Monday, March 2, 2009

Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts (Bob Dylan)

I wanted to go with "London Calling" by the Clash originally, but it seemed too cliched. I like the song well enough, but it's just far too overused, you know? When everyone thinks they're Johnny Hard-Rock and they're just starting to get into all the good old rock music, liking the Clash is a status symbol. Of course after that, when you've delved into things beyond the Sex Pistols and the Ramones more in the realm of Wreckless Eric (1 single highly recommended) or the less-than-popular tracks by Johnny Cash (the early days), Elvis, Bob Dylan, or even (go for the gold here) Beatles songs featured on albums before The White Album...that's when it's the mark of a middle-school music taste to only know the words to "London Calling" or "The KKK Took My Baby Away." Deeper cuts into the realms of good music must be made.

Of course, for those looking to spice up their music collection's vitality the boundaries of genre and age must be strictly ignored. Sort of like, though in a much less corny fashion, the end of Michael Jackson's "Black or White" music video where Cindy Crawford turns into Michael Jordan turns into some petite Asian girl. I definitely remember Cindy Crawford...not so much MJ. (Sadly, I have revealed my age by the simple fact that I remember when that music video still got TV air time. Wow...where have the 80s gone?)

As a public service (and because I am now rambling and will feed my own vanity about my music tastes) I've compiled a list of several songs that either fall into the category of "must" or simply "think of it like a new type of curry and give it a try."
  1. Via Con Me - Paolo Conti (Highly enjoyable for those who don't require their songs to be in English)
  2. I'd Love to Make Love to You - Nat King Cole (Classic. Nice to get into things his daughter didn't remix as well)
  3. Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts - Bob Dylan (Long. Not Achilles' Last Stand long, but close. My current favourite of his, actually, and not one that you hear ALL THE TIME)
  4. Growing Up Falling Down - Paul McCartney (greatest of his new stuff circa Chaos and Creation)
  5. Loves Me Like a Rock - Paul Simon (how can you not?)
  6. The Other Side - Pendulum (A tribute here to Seb; drum and bass is fantastic for a burst of speed whilst on the treadmill)
  7. Steam - Peter Gabriel (more good gym music, actually)
  8. Walk Like an Egyptian - the Puppini Sisters (Because one must respect 3 women who can turn a vapid Blondie hit into a '40s swing-style cover.)
  9. Rhythm of My Heart - Rod Stewart (This track has pure nostalgia value. On no musical merit of its own, it has won a place in my iTunes library. Perhaps this is because, like many an 80s song, it will inspire off-key warbles and shouts of the chorus at the top of ones lungs)
  10. Hold On, I'm Coming - Sam and Dave (See Blues Brothers. Listen to Sam and Dave. Life is beautiful with good music...and sunglasses, a full tank of gas, and half a pack of cigarettes)
  11. Moi Je Joue - Bridgette Bardot (Ignoring the incredibly sexually explicit moans at the end of the track, it's otherwise quite enjoyable for all that I speak no French whatsoever. Catchy tune.)
  12. More - Bobby Darin (Old jazz and big band is a requisite part of any collection)
  13. Rain - The Beatles (I believe this needs no explanation. A lovely single that deserves more attention)
  14. Get Rhythm - Johnny Cash (Coming from someone who has an almost nonexistant tolerance for the current state of country music, I do love early Johnny Cash. See Walk the Line)
  15. Wake Up Call -Maroon 5 (Really, anything by this band. Actually The Sun from their first album is just as highly recommended.)
  16. Time of Your Song - Matisyahu (A Hassidic rapper from New York only mildly reminiscent of Bob Marley in his accent. Absolutely wonderful.)
  17. Me and Mrs. Jones - Michael Buble (Don't hate. He does the song all the justice it deserves)
  18. My Rights Versus Yours - The New Pornographers (Don't let the band name throw you. It's one of my few consessions to the slightly yuppy, though still anti-Starbucks, culture)
  19. Motel in Memphis - Old Crow Medicine Show (from the lovely kids who brought you Wagon Wheel, this is for anyone who enjoys meaningful lyrics. I also suggest Ohio by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young)
  20. Von Hier an Blind - Wir sind Helden (German music is wunderbar, so I must promote it. A bit punk/pop, though not in an obnoxious way, I can't think of much to compare it to auf English.)
So that list became much longer than intended, though I have to say that I've definitely left quite a bit off. It shall have to be updated at some point. Just not now. That actually wasn't even the point of my writing at the moment! It just turned into a massively long tangent with a mind of its own. A bit like a rogue sheep straying from the flock, it wandered with a mind of its own over metaphorical hills and dales until twenty songs later I discovered that I had let my tangent run away with itself like the atomic fizzion at Chernobyl. (Okay. Bad example.)

