Wednesday, September 07, 2005
See, I want to share somewhat randomly. From now on, I’m going to share only song number 9 from my favorite CDs. Why? So that you get to hear a song that may not be my absolute favorite from a CD--but if that CD is as good as I imagine it to be, then the song should still hold up to scrutiny.
Call it a test, really, to reveal whether my favorite CDs are as good as I think they are.
First up is song number 9 from my favorite Mark Lanegan disc, Whiskey for the Holy Ghost. Whiskey is one of those CDs that has the power to change your life when you hear it--or, at least, it had the power to change my life. It dragged me into a world where music could be rough edged, harsh, painful, and beautiful all at the same time--and where a song that feels hard as iron wasn’t the loudest song on the disc.
It kind of comes across as a punk statement set to a mishmash of blues, country, and rock with just a dash of jazz thrown in for effect (and, truly, just a dash). But you won’t find too many songs more aggressive and combative than a song like “Borracho” with its menacing drums and Lanegan’s growling, sandstone delivery of lines like “to you who never need, fuck yourselves: I need some more room to breathe.” That the middle third devolves into a frenzy of noisy guitar while the martial beat continues on in the background just props up the feeling that the things is purposefully distant--unfriendly, even.
By the time you get to “Shooting Gallery,” the ninth song, you’ve already been through the country song “House a Home,” the twin nightmares of “Kingdoms of Rain” and “Riding the Nightingale,” the lunatic delusion of “Carnival,” and the anti-hymn “El Sol.”
It’s a hell of a ride, but you miss a lot if you don’t pay attention.
“Shooting Gallery” is one of those rough edged songs. The opening is awkward and the song develops slowly, but suddenly you realize that it managed to worm itself into your mind, that you are singing or humming along, and that, damn, this guy is good. The voice, the music, the lyrics, the tone of the whole thing is just perfect--if perfect could possibly mean broken and even a little bit lonely.
“Look my hands are stained/ I was washin’ ‘em in the water/ well the water fell away...”
The religious imagery in his albums is impossible to miss as is the seeming belief that there can’t be a happy ending for someone like him.
With that verbose introduction, here’s song number 9 from Whiskey for the Holy Ghost.
Enjoy the song and then consider buying the album. It’s worth it.
Shooting Gallery. (Right click and download link to disk--otherwise the mp3 will open in a separate browser window.)