Granted, I’m not through the whole thing, but I eagerly await it every year and I am always vaguely unsatisfied in the same way by the issue itself.
See, here’s the thing. The music is always so damn interesting. It’s not always good, but it’s always one after another of “What the fuck am I hearing?” And, in the best years, once the novelty has worn off, you’re left with some songs you want to hear for the rest of your life, like, for instance, “Grits ain’t Groceries.” Will there ever be a day when you don’t want to hear “Grits ain’t Groceries?” I hope not.
So I finally broke down and bought the issue last night because I couldn’t wait any longer and it is apparently never coming to work where I can steal it (though, you know, I say that and it will be here today). And I sat in the parking lot way down by PFChang’s ejecting CDs from my car stereo while impatient shoppers honked and their cars steamed throught the streams of their headlights all hoping to get my spot when I left, if I left, and finally, I get the CDs in and I pull out and I’m listening.
And I’m thinking “Neko Case?! What the fuck? When did she become Southern?” Which I believe would be the question on anyone’s mind when that song came on and yet, in the magazine, there’s a story about how her red hair is like foxes. Fine. And nice and funny about how the author gets self-conscious about writing about hair and foxes. But it didn’t tell me what I needed to know at that moment, which was the answer to “Neko Case?! What the fuck?” I mean, don’t get me wrong, I went along with it, because I’m sure some fool somewhere thinks Tiny Cat Pants is a blog reflective of the life of some particular Southern girl and the blurring of that truth also tickles me.
But, more importantly–and granted, I’m not even through the whole first CD yet–was the bigger “What the fuck?!” moment that delighted me so much I was almost afraid to listen to it again for fear that it might not be true.
Ella Fitzgerald singing “Sunshine of Your Love.”
It sounds like the TSU marching band has crammed into a tiny jazz club and is trying to play nice, but what’s the use of having all those horns if you’re not going to hear the bite of the brass? And then you have Fitzgerald singing like she might have used to have known all the words to the song ten years ago, but she’s going to have to fake it some.
But her voice! Oh god, her voice is like smooth ice on a warming lake, just cracking and letting go of the shore.
And so, when you listen to it, it’s the sonic equivalent to that marching band setting out over that ice, which seems solid enough, but it’s March (ha! March), so you don’t know and will everyone make it to the other side in one piece?
And they do! And it’s just so fucking delightful. And I listened to it twice and the whole way through I was like “What the fuck? What the fuck is this?!”
I don’t know. I came home and tore open the magazine and the story about Ella Fitzgerald seems to be about some guy and his lost love and there’s nothing about marching or ice or just what it means to listen to that song.
It’s fine writing, beautiful writing.
But, oh my god, it’s not about this song and that just seems like such a squandered opportunity.