Friday, May 06, 2005

My computer ate my blog

I had a whole post ready to go about how I changed my poem for the day, during the night. Which I did and I'm very proud of! Stick that in your pipe and smoke it... (Or not, don't want any unnecessary inhalation going on. Carcinogens and all.)

But yesterday I did say that I was going to write some more about what I've been reading and listening to.

I talked briefly (ok, if you hit the link you'll find a fairly adequate post) about David Dark, whose Everyday Apocalypse I loved and found, well, revelatory. Which is another word for 'apocalypse,' apparently. I still use the word 'revelatory' because 'apocalypse' is a word too closely associated with End-Times, Left Behind and all that. But despite my very convincing criticism on my well-read and highly regarded blog here (Megalomania? I think not, if I do say so myself.), I've noticed that no one else in the whole of the blogspot universe has him listed as one of their favorite authors. Now, maybe if I checked for favorite books, maybe I'll have got somewhere. But check this: Yesterday I typed in Fold Zandura as one of my favorite musics (the titles are really, Favorite Books and Favorite Records or something like that. But that's dumb!). A very obscure band. Made an LP and an EP about seven years ago. I don't know if I'd be able to describe them. Kind of hard-rock meets space-age meets Beatles melody and esoteric song-writing. One of the guys from that band joined Switchfoot a couple years ago as their keyboard-programming / second guitarist. I could completely hear what Jerome brought to the group. In regards to the Favorites-listing, I checked today. At least a dozen others had also listed Fold Zandura. I ain't angry with them. Fact, maybe I'll check them out (when I'm not busy responding to my truck-loads of fan e-mail). I just wish more people would read David Dark. He is not to be missed.

Of course, I believe that now I've run out of space in my favorite musics list. So now maybe I should explain why some of the obvious ones aren't on the list. I'll start with the Genius. Ray Charles did some flippin' ammaazing stuff. His interpretation of "You Are My Sunshine" sends chills down my spine. It's better than, say, Aretha's version of anything by Simon & Garfunkle. It's almost as good, dare I say, as Jimi's interpretation of Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower." Ahhh, I'll say it anyway. (Speaking of which, I guess Jimi's not on my list either. He may just have to fit.) It's the perfect swinging cover of a song that's sweet and innocent. He gives it a bite, a slightly explosive bite but still completely in the sweet vein. It's like putting some bottle caps in your mouth. Or those little fizz sticks, where you get a bit of powder and you put on the top of a flat candy stick and as you place it in your mouth it dissipates with pops when it gets wet with your saliva. The genius of the original Sir Charles is that he took a country song and made it, not soul, not soul-country, not typically Ray Charles, but something new and invigorating and exciting and yet down-home and comfortable all at the same time. He reintroduced us to "You Are My Sunshine." Behold! all songs are made new. That's to say nothing of "Georgia on My Mind," "Spanish Harlem" or countless other songs he re-did. Or his literal color-blindness ("That's funny, they don't sound white."). Or for his originality and voice-be-heard in forging a completely new style by incorporating, borrowing and stealing from several other (mostly American and African American) styles and being - many would argue - the best at soul music. How could anyone not fall in love with "Hit the Road Jack" (remember The Blues Brothers?) or "Night Time Is the Right Time" (remember Rudy Huxtable singing the blues part from the steps on the Cosby Show?)?

My hesitation for putting RC in my music hall of fame is, plainly, you've heard all this before. I don't know how you couldn't have. Have you seen Ray? I didn't. Largely because I believe it dilutes from the work of the man, much the same way almost any biopic does (I also haven't seen nor would care to see Luther, Bonhoeffer or Calvin - about three of the most important Christian men in Reformation and Post-Reformation Europe, three heroes of mine). But you needn't see the film to be barraged by these things in Ray Charles' life, things which unfortunately both distract from the music and which cannot be properly addressed in a movie of this sort. For the legacy of Ray Charles is really more about just the art that he leaves behind. It will also be about the shattered families that were left in his wake.

So, no, I did not neglect Ray because of these (admittedly grievous) shortcomings. I did not induct him because he was already being hyped post-mortem. Much the same way Johnny Cash was. Both geniuses, both worthy of more respect than I can give them. If you don't have San Quentin, what's wrong with you? If you don't have at least one copy of a Ray Charles collection (not the inferior late-period duets stuff; the real stuff, a singles collection or something), what's wrong with you? I'll give you about a week. Educate yourself.

Baby, what'd I say?...

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