Thursday, February 24, 2011

"That calamitous loss"

by Robert Crumb.
I wonder what it says about my state of mind that I've spent the time this evening post-work in bed, staring at the ceiling, listening to the blues.

To be honest, it shouldn't be an indicator of anything worrisome, in that there's something about the blues that is ... calming. It's actually been a perfect way to wind down after a day of working two jobs that span varying degrees of annoying.

For this wealth of old, old blues on my hard drive, I think I can thank Ghost World. In fact, I think I might watch Ghost World after this. Or at the very least, send director Terry Zwigoff some good vibes through my brain and the universe, because it's really through him that I've arrived at much of my blues-love.

He directed Ghost World, which I'm proud to say (steadfastly ignoring all cliches that might bring to mind) is one of my favourite films of all time. I know I've professed my love for Steve Buscemi before, but I can honestly say that my hopes and dreams for a Perfect Mate don't resemble what would typically be the case for a hot-blooded 22-year-old. Rather, they resemble Seymour, the record-collecting, maladjusted, cynical and dweeby love interest Mr Buscemi portrays in Ghost World.

But I digress. This post is about the blues. At the time of viewing, I already had a Robert Johnson record (a reissue, obviously), and some Howlin' Wolf CDs. And other assorted bits and pieces. However, featured prominently in Ghost World is "Devil Got My Woman" by Skip James. Fuck me gently with a chainsaw, did it bowl me over.

My cultural tastebuds longed for some more Terry Zwigoff-directed fare. Thus, I soon watched Crumb, a truly haunting and funny and beautiful documentary about legendary cartoonist Robert Crumb. I'll tell you this much for free, my brain was exploding in all manner of directions. PEW PEW PEW was the sound of my brain-bits whizzing past my room.

Thanks to Zwigoff's film, I was not only was I suddenly turned onto Robert Crumb (whom I'd previously only heard of through conversations with uni pals), a truly fascinating and strange man, but one particular scene made my already battered musical brain a little more bruised and excited.

The song is "Last Kind Words" and the artist is Geeshie (or Geechie) Wiley. No known photographs exist of her, and according to her Wikipedia article, the date of her birth and death are unknown. Having read that while the strains of "Last Kind Words" echoed through my room, that's pretty haunting. Amazing, no?

I think Mr Crumb sums it up pretty well:
"'s one of the few times that I have a love of humanity. You hear the best parts of the soul of the common people, you know... their way of expressing their connection to eternity or whatever you want to call it. Modern music doesn't have that calamitous loss, that people can't express themselves that way anymore..." 

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