Monday, June 6, 2011

Catholic Boy-Tell Me A Story

Tell Me A Story Mix
Growing up Catholic shapes you, whether you like it or not- embrace it, rebel against it, or try to carve out territory somewhere in between, either way you are left with a resonant and powerful group of images and symbols, that stick with you and continue in some fashion to be a prism through which your reality is filtered.

In addition to ritual, mystery and techniques for transcendence, one of the positives of Catholicism is the wide range of Saints that among other things give expression to a greater range of of the human psyche than the more strident forms of Protestantism with its emphasis on one masculine God (no veneration of the Mother of God and the Saints) and the absolute literal interpretation of what was intended to be metaphorical, mystical teachings.  Luke 8:10- And he said to them: "To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God.  But to the rest, it is in parables, so that seeing, they may not perceive, and hearing they may not understand."  

I went to Catholic schools from Kindergarten through High School. The schools were co-ed until I got to my Jesuit high school.  And though I don't have much to compare it to, my public school friends did appear to be having a much better time, particularly in relation to girls.  The days of caning and lashes were over by the 1980's, though we did often get hit with PH (Penance Hall) for such innocuous offenses as hair over the collar or lack of a belt or socks.  Penance Hall was the Catholic School equivalent of detention, and involved writing lines.   And there was the occasional outbreaks of violence, at least one friend of mine was assaulted by a teacher (not a priest though) and another supposedly had a priest make a pass at him on a ski trip.  All things considered it wasn't nearly as bad as it had been in the past, though still a drag.  We did what we needed to get through it.

This mix is a tribute to Jim Carroll (pictured above in the Trinity School Yearbook), the great Catholic writer and musician who sadly passed away in 2009.  It features Jim reading from his first book the Basketball Diaries.


1. Catholic Boy- Jim Carroll Band- "Redeemed through pain not through joy"- though on a deeper level we're talking about two sides of the same coin.  Extra points for the mention of extreme unction when running down the sacraments.

2. Moving-Upper Tip of Manhattan-Jim Carroll- "most likely they'll be my scene"

3. Tell Me A Story- Iggy Pop- From Iggy's underrated New Values record, one of his finest pop songs, perfect even.  "What did they do to chill the joy away?"

4. A Minor Genius-Jim Carroll- "she was a minor genius with adorable freckles"

5. Hey! Little Child- Alex Chilton- two chords, under the influence of the Ramones?

6. Cold Saturday/"A" Train Uptown-Jim Carroll- I fall prey to the same shit on the city bus, the weirdos and drunks seem to make a bee-line for me.

7. Saint Behind the Glass- Los Lobos- "Saint behind the glass watches me while I sleep"

8. Catholic School Bullcrap-Jim Carroll- I once got a poor progress report in a prayer class elective for "lack of effort"- a prayer class!  And I was probably one of the most sincere kids in the class.  It was my friend John who would fall asleep, always having to nudge him if he started snoring.  I'd actually sit there and listen, which is all that was required, but I guess by then I had gotten a bad rep, hanging with the wrong crowd.

9. Jesus Christ- Big Star- This song reminds me of my first apartment in South Austin.  My next door neighbor was this "older" guy (he was probably in his 30's but when your 19 that seems ancient) who drove a cab, he would stop by sometimes and hang out.  One day when he dropped by I was listening to Big Star's 3rd Record (Sister Lovers) and this song came on, he listened for a minute and then turned to me quizzically and asked "Is this Christian Rock?"  I can't remember what I said, but hey I guess it is and beautiful at that!

10. Dome of Stars-Jim Carroll "Stare into the star machine and jerk myself off, is that strange?".  This entry reminds me of Kerouac's "Belief and Techniques for Modern Prose" specifically "scribbled secret notebooks...for your own joy".

11. Up On the Roof- The Drifters- Forgive me, but sometimes the obvious choice works best, and the juxtaposition with the previous track puts a new spin on this old chestnut.

