making the grade might be
more of a full-time gig than we
take it for
busily blurting a rhythm or two to
a non-stop staccatoing beat
picking up rhythms like old cigarette butts
as quick and as competent, looking for work,
passing up passage of time to conceal the true
nature of all my abuse
melodies and rhythmic change
that I can’t calculate
pressed, apparent, crackling,
then silent, all the same
certain susurrations cause voids to collapse
and it’s clicking arrhythmically
(pulse of a madman)
I love the rhythm of the vocals in this tune, with the sad, dark bass, the light click on the high-hat, the xylophone; it opens with such mood. When the rest of the band joins the tune, I’m less interested, somehow; the arpeggio on the guitar, maybe, loses me.
The drop into the chorus sounds great, though, with the gloomy brass band and the thumping heartbeat on the kick drum. The rhythm of the lyrics, too, is neat, staccato. The post-chorus builds into the verse, motivating a mournful trumpet that sounds like it wandered up from Old Mexico. The finger-style bass is perfect, supporting the vocals thoroughly.
Soon, the song builds to a languid ending, each instrument hanging on the note, until the drums bring us out and home.
A particularly radio-friendly hit, with Byrds-style harmonies, spindly guitar, and distorted electrics on the rhythm. It’s got enough twists to remind you we’re listening to Zappa, of course – the kazoo on the transitions, as well as the twisted post-chorus that drops into a minor key with a funky rhythm. They sing about the band itself, which is fair; they’re singing of their own capacity to “rock groupies …’til they sweat and cry.” Zappa’s band at the time was called the Mothers of Invention, so the implication is more than clear.
The strucutre is fairly rudimentary, but the ending section has some funny vocalising by Zappa, as well as a great, sharp tone on the guitar.
chiaroscuro portraits – a story circle
Chiaroscuro portraits on her bedroom wall. She tunes the radio with a smooth glide of her wrist, but hears nothing but static. Beads of sweat emerge at her brow, and she goes over to her collection of records – a few dozen scuffed 45s stacked in milk crates. Her fingertips, dry skin flaking, flick through the records. The sound they make is like a skittering insect’s many legs.
She selects a post-fusion jazz trio featuring Etna St. Dames on synthesizer, spools it onto her record player, sets the needle.
No sound emerges from the dusty speaker.
She scribbles the needle across the grooves but hears only rhythmless static. She yanks the needle and it comes off in her hands with a soft click. The static goes with it. She touches the plastic portrait frames, their subjects silently staring.