Wednesday, April 04, 2007

I'll come for dinner if you'll have me

Greetings, word urchins.'s been too long...

Yes, let's just leave it at that, shall we? Good lord, what are we talking, three months? Five? Six? Maybe. How have you been? Me, oh, I've been well. Busy, let's put it that way. You look good. Healthy, like you're starting to get some sun with spring starting to spring about. What can I say, I've missed you, I think. Maybe, anyway. I've missed me, more to the point, and maybe the me that I'm thinking of has a more to do with typing and dropping words and a little less to do with the paralyzing That surrounding the dayjob and other interconnected distractions which has been swallerin' me whole for the last couple of months.

So I've come back to the words. Don't get me wrong, I've been doing some heavy lifting of late and been lucky enough to contribute some decent stories to some quality pages, but the last couple of weeks things have been quiet. Too quiet, as the craggy cowboy with eyes like Ernest Borgnine would say. True that.

And I didn't think I'd miss this, to be honest, and maybe I don't. Or won't. But even so, you know, you show up at the podium, you best have something to say, which usually a spot where I drop some mp3 love on you guys. But that's the tricky part. I took on an emusic subscription recently, and I'm not entirely convinced this is a good thing. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE it, I can't cancel it, and frankly I'm a little terrified of all these rumors of their being bought out and maybe even shuttered given how much music they've given me at a decent rate. But that's just it. It's 65 songs. Per month. For going on five months--and say, just about as long as it's been since I've stopped showing up here now that I think about it.

And this had added up to 63 different artists since October, and probably around 50 albums. I comb their new releases and, especially, their older releases--things I've never gotten around to exploring but always wanted to and with technology now CAN at some twenty-odd cents a song--or even less if I get some obscenely long song from someone like Glenn Branca or Tom Carter or something. Wonderful. I ponder what to download, how to maximize my enjoyment of what seems like a small allowance per month. My collectivist brain hums with cheerful delight at the prospect.


I've taken in so much music, and have drank from so many different cups that, that, that, now it's like something's missing. (Will Sheff from Okkervill River wrote about this phenomenon far more eloquently than I'm about to, and the article probably exists somewhere around here.) I have full access to the library of Babel and now that I do, these precious commodities now are less precious. I acquire, collect, hear, and move on to the next prize because, after all, I've got 65 of these things to burn through per month and if you don't download something you LOSE these credits and there's just . . . .all . . . this . . . music I haven't heard yet. So I listen to The No Neck Blues Band. Twice. I sink into Ornette Coleman's latest. Once. I marvel at Keith Fullerton Whitman's way around evoking an icy, dreamlike landscape for me to close my eyes against. Then I'm on to the next thing, not really absorbing, not really getting to know these records because after all, that takes time, and as convenient and marvelous as our mp3 iPod portable digital music toaster age is, taking time is not what it's about. The whole system is predicated on the fact you're mobile, you've got shit to do, you're probably going to be DOING it while you're LISTENING. Who has time to sit in a room and do nothing but listen anymore?

So I haven't yet given up on CDs, that's where the investment lies--which, oddly, is probably an argument that vinyl-heads would give me for why they never moved up to the CD. As hastened and comparitively impure the ritual is of putting on a CD as compared with an album, it is my ritual, and the one that leaves more of an impression, somehow, than plugging little rubber nubbins into my ears and absorbing Bang On A Can while trying to work.

I don't really have a song that fits here.

But: "The Blizzard of '77" by Nada Surf

This track is not an exclusive. It's not something you haven't seen at 12 other blogs by now because, well, it's a damn good song and that's what people do. If you haven't taken the hint yet to download it, you really aught to, and then you probably should go buy the album. That's what I did.

Friend of mine talked this band up, and if this is your first time hearing of Nada Surf since the '90s novelty "Popular," you're doing what I'm doing. Wondering, well, what the fuck, over? Marissa told me they had a quality that she thought had been missing from music recently, and this is someone who spent $50 on a used album by an obscure '80s band whose name now escapes me. So, based on that recommendation, I trolled the hype machine and sought what I'd been missing in the, oh, three years (at the time) since this album came out. This song is the first one I grabbed. Yes, this very file, so whatever blogger out there who passed this along, thank you.

Anyway, how are you going to go wrong with a title like that? I remember the blizzard of '77, or at least I think I do (I grew up in Ohio, there were several blizzards). During one of them my brother and I dug a snow tunnel from the back door to the middle of the yard, and though that's all I really remember, something about this song sort of captures the feeling of being bundled up, pushed against an icy wall and just feeling where you are. The guitar is churning, paranoid, and the vocals are soft, coated in some sort of permafrost as the narrator sings about a blizzard and cars buried in snow at first, and what feels like the end of a relationship next. Then that chorus -- But in the middle of the night I worry, it's blurry even without light -- comes in like a sigh and sounds so lonely, so sad, so full of regret, that I'm going to do a goddamned lyrical pullquote. But the last lines finish it off, after only two minutes, and a whole Raymond Carver shortstory feels like it's gone by. Then it's gone, disappeared into a drift.


At 6:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

May I ask you, where did you get the name for you blog 'Bark in the dark'?

At 6:02 PM, Blogger chris said...

Sure (and sorry for the delay) -- I actually have no idea where the name came from. When I started this silly thing I was attracted to the notion that it was essentially me yelling into an empty room about whatever came to mind. Just a voice in the distance without a listener. A few seconds later a nonsense rhyme and malnourished blog was born.

By the way, sorry to whomever used to come here and see what was spilling out of my brain at the moment. I'm not ready to say this thing's dead--not yet--but it's no doubt extremely sleepy. Maybe it'll come back soon...maybe not. But either way, thank you for reading.


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