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This Recording

is dedicated to the enjoyment of audio and visual stimuli. Please visit our archives where we have uncovered the true importance of nearly everything. Should you want to reach us, e-mail alex dot carnevale at gmail dot com, but don't tell the spam robots. Consider contacting us if you wish to use This Recording in your classroom or club setting. We have given several talks at local Rotarys that we feel went really well.

Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

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Classic Recordings
Robert Altman Week

Monday
Feb012010

In Which I'm A Little More Country Than That

It Was The Pleasure Of My Life

by MOLLY LAMBERT

I am the common woman. Confused by whothefuckall was at the Grammys? I'm here to help you sort it out. Songs from the billboard 100. Nothing on the pop, rock, or rap side of the fence, no Cascada or Daughtry or Iyaz. Just pure country magic. 

Til Summer Comes Around - Keith Urban

Keith Urban, where the fuck did you come from? Australia, obviously, but also what is this MOR hybrid countrypolitan balladeering genre that is so clearly dominating the charts? Why doesn't he have an Australian accent? Is this Avatar? Nicole Kidman is basically a ten foot tall alien. The part about the ferris wheel reminds me of the movie FEAR when Marky Mark fbangs Reese. The wave sounds are a classy touch, an allusion to Don Henley's "Boys Of Summer" perhaps? It makes no sense that he sings about the 4th of July. Don't you mean Australia Day? LOL country star whose last name is Urban.

Key Lyric: "The boardwalk's quiet and the carnival rides/are as empty as my broken heart tonight."

Highway 20 Ride - Zac Brown Band

Country songs about divorce are usually a slam dunk. This is just "eh." I don't know what genre this is considered. It's pretty fucking close to the folkier side of indie rock with all the other bearded sad guys, but also very reminiscent of sorority girl music. Maybe the genre should just be called Bonaroo. This Zac Brown character sings too silkily for my taste, but I realize he's going for a James Taylor thing. Which is not my bag, but hey! I guess it's lots of other people's, so more whatevers 2 ya ZBB.

Key Lyric: "Son, there’s things I haven't told you/Your mom and me couldn't get along"

 

A Little More Country Than That - Easton Corbin

For some reason based on the title I imagined this would be a real barnstormer, but it's another one of these stupid wistful ballads by a guy in a baseball cap. Countryness is associated with monogamy and old guys. The lyrics are creaky with references to creek poles and channel cats, and a first name shout out to "Hank." A real grower.

Key Lyric: "I just want to make sure you just know who your gettin' under this ol' hat/Cause girl I'm just not the kind of two time or play games behind your back/I'm a little more country than that"

Hillbilly Bone - Blake Shelton ft. Trace Adkins

Alright! Here come the grooves! First some New York city bashing (they've never heard of Conway Twitty! they don't eat grits or greens!) This is by far the most embarrassing song on the countdown yet. Chorus of "Hillbilly Bone Ba Bone Ba Bone Bone" both makes me LOL and gives me severe embarrassment. The video takes place in a fancy resturant where the singers are clearly out of place (because hats?), another trope often seen in rap videos (new money vs. old money). Trace Adkins is undeniably cool. Country street cred from his wikipedia: "He was involved in a number of bar room incidents, and was also shot in the heart and lungs by his second wife."

Key Lyric: "Ain't nothing wrong just getting on your Hillbilly bone-ba-bone-ba-bone bone/Hillbilly bone-ba-bone-ba-bone bone/Hillbilly bone-ba-bone-ba-bone bone"

American Saturday Night - Brad Paisley 

I guess Brad Paisley is trying to convince us he's some sort of cool new tolerant Republican with this song about how America is a melting pot, but apparently made up of primarily European nationalities? I have always found the melting pot metaphor semi-horrifying because it makes me think about human beings being melted down like fondue, and therefore also sort of cannibalism. Brad Paisley has another song right now called "Welcome To The Future" about Obama. I'll believe it when I hear your views on gay marriage and abortion, mister! Great video, motion effects rival "Pon De Floor." 

Key Lyric: "It's like we're all living' in a big ol' cup/Just fire up the blender, mix it all up."

