(In which an angel visits Amoeba Music Hollywood.)

Posted by Job O Brother, July 13, 2009 02:33pm | Post a Comment

Little Jimmy looking big

Uh, did I mention that, a couple weeks ago, Little Jimmy Scott came into the jazz room at Amoeba Music Hollywood? I used up a whole box of tissue, my mind was so blown – and I’m not easily star-struck. Most of the people I’d like to meet are dead (a quality I admire in a person). Never have I been as giddy and star-struck as I was at meeting Jimmy Scott. I cried. I actually cried! Like I was a seventeen-year-old girl at a Beatles concert in ’64. Okay, I didn’t grab the sides of my face and scream – not externally, anyway.

He was sweet like an angel descending on the city for a day to offer a glimpse of light unsoiled by our planet’s spiritual smog. His voice was unmistakable, his smile generous, and he patiently listened to all our gushing with the grace you’d expect from your favorite Kindergarten teacher. The fact that he was wheelchair-bound only enhanced the sense that he was visiting royalty, forever receiving people at his throne.

Poor health has made his already diminutive body more frail, and the stiffness in his hands made for an other-worldly contrast to his skin, which was soft and warm like a newborn infant.

He was flanked by a small film crew from Germany who were shooting a documentary on the making of his next album which, they reported, would be of the blues genre. They were excited that, in the employees of Amoeba, they finally found some young people who not only knew who Jimmy Scott was, but were fans. One of them bullied my fellow co-worker, Lucas, and I into being interviewed for their documentary, despite my emphatic explanation that I was too shy for interviews and anyway, English was my sixteenth language. (I acquiesced after they called my bluff and offered to allow me to answer questions in my native Ket.)

I don’t remember much of what Lucas and I said, but it was something along the lines of, “Boo boo gah gah I like orange,” – something to that effect.

Many of you hipsters will recognize Jimmy Scott’s voice as the “woman who sings ‘Sycamore Trees’ on the soundtrack for the film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.”

Thinking that Jimmy’s voice belongs to a woman is a common mistake. The unique and marvelous timbre of his pipes is in part due to his being born with Kallmann syndrome. The other reason is that God kissed him with magic when he was a baby. I forget the scientific term for that.

Jimmy’s story is noteworthy (no pun intended). I recommend seeing the 2002 documentary Jimmy Scott: If You Only Knew. [This link will lead you to an interview with Jimmy conducted by NPR recorded  to promote the film. It's a swell listen on its own.] Beyond that, do try listening to his music. It’s like a luxurious bubble-bath for your soul, any time.

(In which Job strays, but remains Faithfull in his heart.)

Posted by Job O Brother, July 16, 2008 09:10am | Post a Comment

My apartment. ...Or wait - No, this is a picture of Dresden after the bombing.

I’m looking around my apartment for a conversational starting point. My apartment is a mess right now, so there’s a lot to see:

A full hamper of clean clothes that I haven’t yet folded and tucked away.

The (amazing and important) Paul Robeson DVD box set that Criterion released. On top of that is the Nina Simone “Four Women” anthology that Charles loaned me.

My stereo, upon which some Marianne Faithfull recordings of Kurt Weill is playing.

Books everywhere, the closest of which, to me, is “Scum Manifesto” by that blithe and sparkling literary pixie, Valerie Solanas.

A drop-leaf table from Ikea that’s nearly completed construction (since February).

A computer upon which I’m writing an, as yet, trite and aimless blog.

I really should clean this place up.

You know, speaking of Marianne Faithfull, she came into Amoeba Hollywood not that long ago. Normally, when celebrities shop our store (every hour, it seems) I turn a blind eye. I don’t want to be “that guy” that demands some stranger’s time because I “feel” like I “know them” because they played some teen star’s mom on some trite and aimless sitcom.

However, when Kim and Logan came racing back to the soundtrack section to tell me they spotted the glorious Ms. Faithfull inside, I dropped everything and gave chase. I knew, from friends’ stories, that Ms. Faithfull was gracious; besides, I admire her so much that it would be an honor just to have her snub me, so I couldn’t lose, either way.

She was already descending the stairway to the parking garage by the time I found her. She heard my footsteps on the cement above and turned around – huge, black sunglasses covering her eyes. I stopped – froze. I hadn’t thought further than finding her, and now that I had, I didn’t know what to do with the situation.

