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Old 07-25-2009, 08:19 PM   #21 (permalink)
The Great Disappearer
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Originally Posted by jackhammer View Post
Can I please ask that you finish this bugger? You have made some awesome posts on MB but you then seem to disappear for months
I swear to god, I will finish this.


Starting on Highway 61 Revisited Now.
The Edge... there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.
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Old 07-25-2009, 10:08 PM   #22 (permalink)
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'Highway 61 Revisited' by Bob Dylan (1965)

He sits there, staring smugly down at us, smoking a Pall Mall, his eyes hiding behind those twin black veils. Every question asked of him he either evades or makes a joke out of. Why? Why is he so afraid of answering? His movements, the timbre of his voice. Those glasses are appropriate I guess. A wayfarer indeed. I scribble a few things in my notepad, get up and leave the room, right in the middle of an answer.

'Evidently that man doesn't like what I have to say.'

The crowd laughs. My colleagues, laughing, trying to suck up to a man who is obviously playing them like that damn harmonica strapped to his neck every night. I look back at him and shrug. 'I'm not getting any answers, so I figured I'd get a bite to eat.'

Dylan is silent. He ashes his cigarette and smiles. 'What's your name?'


I wink at him and exit, hoping I've given that smug son of a bitch something to think about. Maybe he'll write a song about it.


The city disgusts me. Pimps and thieves populate every corner. Pushers and hookers. Homeric sirens. Sorry, but I'm on a different sort of odyssey. Steam rises from the sewers as if hell resided just below the cracked, dirty pavement. I'd believe it. I pass a kiosk. The headlines are about him, of course, about how he just blew into town.

His name change is public knowledge by now. Zimmerman. I find it strange he constantly avoids his past, how he avoids the entire topic of the past entirely. It's not like it's of great importance, but it is interesting. Says a lot about who he is. How a history and an identity are things you can simply invent. It makes me wonder how many people I know are simply invented personae. Maybe Dylan is just one of the few people who are aware of their own charade. A strange admiration of the man grew inside me.

I pass a park bench and decide to sit down. Behind me are the inevitable pillars made of rock and stone, life teeming. A man with a shopping cart passes by me. In it is a shovel and a pile of masks. He stops relatively close to me and starts to dig. I get up and approach him.

'...just got my mask on, yes sir, don't bother me none I got my masks and got em here so's I can get em whenever I wants em, yes sir.'

I stand behind him and watch as he fills the hole up with different identities. One of them is a clown. One is a lion. One looks like the president. Another resembles a superhero.

'Good luck with that.' I say.

The man turns around and tips his hat at me. 'Don't need luck when I got my masks, sir.'

A smirk emerges on my face. 'Masks.' I start to walk away.

What was that one thing he said in that concert once. Another journalist told me. 'Don't be scared. It's Halloween. I got my Bob Dylan mask on.'

His Bob Dylan mask on. Maybe there's a bit of a mask shop inside all of us. In this impersonal modern society, it's essential to be someone else. The risk of being yourself may be too great.

Look at Dylan. That isn't him. Look at every celebrity. That's not them. Even if they act crazy, even if they act like individuals, that isn't them. We all are actors. Shakespeare once said that all the world's a stage, and we're all players. Truer words have never been written. And I won't improve on them.
The Edge... there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.
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Old 07-26-2009, 02:20 PM   #23 (permalink)
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These are some brilliant reads so far, especially the Funeral one. Definitely keep at it.

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Old 07-26-2009, 03:55 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Yes I'm really enjoying this thread. More please
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Old 07-26-2009, 05:15 PM   #25 (permalink)
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I really enjoyed the "Funeral" essay and I haven't even heard the album.

