June 21, 2005

caught up in the fable I watched the tower grow

fairy, brooklyn bridge, by norman parkinson, 1949

* Paste Magazine talks with Joe Pernice about the new record. excerpt:

"'When I’m writing,' he explains, 'the melody is first. I love melodies, and I gravitate toward writing melodies that I might want to listen to. Lyrically, I might be a darker person, but musically, I like major chords and major sevenths. Sometimes I’ll step back and say, ‘Why aren’t you writing something cheerful to go with that melody?’ But it just doesn’t come; I’m not in that territory. Lyrically, it’s an entirely different ballgame. I tend to be a darker person when I start writing words. But the songs are never all-out sad, there’s always some hope, especially on this record.'"
"'Saddest Quo,' for example, opens with a sunny guitar strum and a dizzying, descending guitar line that recalls The Beatles’ version of Buddy Holly’s 'Words of Love.' The music’s optimism is echoed in Pernice’s first verse, 'Trying to be a better person … my faith in life’s unbroken.' The desire to believe in a better self and a better world is sincere, but it is sorely tested in the catchy, harmony-cloaked chorus. The singer turns on the TV and sees a government full of 'hypocrites choking on their blind faith' and reporters exploiting scenes of a 'train wreck picking up survivors from a plane crash.'

"How, the song seems to ask, do you hold on to hope when so much of the evidence points the other way? The lyrics suggest a world designed to frustrate every shred of optimism, to leave us 'waiting for the sky to fall.' The guitar arpeggios, so pretty at first, seem to get stuck in this paradox. Unable to move forward, their static repetition becomes part of the song’s frustration rather than its antidote.

"'I was home a lot when I wrote that song,' Pernice remembers. 'I was watching a lot of news and I was disgusted by the way TV was presenting the news, not just politics, but the whole presentation of reality. I wanted to make a tiny person’s comment on a big thing."
"I started editing my songs the same way I would a poem. Does every word count? Is there any fat cluttering up the song? Are the images saying what I want or anything at all? I knew songs were a lot more forgiving, because you have melody and all kinds of bells and whistles, but I got used to being very tough and ruthless. I learned to get the scalpel out and it still serves me well."

* The Rude Pundit on the Downing Steet memo. excerpt:

"Here's the deal: let's change the context. The Downing Street documents are about a conspiracy of lies and deception. One doesn't have to be 'antiwar' to believe that the President of the United States shouldn't openly lie to the Congress and to the people about matters of State. War just happens to be the subject, yes, but it just as well could have been energy policy or campaign donations - those just lack the glamour of dead and mutilated American bodies. See, in this new context, we don't even have to talk about whether or not it was 'right' to take out Saddam Hussein and 'liberate' Iraq. All we have to talk about is the lying.

"And about this being 'the past,' in that 'oh-well-we-all-fucking-knew-Bush-was-lying-anyway' attitude being taken by so many on the left and middle, well, shit, since when is there a statute of limitations on high crimes and misdemeanors? Always use the Bill Clinton bar, one that's so low that even slugs could not limbo under it: was Whitewater 'the past?' Well, fuck yeah, since it happened years before Clinton was even in the Oval Office, in goddamn 1978. Did that stop the investigations? Well, fuck no, and the years-long and multimillion dollar investigation didn't prove a damn thing, other than Republicans were petty, mean, vicious fuckers who would stoop to anything to avenge the loss of the presidency.

"The way to win converts to the cause of investigating the President - 'what did he know and when did he know it' kind of shit - is to put it in the abstract, more universal sense first: 'The President lied to your face.' Then get more specific: 'The President lied to your face about why we went to war.' Then allow the horror to seep in: 'The President lied to your face about why we went to war and now we're on the fast track to our second-thousandth dead and our twenty-thousandth injured.'"

* "Now I am going in for debauch. Why? I want to be a poet, and I am working to make myself a visionary: you won't possibly understand, and I don't know how to explain it to you. To arrive at the unknown through the disordering of all the senses, that's the point. The sufferings will be tremendous, but one must be strong, be born a poet: it is in no way my fault...so much the worse for the wood that discovers it's a violin, and to hell with the heedless who cavil about something they know nothing about!" -- Arthur Rimbaud [via]


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