Got The Fever

Friday, June 22, 2007

Soundtrack: Paris, Texas

Something is gnawing and chewing inside you. Something insidious. Something that is dark and almost sinister in thought. A hopeless hole from where optimism and happiness have been displaced. The radiating heat from the ever-present and pulsing sun continually have worked on a seam that had welding shut the portal from where rational thought had cease to matter.

As the barbaric and gargantuan weight of the subject matter have now matted down the once raging debate that was struggling for positive resolve, ennui now firmly reigns victorious. The inspiration to levitate safely above everyday meaningless slings and arrows has vacated its column of honor, having left you somber, listless and tattered.

Any signs of life that happen hold no articulate reasoning and are robotic in their purpose, they are meaningless and merely an automatic function that you have no control over – it’s just your body and mind living off of itself without benefit of external aid. Any further mental or physical trauma is as useless as another shovel full of dirt over an already filled over grave. Like punching a clay figure, there is further mutilation but essentially, the same figure lies there only in a different shape.

If you are finally allowed the blessing of sleep, it is certainly without the soothing balm of peace, and has modulated into an abominated extension of the torment – callously animating the bleak thoughts that your subconscious has been incubating.

Long ago weary of salty, trailing, stinging tears, callous to lamentation and done with the shackles of self-pity you begin to rise by miniscule degrees. Long thought dead you emerge from the slavish encapsulation of brutal self-persecution seeking cleansing, sanctifying salvation.

If this was a movie, and you could choose the musical avatar, a genius with a gifted scope of musical emotion, to score this waterless, barren, dismal, moody and painful film, whom would you choose? Who could possibly have the ability to successfully translate agony and monumental human effort into musical candor set in the southwest?

You would choose Ry Cooder.

I have read on the IMDB that the film Paris, Texas is an American classic. That, “The scene where Stanton confronts his wife, and tells what he did and why he did it, must rank among the supreme scenes, not just of film, but of human life. It echoed the great scenes of our literature, such as Ulysses meeting with Penelope, and the return of the prodigal son.” “Paris, Texas is a masterpiece. There's no way around it. It's a movie that slowly reveals itself putting the audience right in the shoes of Stanton, who also is trying to remember his past and face it.” “[… the pacing is extremely slow, but as an audience member, use that to your advantage to suck in the picturesque orange southwest desert against the deep blue skys, and the poignant acting, and haunting soundtrack. There's no reason not to treat yourself to this uniquely American masterpiece meditation. It would make a great nightcap for a triple feature with two other simular themed American films, The Searchers and Taxi Driver.” (all above quotes are from the “Paris, Texas” IMDB page).

This film left such an impression on me (as it apparently did most everyone who saw it), that I could not stop thinking about it for weeks after. And since my first viewing, it has unfailingly always ranked in the top five of my all-time favorite movies for not only its emotional impact but also for its flawless score. It showcases Harry Dean Stanton (The Straight Story, Pretty In Pink), Natassja Kinski (Cat People, Far Away So Close), Dean Stockwell (To Live and Die In L.A., Quantum Leap) and Hunter Carson. Tell us about love, loss and salvation.

Paris, Texas
Up above is the shimmering, sweltering and silent sun that is melting the loose, unsettling and shifting sand. After fours years have evaporated, out of the desert abyss walks Harry Dean Stanton. Draw what parallels you will, but unparalleled is the sonorous tone that opens the scene, and sets the mood for the next 147 minutes. After repeated plays, the painful wails of the slide guitar alone have become synonymous with the deep southwest for me. You may hear and feel the imagery yourself.

No Safety Zone
Once more, rely on heavy imagery to feel the weight of despair and the possible sanctity of redemption. What comes to mind is the line “doesn’t waste a note”, which can be used to describe the whole soundtrack really. Glorious also comes to mind.

She’s Leaving The Bank
This is 6’02 of volatile restraint from Ry. This is a mood that is set to music. A track to play while sitting on the back porch and watching the sun go down. This is a track to play while playing over the movie in your head as you absently fondle the glass you’re drinking from that’s holding something strong. The only signal of a smile that registers while you’re listening to this and ruminating about Paris, Texas, is one that acknowledges that you will in all probability rate this as one of the few finest films you will ever be witness to.

Paris, Texas (16)
No Safety Zone (7)
She’s Leaving The Bank (8)
From:Soundtrack to Paris, Texas

Addendum: A huge thank you to whiteray over at Echoes In The Wind for featuring the Ritchie Havens’ “Stonehenge” album. This is a lost treasure from my childhood that I have not been able to locate in forever. This was also on my wish list that I have posted on the right side of this blog as “What I’m (unsuccessfully) Searching For”. I am in your debt.

Again, if anyone can help me locate any of the others I’d be grateful if you could please shout it out.