Do I - Luke Bryan

I'll let the YouTube comments speak on this one:

dawnmarie1989 (11 minutes ago) I feel like this song was written for me! I cry to it every night! relationships are so complicated and get way more complicated when you get cheated on. A person can only put so much into a relationship before they get sick of getting nothing in return!

CountryGurl4lif31 (50 minutes ago) i wish my boyfriend and i still felt the same way when we first met...now everything is going down hill.

kwingy51 (1 day ago) dude your lucky you have a girl. treat her well dude cause not having anyone to hold is the worst thing ever 

angie71499 (2 days ago) my ex sang this song to me i dont know if i should take him back or not plz help me and give me some advice plzzzzzz :(

medzman86 (5 days ago) dude i know EXACTLY how you feel...my gf of 5.5 yrs left me 5 months ago and it STILL hurts...ur not alone bro 

Key Lyric: "Do I turn you on at all when I kiss you baby?"

I Wanna Make You Close Your Eyes - Dierks Bentley

Mainstream country music is primarily about monogamy and its discontents, the way rap music is about bachelorhood. Dierks Bentey is really tolerable, even with a ball chain necklace. This is another one of those earnest love making tunes. For some reason I can only imagine the title being said in a super date rapey voice. For a sex jam, it is not really very sexy. Somebody needs to send Dierks a copy of 12 Play

Key Lyric: "You can make me work for it girl if you want to/Just leave a trail for me to follow you into the bedroom"

 

Consider Me Gone - Reba McEntire

Not just a lady but the baddest ginger betch. I used to watch her sitcom Reba all the time. This is not the greatest Reba song of all time, but it's a nice enough showcase for her amazing voice and phrasings and the bridge is pretty good. I love how country music tends to honor and respect its female legends.

Key Lyric: "If you don't get drunk on my kiss/If you think you can do better than this" 

History In The Making - Darius Rucker

Is it racist that I thought this might be an Obama song? It's not. It's just another "aren't relationships awesome" jam, which seems to be the dominant theme of this genre (aside from the other major theme, "aren't relationships terrible") This song is hella mediocre but I ain't mad at ya Hootie

Key Lyric: "Inside, baby inside/Can you feel the butterflies?"

Southern Voice - Tim McGraw

Second reference to Hank. First reference to Chuck Berry! McGraw namechecks Southerners from Willie Faulkner to the Allman Brothers. He follows up a mention of Dolly Parton with a shoutout to Rosa Parks. Don't you know how much trouble Outkast got in for that, Tim? No fronting on the fucking majesty of this bridge:

Jesus is my friend
America is my home
Sweet iced tea and Jerry Lee
Daytona Beach
That's what gets to me
I can feel it in my bones

Although word up Timbograw, claiming Michael Jordan for the South is iffy as hell.

Key Lyrics: "Hank Aaron smacked it, Michael Jordan dunked it/Pocahontas tracked it, Jack Daniels drunk it."

Why Don't We Just Dance - Josh Turner

If you couldn't tell this was Christian pop from the title, well it is. A sexless undanceable "rock" tune sung by a low-voiced god goblin. Advocates turning off the news because it's too depressing. Fuck church, let's dance. As an abstinence jam it has nothing on Jermaine Stewart's "We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off."

Key Lyric: "Guess the little bitty living room ain't gonna look like much/When the lights go down and we move the couch, it's gonna be more than enough"

White Liar - Miranda Lambert

I love Miranda Lambert, and not just because she has my initials and last name. I think she's genuinely talented, with a good weird voice that sounds kind of like Natalie Maines, and, I don't know, she's got spunk. She's like a little country music Veronica Mars. She put out a hit album called "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend." There's nothing not to love. This is my favorite song on the countdown thus far. I love songs with plot twists!

Key Lyric: "You said you went out to a bar/and walked some lady to her car/but your face has more to tell/cuz my cousin saw you on the street/with a red head named Bernice/Turns out you don't lie too well"

Cowboy Casanova - Carrie Underwood

I hate when a song has a great title and doesn't live up to its promise. This is from the Shania Twain school of bombastic country pop. The lyrics are really not terrible, but the production style is just so over the top. It was co-written by Mike Elizondo, he of "The Real Slim Shady" and Extraordinary Machine (how's that for a diverse résumé?). The video is set in a bordello and is sort of Moulin Rouge themed, can this style of video please die for a long while? If this were produced differently it could be great.

