My Movie
So the initial idea behind this was to create a soundtrack to an imaginary movie using only material that I already had uploaded on my iTunes. I usually have somewhere round 3 days worth of stuff uploaded, so that in and of itself doesn't seem that limiting, but it's strange how much you realize is missing once you hunker down and start trying to establish a mood. But I stuck with this particular constraint for the entirety of the mix, while the idea of fitting it all into some kind of loose narrative fell by the wayside about halfway through. Still in all I was pretty happy with the finished results in that it pulled from a fairly wide range of sources and yet did manage to establish a fairly consistent mood and flow. So without further ado here's the annotated track listing for My Movie.

1) Come Tomorrow- Townes Van Zandt- I'm not familiar with all of Townes' material but based on what I do know this would get my vote for his most beautiful song. Particularly impressive is the way the lyric line hangs on the lovely melody- "could it be the seasons changing, the winds of winter rearranging, all the trees like fallen queens of sorrow" and "it's strange how many torture mornings, fell upon us with no warning, looking for a smile to beg or borrow" which is followed by the crux of the song in "it's over now there's no returning, a thousand bridges sadly burning, like the way I'll have to walk alone, come tomorrow." Where better to begin our story than with the end of something big, leave out specifics and just deal with the aftermath.

2) Hypnotique- Martin Denny- Moving from a melancholy mood of loss into something more mysterious but no less contemplative- mysterious more in a Blake Edwards sort of way than Hitchcock. 'Hypnotique' features a slow moving simple piano figure over some deep percussion with a Sitar in the background that gives it all a vaguely Indian light psychedelic feel.

3) What's Next to the Moon- AC/DC- Shifting gears rather suddenly, sort of like waking up from a deep sleep with a head full of speed. I guess we could say the protagonist of the story is coming out of a period of mourning and isolation with maybe a little more of a psychotic edge than is desirable. This song, from AC/DC's indispensable Powerage is most definitely a late 1970's muscle car anthem made for cruising the suburban streets at night, a little loaded and with some bad ideas in your head, shades of Travis Bickle mixed with Dazed and Confused's Wooderson. Bon Scott era AC/DC is all high potency hard rock boogie music with Bon's incredibly strange voice and lyrical updates of blues themes, albeit from a Scottish street punks perspective. File them with DLR era Van Halen as crucial late 70's hard rock.

4) Aubade- Ben Watt- 51 seconds of creepiness- a piano plays in an empty room. These kind of short instrumental interludes are great for mix c.d.'s. Conjures the mood of Terence Malick's masterpieces Badlands and Days of Heaven. Hey if you're gonna make a movie you might as well aim high. You can almost hear the Sissy Spacek voiceover in your head.

5) Nine Pound Hammer- The Beau Brummels- From the Brummels' Triangle album, half of which is really great stuff, the other half gets bogged down in annoying psych whimsy. The Brummels were from San Francisco but they sound more like a great LA band. Disc Jockey Sly Stone produced some of their early sides. They never made a consistently great album but there are plenty of high points along the way.

6) Girl's Imagination- The Del/Byzanteens- Jim Jarmusch's old band back in his No Wave Nuevo York days. I think I read that he is somewhat embarrassed by this stuff, but he shouldn't be (ok maybe the band name) as it stands up with the best from that era. "She imagined that they took her in a white car", from our narrative perspective this might be exploring the background of the recently departed- the significant other of our protagonist. I do believe I got this on a compilation called Anti NY, which has some other crucial material from the downtown early 80's scene as well.

7) Desert Afternoon- Billy Liar Presents- This has somewhat strange origins as I got it from a CDR that was mailed to me anonymously- it came with no info other than the name Billy Liar Presents and the song titles. This instrumental features two acoustic guitars strumming and plucking in turn a whimsical little melody that might be the sonic equivalent of long afternoons spent round the house naahthing to do.
8) Bill Drummond Said- Julian Cope- I think there's already plenty of info about Bill Drummond on this site. This is from Cope's Fried album, which is a highlight of his spotty discography. I'll take his pop stuff but leave the uh_ rock. Gotta admire his moxy though and the way he jumps with both feet into whatever he's into, here he rubs shoulder with Louis Reed and his repertoire of Said songs.

9) The Perfect Man- Sun Ra- Goofy almost flatulent moog stuff behind a catchy little horn riff. Low-Fi soundtrack jazz anticipating and besting the Lounge Lizards at the same time. Roughly five minutes of Ra playfully exploring his synth like a lhappy little kid with a new toy. It's on the Sun Ra singles two disc set that came out sometime in the 90's. Yep that's right Sun Ra released singles, God bless him.

10) Another Green World- Brian Eno- Again these type of short instrumental pieces really spice up a mix c.d. particularly ones with cinematic pretensions. Eno, along with Neil Young, was the artist of the 1970's making nary a misstep while tossing off multiple and varied masterpieces at an alarming rate during that much maligned decade. Actually I'm not sure if the 70's are underrated anymore, might have already been reevaluated extensively enough.

11) Mean to Me- Lester Young- Kerouac wrote some of his best lines when writing about Lester and really even better when trying to approximate Lester's sound with his words. For instance "in the loneliness of my life, my father dead, my brother dead, my mother far away_. my sister and my wiiiife far away_ nothing here but my own tragic hands that once were guarded by a world of sweet attention, but now are left to guide and disappear their own way into the common dark of all our death." That lazy but graceful line that extends and falls in the most unexpected places illuminating hidden corners of experience not previously thought possible to capture and communicate. Occupying a space where words/sounds don't represent or even describe an emotion so much as become it. Anyway they were both sentimental romantics in love with existence but not for a moment forgetting how joy and suffering are two sides of the same coin and that beautiful sadness of Buddha's first and second noble truths haunted them.

