Sunday, May 02, 2004

your mind is fancy ... and your car is bitchin'

i already blathered on about the pixies in citybeat this week. assuming all went as expected, they played the coachella valley music & arts festival last night. to celebrate their reunion after more than a decade since splitting up, and this concert in the blazing desert that i did not attend, i played nothing but pixies in the car this weekend, as i traveled considerable distances in my vintage ragtop pony.

sadly, like so many glittering fantasies, a muscle car in the southern cali heat can be far more glamorous-sounding than the reality. i spent a lot of time sweating and worrying about my beautiful vampire complexion over these last three days. only people with asbestos skin can tolerate having the top down in the broiling temperatures of a midday freeway journey. i slather on the spf 30 (the drugstore was out of 45 ... drat), wear my hat, and keep that top up, baby. (putting the top down is for nighttime and cooler days.)

traveling south on interstate 5 to anaheim on friday, i had cold water, a vanilla starbucks iced coffee in a bottle, a big fat doobie, and trompe le monde. the road was surprisingly clear for much of the way ... things got a little hairy just south of the city, but while barreling past downtown, "bird dream of the olympus mons" made the road feel like a cushion of air, catching me up in a ticking wave of synth-drenched, pulsating guitars and black francis's wistful surrender to the martian mountain, which somehow made the perfect soundtrack for watching downtown los angeles twist and curve in and out of sight, then fade away in the rear view.

you can't really call my auto cd player too sophisticated, however, and so the faster i drove, the more strange anomalies occurred. a lot of the low end got swallowed up in that echo-y ambience vintage convertibles are prone to, all the little rattles and whooshings and things that come with a car being creaky and aged, windows not sitting quite right, etc. plus, i was massively stoned, so there were parts of the album that seemed to stretch out forever, or distort into pure chaos, or become psychedelic in their cacophony. that was all pretty cool, however, if a little disorienting, hearing changes in songs i knew by heart and then some. but that reminded me that reality is not always as we perceive it. an appropriately cosmic thought.

on saturday morning, around 10, heading out to woodland hills, it was bossanova -- an album i did not even mention in my citybeat ramble. well, it wasn't a comprehensive history, and i've written about bossanova at length, and the first time i played it in a while, a week or so ago, i didn't think it was as good as the others. but i was wrong. it starts out with the surf tune "cecilia ann" (which has no lyrics) and segues into the wonderfully screamy "rock music" (for which nobody i've found has the lyrics right) and then i think there's the chugging-windup-toy pop of "velouria" ... all pretty groovy when you're cruising at a phenomenal speed across the 101 west deep into the valley, just before the day really starts cooking in earnest. "is she weird?" may be my favorite pixies song i forgot about, another chugging monster-mash of a tune, full of dizzying drops and precipitous climbs and on-a-dime turns both ways. and the lyrics about ... whatever they're about -- a modern witch? who may be rich? hmmm... "is she weird, is she white, is she promised to the night?" is she a witch, and is she a good witch or a bad witch?

anyway. doesn't matter what it's about. half the time black francis was just putting together words that sounded good. the pixies are one band where the lyrics and phrasing and such really stand out, yet the meanings can seem both totally clear and completely obscure. metaphors, sure. and a lot of injokes, some of it. but other of it is ... i dunno. stoned musings, perhaps. exorcising obsessions, like mars. just freaky storytelling, as well.

so at last today, south through the city and then down the 405 to torrance, it was surfer rosa/come on, pilgrim. the earliest pixies tunes hold up quite well against the best of their later stuff, so raw and energetic, vibrantly hyper and aggressive, just jubilant in their chaotic freedom. those songs are simply classics. "bone machine." "break my body." fucking "nimrod's son." and, of course, "levitate me." perfect floaty-aggro propulsion for rocking the fast lane, with its uneven pavement seams and tailgating denizens, as the very air seethes and roils with the hot breath of hell itself.

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