Friday, June 15, 2007


We never stumble onto all the music we come to cherish completely on our own. There are many influences and events that collide together which provide us with the depth and richness of our personal musical catalogues. There are countless others who have given us a gift by turning us on to a certain track or a certain band and we are the better for it. Or, perhaps we are turned on to something completely new.

I mean "new" as in new to us at least at that time or moment that we hadn't heard before. It could be something just released, something from our parent’s youth, something that was regional, something from across the pond, or something from a friend’s youth. Indeed, it was an older friend of mine who first turned me on to the Argent catalog. This friend was INTO Argent. Looking back I can say in retrospect that it was probably my first deep entry into progressive rock. I say probably, because I can’t be certain. Around the time that Argent were big (well, was Argent ever really big?), there were so many other artists in the same vein, such as Yes, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Genesis, Focus and Gentle Giant just to name a few. I'll give you the Readers Digest version of Argent: Out of the ashes of The Zombies, Ron Argent formed his new band along with guitarist/composer Russ Ballard and a few others.

These guys have a special place on my shelf because of that friend long ago. I’m happy that I knew him and that I know Argent because of him. And yes, of course, in turn, I have awakened others to what I had passed to me. Nothing so different than what readers of Got The Fever do to their friends – only now, we have Blogs to pay it forward!

Written by Ballard, this was also covered in great fashion, and was a hit, by Three Dog Night. However, the howl of despair at being betrayed has never been performed more desperately and with such bitterness as this original version. A brilliant, rumbling, haunting guitar riff throughout sustains the misery and help bridge us into the shouting of the one word that it all boils down to: ‘Liar!’

Pay particular attention to Ron and his solo at around 1’00, which begins sparsely, and then feel his direction shift as he expertly bangs the ivories into quick, on its back, willing submission. Ballard’s turn out front at 2’14 is subdued and subtle, yet belies a smoldering, bubbling anger beneath.

You’ve taken my life – so take my soul
That’s what you said – and I believed it all
I want to be with you, long as you want me to
I won’t move away

Ain’t that what you said?
Ain’t that what you said?
Ain’t that what you said?


God Gave Rock And Roll To You
This is one of only a handful of songs about rock and roll that gives it reverence, and admits that it’s a gift and an honor to be playing – and making a living – by playing it. The a cappella break is touching and heartfelt, the Hammond organ swells are majestic, the acoustic guitar playing almost classical in places, and the lead guitar smacks as an almost certain influence on later Queen.

It’s been covered a few times, but no cover has came close to the original.

If you wanna be a singer or play guitar
Man you gotta sweat or you won’t get far
Cuz it’s never too late to work 9 to 5
And if you’re young then you’ll never grow old
Music can make your dreams unfold
How good it feels to be alive!

God gave rock and roll to you
Gave rock and roll to you
Put it in the soul of everyone
God gave rock and roll to you
Gave rock and roll to you

Saved rock and roll for everyone

Hold Your Head Up
Give me the name of a song that defines a certain time in your life – possibly a whole season. Keeping that in mind, give me the name of a song that causes you to gasp quickly when you hear the very first note – a recognition long before anyone else in the room has even begun to formulate a clue.

For me, it’s this track. It was Argent’s biggest (and only?) hit.

From the very first pulse of life with the bass/organ commanding control of the atmosphere around the fully aroused speakers, this has got you by the short and curlies. Anyone that love a bit of organ just about damn near swoons when they hear Ron and his gifted hands willing the beast to purr or roar on demand.

The single version was never enough for me and it always seemed a cheapening and a robbery of the true spirit of the song. Here it is in all of its splendid full-length glory.

And if they stare
Just let them burn their eyes on you moving
And if they shout
Don't let it change a thing that you're doing

Hold your head up,
Hold your head high

I remember that as a kid, after being turned on to Argent by that long ago friend, I used to lie in my room on the floor, speaker on either side of my head, and begin the march toward degrees of deafness with this burrowing my ears, reading the cover over and over. I don’t do that anymore. I’m an adult.

Now, I have expensive earphones that cause much greater damage in a shorter amount of time, and I need to wear non-prescription glasses that magnify in order to read the CD notes.

Plus, I don’t have to worry about Mom spot-checking me by smelling my breath for alcohol while I listened to Argent. Just my wife.

Liar (21)
God Gave Rock And Roll To You (22)
Hold Your Head Up (17)

From: Argent: Anthology

I want to thank tgrundy over at RIBS for turning me on to a site that included one of the albums from my wish list that I have listed on the right side of this blog as “What I’m (Unsuccessfully) Searching For”. He found me a "Chairman Of The Board" greatest hits!

If anyone can turn my nose toward any of the others, please do get in touch with me. I truly appreciate it.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Spring – and a young man’s mind turns to …

Appropriately, a quickie for today.

I wake up. I spend a few moments in the wee hour scanning online headlines. Check the Sox scores. I then hose off. I drive to work. I work hard. I work a lot of double shifts. I come home totally listless. Exhausted most times from lack of adaquate sleep. I guzzle some OJ out of the container trying not to wake anyone. I head upstairs. Set the alarm. Sleep.

Hit replay.

Know what I’d really like time for? A leisurely dinner with my family. Be able to watch a whole ballgame. Actually make my bed. Lie on the couch with a sandwich and view a rented video. Be able to spend time in the garden getting it just right. Play guitar for even fifteen minutes.

Or, perhaps …

Sixty Minute Man
This is for that trance-like fever that occurs when the blood that has been churning and boiling, begins to raise foam and run over the edges. The spill-over. Slippery, free-falling musky sweat, rhythmic grunts, stutter stop/start motion and hot expelled breath accompanied by dark, funky guitar, sinister growling vocals and a methadone chorus to flutter your heart. Rufus has provided us with an unquenchable animalistic soundtrack to a fierce, harrowing, maniacal, majestic performance that pulses as its own entity when two are inexplicable entwined as one human vine.

If you don’t believe I’m all I say,
Come up and take my hand.
When I let you go you’ll cry ”Oh, yes”
“He’s a sixty-minute man!”

There’ll be 15 minutes of kissing.
Then you’ll hollar “Please don’t stop!”
They’ll be 15 minutes of teasing.
And 15 minutes of squeezing.
And 15 minutes of blowing my top.

A sexual journey into the mind of the person who lusts after you, and a damn good picture painted of what she wants to do in the boudoir – and in the office. Drive is just so perfect of a title – lyrically and musically she does both. Enjoy the ride.

The first time I heard this was on a college station in the early morning back when I still slaved away on a computer in a cube farm. But, it so captured me, that I waited in the parking lot to hear exactly what station it was so I could call telephone directory and ask the number of the station. When I finally had the chance to call and ask the song title and artist, all I could do was recite a few lyrics to the station person who answered. The lyrics stuck in my head all day – I was humming it until I finally had it in my hands. I HAD to have this song. I had never heard of Melissa Ferrick before hearing this. Or, since.

But, I hear she’s big in Japan.

your mouth waters
stretched out on my bed
your fingers are trembling
and your heart is heavy and red
and your head is bent back
and your back is arched
my hand is under there
holding you up

in the kitchen
in the shower
and in the back seat of my car
i’ll hold you up
in your office
preferably during business hours
‘cause you know how I like it when there’s people around
and I know how you like it
yeah I know how you like it
I know how you like it when I tease you for hours

i’ll hold you up
and drive you all night
i’ll hold you up
and drive you baby ‘till you feel the daylight
i’ll hold you up
and drive you all night
i’ll hold you up
and drive you ‘till you feel the daylight
that’s right

I Want Your Sex:

Another song extolling the bottom line. He shakes it here and there, but the bottom line always comes back. Though I’m not a fan of the guy at all, I have to admit that it still sounds funky and fun to play after all these years.

I remember hearing this for the first time on MTV back when. Anybody remember that video? It actually may have been the video more than the song that prompted me to buy the track. I at least knew the artist and title when I wnt to purchase it, but when I brought home the 45(!) the first minute didn’t sound to me like what I remembered. So, I brought it back right away and told them they must have given me the wrong single. They played it on the store system, and I said “See, not what I asked for”. It wasn’t until they forced me to listen past the introduction and first verse, that I started hearing the now familiar refrain and could feel the hot glow growing around my neck and face and felt quite dumb by my impulsive act of bringing the single back. I was so embarrassed at that point, that I bought some other single that I didn’t even want just to make up for my stupidity. The insipid things we remember.

I swear I wont tease you
Won’t tell you no lies
I don’t need no bible
Just look in my eyes

I’ve waited so long baby
Now that we’re friends
Every man’s got his patience
And here’s where mine ends
I want your sex.

Rufus Thomas: Sixty Minute Man (21)
From: Do The Funky Chicken [1969]
Melissa Ferrick:
Drive (14)
Freedom [2000]
George Micheal:
I Want Your Sex (6)
Faith [1987]

With this post, I have put up my 100th track.
And received my 10,000th visitor!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Terence Trent D'arby

I distinctly remember playing this CD over and over again. When it was my turn to drive, this was on the stereo. When I took a shower this was on the bathroom CD player. When I was dating what’s-her-name, this was on. On my way to work this was on. In my head during work this … well, you get the point. Take all this in and let me add by saying that I was NOT listening to the radio at the time. So I never heard them play the ‘hit’.