12) Sea of Love- Cat Power- Chan Marshal has a unique voice, but her ability to write melodies is poor to say the least and consequently her covers record is easily the best thing she's done. It's hard to go wrong with a song this great.

13) Hana Maui- Chick Floyd and his Orchestra- Yep I got this from one of those ultra lounge compilations, which have some lovely things on them. This starts out as a caravanesque thematic jazz piece and then breaks into what sounds like an early 1950's sitcom theme later the song introduces some faux Hawaian sounds. It's all over the place but it all makes sense.

14) Relax- Elvis- From the movie It Happened at the World's Fair, that's right I watch the Elvis movies so you don't have to! Anyway great song, great sequence in the movie with Yvonne Craig, who went on to play Batgirl in the Batman TV series and whom Elvis was dating at the time. 'Relax' is Elvis on the seduction tip early 1960's style. As for Elvis's best 60's films, this wouldn't make my list, of course never is one speaking more relative than when speaking of the best Elvis movies. The ones from the late 50's are almost all great, in the 60's when things started to go on autopilot it's the more kitschy ones with best budgets (shrinking rapidly by the mid 1960's) and tunes that win out. Personally I like Fun in Acapulco, Viva Las Vegas and Spinout the best, but I have yet to see them all and they all have their charms. Easy Come Easy Go sounds promising as it features Beatniks prominently and Elvis doing a tune called 'Yoga is as Yoga Does.'

15) Sean Flynn- The Clash- The Clash's ode to Errol Flynn's son Sean who in 1970 while taking photos as a war correspondent disappeared into the jungles of Vietnam never to be seen again. He was believed to have been captured and executed by the Vietcong__ or maybe he did a Kurtz. This song is another remarkable product of the Clash's infatuation with Vietnam era as reflected in the pop culture of the time, particularly movies like Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now! and Taxi Driver (that's right its got a subtle Vietnam angle in that Travis had been in the Marines). 'Sean Flynn' is a masterpiece of atmosphere with deep percussion, reverberating saxophone and lots of other strange sounds floating in and out of the ambient mix with a perfect ultra concise lyric by Strummer on top.

16) The Castle- Love- From the mighty Da Capo album the first side of which is the best thing Love ever waxed. Nice acoustic guitar figure and a rolling bass line but lyrically I have no idea what Arthur Lee is on about here. "Going back to mother, leaving on the double, think I'll go to Mexico."
17) Could This Be Magic? - Van Halen- One of those acoustic numbers that David Lee Roth obviously enjoyed pulling out of his bag every once in a while, but this one although light hearted is no mere novelty tune, it's a damn well written song. With a chorus worthy of a Brecht/Weil collaboration "Could this be magic, or could this be love, could this turn tragic, you know that magic often does, and I see lonely ships upon the water, better save the women and children first, sail away with someone's daughter, better save the women and children first". It's on Van Halen's third album, Women and Children First.

18) Love in Outer Space- Sun Ra- Another song from the Sun Ra singles collection a swinging little number featuring a nice vocal.

19) Lament for a Trapped Spy- Gerald Fried- From a compilation of music from The Man From U.N.C.L.E. series. This song sounds very similar to Harlem Nocturne and there's nothing wrong with that.

20) Coffin Nails- MF DOOM- An instrumental from the producer/rapper formerly known as Zev Love who was one part of the great early 90's trio KMD. Doom is the most interesting thing going in hip-hop these days, nothing else sounds like his stuff, though there is a slight similarity to early RZA, Doom's production is much more eclectic overall. He chops up a lot of beats from 80's Hip-Hop and loops a hell of a lot of unexpected 80's R&B which gives his music a great old school flavor as well as a bit of a homemade low-fi sound. His obsession with Silver Age of Marvel Comics plays into every angle of his music from cover art, to his name, lyrics and samples from old cartoons and superhero records. But his infatuation with comics and use of the Doom name seems deeper than most rappers dabbling in aliases as the comic book Dr. Dooms literal disfigurement and retreat behind a mask parallels Zev Love's own mental scarring from the death of his brother Sub Roc (also a member of KMD) and his resurfacing a good 4 or 5 years later behind a new personae. All of his instrumental c.d.'s are like candy and his first c.d. Operation Doomsday and Viktor Vaughn are the two best overall. But everything he does, which is a lot, is worth checking into.

21) My Fault- Faces- This ones from Ooh La La the last and best Faces album. Some people can't get past Rod Stewart's late 70's turn for the worse and thus anything remotely associated with him has cooties. But the Faces were undeniably great, they did that loose but together rock thing just as anybody and their vibe in general seemed more authentic and good natured than the Stones. Even the apparent misogyny of something like 'Stay with Me' seems to be poking fun at the self loathing hiding right beneath the surface of such feelings.

22) She Belongs to Me- Rick Nelson- Rick Nelson sings this song straight and sincere, which I doubt was Dylan's original intention, but this version is almost better than Dylan's because of the sincerity Rick brings to the lyric. Nelson had a wonderful voice, a straightforward warm singing style that made everything he sung sound relaxed and effortless. Dylan dug him too as confirmed by his recent disjointed but enjoyable autobiography.

23) All the Tired Horses- Bob Dylan- From the underrated Self Portrait album about which I wrote an entire piece for Tangents several years back. This is the hypnotic opener to that album which has a female chorus repeating endlessly "all the tired horses in the sun how am I supposed to get any riding (or writing?) done." as the backing track and strings slowly builds behind this incantation. It's one of the stranger things in Dylan's songbook but that's a good thing. Still can't understand why anyone would prefer John Wesley Harding or New Morningto Self Portrait.

© 2005 William Crain