Key Lyric: He's a good time, cowboy casanova/Leaning up against the record machine/He looks like a cool drink of water/But he's candy-coated misery."

 

The Truth - Jason Aldean

Maybe I've watched too many of these in a row, but this Jason Aldean jawn is sounding pretty good to me right now. Maybe it's the mournful rock organ or the part about going to Vegas. The chorus is hard to deny, and I like videos where it starts raining at the dramatic climax, which here is Aldean sitting in a lawn chair by a pool getting all rained on. I would murder this shit at karaoke, definitely.

Key Lyric: "Just don't tell em I've gone crazy/That I'm still strung out over you/Tell em anything you want to/Just don't tell em all the truth"

Fearless - Taylor Swift

Taylor really reminds me of Nicki Grant sometimes. She's so weirdly chaste and grossed out by sex for a 20 year old. The apartment she's building sounds like Mariah Carey's butterflies and mermaids palace, but also MJ's Neverland. Maybe she is a pedophile? (JK I don't think TS is a pedo). But I do worry about her. Like girl I know you are really into kissing in rainstorms, but you can't be a fucking princess.

Key Lyric: "And I don't know why but with you I'd dance/In a storm in my best dress, fearless"

Need You Now - Lady Antebellum

This is barely country music. How this falls into that category is beyond me. They're from Nashville? There are mandolins? Basically soft modern rock. Oh, but with a male and female trading off vocals, like "Don't You Want Me." This song is about drunk dialing. Lady Antebellum is such a terrible name. This is so unabashedly corny and pathetic that I'm kinda digging it. I'll bob my head in the drugstore to this.

Key Lyric: "It's a quarter after one I'm all alone and I need you now/And I said I wouldn't call but I'm a little drunk and I need you now"

That's How Country Boys Roll - Billy Currington 

Bland as hell. I remember this guy from his duet with Shania, because I was into that song. Especially the spoken intro. I could listen to Shania Twain say "hey Billy, I'm having a party" all day. Shania's like a Kristen Wiig character. Billy Currington gives me a Bradley Cooper vibe. I don't hate this song, but it's just so plodding and grooveless. 

Key Lyric:  "Yeah, they work, work, work, all week til the job gets done/Weekends they bar-b-que and have a cold one/They run on a big ol’ heart and a pinch of Skoal/That’s how country boys roll"

Didn't You Know How Much I Loved You - Kellie Pickler

A sensitive ballad from Clown Tits McGee.  

Key Lyric: "I remember the way you made love to me/Like I was all you'd ever need/Did you change your mind?/Well I didn't change mine"

brand newly minted Grammy award winners Lady Antebellum (L- R) Kill, Fuck, Marry 

Winners: After editing this post for way too long, and spending some time with these songs bouncing around my head, the winners are obvious - Miranda Lambert "White Liar," Jason Aldean "The Truth," Tim McGraw "Southern Voice" (that bridge!), Taylor Swift "Fearless," and Easton Corbin "A Little More Country Than That." The Kellie Pickler ballad is also making a successful late break for my brain space. It's true. We all got a hillbilly bone down deep inside. Hillbilly bone ba bone ba bone bone. 

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording. She tumbls here and twitters here.  

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Sunday
Jan312010

In Which We Are Either Betty, Veronica or Neither

The Italian Archie

by ALEX CARNEVALE

James Ivory's The Golden Bowl begins with two lovers in the ruins of Rome, explaining why they can't be together. The woman Charlotte (Uma Thurman) has no money. Neither does the man, native to Rome Amerigo (Jeremy Northam). So it is concluded they cannot really be together, despite the exquisite image of their bodies pressed against one another.

A few years later, the man marries Charlotte's girlhood friend Maggie (Kate Beckinsale). This is not in itself a tragedy. The new woman is warm and loving, her father is loaded with cash he plans to spend on building a museum on the Upper East Side of New York City. Amerigo is ostensibly happy with his new arrangement, but then Charlotte appears in his life again in time for his wedding to Maggie.

