[Debut post by new addition to Minor Scratches, Atavistic.]
Bob Dylan – I and I (Infidels)
Produced and picked by Mark Knopfler, and sounding rather similar to Telegraph Road at times, I and I is one Bob Dylan’s bitter songs. He talks through acrimonious verses as Mr. Knopfler’s guitar wanders about, filling in just so.
Think I’ll go out and go for walk, not much happening here
Nothing ever does
Besides if she wakes up now, she’ll just want me to talk
I got nothing to say, especially about whatever was
Simon & Garfunkel – Richard Cory (Sounds of Silence)
The Kinks made a career of writing songs like this, about being working class and proud. Simon and Garfunkel couldn’t summon up the anger or nostalgia to make it a career. Besides Greenwich Village was always more their style. Simon and Garfunkel were groovy, which is to say too cool to be affected by anything as blasé as nostalgia. So they couldn’t be The Kinks, but on Richard Cory they get pretty close.
But I work in his factory
And I curse the life I’m living
And I curse my poverty
And I wish that I could be
Oh I wish that I could be
Oh I wish that I could be
Scott Walker – The Cockfighter (Tilt)
[The internet fails to provide. You’ll have to hunt this down on your own, kids.]
Of Scott Walker’s later work, The Cockfighter is one of his more accessible songs. After the first 80 seconds of weird sounds, the music is (mostly) created on recognizable musical instruments. Even so, Scott Walker can be off-putting. He takes the loud/quiet/loud approach literally and I’m not positive even Scott Walker knows what he is singing about. It may be rococo jabberwocky. Nevertheless, with sufficient volume and big enough speakers, the percussion in The Cockfighter will disrupt the little synapses in your brain that command locomotion. You will sit and listen.
Do you swear the breastbone was bare?
I sought and made my escape
Do you have any doubt he slept in that bed?
I can only repeat, I never saw it
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Brother My Cup Is Empty (Henry’s Dream)
Nick Cave has always been more of a writer who writes songs rather than a songwriter and he was imagining unnatural deaths long before he penned Murder Ballads.
I cannot blame it all on her
To blame her all would be a lie
For many a night I lay awake
And wished that I could watch her die
To see her accusing finger spurt
To see flies swarm her hateful eye
To watch her groaning in the dirt
To see her clicking tongue crack dry
Son House – John the Revelator (Original Delta Blue)
Son House gets biblical, accompanied only by occasional hand claps.
Sonny Rollins – I’m an Old Cowhand (Way Out West)
It begins with an understated drum and bass line. The first hook hits about 30 seconds in and sticks in your head for the rest of the day. Buy Way Out West on vinyl while it is still cheap.
Tom Waits – Hell Broke Luce (Bad as Me)
Despite his simplistic anti-war instincts, Tom Waits has written the best (of the very few) songs about the GWOT. Hell Broke Luce is loud, wild, and angry – the musical opposite of his The Day After Tomorrow, though the sentiment is the same. What Hell Broke Luce lacks in melody it makes up with percussion and acerbic humor. If The Day After Tomorrow is Tom Wait’s Platoon, Hell Broke Luce is his Full Metal Jacket.
Of course, it would be nice if someone with some sense of perspective would write a song about what has been going on over here for the last 10 plus years. It isn’t all tragedy.
My face was scorched, scorched
I miss my home
I miss my porch, porch
Can I go home in March?
Belle & Sebastian – Sleep the Clock Around (The Boy With the Arab Strap)
Sounding much like My Bloody Valentine without the feedback, Belle & Sebastian sings quietly about nap time and failing.
Take a walk in the park, take a Valium pill
Read the letter you got from the memory girl
But it takes more than this to make sense of the day
Yeah it takes more than milk to get rid of the taste
Angus & Julia Stone – Santa Monica Dream (Down the Way)
I hesitate to recommend this song because heard an Angus & Julia Stone song backing whatever they call the newest teen drama ala Dawson’s Creek. This isn’t indie-kid snobbery. At least not exactly. It is more like the self-doubt that grabs you the when you see an Oprah’s Book Club sticker on book you’ve recommended. The confidence in your taste goes a bit wobbly. Surely Oprah and I have nothing in common. But those are my issues and with any sort of perspective, totally irrelevant.
To the music: If Julia Stone’s voice was not so enamoring, the whole thing wouldn’t work. But it is small and sugary and easy to love.
I could call you on the telephone
But do I really want to know?
You’re making love now to the lady down the road
No I don’t
I don’t want to know