Monday, June 23, 2008

Panorama of the Tennessee River Valley

Panorama of the Tennessee River Valley

For our senior year English Project we were instructed to make a home video interpreting our hometown, al la "Our Town". My group partners were Erik Alexander, Daniel Colon, Walton Bradford and JT Nelson. Aside from JT, all of us had played football together, but still had different perspectives on Scottsboro. My greatest interest in the project was that I was going to be allowed to do the musical composition, and my mind began earnestly working on putting together what sound clips I could think of wanting absolutely, whether it fit the footage we ended up making or not. One Saturday morning we all met up and drove around in Walton's SUV, and aside from a few serendipitous clips of the five of us goofing off, we got a lot of the typical high-light spots in the area. The crowning achievement was that one of us happened to know that the house on the bluff at the top of Sand Mountain, just as you reach Section, was for sale and we could get a really good panoramic shot of Scottsboro from the back porch. The shot came together perfectly, and I remember the realtor and a client showed up just as we were leaving. Walton and I talked on our trip up and down the mountain and I told him how I wanted someday for my family to be something like his--deeply intertwined in the lifeblood of the community. Walton also provided for the project a home video with several montages from the 1940's and 1950' of Scottsboro, and with that tape, the one we had recorded, and my expansive CD collection, I went to work that night and through Sunday trying to put together a cohesive collage of images and music. I came up with an ingenious procedure--remember, this is 1997, and our ability to digitally enhance or manipulate video like what in the present-day is considered rudimentary was far beyond my reach. So I used a system of two VCR's and our family's camcorder to splice in the right sounds, video, and music all at the same time. By the time Sunday Evening wore into the wee hours I felt good about what I had put together. The video started with "Thus Spoke Zarathrusta", otherwise known as the Theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey, as the panographic view of the river valley and the town of Scottsboro faded into focus. Then, during the classic video's I used "Mr. Eliminator" by Dick Dale and The Del-Tones (famous for the opening song "Misirlou" on Pulp Fiction), and then with trailing shots of the river from water level I used "Blue Danube", and as it wound down and I pieced a couple of the shots of Erik, Walton and Daniel goofing off I used "Far Behind", by Candlebox and then as the exiting credits rolled out I used the music from The Innocent Mission song "Bright as Yellow", which was from the Empire Records soundtrack which I believe I had borrowed from either Daniel or Erik. We received an "A" for our project (which was due the next day, in true procrastinator style), and almost won the competition pitting all the video's against one another.

For the last few days I have had the song "Bright as Yellow" stuck in my head, along with "Waiting for the Sun" by The Doors, and "Black Magic Woman" by Santana. Understandably, an eclectic mix, and I can only explain "Black Magic Woman" from the amount of Guitar Hero I have been absorbing both while awake mildly drunk and while passed out massively drunk. The next day after the multi-venue Vargas Sponsored Guitar Hero Exhibition I realized that I had a Doors song I did not immediately recognize stuck in my head, so I asked Isabella the next time I saw her if there was a Doors song on Guitar Hero, which she said there wasn't, and I was stuck trying to remember what song I might have ingrained in my mind since I had no Door's CD's to refer to. Isa said that she didn't believe that there was a single Doors song in her cd changer in her car. I hadn't been able to narrow it down, assuming that it was either the first few bars of "Spanish Caravan" or "When the Music's Over" that had somehow, in some strange twist of chemical abuse, been isolated and repeated for hours on end in my waking and sleeping mind. Then, three days ago, with the mystery deepening since I am often times enlightened by the dreams and/or music that continued to reoccur in my life at particular times, I sat down to check out YouTube and play every Doors song I could find--and the very first one that came up in my search was "Waiting For The Sun", which was one of my favorites for years, and I immediately realized that had been the song, even more so than the Santana or Innocent Mission song's, that had been racking my brain.

Music is amazing in the way that it can bring us back to a moment in time or places and people that we remember fondly, and the discovery of new music highlights the present moment with something our heart and mind can grasp later to re experience the same thing again.

Last week, after spending most of my paycheck getting a Money order so that I can bail Dinky's computer out of the tow-shop and then buying a few other things, I was walking through the local General Store I happened across a sign that promised CD's for 99 Cents and had a picture of the Nine Inch Nail's CD "Pretty Hate Machine", which I knew was worth at least 99 Cents. So I go to the rack and of course none of the good CD's were left, but I stumbled across the first Gangsta Boo CD "Both Worlds *69" and the Project Pat CD Mista Don't Play (Everythangs Workin). I knew the Project Pat CD was awesome, as it had basically been the theme CD for 2001-2002 for the Party Haven Crew and Dexter Phillips's and I's numerous random road trips. I bought the Gangsta Boo CD because there was one song by her that I randomly downloaded years ago and had become a perpetual classic in my rotation, but I had never known the name. For 99 Cents, I was excitedly willing to give "Both Worlds.." a try. As soon as I got back to the house I put in the Gangsta Boo CD, and while I was happy to hear it sounded just like every other 3*6 Mafia/Project Pat/Hypnotize Camp Posse album, it did not have the song I wanted. So, as I listened to my favorites from the Project Pat CD I researched the only lyric from the song that I could remember and determined that the song I wanted was called "Who We Be", and used an online service to download it for free. The screw-style rap music of 3*6 always immediately brings me back to those years running with Dexter, Ronnie "T-Bird" Langston, Vodski and Boo around the environs of Scottsboro, Section and Skyline, creating havoc and adventure everywhere we went. The folks up here in the Northeast don't get it quite like we do, so I listen to the CD's and "Who We Be" when no one else is around, or I'm too drunk to care. Our other major rap-group/label that we liked back then was No Limit, and the 504 Boyz CD "Goodfellas-Ball Till You Fall", along with "Mista Don't Play" and the Bush album "Razorblade Suitcase" are the only albums I have purchased more than 4 times each. It amazes me how many people mistake the rapper Krazy from 504 with Tupac. My most favorite song in all of rap, aside from Gangsta Party by Tupac and Snoop Dogg, is song number 20 on "Goodfellas...", the last on the album, "Souljas". Every time I listen to it it reminds me of the Party Haven Crew, and the fact that I am more than fairly confident T-Bird still has "Goodfellas--Ball Till You Fall" in his CD book.