But I may be convinced to do so after reading that.
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Old 07-27-2009, 08:14 PM   #26 (permalink)
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'London Calling' by The Clash (1979)

An anecdote before I begin:

My father's parents were crazy. Absolutely cuckoo. There's no telling what they'd do. By the way, if you get that reference I just made, good for you. If not, it's alright, it was pretty damn obscure. Anyway, my grandparents on my father's side. Once a week they would send him to the woods outside their house to a prominent boulder atop a hill, in a clearing. You can get there by a little path that starts at the back yard. My father named it 'Catastrophe Path.' I would pretend I was an army guy with my friends on that path. He and his father would go out when my Dad was a kid. Kind of a weird father-son bonding thing. They'd bring with them a shovel and a backpack full of non-perishable food items and such. You know, the kind of stuff you'd find in a bomb shelter.

What were they doing out there? Well, my grandparents were really into the Cold War. Let's just say they still don't trust anybody to this day whose nationality is that of a former Warsaw-Pact nation. Basically any 'commies.' They were burying food supplies in case of an attack. There's about twenty years worth of canned goods somewhere in the woods of Rhode Island.

The paranoia of the Cold War is a strange chapter of American history. But that sense of paranoia hadn't just infected the United States, it pervaded the entirety of the West. In the late 70s, Britain was going through massive social upheavals, riddled with unemployment and social unrest. Punk had arrived like a meteor hurtling from space. The Sex Pistols were well on their way to imploding, and it was up to another band, led by Joe Strummer and Mick Jones, to take up the torch. But these guys weren't the off-their-asses drunk kind of anarchists that the Pistols were. Instead, they were the manifestation of a righteous fury, railing against the injustices they saw in the world.

In 1979, destruction was looming over The Clash, just like the threat of nuclear destruction loomed over the world. Their next album would be make or break, a final roll of the dice. It made them. That album was called 'London Calling' and it would be an apocalyptic gospel railing against mass consumerism, police brutality, the church, and the plight of the lower classes and selling yourself and working for the man. Giving up your young ideals and selling out to the system that you so fervently defied. It'll eventually happen to us all. The Clash understood that, yet still fought against it. A noble effort. The death of punk years later would signify that 'the only band that matters' lost the war. But God bless them for trying.

These nineteen songs build off of the momentum of each other until by the end, you truly feel like you may be on a hellish train, leading off the edge of a cliff, falling down into oblivion, and for some reason you're welcoming that because you've just been brought on a tour of society which proves that this whole fight may be in vain, which justifies the title of the song 'Train in Vain', possibly the catchiest song on the album and one of my favorites. What a better song to signify selling out and cashing in your ideals than a serenade to a lover who has betrayed you. You didn't stand by me, no not at all.

There are a few other highlights on this album, that is, in truth, filled with highlights. I could see any song on this album being someone's favorite song of the album. For me, the highlights are 'London Calling' a hellish proclamation, 'Lost in the Supermarket' a song against consumerism, yet sung in a sadly resigned way that seems to indicate that Mick Jones knows he can't stop the machine, 'The Guns of Brixton', possibly the coolest bass line of all time and a hellish sounding reggae song about police brutality. If you play guitar, you'll know how when you play reggae you play on the upstroke so that it sounds happier and upbeat. The way The Clash play it, add in some studio effects and the upbeat upstroke sounds like a cocaine addled sound from hell. Another highlight is 'Death or Glory', a story about an old punk who traded in his ideals(were they ever ideals to begin with, or did he just trade in one life of being a criminal to being a bitter lower class man filled with resentment against a family who resents him just as much) to become a father who hits his kids, love and hate tattooed across his hands. Death or glory? There are many ways to die, I guess. Slow ways. Then there's 'The Card Cheat', I don't want to describe it, it's just beautiful. Finally there's 'Train in Vain', a romantic song about being betrayed by a lover.

So, in the end, what else is there to say about this album, except, revolutionary?
The Edge... there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.
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Old 07-27-2009, 08:27 PM   #27 (permalink)
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This thread needs more posts.

