November 2, 2011

Trudging out early this past weekend, I dressed for the morning chill, throwing on comfortable, worn jeans, a heavy, dark blue sweater (which I’m told is actually grey), well broken-in combat boots, and my Belgian army coat.

I didn’t wear a tie, mainly because I don’t own one and the concept puzzles me.

Paloma, who once worked in a fairly posh department store, was pointing out ties on a television program the other day. She wanted me to guess their costs and, each time, my reply was reminiscent of Dustin Hoffman as Rain Man.

“About a hundred dollars.”

To my surprise, I wasn’t far off.

One hundred dollars? For a tie? I could be a land baron in South America for one hundred dollars.

(are other countries still accepting U.S. currency?)

I asked Paloma the purpose that ties serve and was informed that they offer men a way to accessorize.

So, I’m going to choke myself with this cloth noose so that I might have something to bring out the color of my shirt? Who was the sadistic bastard that believed this was a necessity?

If there truly was a need for men to accessorize, why not nail polish? It’s far simpler and non-constrictive.

And colors – I’m not colorblind (I took the test), but Paloma reminds me that the sweater which I mentioned earlier (and have owned for years) is, in fact, not dark blue, but grey.

(if I squint, I see her point)

Of course, it’s probably not grey but slate or something. I suggested to her that colors should have names that are more informative to the average person (or at least entertaining).

What’s a taupe? Is it some kind of fish that is found only near some reef off the coast of Micronesia?

(and are Micronesians really small?)

However, she didn’t seem to think that the color names I suggested were marketable.

I don’t know. I think Pond Scum, Cocoa Puff, Hypothermia, and Open Wound have a certain descriptive quality that taupe lacks.

As for my Belgian Army coat – why do they even have an army?

I’ve never been to Belgium, but I imagine the Belgians to be polite, civilized folks who never squabble (like Flemish-speaking Canadians). Maybe it is to protect the waffles.

I do love waffles, so, perhaps I should enlist. I have one of the coats (it’s green, I think) and I probably wouldn’t have to wear a tie.

Here are four colorful songs…

Aimee Mann – Red Vines
from Bachelor No. 2, or the last remains of the dodo (2000)

Though I loved Voices Carry, ‘Til Tuesday’s Top Ten title hit from their 1985 debut album, I truly came to embrace the band on their next record, Welcome Home. By 1988, the band was essentially down to lead singer Aimee Man on the brilliant swanson Everything’s Different Now.

The group had lost most of their audience, but I eagerly awaited Mann’s solo career which arrived in 1993 with Whatever and was a devoted fan up through Lost In Space almost a decade later.

(I simply never took the time to check out the last few albums)

But the forty or so tracks I own almost always blow me away when one of them shuffles up. Hearing the gorgeous, wistful, melancholic Red Vines is likely going to send me on a ‘Til Tuesday/Aimee Mann listening bender.

(and I couldn’t agree more with this ode to Mann’s greatness from over at the stellar Bottom Of The Glass.

The Beatles – Yellow Submarine
from Revolver (1966)

The Beatles are very, very good.

I’ve come to believe that their existence might be proof of the divine in the universe and that it’s possible that no entity in the history of mankind has brought more joy and happiness to more people than The Beatles.

Tarnation – An Awful Shade Of Blue
from Mirador (1997)

Somehow, with no effort, I came to own a pair of the three albums that the San Francisco, alt-country band Tarnation released. No doubt I snagged them as promos, liked them enough to file away, and promptly forgot about them.

After listening to An Awful Shade Of Blue, I need to revisit them as the song wowed me.

The group issued one album through 4AD and, if you were listening to college radio in the ’80s, you had an idea what to expect when you heard an act signed to the label. An Awful Shade Of Blue features the ethereal vocals of Paula Frazer and a twangy sound that would be ideal for a spaghetti Western.

Hole – Violet
from Live Through This (1994)

I had no interest in Hole in 1994. The sheer drama of Courtney Love exhausted me to the point of disinterest.

But I loved the band’s chainsaw-guitar cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Gold Dust Woman and, then, Hole released Celebrity Skin, their belated, 1998 follow-up to Live Through This, and I was won over.

The album – what I imagine ’70s Cheap Trick might have sounded like had they been a ’90s alternative rock band fronted by a feral frontwoman – is still one of my favorites from the decade.

Celebrity Skin prompted me to give Live Through This a more openminded listen and, though I still prefer the follow-up, the bracing Violet is a corker of a tune.

All The Gold In California (Wasn’t Enough To Keep Larry Gatlin From Flying Southwest)

June 18, 2008

Paloma nudged me as we were checking our bags. “Hey, isn’t that Larry…ummm…Hagman?”

I was puzzled and, in a role reversal, I offered up her standard reply. “Isn’t he dead?”

I’m not sure if Larry Hagman is still among the living or not, but I did finally recognize the gentlemen waiting for the same delayed flight as us. It was country singer Larry Gatlin.

Now, the only song I know by the man is All The Gold In California because it played constantly on the country station to which my parents had tuned the kitchen radio. As for actually being able to visually ID the man, you can chalk that up to years working in record stores and, in fits of boredom, perusing every single album in those stores.

As we munched down some food near our flight’s gate, Larry assumed a position against a post, leaning in posed casualness like some hooker on a street corner.

“Think he wants to be noticed?” Paloma asked.

He got his wish soon enough as another passenger latched onto him like a dog to a soup bone. As Larry had a travel buddy, Paloma and I settled into our seats, ignored the safety lecture, and observed the other famous folks aboard our flight.

Paloma spotted the portly fellow who played Craig on Malcolm In The Middle. Then, she nudged me as a forty-five-going-on-twenty-five year old, bottled blonde took a position across the aisle.

“It’s Betsey Johnson,” Paloma whispered.

“The woman who invented the American flag?” I asked. “Can’t be. She has to be dead.” (OK, I know that was Betsy Ross, but I had no idea who Betsey Johnson was and had to think fast.)

Our flight was turning into an episode of The Love Boat; our cast completed by some busty brunette that Paloma insisted was a porn star. She turned out to be some flight attendant sans official attire (either that or, in an effort to cut costs, Southwest is employing porn stars as part-time help).

In truth, none of these people were any of the people we suspected/accused them of being except for Larry Gatlin. This fact was confirmed as we exited and passed his seatmate who was chattering like a monkey on crack into his cell phone – “I just spent the past two hours with Larry Gatlin…”

Hole – Gold Dust Woman
Personally, I thought the final Hole album, Celebrity Skin, was nearly flawless and I actually prefer their version of this Fleetwood Mac classic to the original (I think it appeared on the sequel to The Crow soundtrack).

Aztec Camera – Working In A Goldmine
I first learned of Roddy Frame when I heard the effervescent Oblivious on 97X out of Oxford, Ohio in high school. I think that I heard Working In A Goldmine on the syndicated show Rock Over London and immediately was smitten with the dreamy song – “glitter, glitter everywere.”

Neil Young – Heart Of Gold
I’m a much bigger fan of Neil’s more grungy material, especially with Crazy Horse and, if I had to choose one album by him I’d likely opt for Freedom, Sleeps With Angels, or Weld, but what’s not to love about Heart Of Gold?

Dire Straits – Love Over Gold
In college, I used to mess around with one of my roommate’s guitar and became so infatuated with the playing of Mark Knopfler, I spent a good six months listening to nothing but Dire Straits. It didn’t make me a guitarist, but I did know every note of their catalog, particularly their finest three albums: Making Movies, Love Over Gold, and Alchemy.