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Prosthetic Reverie - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
cbertsch
cbertsch
Prosthetic Reverie
I've been listening to Jefferson Airplane's Surrealistic Pillow. Although I have put the record in every Top Ten Albums list I've ever made, I went many years without hearing it as an album. I had the vinyl, you see. But because my two Jefferson Airplane greatest hits compilations on CD contain almost all of the songs on the record between them, it seemed wasteful to buy what I more or less already had just so I could listen to the original track sequence without having to program it first. Last week, though, I found a copy of the CD at Zia that, with the help of a half-off discount, I only had to pay $3.50 for.

Given the timing, it seemed appropriate somehow to return to an album I had played to death in high school, when my dreams of a fresh start were becoming more frequent and intense. Of course, I was also playing the two No Age albums over and over in between, so my packing and sorting wasn't all sun-dappled nostalgia. Or maybe it was, in a way, because I have been thinking and writing with great fervor about local scenes in popular music culture. Maybe thinking of The Smell in relation to 2400 Fillmore makes more sense than initially appears to be the case. Lavender Diamond even has a Summer of Love vibe at times.

But I digress. What I really wanted to say is A) that I am taking a new kind of inhaled steroids, at my doctor's prodding, that are making me feel strange; B) that I am wearing a pair of sunglasses that I found the other day after having lost track of them for several years; and C) that the combination of these two factors is imparting a Monterey Pop effect to my world view. Everything looks simultaneously bright and diffuse. Come to think of it, it's sort of like the smog in the better parts of L.A. on a nice day.

Or San Francisco back in 1967. One of the remarkable things about watching Bullitt or The Graduate is realizing how much the air quality improved after the imposition of strict emission controls in the Golden State. Even Vertigo, from 1958, shows a view of the Bay that only materializes now on spare-the-air days. Who said progress isn't possible?

That said, the sense of being born too late, which is always with me to some extent, is coursing through my steroid-addled brain with extra vigor today. I was listening to "Triad" this evening and remembered what a profound impact David Crosby's version of the song had on my teenage consciousness. I wasn't sure I wanted the scenario his lyrics describe. Hell, I'm not even sure I fully understood that scenario back then. But that didn't stop me from devoting myself to the prospect of a future centered on the phrase, "in time maybe others."

Have I mentioned that I had a huge crush on the 1967 incarnation of Grace Slick? I know, for a Boomer that's the equivalent of saying that I love to eat pizza. For a late-born soul like myself, though, the look she sported had a different valence. It still does, for that matter. I spent a good deal of time today studying photos of her from that era to see whether I could make retroactive sense of my attraction. I didn't come to a definitive conclusion, but I have reconfirmed my devotion to boots and hair of a certain length.

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Comments
masoo From: masoo Date: July 25th, 2008 01:20 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I always like it when you talk about Surrealistic Pillow.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: July 25th, 2008 02:48 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
::blushing::

That San Francisco-scene four-DVD "nuggets" collection is full of great stuff. You have it, right?
masoo From: masoo Date: July 25th, 2008 02:59 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Yes. Odd for me to say this, considering I just rip all my tunes to the hard drive, but it's also very nicely packaged. But it's a bit too Nuggetty for my tastes. Not that they should have done it differently, just that if I were making it, I'd have used fewer of the obscure, one-shot, no-one-heard-of-it 45s. Beyond the original Lenny Kaye Nuggets LP, I can't say I care much for the Nuggets idea that the most obscure stuff is somehow representative, or even that most of it is good at all. Which is a way of saying I think Surrealistic Pillow does a much better job of representing the times than does Oxford Circle, and there are plenty of relative rarities that people actually listened to which would be better, as well.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: July 25th, 2008 04:17 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I'm writing about the Nuggets concept as part of my current round of revisions. I tend to feel the same way, from a musical standpoint. But the move to redeem obscure tracks inaugurated -- at least in the context of the classic rock era -- is rich with significance we are still sorting through today.
e_compass_rosa From: e_compass_rosa Date: July 25th, 2008 02:50 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I too have the Surrealistic Pillow album, but not the CD, and I also used to listen to it obsessively. It was actually my father's album, but appropriated by me and never returned. Reading this makes me want to go and listen, except that the album is old, scratched, and probably not viable anymore. Actually, I was thinking about it for some reason a few days ago, probably around the same time that I was driving and thinking that sunglasses were necessary as I squinted into the spare the air haziness of bay area july.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: July 25th, 2008 04:18 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I picked up a second copy at an even steeper discount. Would you like it? I can put it in the mail.

