But I think this is the best anyone will do for a remembrance/obit. (Though it does make me kick myself into the gutter for not seeing the Buzzcocks do more recent Boston concerts.)
Continuing the process of trying to hear everything Cole recorded. To start at the start, I knew The Lollipop Shoppe’s “You Must Be a Witch” from the original Nuggets collection but for many years I did not know, out of raw ignorance, that this was Cole’s first band (only album came out in ’68 when he was 20). Then, since I never even saw a single copy of it, I smoothed over my curiosity by assuming (like the dummy I was) that Just Colour suffered from the usual Nuggets Curse (that is, aside from the one marvelous track, the album was either too derivative or outright bleh). I got the definitive 2008 reissue on Rev-Ola and wowsers was I wrong — one of the best garage-classic-containing LPs I’ve heard and a Rilly Weird. Piece of Work. “Underground Railroad,” “Who’ll Read the Will,” “Don’t Close the Door on Me” and the last track, “Sin” show Cole’s angry, morbid/supernatural and proto-punk attitude in place already. Only [small] defect: the two unreleased Bonus Tracks are weak. The sort of simpering stuff you were afraid the whole album would be like.
The YIKES is that on what I believe is the Pierced Arrows final album, Descending Shadows, the songwriting and performing remain intact, but Cole’s voice sounds wracked and ravaged. Not surprised this was the end. Still, perfect final song for a free spirit who flew his own way decade after decade: “Coming Down to Earth.”
… Donna and I wanted to get married because the day fell on a Sunday and would be easy to always remember. And would always feature the longest potential sunshine of the year. But our selected minister had a commitment to a weekly sermon on the radio (!!) and so couldn’t do it until the next day. So we were married on a Monday — thirty years ago tomorrow.
Psychopaths can make damned good copy. Though the fewer of this type I ever encounter again (yes, known a couple), the better. Much the better.
PS: It amazes me how nobody ever notes that “nothing is true — everything is permitted” was popularized by William Burroughs in Naked Lunch or even that it was the creed of Hassan-i Sabbah’s Assassins.
Captivating memorial and assessment. I sure discovered Schwartz through reading the James Atlas book (which I picked up because I dug Atlas’s earliest poems). And I can confirm that indeed it was the life-as-cautionary-tale rather than love of a lost literary lion that surrounded the biography. Almost a more bookish version of Edie: American Girl.
I read a bunch of Schwartz after the bio. Torment was almost unbearable even from the page. I do remember he described the little eccentricities of Cambridge MA in the 1930s. By the time I was reading him and living there in the ’70s, I was fascinated he helped me detect little dabs of the vintage ambiance that was still around. When they vanished I’m not sure. At any rate, I can’t sense them over there any more.
I need to read more of her. Got through The Talented Mr. Ripley, but found it very cold, icy-hearted toward its characters and, ultimately, the reader. But we will see.
I do think the devoted will find this addendum.
I first heard of The Connection not long after I moved to Boston. But I didn’t grasp who directed it and who Shirley Clarke was for decades. She really was dissed by the culture cognoscenti and deserves all the retrospective respect she can get. Might be romanticized from time to time, but I’ve come to decide I don’t miss the sneering condescension surrounding “trash” art at all, hip though it was in secret.
[Ornette: Made in America is hugely recommended.]