Annie Use Your Telescope

I woke up needing to hear a record.

Actually, this need evidenced itself the multiple times I woke up last night.

Prior to going to bed, I listened to Jack Mannequin’s new album, "The Glass Passenger", on my iPod as I read the newspapers.  Distracted, the music as background, the album started to reveal itself.

I’d given the new album a few spins prior to the gig, but it hadn’t penetrated me.  And yesterday, I was playing "Into The Airwaves", "The Mixed Tape" and "Holiday For Real" over and over again and then I needed to listen to something new.  That’s when I dialed up "The Glass Passenger".

Gig hangover.  I didn’t want to play any music on the way home from the gig.  When I was growing up, I’d enter the house in the dark, fire up my mother’s stereo and listen to the vinyl album of the act I’d just seen on headphones.  I didn’t want the experience to die, I reveled in it.

In the seventies, I’d never read without a record playing in the background.  That’s how I learned the album cuts.  Like "Old Mister Time" on 10cc’s "Bloody Tourists".  You’re deep into your reading material, the music emanating from the other side of the room, and then one track envelops you. You look up, stare at the wall, catch every lick.

Today I use an iPod.  I don’t have to cross the room to play the track again.  I can just hit repeat.  Which I kept doing last night, needing to hear "Annie Use Your Telescope" again and again.

It started feeling like October

It is October.  The hottest on record in SoCal according to my buddy.  Summer hangs on a long time in L.A., but by now I’ve usually turned on the heat.  But despite Accuweather predicting a decline in temperatures, this has not happened.  It’s hot summer days, although cooler nights.  The kind of weather east coasters move here for, the kind of weather Angelenos burn out on.  Like Barbra Streisand in that movie, we’re looking for some RAIN!

But it’s dark out, I’m reading by the lamp, and this aural landscape is playing in my ears.  It’s majestic.  It’s not a beat-driven opus made to sell products, to ring a cash register.  It’s a track someone had to cut, to tell his story.

In the nineties we moved to a hit-driven world.  That’s all the A&R guys wanted.  Even the rock stations had tight playlists.  They didn’t want any tune-outs.  But what built this business was the album cut.  The problem is not iTunes, but the purveyors.  Looking for instant riches, they jammed the track, surrounded it with crap and then whored it and its performer out to such a degree that we could be burned out on an act in a year. Whereas acts used to develop, unfold on the scene.  We were less interested in their sales history than their musical explorations.  Where were they going, what did they have to say?  What happened in their lives that made them not only become musicians, but led them to make this music.

Yesteryear’s music wasn’t made for everybody.  Check the sales figures for confirmation.  Even the Beatles didn’t sell ten million copies of an album in the States.  Your music was for your scene, your scene supported you.  So I don’t expect everybody to like "Annie Use Your Telescope".

But I do.

And that’s all that counts.

You listen to this music in your house and go to the gig to hear it replicated, to have an ultimate experience.

We live in a nation of winners.  Zac Efron, Paris Hilton, fabulous people whose lives work.  But then we see Paris crying on her way to jail and child stars getting hooked on drugs, sometimes o.d.’ing, even committing suicide.  We don’t live in a nation of winners, but a nation of people.  All imperfect.  HD reveals Cameron Diaz has a bad complexion.  Plastic surgery can perfect your body, but you appear strange, everybody can tell, because perfection doesn’t exist in the wild.  Music used to speak to this truth, to the person who felt like a square peg in a round hole.  Music reached out and told you you were okay, that it was okay to dream, to lick your wounds, that tough times were de rigueur and with this music playing you could get through.

"Annie Use Your Telescope" is not a one listen smash.  Not something that can sell razors or zit cream.  But play this alone, long after dark, and you’ll feel the power of music.  Washing over you, bathing you, wiping away all the detritus of everyday life and giving you hope.

Go to: Jack Mannequin MySpace It’s the second track.

One Response to Annie Use Your Telescope


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  1. Pingback by Lefsetz v. Detroit. | The Contrarian | 2008/12/16 at 11:39:54

    […] Bob has been annoying me lately with his loud-talking endorsements of über-lame shitpop acts like Jack's Mannequin (their name is nearly as horrible as their […]

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  1. Pingback by Lefsetz v. Detroit. | The Contrarian | 2008/12/16 at 11:39:54

    […] Bob has been annoying me lately with his loud-talking endorsements of über-lame shitpop acts like Jack's Mannequin (their name is nearly as horrible as their […]

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