Tuesday, September 05, 2006

6 Cardinal Colors: Monochrome Coda

Elvis Costello, Black and White World.
Three Dog Night, Black and White.
Richard Thompson, Grey Walls.
2-Star Tabernacle and Andre Williams, Lily White Mama and Jet Black Daddy.
Elvis Costello, Black and White World (demo).

So, we're done with the colors. At last! Assembling this woolly, ridiculous series nearly broke me--in particular, the entry on "red", which was all over the place and just went on too damned long. But I kept going and I think I hit a groove around "yellow." Still, at the end of it, I wonder yet again why I embark on these projects.

Here are a few last songs to put you back in a '50s mood--back to black and white, back to grey and monochrome.

"Black and White World," in which Elvis Costello looks at an old photograph and deludes himself that the world was simpler then, is on Get Happy!, from 1980. The demo version is included on the re-release.

"Black and White" is a happy celebration of Brown v. Board of Education. Cheesy, dippy, irresistable. And sometimes it really gets to me--call me a nostalgist for the Warren Court. On 20th Century Masters (Three Dog Night? Does Eddie Money qualify as a "20th Century Master" too?).

"Grey Walls," in which Richard Thompson recounts the time his girlfriend got committed to what sounds like a 19th Century madhouse, is on 1991's Rumour and Sigh.

"Lily White Mama and Jet Black Daddy," from 1998, is by 2-Star Tabernacle, one of Jack White's early projects, with Dan Miller (who did much of the guitar work and vocals), Tracee Miller and Damian Lange. The band had a mayfly life--it only released one single via Chicago's Bloodshot Records, a cover of Hank Williams' "Ramblin' Man" and "Lily White Mama," which is sung by the legendary Andre Williams. (White's "The Big Three Killed My Baby" was originally meant for Williams, and "Hotel Yorba" came out of this period as well--much more info here.) The Millers went on to form Blanche.

Whistler, Arrangement in Grey and Black, 1871.

End credits

Thanks to everyone who wrote words of encouragement--to David Cantwell, in particular, who linked to nearly every entry on Living in Stereo.

Also, I'm greatly indebted to the following, from which I pillaged mercilessly:

Alexander Theroux, The Primary Colors. Out of print, but easy to find. The whale to my essays' minnow: a source of countless quotes, suggestions for appropriate pictures, arcana, etc. Indispensable.

Alexander Theroux, The Secondary Colors. See above. Theroux was supposed to be working on a 'black and white' essay, but that was over ten years ago.

Victoria Finlay, Color. Charming, fearless British woman, in search of the origins of various dyes and colors, travels to the ends of the earth, including Taliban-run Afghanistan and a backwater town in India where the desk clerks keep ringing up her hotel room, saying "It is Saturday night, and Patna is alive with disco."

John McPhee, Oranges. Journalism practiced at such a level it can scarcely be believed.

John Gage, Colour and Culture.

William Gass, On Being Blue.

Simon Garfield, Mauve: How One Man Invented a Color That Changed the World.

Herman Pleij, Colors Demonic and Divine.

Philip Ball, Bright Earth. Whatever feeble attempts I made at explaining the science of perceiving and producing color are owed to this book.


A few random things:

Naguib Mahfouz
and Dewey Redman, RIP.

The Village Voice fired Robert Christgau, which is the equivalent of a decaying baseball team sacking the only all-star left on the payroll. Absolutely appalling. Christgau's final Consumer Guide.

I've finally updated the blogroll, with some fine new additions. Warning, if you haven't updated your site in the last eight or nine months, your site likely got the axe--send me a note if you want a reprieve.

Cover star: Julie Delpy, in Kieslowski's Trzy kolory: Bialy (Three Colors: White).

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