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MERE PSEUD BLOG ED.

5.29.2006

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

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