Saturday, September 29, 2007

I Bought "Clarissa"

You know, I could write a book. And this book would
be thick enough to stun an ox.

-- Laurie Anderson, "Let X=X"

This Samuel Richardson novel is known far and wide as the most boring fucking British classic ever written. Looks good so far. I read the introduction and I'm excited about reading it, when I get around to it. This may be one of those books like The Faerie Queen that I buy and never read, but I somehow don't think so. At any rate, I'm currently in the middle of Denis Johnson's Tree of Smoke, about which I should probably keep mum until I have my thoughts together. I always hate passing temporary judgement on a book before I've finished it, because so much can change.

One thing that hasn't changed -- how's that for a segue? -- Derek and the Dominos Layla continues to kick serious ass.

Not long ago I pulled together a mix CD of songs that make me think of driving to nowhere at 2 a.m. Some inclusions were quite easy: like Bob Dylan's "Visions of Johanna," which was probably on Al Kooper's mind when he told Sean Wilentz in the article cited some posts below that “nobody has ever captured the sound of three a.m. better than [Blonde on Blonde]." Also, "Radar Love" and "I'm Your Captain," the only good song Grand Funk Railroad ever made, and which used to lullaby me to sleep back when I was 13, when I'd be in bed listening to WDLP in Panama City, dozing off before I could count how many times they said "I'm getting closer to my home."

Another one: "Key to the Highway," one of the many extraordinary yearning blues guitar playoffs on the Layla disc. I first discovered this song by way of a poem by Mark Halliday that I think was published in The New Yorker. I already had the album but I think that poem suddenly made that song seem something strange and magical, which is what it became, because like the guys in the poem I played the cassette of the record over and over, and I know I heard it a lot of times when I was driving home late from somewhere.

When I went to download it from iTunes, the track list just jumped out at me. Damn, I thought, every single fucking one of these songs is a masterpiece. There isn't a single one -- from "I Looked Away" to "Bell Bottom Blues" to "Keep on Growing" to "I Am Yours" to "Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?" -- that didn't immediately soar to mind and spark a million good memories. Whay haven't I bought this CD before? Is it for the same reason I don't have many Beatles CDs -- because I've heard them so many times they just seem like a too-well-known quantity? Anyway, I corrected the oversight today. I bought the CD -- there are some records you just shouldn't download, I'm convinced -- and, as I write this, I am hearing one of several great solos in the middle of "Key to the Highway."

Also, I filled out my Papa Jazz card, so I got a freebie: Big Science by Laurie Anderson, about which I know nothing except that a lot of people think it's a classic.

One album I did think was okay to download: Hoodoo Gurus' Magnum Cum Louder. (Good thing I did, too; look at the cost of the CD.) Bought the cassette for a buck many years ago during a closeout sale and wore it out. Glad it came to mind today. "Another World" and "Come Anytime" are still stellar tracks.

My 2 a.m. CD:

* Life Is Motion by Wallace Stevens, read by Alan Davis Drake
* Visions Of Johanna by Bob Dylan
* Key to the Highway by Derek & The Dominos
* I'm Your Captain (Closer to Home) by Grand Funk Railroad
* Mohammed's Radio by Warren Zevon
* Radar Love by Golden Earring
* Queen Of The Highway by The Doors
* Reconsider Baby by Elvis Presley
* Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go? by Soft Cell
* She's Lost Control by Joy Division
* Rocket U.S.A. by Suicide
* Teen Age Riot by Sonic Youth
* Jesus by The Velvet Underground
* Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny: Alabama-Song by Lotte Lenya

P.S. If you're in the mood for hard-core porn, just go to Google Images and type in "Clarissa" or "Layla." Those girls see a lot of action.

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