Today begins my official attempt to try and hush my existential fear that all the books I read slip through my mind like so much sand. Which is probably just a good old fear of death? But anyways, onto the three texts for today: a country song, a mystery novel, and an enormous improv book.
I really love texts that don’t try too hard, yet somehow pull off something thrilling. It’s like an unsettlingly good ham sandwich in an airport; its quality seems downright charitable. (Versus this awesome Portlandia sendup of shitty airport sushi)
I was driving around Austin, listening to KOKE FM, the country station, which is a decidedly mixed bag. But one song started with these lyrics, which I have to admit I really liked:
Oh I could see your neon eyes
cutting through the barroom smoke
stopped me in my tracks
like a stick in the spokes.
Nice! Neon eyes is a weird choice and a pleasingly odd inversion of where neon usually happens in a honky tonk. And stick in the spokes is so down-homey but satisfyingly visual. And what a cool way to convey the singer’s wobbliness and lack of status: a woman with neon eyes, a man who feels like a kid with a broken-down bike.
Unfortunately, the lyrics go downhill from there. The chorus is simply, and I quote: There Ain’t Nobody Hotter, There Ain’t Nobody Hotter. You can watch Kyle sing it if you are into dumb repetitive choruses.
The next song up that day, “Drunken Poet’s Dream” by Hayes Carll, was also really well-written, without the chorus fail:
I got a woman she’s wild as Rome
She likes to lay naked and be gazed upon
She crosses a bridge then sets it on fire
Lands like a bird on a telephone wire.
Now, you could get up in arms about the male gaze and objectification, but who doesn’t like to be gazed upon by their lover, male or female? Also: I love the choice to rhyme Rome with upon. When I heard the song, I thought the first line was “wild as wrong,” which I also liked, maybe even better. And “Lands like a bird on a telephone wire” is so damn good.
Finally, speaking of birds, and countryish songs, I’ll close with a Neko Case line, from what is so far my favorite song of the summer: “Bad Luck.”
My heart could break for a one-legged seagull
And still afford nothing to you (That’s bad luck)
The bridge (“So I died and went to work”) is pretty perfect, too.
Well, so much for holding onto books on this blog, since I only managed to write about country songs. Maybe I’ll get around to Donna Leon and Improv Nation later this week. Here’s to female artists whose songwriting just gets better and better! (Speaking of artists aging valiantly, Belle & Sebastian have a GREAT new album out.)