Tuesday, September 04, 2007

7 Means of Movement: Interlude 5, The Bus.

The Fatback Band, (Are You Ready) Do the Bus Stop.
Louis Brooks and His Pinetoppers, Bus Station Blues.
The Replacements, Kiss Me On the Bus.
The Beatles, Where's the Bus?
The Hollies, Bus Stop.
Frankie Smith, Double Dutch Bus.
Count Five, Double Decker Bus.
Roll Deep, Bus Stop.
Bruce Springsteen, Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street? (live)

Jamie sat by the window looking out and smoking a Kool. People still crowded at the bus's door, people she hoped never to meet--struggling with mutilated luggage and paper sacks that might have contained, the way they handled them, the reasons for their every regretted act and the justifications for their wounds. A black man in a tweed suit and straw hat held up a sign for his departing relatives: "The SUN Shall Be Turned Into DARKNESS And The MOON Into BLOOD" (Joel 2:31). Under the circumstances, Jamie felt close to this stranger.

Around three in the morning Jamie's eyes came open. Headlights on an entrance ramp cut across their flight and swept through the bus, and momentarily in her exhaustion she thought it was the flaming head of a man whipping like a comet through the sleeping darkness of these travelers, hers alone to witness. Suddenly Miranda was awake, jabbering in her ear, excited to be up past bedtime.

Jamie pushed the child's words away, afraid of the dark the bus was rushing into, confused at being swallowed up so quickly by her new life, fearful she'd be digested in a flash and spit out the other end in the form of an old lady too dizzy to wonder where her youth had gone...

Denis Johnson, Angels.

In honor of back-to-school time, here are a few encounters with the bus: the weary communal response to the automobile's promise of free will and mobility; the preferred vehicle of schools, army camps and prisons; the last, desperate tier of transportation, rumbling along night highways, peopled with the lost, the poor and the broken.

The Fatback Band's magnificent "(Are You Ready) Do the Bus Stop," from 1975, is one of a string of funk/disco singles that the band released in the '70s, including "King Tim III (Personality Jock)," one of the first commercially released hip hop tracks. "Bus Stop" is on Best Of.

Louis Brooks and His Pinetoppers' "Bus Station Blues" is from 1954; only available on this massive, expensive set and the out-of-print Excello Story Vol. 1.

"Kiss Me On the Bus," which is about as romantic as the bus gets, is on the Replacements' 1985 Tim.

"Where's the Bus?" is a bit of nonsense from the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour film, in which the Beatles, dressed as wizards in a laboratory, twist knobs, write on chalkboards and watch bubbling flasks, while Ringo asks where the bus is. Never released on record (thankfully) but viewable on the Magical Mystery Tour DVD.

The Hollies' "Bus Stop," pop at its simplest and most generous, was released in 1966; on Greatest Hits.

Wilze ilzare plilzayin dilzouble dilzutch!
dilzouble dilzutch!
dilzouble dilzutch!

Frankie Smith's "Double Dutch Bus," from 1980, was a monster hit--even the hollows of Appalachia were rocking to this one, as I can attest. And yes, Smith's street Pig Latin is at least a decade ahead of Snoop and Jay-Z's. On Children of Tomorrow.

"Double Decker Bus," from 1967, was the lead-off track on Count Five's Psychotic Reaction LP. Follows the same "Psychotic Reaction" formula (aka the Yardbirds' "I'm A Man" formula), complete with the rave-up in the middle, only not quite as memorable.

"Bus Stop" is by Roll Deep, a London-based hip-hop crew headed by the producer/rapper Wiley. On 2005's In at the Deep End.

Finally, this version of Bruce Springsteen's "Does this Bus Stop at 82nd St?" is from a New Year's Eve concert in Philadelphia, in 1975. On the bootleg Live To Run, and available elsewhere, I'm sure.

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