31 August 2007

"When the doors of perception are cleansed, things will appear as they truly are."

(Introduction quote, as cited by Jim Morrison on the band name, is by William Blake.)
"The Scene": [Covered] from Haight Asbury, through New York, New Haven, and Miami

In the film The Doors director Oliver Stone is telling the story of the hippie / mind expansion / flower power generation parallel with the rise and fall of Jim Morrison. Stone's film captures the early years of Morrison experimenting with art, poetry, peyote and
toying with mind expansion, Irish whiskey, sugar cubes, jazz cigarettes and more and more and more.

Take the notorious Miami arrest-gig: just like the Tampa
concerts (five hours NNW) I saw at the time -- joints everywhere, fights breaking out, nobody actually sitting down. I was only 13; good thing I didn't know the right drugs to take.

As for Morrison, we learn, but I'll leave it to the poet critics to judge the merits of what he produced.


"I don’t know Just where I’m going But I’m Goin’ to try For the kingdom If I can ’Cause it makes me feel like I’m a man When I put a spike into my vein Then I tell you things aren’t quite the same When I’m rushing on my run And I feel just like Jesus’ son And I guess I just don’t know And I guess that I just don’t know ...."

(--from Heroin by Lou Reed,
performed on the album Velvet Underground & Nico,
as Morrison meets Andy Warhol and most noteworthy, the Nordic princess Nico)

Setting the mythological parallels aside, metaphysical thinking-man's-hippie logic still held sway, Oliver Stone's The Doors is a first class trip down counterculture lane. Very, very high: mesmerizing at times and also terrifyingly stark at others.

Using hallucinogenic drugs to follow a shaman's path -- all the time drinking and helping invent post-'67 rock star. Easy to dismiss in light of Castaneda's work and time passing, but back "in the day", well dude, all that talent, why not ride the tiger? Morrison definitely did.


'Riding that tiger after whipping it's eyes' Morrison, set to the quasi-Celtic introduction to Carmina Burana. Here Stone completes the transition from the pop excess of the Warhol party to "derangement of the senses" through a Wiccan doorway. Headed toward "enlightenment", the jet fuel of attitude, culture, whiskey and coke. Dude, enlightenment?: maybe insight at best.

Jim Morrison: An American Dionysus?

Oliver Stone certain thinks so. This time out, however, Stone's thesis is wrapped in the billowing shroud of Morrison's life and legend. Stone usually heavy-handed direction fades. Comparing Morrison to Dionysus moves Stone's thesis along, but the comparison is premature. In touch with a Nagual, maybe -- I couldn't know, not being a shaman.


30 August 2007

So That's What Teen Spirit Smells Like

Patti Smith's first and also her latest: she knew what it smelled like back on Horses; her acoustic cover of Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit brings the song to it's full potential.

Covers by masters can do that. Thanks Patti.

25 August 2007

Soundtrack teaser: "Heaven Holds the Faithful Departed."

Martin Scorcese on the set of The Departed

This past year, decades past due, film auteur Martin Scorsese walked off with almost all the hardware at last Oscars for his latest masterwork, The Departed.

With the exception of, as examples, the use of Jim Gordon's half of Layla and Ry Cooder's slide solo from Memo from Turner in the two-movement Goodfellas climax, the use of music, other than the score, in Goodfellas is an embryonic form of what is accomplished in The Departed.

The following is a non-spoiler soundtrack film teaser with notes:

Gimme Shelter
churns -- Ooh, fire is sweeping, our very streets today -- as Mick Jagger and Merry Richards belt their vocals as Keith Richards' lead runs and power chords introduced Jack Nicholson's character Frank Costello.

Mr. French's
character is unsheathed to strains of Duane Allmans' opening slide solo in One Way Out.

Billy tunes-up Providence button men - Nobody But Me by the original Isley Brothers --
... nobody, nobody, nobody..,

When Frank Costello first meets Billy, Let It Loose is on the jukebox: Frank's "all dressed up to do you harm."

Patsy Cline's unsurpassable Sweet Dreams cover is on the stereo at Frank's apartment as French and Frank discuss Billy's reliability [blend from Patsy across Irish ditty into John Ono Lennon's Well, Well, Well.

Used in love scene between Billy and, radically transformed by Van Morrison's soaring live vocal, into a "sexual healing" song:

Comfortably Numb (-- by Gilmour, Waters; originally from Pink Floyd's The Wall)
[First Verse softly buried under a "find the rat' scene, then the dialogue fades and the song come up.]

Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me.

Is there anyone at home?

Come on, now,
I hear you're feeling down.
Well I can ease your pain

Get you on your feet again.

[transition to Madeline and Billy in her old apartment as she packs]

... There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship, smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I can't hear what you're saying.

When I was a child
I caught a fleeting glimpse ...

Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone

I cannot put my finger on it now

The child is grown,
The dream is gone.

... A distant ship, smoke on the horizon.

You are only coming through in waves.

Your lips move but I can't hear what you're saying.

