The story of O is that she was born in a suburb of Paris in September 1984. Her parents lived on the street where Serge Gainsbourg lived, and her father often saw Serge at a bar, sitting silently and alone. Her parents were on their way to see Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when her mother’s water broke. They went to the hospital and a few hours later O was born. When the little family returned to their flat, some of the neighbors were awake, incredibly, and they congratulated the parents. Some even gave them presents, toasted the little one’s arrival. Her father had escaped a refugee camp many years earlier to make his way into France. That night, after his wife and daughter had gone to bed, he went out and walked for three hours. “I have a daughter,” he thought. If he’d been able to tell his sixteen-year-old self that, at some point, he would end up in France, married, with a child, his younger self would’ve shrugged and said nothing. But he was a dick when he was 16, so what did it matter, he thought.
This mini-mix is from Porter, whose previous mix is here.
I was on my way to dj at a friend’s bar the other Sunday night and was a little irritated that I hadn’t brought Hank Williams with me. I had spent some time preparing for the set and had planned to use Hank to bookend the set. Call it Sunday Morning Coming Down, but I had been listening to Ramblin’ Man pretty hard all day.
Ramblin’ Man is one of my favorite songs. The intro strum is a walking cadence, not-too-locomotive, but moving. There’s just enough of it to set you into the song’s rhythm and, then, in comes this slippery slide guitar, straight out of a Hawaiian nightmare, probably the last place you’d want to be in the 50 states if you need to move about, especially via rail. Then in comes the opening verse, confessional, resigned, explanatory, a little flummoxed. It must be nice to know your own telos – even better to know that your telos is itself teleological. Unencumbered movement.
But I wouldn’t be playing Ramblin’ Man that night. Strangely, I was listening to Slint on my commute to the bar. I crossed First Avenue, walking south into the Village. And then it hit me. Nosferatu Man. 1:53 into it. There’s Hank. Out of nowhere, into nothing. Where did that come from? Suddenly the song sounds different. As it picks up speed within the next minute, it’s a rolling rail, ablaze, burning track in its wake. Sherman’s godless dream.
But there’s more control in this song. It doesn’t derail, it recaptures itself at another pace, dual guitars echoing each other, driven into a coma.
For me, Slint has always been a band with its own gravity. It is not music that you can just play in the background or put on a mixtape with songs by other bands. It pulls you in, requires your attention, your patience, your curiosity. But it keeps you at bay, as well. You never quite take comfort from having listened to a Slint album, nor do you feel closer to any thing, idea, or person, in particular. Slint fosters a communion of alienation, which makes listening to it somewhat taxing.
But the other night, I witnessed a part in the facade, if only briefly. Of course, they wanted me to see that, or hear that, but at least we had found something common between us, something almost hidden within a symphony of horror. Hank.
All the girls love Jack, and why not? Look at him. He runs marathons, that’s the first thing you should know. He has that sleek ectomorph vibe–like a recovering consumptive–but where his face lacks vigor, his body is present, imperious, and bodylike. He composes poetry, blank verse mostly, on his training runs. He can whistle any John Cage tune. Do you know how good he is at conversing? The answer is: very good. Jack listens so intently that he can repeat back to you verbatim something you mentioned offhandedly to him three months ago. He can make up endlessly enthralling games and diversions using only a baking pan and a Nature’s Valley granola bar. Other men quail in his presence. He was born into this world blessed with the gifts of the natural lottery, and he will not squander them, rest assured.