03 March 2008

They told me this was crazy, they told me expect the worst, they told me this is going to haunt you someday….

To me there is something so quintessentially Bostonian about Patty Larkin, this despite the fact that she grew up in Milwaukee. I think it’s because not only has she lived in Beantown forever but it was when I was living there that a friend turned me on to her. Most of my memories in Boston can somehow be threaded through her silky voice, meaningful lyrics and her sweet melodies. Not to be confused with that other Patty (Griffin – another great Boston artist who actually grew up just north of the city) this Patty has a jazz vibe to her – a uniquely smart approach to her songs that while most qualify her as a folk artist (understandably so since much of her early work is as such) – this latest release, Watch The Sky, is harder to nail down; unlike her previous work this CD is rife with unexpected sounds and interesting turns.

Ever true to her lyrical voice – there is no mistaking that this is Patty Larkin as evidenced from today’s title lyric from “Hallelujuh” – she musically weaves in and out of her words as if she were on a Bunny Slope at Wildcat Mountain in New Hampshire. Gliding on ice as is typical of New England skiing – you know she’d headed down the mountain – but you don’t know where she will come to a stop. Not only did she, according to her website, write and produce this CD she also engineered and edited it as the ideas came to her – writing – then recording immediately following. I think this allows for less reflection – less time to criticize your own work and just put it out there as the inspiration ‘dictates’. Too often as a writer I know I’m prone to over analyzing my words (if you only knew how long it actually takes me to write these blogs you’d probably tell me just to give up) and thusly I’m not always as true to my voice as I should be – not always as fearless as I could be. The freedom she allows herself to purge her written voice and create sounds such as the ‘slapsteel’ guitar – a pedal steel guitar detuned and played with drumsticks – works so well for her songs that you would think she’s always worked this way.

If you’re looking to hear something akin to her Live In Harvard Square CD you’re barking up the wrong tree. This is a piece of work that could very well be in a Wim Wenders film or part of the soundtrack to any number of films such as Tumbleweeds, Sweet Land, or basically any indie film that has to do with hardscrabble living, dusty roads and quirky people in love. My favourite songs are “Waterside”, “Phone Message”, “Cover Me”, “Hallelejuh”, “Dear Heart” and “Traveling Alone”. Each song is different with it’s own spirit and one wonders – was a song written in the morning and thusly the day shaped around it? Or was it the other way around? We’ll never know – but it sure is fun imagining her process. No matter what, this is music worth listening to and getting to know – do it with a cup of coffee or a shot of whiskey on a sunday afternoon and if you’re really lucky there will be a gentle snow falling. www.pattylarkin.com or www.myspace.com/pattylarkinofficial

One thing you should never do on a Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles is go to the grocery store. Now that the writers strike is over and more people are working Monday through Friday – the weekend has once again become about running errands – especially Sunday afternoon. The last gasp of freedom is at our tongue tip – every so tasteful and soon to be sliding down our throats. I was itchy to get out and do something after damn near ruining my flat screen t.v. by pausing on a McDonalds logo for too long. I thought the imprint would last forever and that I would, ironically since I don’t eat fast food, be subjected to this imprint until the end of time – or at least until I’m forced to buy a new high def T.V. As the crisis loomed in my head I walked to Trader Joe’s to stock up on some bare necessities. BIG MISTAKE.

Of late I have tried to go to a store and be zen about it. The more crowded this city becomes the more difficult even the smallest of tasks can be. Driving 5 miles can take an hour; watching a movie in public can cause one to want to support the N.R.A. and apparently buying cereal has become hazardous as well. After patiently waiting behind some old guy to decide not to buy eggs – then politely excusing myself to get by so I could buy eggs only to be given a dirty look – I headed for the cereal aisle.

What was I thinking? Cereal? It seems simple enough a task – walk up to the boxes – try and remember what I buy – and pick up a box. Uh. Nope. Another old guy decided that his buying cereal was far more important than my need to buy it all the while attempting to use his cart to nudge me out of the way whilst muttering something about his oh-so important needs. Damn it! I got there first!! I’m slightly colour blind and can’t just pick out any old box based on what it looks like – I have to actually read the god damn label to make sure I’m not buying some sugar laden crap that’s going to give me diabetes later on in life or make me fall asleep after I eat it. Unbelievable!

Next up was to wind my way up to the cheese and meat aisle. Hard to do with all the excessively large baby carriages in my path. What should have taken half a minute took closer to two minutes because of the several detours I had to take to get where I wanted to go. Then of course after I checked out I was nearly run over by another baby carriage as I attempted to exit the store. GET ME OUT OF HERE!!!

As I walked out of the store I saw to my right a table and these cute little handwritten signs asking to ‘help our troops’. How can I resist? So in order to assuage my guilt over being so annoyed by all these ridiculous people and being less than zen - I bought Girl Scout cookies that I really didn’t need to buy. Oh well. I’m sure it will come back to haunt me in some way but I figured ‘why not? they’re kids and lets keep them off these mean streets of Los Angeles’. Though come to think of it - I think they were from the Beverly Hills troop. Oh well. I felt better anyway. No more Sunday shopping for me.

Thanks for tuning in…Until next week….CHEERS!! & GO HILLARY!!!

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