too much typing—since 2003

8.07.2005

In Which Byron the Bulb Immanentizes In His Capacity as Muse to Two Different Groups of Musicians

I think it was in college that I first read Thomas Pynchon. As near as I can remember, one of my friends (either Geir Kvaran or Phil Proefrock) introduced his stuff to me. I may have run into references to him earlier, but I'm pretty sure that's when I actually read him for the first time. Somewhere along there, I read that some band from the late sixties called the Insect Trust had set music to one of Pynchon's doggerel poems, in this case, the bit from V. on page 141 (in - as this helpful website points out - all editions except the Bantam paperback...naturally, the edition I have). At that time, the album (called Hoboken Saturday Night) was hopelessly out of print, but some years later, I re-met my ex-girlfriend, and her husband at the time actually had a copy, which I taped. (I include this biographical info because its tangledness is somehow vaguely Pynchonesque...) Anyway: their version, called "The Eyes of a New York Woman," seems to take its musical cue from a description a few pages later in the novel, wherein a character notes that the words were from "a song of the Great Depression."

Twenty-six years later, another band with a New Jersey connection, the Favorite Color, recorded their own version of the same Pynchon lyric, this time calling the track "V. in Love." I prefer this version, which seems to take the mood of the lyrics more or less straight, thereby reducing the listener's need to have read Pynchon to "get" what's going on. What I really like is the tremolo guitar and the resonant discordant suspensions on the first two chords in the verse, and that crunchy guitar sound at what sounds like a bridge but is actually a coda.

The Insect Trust's Hoboken Saturday Night was reissued last year, so I suppose a copy's fairly easy to come by. The Favorite Color's Color Out of Space is, as main songwriter Tris McCall says, an "unjustly ignored" record, by which he means (and I agree) that it's a very good unjustly ignored record. (Currently, the last two weeks' worth of mp3s at this site are tracks from this album.) I don't know if there are any more copies available...but I imagine if there are, and you harass Tris and claim you'll send him cookies or something, he might send you one. No promises there though.

The Insect Trust "The Eyes of a New York Woman"
The Favorite Color "V. in Love"

1 comment:

Phil Reed said...

I've been looking for "V. In Love" for some time now. Is there ANY chance I could get you to post it up again? doctorkickles@juno.com