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Jesus esta aqui

Most Sundays, I attend mass at a multiracial Catholic parish not far from South Central and USC, St. Agatha's. Aside from a progressive, left-wing pastor, one of the other great features of the parish, which I've written about before on these pages, is a terrific gospel choir.

A great gospel chestnut that they often sing is "Jesus on the Main Line." The choir does a great job with it. But it's also one of those that you just can't get out of your head. Or soul. It's been done by many over the years, but a favorite unique version is the one Ry Cooder turns in on Paradise and Lunch, one of his records of the 70s where he reinterpreted a variety of songs from the century.

I've also been thinking about "alternative Jesus" songs. No, not Jesus songs by groups like REM or the Smiths. I mean songs which fill out some of the rest of the Jesus story. Hypothetical takes, funny and not-so-funny, on the son-of-God. Or, if you prefer, the reputed Son-of-God, since we accept people of all faiths here at Palmermix.

Funny: John Prine's "Jesus, the Missing Years," from Prine's best record, The Missing Years. "It was rainy, it was cold, West Jerusalem was no place for a twelve year old," and so on, as Prine imagines Jesus recording with the Stones and opening for George Jones during those years that the bible doesn't cover, his middle years, his missing years. It's a charming song, with a chorus that has absolutely nothing to do with Jesus. At least, if it does, I sure can't figure it out.

But the other Jesus song I've been listening to is one by ex-seminarian Richard Shindell, "The Ballad of Mary Magdalene." I haven't been listening to Shindell's own version, but instead the version that Dar Williams and Lucy Kaplansky sing lead on in the one-shot album the three of them recorded as Cry, Cry, Cry. It's a beautiful song, imagining things from Mary Magdalene's point of view, her feeling of loss and her dealing with love. Well worth tracking down.

posted by Anon. 5:05 PM
Eagerly awaiting

The danger with irony is always that people will take you at face value. That happens sometimes with the title of this blog, which isn't about self-aggrandizement, but instead mocking self-aggrandizement. In kind of a self-aggrandizing manner, true. The name Palmermix, though, originated not with this blog but with the mixes that I used to tape and now burn for friends -- generally there's a year in review CD or two that I compile in January, and then I compile some other ones throughout the year.

I talked to my friend Phil this past week. Phil is a huge music fan, but Phil only recently just picked up a CD burner. He is, as we all are when we first get this fantastic technological addition to our homes, going hog wild with burning up a storm. And he announced that when I see him next week, he's going to hand me a mix CD into my hands that he's proud of. He says that the common theme of the record seems to be "having confusing love in one's early twenties." He didn't design that as the theme (Phil himself is in his early thirties; I'm 28), but it just kinda emerged. That happens.

I'm excited to get Phil's mix. He announced that he's calling it not just a mix, but a Palmermix. Palmermix: Phil, as it were.

I'm honored.

posted by Anon. 4:47 PM
Excuse me while I break my own heart tonight

Passed up an opportunity to go to the Wiltern last night to hear Ryan Adams perform live. I'm not crying about it. He apparently did do an interesting slow-piano cover of the Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar," but Adams is starting to get to near Natalie Merchant-Oasis levels of being rude to his audience and fans. (I always thought precocious was one of the worst insults in the book. Adams proves it.)

Here's a good Adams story. Apparently, a few months ago, he was playing live. Some guy in the audience yelled out for "Summer of '69." Which is actually kinda funny. Adams, however, refused to continue performing unless the guy was thrown out of the audience. That's taking one's self far too seriously. And that's also the lame way to deal with the situation. What would have been the right way to deal with it? If he had broken into one of Bryan Adams' other hits -- "Run to You" comes to mind.

posted by Anon. 4:43 PM


Rough enough

Sorry for the brief respite -- had to finish a project that I sent off today. So now I'm free to post a little bit more.

Right now I'm listening to one of my favorite Rolling Stones songs -- "Beast of Burden," off of Some Girls, a Stones record that features both one of my least favorite Stones hits ("Miss You" -- just hate the Stones Disco thing) and two of my favorites, "Beast" and the Keith song "Before They Make Me Run."

"Beast of Burden" isn't too distant a cousin from one of my other favorite Stones songs of the late70s, early 80s... "Waiting on a Friend," from the solid Tattoo You. I highly recommend tracking down Buckwheat Zydeco's cover of "Beast," which is sultry and soulful. See if you can dig it up.

posted by Anon. 2:26 PM