Saturday, October 06, 2012

Huckleberry Finn Is Just A Boatride


The music's a trifle. I V IV, dip your toe in the circle of fifths for the iim and V, a six chord thrown in to throw the dogs of boredom off the scent. Shuffle it around and play Brown-Eyed Girl if you like. It sounds like Van's moved his folk song to B flat for the horns. But it's straight on in.

It's the hardest thing in music. A poem sung, a story chanted. A simple anecdote made profound. Van and his friend blew off school or whatever and went fishing and it rained and they hitchhiked and when the sun came out they went swimming and an old man gave them a drink of water because they were thirsty.

And Huckleberry Finn is just a boatride.

9 comments:

Casey Klahn said...

Makes me wish I could make music. I can listen, though. I like the way you describe the abstraction here, although the words are there.

Leslie said...

I always understood Van. Even when I didn't. Your writing is the same way.

Sam L. said...

Boatride? Boatride?!!

It was a RAFT, Mrt. Sippi! A RAFT! Going where the River took them, a River the Author knew by training as a Pilot!

As a Missourian born and raised, I am OFFENDED!

(Those DRUMS! They're driving me mad, MAD I tell you.)

Sixty Grit said...

I once read someone describe Van Morrison as a mystic. I have no idea about that, I am very concrete, myself, but even after listening to him for nearly 50 years I am still amazed at his work. He certainly is gifted, I will grant you that.

Bilejones said...

Of course, a man more considerate of his readers would have found a performance where the sax was played by Van's favorite sax player, Candy Dulfer.
The fact that she's a beautiful blonde with a penchant for short black dresses should be payed no heed.
She interviews Van the Man here.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcfdV65OTNk

Gagdad Bob said...

Transmuting the lead of time to the gold of eternity. Or maybe transposing eternity to the key of time. Either way, all in a day's work.

SippicanCottage said...

Hi Casey- One art at a time is plenty.

Hi Leslie- You're very kind. I think most art is simply the projection of a mood, first and foremost. Bad artists try to sort of talk you into being interested. Good ones work themselves into a state, and then project it. Like Van!

By the way, I'm making two tables for Leslie, and they're almost done, and they're mighty fine.

Hi Sam- A raft is a boat.

Hi Sixty- He's a Irish witch doctor.

Hi Bilejones- That was interesting. He's a loopy guy in interviews.

Hi G Bob!

T.K. Tortch said...

A "trifle" - it's funny; back in the Spring I heard this on the radio - I think it's from his "Moondance" LP - and I hadn't heard it in ages. It was one of those instances where you hear something you're very familiar with but you hear it with new ears.

I remember thinking something like "that is such a nothing of a song, but it's got more song in it than I could hope to squeeze out of a lifetime of trying."

What kills me in that video? Check out the sax player. He swaps between two saxes during this tune, a Bb tenor and, of all things, an old silver-plated C-Melody saxophone, sometimes called a C-Melody Tenor. It looks like a tenor in shape but it's smaller - compare it to the brass horn he plays.

Check it out at 30 seconds, 45 seconds and a couple other places. The Bb tenor is brass colored.

The C-Melody sax was hugely popular back in the '20s and early '30s, the peak of the 1920s sax craze (yes, there was a sax craze).

It was kind of like a parlor saxophone - you could play the melody line from piano music or any music written in concert C.

After the depression really dug in the market for the horn entirely collapsed. All of the big horn companies that made them stopped completely by 1935, except by special order.

You can tell the one he's playing is from that era; note the horn's bell, easily seen in the shots taken from his back left. There's one key pad and tone hole on each side of the bell, the old so-called "split bell" sax configuration. By the mid '30s the sax makers were placing both bell keys (for low B and Bb) on one side of the bell, like the tenor seen in the video.

Sam L. said...

Mr. Sippi, a raft floats, and a boat floats, and most logs will float, but I don't see rafts as boats. I'm a construction freak, I 'spose.

Not gonna let this dispute/discussion drive us apart.