Thursday, July 30, 2009
his idea of hot is John Philips Sousa and hula hoops
Sufjan Stevens - trailer for "The BQE" - I don't care what the rocker keep-it-simple lobby is grumbling about over in the corner, I love crazy old Sufjan Stevens and his giant ideas about America. America is a big place with big problems and big things to love. It requires a prism to see it; you can't just look at one thing. You have to go bananas on it like Walt Whitman to get a sense of the place. I can't wait to see the full movie or concerto or whatever "The BQE" is. I love that it is about the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. I love that his idea of hot is John Philips Sousa and hula hoops. I love that Mr. Stevens doesn't compress anything; instead, he spreads it out on his bed and picks through it like a teenage amateur archaeologist.
Van Dyke Parks - Jump (listen) I'll be honest, I can't really get into Van Dyke Parks, despite his being an obvious antecedent to Sufjan Stevens, but I'm perpetually compelled to give him a shot because I am certain he is onto something particular and unique, and the cornball way he goes about it is essential to getting this very important point. Like this 1984 star-spangled banterer about Uncle Remus - it is a bit hard to swallow. It's like if Busby Berkely had made it to the disco era, but once you are inured to it, there are moments of sublime beauty. I adore Ghetto Bells, the album he arranged and co-wrote with Vic Chesnutt, and one can immediately see traces of it in this.
Dizzy Gillespie & His Operatic Strings Orchestra - Jazz in Paris (listen) I say I like the dazzle of America in its kalliedoscpode wonder, but just now I had to sift through email, facebook email, text messages, and all other forms of communication to find a goddamn putt-putt golf birthday party invitation so I could coordinate it with a sleepover and the effect is not unlike having all of Coney Island in the 70's crash on top of you.
You know, Sufjan should do write an opera about Coney Island, get Van Dyke Parks and Stephin Merrit on the case, tap Tim Burton to direct the movie and Johnny Depp to play a carnival barker down on his luck and Jack Nicholson as the ghost of Lawrence Ferlinghetti narrating the whole thing. Meanwhile, I will bask in the warm albumen of lush strings of the Operatic Strings Orchestra and occasional outbursts of Dizzy Gillespie's weird-looking trumpet.