Seriously though, great work. I particularly enjoyed the Arcade Fire review, I grabbed the Galaxie 500 album and will be giving it a spin in the next few days. Great job on this, I really enjoy your writing, and to quote jackhammer, FINISH THIS THING!
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Old 07-27-2009, 08:28 PM   #28 (permalink)
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this needs to be finished
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Old 07-28-2009, 01:32 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Davey Moore View Post
'Funeral' by Arcade Fire

Kurt Vonnegut is my favorite author. He said something particularly relevant and poignant during the book 'Cat's Cradle', and sums up for me why death is so scary. “There's nothing sadder in the languages of mice and men than the phrase 'it could have been.'” That's why we fear dying and spend our whole life trying to evade it. We're afraid of the regret we'll feel when our time is finally up. At least, I am. Some people say they live without regret. Some people are liars.

The girl in the red dress at the bus station I didn't talk to and will never see again.

Adaptation is a hell of a concept to wrap your head around. Doing what you gotta do to get by. It isn't easy being a human, the only species on the planet aware of their own mortality, of their own fleeting glory. But the concept of mortality never really hits you until you experience the death of a loved one. The first time I really experienced death was Sophomore year in high school. A friend of mine died. He wasn't the first person who I knew who died, but he was the first person close to me. Great Aunts and Grandparents I'd seen twice in my life, they'd died. But not a friend.

We were in the same guitar class in high school. He was sort of annoying at first, but he grew on me. He was a senior, a really out there stoner. He would constantly play Sublime songs. But we became friends.

There was another kid in the town over who, Andy, that was his name, Andrew, who Andy was friends with. He got his hands on some booze and decided to do something stupid. Did he decide that this was the night he would die? No. But he did decide to do something stupid, and he must bear some of that blame. The kid died that night. Andy, being the good friend he was, decided to trek out to the very telephone pole where his friend had lost his life merely hours previous and play a tribute to him. The last thing Andy saw were the headlights of a car coming towards him. Splintered pieces of his acoustic guitar were scattered all about the road. He died on impact. We can only assume he was killed by another drunk driver. The driver has never been caught. Kurt Vonnegut teaches us to say 'So it goes', and I think that's one of the more appropriate things you can say in a situation as dark and needless as that.

Also, Andy had a girlfriend. She was pregnant. I've seen the baby. He has his father's nose.

Say whatever you want about this album, one thing's for certain, it isn't a dirge. Chopin's Funeral March is a dirge. Mozart's Requiem is a dirge. This album however, this is a celebration. A celebration of life and the possibilities it can hold. A warm embrace. There's a scope to this album, something I hadn't encountered before and something I've encountered only a few times since. When I say scope I don't mean 'scope' as in something as petty as a concept album. Concept albums really hold no weight in a marketplace flooded by bands who solely produce said albums. See the whole progressive genre if ye doubt my claim. The scope I'm talking about is something grander than shallow stories and poorly conveyed themes. I'm talking big. Grand like a symphony. Something that seems self conscious of the fact that it might get beamed out into the universe and wants to prepare accordingly so it doesn't make a fool of itself. You know, grand on a universal scale, like a nebula or two galaxies slowly colliding and messing up the gravity of entire solar systems. That's what I mean when I say this album has scope.

Is it weird to feel like you know an album so well it's like you've walked around inside of it? Because that's how I feel about this album. I know every twist and turn by now but I never get tired of it. I let it envelope me. Wash over me. A sonic deluge.

For the band this album was a sort of catharsis. An exorcism. I can see that. I can see myself listening to it for that very reason. To chase out my demons. There are many forms of catharsis. Of exorcism. Dance is one of them. And strangely enough this album is very danceable. It's grand tone shifts keep up an energy that is simply improbable for an album that's about such dark things.

One more thing: one of the most important statements I've ever heard in music, right up there with 'you can't always get what you want', is in the song 'Wake Up'. It says:

I guess we'll just have to adjust.

Adaptation. The meaning of it all. How can we deal with changes so profound? I have two answers, both courtesy of Arcade Fire.


