I have published the first imix of songs that Cassie, my heroine, listens to on her record player. The irony never ends here, because digital media pervades our every synapse more and more with every passing moment, while Cassie remains stuck in her analog neverland . . .
So, I want you to hear the soundtrack of Cassie's life, and the best way to do that is through the computer, just as I want you to read the book, and the best way to spread the word is via the computer, and I want to hear from readers and old students and new "friends," and the best way . . .
The first of these songs is from The Worst of Jefferson Airplane (because they're radical like that, lol), a record that is widely available in thrift stores, e-bait, and record stores. Cassie listens to it with her friend Liz, who appreciates the some of Jorma's heavy guitar, and the general tripped-out feel.
The rest, in no particular order:
"Summer's Almost Gone" is a song that everybody should have on the mental ipod (you know, the one that plays in your mind, those songs that run through your mind), with Jim Morrison's smooth, deep voice giving you the essence of autumnal loss--the bluesiest season of all--before the first leaves even fall. Meanwhile, Robbie gives you some sweet slide guitar, John taps a subtle beat, and Ray fills in everything else with piano and organ. "Where will we be when the summer's gone?"
If you haven't felt like a "Teenaged Lobotomy," you haven't turned 13 yet. The Ramones took things back to the Fifties, by doing away with all the tripped-out extended guitar solo jams of the Sixties. Two minute is the average length of a Ramones song, many of which have the brilliance of urban rock & roll Haiku. Cassie was lightening up a great deal when she got into the Ramones, courtesy of Quill and DJ.
Todd Rundgren's Todd is another of the obscure records in Cassie's yard sale purchase. The electric keyboard intro of "Don't you ever Learn?" is longer than most Ramones songs. Todd seem to have financed, with a couple of hits, many hours of the music that is close to his heart--rambling, spiritual, electronic, and often very rocking forays punctuated with some powerful singing, lyricism, and guitar work that have made his hard-core, cult fans proclaim, "Todd is God."
Cassie loved Lightnin' Hopkins, and lots of his obscure records are out there still, scratched up, cheaply pressed, and beautiful because when you listen to them it feels like you are sitting there with ol' Lightnin' as he picks and sings you a story as wet and muddy as an East Texas swamp.
"In the Pines" or "Where did you Sleep Last Night" is one of those heavy, emotional songs, especially when screamed by the inimitable Kurdt Kobain. The lyrics, to my way of hearing it, are not so important in a literal or even figurative sense. They are evocative, and the image of shivering "the whole night through in the pines, in the pines where the sun don't ever shine" blends with the melody to create a psychic icon of loss, alienation, and despair that chills my heart. This song has been sung and recorded for a hundred years by too many people to count. Leadbelly claimed to have written it, and copyright is erroneously claimed by his estate even now. But it's folk music, written by folks, and so it is called a "traditional," meaning it was created by lots of people, and if one person first came up with the idea, nobody knows who that person was. . .