(What’s So Funny About) Peace, Love, and Understanding

In Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke advises the following: “Irony: Do not let yourself be governed by it, especially not in uncreative moments. In creative moments try to make use of it as one more means of grasping life. Cleanly used, it too is clean, and one need not be ashamed ofContinue reading “(What’s So Funny About) Peace, Love, and Understanding”

Country Darkness

It all starts with sweet tea, Sweet Tea Recording Studio in Oxford, Mississippi, to be more precise. In 2004, Elvis Costello once again teamed up with his backing band The Imposters and recorded the album The Delivery Man at Sweet Tea. Armed with a batch of new songs, Costello was yearning to make another rockContinue reading “Country Darkness”

The Delivery Man

Once upon a time, in a log cabin in the American South, there lived a woman who was charmed by three figures: Jesus Christ, Elvis Presley, and Santa Claus. Each offered a different variation of mythological masculinity. This woman’s devotion to Jesus, Elvis, and Santa Claus was exhibited by all manners of collectibles which wereContinue reading “The Delivery Man”

Alibi

In 1950, the movie In a Lonely Place was released, directed by Nicholas Ray and starring Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame. Produced by Bogart’s production company, the film is a dark story about a screenwriter “Dix” (played by Bogart) with a brutal and nasty temper who is accused of murder. A lonely neighbor “Laurel” (portrayedContinue reading “Alibi”

Tokyo Storm Warning

An earlier piece on Recliner Notes investigates Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and the different traditions from which Dylan examined and pulled, including rhyming songs, nonsense songs, Chuck Berry’s “Too Much Monkey Business,” and skatting within songs. At the core of the Dylan song and these other song forms is the rhyming and unrelenting cadenceContinue reading “Tokyo Storm Warning”

Almost Blue

A song is considered a standard when it has achieved a certain amount of popularity within a specific genre (jazz, blues, etc.) and sometimes across genres. It becomes part of the “standard repertoire” when a significant number of different artists perform the song. While there are standards within different musical genres, often referencing a standardContinue reading “Almost Blue”

Beyond Belief

In 2004, Elvis Costello wrote a lengthy appreciation of The Beatles for Rolling Stone: “I first heard of The Beatles when I was nine years old…I was exactly the right age to be hit by them full on. My experience — seizing on every picture, saving money for singles and EPs, catching them on aContinue reading “Beyond Belief”