"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)

Friday, January 13, 2006

Everybody Knows This Is Random 

Seattle is now experiencing its 26th straight day of rain. That's almost four weeks, for the arithmetically challenged, and in fact we will likely shatter the previous record of 33 consecutive days of measurable precipitation - a record that has stood for over 50 years (this is already the second longest streak).

Weather like this can make you weird. It's similar in psychological effect (if exactly opposite in meteorological terms) to Southern California's Santa Ana winds, about which Raymond Chandler famously wrote:
There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husband's necks. Anything can happen.

Anything can happen? Alrighty then - sounds like a good time for a Random Ten!
1. "Desolation Row (MTV Unplugged version)" (Bob Dylan) Not as good as the studio version, from Blood On the Tracks, but not bad.

2. "Is Anybody Going to San Antone" (Charlie Pride) Charlie Pride spent a lot of years playing minor leaugue baseball and working in the copper smelters in the same part of Montana whence my family hails. That probably explains how all the blackness got sucked out of his soul. Still, as stiff and formal as it is, this version of Doug Sahm's original is plenty listenable, I guess.

3. "O-O-H Child" (Posies) Another cover - this time, arguably an improvement on the excellent Five Stairsteps original. One of my favorites. By the way, Valerie Carter did a real nice version of this, too, produced by Lowell George if I recall correctly - check it out if you happen to run across a copy.

4. "Long Black Veil" (Lefty Frizzell) Finally, an original version of something! Particularly odd, considering that I have like a dozen different versions of this song.

5. "Sign O' the Times" (Prince) Years ago, I read an interview with James Taylor (just bear with me now), who explained that his song "Secret O' Life" was called "Secret O' Life" and not "Secret of Life" because he thought that it would be terribly presumptuous to call a song "Secret of Life," like he had all the answers or something. Instead, by calling it "Secret O' Life," he said it sounded more like a flavor of Lifesavers ("Wint O' Green") than like a philosophical treatise. Probably a good choice, in that case. Which still doesn't explain why Prince didn't call this grim, dark masterpiece "Sign of the Times."

6. "Listen To Her Heart" (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) I love this song, but I still think Roger McGuinn should collect royalties.

7. "Beautiful Dreamer" (Raul Malo) The title track to a collection of Stephen Foster tunes, interpreted by contemporary artists. I have no idea who Raul Malo is, but I'm confident that he (she? they?) is a "contemporary artist," or else this song wouldn't be on the album, would it? Stephen Foster was the first great American popular songwriter, and his work still sounds fresh today.

8. "When Will I See You Again" (Billy Bragg) Another strange cover, this time re-interpreting the lovely Philly soul original (by the Three Degrees). I run hot and cold on Billy, but when he's good he's very good indeed. This is good.

9. "Brother John" (David Lindley) Good Lord, just how many David Lindley tracks do I have on this thing, anyway?

10. "I've Got to Use My Imagination" (Gladys Knight and the Pips) I've got to use my imagination to recall what the sun looks like. Did I mention that it's been raining for four weeks now?

Fortunately, no "I Can't Stand the Rain," "I Wish It Would Rain," "The Rain, the Park, and Other Things," or "Rainy Days and Mondays." As always, feel free to sound off in comments (as if).




Billy Bragg is currently offering four free tracks on his website if you sign up for the site.

Free Billy Bragg Tracks

I have placed links back to the site on my blog. If you like Bragg then you will love the free tracks.

Ombrophilia is the unusual love of rain and living in Settle it sounds like you need to love your rain!
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