Early in The Golden Bowl, Charlotte and Amerigo go shopping for a wedding gift for the latter's fiancee. They visit a jewelry store where they see the eponymous Golden Bowl. Charlotte appraises the rest of the collection and pronounces the verdict, whether out of malice or good sense: "There is nothing here that she could wear." The two quarrel about the collapse of their previous relationship. Over time, Charlotte becomes engaged to Maggie's overbearing father. Charlotte and Amerigo then consummate their relationship on the sly.


Adultery is tricky business in the cinema. The male adulterer is rarely approved of. He is largely given a bad rap; he sometimes hurts Richard Gere's feelings. Charlotte's portrayal is no better.  Such drama is the kind of illusion only important to the rich. Perhaps the relative economic status of these individuals is immaterial, but as they stroll casually through an epic mansion, their concerns seem less important than the decor. The once-deprived Amerigo stands at attention to the splendor of the other creatures whose world he inhabits. For him, the only real world is Rome. He is always trying to go back there.

Cheating on someone seems exciting, for awhile. Cheating on your wife with her father's wife, even more so. The excitement thus heightened, Amerigo's swarthy attentions are naturally paid to his vivacious blond former lover rather than his brunette wife who so recently, we suspect, had breast enhancement surgery. Such were the strange vicissitudes of life around the turn of the century.


Banging your wife's father's wife is known in some circles as the reverse Oedipus; in other circles it invariably results in a Cleveland Steamer and the severing of all concurrent relationships. Our families naturally become closer together in affluence, and such implausibilities are rapidly rendered most plausible.


Looked at from the other perspective, it is still harder to merit sympathies for the victims of such Biblical indiscretions. Maggie is a naïve imp; she cares for Amerigo's child from a previous whatever with all the aplomb we expect from how the wealthy tolerate weaknesses in the less fortunate. If the would-be victim is already vulnerable, aren't they asking to be taken advantage of?

Anjelica Huston plays the original matchmaker of Maggie and Amerigo, Fanny. No one better channels the way a segment of yourself disappears by how you behave than Huston when she practices her craft. Having set up Maggie and Amerigo, Anjelica's Fanny feels great guilt, even harassing Amerigo when he risks appearing with Charlotte in public: "I have noticed before with you that you like having a thing without liking to call it by its name."


Despite disapproval from such quarters, Amerigo carries on his affair. Naturally, the possibility of love within other love excites him. It excites every man with blood flowing towards his penis. Amerigo becomes the victim of these two feminine ideals. Henry James essentially told us about the first Archie.

Uma Thurman or Charlotte or whatever you insist on calling her, is the escape. Amerigo met a woman who freed him from an entire part of his self-possession. There are reasons, in themselves, to disregard everything you know.

Kate Beckinsale or Molly McAleer or Maggie is the darker, more intensive brew. (Brunettes are always symbols for something or other.) From the moment you start dating her, you have to be good with the idea you will appear in every page of her personal journal, that she will take everything from you and spit out whatever doesn't make sense or reconfirm her view of the world. Such paramours are usually either a tremendous disappointment or the love of your life.

Despite having two female protagonists, emanating from the approximate direction of The Golden Bowl is a rare misogyny. Someone once called a friend of mine a literary misogynist, but this wasn't quite true. The real adulterer is not a misogynist or hypocrite, for he does not pretend to offer any of the comforts of a lover; he manages the abandonment of those comforts. When you find a woman willing to give that up, you can hardly blame the man involved.  

The relationship between Charlotte and Nick Nolte's Adam Verver is the most fascinating of those in The Golden Bowl. We all wonder at how relationships begun under shaky premises evolve and develop. Charlotte has no love for Adam; she disdains his museum, she finds his art collecting eccentric in a fashion that deliberately takes attention away from her. In time, they move closer together, eventually becoming intimate. In this case the American identity, in photos and film, the art forms themselves, repossess the people they represent.

