Five Things, Wednesday 3rd September

I read John Banville’s new Philip Marlowe novel, The Black-Eyed Blond
There’s a few minor niggles with some of the vocabulary, and certain phrases cause the modern world to intrude in an otherwise strong evocation of Los Angeles in the early 50s, but I really enjoyed it. It’s set soon after The Long Goodbye and serves up the usual ingredients in a satisfying meal of corruption, drugs and mysterious women. “As I rounded the corner of the house and approached the conservatory, I heard the sound of a piano and stopped to listen. Chopin, I guessed, but I was probably wrong – to me everything on the piano sounds like Chopin. The music, tiny from this distance, seemed heartrendingly lovely, and, well, just heartrending. Imagine, I thought to myself, imagine being able to make a noise like that on a big black box made out of wood and ivory and stretched wires.”

I want Fred Bals’ job
Mick Gold sent me a link to this site. Fred gets to track down Dylan-related things like this: “In July of of 2010, I was commissioned to discover the name of the photographer – and, if possible – locate the original of this photo of Bob Dylan, used as the cover for a mono EP (French CBS EP 6270) released in March, 1966.” My favourite of the three tales of great detectiveness on his blog is this: “I was commissioned about a year ago to see if I could locate a specific photo taken during (actually, after) Dylan’s visit to Andy Warhol’s Factory in 1965.” It’s the story of Andy Warhol’s Double Elvis, a gift to Dylan, who proceeded to get Victor Maimudes to strap it to the roof of his station wagon and drive it to Woodstock. And speaking of Woodstock…

We catch up with our brilliant Woodstock Correspondent…
John C: Greetings from Woodstock, the town where “Woodstock” didn’t happen (but don’t tell that to the tourists that flock here all summer to snatch up tie-dyed t-shirts and and inhale the local vibe). Saw your post about Larry Campbell (who I see around town) and thought I’d check in.

Yesterday, while talking about Australian bass player Tal Wilkenfeld with David Sancious in an Italian restaurant in Woodstock, he told me that Jeff Beck does an amazing Jackie Mason impression – and that he broke it out on the ride back to the hotel after a gig in Tokyo. (I almost apologize for the head-spinning cultural mash up in that sentence, but there it is). btw, who had a better R&R Hall of Fame evening than David S? Inducted and performing with the E Street Band and also playing with Peter Gabriel during his induction  performance, and getting a mid-song shout out, by name, from both Brooce and Gabriel (in “Kitty’s Back” and “In Your Eyes” respectively). While I gushed right in his grill, David was typically gracious about the whole thing. Said that the HBO broadcast allotted everybody two songs, so “The River” and, regrettably, a terrific version of “Digging In The Dirt” went un-televised.

Was hunched over, doodling on a placemat  at an otherwise empty bar a few weeks back when Donald Fagen came in to pick up some takeout. Afterwards I asked the 22-year-old bartender if it’s exciting when that kind of thing happens. “What, when a guy comes in for takeout?” she said. No idea at all. The name Steely Dan also drew a blank – “So is his name Don or Dan?” Next time I saw her, she  related (somehow triumphantly I think), that David Bowie was in few days later, and that she had to be told who he was after he left as well. Christ, I’m old.

Same place the other night was introduced to Eric Kaz (“Cry Like a Rainstorm” and “Love has No Pride” – that one written with Libby Titus, Fagen’s wife and Levon’s ex etc…) Seemed like a funny, humble guy. I won’t even get into my wife walking the dog this past weekend, when a mom (Amy Helm it turns out)  playing in the yard with her kids, flagged her down to ask about Golden Retrievers. She’s thinking of getting one to scare off the bears, who have become a nuisance around here this summer. Never even mind locals Jack DeJohnette and Sonny Rollins dining at the Red Onion, or Happy Traum or…

Anyhow, to a guy that hasn’t seen live music in years and who rarely even leaves the house, it seem like musicians are coming out of the woodwork (or, more accurately, the woods) up here. Hey, did I mention seeing Milton Glaser at the Bear Cafe? Now there’s  a Rock Star…” John adds: “Feel free to share, but don’t make me come off as a craven celeb whore.” Heaven forfend, John, this is just excellently interesting.

We visit the Abba Museum in Stockholm
As weird as you may expect it to be. Through the gift shop (which, for extra profit, is by both the entrance and the exit) with its SOS Elastoplast packs and Honey, Honey jars of, well you know what (although the missing third Honey unaccountably annoyed me). Then you’re into a Swedish Folkfest forest where you get the early bios of Benny, Bjorn, Agnetha and Anni-Frid, before arriving at the “Eurovision” Star Guitar and a roomset of Polar Studios – the piano on the far left of the photo is twinned to Benny’s in his home studio and plays in the museum when he plays at home – I know, bonkers! Must be troubling for the nighttime security guards. Their writing cabin on an island in the archipelago is also featured, as is that fantastic piece of graphic invention, the reversing of the first B, seen here in a fine sign. You can mix their records, sing along with the backing tracks, and appear on stage with a holographic Abba. There is a circular room which has record covers from their entire career (and the gold discs they earned) lining the walls while their costumes glitter away in curved glass cases. It’s not for the faint-hearted.

Abba

…and watch the Homeland Season 4 trailer
This time Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin are joined by Corey Stoll, last seen as Peter Russo in the exceptional House Of Cards, playing the US Ambassador to Pakistan. There’s Harvest-era acoustic, bass and drums on the soundtrack for this one, as Emily Jane White’s “Hole In The Middle” tells us: “Everybody’s got a little hole in the middle/Everybody does a little dance with the devil…”

Extra! Accompanying my mother on an MRI appointment
…there’s a choice of music whilst you lay down in the clattering contraption. Anyone for Blood On The Tracks or Born To Die?

MRI

 

Comments

  1. The detail about Benny’s piano in the Abba musuem is brilliant and bonkers.

    • But, I suspect, it will be like all those shiny gee-gaws that get green-lighted in the excitement of designing an exhibition like this, and will not actually work past the testing stage…

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