Saturday, March 24, 2007

Good Friday

It has been a long while since I've run with FJ, so finally we met up for a run yesterday at the Rose Bowl. I think that running was just pretense for exchanging music. FJ provided me with my requested 60's Brit-pop, Explosions in the Sky and the artist I'm listening to now, Elvis Perkins. More on Perkins a little later.

The run went OK. I'm still running a little funny but it got better as the run progressed. What didn't approve was my cardiovascular fitness. Three weeks of limited cardio has taken its toll and I was huffing and puffing through most of the run. We managed to get in about five miles and my knee held up during it. Today, though, is a different matter. The knee is noticeably tender. Not unbearably so but definitely hurting more than it has since last week. Because of that I skipped the Rose Bowl run today and slept in. I really don't need an excuse to sleep in, but having an injury makes me less guilt-ridden.

Also, during our run, FJ mentioned that his wife thinks I look like this guy:

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If so, I'm pretty darn cute. I don't think I'm as dramatic and prone to hysterics, though.

As I mentioned, FJ gave me the Elvis Perkins CD and I think it's a stellar work. Perkins's father was Anthony Perkins from Psycho, who passed away from AIDS-related complications, and his mother was Berry Berenson, who died on one of the 9/11 planes that crashed into the World Trade Center. With that background, it's no surprise that Ash Wednesday is informed by death and the heaviness of living. Melancholy is the prevailing tone, with song titles like "It's a Sad World After All" pretty much explaining themselves. However, despite this melancholy tone, a sense of hopefulness underlines everything. The songs speak of sadness and hardship but they also argue for the virtues of muddling through. This comes through the most on the kaleidoscopic "May Day," but even in a song like "While You Were Sleeping," which seems to reference 9/11 when Perkins sings, "while you were sleeping/you tossed, you turned/you rolled your eyes as the world burned/the heavens fell, the earth quaked." The religious references to Easter in the title track and "Good Friday" further serves to argue for redemption through sacrifice and loss.

I doubt I've made the album sound appealing. My point is that it's a terrific album, one that is heartbreaking but also uplifting. I liked the album so much that at the last minute I decided to head out to Echo Park and see his show at the Echo even though I had pretty much decided not to go. I'm so glad I went.

Outside the Echo I ran into Sam, an old friend from high school, and his fiance. They were both there to see the show and were in the front of the line. Inside, for some reason, the Echo set up tables and chairs taking up much of the viewing area. Sam and his fiance managed to snag a table and I stood next to them with a perfect view of the stage. Let's Go Sailing opened and played one of the better sets I've seen them do. Each time I see them their songs sound even more appealing than I last remembered. Stage presence is still lacking, but the songs are sweet enough to make up for the lackluster presentation.

Elvis Perkins, though, was mesmerizing. Backed by a talented group of musicians that included his brother on drums for "May Day." Perkins has a lazy but flexible voice that added a texture of weary conviction to the music. Perkins opened the set by himself on guitar with "It's Only Me." He had me right from the beginning. The rest of the band came on the second song toting a trombone, an upright bass and drums. The song was "Shampoo," I think. I can't remember since I wasn't taking notes, unlike Colin from "I'm From Rolling Stone" who was there with a lady friend.

The rest of the show was impactful. Perkins went through pretty much the whole album, but the highlights for me were "May Day!" and "Ash Wednesday." For the encore, Perkins played "While You Were Sleeping" and a song I'll call "1-2-3 Goodbye." It was one of the more gratifying shows I've been to lately and Perkins certainly proved he was an artist to watch.

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