Friday, July 26, 2013

My Cat Named Dog (Norma, Alex & Yoko)

This whole record is worth hearing, but the single remains the high point. Although "Walkin' My Cat Named Dog" is a more upbeat tune, it puts me in mind of Big Star's "Nightime", probably because there is some melodic similarity between the two (check the melody on the "walking down the freezing street" near the end of "Nightime").  Was it intentional on Chilton's part? Probably not, though Alex was certainly not against pinching melodies outright, witness his pilfering of the piano melody from Yoko Ono's "Mrs. Lennon" for Big Star's "Holocaust". He gets extra points though- if you have your scorecards with you- for stealing from hip (and strange) ladies like Yoko and Norma. Aloha bitches! That's where I'm at!

Yoko Ono's Fly from 1971

Monday, July 22, 2013

1965-Flying High Again!

The Byrds- musically and sartorially elegant.
 "I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better" is one of the Byrds' crowning achievements, not to mention an all time great kiss off song. From Crosby's jagged, propulsive, rhythm guitar intro, to Gene Clark's blunt lyric and forceful yet calm vocal, to the heavenly background harmonies and McGuinn's diamond edged, chiming 12 string solo, it captures everything that was beautiful about this early line up of the band. As R. Meltzer noted The Byrds, particularly the Byrds with Gene Clark, were totally Apollonian - majestic, ethereal, music of the spheres. 

Tambourine Man-Gene Clark

Friday, July 19, 2013

The World Is A Complex Place!

Former conservative "intellectual" poster boy rides scooter to seaside punch up with Rockers!
This is a bit of a dry post for a Friday but consider it a little intellectual stimulation (said in affected WF Buckley drawl with head cocked back whilst looking down nose) before you go out and tie one on, or whatever you do to have fun i.e. kill brain cells. I don't consider myself a fan or follower of Noam Chomsky but I've always enjoyed his Firing Line appearance for the manner in which he draws William F. Buckley up short and exposes his rhetorical smoke and mirrors by patient and composed explanation of his own viewpoints and continually resisting his host's generalizations and false equivalencies by returning to a nuanced examination of the issues discussed. This culminates near the end of the clip below when Chomsky in the closest he comes to frustration with Buckley's disingenuous line of questioning admonishes Buckley "Look the world is a complex place!" 

This to me gets to the root flaw of all conservative political ideology whether its the paranoiac, enraged moronic variety of our current era or the more calm and by comparison intellectual approach of guys like Buckley, in order to believe and advance their arguments they have to remain essentiality in continual denial of the complexity of the world and by extension all issues they examine, for to acknowledge this complexity and allow nuance to enter the conversation would simply undermine all of their arguments. Sadly this denial of the world and its issues as complex is also the root appeal of conservative political ideology, that is it's easier than thinking through complex issues, and acknowledging gradients, to view everything as black and white, good and evil, heroes and villains, it's comforting, makes the world a much simpler place, but as the last 40 years has clearly illustrated succumbing to this appeal (Colbert's truthiness if you will) and letting these people formulate and control policy and policy debate ultimately does a hell of a lot of damage.  

Buckley's hostility towards Chomsky in the clips below is thinly veiled, in fact in one early sequence he makes a "joke" in which he says he will smash Chomsky's goddamn face in. He is obviously threatened by the, most likely almost subconscious, realization of being in the presence of an intellectual superior.  All this aside and despite Buckley's pretension and pompous condescension one can't help but feeling slightly nostalgic as you watch for a time when there was at least a pretense of intellectual political debate in America. I've posted the full hour appearance after the  clip below for those interested.  

Lastly to lighten things up sort of and ease you out into your weekend, I've posted the amusing and in some instances sad appearance of a drunken, but still surprisingly lucid and funny (particularly if you know enough background on JK to follow his train of thought and ad-libs) Jack Kerouac on Firing Line (also Ed Sanders of the Fugs) who despite his inebriation and crankiness, to me still gets the best of Buckley particularly when he loses his patience with Buckley's long drawn out way of asking questions (you get the sense Buckley can't help but luxuriate in his own perception of himself as rhetorically elegant) and barks at him to "get your question over with"!  It's especially sweet and touching when Kerouac says, after puffing deeply on his cigar, that the beat movement was pure in his heart. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Rain, The Park & Other Things

Joseph Cornell- Celestial Navigation c. 1958
It's raining today, an increasing rarity in Central Texas, and it's as good an excuse as any to post videos of the Clientele, a band with a well documented lyrical fascination with precipitation and a sound that conjures the soft explosions of opiatic daydreams on an overcast, rain-soaked day. The Clientele were probably the last band I felt passionate about, they lost me after their first couple of records when their sound started to veer more towards standard indie-pop fare, but for a period of several years they were quite magical indeed. And their preoccupation with Surrealism and specifically with Joseph Cornell added an additional attractive framework to their overall aesthetic, similar to the effect of early REM's Southern Gothic fascination.

On a recent trip to my hometown of Houston, Texas I had the pleasure of viewing several of Joseph Cornell's boxes at the wonderful Menil Collection which is right down the way from the Rothko Chapel (see pics after videos), easily my all time favorite area of Houston and where I received quite an education as a youth. The enchantment of those Cornell boxes, especially when viewed in person, finds a definite aural parallel in the sound of early Clientele.  In celebration of the rain I also couldn't resist including Scott Walker's "It's Raining Today".  After which we have a film by Larry Jordan (one time assistant to Cornell) inspired by Cornell which I first saw at an avant-garde cinema screening by the Austin Film Society and lastly a documentary on the man himself, Joseph Cornell. That should keep you busy for a spell on this rainy Monday!

If you are ever in Houston boy, don't argue, gamble or fight just do right and stop by the Menil and the Rothko Chapel, they are both beautiful and free. And speaking of beautiful and free, here's a live show of the Clientele for your listening pleasure.  Recorded on May 13, 2000 at the Notting Hill Arts Centre, London. This recording comes courtesy of good ol' Alistair of Unpopular/Tangents fame. I hope he and the band don't mind me posting this, if so just drop me a terse note, and our respective people can talk, you know "industry" style!

The Menil Collection

Inside Rothko Chapel

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Summer Means Fun?

Fielding questions on the Dating Game, Bachelors 1, 2, 3, 4

Looking Forward to Death written by 6025 aka Carlos Cadona- shadowy early member of the Dead Kennedys, now born again?

6025 aka Carlos Cadona