Saturday, November 09, 2013

And for every hung-up person, in the whole wide universe ...

... and for you too, dear reader, assuming you don't fall into the first category (and how could you, being a TYOMP reader?), I did some quick research.

Just to backpedal a bit, I had earlier made reference to the Byrds version of Bob Dylan's Chimes of Freedom as a way to creatively describe the anticholinergic effects I was experiencing from my decongestant.  Then I thought: Shit, I should just go downstairs, dial that baby up on the stereo, pour a glass of box wine and take a high-volume listen.

Which I did.  And it was great.

Then I listened to Bruce Springsteen (of all people) doing a live version.  Which was also fabulous, because say what you will about guitars and the E Street Band, it's really a keyboard driven band.  And what's a harpsichord if not a) just a Rickenbacker 360-12 for guys like Johann Sebastian Bach and b) just a click away on any electric piano?  Remember all that calliope music on Greetings from Asbury Park and The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle?  (I'm running away to join the circus!)   So I figured they'd go beautifully after the Byrds.  

And they did.

Then I dialed up Bob Dylan himself -- he wrote the thing after all -- and listened to him bray and grunt his way through it in the loveliest of ways, using only an acoustic guitar and a harmonica.  To paraphrase Hemingway, it was a fine performance.  And true.

And somewhere in the middle of doing all that, I ran across this great article by Frank Kocher titled Jingle-Jangle Revolution -- How Rickenbacker Guitars Changed Music.  Which can, and should, be read here.

If you don't want to, just read this ...

The 1950s saw the mass production of the now classic Fender and Gibson guitars. Gretsch already had some beautiful hollow-bodied electric guitars favored by Chet Atkins and other country pickers. The Ricks didn’t have the sexy styling of Gibson’s Les Paul model, the wow factor of the Fender’s sleek Stratocaster with its futuristic lines, or the blue-collar cred of that company’s utilitarian game-changer, the Telecaster. Rickenbackers were fairly expensive, and they weren’t artistic triumphs. What they did have was a perfect storm of form and function, adding the company’s own magical electronics (developed from its years as king of the steel guitar makers) to make a sound unavailable on any of the other axes. This clear, ringing tone just couldn’t be pulled out of the twangy Telecaster, which could pick up the ticking second hand on the player’s watch, but not duplicate the ring on treble notes of a Rick. While the Les Paul’s hum-bucking pickups were quieter than the Fender, they yielded a fatter, less sharp tone and couldn’t match a Rickenbacker either. Twelve-string electric guitars were rare, and the resonation obtained by doubling the tones on each string for the Rick 12 string models made for an even more unique sound.
This was my Rickenbacker.  A six string.  It's one of the few material goods that have wandered through my life that I miss desperately if I let myself think about it too much.

I miss that painting too.  I don't remember what that sheet of paper was about, but it must have made sense at the time.

Then I downloaded the lyrics of the song in question, which is quite something ...

Far between sundown’s finish an’ midnight’s broken toll
We ducked inside the doorway, thunder crashing
As majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds
Seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing
Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight
Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight
An’ for each an’ ev’ry underdog soldier in the night
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing
In the city’s melted furnace, unexpectedly we watched
With faces hidden while the walls were tightening
As the echo of the wedding bells before the blowin’ rain
Dissolved into the bells of the lightning
Tolling for the rebel, tolling for the rake
Tolling for the luckless, the abandoned an’ forsaked
Tolling for the outcast, burnin’ constantly at stake
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing
Through the mad mystic hammering of the wild ripping hail
The sky cracked its poems in naked wonder
That the clinging of the church bells blew far into the breeze
Leaving only bells of lightning and its thunder
Striking for the gentle, striking for the kind
Striking for the guardians and protectors of the mind
An’ the unpawned painter behind beyond his rightful time
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing
Through the wild cathedral evening the rain unraveled tales
For the disrobed faceless forms of no position
Tolling for the tongues with no place to bring their thoughts
All down in taken-for-granted situations
Tolling for the deaf an’ blind, tolling for the mute
Tolling for the mistreated, mateless mother, the mistitled prostitute
For the misdemeanor outlaw, chased an’ cheated by pursuit
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing
Even though a cloud’s white curtain in a far-off corner flashed
An’ the hypnotic splattered mist was slowly lifting
Electric light still struck like arrows, fired but for the ones
Condemned to drift or else be kept from drifting
Tolling for the searching ones, on their speechless, seeking trail
For the lonesome-hearted lovers with too personal a tale
An’ for each unharmful, gentle soul misplaced inside a jail
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing
Starry-eyed an’ laughing as I recall when we were caught
Trapped by no track of hours for they hanged suspended
As we listened one last time an’ we watched with one last look
Spellbound an’ swallowed ’til the tolling ended
Tolling for the aching ones whose wounds cannot be nursed
For the countless confused, accused, misused, strung-out ones an’ worse
An’ for every hung-up person in the whole wide universe
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing
I have a few minor quibbles with Mr. Kocher's reporting.  But I couldn't help (since I know many of you won't read the full text) but pull this second excerpt out ...
The jangling chimes on several Hollies tunes bear the unmistakable sound, as well as “As Tears Go By” by the Rolling Stones.
For no other reason than it leads us, inexorably, to this ...

Which is my favorite music video ever.  If not favorite then top five certainly.  Because I do love that Astaire and Rogers dance number, and the Beethoven flash mob thing, and the director's cut of Blurred Lines, and Freedom by that kid from Wham! with all the supermodels.

I leave you now to watch more Breaking Bad.


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