Kurt is my favorite author, too. I saw the influence in your writing before I read this, though. You've a nice list going and I can't wait to read the rest. As for your writing - I like it. At some parts, I got confused and/or cringed, but as a whole, it was well-written.
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Old 07-28-2009, 02:18 PM   #30 (permalink)
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'Daydream Nation' by Sonic Youth (1988)

I was at a party the other night, with a bunch of friends from high school. We're all going to college soon and it was one of the last times we'd all be together. I remember a moment, we're all huddled in my friend's basement, and I'm sitting in the corner of the room, smoking a cigar. I still don't know where I got that cigar. For a few seconds we're all silent. And through the haze of marijuana smoke and the almost angelic halogen light atop the ceiling, I gaze at the faces of my friends and members of my generation and see a blank, bittersweet stare. An epiphany hit me right there and then. We are the Adderall Generation. A jaded group. I have three parents, my mom, my dad, and media. Media takes many forms. Music, TV, but especially the internet. I've seen things that kids from previous generations wouldn't even be able to imagine. And as a clinically depressed person, perhaps I experience more of the apathy than is usual among my generation. But overall, we are an apathetic generation. The Adderall Generation.

When I listen to this album from 1988, I see a similarity to my own decade, with the excess and decadent culture. The eighties were a time of excess under a Republican rule which tried to reverse the effects of the sixties culturally. That was impossible, but what the Reagan administration brought about was essentially, a giant party. The economic struggles of the 70s were behind us, and the nation collectively let loose. Racial tensions were high, and if Spike Lee is to be believed, a trashcan through a window could have turned an angry mob into a full on riot. The rich were getting richer and the poor were getting poorer. Culturally there was a giant split, especially in music. This was when the first real unified indie community formed, and Sonic Youth had a lot to do with that. Bands like Sonic Youth took the lead and gave the indie community a sense of purpose and direction. But without the shallow mainstream to rebel against, perhaps the indie community wouldn't have become so unified. And for that, I thank you Hall and Oates and Poison. This album is without a doubt the product of a jaded generation. Even the title says a lot about the era it was made, and to be honest, perfectly applies to this generation as well. However, our flights into reverie are of a digital nature.

For instance, as I write this, I am sitting in my bed with shorts and a shirt, listening to Daydream Nation on my iPod, laughing at how the lyrics of Teenage Riot totally apply to me. It really would take something akin to a teenage riot to get me out of bed right now. What I love about the underground is the brainy brainlessness. Sonic Youth sounds like chaos, like an unplanned, sneering punk, but in reality it's the total opposite, precise, planned tuning, requiring a great knowledge of music in order to break it's rules. A Velvet Underground aesthetic where it sounds really easy to play but when you sit down and try you realize it takes a good musician to play something like that, with precision yet with a tone of 'I don't care how I play.' Whenever I try and play Sonic Youth on the guitar it always sounds lifeless, like I'm doing something wrong.

I like to think of the majority of my generation, my associates and partners in crime with the analogy of the Roman candle. If you don't know of the Roman candle analogy, it's okay, because I thought of it. A lot of us are like fireworks, shooting up into the sky, looking pretty and inciting oohs and aahs from the spectators below. But when we peak, when we explode, we're naught but a burnt husk landing on the ground, a shadow of our former glory. People peak too early. Think of the jocks and the high school stars, who will spend the rest of their lives as insurance salesmen or working at the Pep Boys in their hometown. They're Roman candle, they are fireworks, never again to see their fiery youth but everyday hoping to relive it. But we're not unique in this tradition. F. Scott Fitzgerald once said there are no second acts in American life. For a large section of the populace, that's true. And they will forever be stuck in that cliché if they don't wake up from the daydream.

Falling out of sleep, I hit the floor
Put on some rock tee and I'm out with the door
From Bowery to Broome to Greene, I'm a walking lizard
Last night's dream was a talking baby wizard

All comin' from hu-man imagination
Day dreaming days in a daydream nation

Smashed-up against a car at three A.M.
Kids just up for basketball, beat me in my head
There's bum trash in my hall and my place is ripped
I've totaled another amp, I'm calling in sick

It's an anthem in a vacuum on a hyperstation
Day dreaming days in a daydream nation
The Edge... there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.
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