Friday, February 25, 2005

The Gospel According to Mood

So, I've been listening to the top 100 musical icons, as brought to me over the airwaves by Steve and Jay from MIXX 105.5, located right here in Greater Sevierville. I think they stole the list, but that's somebody else's crime. John Lennon was #1 - big surprise, right? All the Miss America contestants want world peace, after all. At least, they didn't play Imagine - as Elvis Costello pointed out, was it a millionaire who said "imagine no possessions?" And it's not that I don't like John Lennon. I just don't think he's the Be All and End All of music. Or at least, the Be All and End All ALL the Time. There should be a rotation. So, I made up my own list. And it goes like this:

The Disciples

PETER - Keith Richards. My alter ego in so many, many ways. I admire his ability to survive, his bohemian elegance and his refusal to either compromise or grow up completely. And good lord, look at his hands! They're a testament to his devotion to his craft. The Personification of Cool.

MATTHEW - Elvis Costello. Revenge. Guilt. And a really large vocabulary. I have had to go to the dictionary occasionally with Elvis - who else would sing of wounded bandeons? - and he sometimes tries to cram too many words into his songs, but that sparkling intelligence just makes it all ok. I'd like to think My Aim is True saved my life, but it's probably not true. But, there, in 1977, when it was all disco and Kansas and Boston and Chicago - jesus it was a horrible horrible time, that album was a life preserver. Lines like 'I said "I'm so happy I could die," she said "drop dead," and left with another guy'; 'I get you in my dreams/you should hear the things you say/it's not that it's so much fun/but it's safer that way' - lyrical water in the desert of Dust in the Wind! Time may have mellowed him a little, just a little, but he seems to have rocked his way out of the box so many critics wanted to put him in. He just turned 50, and he's having the time of his life. Dear Prudence.

SIMON THE ZEALOT - Joe Strummer. In the liner notes of Joe's last album, Streetcore, I found this: nothing in the world can take the place of persistance. talent will not. nothing is more common that unsuccessful talent. genius will not. unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. education will not. the world is full of educated derelicts. persistance and determination alone are omnipotent. I don't know if it's a quote or he wrote it himself (I suspect that he did), but that's Joe Strummer in a nutshell. The unwavering voice of fortitude.

JAMES - John Prine. He wrote ‘there’s a hole in Daddy’s arm where all the money goes’ (Sam Stone) – there’s a movie pitch in 11 words. And he keeps doing that in song after song: 'there were spaces between Donald and whatever he said/strangers had forced him to live in his head' (Donald and Lydia), 'Do you know what blood looks like in a black and white video? like shadows. shadows!' (Lake Marie). He’s the reason I own a guitar and pretend I can play it. He wrote the World's Most Perfect Song (Souvenirs). Humility is John Prine.

BARTHOLOMEW - Iggy Pop – who witnessed the Ascension of Punk. Hell, he was the Ascension of Punk. The Sacrificial Dog who pissed all over the altar. Blah, blah, blah.

THOMAS - Bob Dylan. I can't remember not being aware of him, but I didn’t really listen to him – I think you can become so huge and such a part of the landscape that it's one of those 'can't see the forest for the trees' kind of things. I remember watching him on the Oscars one year performing in whiteface, and I thought that man has become absolutely unintelligible. Until the Wonder Boys soundtrack, that is - Things Have Changed and Not Dark Yet just blew me away. Maybe I had to be old enough to appreciate it, maybe I never paid enough attention - anyway, those songs just resonated with me. He writes a good book, too. Not a doubter, but a witness.

ANDREW - George Thorogood, who brought me to Bo Diddley. Who do you love?

JOHN - Johnny Cash – my dad’s hero; in my mind my dad is equal parts JC and Andy Griffith. I can remember lying on the floor of our house in CA, crying along to Johnny’s songs. It’s primal, baby. Anyway, when I see Johnny, I see grace. A very big man, indeed.

PHILIP – Dave Edmunds. I lost track of him after Rockpile broke up (more reasons to hate Led Zeppelin), but Tracks on Wax and Repeat When Necessary are desert island discs. He produced the Stray Cats too, so more reasons to love. I think it was Creem magazine that said it was Dave's job to make Elvis Costello look tall. He's one of the few people to cover an EC tune to its improvement (Girls Talk) and he's got a great eye for footwear. The Keeper of the Flame.

JAMES THE YOUNGER - Willie Nelson. He wrote Crazy. What else is there to say? I saw him live several times in the late 70's, when the outlaw thing was big - it used to amaze me that he would take bottles of whiskey from audience members and drink. !! I love that he's kept that old guitar all these years (30+) and that he hid it from the IRS - that outlaw thing wasn't just an act. He's always had his family with him, always trying to bring somebody else into the spotlight. The Patron Saint of the American Farmer.

THADDEUS - Neil Young, my shambling king. I purloined a copy of Harvest, and Are You Ready for the Country? Became my theme song for the summer of 1980. He made it ok to be not quite on key - in fact, the imperfections of his voice add passion and validity. When he sings 'I ain't singing for Spuds', well, you know he means it and he'll kick your ass if you are. The Minister of Justice.

JUDAS ISCARIOT – Paul McCartney. I didn't want to put him on this list. But when I needed a traitorous sell-out, when I needed a living example of envious greed, his was the only name that sprang to mind. He's been on the downwardly mobile fast track since Band on the Run. Sure, he was always a mercenary, always a salesman, but what purpose would "McCartney/Lennon" serve except to massage his tiresome ego? Get him, Yoko.

