It’s been a rainy week back in Massachusetts, and that’s contributing to a small sense of writer’s block for me this morning. So it is that I double-dip and write about music again today.
China Girl (David Bowie, Nothing Has Changed): to say that this song skirts the edge of offense today is probably an understatement, between the title and frequent invocation of “my little China girl” and the stereotypical “oriental” melody in the opening guitars, it’s kind of astonishing that it escapes the valley of offense. But it’s one of Bowie’s more interesting 1980s melodies, though the backing track, especially the bassline, is solidly 80s, and his unhinged second verse opening “I stumble into town/just like a sacred cow” is kind of brilliant.
Come the Meantimes (Elvis Costello, Wise Up Ghost): If EC is really leaving the world of albums behind, as he hints in his brilliant autobiography, he could have done worse with a parting shot than this album. The Roots seem like a counterintuitive backing band for Elvis, but then so did the Dirty Dozen Brass Band on Spike. The backing rap “you can’t beg” on the chorus makes this song feel a little like his early angry young man songs like “Goon Squad,” but the beat is a lot funkier.
This Ole House (Live) (The Statler Brothers on Johnny Cash, Live at Folsom Prison Legacy Edition): What a bass part!
Walk Alone (The Roots, How I Got Over): More Roots, but this is in their own wheelhouse. Lots of different directions in this track, unified by a great chorus sample.
Tempest (Bob Dylan, Tempest): A fourteen minute evocation of the sinking of the Titanic with fiddle band accompaniment? Sure, why not.