Saturday, September 25, 2004

Heroin And Sterner Stuff

For the past couple days, I've had two songs going through my head. I don't sing in the shower much (which is probably why I'm still married), but yesterday I found myself singing Warren Zevon's "Carmelita," of all things:

Carmelita, hold me tighter
I think I'm sinking down
And I'm all strung out on heroin
On the outskirts of town
There's nothing like starting the day with an upbeat tune like that! My regular readers (hi Mom!) may recall that I wrote about this song during the second last day of my cross-country bike tour. I recently heard Flaco Jimenez's excellent version with Dwight Yoakum. An online review amusingly notes that Yoakum fans will have to buy Jimenez's album to hear it since country radio wouldn't dare play it.

I've also had Procol Harum's "In The Wee Small Hours Of Sixpence" going through my head:
And if grief is not the reason
He must be of sterner stuff
And his sword though old and rusty
Must be blunt as sharp enough
I was introduced to Procol Harum in high school by a friend who had great taste in sixties music but deranged taste in everything else (in particular, he was fascinated with Charles Manson). The band is best known, of course, for the intriguing "A Whiter Shade Of Pale." I was pleasantly surprised to find an extensive fan site about the band (including pages and pages about their biggest hit). Procol Harum's lyrics were mostly written by a poet (Keith Reid) rather than a musician, which explains why many of them are challenging to explicate (Matthew Fisher, whose Hammond organ was an integral part of "A Whiter Shade Of Pale," considers this an especially American pursuit). "Sixpence" is somewhat obscure; it was a single available in the U.S. on only The Best Of Procol Harum for many years. The song is described there as "a vigorous, imaginative view of some of life's mysteries," which doesn't really explain anything. I haven't listened to that record (yes, I have it on vinyl) in years, but I have a feeling I'll be playing it this weekend.

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