Provincializm: Top 3 Mixtape Songs To Repel or Confuse Recipients

William Bowers's "column" shows up on SOTC every Tuesday. Read all his previous "columns" here.

Montana Da Mac when he was in high school: looking limp-wristed

Provincializm: Short & Marrow

By William Bowers

I just cannot make faux-herent paragraphs happen his week, because of my fellow former South Carolinian Stephen Colbert (with possible impage from an old VilVoi crony in his employ). In case, you don’t follow his Comedy Central show, Colbert won’t relent in drawing attention to his broken wrist, and has embarked on a jokey anti-Hollywood wrist violence campaign that obliges him to replay montages of people’s wrists being violently compromised. A couple years ago, I crushed both of my wrists, and lost the top of an armbone, in a grievous ropeswing-to-sinkhole miscalculation which was a turning point in my ability to cradle a baby, touch my butt, or offer you a Skittle from a cupped hand. (An Austrian physical therapist tried to cheer me up about losing supination by explaining how great pronation was—she thrust her arm forth in a palm-down gesture reminiscent of a certain monstrous dictator and said, “like, you know, pro-nation!”)

I’m sorry to be so traumatized by flashbacks to boomeranging tendons and to Percocet dependency that I can barely type. I’m sorry enough to want to sing you one of those “Mama” songs like certain songwriters from Bob Dylan to Simon Joyner do, where “Mama” is not only a creepy rhetorical combination of female parent and lover, but an enabling respondent/persona which allows the usually triumphant/unrepentant speaker to admit failure or unquenchable de-sire. If it’s any consolation to you, I’m having to type this “column” at a bad library branch since my craptop won’t acknowledge its own Tab, Backspace, Shift, T or Y keys, like someone with lame parentage denying a design flaw. So: typing “type,” on the afflicted unit gets shorthand for Public Enemy, while “titty” yields simply “i.” My titties and I are reduced to this list:

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1. Nancy Simmonds, "True Prince Of Wales (Welsh Corgi)." Even as children’s music, this track is subsanity. Simmonds, the Sufjan Stevens of expensive dog breeds, sings about these things in a way that violates the limits of their sentience. I used to have this maddening acquaintance who was a bulimic vegan really attached to her Corgi, and she found this bizarre anthem on iTunes. The song acts like the British Empire was colonized on the backs of creatures known to be mortified by caged birds and sewer drains. Nevermind the titular call to supplant Charles, Simmonds presents these beasts as straight-up messianic. Peep this video of her song about Scottish deerhounds, from her seventh album about canines, for a taste of a vibe way weirder than anything in outsider-fetishist Irwin Chusid’s lore, and check the Yaz-tastic synth solo.

2. Montana Da Mac, "Rock On." I maintain a strong weakness for Dirty South jams that never made it to mainstream, from Kilo’s “Cocaine” to Kool Daddy Fresh’s “He Went Out Like A Gangsta” to P-Nut’s “Fuck Wat A Hata Say,” but who is this song even supposed to be for? It’s a standard uncomplicated-dance-introducing club banger about liking rock music, replete with guitar screeches and some Steppenwolf cribbing, but it disses spiked bracelets as “bullshit”? It namechecks Blink 182 twice? Montana mutters “whut up, Mick Jagger, brah”? His hype-man sounds prompted by prune juice? Multiple webforums have erupted into debates about the racial provenance of rock as a result of “Rock On”’s espousal of a predominantly white mode that Hendrix and Prince pioneered/perfected? What exactly is the demographic for a self-hating “Walk This Way”? Consult the video or the Murdochspace.

3. Melanie, “Till They All Get Home (A Little Prayer).” I still regularly listen to classic Melanie, and not just because her last name (Safka) rhymes with Kafka, though I fear that members of my generation who missed Joanna Newsom’s sweet rendition of “Ring The Living Bell” might only know Melanie from soundtracking the “reveal” of Heather Graham’s mamms in Boogie Nights. I used to date one of her personal assistants, so I’ve heard all kinds of libelous things about her recycling, and yet, I am still shocked by this 2003 antiwar ballad, during which Melanie overly links her relatively un-booby-trapped life on the road as a recording artist with that of a soldier’s in Iraq. In the liner notes (hell yes, I bought it) her husband takes credit for everything, down to the cover design concept. I still wept to this Youtube video of anti-Nam Melanie set to Iraq footage, even though generational war comparisons strike me as too pat, ever since David Mamet wrote the following in Wilson, about the artifice of such parablizing, re: the boy who cried wolf: “Had he had it in his view not to round out the story, but to save his own life, would he not have been better put to have shouted something different? ‘Fire,’ for example, or ‘Rape,’ or ‘Look, I’ve found gold!’”

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