Sunday, November 07, 2004

Indian Summer

Saturday. Night Train To Nashville: Music City Rhythm & Blues 1945-1970. Yesterday afternoon, as Cathy and I were driving home from our hour-long excursion into the bowls of the Home Depot we heard the following songs from this compilation:

Shy Guy Douglas: Monkey Doin’ Woman- A nice little bit of boogie blues, with a chugging rockabilly beat, some strutting harmonica and lyrics like, “Well, run now baby and tell shy guy your name (repeat x 2)- you look good to me and I want to rock your thing.” Oh, yeah.

Etta James: What’d I Say (live)- A sonic snapshot of Etta James completely rocking a crowd (at the New Era nightclub in Nashville- recorded either September 27th or 28th, 1963) with a blistering take on Ray Charles’s classic. Etta smokes them for just ten seconds over the 3 minute mark- with all sorts dramatic breakdowns where the drums and bass jump back and Etta steps up into the gap and roars. All recorded with a single, well placed microphone.

Johnny Jones & the Imperial 7: Really (Part 1)- From 1963 again, another slice of blues boogie, though this one is smoother then Shy Guy Douglas’s Monkey Doin’ Woman- with some feathery horns accompanying Johnny Jones’s bluesy riffing and twangy hooks. But what’s really remarkable about this particular track is just how much it affected me this afternoon- how it seemed to channel so many favorable elements (the windows down, the warm air- the sweet melancholy of Indian Summer) into a perfectly sweet little dollop of Nashville R&B.

I think my favorite moment in The Empire Strikes Back (Cathy and I watched it the day after the election, a comfort movie to ease the pain) happens not long after Luke reaches Dagobah. Yoda, as we all know, is the “comical elfin creature" who greets Luke after he’s landed and makes all sorts of mischief. One of the things that’s so great about seeing this again after so many years is knowing that Yoda is really just messing with Luke- testing to see if he shows any hints of the kind of prerequisite concentration, discipline and patience that comes with Jedi training. Of course he doesn’t- Luke thinks Yoda is a little Muppet nuisance. But Frank Oz effortlessly lends all the necessary gravity Yoda needs to dramatically morph from Muppet to Jedi master, weary with years and even warier of Luke’s recklessness. Luke, realizing its Yoda (whose having that great conversation with Obi-Wan’s disembodied voice from the great beyond known as the Force) tells Yoda he’s up to the demands- that he’s “not afraid.” And Yoda’s reply is my favorite moment: You will be…(pregnant pause)…You will be. End scene. It’s some wonderfully creepy shit, that scene.

Favorite quote from assorted weekend reading: The parallels among garden design, cuisine, and sex- including the roles of creators, connoisseurs, and consumers- is a subject worth exploring, but not here.
-Robert B. Riley From Sacred Grove to Disney World: the Search for Garden Meaning

No comments: