March 5, 2010
In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.
Andrew Zornoza's Where I Stay is both poetic and visually striking, combining starkly beautiful photographs with lyrical road stories in this unique book.
HTMLGIANT wrote of the book:
"Zornoza’s knack for rendering the momentary in timeless, syllabic lines, to cut to the blood of the line in an effortless, truly fevered sort of way, is not only refreshing, it is unforgettable. Though he is smart enough to keep the moment by moment phrasing quick and vivid, line by line, there are no exits pulled in the overall collage that results from all the wanting, from the haunting viscera there contained."
For much of the time, when I was younger, I was lucky enough to have a Walkman. Always with a couple batteries on the verge of exhaustion. Many times the music was the only thing out there. If I had someone else, that would've helped. But, I didn't. The music was another voice, it was something I could feel with, and when you're miles from civilization, tucked in a ratty sheet at the blasted lands of eastern Idaho . . . there's nowhere for those feelings to go except out into this vast, looming nothingness. It is true that I have spent quite a bit of time on the road. That's a question I get a lot from people who've read Where I Stay. They want to know what's real in the novel and what's invented. Back then, if a tape broke down on me, I'd spend hours unwinding and splicing, tying and taping--just to salvage something from the coated acetate. And people were always giving me tapes. Not so much anymore. I still remember the Memorex someone handed me of Nirvana playing Unplugged--a long time before those songs were made into the commercial CD. And, I had a TDK with The Rickets on one side and some early Basehead on the other. I can't find any of that music now. When I was editing Where I Stay I listened to a lot of the music from before I moved to New York, from about ten years ago. And because the story is also about how we perceive time, of the different layers of ourselves, I also found myself playing songs that I listened to while I was writing and reflecting on those earlier moments. So this soundtrack is similar to the book in many ways. We're talking about a lot of hours and years here, so I ended up with a double album. . . .
1. "Home I'll Never Be" by Tom Waits
These are Kerouac's lyrics, but Tom Waits singing them. You can find Kerouac singing them himself, but it's off-putting, strange, as if he's desperately singing himself to sleep while killing some part of himself.
2. "I'm not There" by Bob Dylan from A Tree With Roots
A Tree With Roots was made from the original set of Basement Tapes recordings--and these rough mixes sound the way they should. What's most amazing about "I'm not There" is how it's just an inchoate form--it's not finished, it's not real. It's just the sound married to a feeling.
3. "Two For The Road" by Bruce Springsteen from Tracks
I like almost everything Bruce does, even though he is like a twitching cyborg to me, barely able to contain an exuberance of excessive sentimentality within his waxy epidermis. This resurfaced on the box set Tracks.
4. "Take me to the Basement" by Aesop Rock
I'm not sure where I found this. I have it with some other rare Aesop Rock. He was in a higher universe with Float and his early work. An amazing rapper if you've never heard him. This was ostensibly supposed to be hidden and only written for those friends who helped him stop wanting to kill himself.
5. "Ciel Errant" by Alcest from Souvenirs d'un autre Monde
This is French Death Metal. Death Metal isn't so bleak in France, it's more like Cat Stevens.
6. "Whiskeyclone, Hotel City 1997" by Beck from Mellow Gold
Beck was a meticulous painter of the life of pickup trucks and sleeping bags and being alone before he got so emotional: "I was born in this hotel room."
7. "The Life I Lead" by Champion Jack Dupree from The Legacy of the Blues Vol. 3
I know a lot of people who have had good life all their life and now they're dead and gone. . . .
Except standing at dawn in a grass field with the grass still wet, and that immense silence before hearing the first notes of "Taps" as a casket is lowered--this is the saddest song I've ever heard. This track, along with the reeling, bizarre, "Drunk Again," are on a different planet. One unbelievable moment is when Champion's daughter asks racism to to be explained to her. I was born brown and when I die I'll die brown, is what Champion says.
I'm not sure where you can find this. The version I have came from a radio show Eddie Vedder guest hosted. The Frogs are of course better known for their insane sexual humor, "Hot Cock Annie," or stuff like this:
Here comes big fat George
Look at that butt, look at him gorge away
All the boys play with his butt
Rammin' him up and down
This is a crazy faggy town we live in
It doesn't matter to me
I've changed my ways
People say I'm gay. . . .
But this is a straight song about heroin and suicide. I sent Eddie Vedder a copy of the book and asked him where he recorded this song, but he hasn't gotten back to me. I've gotten a few fan mails from Seattle and every time I see a letter from there in the mailbox, I think, "This is it! Eddie got back to me. . . ." But, I haven't heard from him yet.
9. "Racing In The Streets (Bruce Springsteen cover)" by Townes Van Zandt from Roadsongs
My baby and me, we are going to drive to the sea. . . .
Townes Van Zandt had some recall problems--whole swaths of time were absent from his memory. My narrator has a similar problem.
10. "No Confidence Man" by Elliott Smith from 2003-01-31 - Henry Fonda Theatre
< a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3W6tQ6kqKk">"I'm Going To Love You Anyhow" by Elliott Smith from Dutch TV version of Waltz #2
I'm still listening to his music, years later.
11. "Reckoner (Tuff version)" by Radiohead from Not In Rainbows
Another one I have no idea where it came from. This one on a CD that someone has put some masking tape on and written in Sharpie: "Not in Rainbows." The Mp3 is labeled "Reckoner (Tuff version)". This is fantastic and nothing like the album version: "I feel / Pulled apart / By horses. . . ."
12. "How Can I Tell You" by Cat Power from Commercial Clips
At about 9 seconds, a clock ding-dongs, definitely not part of the song. This drove me crazy, until I found out this was taped from a TV commercial--for De Beers diamonds, I think. Once, I had a whole day with internet--I could never track down the full version that Cat Power did. De Beers must have it.
13. "Modern Inventions" by The Submarines from Declare A New State!
I moved, found a new apartment. And one of the first things I put up was this poster of two whales spouting broken hearts. It was a Submarines poster and I slowly grew ashamed that I had never listened to them--yet I had their poster on the wall. "I dug myself a hole with the modern inventions." This has been the second story of my life.
14. "Winter" by The Rolling Stones from Goats Head Soup
This is the authentic version of the Counting Crows' "A Long December."
Yeah, and I wish I'd been out in Stony Canyon
When the lights on all the Christmas trees went out
But I been burnin' my bell, book and candle
And the restoration plays have all gone 'round
The newest song on here, this was what I was listening to when I put the final manuscript for "Where I Stay" in the mail.
The first here is a hidden track at the end of Liberal Animation. NOFX can get awfully silly and cheesy--but "Drugs are Good" is one of my favorite songs of all time.
Drugs are good, they let you do things that you know you not should.
And when you do 'em people think that you're cool.
And when you do 'em people think that you're cool.
3. "Empty Pockets" by Tom Waits from B Sides & Rare Collections
Speechless. . . .
4. Where Did You Run To / Scarecrow" by Hope Sandoval from Hope Sandoval by Herself
This sounds like Hope Sandoval (of later Mazzy Star fame) recording herself with a microcassete recorder while sitting in a bathtub. I know it's pre-Mazzy Star, pre-Halah. I've patched, cut and reassembled this poor cheap-ass Memorex tape more times than you can imagine.
5. "Lost Highway" by Mekons from Fear And Whiskey
One we used to play on the guitar in a van down by the river. The Mekons make it seem more fun than it was.
6. "Sappy (acoustic)" by Nirvana from Outcesticide
Maybe it's my proximity to a certain side of New York, but the weird, true, history angle emanating from Greil Marcus and his high-brow hanger-ons . . . this ad-nauseum study of what is history, by studying what happened in the basement of Big Pink . . . I'm not sure why that perspective, an unsanitized, less compressed version of time can't be applied closer to the present. The acoustic version of "You Know You're Right" with the word 'free' as the chorus . . . in the full-blown version 4 months later, the word has changed to 'pain' and it's the last song Nirvana records before Cobain blows his brains out. Isn't the world so lucky we cataloged this data?
7. "The Weight" by Aretha Franklin from The Best of the 1960's
One of the greatest singers of all time singing one of rock's most quintessential songs.
8. "Seasons in the Sun" by Nirvana from 1993-01-22: Rio Studio Session, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
"Do Re Mi (acoustic)" by Nirvana from With The Lights Out
"Picture In A Frame (FM- KBCO 991013)" by Tom Waits from Rats and Angry Flowers (live Vancouver 991017 + 4 KBCO radio sessions 991013)
"Free At Last" by Antony And The Johnsons from I Am A Bird Now
These four are my outro, the little mix I had when I finally put this book to sleep and started my next one.
Andrew Zornoza and Where I Stay links:
also at Largehearted Boy:
other Book Notes playlists (authors create music playlists for their book)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (weekly book reviews)
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly highlights of comics & graphic novels)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly highlights of new books)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from this week's CD releases)
weekly music & DVD release lists