Monday, August 04, 2008

"I said I'm falling..."

Lee in the Chrysalis, via David’s Vindaloo authorblog, ponders the question, “What song brings you the best memories?” A bit of a redundant question for me, as music has been THE cerebral map for where I’ve been: it is the essence of memory for me. Tomorrow I will not be able to tell you today’s breakfast, but even the shaggiest of shameless goofball tunes, I am more than likely to have an immediate flashback to place and time. Take for instance something as ridiculous as the 1910 Fruitgum Company’s “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy,” which in no way should take up the slightest nano-space in anyone’s anatomy, but if ever that song (god forbid) pops up on an oldies station, there I am right back driving across the new St. Mary’s Hall campus, calling hell and damnation down on the infernal song for the first time. Santana’s “Incident at Neshabur” and I am back in Marilyn Green’s house in Jackson, dancing with the lithe Paula Duke and no, in this case, I am not calling down anything but one big swoon.

But, I realize the question is not about memories, but BEST memories. (Not that PD isn’t a best.) As with Lee, it’s a bit of a challenge to narrow things down, but I let my mind wander a bit, went you-tubing and found a few for different reasons, though they all in themselves seem to be addressing memory (and memoir) as their theme.

First up was Dylan with “Tangled up in Blue.” Slow learner that I am, Blood on the Tracks was my conversion album, easily a dozen years after most folks had taken him in. Friend Steph, as usual, the guru. Timeless man-consciousness wandering a life of her and not her and intimations of her, and with my own tangled up in Mary blue through all my tangle and the eventual forecasting of the blue woman in whom I am now (and I think always was, living through to the finding of her) tangled—well, of course this song is ripe for the pickings. I wanted Bobby singing the song himself, and if you go to this link (, you can see his Desire / Rolling Thunder Revue-ness laying it down, much as I did in 1976 at the Tres Leches Municipal Auditorium, through a magnificent 4 hour concert.

I was a tad shy about linking someone else’s cover (gadzooks! someone else covering the hymn to blue?), but I made a new friend this morning, Ms KT Tunstall, and actually found her chops quite good, after you get past the slight inanity of her take on Bobby himself. Girl has some serious cojones: I watched another round of Promethean audacity as she covered the Grand Diva Ms Chaka’s “Ain’t Nobody.” I commend that also to your souls.

Next up is Scorpio sister Joni’s Hejira, which owned my turntable for several months in 1976, back in my very cool apartment on Joliet, here in Tres Leches, Joni’s road meditations and sublime dark forest segueing into her gorgeous “Song for Sharon.” Memory incarnate, particularly, at the time, the excavations of the solace of solitude. I had still not entirely arrived in this world, as I think at times, Joni still has not yet: she was a most helpful guide.

The Mighty Van Morrison, perhaps more than anyone, should be in this mix, as his spiritual sojourn through the 80s crashed right in on my lonely and fearful agnosticism with his Lion’s roar. But, for the life of me, I could not tube my way to a decent vid of “Sweet Thing” or “Coney Island” or what have you. It was Van’s music that walked me through a terrifying time when I was fretting through the pre-decision to forge off into my own private practice in New Orleans. Fretting? I was terrified.

Finishing with the Sting-er and the Soul Cages album, his sublime meditation on his father and father’s death. And on Newcastle, his home town, for that matter. It is a magnificent album: I got to see it performed at the UNO arena in New Orleans, and shivered (as I always did at home) when I heard the wash that opens this beauty. I was birth-fatherless from age 5, and God-fatherless through years of wandering: this song helped round me back.

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Blogger alt said...

I got all excited when you mentioned one of my favorites. KT Tunstall owned my stereo one woebegone winter not too long but a 100 years ago. “Through the Dark” is one of those songs I’m convince that I really wrote and somehow it traveled the ether to find someone more vocally equipped to deliver it to the world.

As for the great almighty Dylan, “Not Dark Yet” is the song that takes my breath away, but “Silvio” is the one I play on repeat.

I guess you and I can talk music after all. :-d

1:49 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Ms ALT: Now I can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that even with my cornball musical tastes, I've lived long enough to eventually score a hit on your list.

Dylan went underground for me for several years (I think he went underground for himself as well), but he hit full blown Ascension with "Not Dark Yet." I also love the gorgeous cynicism of "Things Have Changed."

