Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Carnival of Sound

This morning I read Virginia Woolf's 'A Room Of One's Own' as I rode the bus and I was moved to tears several times. She encapsulates the injustice visited upon women with such clarity that at times I felt claustrophobic and oppressed. But also oddly uplifted at the same time. She is such a great writer that the thrust of the book becomes appropriate to ANYONE who struggles with their artistic self, not merely women. I am grateful for that, there is forgiveness in it for me and my kind.

1. 'Crash The Party (Live)' by Richard Thompson from 'Watching The Dark (1)'

When Thompson gets loud and boogies down I get a little bored. His playing is still ridiculous, Stevie Ray Vaughan playing jigs and reels, but the faster songs get muddy.

2. 'Tired Of Being Alone' by Al Green from 'Al Green - Greatest Hits'

The only thing wrong with this song is that you can't really imagine Al EVER being alone. I mean, he might be with the WRONG woman, or just A woman, or three or four women, but ALONE? I don't think so.

3. 'Rain Street' by The Pogues from 'Hell's Ditch'

This is a great album, produced by the late great Joe Strummer. He was sort of a de-facto member of The Pogues for a while there, replacing/standing in for Shane MacGowan. They do make you wish you were a few sheets to the wind smoking a cigarette INSIDE of a bar, yelling down to someone about the latest news, catching a football match on the telly, downing fish and chips right quick so you could get the hell out of there and go catch that band before they break up.

4. 'The Way You Look' by Damien Jurado & Gathered In Song from 'I Break Chairs'

Damien Jurado has a voice that makes you sad. For some reason he reminds me of living in Providence, dying to play my music, jaunting down to a party on the beach in Westerly that ought to have been loads of fun and actually was somehow except that this great wave of despair seemed forever ready to break and sweep me out to sea. Instead, I drank too many beers and stood too close to the fire and talked a little too loudly and probably didn't listen to anything anyone had to say.

5. 'Change It' by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble from 'Greatest Hits'

I've extolled the virtues of SRV's guitar playing (who hasn't?) but on this track it is his voice which is killing me. Somehow staccato and legato all at once his voice seems more of an instrument than a vehicle for words. The interplay between the strings he's bending and the sounds he's making with his throat is quite unique...they don't seem to agree. There is tension, odd since both sounds come from the same man. Each heightens the other.

6. 'Isla De Encanta' by Pixies from 'Surfer Rosa & Come On Pilgrim'

Not crazy about this Pixies song but they could care less.

7.'Freetempo' by Montage from 'The New Brazillian Sound'

I felt like I was doing the tango on the bus. It took me out of 'A Room Of One's Own' and dropped me right into some sweaty red lit restaurant where my plate of shrimp paella had long ago disappeared and now I'd emptied many glasses of everything but the umbrella and now my sweat was mingling with the sweat of my partner whose head is almost on the floor and my hand is on the small of her back and my face is right up against the fabric of her dress and her necklace is slowly sliding down back towards her chin and her knee is higher than both of us and my other hand is on the back of her thigh.

8. 'The Wreck Of The Beautiful' by The Divine Comedy from 'Absent Friends'

The jewel of the British Navy has been consigned to the yard, destined to be torn apart and reattached to a thousand other lesser ships. It crossed my mind that this might be some convoluted metaphor for a lost relationship (get it, ship) but the funny thing is the song is saddest when taken quite literally. You feel all the work that went into building the ship, sailing the ship, mending it, keeping it afloat and firing on all cylinders. To see it slowly dismantled tied to some dock is to be reminded of our own status as temporary vessels, sailing a one way voyage.

9. 'Jackson' by Lucinda Williams from 'Car Wheels On A Gravel Road'

This album is a road movie.

10. '100,000,000 MPH' by Brendan O'Malley from 'Act 2: Americana Subversive'

Strange to see oneself come up randomly from 8,000 options. Another love letter to Melody. I wanted to write something in which each line could stand on its own without any help from its predecessor or follower. Judge for yourself...