e_compass_rosa From: e_compass_rosa Date: July 25th, 2008 04:55 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I'd love it! But, I can also probably buy it here for as cheaply as you can send it. Whether or not I actually do that is another story. So if you're willing, I'll send the best address to use.
elizabeg From: elizabeg Date: July 25th, 2008 03:12 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I only know the tracks everyone knows. But I really love "Somebody to Love" (and not just because it became my karaoke standby in the first years of grad school). And "White Rabbit" blew my late-born mind in high school.

Also, I've been getting so little sleep lately that learning that the original album title was _Surrealistic Pillows_ (I only own a compilation, late-bought and late-made) is making the inside of my head feel very much like that haze you describe.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: July 25th, 2008 04:21 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Singular, BTW: Surrealistic Pillow.

I hope you feel better soon.

I'd offer to send you my extra copy, but I just did that in the previous comment. But if E doesn't want it, you're next!
elizabeg From: elizabeg Date: July 25th, 2008 08:02 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
No worries--but thank you for thinking of me! Someday I may come across a copy in a used/sale bin when I least expect it.

I must just have been daydreaming of pillows upon pillows, surrealistically suspended in air. Or something. I knew it was singular. Sigh.
From: marcegoodman Date: July 25th, 2008 03:20 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Although it's improbable that I would have heard "Today" anytime at all during the Sixties let alone in 1967 proper, that song along with the Youngblood's "Get Together"(which I was likely to have heard thanks to its use in a television public service announcement by the National Conference of Christians and Jews) evoke that time more powerfully than any others.

"Today" and "Embryonic Journey" were used to great effect in Tony Goldwyn's A Walk On The Moon which itself was a fine evocation.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: July 25th, 2008 04:20 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I loved that film!

Yes, "Today" is very evocative of the time. So is "Coming Back To Me," the next track. I think I may like that one even better. It reminds me of Pears Before Nation's One Nation Underground but is more musically satisfying.

There's a sound in a lot of the Summer of Love slow songs that derives not just from the flutes, but they way they are recorded, that I like to think of as "filmstrip" music. That is, they remind me of the inevitably distorted musical accompaniment to the spoken word instructional material put on a cassette for classroom use.
From: marcegoodman Date: July 25th, 2008 07:14 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Yes, similarly evocative and definitely reminiscent of Pearls Before Swine. I think the use of "Today" in AWOTM concretized a certain association very powerfully for me and so it has a slight edge in my mind. This was definitely the "filmstrip" era for me. I only wish I had as keen a memory for such aesthetic details as you!
From: babyiwasshot Date: July 25th, 2008 08:36 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
One of the remarkable things about watching Bullitt or The Graduate is realizing how much the air quality improved after the imposition of strict emission controls in the Golden State.

I think Harry Callahan had something to do with that.
From: yao_bu_yao Date: July 27th, 2008 01:04 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

hey charlie

it's taylor. this is my new name.

i, too, struggle sometimes with the feeling that i was born too late.

and yes, boots can be nice.
_luaineach From: _luaineach Date: July 29th, 2008 08:36 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I was listening to "Triad" this evening and remembered what a profound impact David Crosby's version of the song had on my teenage consciousness

You've always gotta love a song that throws in a Heinlein reference.
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