Friday, June 10, 2005

Spelled Backwards, "Ul-Ul"

For your Friday delectation, I thought you might like to try a little multitasking exercise, a little confluence of High and Low Culcha.

Listen to Spike Jones' "Hawaiian War Chant."

(Easy enough, Nedster: it's a sprightly little piece that's been covered by every Hawaiian hack from David Keli’i with Al Kealoha Perry & his Singing Surfriders to Sam Makia with Lani McIntire & his Orchestra, with stops at Danny Stewart with Andy Iona's Islanders and Basil Henriques & his Waikiki Islanders, dude. Gimme a challenge.)

All right. Here's your challenge. Listen to it while reading Thomas Pynchon's liner notes to "Spiked! The Music of Spike Jones."

See if your head don't asplode.
Spike told an often-reworked story about going to hear Stravinsky conduct The Firebird at the Shrine Auditorium in L.A. Stravinsky is wearing some new patent leather shoes, and Spike is sitting close enough to notice that every time the composer-conductor goes up on his toes just before a downbeat, the shoes squeak. "Here would go the violins," as he told it, " and 'squeak squeak' would go his shoes. He should have worn a pair of sneakers. And the pseudos who went down to see the ballet, they didn't know what they were looking at anyway. They thought, Stravinsky's done it again. New percussive effects." But then later, driving home, Spike gets to thinking -- "...if you made planned mistakes in musical arrangements and took the place of regular notes in well-known tunes with sound effects, there might be some fun in it."
Does comedy belong in music? You bet your ass it does.

3 comments:

Kevin Wolf said...

Never heard this marvelous story. On the other hand, have heard Spike's record exactly untillion times.

The tragic thing about the "Greatest Hits" CD I found is that it had merely a Jack Davis portrait of the Maestro, unlike my parents' original RCA LP ("Thank You, Music Lovers!") which has one of Jack's great, manic pics of Spike being stomped by every imaginable sort of shoe or boot (and a few fists, too).

The fact that Jack Davis is needed to fully illustrate what Spike Jones is like aurally is really the only recommendation needed.

Ronzoni Rigatoni said...

So show us the RCA LP Cover. I be MA-A-AD about Jack Davis

JFG said...

Between this and your post about Pogo Possum, you have positioned yourself on my must-visit blog list.

Long Live American nonsense!