I have this album spinning on the turntable right now. One of my priorities as I got more and more serious about vinyl was acquiring all of the Cat Power records. Probably the most intoxicating part of listening to vinyl LPs is hearing the vocals. They’re so alive and real, especially in the case of artists whose voices have power matched with subtlety of expression. Case in point.
The incompatibility of aquacity with the erratic originality of genius.
What reason did Stephen give for declining Bloom’s offer?
That he was hydrophobe, hating partial contact by immersion or total by submersion in cold water (his last bath having taken place in the month of October of the preceding year), disliking the aqueous substances of glass and crystal, distrusting aquacities of thought and language.
This is one of those songs that I just fall in love with playing. For one thing, it’s three chords, like any good, sad country song. I can flat pick it, or just strum it if I’m sleepy. Beyond that, it’s got one of those pretty, bittersweet melodies that is as good in my bedroom as it is in a concert hall or a wide open hay field.
To top it off, it’s got that rare quality in songwriting that all of my favorite artists (Mark Kozelek, Matthew Ryan, Sam Beam, Townes, et al) possess: the words are simple and straightforward, but resonate so well that they feel like something I’ve felt my whole life.
“To burn with desire and keep quiet about it is the greatest punishment we can bring on ourselves. What good was pride to me—and not seeing you and letting you lie awake night after night? No good! It only served to bring the fire down on me! You think that time heals and walls hide things, but it isn’t true, it isn’t true! When things get that deep inside you there isn’t anybody can change them.”—Federico García Lorca, Blood Wedding, II:1.
Mark Kozelek- Tiny Cities Made of Ashes (Modest Mouse cover)
I just found this live in-studio set from KEXP on archive.org. It’s from several years ago, when Mark was on tour promoting Tiny Cities, his album of Modest Mouse covers. There’s really nothing quite like Mark Kozelek’s voice.
This is one of my (and coincidentally Rob Fleming’s) top all time tracks. I’m especially pleased that upon announcing her engagement last week, Aretha assured the press that it wasn’t because she was pregnant.
I still put this album on in the car all the time. With all the nonsense going on in the country-folk scene, it’s good to know that Colorado girl Sera Cahoone is out there. I hear she’s playing new material for shows in Seattle now; let’s hope it leads to some new releases, right?
Hey, DC friends… if you’d like to check out some great music in an intimate venue, go to Quincy House in Brookland tomorrow night. Takunda Matose and Isaac Gillespie (from Due Diligence) will be playing a house show. For times and links to music, click on the link above. There are also rumors of punch and pie.
“PASADENA, California (AP) — Fans of Jack Bauer have something to look forward to. A movie based on the old Fox series “24” is scheduled to begin shooting this spring.”—I don’t really care about this movie, as I think I gave up on Kiefer Sutherland about halfway through Flatliners. But come on AP… “based on the old Fox series”? What makes that series old? Are we a nation of 12-year-olds? Are we now just expecting people to have the attention span of a gnat?
It’s not the sort of thing I’d play at a party, but Johnny Cash’s Personal File recordings are a genuine treasure. For one thing, it’s a chance to hear Cash play solo acoustic in the early 70’s, with his voice at its peak. However, I’m most enamored with having a chance to hear this side of a legend, and to find that in his private moments, Cash was very much like the man who played in public: insightful, earnest, sympathetic, and a lover of music.
I know they’re cool looking and indestructible, but man are they useless when it comes to temperature. In the summer they heat up like mad, and in winter they provide zero insulation. There’s something about that which just seems so… English. I suspect these were invented by Charles Dickens. The aesthetic would appeal to him very much.
“I heard that Alfred Hitchcock was the only man without a belly button.”—I was going through an old journal, and apparently I overheard this comment at the Java Head Cafe in northeast DC, November 30th, 2004.
Lately I haven’t been able to get enough of The Promised Land. I know Bruce Springsteen seems awfully corny to some, and sometimes oversimplifies complex human emotions. But sometimes he gets it just perfectly right in a way that many respected songwriters never do.
In this case, I’ve known this song my entire adult life, maybe since I was about 10 or so. Compared to other songs on Darkness on the Edge of Town, this one never stood out that much. Racing in The Streets, Badlands, the title track, Candy’s Room— those songs resonated with me. But this song came on randomly the other day on my iPod, and something about it really clicked with me.
At first I’d thought of it in the same context as Badlands, as an earnest and fervent song of individuali rebellion. But my little revelation yesterday was that it bore much more far-reaching implications than that.
The song functions as an apocalyptic call to arms. Rather than focusing strictly on the individual’s plight in a barren and indifferent land, it looks forward to promised salvation, particularly in the third verse. I’ll quote it here:
There’s a dark cloud rising from the desert floor I pack up my bags and I’m heading straight into the storm Gonna be a twister to blow everything down That ain’t got the faith to stand its ground. Blow away the dreams that tear you apart Blow away the dreams that break your heart Blow away the lies that leave you nothing But lost and broken hearted
The imagery comes straight out of Apocalypse, doesn’t it? The chorus makes sense in this light too:
The dogs on Main Street howl, because they understand If I could take one moment into my hands Mister, I ain’t a boy, no, I’m a man, And I believe in a promised land.
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t harbor any illusions that Springsteen is preaching or proselytizing. Even though the song—and the entire album, for that matter— is heavy with references to innocence, sin, and redemption, this isn’t an essay or a sermon. The song ends as an outcry to all who’ll listen— a storm is coming, and those times will cause us to throw away everything that is foolish and hurtful, and to cast off infantile or adolescent ideas in exchange for that in which we have a mature faith. He’s not a boy anymore, and the life of an adult includes a faith that not only includes a belief in a promised land, but lends him the strength and courage “to stand (his) ground.”
What’s more, he heads “straight into the storm.” That is, he embraces the coming changes, and sees them as an opportunity instead of simply a crisis or threat.
I guess I’m so taken with the song because Bruce is so rarely held up as a spiritual or metaphysical songwriter. Most of his work is brilliantly insightful, but only insofar as it examines the tangible realities of human existence. He does have songs that deal with the intangible elements of our lives, but they’re outnumbered greatly in his songbook.