March 4, 2011
In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.
Jamie Iredell's The Book of Freaks is a modern encyclopedia that its publisher compares to Flaubert's Dictionary of Received Ideas. In its mere 134 pages, the book skillfully defines our modern world with lyrical prose and abundant humor.
Generally, I'm not the biggest music fan. Which makes this slightly uncomfortable, considering the purpose of this website—which I honestly adore, primarily for the attention it pays to literature. I'm just not someone who has to have music playing, one who listens to it constantly in the car, or who has headphones shoved into his ears whenever he wanders a sidewalk or waits for or on the train. I don't read music blogs, or spend any time trying to find the next really hip shit. I am not hip. I'd rather listen to Merle Haggard. Anyway. Because I cannot keep up with American music (nor do I care to) I'm mostly into contemporary regional Mexican music. If you haven't heard the hit-maker El Chapo de Sinaloa, well then . . . And of course Vicente Fernandez is the bomb mustachioed idolo de Mexico. But I wasn't going to fill this playlist with only Mexican music since most people won't understand the lyrics if they ever listened to it in the first place. The book could be experienced, I suppose, from the perspectives of all these different freaks throughout the planet (cf. The Book of Freaks on Americans, Danes, Japanese, Maldivians, Mexicans, Russians, United Arab Emiratians, etc.)
I don't listen to music while I'm writing or after I'm writing. I listen to NPR or El Patron (Atlanta's Mexican music radio station) in the car. Maybe sometimes while cooking I'll plug my phone into the speaker thing and listen to music but that might only be on the weekends. Anyway Mesican (which is how you ought to pronounce it) music is the shit. It lives. Americans' music is just boring.
"Amor a Quatro Paredes," Banda la Juvenil
This is a band from Los Angeles. LA's full name is El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de Los Angeles del Rio de Porciuncula. But it's a hell of a lot easier to say LA. It will not surprise you that the members of Banda la Juvenil are from LA. Google image them. Every member looks exactly like Frog from Colors. I, also, am from California. Now I live in Georgia. There are also Mexicans in GA, but fewer Chicanos, who are the kind of people I grew up with. Chicanos are Mexican Americans, FYI. Cheech Marin once sang a song about them in that movie called The Next Movie. Almost all Mexican music is about love (requited, or un) and Banda la Juvenil is no exception, as anyone with a Google Translator or—get this—an actual Spanish-English dictionary, and by actual I mean a book—could learn that amor means love. Hence, love is all you need, or, as Kyle Minor one day pointed out on a Facebook status update, it's all you need, along with shelter, and air, and water and food. But other than those things, all you really need is love.
"I Don't Want You Cuttin' Off Your Lyrics," B.B. King
"I didn't say nothin to you baby, when you was wearin bikinis for clothes."
"My Michelle," Guns n' Roses
Rock and roll achieved its height with "My Michelle" by Guns n' Roses. Since this landmark in rock and roll evolution, the genre has slipped into the Vulnerable category of the Endangered Species Act's special section on popular musical forms. Humanitarians and biologists alike have since been working—as they say, "round the clock"—to save the species. However, clocks themselves, and rocking them, have proved detrimental to rock's continued survival. Only two things—it has been proven—can destroy rock: time and age. Contrary to popular conceptions of these nouns, they are in fact quite distinct. Take time and compound it with age, and one comes up with the Rolling Stones, a band that, although pivotal in rock and roll's development, have contributed perhaps more greatly to its demise. Axl Rose himself is a living museum of rock. Examine the wrinkles etched between his cornrows.
"La Cumbia del Rio" Los Pikadientes del Caborca
Even I have trouble understanding the lyrics in this song, and I speak Spanish. They mumble and slur, which is part of song's charm. This one was really popular in 2009. It wouldn't surprise me if the band's a one hit wonder. A photo of the band graces the album cover, and one member, a somewhat chubby guy, sports cutoff jean shorts, a vest and no shirt, and a cowboy hat. In any other context outside of Mexican music you'd think he's got an apartment in the Castro in San Francisco. But because he's the tuba player he's swimming in pussy. If you are currently a high school tuba player in the United States of America, find yourself a Mexican band and audition. Get the respect and sex you deserve.
"San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)," Scott McKenzie
I'm actually kind of serious about this selection, but only kind of. I'm from Monterey, CA, and my grandfather and mother were based (with Pan Am) out of SFO, so I spent a lot of time in San Francisco. Even though Grandpa usually sang "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," instead of this Hippie shit, for whatever reason, this song makes me nostalgic not only for the city where I grew up, but for Grandpa. Sometimes, how hard it is to inch by, another sentence, year, inch. Turns out inches and years are unsurprisingly not surprising when looked at from a grander perspective—say the universe. I'm still not sure about sentences, since as far as I know we know only humans utter them.
"Your Party," Ween
Hate Ween, love Ween, whatever Ween. I'm a whatever Ween kinda guy. Sometimes I really love them. It's not that I really love "Your Party." Some really hate it. This is the song I would listen to after reaching the end of Freaks. I'd sit on my porch with a corncob pipe, here in Atlanta, and my porch faces west, where the sunset reflects from the skyscrapers' windows. My neighbor sells weed and once or twice before she's given me some for free. Maybe this day she will do the same.
Jamie Iredell and The Book of Freaks links:
Big Other interview with the author
The Laughing Yeti guest post by the author
Recommended Reading interview with the author
Small Doggies interview with the author
SmokeLong Quarterly interview with the author
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 comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from the week's CD releases)
weekly music & DVD release lists