May 6, 2013

how can one ever think anything's permanent?

Stanley Whitney, Bodyheat, 2012

* How William Eggleston would photograph a baseball game. (via). excerpt:

Eggleston grew up in Mississippi, but his home has long been Memphis. He was a Chilton family friend, using a studio behind their house, and he took some promotional pictures of Big Star. (A musician as well, he can be heard playing the piano on Chilton’s cover of “Nature Boy” on Third.) Eggleston was born ten years before Chilton, but Chilton erased the gap by finding early fame at age sixteen, when he sang “The Letter” for the Box Tops. The two Memphisians are said to have been somewhat competitive with one another—and they do share certain sensibilities: a lyricism leavened by an attraction to the mundane; an offhandedness that almost accidentally uncovers complexities; omnivorous, unpredictable aesthetics. Both are hugely influential but impossible to mimic. If you listen closely to those first two Big Star albums, you hear the same supersaturation and heightened sound definition (like the famous “bite” on Big Star’s guitars) the eye detects in Eggleston’s dye-transfer photos. “The sheer management of tremendous energy in the high end,” as recently deceased power-pop genius (and Big Star devotee) Scott Miller put it, owes much to Big Star’s engineer, John Fry. Fry pushed Ardent Studio’s recording equipment almost to the point of overheating in order to capture the band’s dynamics—the aural equivalent of dye-transfer printing, the sound as rich and alive as blood.

Likewise the crack of the bat as it hits the ear: how everything comes instantly, fully, deeply alive—“faster than I can see,” as Chilton sings on “Daisy Glaze”—how it shocks you every time. It makes sense, geometrically. A baseball field, unlike other sports playing areas, is a cone, not a rectangle: a sonic shape, with all the energy forced into and out of the vertex. (Eggleston once complained that “more people than I can imagine … can go no further than appreciating a picture that is a rectangle with an object in the middle of it.”) The center of the baseball cone—the outfield grass somewhere beyond second base—is usually empty, just as most of “The Red Ceiling” is nothing but empty red, and as so much of the tension in Big Star’s songs comes from how much uncluttered space there is: notes waiting to be played.

* Needlessly Crunk. Do check it out.

* "What I’m perpetually trying to work out is the relationship between coincidence and plan.” —Margaret Drabble


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