...When I was a child I had a fever

My hands felt just like two balloons.

Now I've got that feeling once again

I can't explain you would not understand

This is not how I am ...

[music fades as teapot boils in kitchen; dialogue and love scene as song fades back in to soundtrack]

... There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship, smoke on the horizon. You are only coming through in waves Your lips move but I can't hear what you're saying.

When I was a child
I caught a fleeting glimpse
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone

I cannot put my finger on it now

The child is grown,
The dream is gone. [And] I have become comfortably numb.

I'm Shipping Up To Boston - Dropkick Murphys

And when the deal is going down, truly, this song (in a more hard-edged arrangement than in the YouTube video hyperlink above) rolls and blasts -- traditional Irish music punk band. Who would've thought...it figures[?]

The Departed, as in all aspects of it's construction takes lacing a soundtrack with great tunes to an new level in cinema.

19 August 2007

Less is More

For Whom the Bell Tolls
by Ernest Hemingway

I knew nothing of the Spanish Civil War, clan underground armed resistance, Russia's positive role in fighting Franco, writing, love, or wormwood absinthe before I read this book. Even Hemingway helped spoil the movie, but the book stands as one of his greatest literary achievements.


15 August 2007

The Essential Albums: Who's Next

The Who-> is a band of paradoxes.

I remember their searing performance in the film Woodstock of selections from the album / rock opera Tommy -- just riveting. Recently I saw both the film versions of Tommy and Quadraphenia. Ken Russell ruined the film Tommy, despite Anne-Margaret and Keith Moon's stellar contributions; The Who Productions, Ltd.'s film Quadraphenia is, on the other hand, superlative, accurately mod vs. rocker in mid-Sixties south Britain. It's Pete Townsend aesthetically desublimating the universal youth identity crisis. (See Eric Erikson and Herbert Marcuse.)

Then there's the band's anarchistic antics: Keith Moon detonating his drum kit on The Smother Brothers Show and permanently damaging Townsend's hearing; and Townsend smashing beautiful guitars and amps for the sake of pre-punk rock n' roll mayhem alone -- Pete Townsend, the godfather of punk, and Moon his ulta-talented, crazy drunken mate.

There are two The Who albums that set standards never been equalled. The rock opera Quadraphenia is the most successfully ambitious rock opera ever written. But no other The Who album is essential to your collection, for the road, the car, bus, the truck, and home, except Who's Next.

I know I won't get fooled again
-- yea, meet the new boss, same as the old boss
-- my dreams they aren't as empty, as my conscience seems to be
-- I got to rest some time so I can get up and run some more.

Get your head on the road and dig the Moog, Marshals, and Moon.

Epigram: Daltrey, let your hair grow; Pete, quit trying so hard; John and Keith, Requiescat in Pace.

12 August 2007

In Honor of the 53rd Anniversary Year of the Fender Stratocaster (Part II)

Who Played What?
(Preface: this list is not an attempt to be complete or correct. Rolling Stone magazine, a make-up rag 'no self-respecting fish would be wrapped in', tries similar tricks, to their chagin, quite often. Putting artists in order is futile: where do you rank Duane and Derek in Miami in 1070 or Duane and Dickie the at the Filmore East?

This list is an attempt to get the Strat, Tele, Esquire, and Gibson conversation going.)

Jimi Hendrix (Fender Stratocaster)

Duane Allman (Gibson; Strat in the early days in Muscle Shoals during his Session Player years)

Eric Clapton (I've seen one photo of Slowhand at about 16 with a Tele; early days, Gibson, later switched to a Strat)

Carlos Santana (PRS Custom)

Stevie Ray Vaughn (Strat)
Keith Richards (primarily a 1952 Telecaster; often these days a Gibson ES-355 -- but he not only did he developed his own tunings, he will use any ax, modified ax, or dobro that would get the job done)

Lowell George (Strat)

Buddy Holly (Strat)

Lou Reed (Strat, among others)

John Fogerty (Gibson Les Paul Gold Top and Tele, among others)

Bruce Springsteen (Fender Esquire neck on a Telecaster body)

Dickey Betts (1961 Gibson SG; 1957 Gibson Les Paul, Strat)

Buddy Guy (Strat)

The Edge (Gisbon Explorer, Strat, Gibson Les Paul Custom)

John Frusciante (Strat)

Lucinda Williams (J45 Gibson ("the workhorse" acoustic flat-top), Fender Esquire)

Robbie Robertson (in the mid-Sixties with Dylan and The Band, a Tele; by the mid-Seventies, a Strat, among others)

Roy Clark (Heritage double cutaway semi-hollow body H-535; Roy Clark Signature model Heratige)
Ben Watt (British Issue Leo-era Stratocaster)

Robert Cray (Strat)

Richard Thompson
((see also recent club gig photos) (Strat))

Merle Haggard (Telecaster (including signature model) and Strat)

Ray Davies (Strat)

Ry Cooder (Strat)
And on and on -- what do you think?