Then, right as they build back up into iteration two of the rousing "Please Mrs. Then again, my daughter loves taking trips to NYC to experience Broadway up-close-and-personal, so I may need to buy even more weed stock. What were the crew like, on that evening in ? Things are starting to get off track. Karin and I are still sailing when we can. Email Subscription Want to "Hook Up" more often? Thanks to Amanda your BFF, not Darby-Smith for those not paying attention for being with you like a champ the whole way through this.
~ Life aboard with Dan and Karin
Why have I been away for so long? Billy Francis gives a bloodcurdling shriek. Now if you were watching closely from the harvest, through fall, to now you would have noticed that Dan has been working on his beard. Locorriere abandons the bass but the drummer keeps playing as if he didn't notice, launching into a vapid, meandering drum solo as Locorriere, Sawyer, and Billy Francis dance aimlessly and moronically around the stage like the dwarves in the famous Spinal Tap "Stonehenge" scene. Might be my sister, three nephews and all their wives and families who live in or near the Camas Prairie. Sawyer repeatedly strokes Locorriere's hair and face throughout the performance. The Black Album [Tracklist].
You some type of lawyer or something? Somebody important or something? The video became controversial for its ending, where Jay gets shot in a metaphorical end to his rap career. Jay-Z said of the track:. He also truly produced me, which felt uncomfortably good. He pushed me to take the track to a whole other level. I wanted to flip the hook, not make it about a girl. So I had these stories—the Southern racist cop, I wanted to paint the picture with his voice. Jay Z was going into retirement and asking different producers that he liked to each do a track.
We went in several times. He had started something that was more rooted in the old Def Jam sound. Jay Z could make a great record out of that. He took the track in the back of the room and played it over and over again and wrote whole complicated verses in his head. It took him about half an hour. Each one was its own unique performance. He did that for each of the verses: He said it was the first time he had ever physically wrote anything down before for any record.
He was just very inspired by that beat, and it was a miraculous thing to behold. After he did the vocals, we did some more scratching and drops and just kind of made it into the record that it is. The guitars were a combination of old records that were sped up or slowed down, scratched in, or in some cases, we played guitars and then made a disc and scratched them in with a digital turntable.
It was all processed and made new. Live is that the band's performance is anything but despairing and hopeless. In fact, there's something ecstatic about just about every second of every song.
Almost everyone in the band is beaming, carefree, laughing, exchanging happy glances with each other. And there is something incredibly sweet and loving about the way Sawyer and Locorriere interact. Sawyer repeatedly strokes Locorriere's hair and face throughout the performance. When Sawyer raises his hand to point at the audience challengingly Locorriere playfully reaches out and shoves his hand down, like an old wife admonishing her husband not to point.
At one moment in the set, Locorriere charges woozily towards Sawyer and envelops him in a long bear-hug. When he pulls away, you see Sawyer looking down shyly at his feet, beaming. It's almost as if there isn't even an audience at all. It's as if, now that they're convinced that nobody in Europe and possibly in the world cares about them anymore except for each other, they've been set free. Introducing their third song, Locorriere tells the cameras, "Ray is gonna yodel.
And Sawyer's yodel is in fact quite impressive, especially when he shifts into the what Locorriere describes as "The triple yodel…the hardest yodel in the whole world and I ain't kidding, and Ray is gonna do it, unprotected. It's during "Yodel" that you realize: And they're also excellent musicians. The sneaky thing about Dr. Live is that no matter how sour and chaotic and sloppy it gets there's something consistently musical about it, something both sincere and fundamentally unfakeable.
We're not ashamed of it! What key is it in? I forget everything about this song. Sawyer jumps on it as metaphor: By the end of the next song the aforementioned "no good" single "Carry Me, Carrie," which is truly not very good , the band has decided not to hurl the towels and is actively asking for them. Who are these strange Germans in the dark, dispensing towels?