The point was actually that while going through many an old .doc file on my computer, I stumbled across some of my writing - including a bit I did walking around London one day that was then converted to electronic format at a later date to "save for posterity" and all that. I suppose I'll actually stick those in now, since I do still like the style I wrote them in.

The Tube to Charing Cross

Rocking back and forth, swaying side to side, the underground train pulled out of the station. The man opposite dozed gently, his head rocking side to side on his shoulders, hands folded – looking penitent except for his closed eyes. His brow furrowed as if in concentration as the thick lines of his eyebrows came down from the dark line of his knit cap. Deep breaths roll the shoulders; rustle the paper as the train waits to depart.

Names, faces, and adverts begin to flash by the windows like an old movie reel picking up speed. Suddenly, you can’t read the names anymore. Camden Town, Mornington Crescent, Goodge, Tottenham, Leicester-Cross, Emb… The train stops at Kennington. That much I know.

The rattle, hum, rattle of the tracks and the rumble of the train in the tube drown out all but the most obstinate notes of my music. The earphones are almost just for show.

We stop again. Matisse is behind the sleeping man… “The Dancers.” An apropos juxtaposition. Now we’re hemmed in on all sides as the car fills with people. A man with a pointed nose searching through his pockets, bunching up his black, belted, leather jacket. The woman rubbing her thumb and index finger together as if her skin were too tight, or too dry. The woman in black flats next to her beats her foot in a nervous tattoo against the floor. Four jerky stops now as the driver slides and slams us to a halt each time. The man opposite has woken up to remove his cap. He’s bald.

Horse Guards

Sitting in the gravel is awkward. It feels like a windy day at some east coast beach, but really I’m in the city’s centre. Ella Fitzgerald’s singing in my headphones and the breeze blows my hair into my face. A man just walked by in a suit…maybe he thought I was crazy.

The gravel yard here is almost as impressive as the building it sits in front of. I drink in Sharpe and Aubrey and Hornblower…the Admiralty isn’t too far.

I’ve just sketched my shadow and taken off my sunglasses. There’s something to seeing the city unfiltered. It’s shinier, bigger, closer, more live. As if I’m here in a more germane sense if I don’t take the sights in through a tinted plastic filter. But as the sun is just behind and to my right, I ought to put them back so I don’t go blind in one eye.

I love all the Georgian architecture. The red brick, brown brick, grey granite, and stone. The gold clock face above the central arch – columns, pilasters, Corinthian capitals, balconies, balustrades, bas-relief seals and scrolls; garlands and white gossamer curtains. The shadows are long and cool cast onto the wall behind the hedge. It’s the shadow, not the six-foot hedge, which makes that corner appear so private. Though the cannon sitting before the gate pointed at the yard and the street beyond does help…

St. James’s Park

There’s nothing so tranquil in the same way as the Park. All sorts of birds are here, not just the city’s dirty pigeons. Steam rises from the cups of the old people beside me on the bench. The shadows have grown long now and so the dying sun shines clearly through the steam.

Fountains bubble up here – just as energetic as the Square, but not in such a defiant way. Birds sail along the water calmly. It’s not a mirror of a lake; it always ripples.

Even Bob Dylan and Led Zepplin are peaceful to a new degree here. The later afternoon is the perfect time for the Park. The grass, trees, flowers, and reeds nestle the ground; not in defiance of the granite and concrete, but as a compliment to it. I feel like I should be able to go home now and curl up in a cabin by a fire. Maybe play the acoustic and dream of a beach house. One with a glass wall to look out on the sea and cast these same long shadows on hardwood floors.

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