Saturday, April 16, 2016
Crossing a Fence
Record Store Day, so all locals please go support the fine people at The End of All Music. I'll tell you how fine they are! It became a running gag: I kept going in and asking in vain whether the new Blind Alfred Reed compilation had arrived. The anticipation really worked me up! Like the Beatles were coming to America! This Blind Alfred Reed record took on a glow and a power in my mind that it can't have possibly earned. I was a walking joke! So David stopped his busy day to email me the moment it came in and I ran down and got it. He didn't have to do that. But he remembered me. He respected my incoherent ravings. Service at its finest! Shop local. Now I have played it and Blind Alfred Reed turns out to be a bit of a misogynist! More than a bit. That's what you get for wanting things too much. Like he has a couple of tracks telling girls not to bob their hair. He really hates bobbed hair! On a girl. Of course Brian Wilson did once ask "Where did your long hair go?" in a judgmental way, addressing the Caroline of "Caroline No"... but as presumptuous as it was, that seemed to be a purely personal matter between individuals, whereas Blind Alfred Reed believes - and I don't think I am exaggerating - that women will go straight to hell, literal hell where the devil reigns, for the sin of bobbing their hair. So that ain't good. I detected a strong note of compassion in Blind Alfred Reed's "Always Lift Him Up and Never Knock Him Down." Very forgiving! "When he's sick and tired of life and takes to drinking," says Blind Alfred Reed, "You should lift him up and never knock him down." No talk of this particular sinner going to hell, so I thought that was a step up. And I was waiting for a similar verse about sinning women, but none came. It should have tipped me off when another affliction visited on our hypothetical dude who we shouldn't knock down was "a scolding, aggravating wife." There's another song where Blind Alfred Reed is upset about women wearing "skirts so short and tight they can hardly make it when they cross a fence." Ha ha! What I want to know is that if Blind Alfred Reed is blind - I haven't read the copious liner notes yet, but he must be, right? - how does he know about how tight the girls' skirts are and how short their hair is? I guess somebody told him. Or maybe he was like, "Come over here and let me make sure your hair isn't bobbed." (Opening up the booklet to confirm the copiousness of the liner notes I see that Blind Alfred Reed's fiddle was made in Italy in 1695.) In conclusion, I am no doubt being reductive in a knee-jerk way about Blind Alfred Reed's artistry, and the more I listen the more subtlety I will be bound to detect, I am sure. He has a song called "There'll Be No Distinction There" - a mystical view of total equality in heaven, transcending all races and religions... though he does feel the need to point out that "no woman will be flirting with another woman's man" up there.