From Fundament to Rudiment

Pop is often phallic.Sitting around the house saying “ow” is getting old. Winter is teething on the chaw of the City. Last night our blogging compatriot Dawn Eden of The Dawn Patrol co-co-presided at her monthly tripartite Pop Gear DJ outing, spinning 60′s tunes (ranging from righteously obscure to mostly obscure) at Rififi on 11th Street, a few doors west of Veneiro’s, the classic cannoli joint I probably haven’t been in since high school. Since 60′s stuff doesn’t mostly make my dancing shoes twitch – I’m an Oldskool New Waver – I figured it would be safe to haul my tattered musculature out for a couple of hours of impeccably-researched hear-’em-now-or-hear-’em-never adventures, complete with who-on-earth-is-that vintage videos.

Though I don’t know Dawn well, I feel very attached to her these days, because she is the main reason that Pierre and I started up Pepper of the Earth. Early in October I ran across Dawn’s brief excursus on the real-life Renee (Fladen) behind one of my favorite songs ever, The Left Banke’s “Walk Away Renee.” I have a Renée or two in my past, about which perhaps the less said the better (phasers on “Bludgeon,” shields up). I emailed Dawn mentioning that I had managed to stock up a pathological number of cover versions of the song, and when she quoted me in a Dawn Patrol entry perfectly titled “The Banke Generation,” I realized that I’d been bit by the blog bug. Thus this, and here we are.

The Saturday crowd was warm and knew for the most part what they were getting, which means that Dawn & Co. could do what they were there to do – a comfortable mix of preaching to the converted, and leading the converted into new pastures we hadn’t browsed yet. I caught a few glimpses of Mick Jagger in the videos, at an age when he couldn’t possibly imagine ever being 30, spliced in along with hairspray do’s and mod-dot décor and snippets of movies that looked familiar, but who-on-earth-was-that, anyway? Some tune by The Grass Roots caught my ear, and I was enchanted by Geno Washington‘s cover of “Que Sera Sera,” which I had never heard before.

None matches the original, though.Dawn is now the proud owner of a CDR called “Walk Away Renee – In Excruciating Detail,” which contains 17 recordings of the song. Well, perhaps “proud” isn’t exactly the word. It includes the questionable-taste disco-lite version by The Association (“Walk away! Walk away! Renee Renee!”), the flat-out dreadful train-wreck friends-don’t-let-friends-prog-rock cover by Formula3, the clichéd live hack job sweated in by Southside Johnny (this one contemplates frustrated love as justification for moving violations), the post-Muzak glisterings of Orpheus, and so much more. Including a soft, touching, and sweet radio broadcast cover by Ida, an arch, mutant reading that somehow turns exhilarating by O Positive, and a few instrumentals and a capella takes.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I did some wind-walking online this afternoon, occasionally keening over my achy breaky back. Taking my own advice from yesterday’s entry, I started poking around in the shadowy nooks where Google points to the Priory of Zion (or Scion, depending on whether you’ve read Dan Brown’s gripping “Da Vinci Code” – Brown knows better, but he’s loading his Merovingian dice a little heavily) and the other distaff views of latter-day Christianity. Soon enough I was delighted to discover that Mary Magdalene annointed Christ – this is the famous hair-wiping scene – with the contents of an alabaster container of “unguent of nard.”

This was a revelation and a joy. “Nard”? What on earth is a “nard”? I found “spikenard” easily enough, but kept going and ran a few other searches. The Acronym Finder gave up the National Association of Retail Druggists and Naval Research & Development, but also – and this has to be a joke, right? – the National Association of Rudimental Drummers. Is that anything like Remedial Drummers?

Turns out it’s not. Those Rudimental Drummers mean business. Their slogan is “If Rudimental Drumming were easy, it would be Orchestral.” You can’t make this stuff up. Just look at what you can unearth when you’re at home sitting on your fundament, saying “ow.” Rudimentary, my dear Watson, rudimentary.

About Linus

The man behind the curtain. But couldn't we get a nicer curtain?
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