Music postsSunday September 02, 2012
Other Delights Besides Whipped Cream: Dolores Erickson & Soul Asylum
Remember the girl on the cover of the Herb Alpert album 'Whipped Cream & Other Delights'? The other delights? Of course you do.
Her name is Dolores Erickson, and she's 76 now, and lives in Longview, Wash., and she recently traveled to Seattle to help celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Golden Oldies record shop in Wallingford. The Seattle Times had the story a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, they cadge their best lines from The New Yorker, as many of us do. Worse, they: 1) don't mention the original author (Nick Paumgarten), 2) mess up the year it appeared (it's 2006, not 1996), and 3) don't provide a link to the original. Here's the Paumgarten quote in full:
It was a variation on a sentiment that decades ago fogged the minds of many young men, as they gazed at the album cover and attempted to ascribe personalized come-hitherhood to the woman staring back. In the picture, she sits holding the stem of a rose in her left hand, above which the inner portion of a bare breast protrudes from the foam. She is licking cream from the index finger of her right hand, and a dollop of the stuff rests atop her forehead, like a tiara. (This is the only real whipped cream in the shot. The rest is shaving cream.) The image still seems a little raunchy, in a home-movie kind of way, but in the virtually pornless atmosphere of the suburban mid-sixties it was—and we’re relying on the testimony of our elders here—the pinnacle of allure. The Whipped Cream Girl, as she came to be known, helped make Alpert and his Tijuana Brass even more famous than his loungy arrangements, smooth trumpet work, and suave song production destined them to be. The album shot to No. 1 and stayed on the charts for more than three years. Alpert would say, when performing live, “Sorry, but I can’t play the cover for you.”
Here's what all the fuss was about:
There have been many parodies of this album cover since, but the one I remember is the one Soul Asylum did in 1988, on their final EP for Twin-Tone Records, “Clam Dip & Other Delights,” before going national with A&M (Alpert's label). The cover featured bassist Karl Mueller similarly ensconsed in clam dip. Was Alpert not pleased? Did he sabotage their career as a result? I seem to remember hearing that. Not sure if it's true.
“Clam Dip,” I should add, includes one of my favorite Soul Asylum songs, “P-9,” an homage to the 1985 strike at the Hormel plant in Austin, Minn. I used to listen to it while schlepping at the University Book Store warehouse in the 1990s. Among its lines:
- “You gave me nothing/ Now you're taking it away”
- “If we could see eye to eye/ We could see just exactly who is small.”
- “Is it just a job I'm working for?”
Shit doesn't get old.
Here's the video, which is a little old:
Song of the Day: 'Civil War' by Joe Henry
Some fighters came and pitched a tent
And everyone around here went,
The fix was in but we bet and we swore
From both sides of a civil war
We build this up and we knock this down
We call our little mob a town
We nail a sign up above the door
“God bless our little civil war”
“God bless our little civil war”
--Joe Henry, “Civil War,” from the album “Civilians.”
And, no, it doesn't remind me much of my country at the present moment. Of course not. Not at all.
Song of the Day: 'You Can't Fail Me Now' by Joe Henry
It's amazing how many times you can hear a song without hearing it.
I'm a fan of Joe Henry's “You Can't Fail Me Now,” from his album “Civilians.” I think it's beautiful and haunting. According to my iTunes application, I've listened to it 68 times. But it wasn't until the other night, Wednesday night, in the kitchen cleaning up after dinner, that this lyric finally sunk in:
We're taught to love the worst in us
And mercy more than life, but trust me:
Mercy's just a warning shot across the bow
Mercy's just a warning shot across the bow. Holy crap is that good. I don't know how true it is, but it makes me pause and consider and count up. To whom have I been merciful? Have I been in a position to be? And if so, how was I merciful? And what about after?
To be honest, I don't think I've been in a position to be merciful. That doesn't change my joy in the line.
The title and chorus can be interpretted different ways, of course: With hope or without. You can't fail me now because I'll love you no matter what; you can't fail me now because you always fail me, and I know it, so there's nothing to fail anymore. I tend to go with the latter interpretation. The song opens with a sense of stagnation and suffocation (“I know that fan is moving air”). Then there's the mercy line, which is basically saying: Let's not kid ourselves about ourselves. Or more directly: Mercy, my ass.
The video below is Joe singing the song a few years back in Amsterdam. I like the quiet rimshots during the intro.
Joe Henry is the Bob Dylan of his/my generation. Only a handful of people seem to know it.
Where the Hell is Matt? (2012)
I can't believe it's been four years. Matt's been busy. (Check out the last shot in particular.)
It's still a joy to see all the people from around the world dancing together. The one sour note is in Syria, where those dancing with Matt have their faces blurred out. A reminder that for all the dancing we can do together, there are those who prefer we not. I'm reminded of Emma Goldman's line that if she can't dance she doesn't want to be part of your revolution. I'm reminded of Terrence Malick's “Tree of Life” lines about Grace and Nature: “Nature only wants to please itself. Get others to please it too. Likes to lord it over them. To have its own way. It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it. And love is smiling through all things.”
This is a video of love smiling through all things.
Favorites of the 2012 version? I like the silliness of Lesedi, the wow of Saudi Arabia, the moves busted in Hungary and Toulon, the valiant attempt to keep up in Port-au-Prince. The Indonesia movements are just exquisite. The whole thing is joyous.
It's the same message as in 2008 but always worth repeating. Travel. Dance. Be silly. Because love is smiling through all things.
Dreaming of Paul McCartney, 70
Paul McCartney is now six years older than that impossibly old, “Will you still need me/Will you still feed me” age he envisioned in his 20s. He dyes his hair. He's still a Pollyanna (Paulie-anna?), and thus slightly annoying, and was so even before he began showing up at Yankee Stadium wearing a Yankees cap and unknowingly rooting for the baseball equivalent of the Blue Meanies. He began to seem daft in his 30s, half a lifetime ago, as if all that head-wobbling and pot smoking in his Beatles/Wings days had addled his brain. He's 70 now and you want a bit of John's edge on him. You want to see a little curmudgeon on him. He's entitled. Instead he's titled.
For a time, he was my favorite Beatle. Maybe my favorite person. I could neither sing nor play the guitar (nor bass, nor drums, or drooms, or Jew's harp), but I still wanted to be him. I tried to droop my eyes like his. I wanted his overbite. I bopped my head around during Christmas carols at Mt. Olivet Church. I remember a girl telling me once I looked like him and I fell on the floor in gratitude, ruining any shot I had with her. It was just another day.
I'm sure this informs some part of the dream I had back in 2002. It was right before my friend Joan and I traveled to Europe to bum around and see the sights for a month. It was my first trip to Europe. England wasn't on the schedule:
I'm on the plane to Europe, which is just taking off, when I suddenly realize I don't have anything: no ticket, no passport; it's all back at my apartment. Apparently I left for the airport right from work. All I have is a small bag with me. My seat companion (not Joan) suggests telling the pilot so we can turn the plane around but I don't want to be a bother.
The flight attendants are passing out “Splodes”: lycra-like shirts with numbers on them, sort of like bike racing jerseys. I'm no. 15. Eventually I figure out that splodes are used in case the plane explodes mid-air; it makes it easier to identify our bodies.
I've made it into Europe. I'm doing a Godfather imitation to the amusement of some girl at an outdoor fair, but I'm still worried about the return voyage. Will I be let back into America without a passport? Someone overhears me and tells me it's easy to get back into America — as long as you have money. At this point I become an amalgam of myself and Paul McCartney and I think “It's not a problem then.”
Happy Birthday, Paul. Thanks for the songs. This one was always a favorite: