Monday, December 15, 2008

Climb On Top of a Mountain

I was listening to Great High Mountain and Sitting on Top of the World from Cold Mountain today, and finding that all things considered, I was rather enjoying them.

It reminded me of a time several years ago when I visited a friend who's into pure, unadulterated foods. I was half-way down a glass of milk when she said, "That's unpasteurized goat's milk. Do you like it?" I felt a Ghlag!! Noise in my throat as my clack shut tight.

While I struggled to recover, she said, "What's the matter? Are you afraid of bugs?"

"No," I said, "but it's unpasteurized…goat milk…all the goat molecules are still active…entering my body…" I trailed off, unable to explain, even to myself, the sudden fear I'd had that the goat molecules would win out over mine, and slowly but surely I'd turn into a goat.

Well, it didn't happen. Whatever loopy superstition my hindbrain was grooving on at the time turned out not to be actually, like, true. But something similar is happening to me. After 20 years in this country, enough of my original English atoms have been replaced with local American atoms that the balance is tipping. I'm becoming American.

If the symptoms were confined to shopping at Mervyns (which I did on Saturday, as it was having a 60% off closing down sale) that might be one thing. But to develop some sort of a taste for native music seems rather over the top. It's not British. I mean, in a very real sense, even liking English folk music isn't very British, so to go native in this fashion is right out. Luckily, it's been confined to music by Jack White so far. And honestly, thus far, the hooks in the music have been:
  1. Identity with British music, if by British music you confine yourself to tracks found on Immediate Blues Anthologies, or related items by such as Jo Ann Kelly or the Rolling Stones.
  2. Similarity to Tuvan music, which is big in Southern California and I'm used to listening to it.

One track, Great High Mountain, is religious in that luminous way that threatens to be infectious, like some spiritual goat molecule. The lines about Jordan, the lines I want to climb this mountain/I want to drink from this fountain, the use of images of arduous labor and sweet succor to sketch ineffability. Far from the concrete verses, I got a girl/Her name is Sue, of rock'n'roll.

Now, turning into someone else would be peculiar enough, I suppose, but turning into the type of person who might take that song to his heart is turning into someone I might not like. What an oddity that would be – it would be like being cell-mates for ever, me and the new person in one skin. A chimera – what an adventure!

Some easy listening:

Jack White Sittin' On Top of the World

Rolling Stones You Gotta Move

Jo Ann Kelly Come on in my kitchen

Jack White Wayfaring Stranger

Huun Huur Tu Ancestors


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