Lifestyle‘s tenth track, “Dead Air” represented the final of the album’s hard-charging ultra-compact pop dynamos. Like “Slave Wages”, “Treat the New Guy Right”, and “Raging Bull” — a catalogue of wonders sharing multiple songwriters but all cut from the same cloth — “Dead Air” created its own world of characters and places, and condensed this multitude into a couple of minutes of electrifying, inventive, and deceptively intricate rock and roll. The song zipped the listener from Nashville to Paris, pondering the meaning of it all and offering libations to Hank and Jim. After this whistle-stop tour of the weird and the regretful, Lifestyle‘s penultimate track, the more downbeat and gentile “Ooh La La”, which is the subject of this week’s blog entry, begins the process of easing the pace of proceedings and ultimately winding the album to a close. It is as if “Dead Air” is such a rollicking storm of humour and sadness, and propelled along with such force by Tim Midyett’s high-torque riffing, that it takes the braking distance provided by not one but two tracks to slow Lifestyle to a stationary conclusion.
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In our previous blog entry Lifestyle led us to the top of the mountain. Even paced and lyrically dark, Lifestyle‘s longest song, the monumental “Around the Outline”, is also arguably, for sheer weight, the album’s most rockin’-est. The shift to track ten, “Dead Air, which is the subject of this week’s entry, takes us — to borrow a phrase from “Around the Outline” — from a peak to meadow. However it is a meadow full of empty whiskey bottles, discarded fried chicken containers, and abandoned Cadillacs, a gonzo museum of classic Americana.
Last week our tour of Lifestyle stopped to gaze in wonder at the minor miracle that is “Raging Bull”. At only a hundred seconds long Tim Midyett’s microscopic masterpiece is easily the shortest song on the album. It is no accident then that the track which follows “Raging Bull”, and the subject of this week’s blog entry, is Lifestyle’s longest song. It is appropriate that “Around the Outline”, a song with a landscape of mountains, peaks, and cliffs, should stand just slightly taller than anything else on the album.
“‘Raging Bull’, I think, is one of the smallest masterpieces of a rock song I’ve ever heard.”
—Matt Kadane, Couldn’t You Wait?
The subject of this week’s blog is “Raging Bull”, Lifestyle‘s magical eighth track, and there is no better way to begin the entry than with the above quote from Matt Kadane, captured in the extras to Seth Pomeroy’s essential Silkworm documentary Couldn’t You Wait?. With a concision typical of his own superlative rock music, Matt gets to the crux of why “Raging Bull” is so special. Not only is it good — and that’s an understatement — but it is the scale of bassist Tim Midyett’s creation which is so extraordinary. Lasting barely one minute 40 seconds, it is easily the shortest track on Lifestyle, and like a model city carved from a grain of sand, this tiny production contains multitudes.
Lifestyle began with the song “Contempt”, a song of easy beauty from Andy Cohen or, given the lyrics of the track, should that be the easy beauty of Andy/Brigitte Cohen? The opening of the second half of Lifestyle is a mirror of the first in some senses. “That’s Entertainment”, the subject of this week’s blog entry, is another languid classic from Andy. However if “Contempt” was a poignant, smouldering take on a broken relationship, then “That’s Entertainment” is an elegant firestorm. The two tracks are similarly paced but strike wildly different tones.
// Notes from the Road
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