12. Celia Sisters-Jim Carroll- "I don't want to soil my diary with a description of that."

13. My Lonely Sad Eyes- The Them- "pretending everything's fine till I see your sad eyes"

14.  Beavers Flashing-Jim Carroll-"these are the fans that bring out a player's true inspiration"

15. I Want You to Want Me- Cheap Trick- This is an early version recorded around the time of their first album, clearly they had not figured out how to end the tune yet.  As a little kid I inherited a 45 from one of my older siblings of the hit Live at Budokan version and it along with Jim Croce's "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" got played constantly. This early version has a charm of its own, until the lame fade out at the end at least, its hard not to miss the Japanese girls from the live version echoing the "cry cry cry" part on the chorus.

16. My Marxist Pal-Jim Carroll- "one of the requirements seems to be that you have to be ugly.  I was wearing my seediest clothes and I still came off looking like Arnold Palmer or something" and "I dig these motherfuckers, but the speeches bore the shit out of me" are two of my favorite lines from the Basketball Diaries.

17. Commando- The Ramones- "first rule is- the laws of Germany, second rule is- be nice to mommy, third rule is- don't talk to commies, fourth rule is - eat kosher salamis".  Genius.

18.  Frankly Lewd-Jim Carroll- this seems to be a not uncommon problem for the young Jim Carroll and there he is just trying to enjoy a little H and a magazine.

19. The Way Girls Talk- The Undertones- Good God I love Feargal's voice especially on the "ahhh" part.  The Undertones were perfect.

20.  Dry Dive-Jim Carroll- "these things happen".

21. It's All Over Now, Baby Blue- The Them- "Change is the only constant"- Heraclitus

22. I Just Want to be Pure-Jim Carroll- nuff said

23. Just to See You Smile-Spacmen 3- Sonic Boom goes a courting, old world style, walking the girl home, holding her hand and all for the opportunity of what?  Just to see her smile.  I have an old cassette of Recurring in my car that, perhaps initially due to laziness, has been played repeatedly these past two months.  This song in particular makes me feel like I'm driving around encased in a huge cloud- very soothing, I've come to prefer Sonic's side of the cassette to Jason Pierce's, though I don't think this is the general consensus.  Here's a Sonic Boom interview by monkey man Ian Svenonius-

24. All Star Game--Jim Carroll- "I read Music by Frank O'Hara and begin thinking of the Plaza Hotel"


      If I rest for a moment near The Equestrian
pausing for a liver sausage sandwich in the Mayflower Shoppe,
that angel seems to be leading the horse into Bergdorf's
and I am naked as a table cloth, my nerves humming.
Close to the fear of war and the stars which have disappeared.
I have in my hands only 35¢, it's so meaningless to eat!
and gusts of water spray over the basins of leaves
like the hammers of a glass pianoforte. If I seem to you
to have lavender lips under the leaves of the world,
      I must tighten my belt.
It's like a locomotive on the march, the season
      of distress and clarity
and my door is open to the evenings of midwinter's
lightly falling snow over the newspapers.
Clasp me in your handkerchief like a tear, trumpet
of early afternoon! in the foggy autumn.
As they're putting, up the Christmas trees on Park Avenue
I shall see my daydreams walking by with dogs in blankets,
put to some use before all those coloured lights come on!
      But no more fountains and no more rain,
      and the stores stay open terribly late.


25. All Kindsa Girls- The Real Kids- Jonathan Richman's younger next door neighbor and one time Modern Lover John Felice sings the praises of the infinite varieties of the fairer sex.

26. The Scene at Home-Jim Carroll- "it's all so simple its the most complicated shit I've ever had to put up with."

27. Jesus- The Velvet Underground- "help me in my weakness, cause I've fallen out of grace"

28. It's Poetry Now-Jim Carroll- "This is no bullshit"

29. I Want the Angel- Jim Carroll Band- "I want the angel whose darkness doubles, it absorbs the brilliance of all my troubles, I want the angel that will not shatter, every time I whisper girl it does not matter".

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