1000 Songs to Change Your Life

I've contributed an essay called "Small World," on the suburban sociology of exotica music, to a new anthology from Time Out, 1000 Songs To Change Your Life.

This assignment was the pleasant side effect of lunching with editor Will Fulford-Jones on his recent research trip to L.A. for the new edition of the city guide. Ostensibly we met to fill him in on the various Esotouric bus adventures that Richard and I lead around the city, but I ended up being asked to contribute a variety of sidebars in the forthcoming L.A. guide (Bob Baker! Charles Fletcher Lummis! graveyards of East LA! weird desserts! secret gardens!), and this neat little essay, which conveniently coincided with writing (in collaboration with David Smay) the liner notes for a big bunch of Arthur Lyman reissues.

I don't pretend to be an expert on instrumental music, but I'm quite interested in the intersections between postwar American culture and imagined versions of the exotic, and all the sex/death associations that the tropics carried, and I like how this piece turned out.

Also included among the inventive, thematic essays in 1000 Songs To Change Your Life are Douglas Wolk on broken hearts, Dave Rimmer on "Gloomy Sunday," editor Fulford-Jones on home, Robert Forster on The Only Ones (too brief!), Chuck Eddy on Nashville's fascination with Mexicana, Michaelangelo Matos on non-bubblegum food-themed pop, Kimberly Chun on drag, Philip Sherburne on urban themes in electronic music, Sylvie Simmons reacting to Janet Reno's rah-rah Americana compilation, Bob Stanley on distinctively British sensibilities, Burt Bacharach on songwriting, Colin Irwin on murder ballads, Geoff Carter on film soundtracks, and a whole lot of genre hopping, thought provoking pop crit. There's also a truly stunning photo of Kris Kristofferson playing a Stratocaster, so peel an eye for it at your better bookseller.

Arthur Lyman Twofer Heaven

This week, Collectors Choice releases a series of nine CDs compiling eighteen vintage Arthur Lyman exotica LPs in their bird-calling, fish-scraping, pupu-platter-clattering entirety. The liner notes were written by David Smay and myself (with a bio that appears on each disk, and notes for each release). We had fun debunking some of the mythologies that have long clung to this great exotic bandleader, and placing him in context as the true and eternally creative link between small combo jazz and lush island hotel pop. A couple of my favorite discoveries were the rocking version of "Windmills of Your Mind" from 1969's Winner's Circle and a sly bosso nova take on "Hawaiian War Chant" that appeared on the Cottonfields LP, but there's plenty of great stuff to hear on all of these bargain reissues. We hope they'll do something to rescue Arthur Lyman's reputation, which has too long huddled in the shadows of his one-time bandleader Martin Denny.

Check them out here.

17 Pygmies Rare LA showcase

You are hereby advised under threat of grave regret to come out and see 17 Pygmies in a rare live appearance as part of the International Pop Overthrow West Coast festival. Also on the bill, the delightful Prix!

August, 7 2007 at Spaceland
1717 Silver Lake Blvd., Los Angeles, 90026
Cost : $8.00

IPO Los Angeles
www.clubspaceland.com 323-661-4380
8:30 Io Perry
9:00 The Unbearables
9:30 17 Pygmies
10:00 The Red Button
10:30 Astra Heights
11:00 The Prix