What Happens When I Don't Listen to Music

In San Francisco, September 6-11, besides not having access to the Internet, I also don't have any music playback system with me (even as, with visits to two of the nation's finest record shops, Amoeba Music and Acquarius Records, I soon have C D's to listen to). So, I find it amusing, and then intriguing, to ponder what music comes "into my head" when walking through the streets, and the fog.

I began to develop a playlist - no, a mix, with certain editing tricks meant to make the selections evoke more history, and flow together better.

Finding a used copy of Clinton Heylin's All Yesterdays' Parties: The Velvet Underground in Print 1966-1971 at Green Apple, a charming bookstore/ newsstand/ record-and-video shop in the Richmond area, I think of "What Goes On," especially the beautiful last portion, with the simple, droning organ propelled forward by the guitar and drums. Not long afterward, Alan Bishop singing the theme of Paul Morrissey's Dracula (as found on the Alvarius B record, Blood Operatives of the Barium Sunset) pops up. The Warhol connection comes to mind, though of course in both cases Warhol had little, or no, input (as "What Goes On" came after his involvement with the V U, and after 1968 he pretty much let Morrissey make the movies).

The first Royal Trux album then manifests itself, not so much a particular song - or I don't remember which - but the scatterbrained feel. In turn, I think of The Howling Hex, namely the three L P-only releases of 2003-2004 that saw Neil Hagerty returning to the "low-fi" aesthetics of early R T X. But none of the melodies of those records comes to mind. Instead, the titular track from Will Oldham's Arise, Therefore does. Of course, the aesthetic connection.... the drum machine, sounding so cheap and tinny, the Country touches, as with the female singer on the Howling Hex records.

Recently having seen The Fiery Furnaces in concert, and listened to their music extensively beforehand and afterward, a couple of their tracks appear: "Quay Cur," from Blueberry Boat; "Black-Hearted Boy," from Bitter Tea.

Beginning with two groups of such paramount significance in Rock music, The V U and Sun City Girls, makes the mix's scope grow broader. Indeed, the very notion of a compilation of what emerged from the subconscious pushes me toward something quite different: I ask myself, "Who else should be included among artists of such magnitude? What would I listen to now if I had the option?" A track from The Raincoats - Odyshape... I don't recall which. I consider which S C G track would work well merged into the aforementioned Alvarius B, never deciding upon any, except maybe one from Libyan Dream.

Such academic concerns of course soon make the task boring, though more memories of music are flowing in. By the time I get home, ideally I'll not want to listen to anything at all, except maybe perfunctory listens to the new discs purchased.