"It's easier to bone the President's wife than to get a movie made." Ray Charles.

How a cult music book became a cult music documentary, and it only took ten years.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Well, well. What a lot of cobwebs and - (runs finger along shelf) - about two years worth of dust. Too much has happened since I last posted here for easy updating, but if I just tell you that I now live in a different country, have a (nearly) two-year-old daughter who loves Elvis, a production company, less than a year old, just learning to walk under its own steam, a TV show doing well on both sides of the Atlantic and a feature film about to be born - well, you'll understand about the lapse in blogging.

Also, not to be coy about it, I've done very little towards making It Came From Memphis a reality. Though there's still the possibility that it might happen - I'm bringing the promo and some excerpts from the Barbican show to the Hot Docs festival in Toronto early in May. Who knows - we might just finish it before the world collapses under the weight of its own craziness. Trillion dollar bailouts? Swine flu? It makes one long for the comparative serenity of late September, 2001.

The reason I'm blogging now, after such a long gap, is that Kellie Strøm, artist and former college buddy of mine, and owner/operator of Airforce Amazons, tagged me with what I believe is called a meme - a request to list seven songs I'm into right now, then pass the meme on to seven other bloggers. I'm going to have to ignore the latter half of the request as I don't have blogosphere relations to tag in turn. But here's a short list of sounds I'm currently loving:

Kites Are Fun - The Free Design.
Having a small child means you need to have some la la la music to hand, as you never know when you're going to need to pick your child up and swoop round the room like a demented version of Brian Wilson undergoing an imaginary audition to be a CBeebies presenter. This wonderful slice of Curt Boettcher-confected West Coast pop-psychedelia is just the ticket.

Idiot Wind - Bob Dylan.
One for singing in the shower, particularly if you take your cue from the wild, woolly Hard Rain version. I tend to elide the more misogynist lines, segueing into a version of It Ain't Me Babe to fill the gaps.

Dark as a Dungeon - Gnonnas Pedro.
Found at the excellent WMFU: Beware of the Blog , this African superstar I'd never previously heard of does a marvellously haunting job of covering the old Charles Aznavour ballad. I do enjoy a bit of mournful whistling.

The Electrician - Scott Walker.
An old favourite, its use under the opening scene from the rather remarkable film Bronson, written by an old Soho compatriot of mine, Brock Norman Brock, and directed by Nicholas Winding Refn, made me remember all over again what a fine piece of music this is.

Porcelain Monkey - Warren Zevon.
Inspired by one of William Eggleston's classic photos from Graceland, an image foregrounding a bit of typical Elvis surrealism - why did he feel the need to share his living-room with a large, doe-eyed ceramic simian?
"From a shotgun shack playing Pentecostal hymns/Through the wrought-iron gates, to the TV Room/He had a little world that was smaller than your hand/It's a rockabilly ride from the glitter to the gloom/Left behind by the latest trends/Eating fried chicken with his regicidal friends/That's how the story ends for a porcelain monkey."

Promised Land - Johnnie Allen.
No matter how many times I hear it, it still puts a smile on my face. Was an accordion ever used in such a fundamentally rockin' context, or made to sound so prismatically lovely? I don't own a single record, tape, CD or mp3 by Chuck Berry, but I tip my hat to the old coprophile for having given us, even at a remove, this wonderful tune.

Church of Anthrax - John Cale and Terry Riley.
How they did it, and why, are questions, the bottom of which we will never reach. But Cale, booze-soaked avant-gardist turned rock idol, and Riley, austere high priest of minimalism, combined to make something that sounds like a blaxploitation soundtrack that somehow has become possessed by the desire to turn its listeners into zombie-stomping, space-jazz-infected musical megalomaniacs. A massive, buzzing, looping-back-on-itself, ever-growing slice of motorik monstrousness, this tune seems to have escaped its creators (both of whom, it is said, dislike it) and - like a Japanese movie monster, Goke - Bodysnatcher from Hell, perhaps - it owes nothing to anybody, as it marauds through the landscape, ploughing its lonely furrow, forgotten by its parents, abandoned by the mothership, yet untiring in its search for a mate, a body to snatch, or a head to rip off with its buzzsaw groove.

OK - thanks, Kellie. I'm gone to research swine flu.
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