Posts Tagged ‘Stevie Ray Vaughan’

The solar eclipse invaded the mainland United States through Oregon, where cracks and fissures appeared in the earth and the simple folks panicked, setting fire to civilization….Excuse me, this is approximately what happened in Isaac Asimov’s short story “Nightfall,” in which a planet with six suns experiences darkness for the first time in a thousand years.

Ralph Waldo Emerson gets an assist for dreaming up this idea. The 21-year-old Asimov lacked the skills to write it but his editor, John W. Campbell, made him write it anyway. I’m sure this was a worthwhile learning experience for Asimov, but his story sucks. How did this 1941 doorstop get voted the greatest science fiction story of all time in 1964? Civilization is a puzzling thing. No wonder the Klan and the Nazis are always trying to burn it.

The solar eclipse was a welcome break from our current national pastimes of refighting the Civil War and World War II. I can’t even discuss this with my 90-year-old father. Dad and his two brothers (and my late father-in-law) spent the best years of their lives pulverizing Hitler. Now Hitler’s fan club is back and we’ve got them. I wish we could return to an earlier time when all of our arguments were about chess.

Dateline Normandy, 6 June 1944: Anti-fascists storm ashore to confront white supremacists! Both sides to blame for violence on Omaha Beach? Alt-left U.S. Army “very, very violent”!

But we’re not here today to talk about Nazis or the Confederates who didn’t surrender at Appomattox but didn’t tell anybody. We’re here to answer a letter from Accused of Lurking, my brother…my captain…my king.

Dear Run-DMSteve,

We all have artists we return to, over and over, in our listening lives. For me, these would include Bruce Springsteen, The Beatles, The Who, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, and Melissa Etheridge. (Obviously, I am a man of a certain age.)

But there are also albums we return to, usually by lesser artists, that somehow have a particular resonance. These albums can intensify, alleviate, or complement our mood of the moment. It’s like that trash movie you watch again and again over the years because it hits your sweet spot.

For some reason, for me, these five albums return to my playlist on a pretty regular basis:

Patti Scialfa, Rumble Doll
Gin Blossoms, New Miserable Experience
Indigo Girls, Rites of Passage
Mary Chapin Carpenter, Come On Come On
Del Amitri, Change Everything

Given your extensive listening experience, my question to you is simply this: Have you ever listened to any of these albums? (My expectation of your answer is “No.”)

With warmest personal regards,

–Accused of Lurking

Dear Accused of Lurking,

You are indeed a man of a certain age, who enjoyed an intense teenage rebellion in the 1970s. However, judging by the five albums on your list, you had a rebirth in 1992. I believe this was about the time you met your trophy wife, [redacted].

To answer the question you asked: Yes. I’ve listened to four of the five, though I listened to them so long ago that my imperfect memory can’t reproduce much. I shall immediately catch up.

To answer the question you didn’t ask: What are the albums I go to when I want to intensify, alleviate, or complement my mood of the moment? Or when I want to create one? You’ve made me realize that in those cases, I don’t usually turn to albums, I turn to songs. And I do this most at work.

For example, I’m a guy who likes to feel sorry for myself. There’s no better way to do that than to start another day at the office with a dark, endless, ponderous meditation on existence worthy of German opera wunderkind Honus Wagner. What better song for that task than The Doors’ “The End”? It’s 11 minutes and 43 seconds of 1960s nihilism.

Walter Sobchak in The Big Lebowski: Nihilists! Fuck me. I mean, say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.

“The End” is perfect in every way. If I’m tired of “The End,” one of my fallbacks is Mother Love Bone’s “Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns.” The lyrics don’t make the grade as coherent English:

Like a crown of thorns
It’s all who you know, yeah
So don’t burn your bridges, woman
’cause someday – yeah.

Heroin will do that to you. But the lyrics are not what I’m here for.

What if I want to start the day with a short, sharp shock? For something that resembles these slabs of gloom but moves like somebody means it, there’s Stevie Ray Vaughan’s cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing.”

Run-DMSteve Fun Fact: I once held a stressful job whose chief characteristics were creativity and interruptions. I used the 6 minute 47 second “Little Wing” as a test. Could I get through the entire thing without an interruption? The answer was usually no. I learned to write fast.

If I need a quick punch because I have a meeting in 10 minutes, the William Tell Overture makes me stand on my back legs and roar. If it’s the middle of the afternoon and I have a deadline looming in three hours, the words I’m typing don’t make sense, and all I want to do is enter REM sleep without having to listen to R.E.M., I have many choices. Here are three:

  • 1000 Homo DJs, “Supernaut.” This Black Sabbath cover makes Black Sabbath sound like English country dancing in a Jane Austen movie.
  • Rob Zombie, “More Human Than Human.” Not only will this song electrocute the sleepiest copy writer, the video is one of the funniest ever made.
  • Screaming Trees, Sweet Oblivion (the entire album).

I could continue – I could way continue – but after all, you didn’t even ask. You always inspire me, Lurk. Rock on!

–Run-DMSteve