I like to imagine that, before I was born, I was presented with a list of physical shortcomings and told I had to take several with me into life. I must have picked “Weak Eyes — with persistent stressful interludes,” but also, “Great Difficulty Tying Knots.” I was the last one in Kindergarten to learn how to tie my shoes. That bow knot was flat incomprehensible to me. But at least the knots on the extra garbage bags today were good enough.
What bizarre, shameful act do Norman Mailer, Gunter Grass and William F Buckley have in common?
Since I happen to be playing the LP tonight. I know I’ve written this before, but it needs repeating:
Elvis knows how rancid these tunes are. Imagining he has the power to refuse stuff he thinks is “below” him is the mistake some observers make. He was not operating from a position of traditional pop star command.
And, frankly, the on-the-cross live rendition of “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” belongs on evey best-of.
“Are you lonesome tonight? I’m lonesome in a way nobody will ever begin to understand. Because I became Elvis before anyone else.”
Place is in a real pickle now. I suspect they will get the donations to survive for the nonce, but such a shaky foundation is not good. I’m not as upset as I once would have been, not least because I thought the elan never came back after Barbara Mikkelson departed. Now we find out her ex, Dave M., got his start spreading false information as well as debunking it. Yich.
Those with less faith in God tend to have more in Aliens. I came to the conclusion, back when I was regularly writing about pseudo-science, particularly extraterrestrial encounters, that the believers were more alt-religious than anything else. Which meant it was a topic where you weren’t going to change very many minds.
But something seems a bit off about this essay. As I noted yesterday talking about the story of Gef!, there was obviously a lot of superstitious belief when people were plenty more religious. I will agree that there’s clearly been a rise in superstitions with scientific veneers in the last century. (I like to say that the three great myths of our time are “U.F.O., E.S.P. and W.M.D.” — hawhaw.) And all are clearly intertwined in a search for meaning beyond the mundane.
… that I also consider counterproductive for the music they concern.
- This weird, pious atmosphere that keeps attaching itself to pre-electric country blues. This is sacred stuff, man, esp. treasured because “non-commercial.” Reminds me of the worst aspects of the early-’60s folk revival. Didn’t Bob Dylan point out that that sort of reverence was a dead end?
- A closely related effect applies internationally. That the purest, noncommercial folk forms from the most isolated corners of the land are the true music of the place. Genius innovations from city performers are just tainted junk.
- The only time anybody wants to play, listen to, or write about reggae and offshoots is during the hottest weeks of the summer.
I saw Night of the Living Dead when it was new and it scared the doo-doo out of me. Hard to imagine this was the first horror movie that wasn’t just creepy or thrilling, but brutal, assaultive, with a rough-newsreel quality that made it feel like a documentary. Plus a horrific, downbeat ending. But my favorite part of the film, which let me know I was crossing into a fresh circle of Hell, is the beginning. There’s no explanation, no setup, no warning when this horrifying guy just appears from behind a tombstone and starts to menace and then WHAM! the brother is killed — a guy you probably expected to be the hero. And then of course we get the modern trapped-in-a-scary-house theme. Fascinating that the film was such an enduring influence that it’s transformed the meaning of “zombie” until almost no one you ask could cite the original Caribbean possessed-person definition.
(Plus, he died listening to Bing Crosby, a pretty up-there choice, I say.)
[PS: Because I have been asked, yes, the Fela Kuti “Zombie” does refer to the original definition. In a very potent way.]