Heading to Philly for the weekend. Gonna find out if it’s really always sunny there.
Took this while running on the north end of Atlantic City’s boardwalk this Saturday.
It’s tempting to make that house a metaphor for something — the huge casino-industrial complex towering over this run-down little house, new ways of life replacing old ones — but that casino is shuttered too. It’s just a whole bunch of sad under a grey sky and intermittent rain.
Things perked up a bit as we ran south. There were busy casinos on the boardwalk, even though the season hasn’t started in earnest (I was there for a bachelor party). Sections of the boardwalk were lined with elevated screens that looped a promotional video, and what song played behind the series of happy, sunny photos? You guessed it — the Band’s version of Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City.”
It was heavily edited, so the only words you could hear were “Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty/And meet me tonight in Atlantic City,” which sounds fine and dandy, but if you know the song, you know that it’s pretty dark, and I can’t decide if it’s horribly inappropriate or horribly fitting for that campaign.
The details get a little hazy, but we know the dude in the song can’t find work, he’s in debt, he’s falling in with the mob, and that he’s taken all his money out of the bank. Not sure if that’s to bet it all in AC, or just because he’s moving there to work for the mob — I’ve always wanted it to be that he’s planning on making one big bet to get out of debt entirely, but I don’t know if the lyrics support that. Either way, if you asked me what that song was about, I’d say desperation. And that it’s depressing as hell. But that’s my interpretation. I’m not a gambler, and I’m risk averse to a fault. I played slots twice this weekend, and babysat a blackjack hand for like five minutes. Not exactly the profile of someone who’d buy his lady a bus ticket so she could watch him put it all on the line.
But to someone who’s from Atlantic City, or who spends a lot of time there, this could be a song about hope. About the devotion that makes you stay with someone who’s backed into a corner but just may find a way out, against all odds. Given the city’s financial struggles, “Maybe everything that dies someday comes back” is just the kind of hope people there need right now. And doesn’t the Band’s version sound nice and jaunty?
Rolling around this week with this sampler I got on my way out of BK Music on Record Store Day. I haven’t listened all the way through yet, but I already love it, because it serves as a reminder of a very fun and fruitful Saturday.
What I got:
This was my one must-get item this year. Y’all’ve already heard me freak out about the A-side, but I’m just as psyched for people to hear the B-side, “Maybe In The Night,” which has a fantastic singalong chorus that climbs right into White’s falsetto wheelhouse. And it was mixed at Abbey Road, which is neat. I’ll update this post whenever that one makes it online.
This was a leap of faith, but given how much faith I have in Phil Cook (who recorded a cover of Parr’s “1922 Blues“), I shouldn’t be surprised that it paid off. Parr has such a great, whip-smart writing voice, with a dry humor I’m really enjoying. You can get a taste of that deadpan humor at the start of this video of Parr doing the EP’s title track.
Gonna have to report back about this one. I’m waiting for just the right cooking situation — something that involves lots of chopping — so I can get a good listen.
So BK does a raffle before the store opens on Record Store Day, and by some glorious stroke of luck, Bandmate 4eva Doug and I had the first two numbers, giving us first crack at a bin full of box sets, t-shirts, and other fun stuff. My adrenaline was off the charts when I was walking up to see what the choices were, and it reached Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction levels when I saw this 6-LP Ryan Adams set was there. I love these big, career-spanning live albums — Doug actually got something similar, the one Drive-By Truckers put out last year — in part because they function as greatest hits albums as well. I’ve listened to Ryan Adams a fair amount, but I don’t have physical copies of many of his albums, so Live at Carnegie Hall fills in gaps that would have gone unfilled for who knows how long.
This particular situation feels almost star-crossed, because the album of his that I’ve listened to more than any other isn’t an official release — it’s just a download of the live set he did before his 2011 Letterman performance. I love Adams in that setting, where he can tell discursive stories and jokes and jump between eras of his career. Many have said that Adams needs to self-edit more, but the flexibility of the solo acoustic environment suits him well, I think, and I love having two full nights of his music and storytelling at my fingertips. One hell of a raffle prize, that’s for sure.
One more note before I go — BK Music continues to amaze me with their customer service, from the good-natured way they approach the chaos of Record Store Day, to their willingness to go above and beyond to help you find what you need. If you haven’t been to BK, I recommend going and getting to know the nice people who work there. Such a great place.
I had a whole other News and Notes post written, but there are a few Prince-related things I’d like to share instead.
Is this what it was like to hear guitar feedback for the first time? Like, “What the hell is making this sound and what’s broken about it?”
I am genuinely fascinated by “Famous Last Words” from Har Mar Superstar’s new album. The first time I heard it I thought something was going terribly wrong with my headphones — maybe an especially loud kick drum did some damage to them, or maybe the song included a frequency they couldn’t reproduce correctly. Mrs. YHT thinks it sounds like when someone in a movie is having a mental breakdown. I tend to think it sounds more like someone in a movie sustaining a concussion, or when a sound designer is trying dramatize a vacuum chamber being punctured.
The crazy thing is that, when I’m listening to the song, I can’t wait for those moments (when you listen you’ll know exactly which ones I’m talking about). My brain braces for them, thinking that there’s going to be a blast of volume that never comes. And I feel it in my chest, like anxiety attacking and releasing at the same time. It’s wild. And awesome.
Sorry to be all Marvin Berry about this, but it really feels new and different to me. See what you think:
Baby YHT has been sleeping much better lately. We’d fallen into the trap of going for walks and drives to get her to go down at night, and once those drives passed the hour mark, it became clear we’d have to go back to letting her cry it out. She was a trouper though — after one very angry night she got back in a groove and hasn’t had problems going to sleep since.
As frustrating as those drives were, it was comforting (for me, and for Baby YHT too, I’m sure) having a backup plan that worked 100% of the time. And she was so sweet and docile when we’d get back.
These aren’t your usual Friday News and Notes — tomorrow is Record Store Day, so let’s get some special edition, limited pressing, hand-numbered (OK, so they’re not actually numbered) bullets going…
Hope you find your ideal spot to cool out tomorrow.
Found a copy of the San Quentin live album last week at Goodwill. It’s a little on the dirty side, but I got a thing of Titebond II and I’m gonna try the wood glue trick on it.
Did you hear the thing about how Merle Haggard was in the audience for one of Johnny Cash’s San Quentin shows? Apparently it was more than a decade earlier than the one they recorded there, but still — pretty wild.
I’ve never actually heard that album, I don’t think, but this one’s a favorite.
I vote that everyone has a great weekend!