Stations of the Cross

Every year on Wednesdays and Fridays during Lent, many observers in the Western Christian faith engage in a practice called the Stations of the Cross, a 14-step devotion observing Jesus’s last days as part of the Passion of Christ. The Stations of the Cross: “are commonly used as a mini pilgrimage as the individual movesContinue reading “Stations of the Cross”

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”

When I Was Cruel No. 2

Following the release of My Aim Is True, Elvis Costello received the print version of a coming out party with the help of writer Nick Kent in the August 27, 1977 edition of New Musical Express. In the feature, Costello said the following: “The only two things that matter to me, the only motivation pointsContinue reading “When I Was Cruel No. 2”

Poor Fractured Atlas

In the beginning of D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths, there is an account of how Zeus became “lord of the universe” by defeating the Titans who revolted against him and Zeus’s claim of dominion over them. In the wake of Zeus’s triumph, he punished various Titans for their participation in the insurgency. One sentence wasContinue reading “Poor Fractured Atlas”

All This Useless Beauty

In 1891, Oscar Wilde published the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray after a novella-length version was distributed as part of Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine. The novel included a preface by Wilde responding to the criticism the work had received when printed as part of the periodical. Wilde’s preface ends with the following lines: We canContinue reading “All This Useless Beauty”

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”

Uncomplicated

Renowned minimalist Lou Reed once said: “One chord is fine. Two chords are pushing it. Three chords and you’re into jazz.” Rock ‘n roll has plenty of examples of one-chord songs. “Chain of Fools” is filled with such incredible vocal interplay between Aretha Franklin and her background singers that the lack of a chord changeContinue reading “Uncomplicated”

Suit of Lights

“The suit doesn’t make the man, but it highlights him and gives him a different air.” So says Luis Miguel Calvo, a banderillero and former matador, in a 2005 New York Times article about the clothing worn by bullfighters in the ring and the methods and techniques used to create this finery. The most commonlyContinue reading “Suit of Lights”