Saturday, June 4, 2011

Musical Interlude ~ Bizarre Remnants of the Past

The music of the times between now and then seems to be hanging out in my head today. These cuts in particular. The first is The Alan Parsons Project, from Tales of Mystery and Imagination, their 1976 album tribute to Edgar Allen Poe, The System of Dr Tarr and Professor Fether. Parsons worked on Abbey Road and Let it Be, as well as  Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon as sound engineer, and co-wrote and built the tunes on this album with a Scots lawyer-musician named Eric Woolfson. Kind of sums up in a different way the message of Life in the Fast Lane Henley & the boys from the Eagles were peddling in California.

"...and the night goes on forever / then you might / change like the weather / you're in need of Dr Tarr and Professor Fether..."

Have to slip in my favorite Eighties dance band, The Talking Heads, of whose snarky and surreal delivery so many bands now partake, doing their classic Life During Wartime. The lyrics are political, topical and quite decent --you can read them here.  I like this live TV version for its garage band psychedelic guitar breaks provided by Adrian Belew (King Crimson.) I remember when I could make it through this whole song dancing my ass off without having to take a break--*sigh*--

"...Burned all my notebooks, what good are notebooks?/They won't help me survive/My chest is aching, burns like a furnace,/the burning keeps me alive..."

Last up is my fave pity-party song,  Losing my Religion, from R.E.M.'s 1991 album Out of Time.  I've chosen a live version from 1991 as the music video one is  way too over the top and syruppy for my tastes. This one lets the lyrics come through for the straight-up, (albeit somewhat gooshy & melodramatic) poetry they are. The combination of the crowd echo dully surging in the background and Michael Stipe's goatlike vibrato on the vocal makes it sound like it's being sung from one of the lower circles of hell (which can only add, imo):

"Life is bigger, bigger than you, and you are not me / who thinks that I can go to / the distance in your eyes..."


  1. I LOVE that Poe thing that Alan parsons did! The song you've chosen inspired me to actually go read the original story, a delightful little tale in which the inmates have taken over the asylum, as I'm sure you know. I recall Arthur brown sang about The Tell-Tale Heart, and there was a song I liked about The cask Of Amontillado (sp?) too.

    I love Adrian Belew.

    Great interlude, Witch!

  2. ok must admit i did not know this album, but sounds fascinating...REM and Talking heads though i do you think they sing REM in that gets old...

  3. You know I'm a stone Poe addict, so yes, I also loved it, and frankly not much else they did, (though the I, Robot album wasn't bad.) Their version of The Raven on that album was good, too.

    I actually just finished dancing through the Talking Heads cut--though not, I'm afraid, with quite the verve of my younger days--but I did make it. Still panting...

    Glad you liked.

  4. @ Brian--why do you think they call it Hell?

  5. The Poe piece is marvelous! And I have to agree with you on the REM song (in close competition with You Belong to the Night for me).

    Enjoyed this post, as it gave me the energy to go mow the lawn!

  6. There is NOTHING better than a pity party!!

  7. How did I not know the Poe thing...I warn, there may be a future 55 if I can figure how to fashion ~ big fan of Poe.
    REM ~ yes, chain smoked to this album (partial to Night Swimming) lamenting about my life (year I graduated), oh the angst of Stipe (did see him in concert that year, great front man). Glad I saw your tweet, this has been a fun go, cheers ~

  8. Awesome tunes. The Alan Parsons Project "Tales of Mystery and Imagination" was one of the first albums I ever bought (after wearing out my one of my brother's).


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats

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