She removed her sunglasses and we made eye contact. I spoke.

Speaking of speaking, I wish everyone would learn Sign Language. There’s so many instances in which it would be helpful if y’all did. When watching a movie, as an alternative to yelling across a room, when gossiping behind someone’s back, etc.

There’s a million household uses! But none of this has anything to do with music or movies or Amoeba. As you can imagine, I don’t get a lot of opportunities to speak Sign Language, working in a record store. (Sighs.)

And what does any of this have to do with Marianne Faithfull and my story? Well… urr… would you believe there’s, like, some Da Vinci Code-like clues within the above paragraph? Like, in a couple centuries, historians and code-breakers will marvel at the intricate mysteries woven within this blog’s text?

Would you believe that?

My framed photograph of Pope Paul VI is askew. And that Japanese import of Christine McVie’s legendary, self-titled, solo debut “Christine Perfect” isn’t going to put itself away, you know.

Christine Perfect. What a great name. Why would she change it? I don’t care how much she loved John McVie.

How cool would it have been for her and Marianne to do an album together? “Perfect & Faithfull” they could have been. Both of them with their rich, husky voices and cool, British poise.

Speaking of Marianne Faithfull, I opened my mouth and a gush of admiration came out, as I thanked her for the hours and hours of joy her work had provided me. She listened with a sweet and present smile, availing herself to “our” moment – a true professional, aware of her role as someone to admire.

Not wanting to keep her from her life, I quickly excused myself. I returned to the soundtrack section feeling effervescently rad.

You know, I could blog you some facts about Marianne’s life or career or something (such as the fact that she was the first woman to perform music on the Moon, or that, at age 9, she was briefly married to Albert Einstein, just before he died*), but there’s plenty of resources that do that already. I’d just assume tell you this little story and include some of her work so you can experience it for yourself.

She covered a lot of territory in her long career, so there’s a period of Marianne for most everyone. Whether you love her folksy, Anglo-Saxony, early works...

...or her tough-as-nails, fueled by junk and NYC, pop of the 70’s/80’s...

...or her gloomy, cabaret crooning of the 90’s... her re-emergence as confessional popstar with albums produced by PJ Harvey, Beck, and others.

Well… I guess that’s another blog done. And I guess it’s about Marianne Faithfull, which pleases me. But it’s done nothing to help clean my filthy apartment. My filthy, dirty apartment. Naughty, naughty apartment! You’ve been bad, haven’t you? You filthy apartment.

Why am I still writing? Stop! Stop it!

Not actual facts.

The simpletons guide to the history of ...

Posted by Whitmore, October 26, 2007 09:23pm | Post a Comment

Li'l Bit #4

Posted by Job O Brother, August 28, 2007 11:46pm | Post a Comment
This is my week for spotting obscure female comedians, it seems, because today I was delighted to find myself face-to-face with the charming and razor-witted Cathy Ladman.

Cathy was often seen on TV stand-up shows; I remember, Mtv showcased her frequently. I also had the LP she shared with Paula Poundstone. She was one of my favorites and I was always excited when she showed up on billing.

Working in Hollywood, one is always running into celebrities. It's a relief when those you like end up being cool in person, as Ms. Ladman was.

I tried to find some of her stand-up on YouTube to share with y'all (I'm always looking out for you, sugar), but the few things that featured her also included many others, so I leave it to you to discover her yourself. But only, y'know, if you like laughing and stuff.

The immensely satisfying Kathy Ladman.

Postcards of My Vacation Back Home:

Posted by Job O Brother, August 26, 2007 02:43pm | Post a Comment

Well, well – Look who’s come sauntering in like everything’s normal. If it isn’t little ol’ me. I think I can just waltz back in here after having been missing for days and expect you to just read my blog as though nothing’s happened? Is that it?

Well, I have another thing coming. You’re not some screensaver I can leave on, perpetually cycling a kaleidoscope of flying toasters while I go out and have a life! This is unacceptable! I mean, am I a blogger or not?


You want the truth? Is that it? YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH.

Actually, you can, but I love that line. YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH. It’s so over-the-top. I’m totally going to say it to my future kids whenever possible.

“Dad? How do erasers work?”

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