Sunday, November 21, 2010

Here's to Johnny Viola

It's been a year since I posted? Where has the time gone? I struggled way back in January with the ongoing disaster in Haiti, trying to use it to post on Tonton Macoute. Which, come to think of it, might be worth trying again...

But, maybe as a way to ease back into this thing, why don't we discuss a true rarity: a song about, or at least inspired by, Mr. Cale.

Shearwater are, to my mind, at the very top of the art-music world right now, in quality if not in sales, having delivered three consecutive albums of depth, evocation, and a stark beauty. As frontman and songwriter Jonathan Meiburg put it, the trilogy is music on a theme: "no sound ever comes from inside the gates of Eden."

The first in the very loose trilogy, 2006's Palo Santo, is ostensibly a theme album. Every song, Meiburg claims, is connected in some way to the life of Nico. Despite my fair knowledge of Ms. Päffgen's life and a deep and abiding love for the album, I can't tell you how.

But that's neither here nor there. About three years after I first heard the album, I finally realized that a song called "Johnny Viola" on an album inspired by Nico had to be a reference to our own Mr. Cale. It was the first non-single track on the album that caught my ear, at that.

Have a listen:

OK, so I can't tell you how it relates to our Johnny Viola. But it is an awesome song, and I was tickled and somewhat chagrined to finally make the connection.

[N.B. they're using "The Black Angel's Death Song" as intro music for their concerts this tour. You know, to set the mood a bit. I may have been the only person at the show really enjoying it.]