I saw Terence on a Mowtown reunion/tribute or something similar to it back in the late 80’s and Smokey Robinson came out to introduce him. Smokey told the crowd that his own daughter was absolutely crazy about this guy and the voice, and then Terence came out and and covered Smokey’s “Who’s Lovin’ You”. Brought the house, and the lot it was built on, DOWN! The guy has a set of pipes Drano couldn’t interfere with.

His voice is what I feel set him apart from the two others who were dominating R&B at the time – M.Jackson and Prince. He wrote a more mature pop than the “teenybopper snapping your fingers” pop of Jackson, and he had – well, a better voice – and I feel rivaled Prince in not only his his funk and rhythm chops, but his songwriting. This was alternative Soul and R&B, and I did not get enough of it.

Dance Little Sister
A “never say die” driving chorus and rumbling rhythm. This just will not let your musical throat go once it pierces its fangs into you. It is a snarling, punching track that is pure foot delight for the dancing crowd and a brow wrinkling mouthing the words ‘sing with me’ for the gracefully challenged.

“Get up out’a’your chair gran’maw! Or, would you care to dance Grandmother?”, is how he leads us in. The drums, guitar, bass, and sax all collectively wave to us, beckoning us into accepting the invitation. And when we do come in we find ourselves to be in the middle of one of the best grooves ever and smile broadly realizing right there and then that we have stumbled into something we are going to long remember!

Hey you! Give up the ghost
That’s haunting you now.
Shout it out, don’t let it stay inside
And eat you alive.
Make up your mind
Don’t you want to stay this side of the line
I can assure you when you’re my age
You’ll learn from all you’ve left behind.

Dance little sister,
Don’t give up today.
Hang on till tomorrow
I don’t wanna hear you’re late!

If You Let Me Stay
The pleading is just a slight step away, a thin edge from releasing, a restraint just barely audible from a total breakdown disguised as a powerful soulful song. But, we know the truth. It is the voice and rhythm track that misleads us. But, listen closely and be enlightened and rewarded.

This just begs and wills the volume to a higher level and you’ll be hard-pressed to not automatically reach over, turn the round knob to the right and in the good weather watch as people passing your house look up at your windows wide-mouthed amazed and marveling at how your glass panes can vibrate so hard and not shatter! Wish I were there to see the smiles on their faces though.

If you let me stay
(I’ll say what I should have said)
If you let me stay
I should have said that I love you)
If you let me stay
(And I should have said it from my heart)
If you let me stay!

Who’s Lovin’ You
I’m not being pretentious. I accept that I have only heard a thin fraction of everything man has performed. I acknowledge that there are those who have more highly trained ears. I agree that there are those who have far better taste than I, a common musical plebian. And I am wholly receptive to receiving intelligent answers to my question.

My question: “Does it get any better than this”?

You can picture the crowd swell, stand, smile, raise hands to the ceiling and roar their approval when this begins. And you had better count yourself among them because this is Soul at its pinnacle. Written and originally sung, as I mentioned, by Smokey, it already has a major head start on any - yes, I did write ANY other Mowtown/Tamla/Philly artist. Do not challenge that.

This cover is the where in the phrase dictionary ‘belting it out’ has a picture of Terence next to it. Also look under ‘sweet phrasing’, ‘harmony’, ‘interpretation’, ‘heart’ and ‘sincerity’. Terence, Terence, Terence. Terence. Terence.

I was not going to include this track because I mention it in my opening, but I agonized over it and decided that I wanted to not only rekindle the spark with those long ago familiar with it, but I thought it righteous to share it with those who had not the good fortune to have previously heard it. And for them, I am envious.

Life without love is oh so lonely,
I don’t think I’m gonna make it.
All my life, all my life belongs to you only.
Come on and take it girl.
Come on and take I because,

All, all I can do
Since you’ve been gone is cry.
And don’t you ever wonder
And worry your pretty little head
‘Bout what I do.
Don’t you know I sit around
With my head hanging down
And wonder who’s lovin’ you

Sadly, I don’t know why his other offerings in subsequent releases never made it, but quality has never been an indication of sales. Never the mind, you’ll be just as pleased if you have them on your shelve to break out once in a while. Great music for the warm times ahead.

I really wanted to include more tracks here, but I really don’t ‘do’ putting up the whole album. You’re gonna go buy it yourself. Anyway, the other tracks that just scream “listen to me!” include the hit “Wishing Well”. And do not punish yourself by not listening to the inimitable “Sign Your Name”. Lots of life happened at one time while listening to that single track. –Sigh-

Terence Trent D’arby:

Dance Little Sister (28)
If You Let Me Stay (20)
Who’s Lovin’ You (21)
From: Introducing The Hardline [1987]

Addendum: I’ve been holding back info but I’m getting very excited about a few people that I admire who have agreed to guest post. I won’t even tell you the topics or even the genres but I couldn’t be more pleased. You’ll be very happy to say the least. Stay centered and visit when you can.