I found some good music downloads elsewhere – V-Fib Recordings has a whole raft of good, semi-obscure music. I noticed that a good number of these bands had Milwaukee connections (even though the active musicians featured are currently based in locales as various as New York, Richmond, Minneapolis, and elsewhere) – which turns out to be not too surprising, as the folks who run the site are former Milwaukeeans as well. Or at least names familiar to me, but I might have been drunk at the time.
Anyway, moving way way over to the other side of the whirled wired web, we run headlong into a Bubblegum Machine. In the future, you’ll be able to actually get real, chewable bubblegum on the Intarnets – but for now, you’ll just have to chew on Britisher Martin Lampen’s take on the variety pack of sometimes moldy old records. Remember how mid-sixties soul lyrics often used an extended metaphor – “I Second That Emotion,” etc.? So here’s Joe Tex with a track called “Buying a Book,” which uses one of the more obscurely convoluted romantic-sexual metaphors around. Fun track though – and don’t miss the instrumental “Chocolate Cherry,” which isn’t a metaphor.
The history of the world is legible in the random shufflings of my iTune – or so I sometimes like to believe. This time, though, it amused me by following up “Buying a Book” with John Entwistle’s “The Window Shopper” (a song I downloaded from Feed Me Good Tunes) which also mentions books in a, umm, romantic context. And what the hell is that in the background? It sounds like Entwistle poached a sackbut and shawm player from Richard Thompson, in one of Thompson’s pointed-floppy-shoe-wearing excursions into funky medievalia. You do know that Entwistle was very well-read, right? So I’m sure this song is actually from Chaucer or something.
Finally, two last comments on the whole R.E.M. thing:
1. I think “the biggest wagon is the empty wagon is the noisiest” (from “Little America”) is a great summation of all too much that happens all too often. It sounds like something some wise old toothless guy spitting outside a general store might say – but he’d be right.
2. If I wanted to force the chorus of “Sitting Still” to be semi-parsible into sense, I’d render it “Up to par and Katie bars the kitchen ties that knot me in/Set a trap for lovemaking, a waste of time, sitting still.” But it’s not that (“bars” rhymes with “ties” as Stipe sings it, and the consonant in “ties” is clearly an “s” – i.e., “size,” “sighs,” or possibly “signs”): too bad, as the first line would then both allude to the Southern phrase “Katie bar the door” and to the cliche “the ties that bind,” with a hint of restrictive apron strings as well. It doesn’t matter: the song isn’t about what Stipe sings, but how he sings it. You really only need that, and two lines and the way he sings them in particular: “get away from me” and “can you hear me?” The rest of the words are blunt-cut, scissored, failed communication (I read the song as companion to “9-9” – “conversation fear” – and a more frustrated, angry take on the personal distance Stipe would explore more openly in “Good Advices” and the heartbreaking “Kohoutek.”)