Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Compliments of the Season 2K6

Been a while since I visited these parts, but I've been busy getting a head start on one of my 2K7 resolutions. It's a combination of necessity and will-to that I've been approaching this resolution with. Let's just say that sometimes you need a kick in the ass to figure out what you want out of life.

Before I go any further, I need to give a plug the neighborhood pub quiz hosted by the B News guys tomorrow. Smussy, this would be your opportunity to learn about the neighborhood from men who actually grew up - and stayed - in Bridgeport.

Someone handed me a copy of Arthur magazine last week, and I'm glad he did. One of the featured articles is an amazingly detailed essay on the history of pornography and its contributions to progressive civilizations, written by none other than the great Alan Moore (V for Vendetta, Watchmen). The argument of the piece: pornography gave us every great advance of civilization, while organized religion gave us the Middle Ages and Holocaust, and instilled us with prudishness. Moore also breathes new life to the legacy of Aubrey Beardsley, he of the perverse imagery and confidant of Oscar Wilde. I love his line work on Lysistrata.

Meanwhile, the new Oxford American is out, and its theme is crime noir. Also in the pages is an essay on Lucinda Williams' "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road" by Sven Birkerts. I've gone through at least four copies of "Car Wheels". One was lost when a public storage facility auctioned off my possessions, the other three were mishandled beyond repair with a scratch kit. Anyway, Birkerts lifts the veil on the meaning of the lyrics to "Right in Time".

"I take off my watch and my earrings
my bracelets and everything
lie on my back and moan at the ceiling
oh, baby.
I think about you and that long ride
I bite my nails, I get weak inside
reach over and turn off the light
oh, baby"

It took eight years and Sven Birkerts to make me realize that Lucinda was singing about doing the two-fingered tango in that verse. But then, knowing that she inherited a gift for wordplay from her father, I shouldn't be surprised she cast a subject as masturbation in such subtle imagery. Not to cast a negative spin on her subsequent work, but "Car Wheels" was definitely her high water mark. Sonically, it still sounds relevant today; it jumps out of the speakers and attacks you, while still maintaining a sense of dynamics (that's the influence of the "Twangtrust": Steve Earle and Ray Kennedy. Give a spin to every Earle recording from "El Corazon" to "The Revolution Starts Now" and you'll hear the same sonic blueprint). I can't say the same about "Essence" or "World Without Tears." They sound more spartan and prettier, respectively.

No comments: