Thursday, April 05, 2007

A Thursday Letter Makes Everything Better

I got this from a friend of mine who thought she was writing me a personal email:

I know you'd rather spend your time worry about the Membership Drive and how badly you'll do boo hoo hoo, but I was thinking you might be able to help me with this:
I was thinking about the idiom, "Smart as a box of rocks," and wondering if there are others out there that convey the same meaning/feeling. I found a page of idioms, and there are some good ones, but I thought you'd just be able to make some better ones off the top of your head. Or maybe you could put it on your web page and everybody could come up with one!

Good idea, "friend" who doesn't care if my show disappears when no one supports it. Do you know how many people actually read this blog? Counting my mom? Counting my brothers, two of whom don't know how to read? Not a lot, but if even they gave a little bit of money to KOOP during my show, I might not get demoted & be forced to do three minutes at the end of day Sundays. So laugh, laugh, laugh about my sensitivity. I stole money from your house the last time I was there. Ha!

Er. Well, it doesn't matter, she doesn't read this blog anyway.

"Smart as a box of rocks," eh? That's pretty dumb. Unless one considers that the consciousness of rocks may be on an epic time scale & they take eons to deliberate. That makes our smarts hasty & ill-thought-out. Ever thought of that?

I like the idea of making up idioms ourselves, but I won't be a party to your condescension. I'll rather share some completely new Idioms For All Occasions, & you yourself can decide what they mean. But I'll expect to hear people use them on a regular basis or I'll pout.

1) She's the cheese in her own soup.
2) As scary as the war on sailing.
3) If you've got a pocket full of nickels, it must be spring!
4) Between the devil & the wombat, opt for the devil.
5) Turn when the road turns; only follow the sidewalk so far.
6) Don't let green leaves or cold pipes slow you down.
7) Act as though each day could possibly be repossessed.
8) To the many, mugs; to the few, tumblers.
9) Don't brush your armhair gently over him.
10) The laughter of arhythmia.

Feel free to add your own! It's our language to change as we want.

& do think about becoming a member on my show tomorrow... Details linked above... Call from foreign lands or call from inside my house after you're broken in... Just please help my show before I run out of ellipses...

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Whither The White Album Covered?

I can't remember which cool East Coast band of the Throwing Muses - Pixies - Breeders - Belly axis covered a Beatles song first - it might have been Throwing Muses covering "Cry Baby Cry" or it might have been the Pixies covering "Wild Honey Pie" for a Peel Session - but basically every one of those bands (except Belly, now that I think about it) (but including members of the bands solo) covered a Beatles song. & every one of those covers came from The White Album.

Why do people like hip post-punker Americans think the White Album is so cool? Why do I think it's so cool?

I've been listening - seriously listening, not just familiar with them because they never go away - to the Beatles since I was in sixth grade. I saw that so-awful-it's-brilliant movie Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band as a very little kid, & I was enchanted. Dopey as I was, I knew the title song was a Beatles song, but I was certain the rest of the soundtrack was new. That must've irked one of my older brothers - or, more probably, I asked for it - because for Christmas that year, I got the Beatles album. I never looked back - I knew right away the movie was garbage & the candy-colored record was the real thing. I was probably ten or eleven at the time.

(My older brothers & sisters, alas, were never again able to advise me about music. They listened to the radio, &, when the radio made a right turn, they stayed with what was "classic." My brothers were never able to advise me which Elvis Costello album I should start with, & boy did I get a blank stare when I asked about the Velvet Underground. Probably still would!)

(Maybe that's not entirely fair - my sister Karin did let me borrow a Ramones greatest hits record when I was in high school. But that's probably it.)

Anyway, I devoured the red & blue greatest hits comps (the only Beatles stuff I had besides Sgt Pepper) & though I didn't have the money to buy the records (I was young & had no income, & the records never showed up in bargain bins, & when I saved up & bought "Meet The Beatles," I remember how ripped off I felt because it was barely thirty minutes long), I did tape a show called "Ringo's Yellow Submarine" which was on at the time (it was in fact hosted by Ringo & he played Beatles songs from all over) & one radio station in Dallas used to play entire records at 10pm every weeknight. One night, they were playing the White Album.

I had a crappy unit that wasn't quite a boombox, but it did have a cassette deck & a radio. The antenna had been destroyed long, long ago, so to get any reception at all, I had to put a finger on the little wedge of metal (which was kinda sharp - one false move & it meant a tetanus shot) where the antenna was bent off. The cassette of that broadcast had various moments (one in particular I always expect to hear at the end of "I'm So Tired" as it fades into "Blackbird") when I had to raise my hand for some reason, so the signal faded to static. That was my copy of The White Album for many years - until I bought a copy on white vinyl at a record store years later, when I was in high school.

The next day at school, & this was middle school, I talked to my few friends about it. In particular, I was blown away by "Revolution 9." I had listened to it three times that night. My friend Russell, who, unlike me, had an older brother with good taste in music, & who had listened to the record many more times than I had, dismissed that track as a waste of time, so we talked about the rest of the record. I don't remember being offended, mainly because I was so enchanted. Every new Beatles song was magical to me, & I consumed it uncritically.

Later on, of course, when making mix tapes of Beatles songs for playing in my car or whatever, I would notice certain things - particularly that I almost never put a song on a tape that Paul McCartney sang - but that period of attacking my idols would come later, when I just got exhausted that people listened to this one band & nothing else. As if music started & stopped with them. That is an attitude I find exceedingly dull.

When listening to the White Album a few months ago, & thinking about this show, I made it a point to listen to the whole thing (& expecting to hear static at the appropriate times from the old tape - when will I forget that?) & to think about why I liked it so much. I think it's because it's the one Beatles record that seems like solo records from each of the Beatles, but with all the other Beatles playing on them. John Lennon's stuff is of course astonishing. George Harrison manages to be interesting, promising something he would never deliver ("Long Long Long" may be the greatest song he ever wrote), Ringo's song is a throwaway, like his solo career, & Paul McCartney manages feeble homage, treacle, tedium & schmaltz. (& yes, I think "Helter Skelter" is overrated. If I must listen to it, I listen to hear Ringo get blisters on his fingers.) The record, in a remarkable way, predicts the careers of the Beatles a couple of years before the split - although, it's fair to note, they were really already beginning to split.

I think that's why it's so cool. & by the way, the songs covered by the people above - with the exception of "Wild Honey Pie," they're all exclusively Lennon songs.

This Friday I will have the entire White Album covered in my grubby hands - yes, I even found a cover of "Revolution 9" - but I probably won't get to play it all. What I will play, though - well, you'll have to listen in, won't you?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Preface To The White Album Covered: Whatever Happened To Those "Beatles" Anyway?

Need I remind you it's Membership Drive time at KOOP? You may not have wanted to give to Self Help Radio last week (I did poorly) but you do want to keep a station like KOOP on the air. Give early, give often.

This week I will pay tribute to a band known as "The Beatles" - in particular a record of theirs called "The Beatles." Since that record was issued with a kind of solid beige cover, the band wanted it to be known as "The Beige Album." Alas, it did not sell very well, & many copies were placed in the windows of record stores all over the world to keep the sun out. This tended to bleach the record's cover, & now it's known as "The White Album."

"The Beatles" were rumored to be from England. The band had four members, not including the father of one of the band members, George Sr., who did the production & was also rumored have killed the band's manager. As well, the band had its own swami, an Anglican bishop, a circus seal, a Japanese artist, their very own drugstore, & Bob Dylan on their speed dial. The four members wrote songs individually, but two of the members, one out of jealousy & the other just to be funny, signed their names to the each other's songs. The record had over nine hundred songs on it, but because of a miscalculation with the record company, only around 25 actually made it on to the disc.

As of 2007, no one knows what happened to this mysterious group, although there are rumors that one of them, the lead guitarist, became a famous porn star & died in the first Gulf War. Another rumor insists that "Beatle" who seemed the smartest was killed & eaten by the FBI, since J Edgar Hoover believed, like some cannibals, that if you eat a person you absorb their knowledge, & he always wanted to write a song. Some people even think that at least two of the "Beatles" are still alive, though there's no evidence for this. Seriously.

However, in certain hip circles, "The White Album" became a cult classic, & Self Help Radio this week will show how influential it has been by playing several of the songs covered. It's a great time to become a member of KOOP because the show itself will be great. Who knows? Maybe more people will want to hear more of these "Beatles"?

Tomorrow: but why do it? Is someone making me?