The Man

JESUS OF COOL: Nick Lowe – to this day, I do not know why I bought Pure Pop for Now People (US issue of Jesus of Cool) – I think it was probably the title. Or The Hand of God. If he weren’t 15 years older than me, I’d think we’d been separated at birth. Where he’s been, I’ve been, musically speaking. He's partying hearty, I'm partying hearty (Jesus of Cool); he's falling in love, I'm falling in love (Nick the Knife); he's trying to figure out where it all went wrong, so am I (Dig My Mood). I am so in awe of his talent that I am afraid of him. His music is deceptively simple, but he gets some complex ideas/emotions across in just a handful words (‘Heaven is here, but only skin deep’; ‘I could’ve had that 8-string beauty, or some other rich man’s toy’; ‘I can’t find a place where those bygones won’t go’). I saw him in Nashville last year. At an age when he could be joining AARP, he kept a room full of songwriters spellbound with just a guitar and that well-worn but still silky voice. The Sexiest Man Alive.

The Sisters

MARY MAGDALENE – Janis Joplin. the first record I ever owned was Pearl, which my Dad helped me pick out of one of those record club Buy 8 Records for 1 Cent!! deals. Naturally, at the age of 7, Mercedes Benz was my favorite. As I got older, Half Moon became my Getting Ready to Go Out anthem, and Cry Baby was the Coming Home hymn. I'd like to think that my teen angst was a little more authentic than average, because I had Janis in my headphones. Gone too soon.

MARTHA - Lucinda Williams. Another songwriter I've been marginally aware of, but didn't really listen to until she guested on The Delivery Man. Car Wheels on a Gravel Road was one of the top five albums I heard in 2004 (yeah, I'm late to the party as usual - it came out in 1998). Is there a better song than Lake Charles? I don't think so unless it's Greenville. Or Jackson. Her voice isn't pretty, but it's true, and perfectly suited to her songs. I used to want to grow up to be John Prine. Now I want to grow up to be Lucinda Williams.

The Bible

GENESIS, the beginning of beginnings: Nick Lowe – Jesus of Cool
EXODUS, redemption and deliverance: Elvis Costello – My Aim is True
LEVITICUS, the book of holiness: John Prine – John Prine
NUMBERS, the wilderness years: The Rolling Stones – Some Girls
DEUTERONOMY, the giving of the law: The Clash – The Clash

Friday, February 04, 2005

coleslaw: side dish or condiment?

well, of course it's a side dish.

friday at last.

'nuff said.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Heaven in a bowl: steaming hot grits with the sharpest cheddar cheese! I will get out of bed for this without coffee - not that I drink coffee anymore, but when I did, I would. Some people like Charleston grits with the Rotel tomatoes and cheese, but I'm a plain cheese grits girl. A dash of salt. An ounce of Extra Sharp White Cheddar. Good sturdy food, like oatmeal with taste. Not carb-friendly, but I like to think they're Good Carbs! And on a dreary February morning permeated with cold (but not freezing, dammit) rain, gray clouds of doom and the general malaise that is the heart of winter, you can't go wrong with cheese grits. If aliens were to land in my yard, I'd fix them cheese grits. Or cheeseburgers. Something that speaks a universal welcome. If there had been cheese grits at the Alamo, we wouldn't be speaking Spanish today. No, wait... If there had been cheese grits in Boston, instead of tea, the Revolution would have only taken a couple of weeks. I'm quite sure Hannibal powered them elephants with cheese grits. Marco Polo couldn't leave home without 'em. Grits so good, grits so great, grits so fine you'll lick your plate!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

six more weeks of winter. Let's all go back to bed.

tunage: Scott Miller and the Commonwealth, Upside Downside. mood: taking the blows, still standing. Best Thing about Today: it's Wednesday.

I love this cd - found it in my son's car. I traded with him so he could do the Soccer Mom thing for me while I had to work one Saturday (it was January 8th, if you're obsessed with details like me). This would of course be my oldest son's car, not the 11 year old - there is a minimum age for driver's licenses in Tennessee, in spite of appearances (16, and that's a restricted license). Anyway, Kanye West (? I'm not precisely sure) was blasting out of the speakers when I started his PofS auto, so as soon as I could safely switch it out, I put in Thus Always to Tyrants, SM and the C's first cd. It was the best first listen I've had in ages. He's from VA, so he talks right, and he's off in his own little space like John Prine is. He used to be in the V-Roys (haven't heard any of their stuff yet, but have one on order), lives in Knoxville (which almost makes him my neighbor), and the man can turn a phrase. One of my faves, from Red Ball Express (on Upside): 36 hours and we still ain't slept/hearing voices talk inside my head/in Burma-Shaving rhyme.

Still having the Mr. Brightside obsession as well, so I'm alternating between banjos and dance music. Well, it's just a different kind of dancing. And I need to hear Lucinda, too.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

38 days until Elvis.

Where did January go? Don't really care - just glad to be one month closer to spring and color! and one month farther away from the cold gray hell that is winter. I bought a hyacinth for some color and that wonderful springy smell, but it developed an odor problem and is now sitting outside my front door. What a way to welcome any potential guests - a really rank smelling decaying flower! That just says 'Come on in!,' doesn't it?

today's mood: casually upbeat - jeans and tshirt kind of mood, but I'm wearing hideous green pants and an old colorblocked sweater that is just a hair too short for these damn pants. Today's tunage: the Killers, Hot Fuss and the Beatles, Sergeant Pepper. I think there will be an Elvis afternoon, with some Nick Lowe breaks. Location: the grind. I think I'm here more than I'm home and that would be ok if I could send everybody else home. I am solitude starved.

Replayed Mr. Brightside for the fourth time. I may never get to Elvis.

and I want to dance!