25 March 2009

On heavy rotation...

I noticed yesterday as I was wondering where an old album went that my handy take-your-favorite-120 CD's-on-the-go tote had accumulated quite a bit of dust. I remembered that the one I was looking for was not in it, and squinted to find the case on the bookshelf. It was definitely a needle in the hay! Even though I knew it would not be in the carrying case, I was not entirely convinced I would find it in its jacket either. Imagine my surprise when it slipped out of its minimalist imported recycled paper products packaging a little scratched but none the worse for wear.

I don't know if I would ordinarily blog about an old disc that everyone should certainly have by now, but this is more about the what and when and why.

I found this disc at Borders when I was living in a drab brick & mortar dorm-style dwelling which sweated strangely along the exterior wall. Dust bunnies were the only pets I kept as I made sure not to leave any food in my fridge for fear of the army of ants that were perched to invade whether the window was left open or not.

The Special Forces compound was a strange place where a group of us medical personnel hid out on the third floor of one of the buildings. I had just traded in my nimble Cavalier for a more stout SUV and loaded all the necessary sound equipment that really never belonged in such an odd duck as my tan 2-door anyway. The litmus test for such an installation was of course the 03:22 mark of track 3 of Damien Rice's O. I think that I realized I never really belonged on the special forces compound when I pushed moody Irish folk-rock through my 450 watt sub amp instead of 50 cent or Bloodhound Gang. But those first 3 seconds after the key change sent chills down my spine as I parked outside the barracks in the rain not really in any kind of hurry to go "home" all alone again.

In those weeks I had worked up the nerve to actually call up the principle of my then current infatuation and to my surprise was not instantly greeted with instantaneous rejection or at least passive disinterest. OK so the "date" turned out to not really be a date after all and it became awkward rather quick but I was learning to get over myself. I guess sometimes you just have to revel in any victory no matter how insignificant it might seem at the time.

So I blew the dust off and put it in my new car. While my present wheels might seem pretty ostentatious to some, the sound system is kind of wimpy.... shudder... it's the factory stuff. So how does track 3 sound at the 03:22 key change in my new(ish) car? Well, admittedly it sounds decent when it's raining, and even better when the sun is long down in the west. Then again I have to turn it up quite a bit more than the radio because DR seems to enjoy plenty of contrast and pushing your dynamic range, but when it comes, it does not disappoint... even in my silly stock ampless speakers.

I had the pleasure of catching Rice in concert 2 years ago next month. I took a friend who was not really familiarized with his music, but it was memorable nonetheless. I guess I hadn't really listened to this one all the way through in at least as long, because I had nearly forgotten the crescendo of the concert, a totally amped up extended version of I Remember.

I won't go into exactly what prompted me to go dig for this one, but I needed to put it on heavy rotation again... if only for a short while.

The Blower's Daughter (aka track 3)
I Remember
Damien Rice

PS... I could only find a live version of I Remember. It is either a poor recording or a better-than-average bootleg, but thankfully it is from the early leg of the same tour that brought Rice to Seattle for Earth Day 2007. So this is pre-splitting-up-with-Lisa over "creative differences" and arguably a slightly better version than the one I heard live which was absent the sultry fem vocals in the prelude ballad... so it is closer to the album version in that regard, but the transition matches the intensity I recall from Benaroya Hall, though the crowd sounds much smaller. Oh, don't listen to these on a laptop or work speakers. These songs need the full treatment. Find a pimped out car or at least a good set of headphones :D That is all!


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