Richey James Edwards

25 01 2009

Unexplainable mysteries in music always intrigue the hell out of me.  As I compose this, I can’t think of any other music mystery that intrigues me more than the disappearance of Richey Edwards of the Manic Street Preachers.
On January 31, 1995, The Manic Street Preachers checked into the London Embassy Hotel in preparation of leaving for their American tour the next day.  Richey speaks to his mother and states that he’s not looking forward to touring America.  The next day, Richey checks out of the hotel, stops by his apartment to drop off some things, and is never seen again.
When Richey didn’t arrive in America by February 2nd, a missing person’s report was filed.
During the month of February ’95, Richey is reportedly spotted several times.  During the two weeks following his leaving the Embassy Hotel in London, Richey is supposedly spotted at the passport office in Newport; at the Newport bus station; and picked up by a taxi driver.
In May ’95, Manic Street Preachers met with Richey’s parents to discuss continuing on with the band.
In November ’96, a college lecturer from South Wales, supposedly sees Richey at a market in Goa, India.
In November ’98, a British-born barmaid on the island of Fuerteventura, supposedly sees Richey in the Underground Bar in the town of Corralejo. When a patron of the bar shouted “‘You’re Richey from the Manic Street Preachers!”, Richey turned around and ran out the door.
In January 2002, almost 7 years after his disappearance, Richey’s parents state that they will never have him declared dead.
In October 2004, Richey is supposedly spotted on Famara beach, Lanzarote.
November 23, 2008… Richey’s missing person’s case is officially closed after, by court order, his status is changed to “presumed dead.”
Manic Street Preachers are currently working on their next album which will comprise only of lyrics Richey had left behind.
The Manics still put 1/4 of their album royalties into an account for Richey just in case he comes back.
This picture was taken as Richey was walking off stage as a member of the Manic Street Preachers for the last time.

This is the last known photograph ever taken of Richey James Edwards (possibly taken at the passport office in Newport?)

I received all of my information from this website, where you can find a more detailed chronology which also details Richey’s self destruction a little bit more.


Two-Lane Blacktop

19 01 2009


I finally bought Two-Lane Blacktop; a cult classic starring James Taylor and Dennis Wilson.  I rented this movie in the middle of last year and watched it twice before bringing it back.  It’s a movie about cars.  I’m not a gearhead by any means.  The big draw for me is Dennis Wilson, of course.  But there is something about this movie that holds my attention despite having minimal dialogue.  I can’t put it into words, so I’ll let Richard Linklater do it for me.

Ten (sixteen, actually) Reasons I Love ‘Two-Lane Blacktop’ by Richard Linklater
1. … it’s the purest American road movie ever.
2. … it’s like a drive-in movie directed by a French new wave director
3. … the only thing that can get between a boy and his car obsession is a girl, and a Laurie Bird perfectly messes up the oneness between the Drive, the Mechanic and their car.
4. … Dennis Wilson gives the greatest performance ever…by a drummer
5. … James Taylor seems like a refugee from a Robert Bresson movie, and has the chiseled looks of Artaud from Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc
6. … there was once a god who walked the earth named Warren Oates
7. … there’s a continuing controversy over who is the actual lead in the movie. There are different camps. Some say it’s the ’55 Chevy, some say it’s the GTO. But I’m a Goat man, I have a GTO – ’68
8. … it has the most purely cinematic ending in film history
9. … it’s like a western. The guys are like old-time gunfighters, ready to outdraw the quickest gun in town. And they don’t talk about the old flames they’ve had, but rather old cars they’ve had.
10. … Warren Oates has a different cashmere sweater for every occasion. And of course, the wet bar in the trunk.
11. … unlike other films of the era, with the designer alienation of the drug culture and the war protesters, this movie is about the alienation of everybody else, like Robert Frank’s The Americans come alive.
12. … Warren Oates, as GTO, orders a hamburger and an Alka-Seltzer and says things like “Everything is going too fast and not fast enough.”
13. … it’s both the last film of the sixties – even tough it came out in ’71 – and also the first film of the seventies. You know, that great era of “How the hell did they ever get that film made at a studio?/Hollywood would never do that today” type of films.
14. … engines have never sounded better in a movie
15. … these two young men on their trip to nowhere don’t really know how to talk. The Driver doesn’t really converse when he’s behind the wheel, and the Mechanic doesn’t really talk when he’s working on the car. So this is primarily a visual, atmosphereic experience. To watch this movie correctly is to become absorbed into it.
16. … above all else, Two-Lane Blacktop goes all the way with its idea. And that’s a rare thing in this world: a completely honest movie.
The more I watch this movie, the more I love it.  In my opinion, it’s not the type of film you’d put on during the day just because you want to watch a movie.  I’d say it’s more the kind of film you’d put on real late at night, and as Linklater stated, you become absorbed into it.  Despite the fact that it stars two musicians, they don’t perform any songs at all.  James Taylor doesn’t decide to have a quiet inspirational moment under a tree, finger picking his guitar.  Nope.  Not like now days where if a singer takes on a movie role, they almost always have a part where they sing…even if it’s just in the shower.
There aren’t very many songs in the movie itself. So, there isn’t an official soundtrack to accompany it.
In 2003, a tribute soundtrack was compiled entitled You Can Never Go Fast Enough.  It features contributions from Sonic Youth, Leadbelly, Giant Sand, Mark Eitzel, Wilco, Calexico, Cat Power covering the Rolling Stones and a track by Will Oldham & Alan Licht called “Don’t Cry, Driver.”
“Don’t Cry, Driver” is a 9 minute song that features Will Oldham singing for 2 minutes and that after that, Alan Licht recites every single one of James Taylor’s lines from the movie.
It’s an odd but satisfying tribute album.  If you can find it, and you like the artists I mentioned, you should pick it up.  And if you’re one who truly appreciates films, I’d suggest you check this movie out.

