Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Smokestack Lightning

Don’t try to revisit the places of your youth. The old home, the old school, they've been ruined for you by their new owners. Your old downtown will either be burnt out or horribly gentrified, so stay away. The books and movies of youth don’t hold up well either. But music seems immune to rust and moth. I searched out one of my first albums, Smokestack Lightning, I thought by the Kinks, and could not find it When I realized it was by the Yardbirds I found it easily. The original album had 12 or so songs. The offering on Amazon was a mash up of two cds with all the songs mixed up. I flicked through the songs listening to each a few seconds and recognized nothing till I got to the first of two live versions of Smokestack Lightning. There they were, pure and pristine. There are many songs out there about trains and you say there’s the whistle or the click of the rails, but this song is all train all the way with the boys going full out. It’s a six minute howl of unrequited love. How do I know? In my age I now take time to listen to the words. And elemental words they are . The poor slob is calling for the pretty baby to stop her train so he can go for a ride. But he has to ask where she went last night. Not a good sign. Soon he’s bidding her farewell. He knows it’s hopeless. This train is not stopping for him, with the sparks like lightning blowing from the stack. There’s a couple of weird thirty second stretches of slow hammering on a hanging rail. Mournful like.
Hearing they say is the last thing to go. And music will go with it.
Bye-bye pretty baby.


Joe said...

Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.

Robert Frosty

Chairman Joe said...

And if there's no home left to go to, Big Brother will take you in.