I'll be paying plenty more visits back to the Tunstall vault.

2:50 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

ALT, Part 2: I like your notion of somehow having written the song yourself. On a related note, there's an Aimee Bender flash fiction that I give my urchins about twice a year, saying that, "in a couple of years, I'm going to claim to have written this: I suggest you do the same."

I'll post it shortly.

2:55 PM  
Blogger Devil Mood said...

Hello again! And thank you for providing some good music to my evening.
I love KT, I haven't heard many covers from her but she's good at them because she can suddenly turn into a rock chick.
I have a greatest failing of never having entered the Joni Mitchell realm, maybe one day I will (it's like the books thing)...
As for Sting, he's one of those artists whose voices are so unique, they can simply sing and make a song out of it.

4:52 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Good to hear from you again, DM: KT is definitely going onto the playlist: rock (and soul, a la Chaka) chick is right, similar to the ever underestimated Joan Osbourne.

Plenty of time for Joni. Hejira is not a bad place to start. Or Herbie Hancock's tribute disc, River.

5:06 PM  
Blogger Devil Mood said...

OH my God!! Herbie Hancock was HERE yesterday night!
The most amazing coincidence. He was going to play last night (for free) in the same place where I was on Saturday for the moroccan fair. Can you believe it? I wanted to go but nobody else did :(

5:11 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Ouch, DM. Your only consolations: 1. You were still closer to him than I was, though 1a. He was here last year and I had NO excuse for not going, and 2. You still had the fair and no doubt some awesome food. My wife is Armenian, so we are all over North African / Middle Eastern food.

Check out the River CD: Norah Jones opens it beautifully, Wayne Shorter sighs longingly throughout, Tina Turner surprises, and Herbie serves it all up molto bene.

5:30 PM  
Blogger Devil Mood said...

Oh nice! I love magrebian culture myself. I was born in the middle of it, but dislocated in Paris.

I will write that down: the River. :)

5:32 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

DM: I am showing my woeful global ignorance: thank you for introducing me to the Mahgreb. I have more reading to do. And the story deepens even further.

9:01 PM  
Blogger Lee said...

Paschal, music does indeed seem to be a key to your soul. After reading this twice I'm hope I'm gleaning slivers of what you were like as a youth and how you might have grown up, both then and later. Having been to NO twice in my life, your micro stories of life there are taking me back. NO was a fascinating place and there was a lot I, sadly, didn't have the time to take in. Thank you for the memories, even if most of mine are those of a tourist.

Awesome music choices, btw. :) What I remember of NO music scene was the Jass Festival which was in full swing (1979 or 1980 thanks to USNR-R duty) and in the park right across the street from my hotel. I loved wandering Bourbon listening from the doorway or from the street if it was really hot stuff being danced out of those horns. Good times! :)


6:52 AM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Lee: NOLA was a very important part of my life in so many ways. If memory serves me, you would have caught the Jazz Fest in its thrilling early days: it started in Armstrong Park and then eventually moved to the Fairgrounds horse racing track. Mardi Gras, JazzFest, food, the Quarter on quiet Sunday mornings, food, drink, food, Uptown, St. Charles Avenue, food, Esplanade, was wonderful.

7:10 AM  
Blogger Lee said...

Yep, the gate to Armstrong park was the view from my hotel room window. The only thing I can remember, besides the awesome music, was that the streets weren't as crowded as they would have been during Mardi Gras. I was there for 2 weeks of training along with some other navy reservists. We got to stay there because the barracks were all filled. Seems two ships had just come in. :) Our favorite dining place, right across from the base school, was Jack Dempsey's. It was very welcoming to men and women in uniform. Good times!


9:04 AM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Awesome, Lee: you were in on the visionary early daze of the Fest. Very cool.

11:20 AM  
Blogger david mcmahon said...

My first visit here - and I apologise that this is almost 36 hours AFTER Lee told me to read this post.

Thank you for taking part and I have to say I've enjoyed your style as I ramble thru your other posts as well.

Do keep in touch.

5:22 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...


You're welcome here anytime. I enjoyed this exercise, even though I found it a bit daunting at first. Just had to let my mind wander for a while.

5:30 PM  

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