Sunday, September 01, 2013

Mopey Superheroes

Been thinking about the singer-songwriter Jackie DeShannon lately, I don't know why, yes I do, but you don't care, but I'm going to tell you anyway: I keep listening to this track on a box set of Los Angeles psychedelic pop... it's Jackie DeShannon, backed by the Byrds, doing a song called "Splendor in the Grass" that seems to be about the movie SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS - a movie from which I must always turn away my blushing face in deference to its raw, unhinged emotion that terrifies me with its honesty and threatens to kill me in my trembling heart. Well, there's another version DeShannon does of the same song, a little slower and with strings on it, but that's not the one I'm talking about. I like the rough and jangly version better. So I was thinking I'd go out to The End of All Music and see what they have by Jackie DeShannon. And so I did. (Side note: I see that Jackie DeShannon is on twitter, where she has a mere 300 or so followers - which is not the mark of a person! Not by a long shot! I notice that she tweets stuff like "No." Like, just the word "No.") Anyway, I picked up a pristine Jackie DeShannon LP, sold to me by Jimmy, who was working today. Also in the D section: Dino Desi & Billy. That's a group featuring the teen son of Dean Martin (the eponymous Dino) and the teen son of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball (you may know him better now as Desi Arnaz, Jr.)... and their friend Billy. I was familiar with this group, or at least its existence, and thought - as I stubbornly and erroneously insisted to Jimmy - that Billy must be the son of famous people, too, but Jimmy looked it up on his computer, and Billy is just Billy, and that's good enough for me. But I wasn't going to buy their LP - Dino's and Desi's and Billy's, no. First of all, it was kind of scratched up. Jimmy offered to take it in the back and run it through this secret descratchifying machine they have back there. Even more troubling, however, is that Track One was "Memories Are Made of This," already a hit for Dino's dad. Seemed like a red flag! Like Dino and Desi and Billy planned on coasting to fame! But Jimmy put it on the turntable and here's what the arrangement said (not totally convincingly) to me: "Hey, Dad! I'm not going to stand in your shadows, you hear me? I'm putting my own mark on this number! This is how the kids of today will twist and stroll to the smooth modern beat of my fresh new interpretation!" And I noticed that Dino Desi & Billy cover a Jackie DeShannon-penned song on side two! "When You Walk in the Room," the same Jackie DeShannon song once covered by "Blog" Buddy Sally Timms. It was an omen. Plus the record is on Sinatra's label, Reprise, and was produced by Lee Hazelwood and arranged by Billy Strange, all of which made me think, for reasons I shan't bore you with, that it was VERY LIKELY RECORDED IN THE EXACT SAME ROOM where our dear one Kelly Hogan recorded her most recent solo album. Yes, Hogan has trod where Dino and Desi and Billy trod before her, and walked she did in those hallowed steps of yore. So, yes, I bought the Dino Desi & Billy LP after Jimmy cleaned it up for me in the back. "They look like mopey superheroes," Jimmy said approvingly of Dino Desi & Billy. And though I don't believe I heard him mention Dino's fawn-colored turtleneck, he did hold forth admiringly on the subject of Dino's flared nostrils. And then I heard him explaining to another customer why he hadn't "gone down to the creek" when recently invited... because just prior to the invitation Jimmy had dreamed he was in the creek "and there were snakes rolling all over me," he said. Speaking of people's relatives making art, Megan Abbott and I were in Square Books the day before yesterday and studied a very old mass-market paperback (original cover price twenty-five cents!) by John Faulkner, the other Faulkner's brother. It was called UNCLE GOOD'S WEEK-END PARTY, and on the cover we see a man we must assume is Uncle Good slyly drawing on his corncob pipe in tacit if stoic approval as a couple of young women in disarrayed nighties sit on a bed and comb each other's hair or something.