So, my old friend, Elias is putting together a zine of commentaries on mix tapes. One time, Elias put together a zine and I submitted an article about how I had nearly drown myself attempting to masturbate with the bathtub faucet. I think I later wrote about it here. Oh, I did! And, while I don’t think that post’s as funny as what I wrote for Elias, it does recount the story of my Grandma’s Papist conspiracy regarding Catholic boys and sex.
Ha, this blog used to be so good.
Anyway, so the second part of the current submission is to submit commentary on a mix tape you’ve been given. But the only person who ever sends me mix tapes is Elias and I lost them all in the flood. So, I’m kind of stymied on that. I am contemplating writing commentary on the songs on those mix tapes that I then incorporated into my own musical library–you know what I mean? The songs that became not just songs on a mix tape but songs I like independently.
Here’s a snippet of one of them.
Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor.” I don’t know how old I was when Elias sent me this song on tape, but it was on the same tape as Howlin’ Wolf doing “Sittin’ On Top of the World” which is worth every penny you might pay for it just for the way that he says “I had to take Christmas in my overalls” and it sounds like “overhauls” and Muddy Waters singing “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl.”
I know I’d certainly heard Blues music before, but I can’t say I really heard what the bid deal was until those three songs. The thing that kills me about “Killing Floor” is that the drive in the song, the real urgency, is expressed by the drums (which you’d expect) and the piano. The motherfucking piano.
In a song filled with exquisite and talented guitarists.
It takes, I think, real confidence in your own talent and that of your band to trust the pianist. In any popular music of the 20th century anyway. Sure, if you only have piano accompaniment, that’s one thing. Or if you play the piano, Jerry Lee Lewis, that’s another thing (let us note and then never speak of this bizarro duet with Kid Rock). But I was and remain blown away by how Howlin’ Wolf’s songs so expertly use the piano as a vibrant ensemble instrument, one with great rhythm capabilities.
Anyway, I feel like I remember playing the tape in my big gold Caprice Classic, which might have made me still in high school. And I felt like I was hearing some great mystery that had been, until then, hidden from me.
But there it was coming through my speakers, cracking my whole world wide open.
Anyway, needless to say, I’m excited about participating.