There are five photographs on my wall: one of a street in Memphis, one of the Grand Canyon, one of the ocean next to the Pacific Coast Highway, one of a man’s arm silhouetted by the fireworks at a Metallica concert in San Francisco, and one of a woman in a blue dress, crouching, embracing a yellow lab in the parking lot of a cafe in the middle of Texas. With good luck and some planning, I’ll be able to revisit the first three of these scenes, but no amount of either effort or fortune will allow me to re-experience the latter two. If I were able to interrogate the photos themselves, I’d ask those last two: who is the man on the other end of that arm? And I’d ask: what is the woman looking at? And: where is that dog now?
What do you miss about it most? There is a qualitative difference between the air there and the air here, no doubt. That air is thicker, more sustaining. This air here is easy for the wind to move through. Kites get cut by gusts here, not so there. While it’s not true that I ever took a bite out of the actual air there, I can say it also did taste better on the tongue.
These two are from Gold Panda’s debut album, “Lucky Shiner,” which is now almost three years old. But I wanted to write about ‘You’ especially because I have come back to it so many times. There is something siren-ish about that song. It’s catchy, but that’s not all there is–plenty of songs are catchy. What’s weird and cool and maybe illusory or maybe essential about Gold Panda’s music is that it feels very rhythmically complete (to use a poetry word–it’s like it’s acatalectic). ‘You’ makes sense on a level that I might not be 100% aware of consciously or explicitly, and I enjoy that. ‘Rush Job’ too, is a wonder; it’s controlled, it unfolds in strange ways, it plays like a movie. Sort of unbelievable that this was relegated to the status of ‘bonus track’ on the album, but I guess that speaks more to the quality of the main tracks on Lucky Shiner. GP just released a new EP, Trust, the other day, and it’s good, but I’m very much looking forward to the full-on follow-up to his first album.
Fredericksburg, Virginia. It was born at some point, and, presumably, it will disappear at some other point. Maybe when the Rappahannock breaches its banks and declares riparian law? I would like to be there to see it. Maybe when Carl’s Ice Cream melts forever–that will be the sign that things are going to end badly. Fredericksburg seems like parts of 50 other towns pasted together. I did hear this song for the first time there, though.