What were the crew like, on that evening in ? What did they think of the band? Hook among friends that day, or were they deeply annoying to a professional European film unit who were presumably taking their jobs more seriously? Was this an amicable performance, or an antagonistic one? We almost never see the actual crew of Musikladen , and when we do see them it's only incidentally: How big was the studio?
How many people were there? The more I watch the DVD and the more I repeat these questions to myself, the more mysterious I've let the whole thing become in my mind, until the Musikladen stage, lit by white light but surrounded by an otherwise dark and apparently mostly vacant studio, feels like a tiny playroom suspended in an otherwise giant and black and void-like mystery space.
I remember one afternoon I spent shut in my bedroom with my best friend when I was a little kid. My parents were downstairs ignoring us, and there was nothing to do, so we took out a boombox and filled all of Side A of a Certron cassette with a kind of radio-play that we improvised on the spot. The play flowed in a stream-of-consciousness way. We would make up characters, and the characters would slowly be refined and altered and eventually discarded as the play went on.
Scenarios would be completely abandoned midstream and we'd pick up another plotline, and then that plotline would be abandoned but one character from it would stay on, walking into another plotline like it was another room, until the actual bedroom we were in started to fade away and recede and we were actually living inside this radio-play, sloughing off and adopting new personalities and inhabiting imaginary shifting and melting dream-spaces, walking across the ribbon of that slowly unspooling cassette as it dumbly just kept recording, living and floating along this stream-of-consciousness that we both shared.
As an adult, I've repeatedly been possessed by an almost painfully intense fantasy of recovering that lost tape, like it's some kind of Rosetta Stone to everything I ever liked or wanted out of art or performing. We were two little kids making something just to kill time, being goofy, shouting and jumping around and pontificating behind a closed door, with no thought in our heads about an audience or a finished product and certainly no thought of outside appreciation or of exposure or fame of any kind.
We were making something, but mostly we were playing, and in that playing the entire world disappeared and we forgot ourselves. In a way, it's the most creatively alive I've ever felt, and it's something I've chased after in some form or another in every recording session I've ever attended or every live show I've ever done. When I was at my very best as an artist, I wasn't looking for prestige or adulation or money or stability, I was playing , and I didn't care what people thought because they were just an abstraction—like some German insomniac TV viewer in or some still photographer whose name you forgot because you're too stoned—and the time just flew by, just disappeared, and I don't know where it went.
At the heart of it, this is what I find deeply beautiful and touching about Dr. Live , and essentially it's why I really do like it more than better movies by better directors about better bands. In those movies, it's almost impossible to escape artifice, self-importance, the desire for prestige. Live is completely unguarded, and there is something fresh and childlike in that unguardedness.
Whatever hopelessness or despair or inter-member strife Dr. Hook was feeling on that night in , somehow out of luck or skill they managed to leave it behind for 45 minutes and enter into an enchanted space of pure play. But now's the time to talk about inter-member strife, because it's after the relative disaster of "Carry Me, Carrie" that the narrative of Dr.
Live starts to crystallize and a villain scuttles his way into the foreground. We've seen him previously, in fact we noticed him a couple times, and he made us distinctly uncomfortable. At first, we just noticed that, as the rest of the band were laughing and carrying on and exchanging loving glances, there was a guy in the back who was conspicuously never laughing or smiling but was instead glowering darkly.
When we got a better look at him, we realized that he looked really weird , unnaturally tall and skeleton-thin, with skin-tight highwater army pants and a sheer wife-beater that clung with unnerving snugness to a bony sunken chest, his body like a walking-stick insect atop which was set a head whose darkly sour expression, black beard scruff, and voluminously flowing dark curls suggested an evil wizard out of Tolkein or an understudy for Charles Manson.
George Cummings, the group's lead guitarist and pedal steel player, slowly walks from the high pedal steel station he's been hiding behind and proceeds to the front of the stage, his head lowered like an executioner. George positions himself before Locorriere's vocal mic and there's a long pause as, from his right pocket, he produces a large red handkerchief. Using the handkerchief, he slowly and fastidiously wipes the mic Locorriere has been singing into. The band has launched into a menacing groove, with Wolters playing a quarternote kick drum beat and Sawyer threateningly scraping a cabasa.
After he has finished hand-cleaning the mic, George drapes the handkerchief over it, where it hangs like a Halloween ghost decoration. It will become more and more clear as the set goes on that the relationship between George Cummings and the rest of the band has recently come under some kind of strain. In fact, within a year, Cummings will quit Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show, citing "personal and musical differences. In any case, the message of George's eccentric handkerchief-draping is clear.
As with the giant pedal steel station he hides behind in his stage-left corner, the handkerchief is a barricade between him and the rest of the group. He's differentiating himself from their behavior, making a public issue of their "germs," holding himself apart. I can only guess what George's beef with Dr.
Hook might have been. The most obvious guess would be that he's embarrassed by their drunken and drugged carrying-on, but I don't think that's it; George also acts like he's under the influence, and, a couple of times, I noticed him sneaking swigs from a large flask secreted in the back pocket of his army pants.
Beyond that, who knows? George's own explanation of "personal and musical differences" actually feels the most apt. Musically, there is something subtly but undeniably out of place about George's pedal-steel work; while the rest of the band choogles along good-naturedly, it oozes a malign, swampy dread.
His playing is consistently very loud, as if he's trying to overpower his band-mates. Even his look feels different; although he's got the requisite beard and long hair, George feels like a darker kind of hippie.
He's the Altamont to their Woodstock. The rest of the group barely look at him, and he hardly seems to make eye contact with either them or the cameras, instead fixing his gaze at some unspecified point far off in the endless black of the studio. Now that it's time for George's big lead vocal moment, he picks the dirt out from under his fingernails, adjusts the mic-stand to his considerable height, and then links his arms behind his back like the hanged man in a deck of Tarot cards. Uttering a deep rattling moan that could either be of pleasure or dread or some squirmy combination of both, he buries his face in the handkerchief he's brought along to protect himself from Locorriere's germs.
Appropriately, the song George is about to sing deals explicitly with the subject of germs and viruses and the terror of being infected. It's called "Penicillin Penny" and, with it, the good-natured, generous feeling of Dr.
Live comes under its first threat, a threat from which it takes the band several songs to recover. As with many of the tunes the band has performed in this set—songs like "Carrie Me, Carrie" and "Marie Laveaux"— "Penicillin Penny" is a kind of character study.
But where the former is a clumsy love hymn from a good-hearted drunk and the latter is a hat-tip to New Orleans' legendary voodoo priestess, "Penicillin Penny" is more grotesque, a man's paranoid nightmare vision of a sexually forward woman.
George leans into the mic and, in a disquieting mumble-moan that sounds slightly muffled, maybe because of the handkerchief, he introduces the title character. At the end of the first line, as if we didn't get the point, he ad-libs a drawn out and lascivious "Str-i-i-i-ppin'…". Up until now there has been a sweetness to Dr. Hook's set, but there is something about "Penicillin Penny" that feels mean-spirited, even hateful.
In "Cover of the Rolling Stone" Dr. Hook celebrate male promiscuity, boasting about their "little blue-eyed teenage groupies who do everything we say;" by contrast, "Penicillin Penny" portrays a promiscuous woman, with the narrator smirking as he watches her slow degradation and downfall, from assignations in the backseat of a Cadillac to the filthy "floors of men's room bars.
The innocence of the earlier part of the set has burned away with the arrival of George and "Penicillin Penny," and things are getting ugly. As if to acknowledge this shift, the band alter their playing significantly. There's an odd sense of seriousness all of a sudden—the band even tones down their boyish antics, as if they're afraid of a reprisal from their new guest singer.
After the first two verses of "Penicillin Penny," George retreats to his corner and wrenches out a quick, violent solo from behind his pedal steel station.
The solo over, he returns to the front of the stage, to his mic, to his handkerchief. He leans in close, and as he leans in the camera pulls towards his face as he mutters an ominous " Mmmmmmmmboooooogie …" and launches back into the lyrics of verse three:.
She's Penicillin Penny, and if you ever see her passing through, you'd better run into your house before she stops and lays a little on you. By this point, the camera has pulled in so close to George's face that it takes up the entire screen. George's mouth is hidden behind the red handkerchief, so when his voice comes out it sounds weirdly disembodied, like it was piped in from somewhere else. In spite of the macro close-up, his face barely seems to move.
He stands there, stone-still, filling the screen, a frozen giant, so massive you can see every pore in his nose. His eyes, though, are hidden in deep shadow. The camera lingers on this close-up as the disembodied words flow out, holding the shot for so long that for a while it becomes abstracted and you almost forget you're looking at a face.
You get the illusion instead that you're peering into two deep caves burrowed into the pale side of an ancient cliff, with overgrown black vines shrouding the cave on either side, and with a booming voice off in the distance, or maybe it's thunder, breaking against itself, or maybe the voice is coming from the miles and miles of endlessness deep inside, a voice of someone thousands of feet below the earth's surface, a damp, earthy voice, a voice like mud or like dirt or like black grease, intoning " Mmmmmboooooogie ….
The producers of Musikladen appear to have chosen "Penicillin Penny" as the song in which to get the most experimental with their editing technique; up until this point the editing has been mostly invisible, consisting of conventional long-shots with occasional cuts to different parts of the action, but in "Penicillin Penny" there's a switch to a deliberately disorienting pattern of very tight shots that alternate quickly and rhythmically.
As the band breaks down to just a bare, propulsive beat, we get a close-up of Wolters' drumsticks cracking against the hi-hat, then Sawyer shaking one tambourine inside of another tambourine, George with his mouth pressed up to the red handkerchief, moaning, "Oh God…" and tilting his head far back into the blackness of the studio, Billy Francis rubbing the cabasa he picked up from Sawyer.
Even the drum kit has dropped out by this point and the only music onstage consists of hand percussion and Wolters beating out a hi-hat pattern while George incants a long, repetitive ad-lib:. I don't need no dose. Don't want no dose. I can't use no dose. Don't you slip me no dose. Don't you give me no dose. I don't want no dose. I don't deserve no dose. Won't you doctor my dose? As George repeats the words "Doctor my dose" over and over, he slowly alters them, at first leaving the "s" off of "dose" so that it sounds like "doe" and then slipping into a kind of grotesque deathbed imitation, all gurgles and wheezes and gasps for air.
The camera cuts jarringly back and forth between close-ups of his expressionless face and the rattling percussion. Soon George's words are completely abstracted; it's all just agonized choking and sputtering. The shot returns to George—he is hunched over his pedal steel station now, holding the handkerchief in his right hand.
He has clearly put something inside the handkerchief to weight it, and is now swinging it around in a wide arc. As the camera zooms in quickly, he whips the handkerchief violently up and whomps it into the strings of his pedal steel, as if he's beating an animal. He keeps repeatedly whipping the steel, wildly, angrily, licking his lips, shouting inaudibly at the rest of the band and swinging the handkerchief over his shoulder, until they build to a noisily ugly crescendo and then stop —suddenly, surprisingly.
The song is over and, instead of their customary laughs and banter, they are silent. Will Sheff is the songwriter and lead singer for Okkervil River. This essay was condensed from an original version published on his web site, willsheff.
Imsges: we should hook up song
He keeps coming back to Seattle to talk to HQ. Author of The Bellman Chronicles.
Notify me of new comments via email. Syd and Josh an young master Remi joined the fun.
This way, I keep my job you get the important bits. So, Jen is back in town. Short story, we can. Musically, there is something subtly but undeniably out of place about George's pedal-steel work; while the rest of the band choogles along good-naturedly, it oozes a malign, swampy hkok. He urgently motions for the band to stop playing, we should hook up song grabs Locorriere by the side of the head.
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