"Since the First World War Americans have been leading a double life, and our history has moved on two rivers, one visible, the other underground; there has been the history of politics which is concrete, factual, practical and unbelievably dull; and there is a subterranean river of untapped, ferocious, lonely and romantic desires, that concentration of ecstasy and violence which is the dream life of the nation."

Norman Mailer
"The whole work of healing Tellus depends on nursing that little spark, on incarnating that ghost, which is still alive in every people, and different in each. When Logres really dominates Britain, when the goddess Reason, the divine clearness, is really enthroned in France, when the order of Heaven is really followed in China--why then it will be spring."

"This new history of yours," said McPhee, "is a wee bit lacking in documents."

C.S. Lewis

Synchronicities this week

  • June 24 Midsummer/St. John’s Day
  • June 24, 1947 The first flying saucers are sighted over Mount Rainier by pilot Ken Arnold.
  • June 24, 1542 St. John of the Cross, Spanish Carmelite mystic and poet, is born.
  • June 24, 1938 500 ton meteorite lands near Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.
  • June 24, 1717 First Free Masons' grand lodge founded in London.
  • June 24, 1374 A sudden outbreak of St. John's Dance causes people in the streets of Aachen, Germany, to experience hallucinations and begin to jump and twitch uncontrollably until they collapse from exhaustion.
  • June 24, 1314 Battle of Bannockburn; Scotland regains independence from England.
  • June 24, 843 Vikings destroy Nantes.
  • June 23 Midsummer’s Eve
  • June 23, 1972 Nixon & Haldeman agree to use CIA to cover up Watergate.
  • June 23, 1942 Germany's latest fighter, a Focke-Wulf FW190 is captured intact when it mistakenly lands at RAF Pembrey in Wales.
  • June 23, 1888 Frederick Douglass is 1st African-American nominated for president.
  • June 23, 1848 Workers’ insurrection in Paris.
  • June 23, 1713 The French residents of Acadia are given one year to declare allegiance to Britain or leave Nova Scotia, Canada. They choose the latter, migrate to Louisiana, and become Cajuns.
  • June 21 Summer Solstice (11:28 a.m.).
  • June 21, 1964 Three civil rights workers-Michael H. Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James E. Chaney-are kidnapped and murdered by the Klan in Mississippi .
  • June 21, 1948 The 33 1/3 RPM LP record is introduced by Columbia Records.
  • June 21, 1944 Ray Davies of the Kinks born in London.
  • June 21, 1916 Mexican troops beat US expeditionary force under Gen Pershing.
  • June 21, 1877 The Molly Maguires, ten Irish immigrant labor activists, are hanged in Pennsylvania prisons.
  • June 20, 1947 Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, gangster, the “man who invented Las Vegas,” shot dead in Beverly Hills, Cal.
  • June 20, 1909 Errol Flynn, greatest of the swashbucklers, born in Hobart, Tasmania.
  • June 20, 1944 Congress charters Central Intelligence Agency.
  • June 20, 1943 Detroit race riot kills 35.
  • June 20, 1893 - Lizzie Borden acquitted in murder of parents in New Bedford Mass.
  • June 20, 1871 Ku Klux Klan trials began in federal court in Oxford Miss.
  • June 20, 1837 Queen Victoria at 18 ascends British throne ; rules for 63 years ending in 1901.
  • June 20, 1756 146 British soldiers imprisoned in the "Black Hole of Calcutta." Most die.
  • June 20, 1631 The Irish village of Baltimore is attacked by Algerian pirates.
  • June 20, 1214 The University of Oxford receives its charter.
  • June 20, 451 Germans & Romans beat Attila the Hun at Catalarinische Fields.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Review: Neko Case - Middle Cyclone

From indie heartthrob to pop star

With her new album, Middle Cyclone, entering the Billboard charts at #3, former indie heartthrob and alt-country belter Neko Case is on the cusp of transformation into a Star. Will she be the background soundtrack for better loft parties everywhere, or will she rip the joint up and demand a response from all of us? She's a Voice, alright, but one that's still in search of the right ears.

Read my review at Bluegrassspecial.com as we ponder the eternal dilemma of underground meeting overground.

Here's how it starts:

The Angel of Anomie

"Every so often you hear Neko Case referred to as 'that voice;' sometimes, even more emphatically, 'the voice.' Something makes people talk about her like that, an awareness that Case seems poised to evolve from a mere singer into a Voice.

When a singer becomes a Voice we're no longer talking about the technical qualities of breath over vocal chords or control of the diaphragm. No, Voice in this sense means singing plus signifying. A Voice is a singer whose actual singing is just one piece of a persona. A Voice creates a psychic space for a constituency that he/she has a unique power to speak to and move. A Voice attracts to itself a world of associations. Who doesn't absorb half of Lou Reed's m├ętier just by hearing him singing a few bars? A singer provides one piece of a performance, like a bass player. A Voice is an attraction all by itself, and carries a weight of extra-musical meaning that a singer is spared. When young Elvis opened his mouth, he personified a generation of white kids in the Deep South who had been secretly thrilling to black music in the depths of Jim Crow. When Joni Mitchell sang, there was a whole self-involved southern California hippie gentry world present. When Sinatra did his thing, there was always a saloon at closing time implied, the streets outside empty and black with rain. Lotte Lenya, Dolly Parton, Judy Garland, Marc Bolan--every inflection was enriched by what they had come to mean.

"Neko Case is one of the few performers from '90-'00's indie music equipped to even formulate that ambition...."

Find the rest in this month's issue of Bluegrassspecial.com.

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