This is The Golden Bowl's way of suggesting that all love deserves a context. Everything deserves a context, argued James in every line of his extant prose. His mastery was in making the unappealing overly appealing, and then switching it around again. He was never afraid to push people towards each other, even in hatred, to see how the rest of the world was accommodated by the result.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording. He is a writer living in New York. He tumbls here and twitters here.

"Simple Line of Decline"  - For Love Not Lisa (mp3)

"Travis Hoffmann" - For Love Not Lisa (mp3)

"Traces" - For Love Not Lisa (mp3)

 

Saturday
Jan302010

In Which At One Time There Was Only Love Between Them

The Birth Certificate

by BEATRICE EYALES

I slid the tattered brown envelope out of the crisp white one. I opened it and found only three pieces of paper: a short note from my mother and two certificates of live birth. Whereas letters from my mother are never good, her notes always are, and this particular one read: “Hi Bea, hope you are doing fine—your health and your studies. We miss you here. I love you. Mommy”

I set the note aside and examined the other two sheets of paper enclosed. One was patterned with what was probably then the colors of the National Statistics Office of the Philippines, while the other one was shaded with a pale yellow, of whose work—whether time passed or dye—I could not quite make out. If it had been painted by the years, I wouldn’t be surprised. It was clear to me, upon tracing my fingers across my name, the names of my parents, then married, and a certain Dra. Amelia Dacanay—perhaps the very first person to have held me—that these pages have been thinned by time—creases and flaws preserved.

How can I explain it? How can I possibly relay the sensation of seeing yourself for the first time? Of realizing what you are by holding in your hands the very first artifacts of your existence? I saw my parents’ name before the tears welled up. I wondered how they had been on that day, if any sign, any trace of the present bitterness and disdain they hold for each other had been born then. Were they happy? Did they love each other when they held me for the very first time?

It says my mother’s age: 24. My father was 30. So young, I think. My mother was so young. For someone nearing twenty, realizing that her mother was twenty-four when she was born means so much, perhaps too much. If she had known then how the man she married, the father of her first child, would betray her and leave her and detest her by now, what would have been?


Some tears fall.

My chest tightens as I run my fingers across the page, as I wonder whether my mother’s petite body was loved, was worried for, as half of herself faced the grave in childbirth. Having spent much of my childhood hearing my parents’ endless debate on who was at fault and which parent loved us more, it becomes difficult to conjure thoughts of a time when there was only love between them.

I sat at my desk for a while, reviewing each and every detail of the papers, caressing the edges, feeling every crease, touching the printed names as if mere contact would transport me to the time when the ink was fresh, when the truth was different. And then I realized that though much has changed since my conception, some things—the most important ones—remain the same: that we are forever the sons and daughters of our mothers and fathers. That no matter how cruel the fate of our parents may be, we will always be theirs, made of them, made by them, atom by atom, cell by cell. That before we are doctors, lovers, liars, and men, we are children and babies of them. We are daughters first and everything else second. We are not born to be husbands or wives or writers or philosophers. Our first task upon birth in this world is to simply be theirs and be loved and be cared for. Nothing was ever asked of us.

I cry tears of joy and sorrow, of bliss, of guilt, of regret and longing, of hope and of anger. I rejoice upon the discovery of myself and my origin and I grieve, perhaps prematurely, for death. It is true that with life always comes expiration even if it is only in realization. I glance at the age of my parents then and think of how far they have come now, the age of the documents before me. With the discovery of my birth, I have faced the ugly reality of death and of what is to come not only for me.


I set aside my tears for future weeping and pick up the pieces. I am fortunate, I think. Most people are only given the opportunity to finally understand themselves and to really see life only in the face of the most hideous circumstances. I, on the other hand, faced life and death and the beginnings of myself while sitting on a desk in the middle of the night.

I am daughter first, and everything else second.

Beatrice Eyales is a contributor to This Recording. She last wrote in these pages about her father. She is a writer living in Berkeley. She tumbls here.

"Change of Heart" - El Perro del Mar (mp3)

"I Can't Talk About It" - El Perro del Mar (mp3)

"God Knows (You Gotta Give To Get)" - El Perro del Mar (mp3)