Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Is This Weird?

[geologic strata of musick]

I don't care if it is...but...

I'm phoning in from a parallel universe of being sick as a dog, delirious...
missing work!!! which I don't do...see the Bicycle Races post...They Need Me.

but...I'm sittin' up, past muh bedtime, listenin yet agin tuh "Potato Head Blues" and thinkin:

there seem to be a few primary places I reliably and intensely experience God...Kali...my Higher Power...She Who.

And one of these places is in pop music. I wonder if anything, save a beautiful woman, can be more perfect than a perfect pop song...I was playing The Smiths' "Cemetry Gates" over and over again today...

(If there's a good song, I will play it again and again, especially when I'm writing. I learned years ago that this is a habit I share with the late, great Andy Warhol, who in the early 1960s would paint whilst playing the same 45 ad infinitum...which explains a good deal, I think, about Campbell's Soup cans if not about my own inimitable prose.)

A few songs I've done this with:

"Girl's Got Rhythm"--AC/DC
"When Will I Be Loved?"--Linda Rondstadt
"Magnet and Steel"--Walter Egan
"Sad Waters"--Nick Cave
"She's Not There"--Santana
"In My Time of Dying"--Led Zeppelin
"The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead"--XTC
"More Than a Feeling"--Boston
"Dig Me Out"--Sleater-Kinney
"Silly Love Songs"--Wings
"Rock and Roll Doctor"--Little Feat
"Kentucky Rain"--Elvis Presley
"Rainy Night in Georgia"--Brook Benton

[In approximately ascending order of perfection...the last two are the most perfectly produced songs in pop history, save possibly "A Day In the Life"...oh! and "(Don't Fear) The Reaper," which despite cowbell calumnies I've been playing over and over of late...]

A pop song on auto-repeat tingles the brain's dopamine reward system as surely as drags on a crack pipe (maybe more subtly; certainly more cheaply). And I'm longing for that brain-honey-sizzle now as my body rebels painfully 'gainst whatever virus I've imbibed in my thoughtless, aimless, promiscuous breathing...quaffing the kind nepenthe of Ralph Ellison's essays yet...needing more...

...a dear e-card from Sophia...some chicken salad from that notoriously sensual gourmet store down the way...lying in bed much of the day, with kitties and Laura, thinking about Nothing, pure Nothing...in the middle of the day--

--now Billie Holiday's asking "why not take all of me?" and--I don't know--why not?

[some of this is plagiarised--]


  1. grigorss11:07 PM

    Not only have I had this experience, but I've had it with two of the songs you list: "Magnet & Steel" and "More Than a Feeling". Some other all time champs in that regard include: ELO's "Livin' Thing", The Carpenters "Superstar", and ween's "Captain" -- don't try playing that last one too many times though, unless you want to be transported to a Lovecraftian, eldritch world of total Brown-osity. Also, too many songs by ABBA to name without profound embarassment.

  2. you notice I "forgot" "Dancing Queen"...but I'm really not ashamed!!

    "More than a Feeling" probably should have ranked higher because
    a) I think he produced it in his basement or living room or somewhere;
    b) there's this thing he (Tom Scholz) does with the vocals in the fade-out, where they stop being vocals and become October light streaming through lovely dying leaves...
    you don't hear phenomena like this much cuz everyone is using digital recording and so (I'm not really this much of a luddite, only where music is concerned)--there'll probably never be another snifter of lo-fi golden warmth like Village Green Preservation Society or Johnathan Sings!
    then again, Ween are digital and they got an--awesome sound--goin' down--

  3. sorry--that should be Jonathan Sings!...I really do know a couple of two-h Johnathans...

  4. I do this big time, but with instrumental music. When I'm writing, a piece with lyrics usually distracts me. For me the music serves as cinematic backdrop to the movies in my head.

    I've got stories, characters, and scenes with their own themes, and named one story after a piece I played ad infinitum while I wrote it. "Another Place" (Amazing Stories, May 1988) owes its name to the fusion jazz band Hiroshima's track of the same title. I had that thing on auto-repeat for hours on end while I wrote.

    The playlist (what I can remember) for the trilogy I'm trying to sell is:
    1. Michael Torke: "Ash" (used in many scenes in Book 1)
    2. Peter Sculthorpe: "Kakadu" (used in the battle scene in Book 1)
    3. Einojuhani Rautavaara: "Cantus Arcticus," "Piano Concerto No. 1," "Sym. No. 3" (used throughout much of Book 2)
    4. Maurice Durufle: "Messe Cum Jubilo," especially movement 3: "Sanctus" (a 2+ minute movement played repeatedly as the theme of a character)
    5. Bronski Beat: "Why?" (used in Book 2 to convey another character during some desperate times: one of the very few times I use background music with lyrics)
    6. Igor Stravinsky: "The Rite of Spring" (used for an escape scene at the end of Book 2)
    7. Ralph Vaughan Williams: "Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis" (used for a birth scene at the end of Book 2: what I call a "pastorale" scene following the escape)
    8. Wolfgang Korngold: "Symphony Op. 40" (used in Books 2 and 3 to convey a particular character)
    9. Arvo Part: "Te Deum" (used during a reunion scene in Book 3)
    10. Miklos Rosza: "Music of Ben Hur" (used during a rousing speech near the end of Book 3)
    11. Alexander Scriabin: "Poem of Ecstasy" (used in the denouement at the end of Book 3)
    Other music used include William Alwyn: "Symphony No. 4" and "Elizabethan Dances"; Benjamin Britten: "Piano Concerto Op. 13"; Claude Debussy: "Nocturnes"; Frederick Delius: "Piano Concerto"; Herbert Howells: "Piano Concerto No. 2"; Aram Khachaturian: "Piano Concerto"; Sergei Prokofiev: "Piano Concertos 1 and 3," "Symphonie Nos 2, 3, 7," "Symphony-Concerto Op. 125 for cello and orchestra"; Albert Roussel: "Symphonie No. 2 and No. 4"; Vaughan Willams: "A London Symphony" and "Symphony No. 4."

    When I was an adolescent, before I was given headphones, I almost drove my cousin to murder by playing ad mongo nauseum my 45 of "In the Year 2525."

    Wishing you much improved health! Rest well.