Archive for November, 2006
In 1975 or so my mom took us to see Lady Aberlin and two purple pandas at the Valley Fair Mall in Granger, Utah. Happy memory. This record came with a gift bag that Lady Aberlin handed out to all the kids. Hear it as it now sounds. Confession: I’ve sung the “meow meow pretty” routine at 3:11 to more than a few cats.
My parents bought this story 45 at K-mart for me when I was 8 or 9, I’m guessing. (It’s taken from the “U.S. of Archie” American history cartoons of the mid-70s.) My very favorite part of the record is still the first ten seconds. (Sometime in the early 80s, Dallas McKennon, the man who did Archie’s voice on these shows, sang lead on a hard-to-find record credited to the Archies called Drive the Boulevard.)
Archie – “The Great Divide”
Sometimes the music you’re listening to merges perfectly with the moment. This happened to me with this song when I was stuck in a traffic jam surrounded by concrete spaghetti bowl highway construction. I wonder how I would have received it if it didn’t jibe so well with my environment.
Let’s try to recreate the moment. Listen and read:
Abutment: a retaining wall (see below) providing structural support for an overcrossing; Backfill: the mounds of earth (or other material) between a bridge abutment and the ground which hasn’t been dug up; Bott’s Dots: the little reflectors that keep cars in their lanes on an unfinished road; Clear and Grub: what all the tractors and bulldozers, etc. do prepare for the building of a new road; Crack and Seat Operations: this is done before a road is repaved – the workers crack the pavement and let it settle, which helps water drain easier and generally extends the life of a roadway; Falsework: this is a frame specially created to temporarily support the weight of a bridge, for example; Mechanically Stabilized Earth Walls: retaining walls that support earthfill embankments and use metal straps buried in the fill for anchors; Mitigation: various safeguards and actions taken to reduce a construction project’s impact on environmental resources; Pile Driving: more anchoring activity – this is when long concrete shafts are driven into the ground until hitting solid material, thereby becoming able to support structures; Retaining Wall: built to keep the earth from falling; Soundwall: usually built between the freeway and businesses close by in order to keep the noise down; Utility Potholing: this is a safety measure taken in order to locate and identify sewage and water pipes, electric lines, etc., by digging a small, deep hole where pipes are supposed to be.
French Kicks – “Wrong Side” (2002)
This UK bouzouki classic was banned by certain US stations for being too suggestive. The band responded with a new version that apparently spelled out how they were actually introducing a new dance craze, but the mood was already lost.
These pop geniuses had UK top ten hits:
“Hold Tight” (#4, 1966)
“Hideaway” (#10, 1966)
“Bend It” (#2, 1966)
“Save Me” (#4, 1966)
“Okay!” (#4, 1967)
“Zabadak!” (#3, 1967)
“Legend of Xandadu” (#1, 1968)
“Last Night in Soho” (#8, 1968)
Update (12/07): Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof includes a scene where a group of Austin girls get mowed down by a lunatic racer to the sounds of “Hold Tight.” These are some seriously dimwitted girls anyway, but I can’t figure out if (1) all of them are being symbolically punished for their leader’s unconvincing geek-speech about how “Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mitch and Tich” were better than the Who, or (2) they were just working with a bum script.
Henry Thomas was an East Texan who recorded all of his most well known songs in the late 1920s when he was in his fifties, then disappeared. His “Old Country Stomp” and “Fishin’ Blues” feature the slide whistle that caught the ear of Canned Heat and inspired their flute part on their “Going Up the Country” and inspired the Lovin’ Spoonful’s goofy “Henry Thomas.” But his “Texas Easy Street,” in contrast to all that, is just Henry and his guitar, dreaming up a version of the good life.
Some famous covers of his songs:
“Honey Won’t You Allow Me One More Chance” (Bob Dylan)
“Going Up the Country” (Canned Heat)
“Fishin’ Blues” (Lovin’ Spoonful, Holy Modal Rounders, Taj Majal)
“Don’t Ease Me In” (Grateful Dead)
Henry Thomas – “Texas Easy Street”
Welcome to the Boneyard, friends, where all manner of subjects – mostly arts/leisure/media – get dug up and pawed at randomly and attempts might even be made to “unite the joints,” so to speak. Here’s a small image of our mascot, Timothy Spall, who plays Mr. Venus in the BBC’s 1998 production of Charles Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend. Mr. Venus is what Dickens calls a “preserver of [dead] animals” and an “articulator” of skeletons. He continues on about the character like this: “The face looking up is a sallow face with weak eyes, surmounted by a tangle of reddish-dusty hair. The owner of the face has no cravat on, and has opened his tumbled shirt-collar to work with more ease.” Venus is a bitter sad-sack, and he spends most of the story involved in a conspiracy against our heroes, the Boffins. But he changes his ways in the end.