Solo albums #6

17 01 2009

Saw Franz Nicolay at the Triple Rock on Friday and I was very pleasantly surprised. He is, of course, the keyboard player for the Hold Steady (who happen to be one of my favorite bands, and is definitely my favorite to see live) and I like to try to support members of bands I like when they take on a solo project.

It was a solo show by every sense of the word. The stage basically looked like it does in the picture below plus an acoustic guitar. Every song done by just the man himself. He was a true performer and I must say I was captivated.

Franz was hilarious and his humor was dry. He reminded me of Mitch Hedberg with his between-song-banter. Mitch, of course, being my favorite comedian. Here are a few of the things that had me in stitches.

“I’m working out the kinks, which I maintain should one day be the title of a Ray Davies exercise video.

– (after someone in the crowd said “You’re a funny guy…”) “You should have seen me in Buffalo. I was f_cking hilarious!” (definitely a Hedberg moment)

– (Lifter Puller was the first band to play at the Triple Rock Social Club. The singer and guitarist of the Hold Steady played those respective roles in Lifter Puller. Franz thanked Triple Rock for having him and an audience member said “I saw Lifter Puller here.”) “Yeah? I didn’t…AND I wasn’t in that band.”

“If any one has any suggestions on how to improve my show, please write them down on a piece of paper and hand them to Kat (singer of openers The G_d Damn Doo Wop Band), she will then hand them to Ryan at the merch booth. Ryan will set them on fire; the smoke will float to the ceiling and drift down to me where I will smell it and know what your suggestion was.”
During his next song, someone did as instructed and the merch guy set the piece of paper ablaze and waved it in the air.

Franz asked “What are you waving at me?”
“It’s on fire!” was the reponse.
“It’s on fire??”
Members of the audience started yelling “smell it!!!”
“Aaaaah. You’re going off my own joke from earlier that I’ve already forgotten”Cracked me up! Easliy amused? Yeah, maybe sometimes.

Before strapping on his banjo to play “Cease Fire, or, Mrs. Norman Maine” he said that Willie Nelson had, at one point, stated that the sound of a banjo makes people happy and that a sad song could never be performed on the banjo. “Apparently, he’s never heard ‘Rainbow Connection“, Franz pointed out and then went on to say that his next song was also a sad, banjo song.

One of my favorite moments was a song Franz wrote as a member of World/Inferno Friendship Society. The song is called “Trains”. “That was a World/Inferno song I decided to resurrect.” I loved it. I thought it was a great song. So, I went to the merch table after the show to buy the CD with that song on it, but was informed that it is unreleased at this time.

As I stated, the solo performance was bare bones, and I loved it. I think if it can hold up by itself without a band, it speaks volumes for the songwriting. The album has a couple of jazz numbers, a couple of songs with a sort of punk tendency and of course, a few songs that resemble the Hold Steady. I find this album incredibly refreshing. I love the music and I especially love the lyrics. I am big on good lyrics and I really love these lyrics. Well done Franz!!!