Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Having Cast Our Eyes to the West

Man, the West has been in the news quite a bit these days. I haven't been out West since the 90s, when I took two cross-country road trips which took me throughout most of the U.S. In a comment to one of the news stories about the Malheur takeover, one commentor noted that this whole affair reminded him of the Wall of Voodoo song Call of the West:

Harshly awakened by the sound of six rounds of light-caliber rifle fire
Followed minutes later by the booming of nine rounds from a heavier rifle
But you can't close off the wilderness
He heard the snick of a rifle bolt
And found himself peering down the muzzle
Of a weapon held by a drunken liquor store owner
"There's a conflict," he said, "there's a conflict
Between land and people
The people have to go
They've come all the way out here to make mining claims
To do automobile body work
To gamble
Take pictures
To not have to do laundry
To own a mini-bike
Have their own cb radios and air conditioning
Good plumbing for sure
And to sell Time/Life books and to work in a deli
To have a little chili every morning
And maybe... Maybe to own their own gas stations again
And take drugs
Have some crazy s**
But above all, above all, to have a fair shake
To get a piece of the rock and a slice of the pie
And spit out of the window of your car and not have the wind blow it back in your face"

Stan Ridgway was onto something there... it's a pity that Wall of Voodoo is best known for a novelty song, even a fantastic one. They were a really fantastic band, blending alt-country, new wave, spaghetti western sountracks, that inimitable Ridgway twang, and a noirish sensibility. Here's a video of the band's performance during 1983's US festival:

Listening to some of their songs still raises goosebumps. These guys were fantastic, even their novelty songs were great.


Unknown said...

For some reason, I have a Stan Ridgway CD called "Mosquitos" and it is full of very cinematic story-songs. I'd never heard anything by Wall of Voodoo except "Mexican radio." These are good!

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

I remember 'Calling out to Carol' got some airplay back in the day. My favorite solo song by Stan is "Drive, She Said", a great song about a cab driver who picks up a femme fatale and gradually realizes what's going on with her.

StringOnAStick said...

I'm a born and raised westerner, and yes, there is a western mythos of open spaces, don't tread on me-ism, and poor socialization because we typically don't live in the sort of close contact found in big cities. That said, most of us aren't gun-waving libertoonian nutjobs (though that crap got its start here in the 1970's - sorry I didn't strangle it in its crib!). The ones that are though, well, we need an update on the image from Gary Larson's How Nature Says Don't Touch cartoon; instead of clown makeup and a shoe on their head, all you need out here is a good look at what they've adorned their bumpers with. Images of gun fetish objects/organizations? Big check mark on the nutjob inventory list.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Thanks for those. I didn't know anything besides Mexican Radio, either.

Smut Clyde said...

If you're working the early-80s-music side of the street, lemme recommend The Sound. Also The Church. And Screaming Blue Messiahs.

M. Bouffant said...

The West is still out here, waiting for you ...

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