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Decoration Day

The sixth track on the Byrds' 1966 LP, Fifth Dimension, "I Come And Stand At Every Door" was, like "The Bells of Rhymney" before it, an adaptation of an adaptation, sourced by Roger McGuinn from folk troubadour Pete Seeger (who in turn got it from a translation of a poem by the Turkish writer Nazim Hikmet). A first-person tale of a seven-year-old at Hiroshima, it seems an unlikely cover choice for Mark E. Smith and the Fall, until you remember that their albums have featured a wide range of weird cover choices (i.e., bit actor Steve Bent's novelty number "I'm Going To Spain," William Blake's "Jerusalem"), and they've often sounded as good, if not better, than their original material.

MES should be well aware of the song's pedigree; however, the album credits merely "Anon/J Nagle," Julia Nagle being the keyboard player who came up with the blithe faux-piano backing. Smith's soporific reading, which usually points toward the influence of an adjacent pub, here sounds more depressed by the subject matter at hand. As sedate as it is, his performance is by no means phoned in, though his shuffling of the lyric sheet is audible throughout. Seeger fiddled a bit with the words, and Smith does as well, though not to his usual ironic effect: "I woke one day to ashen life" waxes more poetic than the line it replaces ("My hair was scorched by swirling flame").

And lest you think MES is getting sentimental in his old age, an instrumental version of the track, which pointlessly appears later on Levitate, is entitled with an epithet -- "Jap Kid."

The Fall - I Come And Stand At Your Door

Jack Frost was a collaboration between Steve Kilbey of The Church and Grant McLennan of The Go-Betweens. They put forth two albums: a self-titled debut in '91, followed, after a time, by Snow Job in '96. I haven't heard the second, but I can attest that the first occasionally plays to their strengths. "Civil War Lament" is no "Cattle And Cane," but it is satisfyingly wistful.

Jack Frost - Civil War Lament


The Adventures of Arvo/Part III

-…and that is how I play “mic stand trick” on foolish British conductor!

-Ha! It is quite unbelievable how credulous the English can be. With that sense of humor, you quite deserve today’s honor. How does it feel, Arvo, to have a station on our city’s underground named after you?

-Yes, is fine, but to say of parliament intrigue -- MI5 uncover: old Pope, Sir Pius, strangle, but hush. (I know from double-spy.) Base on glove found by secret agent man in lonely Vatican alcove. But, dress as Swiss Guard, wear restrict Opus Dei garment, cannot bend to reach! So, he have use spear to hoist, examine. Knuckles spell Estonian word “premeditate murder,” also one letter change to get “archconspirator Kremlin.” However, Britain hate Catholic, so they dismiss! Instead lift pint, say, “Cheer!” -- but how fun, willed ignorance?

-I see. Arvo, I must tell you that we had a devil of a time finding a printer who would exercise the umlaut, trace as it is of Teutonic oppression.

-Yes, well! I no ask, put me graven on depot.

-We hadn’t anticipated a problem. It’s a tendency that feeds upon itself, a snake eating its tail. Every time your name has appeared in print here, the umlaut is always left off. One would have to intuit it from its absence. A curious notion --

-Ahem! On all work! A, umlaut! A, umlaut, like halo!

-Granted, but why waste two extra dots of ink? Who could afford such extravagance? Our economy is still recovering from Communist rule. Perhaps in the future --

-Why think future, O man? Or present? Know ye past? Time now, present; mind, in sepulchre -- cohere? Example, thyself: ye goggles obsolete -- mirror ugly brain trap, O fetid ruin! Jesus say: bring forth out ye, called, choosen. Ye not called, eh! And so not choosen: are millstone, please. Is metaphor, mean: millstone gravestone also, for Judas bones.

-I can see very well out of these glasses, Arvo, and I can also see that I’ve provoked one of your religious manias. For that I am truly sorry. Let’s wrap things up here, folks --

Arvo Part - Da Pacem Domine


Some Assembly Required

The motto, "where there's a will, there's a way" is the superstition of modern man . . . . with all his rationality and efficiency, he is possessed by "powers" that are beyond his control. His gods and demons have not disappeared at all; they have merely got new names. They keep him on the run with restlessness, vague apprehensions, psychological complications, an insatiable need for pills, alcohol, tobacco, food--and, above all, a large array of neuroses.

- C.G. Jung, "Approaching the Unconscious"

The Terrors - Assemble Not Thyself

This world, which is the same for all, no one of gods or humans has made; but it was ever, is now, and ever will be an ever-living Fire, with measures of it kindling, and measures going out.

You will not find the boundaries of soul by traveling in any direction, so deep is the measure of it.

- Heraclitus

Funkadelic - You Can't Miss What You Can't Measure


The Adventures of Arvo/Part II

- Last night I dream Paraclete. He came as crow, to-sit on sill of window. On feathers, white stave. Notes, also much white (situation opposite life, yes? Bird so black): a score, music. I creep, wanting much to read wing-tune. Then, its holy head turn to me. My feets freeze. Thing open now mouth. I gasp profane. Beak so wide; I think, is not possible. In maw, I peer at galaxy, star, and out-space. I knew immediate: bird eat universe.

- His mouth, did it open like this, Arvo?

- Quite!

Arvo Part - Spiegel Im Spiegel