Today I went wandering around Cambridge looking for a Halloween costume. Didn’t get one. Wasn’t ‘feeling it’, although I think I know what I’ll be. The question is whether to roll up my sleeves and go D.I.Y., or dish out the dollars.
It’s pretty chilly in Boston now, and I picked some music for the walk that was appropriately autumnal. I listened to Elvis Perkins in Dearland, Noah and the Whale, Wooden Shjips, and The Big Pink. All highly recommended.
Here is a sampling of their wares, in the form of an imeem playlist. Let me know if it works fine. You’ll need to sign up I think, but it’s completely free. (lala is also pretty good, but you can only listen to each song once for free.)
It’s amazing how the music in your earphones colours the scene you’re walking through. (It’s a neat analogy for the way our consciousness filters all experience.) It’s as if you find yourself in a movie, with the soundtrack clueing you in on what sort of movie it is. A dog running around in a park could make you feel vertiginous nostalgia or envigorating excitement, depending on the backing track. Elvis Perkins’s ‘123 Goodbye’ sounds to me like a song at the very end of a tragic-yet-uplifting American film. You know the movie is almost over. Someone’s driving off in a car, glancing into the rear view mirror. There’s a lump in your throat perhaps. You wish it could have ended differently. Nevertheless, it’s an end, and it’s time to say goodbye. Soon the credits will start rolling.
I’ve been listening to vast quantities of The Incredible String Band these days [listen!]. They’re a Scottish psychedelic folk band from the 60s. They capture hippie idealism, spirituality and humour perfectly. I love them, but it’s entirely possible that you’ll hate them. They’re fruity. (For instance: they have a song sung from the perspective of a flower. It goes “turn your quivering nose in my direction”.) They mix Indian and Middle Eastern music with English and Scottish folk, and American country and blues. I find myself increasingly drawn to their lyrics. They’re mystical and poetic. I’ll leave you with some quotes:
The Hedgehog’s Song
Oh, you know all the words, and you sung all the notes,
But you never quite learned the song, she sang.
I can tell by the sadness in your eyes,
That you never quite learned the song.
The Water Song
Water water see the water flow
Glancing dancing see the water flow
O wizard of changes water water water
Dark or silvery mother of life
Water water holy mystery heavens daughter
God made a song when the world was new
Waters laughter sings it is true
O, wizard of changes, teach me the lesson of flowing.
The great man, the great man, historians his memory
Artists his senses, thinkers his brain
Labourers his growth
Explorers his limbs
And soldiers his death each second
And mystics his rebirth each second
Businessmen his nervous system
No-hustle men his stomach
Astrologers his balance
Lovers his loins
His skin it is all patchy
But soon will reach one glowing hue
God is his soul
Infinity his goal
The mystery his source
And civilization he leaves behind
Opinions are his fingernails
All this world is but a play
Be thou the joyful player
These songs can be found here.