Ajax Bell

Author of the Queen City Boys books

bookish musically

8 Comments

My apartment is over-flowing with boxes and it’s so small there just isn’t any good place to put them. This weekend I started boxing up all the stuff that’s going into storage. But that just leaves me with stacks of empty boxes and stacks of full ones (which will hopefully go off this week to sit for weeks and months–storing things is weird, but man, I can not bear to part some things even if I don’t need them).

Going through the books was painful. I can not give up 90% of my books, but you know, there’s no real need to drag them across the country with me. I mean really, when am I going be sitting down to read Livy, or Plutarch’s Lives, or the dozen obscure Eastern European novel I have? What about all the books on myths and fairytales from different part sof the world? Or the ridiculously large collection of vampire folklore and mythology books (whatever, it’s like 9 books, but seriously, who needs that many)? So I’m not taking them but I am keeping them.

I tried to look at everything and pick what I couldn’t live without, which turned out to be a pretty obscure collection of things: Gibson, Murakami, Ellison, Rollins, a few dozen reference books. Plus all the books I’ve bought or been given in the last year that I haven’t yet read. So the bottom line was most treasured/needed/likely to re-read books, plus a couple boxes of books that I haven’t read. Oh my god, WHY DO I HAVE SO MANY BOOKS? And how will I live only taking so few? Will I get desperate and ask my mom to ship me the boxes I’m leaving behind? How do I tell my books that I’m not breaking up with them? That this is just a little separation and I’ll be back for them? I’m actually leaving more books than I’m taking. This hurts. Perhaps even more than giving all the houseplants away, though that remains to be seen.

My spaz over the new Hank III album continues unabated. Okay, fine, it’s not so much about the album as just Shelton himself, but I am here to talk about the album. Indeed the spaz is so bad that I actually spent a good amount of time telling my mother all about Shelton Hank Williams this weekend. Like he was my new boyfriend or something. And I don’t even have the decency to be embarassed about this.

The album is awesome, though maybe not his best. It’s good, it’s all good, it’s just not spectacular or innovative, right? It sounds less like his grandfather than the previous country albums, though some of that could be because every song on this album is about getting drunk or getting high, or losing your girl because you were drunk or high, or finding a girl to get drunk and high with. Which certainly doesn’t make me love it any less. I’m still listening to it over and over, just in the long run, Lovesick, Broke & Driftin’ will probaly get a little more play from me (at least as country music, This Ain’t Country will get the most play in the end). Release of the album was drawn out over a several years and I wonder if it didn’t suffer slightly, becoming more of a collection of songs (good songs) rather than unified album as cohesive artistic project, you know?

The second disc is something else all together. It is in fact spectacular and maybe innovative (at least for country music). It’s sort of covers of, no wait, it’s like a mix of, er it’s, well, it’s kind of soundscapes of, I dunno, crap college kids would make when left stoned with recording equipment. Train sounds and weird vocals patched in with songs and some other trippy crap. And you know, it’s good, even though I am not at all making it sound that way with my description. It’s sort of like lying in the tall grass of the high plains, somewhere at sunset, while God and Satan fight for your soul and you’re listening to everything around you, with music from the local honky tonk blurring into all the ambient sounds or something. (Also if the non-singing voiceover over the running water before the Jesus stuff starts is Hank III’s actual voice, oh fuck me I’m done, I might as well just start stalking him. And I swear, I don’t even ever date guys who smoke pot–uh, cause they are boring not cause I give a fuck what they do).

Most reviewers seem to be calling the second disc the most interesting part of the album, writing the rest off as either country versions of hip-hip songs (WTF? Because hip-hop is the only acceptable place to sing about drugs?) or deriding it as either too old-timey or not genuine enough in it’s country-ness (again WTF?). But then I’m never able to read reviews of stuff I really like. I end up incredibly pissed off, feeling like the reviewers totally didn’t get it. Anyway, this Hank III album is not different: Reviewers, bite me. Shelton? Call me, I get it, baby, let’s get married in Vegas. I promise when I leave your fucked-up ass I won’t ask for more than a few songs about me.

(mp3.com has the entire thing up (streaming not download) for free, if you want to give it a listen.)

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8 thoughts on “bookish musically

  1. First off, *covets your books*

    Second, I’m having – or will be having – the same kind of book seperation anxiety. Granted, I’m leaving the country for only a year but how on earth will I survive without my precious books (or cds or dvds for that matter)?

    On the other hand, what kind of an idiot drags books on the other side of the damn Atlantic when you can only take a certain amount of luggage as it is and you should include, you know, something like every piece of clothing and pair of shoes that you want for a whole year? I mean, I realize I’m going to buy a whole lot of clothes and shoes but. *angsts*

  2. We’ve been listening to Hank III, as well. Also the new Flaming Lips. They don’t go together in a really good way.

    I know the book anxiety well. All I can say is: we have books here, too. Stores full of them and everything. And your mom can always ship yours out if you discover you have to have them.

    My friends in Germantown (which is one of *my* top picks for you guys) say there are a couple houses by theirs which are renting for cheap. It’s the part of town that we now wish we’d bought a house in, but it was a ghost town 7 years ago and we weren’t visionary enough, I guess. If you’d like, I can go check them out – but I think I need some specs from you and K re: what you want. Two bedrooms, sure, but what else? Also, keep in mind you might need to buy appliances, or some of them, though that (stupid) idea seems to be somewhat out of favor these days.

    My icon is a dainty sphinx from the Cheekwood Botanical Garden, which is a 1) garden, 2) historical mansion, and 3) stealth alternative art museum with visitors’ books full of offended Baptist comments. They also have a very cool sculpture trail. If nothing else, I definitely appreciate the way the South does historic properties.

  3. Funny, I like the first disc of the Hank III record, and maybe not so much the collage of the second. That said, there are better songs on the second disc, but some of the noise you need to listen through is a bit contrived. Not that I am poo-pooing, especially since the ambience of the second disc is exactly what our neighborhood sounds like. It ought to, considering he recorded it over here. Anyways, you want to know what East Nashville sounds like, just have a listen.

  4. I so feel your pain!! Like I know I don’t NEED the books, I could probably sell them or something, but no what if I can’t ever replace them? And as I’m boxing them, I’m like but what if I need the complete Icelandic Sagas for something? *sigh* It’s lesson in zen and not owning so much crap, right?

  5. Right books. Gah. I’ve narrowed it down those I’m afraid I can’t replace, which is not surprisingly, most of them. But 75% of that will be staying in storage at my mom’s. It feels weird to be going somewhere without my accoutrements. How will I prove myself a good intellectual if I don’t have ten zillion pointless books? Ah, the question is moot anyway, as I’ve never been a good intellectual. I’m much better at being an obnoxious drunk.

    I’ll email you about house tonight or tomrrow after I talk to Miss K ( if you want to friend her) and see where she’s at (she did leg one of the move for her this weekend).

    Cheekwood sounds worth it for the visitor’s book comments alone!

    Just over a month now, holy fucking shit.

  6. I don’t think I was effusive enough in my love of the first disk. I guess you’d have to know that I’m INSANELY in love with all his other albums so liking this one slightly less is still over the TOP in music love for me.

    I just really dig the second disc. It’s definitely a mood thing, I mean I can see a circumstance where I’d be like, what the shit is playing right now? Turn this MESS off, and yet, so much love for the way it all twists together. I love the songs on it the most, but soundscape stuff between is definitely novelty that could get old for regular listening.

  7. Here, you are automatically a good intellectual because you can read.

  8. Excellent. I guess I don’t need all the book, then.

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