Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Random Musical Notes


I don’t have one, maybe for the first time in my life. For more than forty years I’ve been able to conjure up a playlist to fit my every mood. Not this time. I could go with the usual emo whiners and sadsack romantics, but they don’t really capture my peculiar little world. Besides, I’m not sure that a song could accurately capture just what it’s like to feel knitting needles probing one’s inner organs.

Worst Christmas Album of All Time

I recently received Conway Twitty’s 1983 album A Twismas Story with Twitty Bird and Their Little Friends. This just may be the nadir of recorded music. First, Conway sounds like he’s been pulled away from the honky-tonk to fulfill some contractual obligations. Various reindeer songs appear, as do songs about snowmen, as does a song about someone called “Happy the Christmas Clown.” A vocal group that may be The Ray Conniff singers accompanies Conway, and adds that special holiday schlock to the proceedings, chiming in with “like a lightbulb” after Conway tells us that Rudolph had a shiny nose. But the real piece de resistance here is the inclusion of Twitty Bird, a chirpingly upbeat little avian friend with a lisp, who routinely crashes the musical proceedings to offer, “Mawwy Twismas, evwybody!” Sounding somewhat like Alvin from Alvin and the Chipmunks, there are times when Twitty Bird’s duets with Conway are tinged with the surreal, as on the aforementioned “Happy the Christmas (Twismas) Clown,” when man and munk entwine their voices to bring us the tale of the clown “a winkin’ and a blinkin’ at you and me.” This is either the best album or the worst album I’ve heard in the new millennium.


Every year we gather here to feast around this table
Lord, give us the strength to stomach just as much as we are able
-- Loudon Wainwright III, “Thanksgiving”

Many people dread the holidays. I don’t. Or at least not this one. For the past thirty years, and long before I arrived on the scene, Kate’s family has filled up a bunch of cabins in Old Man’s Cave State park in southeast Ohio, where they hike, eat and drink their way through three days of the festivities. I won’t be doing any hiking, but I’ll be there. The nieces and nephews are all grown up now, and have toddlers of their own, but they still get in their cars and drive long distances to make it to the proceedings. There will be about thirty of us this year, and four generations. In what may be the closest thing to a miracle that I’ll ever experience, I get to hang out with a functional family. People seem to genuinely like and love one another When I think about reasons to be thankful, I won’t have to look far. I’ll just look around the room.

Family Bonding

Rachel’s back from Ohio U. for the start of her Christmas break. And what better way to get in that family bonding time than by hanging out in a local bar listening to some great local bands? Saturday night we saw Columbus’ Spanish Prisoners and The Whiles and Athens, Ohio’s Southeast Engine. Very good stuff. I am becoming a major Southeast Engine fan. Not only does the band have a great sound – simultaneously raw and melodic – but lead singer/songwriter Adam Remnant’s songs keep opening up in new ways for me. At one point, in the same song, I heard oblique references to the Bible, Abraham Lincoln, and T.S. Eliot. This is an English/Theology major’s dream come true.

Positive Proof that Music Publicists Don’t Know Who They’re Dealing With

I just received the new Celine Dion album in the mail.


Joel said...

I've been meaning to thank you for the Southeast Engine recommendation. I'm really digging A Wheel Within a Wheel, and I would have been at the concert, too, but I had to cover Feist that night. (A good show, nonetheless.)

Anonymous said...

We all expect a full Celine Dion review within the next week. Even if it only emcompasses one word....