Tuesday, April 03, 2007

You Choke My Days, I'll Choke Yours

Photo by Anton Corbijn, taken from here

I have a tendency every once in awhile to channel surf in the wee hours. Usually this activity ends up in frustration, after fruitless hours or so spent cycling through yawnsome home reno programs, unpleasant crime dramas, World War Two pornography, and the news in Tagalog. Sometimes I get lucky and hit a double bill of Dog the Bounty Hunter. I like Dog. And his pneumatic wife, Beth.

The other week, however, I serendipitously bumped into a screening of Tom Waits's Big Time, an marvellously peculiar and shambolic assembly of concert footage and theatrical scenes from his play, Franks Wild Years. It was even better than Dog.

At one point during the film Waits introduces a song with an anecdote about bad days. As I listened to his smoke-and-gravel delivery, I felt the hairs stand up on the back of my neck and had one of those rare moments of glorious clarity where you know that you're staring truth in the eye. So here, let me share his story with you:

"This is about all the bad days in the world. I used to have some really bad days. And I kept them in a little box. And one day I threw them out into the yard. Oh, it's just a couple of innocent bad days. Well, we had a big rain... I don't know what it was growing in, but I think we used to put egg shells out there and coffee grounds too.

Don't plant your bad days! They grow into weeks, the weeks grow into months, and before you know it you got yourself a bad year. Take it from me: CHOKE those little bad days! CHOKE 'em down to nothing! There are your days, CHOKE 'em! You choke my days, I'll choke yours!"

So, Dearest Friends, do we have a deal??

Tom Waits - Telephone Call From Istanbul (buy here)
Actually, the anecdote was an introduction to More Than Rain, but this song off of the same album sits deep in my heart. Not only does it contain the immortal advice "Never trust a man in a blue trench coat / Never drive a car when you're dead," but Dearest Wife and I danced our second dance of our wedding reception to it. And to help choke your bad days, I will dance to it for you, in a sort of slow, shuffling, hip-swaying, bum-shaking, arm-flapping stylee.

Yank My Chain

This week Contrast Podcast contributors continue to forge the song chain that Tim started just over a month ago. Like last time, there's some wonderfully twisted logic links to delight in, and you can do by downloading the cast directly here, or by subscribing to this RSS feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/ContrastPodcast

Go on folks, yank my chain. And lest the graphic give you the wrong idea, I'll take an old skool loo ANYDAY over those anodyne, feeble, lever flush johns!!

(00:31) The Weakerthans - The prescience of dawn
Jamie from The Run Out Groove
(05:28) MeTzo - Am I a voyeur?
Deek from Pod of Funk
(10:36) Stars - Your ex-lover is dead
Jim from Quick before it melts
(15:57) The Smiths - The Queen is dead
Justin from Aquarium Drunkard
(22:31) Huey ‘Piano’ Smith & The Clowns - Don’t you just know it
Mike from Nothing but green lights
(25:25) The Violent Femmes - Never tell
Spoodles from Robot hand is the future
(32:51) The Raveonettes - Love in a trashcan
Rick from Are you embarrassed easily?
(36:23) Infernal - From Paris to Berlin
Fraser from BKYLN song of the day
(40:38) Guns n’ Roses - Sweet Child o’ Mine
Andy & James from Circles of Concrete
(46:51) The Fall - Spoilt Victorian Child
Colin from And before the first kiss
(51:55) Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band - Autumn child
Michael from The Yank Sizzler
(56:36) Sufjan Stevens - Sister Winter
Natalie from Mini-Obs

Tune in next week for another episode of musicians presenting their own songs. Tim has tipped me off that it's gonna be a particularly good one...

Since the previous iteration of the CP song chain, I've managed to track down a song that had been awakened from a loooong slumber in my memory. Back in 1988, the Jamaican-born, Brooklyn-bred rap-reggae artist Shinehead released his second album, Unity. At the time I was doing the college radio thaaang ("WGTB - Rocks Like A Mother") and track two of the LP, "Chain Gang Rap," quickly wormed its way into practically every DJ's brain, regardless of their musical inclinations. The song is a charmingly naive, affectionate ode to the New York subway system fashioned over the old Same Cooke clasic, "Chain Gang." Dang, almost makes me feel nostalgic for riding the F train home from school - the sweat, the smells, the intergalactic busker who threatened to keep playing his sax unless he was given enough money to buy a replacement part for his flying saucer...

Shinehead - Chain Gang Rap (buy here)
Sam Cooke - Chain Gang (buy here)