Thursday, October 11, 2007

Songs About the Southland

As many of you probably know, the 2007 Oxford American music issue is out and on the stands, and it’s a good’n. With excellent write-ups about Van Dyke Parks, Betty Davis, Betty Harris, Fred Neil and Mayo Thompson, it’s really worth getting. The accompanying CD is excellent, almost uniformly. There’s also a deep-inside account of the recording of Blonde on Blonde in Nashville by Sean Wilentz. One interesting tidbit: turns out that Joe South, who we’ve celebrated here at the Driftwood Singers Present, played bass on much of Blonde on Blonde.
And fiction writer and former drummer for the Red Crayola, Frederick Barthelme, offers the most entertaining and in-depth retelling of that mysterious band’s curious life.

Ok, so I don't want to do anything that would deter you from going out and getting the thing yourself, so I'll just drop a little "amuse" for the ear. This is Fred Neil's "Little Bit of Rain." I've been obsessed with Neil ever since I heard his song about dolphins on The Sopranos (at the close of the episode with Christopher nodding out during the church festival). I actually remember reading his obit in the NYT back in 2000 or so. He was the writer of "Everybody's Talkin," made famous by Harry Nilsson on the soundtrack to Midnight Cowboy. It's a ubiquitous song, one of those actually great songs -- like "Fly Like an Eagle" or "Brown-Eyed Girl" - that you can in fact start to hate after having heard it so many times for so long. Anyway, Neil hated us (humanity) back, evidently, but he loved dolphins. Neil has one of those crazy expressive baritones, he's like a super-charged Lee Hazlewood.

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