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Hello All! Hello World!
This here mix features two songs from Walter Martin‘s two fantastic records of children’s music (2014’s We’re All Young Together and 2017’s My Kinda Music). Martin was the multi-instrumentalist from what just might be my favorite “NY” band, The Walkmen (I’ve seen them live at least a dozen times) and these “family albums” of his are a real joy to listen to.
You’ll also hear two from the newest and likely last record by Richard Swift, as sadly he died this past July 3rd from complications due to alcohol addiction. This stunning album was released on September 20th, a date that would have marked his and his wife’s 21st wedding anniversary.
Richard Swift was only 41 but he had already amassed an incredible and diverse body of work; sadly he leaves behind as well a wife and three daughters.
I believe the two songs featured here–the title track “The Hex” and “Dirty Jim“–are more fine examples of what made so much of his art so brilliant: it could be both incredibly playful and yet devastatingly heartbreaking, simultaneously. Take “Dirty Jim” with it’s lovely, jaunty bounce, but despite this ebullient ragtime melody it can twist your guts and that jaunt turns to substance-abused jitters with lines like: “Every daughter in my home, every one I’ve left alone/ Sorry for the tears I gave to you.”
I’ve always admired a man that can take pathos and mutate it into POP.
Somewhat in the same dolorous mode, the closing track “Lullaby” by Rhiannon Giddens backed by the Kronos Quartet seems so sweet and easy until you begin to understand the heartsore and shameful relationships being presented to you. I really believe Rhiannon Giddens is one of the best things American music has going for it these days.
In addition to its hints of slavery and more modern racial tensions this berceuse also brought to my mind how the poet Oliver Wendell Holmes suggested in 1872 that the cuckoo bird replace the bald eagle as the emblem of the United States of America, writing:
“We Americans are all cuckoos. We make our homes in the nests of other birds,”
In his 2011 book The Old, Weird America (originally released with the title, Invisible Republic) music journalist and cultural critic Greil Marcus expanded upon Holmes’ thought:
“We Americans are all cuckoos,” Oliver Wendell Holmes said in 1872. “We make our homes in the nests of other birds.” This is the starting point.As long as seven hundred years ago,the English were singing that the cuckoo heralded the coming of summer, and yet the bird was hated. Its cry was reviled through the centuries as oppressive, repetitious, maniacally boring, a cry to drive you crazy, a cry that was already crazy, benefiting a bird that was insane. The cuckoo–the true, “parasitic” cuckoo, which despite Holmes’ choice of it for national bird is not found in the United States–lays its eggs in the nests of other birds. It is a kind of scavenger in reverse: violating the natural order of things, it is by its own nature an outsider, a creature that cannot belong. Depositing its orphans, leaving its progeny to be raised by others, to grow up as impostors in another’s house–as America filled itself up with slaves, indentured servants, convicts, hustlers, adventurers, the ambitious and the greedy, the fleeing and the hated, who took or were given new, impostors’ names–the cuckoo becomes the other and sees all other creatures as other. If the host bird removes a cuckoo’s egg from its nest, the cuckoo may take revenge, killing all of the host’s eggs or chicks; in the same manner, as new Americans drove out or exterminated the Indians, when the cuckoo egg hatches the newborn may drive out any other nestlings or destroy any other eggs. As a creature alienated from its own nature,the cuckoo serves as the specter of the alienation of each from all.[…]Here is a mystical body of the republic, a kind of public secret: a declaration of what sort of wishes and fears lie behind any public act, a declaration of a weird but clearly recognizable America within the America of the exercise of institutional majoritarian power. […] Here everyone calls upon the will and everyone believes in fate. It is a democracy of manners–a democracy, finally, of how people carry themselves, of how they appear in public. The ruling question of public life is not that of the distribution of material goods or the governance of moral affairs, but that of how people plumb their souls and then present their discoveries, their true selves, to others–unless, as happens here often enough, the fear of not belonging, or the wish for true proof that one does belong, takes over, and people assume the mask that makes them indistinguishable from anyone else. But [here] that mask never stays on for long.God reigns here, but his rule can be refused. His gaze cannot be escaped; his hand, maybe. You can bet: you can stake a probably real exile on a probably imaginary homecoming. Or you can take yourself out of the game, and wait for a death God will ignore; then you, like so many others, already dead but still speaking, will take your place in the bend of a note in “The Coo Coo Bird.” It’s limbo, but it’s not bad: on the fourth day of July you get to holler.
OK, I assure you it’s not all sadness on the mix nor a visit to Norton Juster’s The Doldrums.No, not at all. There’s Jack White with a song that sounds like it could have been assembled by Malcolm McLaren in the 80s.
There’s something from the sole album by P, a short lived project involving Johnny Depp, front-man of the band Butthole Surfers Gibby Haynes, and others like Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers. This album is in fact the first CD I ever purchased through the miraculous finding machine known as the “internets.”
There’s something from Canadian composer Doug Randle off his 1971 LP Songs For The New Industrial State. This whole bizarre, jingle-like record seems like something that would have been released in the world set-up in Robert Downey Sr.‘s cinematic masterpiece Putney Swope.
Oh and despite the opening title in the sequence of “Mexican Loneliness” to “March Of The Swivelheads,” this is a segue I first committed to cassette tape back in 1997 and 21 years later it still makes me both give a smug chuckle at my own cleverness and want to play hookie.
so please press play and…
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- Child, the Man Said – Walter Martin
- The Hex – Richard Swift
- The Lamb Ran Away With The Crown – Judee Sill
- Mexican Loneliness – written by Jack Kerouac; performed by Matt Dillon with Joey Altruda, Joe Gonzalez & Pablo Calogero
- March Of The Swivelheads – The English Beat
- Street People – Bobby Charles
- What Was It You Wanted – Bettye LaVette (Bob Dylan cover)
- Make Love On The Wing II – Nico Fidenco
- Me, Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando And I – R.E.M.
- Michael Stipe – P (Gibby Haynes, Johnny Depp, Sal Jenco, Bill Carter, Flea)
- Living Well Is The Best Revenge – R.E.M.
- Escucho Mucho – Juan Wauters
- That’s Life – James Brown (written by Dean Kay and Kelly Gordon)
- Who Scared You – The Doors
- Shut Paranoia – The Fine Machine (Oscar Lindok, aka Giacomo Dell’Orso; Proluton, aka Gianni Dell’Orso; Peter Donimak, aka Nico Fidenco; and Edda Dell’Orso)
- Dirty Jim – Richard Swift
- Steam Heat – Barbara Moore
- Vive la Company – Doug Randle
- Corporation – Jack White
- What We Gained In The Fire – The Mynabirds (produced by Richard Swift)
- If I Were a Tiger – Walter Martin feat. Milan McAlevey, Nina Dhongia
- Lullaby – Kronos Quartet & Rhiannon Giddens
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All the best to you and yours!— – ————-______-________ ->BOBBY CALERO[—+=-_________________If you dig the mix then please feel free to pass & post it along; if you dig an artist then please support them and go out and pick up some of their stuff. Oh, If you dig the blog overall there’s always the “FOLLOW BLOG VIA EMAIL” button somewhere down at the bottom.