Thursday, February 21, 2008

What Does He Do, He Starts Monologuing

I keep meaning to make more MP3 posts, and I keep being dissuaded when my attempts to secure better free file hosting end in continued failure or frustration -- so hell with it! For the moment I'll stick with what I've been using, despite its noticable deficiencies.

I could go on and on about the various pitfalls and pratfalls I've encountered so far -- but for a change of pace, just for the heck of it, let's put aside my rambling about whatever and instead have... songs with other people rambling about whatever!

Lee Hazlewood - Go Die Big City (N.S.V.I.P.'s [Not So Very Important People], 1964)
[fansite | myspace | info | album looooong out of print]

This song would have been perfectly enjoyable by itself, if he'd just launched into it straight out -- but that wasn't Lee Hazlewood's style. Not for his solo works, noooo. Lee Hazlewood wasn't about to let you hear his songs unless he first made sure you knew every detail of the lunatic scenarios he'd already crafted around them in his head.

The story that he spins here is funny and unnerving and surreptiously clever all at once, which was par for the course with the majority of his work. When he died in August of last year, the obituaries tended to describe him as "oddball", "eccentric", "unorthodox" and "quirky"; these are the usual fallback words that the squares use to describe the really interesting people, the ones who cultivate and maintain a tangible streak of batshit insanity throughout their lives. Just a little streak, mind you; not quite enough to get themselves jailed or killed over, but enough that nobody can ever safely claim to have them completely figured out.

I know what's coming every time I listen to this track, but the perfectly droll timing on his deadpan delivery still cracks me up whenever I hear it. And the line "he was a chiropractor who did a lot of heavy thinkin'" -- I would bronze that and hang it on my wall if I could, because that is majesty. I would swipe ideas and concepts from early Lee Hazlewood mercilessly if I thought I could do them any justice; I can't, of course, so it's a moot point. But it's the thought that counts!

R.L. Burnside with the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - The Criminal Inside Me (A Ass Pocket of Whiskey, 1996)
[buy | 1999 interview | info]

This is the most badass rambling pseudo-poetic story about an animal kindgom house party that you have ever heard set to music. (And if it isn't, notify me immediately.)

The genesis of this album was everybody involved gathering at Burnside's house somewhere deep in rural Mississippi, getting incalculably drunk, then recording the whole thing in four hours. As such, this is one of the tracks on the album that never actually involves any singing; the Blues Explosion lay down some impressively roughneck fuzz-blues to back up R.L. Burnside as he drinks and tells an increasingly rambling, mostly rhyming story about a particularly hardass monkey who took his lack of a party invitation very poorly and went on a drunken rampage. (He was also the town sheriff, Burnside adds as an afterthought.)

It's unclear whether R.L. actually finishes the story or not; he may be done or he may not be done. We don't find out before Jon Spencer intervenes to try and borrow some money, which you can tell immediately is just going to end in awesomely hilarious failure.

"R.L. -- you got fourty nickels? I need--" "HOW MANY?" "I need fourty nickels for a bag of potato chips, come on man."

Well, it was a nice try. You can't fault him for asking.

The Suicide Machines - 95% of the World is Third World (Bonus Track) (War Profiteering is Killing Us All, 2005)
[buy | label site | info | myspace]

An angry vocalist and an upbeat band is usually a good way to arrange a punk song. Make sure the lead singer is good and grumpy about something, have the other members play something fast and chipper behind him, and away you go.

That's clearly how this one was laid out, and it works perfectly well for exactly half the song. Then the character of the song changes dramatically a minute and seventeen seconds in; for the next thirty-eight straight seconds after that, the lead singer flips a shit and starts rambling about everything he can think of at the moment. American sense of entitlement, disinterest in other cultures, the military, the global media, unemployment, social disconnect, middle-class Americans, big corporations, big government, military bombing operations; surely the only reason he didn't announce the moon landing as a sham and proclaim George Bush's disdain for black people is because he had to stop and breathe in at some point. His bandmates watch him during this, then look at each other in confusion as he continues to talk; as one they give a collective shrug, wait for him to finish, and continue playing on until the end of the song.

The recording finished and the album now complete, the guitarist looks down at his notes and recoils. "Hey!" he exclaims, indignantly. "That was my solo!"

And the band broke up less than a year after this album came out. I'm not suggesting this is actually what happened, I'm just saying that the possibility exists.

It's fun to monologue! Just make sure you're aware of the potential consequences.

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