with Hüsker Dü and for co-founding Nova Mob. This track comes from his fourth solo album, Hot Wax, which came out October 6th. It’s awesome.


“Blonde” by abless on flickr.

Witchy and melodic and also super-strong, with this really wicked organ-and-rides vibe that makes it driving and Doors-y, the song is basically the same four verses repeated and I didn’t even notice until I typed out the lyrics. The music is so insistent that it just seemed natural. Hart has said that the lyrics are inspired by the Dalai Lama and the composition by Patti Smith; both influences are totally there. You’re going to love it! Listen!


You’re the reflection of the moon on the water
You’re the reflection of the moon on the water
You’re the reflection of the moon on the water
but you’re not the moon

You are the scent of the sea on the night wind
You are the scent of the sea on the night wind
You are the scent of the sea on the night wind
but you’re not the sea

You are the shadows from the light of a fire
You are the shadows from the light of a fire
You are the shadows from the light of a fire
but you’re not the light

You are the sound of the rain on the dry earth
You are the sound of the rain on the dry earth
You are the sound of the rain on the dry earth
but you’re not the rain

You’re the reflection of the moon on the water
You’re the reflection of the moon on the water
You’re the reflection of the moon on the water
but you’re not the moon

You are the scent of the sea on the night wind
You are the scent of the sea on the night wind
You are the scent of the sea on the night wind
but you’re not the sea

You are the shadows from the light of a fire
You are the shadows from the light of a fire
You are the shadows from the light of a fire
but you’re not the light

You are the sound of the rain on the dry earth
You are the sound of the rain on the dry earth
You are the sound of the rain on the dry earth
but you’re not the rain

Verses repeat a final time.


Also by abless on flickr.

Music Moment: McIntosh Ross

September 30, 2009

I was browsing recently dropped records and singles yesterday when thanks to a really cool well-timed tip from a groovy reader across the Atlantic (thanks o, henri!) I stumbled via recordstore.co.uk over the debut album of McIntosh Ross, The Great Lakes, and my breath was totally taken away. Holy cats, you guys! So amazing!

The Scottish husband-wife-duo of Ricky Ross and Lorraine McIntosh have recorded together before, being longtime bandmates of the recently reunited Glasgow group Deacon Blue (Raintown, “Dignity,” “Wages Day”). As if they did not already have their hands full making landmark alternative music with that outfit, the pair also just released their first solo album September 28 (two days ago) and it is unbelievably beautiful. The music they wrote and recorded with Deacon Blue was mainly working class, alternative anthems about life in Glasgow and the like. The songs on this record, The Great Lakes, are just soaring and ethereal and purely, it seems, love songs to one another.

McIntosh Ross – All My Trust I Place In You

One day we’ll know
One day we’ll see
‘Til then we’ll walk
And believe

This video for me shows exactly why The Great Lakes is such a modest and beautiful record. What is most right and touching about the compositions on this LP is that these are not your we’re-young-and-hot, I-want-to-jump-you, Beyonce and Jay-Z smash hit sexytimes songs, either (no disrespect to hip-hop’s royal couple intended, I’m just saying they are new to the lovesong duet game, comparatively). This whole album is about enduring, longstanding love. Like this track, “Bluebell Wood,” and its repeated line, “Today’s the day we got married in June.” The haunting refrain sounds like an old folk song, and the way McIntosh glides her voice around it, it feels like you are hearing her call you across the moors, yet there is no mourning. It’s just … perfect.

McIntosh Ross – Bluebell Wood

Today’s the day we got married in June
All of the bluebells were out in the wood
We danced to our song
And stepped in the car
Drove under a blanket of stars
Today’s the day we got married in June

Simple words, a simple memory she is describing, yet it is somehow, in their hands, achingly poignant. Because it is …

I realized these Music Moment posts tend to run really long because I like music way too much, and can’t bear to only give you half the story on someone I think is really special, so click here to keep reading about wonderful McIntosh Ross and see more pictures, hear more music, and suchlike, because they are mind-blowing in their awesomeness… Continue reading, hear more music, and all of it!