Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Lost favourite:

"True, True, True" by Ken Parker, circa late '60s. I have no idea who the woman pictured on this video is, other than that she is not Ken Parker.

I found this song on a compilation years ago and had it on a favourite spirit-lifting collection of ska, reggae, and rocksteady tracks that I employed many a grim November, but that went missing a while back. Of all the music on it, this was the track I missed the most, and I'm glad to be listening to it again.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Ali Farka Touré - The Source

The first really, really hot Monday morning in June, 2001, I awoke in my apartment from one of those slumbers that seems like it's set to smother you. That summer I was subletting an apartment mostly furnished from a friend of a friend--living with a handful of my belongings in the middle of another person's life-- and while most of the time I was very comfortable there, some days I'd feel sharply aware of how out of place I was. Spat up from sleep, tangled in sweaty sheets and blankets on my thin, hard mattress on the warm hardwood floor of the apartment, I found myself facing one such morning. I kicked off the covers and felt no cooler than I'd been wrapped in fabric. Everything was hot.

I made a pot of stovetop espresso, drank it sitting on the shade-warm fire escape, then rode my bicycle down St Urbain to downtown, where I was working in a video store on Ste Catherine West. By the time I'd ridden ten minutes there, I was slathered in sweat that was soaking its way down from the collar of my shirt. It was overcast, but the sun raged behind the clouds like a blind pimple. I opened the door to the store, took my first sips of air-conditioned air and breathed deeply, feeling the air cool my mouth and nose and lungs.

Anthony was behind the counter, checking in returns and looking haggard. I asked how he was and he groaned that he was hungover. He'd chosen a poor day for that. We processed the returns, shelved them, and put the tags away, before I went across the street to fetch us coffee and croissants. Then we sat at down by the cash. It was 10:30 at the store was quiet; Anthony folded his arms on the counter and rested his head on them. I watched the steam wandering up out of my styrofoam coffee cup, the hot scene of Ste Catherine Street in the window behind me, and reflected that the steam was probably as hot as it was outside. People were moving past in various states of dress and comfortable undress, sweating and self-conscious with the heat. Inside the air was cool and still. I put my head down on the counter too. Nobody came in for a long time and Anthony and I just stayed the way we were, celebrating stillness, both so glad to have a reason to spend eight hours in air-conditioned comfort before having to slink home to stifling apartments.

Somewhere during that chronology, Anthony had put on this Ali Farka Touré album. The quieter we got, the less we moved, the more it insinuated its stillness upon us, gently nodding at us as we relaxed more, soothing us by putting into music the ease and calm we felt in that moment.

Ever since then, this album makes me still, calm, and cool. Tonight, sitting with the cat between the window breeze and the gently ticking ceiling fan, I can't think of a better sound for the end of a sunny Saturday in June.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Not dead, but dead-set on getting a zillion things done.

It's been a crazy couple of months. I'm sorry for the long period without an update. I've had a bit of a rough spring and early summer, but things are looking up, for real. No time to expand on that, but I want to know what I've been crazy about the last little while:

The Kids s/t 1st LP (apparently they'll be playing here in October?!). Perfect rock and roll.

The first Clash album, this time the US release with the ungodly beautiful single-version of "White Riot" and the masterful "(White Man) in the Hammersmith Palais." A perennial favourite, with all the energy and rebellious joy of summer held within it.

John Fahey's Legend of Blind Joe Death, a gentle and soulful folk album that's carried me through some rough times of late.

Oh wow, there's a bunch more but I'm late for work. My apologies for such a rushed post. This is just to say that I'm here, I'm thriving, I've got good music to keep me company, and I hope you're doing well too.