THE BORDER 001
curated by TODD BERRYMAN
It’s no great surprise to anyone who’s known me, or listened to what I’ve done on certain radio shows, that boundaries on music are something that can be observed…and then smashed through, or at least bent in some fashion. There are commonalities that exist in many musical forms, and sometimes that common ground defies easy categorization, and we’re left with the somewhat clumsy shorthand of “it sounds a little like jazz” or the use of an adjective like “Beatlesque” instead; the words do the job, but sometimes it’s music that has to be EXPERIENCED, given earspace and attention and a certain lack of prejudice.
Exactly the kind of thing the idea of a mixtape was invented for.
Having done this for a while, I’ve also realized over time that this same mindset works in other arts like photography, or architecture, or painting. You can go into a room in a museum and see nothing but Impressionists, but then there’s a point of segue where things loosen up and you have to shift in another direction artistically before you can progress to the next room. The author Neil Gaiman’s term for one of those fluid positions is a “soft place” (a term he used in the graphic novel series THE SANDMAN), and those soft places are where many of the most interesting possibilities reside. It’s that soft place between country and rhythm and blues in the 1940s and 1950s that helped create rock and roll music, for example, or the soft places between jazz and classical and acoustic music that helped birth progressive bluegrass…and you can extrapolate this to practically any music you’ve ever heard.
This “program” is an attempt to explore some of those commonalities and soft places.
Welcome to THE BORDER.
If you were at my house during a friendly dinner party, and people began to migrate outside to have a Guinness or a margarita, and you happened to come down to the basement while I was fiddling with the turntable to find the next selection, and we got drawn into a conversation about all these wonderful creative fields of music and architecture and painting and comedy and literature, this music would probably be some sort of soundtrack that would eventually emerge, likely on the fly. Your walk down the stairs equates to the trolley in MR. ROGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD, or the wardrobe in the NARNIA books, or Garrison Keillor saying “it’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon”…it is a soft place, into another means of viewing the universe.
So, we’ve got our premise, sort of. Let’s first create a space, virtual but based in reality, where this little experiment resides. How about a house that looks like one of those old console stereos from the 1960s?
Now let’s get a few songs stacked up. Uh Oh! First we need something to play them on:
(image from here: http://www.flickriver.com/photos/momtothemom/3520058673)
There, that’ll do.
Let’s explore this “border” idea for a couple of songs. We’ll start with a friend from 1974. Now, I get that the border that Richard and Linda Thompson are singing about is something a little more spiritual, the “great beyond,” but then really good music can put you in mind of that, right?
And then to a greatest hits album from 1982:
Now, to a piano player with a “Border Song” to enjoy:
Ah, probably not the one you were actually expecting. Maybe this one?
A more literal border here.
Let’s lighten the mood to end this…perhaps a comedy break here.
Alright, we should probably take this stack off and put on a new one, and head upstairs and join our pals outside, under the moonlight with our own cocktails. “Moon songs” should work. Chuck Berry gets pride of place:
And then another guy, alone with his guitar. Well, mostly.
Down to New Orleans, with a few high-profile friends. Why hello, Mr. Hiatt and Mr. Hancock!
And let’s pick up with the “Yellow Moon” reference again in this one, a good headphone song when you get the chance:
A little shoegazer rock from an EP in the early 1990s.
And finally, a guy who was so into the “moon songs” thing that he did a whole album called MOONLIGHT SINATRA…
That’s it for this time, ‘cause we’ve got some drinking to catch up on. Enjoy, explore, keep your earspace open!