100,000,000 MPH

You go 100,000,000 MPH
I stand so still I watch you fly so high
When you'd stop I'd feel like I was dying
Now I've started and I feel alive

You are a splash way out above the horizon
I squint my eyes before I know you're seen
I shut my eyes so I can see you better
I fall asleep so I can send you dreams

I fall asleep so I can send you dreams
I shut my eyes so I can see you better
I squint my eyes before I know you're seen
You are a splash way out above the horizon

Now I've started and I feel alive
When you'd stop I'd feel like I was dying
I stand so still I watch you fly so high
You go 100,000,000 MPH

11. 'Run Chicken Run' by Link Wray from 'Rumble! The Best of Link Wray'

Link Wray is THE MAN. So raw, so rough and tumble, so fucking cool. He makes Elvis Presley look like an actor. And I love Elvis Presley.

12. 'You're Stronger Than Me' by Patsy Cline from '12 Greatest Hits'

Good god I'm tired of this lady. I bought this as the other side of the Hank Williams greatest hits coin and now I cringe at the sound of her voice.

13. 'There's A Higher Power' by The Louvin Brothers from 'Satan Is Real'

The Louvin Brothers were the biggest country gospel act in the country in the 1940's. They sang gorgeous prayerful psalms, uplifting positive music. Then one of the brothers became a bit more evangelical and felt he wasn't doing his duty as a Christian. When they turned in their next album, their record label blanched. 'SATAN IS REAL'??? That's what you want to call your album? Yes, indeed. And the cover art? Look it up if you get a chance. The Louvin Brothers stand in some sort of otherworldly landscape which is all on fire. Looming over them is a large cartoon of Satan, replete with pitchfork, horns, and forked tail. They were actually in a dump of old car tires which they LIT ON FIRE. The Brothers stand there in their perfect white suits and guitars singing in the face of the Devil. By the way, the Satan cutout was made by one of the Brothers.

14. 'Weird Summer' by Velvet Crush from 'Teenage Symphonies To God'

These retro rockers are from Providence, RI and I've always had a soft spot for them. It isn't undeserved but I'm not sure if I would care at all were they from Dayton or Wichita.

15. 'No Man's Woman' by Sinead O'Connor from 'Faith And Courage'

I was smack in the middle of a Virginia Woolf chapter that imagined the life of a creative woman in the 16th century, Shakespeare's sister. She goes mad with the impossibility of the time, the total suppression of her talent and ambition. The juxtaposition of Sinead O'Connor declaring herself independent of any man's influence or claim was very powerful. Imagine a woman in the time of Shakespeare reaching out to MILLIONS of people and tearing up a picture of The Pope. Phenomenal. I always loved her for that, her utter inability to censor herself, her willingness to be consumed by the very rage that drove her to create in the first place. Sinead O'Connor would have been one of those women Virginia Woolf conjures up, driven mad by the times in which she lived. Hell, Sinead is mad TODAY let alone 350 years ago.

16. 'Parameters' by Ani DiFranco from 'Knuckle Down'

Against a very subtle guitar figure, Ani DiFranco does almost a spoken word piece. I was bored instantly and stayed that way until the very last thing she said which I can't remember what it was.

17. 'Ol' Diamondback Sturgeon (Fisherman's Chronicles, Pt. 3)' by Primus from 'Pork Soda'

The Pt. 3 tells you this is part of a series and I find it to be a fascinating group of songs. This one is from the point of view of the fish. It feels like a fish, weightless and lithe, rolling and burbling. There is more melody than usual in a Primus song and the tune recalls the gentle motion of any body of water under a sparkling sun.

18. 'Neverending' by Damien Jurado & Gathered In Song from 'I Break Chairs'

Damien Jurado again and again I am on a beach in my home state with people I don't know well enough to feel completely comfortable around and therefore try too hard to impress and don't. I am part of the party but separate. I won't be part of a circle of friends for another 11 years.

19. 'Beggar's Bliss' by Luna from 'Pup Tent'

Didn't register.

20. 'Dance The Night Away' by Blue Oyster Cult from 'Agents of Fortune'


So I've come to the end of another bus trip to work. It is not a room of my own.

No comments: