Thursday, August 2, 2012
My Favorite Things
I recently submitted liner notes for the upcoming reissue of The Return of The Durutti Column which will be released this October on the 1972 record label. You can read them below. I also collaborated with Matt Fishbeck on the liners for the second Durutti record, LC. Will post those next week.
The Return of The Durutti Column (1980)
One night I was walking back from the store with a friend in Oakland and we were set upon by a couple local teenagers, one of whom waved a knife as he approached. My friend had lived in this terrible hot pocket of a neighborhood for too long and was starting to suffer badly from of a kind of persecution complex. So it was funny that once the whole thing got started the muggers focused entirely on him. They screamed in his face, held the knife up to him and took his bag. They never even looked at me much less made me give them anything. I stood there as if I was invisible.
After they ran off we started heading back to his house and I noticed that he was shaking with rage. Now inside he went to the kitchen and picked up a steak knife that lay in his sink, smeared with herbed goat cheese. As he scrubbed the blade he started foaming about going back out to the street and finding the kids again. He was seeing red at this point and I had to start soothing him before he did something really stupid. So I let him rant and stomp all around the living room (clean knife in hand) on the condition that he not go outside. A couple times I even had to block the door and grapple with him a bit. Eventually he chilled out and we started to listen to music, which had been our original plan for the evening.
Later on he asked me if I had ever heard The Durutti Column. I hadn’t but I’d heard the name before and it had always kind of irritated me. At the time it struck me as pretentious and obscurantist but I think my reluctance to check them out stemmed more from my bewilderment at the vastness of our pop cultural landfill. Sometimes it’s hard to know where to dig in, you know? I regret confessing to this kind of prejudice but the upshot for me is to realize that this is how the great loves of my life always start - with some kind of dissonance.
So he put on Return of The Durutti Column and within the first second of “Sketch For Summer” not only did I know that I was in love but I knew that the way that I thought of the guitar was forever changed.
Beyond that, what can I say?
It’s the perfect debut. The perfect guitar record. The perfect mid-fidelity experience. The perfect Martin Hannett production. The perfect band and album name. My love for it reaches from A to Z.
We played it twice that night, the second time turned up loud and from out in the yard where we looked at the stars. No sign of his attackers on the street. I can still remember the cold air outside and that listening to this music made me feel like I was crossing a threshold - a bridge to a new way of thinking about music, new zones of sensation. That was a few years ago and in the meantime I’ve digested pretty much the entire Durutti Column catalog. Return of is the one I go back to most often because it’s still got so much juice.
The one thing that’s always puzzled me though is why Peter thought he had to wash the knife before stabbing some teen thug. I like to picture him stalking the streets like some kind of bourgeois Travis Bickle, his weapon encrusted with dry chevre and herbs de provence. Reality seems to be rife with these kinds of double exposures nowadays. Click.
-- Matt Baldwin, Oakland 2012
Also, I have a show tomorrow night with King Tuff at Fernwood in Big Sur. We play around 10pm after the Bill Callahan documentary screening/performance down the street at the Henry Miller library. More info at folkyeah.com