Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I was born in the wagon of a travellin' show

Don't want to do the tedious post about why I'm not posting, so here's some content! With Bonus Cher! Hurray!

• The great bathroom disaster of 2008 is oh-so slowly being fixed... We've filed an insurance claim on the damage to the house, so cross fingers we might get somewhere with that, and the plumbing damage is due to finally be fixed tomorrow. In the meantime, I've scaled back my "this is a global disaster" point of view and taken happy pills, remembered it's just an excuse to remodel the bathroom, no one died, and we're enduring plastic tarps in the shower and not noticing the bathtub is barely affixed to the floor!

Photobucket• Read the nifty Phil Spector biography, "Tearing Down The Wall of Sound: The Rise And Fall of Phil Spector," by Mick Brown, and came away with a new appreciation – and disgust – with the legendarily weird record producer. Years ago I had an affinity for the ultra-stuffed sweet sound of tunes like "Be My Baby," "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" or "Unchained Melody" (I was a teenager during the summer of "Ghost" after all). The best of Spector is like impossibly rich chocolate cake – so sweet and overpowering but still stings you where it counts. In some ways I wonder if the "Wall of Sound" was a one-trick pony, a kind of approach that never much worked past the '70s, although you see hints of the Spector touch in groups today like Arcade Fire. My personal favorite Spector work is his solo Beatles' production jobs on John Lennon's "Imagine" and "Plastic Ono Band" and especially his work on George Harrison's marvelous "All Things Must Pass." His touch could be cloying and too much Spector is like eating a dozen Pixie Sticks – how many soaring choirs and chiming guitars can we get in? – but Brown's book is fascinating as it shows how Spector developed that influential sound and the monomaniacal focus that it required. Clearly (as if his ongoing murder trial didn't show) Spector is a very sick, creepy man despite his talent – after 1968 or so, he was creatively pretty much washed up, past his peak and has spent the last 40 years trying to make a comeback, locked up in the prison of his own head. And wearing freaky wigs. Whatever you think of the man – and I have to admit I don't think a lot – there's an epic grandeur to some of those songs you can't ignore.

• Unabashedly stolen from Big Plastic Patrick: What was the #1 song the day you were born? Find out. Me? "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves," by Cher. Which is where my blog headline today comes from. It is perhaps the finest moment of Cher's life. And I'm counting the Oscar there.

On the other hand, my son Peter will grow old knowing the #1 song on the day in 2004 he was born was... "Slow Jamz" by Twista featuring Kanye West & Jamie Foxx. And this is why everything new is awful.

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