Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Pack-It-In Paradigm, Pt. 1

One of my favorite lyrics is from the Rogers and Hart song, "Mountain Greenery." Bing Crosby does a beautiful version. Here are the lyrics:

On the first of May
This is moving day
Spring is here, so blow your job-
throw your job away

Now's the time to trust
To your wanderlust
In the city's dust you wait
Must you wait?
Just you wait ...

I can't wait! But ... wait for what? What happens next?

Well, think of it: You've thrown your job away. You've headed to the Mountain Greenery. Now you're wandering. You're getting fresh air, clearing your head, breathing deep, examining the flora and fauna. Then maybe one day you're alone in the woods, miles and hours and many leaf-trodding foot-steps from the CNN-addled world. As Bob Marley sang, There’s a natural mystic blowing through the air; If you listen carefully now you will hear.

And then you hear it.

Little Wings, aka Kyle Field, heard it. And now he's singing it. His is the music of one man gone off the reservation for good: a rustic surfer poet -- three-quarters Walt Whitman, one quarter Jeff Spicoli -- who is tapping the mystic American folkways piped to us through Harry Smith's 78's.

"So What?" from the album Magic Wand, is a rambling piano meditation on the fatalism inherent in the mountain greenery lifestyle. It's gorgeous, lush and tricky. Tricky? In this ironic/post-ironic see-saw world, nothing is as it appears, just as it never was.

Like Charlie Poole and Bascom Lamar before him, Little Wings is both a weird folk specimen found like a rare and exquisite sea shell on the beach -- and a self-mythologizing artist with a Barnum & Bailey wink. On the one hand, Kyle Fields can, with the help of a game reporter for Arthur magazine, construct a fake hippie persona and language, pretend to live in a paper tee-pee on a beach near Malibu and sport fake Indian clothing for photographers. (This he did. His surf-mystic greeting to the reporter upon meeting him: "Grow.") On the other hand, he's also a true visionary artist with real-life visions.

His flip lyricism -- these lines that seem tossed off as part of a quasi-homeless jibber-jabber -- is, upon examination, careful, deft, deep. It's poetry: Before the land came, after an ice age, favorite songs grew from smokey young rock caves.

He knows what you're thinking. Is this bullshit? And in a single all-encompassing and somehow weirdly life-affirming reply, he answers every possible question you may have about his meaning, motive, authenticity and origin: So what?

Okay, I quit.

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