Original Format: cassette
The two images above were separate postcards that I acquired around this time. I didn’t see the affinity at first, but once I did it seemed so obvious. The music here is sort of like that.
The Gospel of No Name City Alan Dexter
I’ve never been much for musicals, but I was buying a lot of random vinyl back then and one day I picked up the Paint Your Wagon soundtrack. I like this song a lot; it has moxie. But I still haven’t seen the movie.
New York City The Jesus and Mary Chain
This was a good period for the Mary Chain, who had stripped away the layers of feedback to reveal surprising warmth and admirable songcraft. Stoned and Dethroned (of which more later) was their Couch Album, and even the B-sides (like this one) were killers.
Paranormal in the West Country Julian Cope
My favorite thing about writing these is doing searches and finding out that, for instance, Julian also recorded a full-band version of this song that I’d never heard before.
(I Want to Live on an) Abstract Plain Frank Black
“The perfect song to listen to while mopping up a huge floor or walking alone through the snow to buy beer you aren’t going to drink.” —YouTube commenter Joshua Carroll
Map Reference 41 N 93 W Wire
“In 1978 Wire made their debut in the USA playing at CBGBs in NYC for 5 nights. When this engagement was completed I flew to LA to meet my girlfriend of the time and have 2 weeks vacation staying with friends. At the end of this I flew back to New York to hangout. On the return daytime flight the visibility was perfect and I experienced a stunning aerial view of the Rockies and the vast Mid-Western plains… this was the inspiration for the first part of the text…. Some months later I had a similar sensation whilst traveling by road through the reclaimed agricultural lands of Holland. Whilst in the US it had been the road system here it was a grid system of drainage dikes. The vast green/glass houses also made a memorable impression sparkling in the autumn sun…. The two pieces of writing dovetailed to produce one text on 2 locations… the title was conceptual… notionally the very centre of the Mid-west… I guessed and found a place called Centreville nearby… this seemed appropriate.” —Graham Lewis
Night Train James Brown
“‘Night Train’ has a long and complicated history. The piece’s opening riff was first recorded in 1940 by a small group led by Duke Ellington sideman Johnny Hodges under the title ‘That’s the Blues, Old Man.’ Ellington used the same riff as the opening and closing theme of a longer-form composition, ‘Happy-Go-Lucky Local,’ that was itself one of four parts of his Deep South Suite. [Composer Jimmy] Forrest was part of Ellington’s band when it performed this composition, which has a long tenor saxophone break in the middle. After leaving Ellington, Forrest recorded ‘Night Train’ on United Records and had a major rhythm & blues hit…. James Brown recorded ‘Night Train’ with his band in 1961. His performance replaced the original lyrics of the song with a shouted list of cities on his East Coast touring itinerary (and hosts to black radio stations he hoped would play his music) along with many repetitions of the song’s name.” —Wikipedia
I’m a Long Gone Daddy The The
Matt Johnson’s album of Hank Williams covers, Hanky Panky, was one of the first inklings I got that country music might be something worth paying attention to. I’d like to thank him for that, and also for the companion CD of original Hank songs (see below).
“Study May Help People ‘Scratch’ Spinal Morphine-Induced Itch” —Headline, 2/3/2021
On a Plain Nirvana
“Fuck all you all… I listen to this song when I’m flying on the airplane.” —Commenter “ultjer,” Songfacts.com
Flowers on the Wall The Statler Brothers
This song resonates in 2021, don’t you think? Not just the part about finding ways to entertain yourself within your own four walls; also the part about finally venturing out again and finding you feel out of place.
Ramblin’ Guy Steve Martin
On the album this is listed as “Theme from Ramblin’ Man,” but you and I know better, don’t we?
Ramblin’ Man Hank Williams
Did you know that Hank’s real name was Hiram, but that Hank Jr.’s actual legal first name is Randall? Me neither.
Father to a Sister of Thought Pavement
“It stands to reason if you spend your life in a pocket of avoidance it will, one day, catch up to you. There are so many levels of self-denial. The human mind is so twisted in its rationalizations, and yet I knew it all along.” —Commenter “imagineit,” Songmeanings.com
Riverbends Supreme Love Gods
Another thing I just now learned: the Supreme Love Gods were from Fresno. I’m not sure why I find that funny, but I do.
Bullet Lovers The Jesus and Mary Chain
In my current daydream, the first post-pandemic live show I see is the Mary Chain doing Stoned and Dethroned in its entirety. Never happen, but I’m enjoying the fantasy.
Let the Mermaids Flirt with Me Mississippi John Hurt
Why would the mermaids flirt with a corpse? Just asking.
Set Me Free Love and Rockets
In searching for information about the Sea of Tranquility (Mare Tranquillitatis), which is where Apollo 11 landed, I came across a website that allows you to “buy” an acre on the moon for $39.95. I sincerely doubt this has any legal standing, but you have to give them credit for creative salesmanship. Who doesn’t want a little piece of the moon?