I Listened to You and I Heard You

So, the folks over at The 9513 point us to the new Johnny Cash video.  It’s a remix of “Folsom Prison Blues.”

And I’m just going to state for the record that it’s terrible.  There are many reasons why it’s terrible–the “remixing” adds nothing to the song, just some syncopated rhythms and a busy mishmash of noise that sounds mostly taken from a typewriter; the remixing doesn’t tell you anything new about the song; the difference in recording quality between the original and the added pieces is too great to go by unnoticed, but seems to, etc. etc. etc.

But here’s the main problem, as I see it (and I’m hoping some of you DJs will advise me if I’m off-course), but it seems to me that, if you’re going to do this type of remix, the point is to bring new artistic ears to the song, to say to the song “I listened to you and I heard you” and then for you to take your artistry to it and to make from it something new, something you have added your vision to.

In what way is this remix anything other than the equivalent of Pete Rock banging a tambourine in his basement along with a record?  In what way do you listen to that and feel like Rock’s addition has made a new song?

The thing of it is, I think, that it’s hard to hear “Folsom Prison Blues” as anything other than the iconic song it is.  I mean, I sympathize with Pete Rock in this case.  You hear the song and you think, “Wow, that’s a classic” as if “classic” means immutable.  But, of course, immutablility and remixing are opposites.  In order to remix the song, you have to start from the premise that this is not the only configuration the song might take, that it can be broken down, reconstituted, and redone in such a way that it is something new.

And thinking that about an iconic song is difficult, I’d imagine.

But this?  This with almost nothing added or changed?  With a video that’s designed to say “Vaguely old fashioned”?  I mean, what’s the purpose of that?  To give CMT an excuse to put Cash on the air?  I don’t know.  But I don’t like it.  It feels like a total failure of the whole art of remixing.

Thoughts, I Got ‘Em

1.  I just read Coates quoting Sullivan

…self-confident political groupings seek converts – look at Obama. Failed and failing political groupings seek to punish and list heretics.

and was thinking, “Well, then, shit, by that standard, all Tennessee has are failed and failing political groups” when I saw that Vibinc seems to have reached a similar conclusion by a different path.

The culprit in both cases, a long held sense on the part of individuals in both parties that Patronage and Privilege somehow in some way protected them from the unwashed masses that ultimately hold the key to their success.

The uprising isn’t party specific, it’s specifically a reaction to the privilege and patronage that follows an organization that has lost its way. Tennessee has the pleasure of being served by two such organizations, both political parties.

What to make of that?  I don’t know.

2.  I’m tired of defending Lynn, who I despise as a legislator, but Jesus Christ.  She seems to me to be the only person in this whole sordid affair who is actually acting like a real person with no agenda.  She did what she thought was the best thing.  She also, for reasons I don’t comprehend, wanted to keep this whole thing private and now finds that she can’t.  And she wants to be an active participant in her own life–“I don’t want to be treated like an object. I want to be treated like a professional, like a peer. That’s all I was asking for.”–(And I’m sorry, but that breaks my heart.)–which means that, for herself, she has to figure out how to act like a professional, like a leader.  So, yeah, it means she’s going to speak when she said she wasn’t going to.  She may have been pissed at Williams and also friendly with him.  So what?  She’s making her way as she goes.

I don’t like her, but I’m rooting for her to find her way.

3.  I am not sure where the proper comparison might be made, but I feel like comparing District 3 to District 19 doesn’t really tell you much about an urban/suburban divide because District 3 is not exactly suburban.  It’s a weird mix of urban/”rural” (or what passes for rural in this county.  As of yet, we don’t have any big box stores.  No chain restaurants.  No national grocery stores.  Shoot, the hardware store by my house only takes cash.  There’s nothing here (yet) that makes this area a recognizeably suburban area.  On the other hand, the southern parts of the District are closely tied to Bordeaux.  In fact, it seems clear that the bottom border of District 3 bisects neighborhoods (and I wonder in some cases, if that wasn’t intentional–to try to make everything north of Briley “safe” for whites).  So the more neighborhood-like parts of our district (meaning areas with discernable blocks and small lots and side streets you can walk on or play in), which are more heavily populated, are predominately black.  No surprise then, that the district went for Obama.  But the rural areas are predominately old white people, who are more likely to come out to vote on a special election day.

So, it makes sense to me that the general election would handily go to Obama, but the special election would more narrowly go to English only.  I’m not sure what that tells you in a comparison between the two districts, though, because I think the two districts may have more in common than they do in comparison.