“Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” (Mickey Newbury)

The “hippie cowboy” strikes where it hurts. While the Kenny Rogers & The First Edition’s later version is more well known, the original’s commitment to both sitar at the beginning and tape manipulation at the end signal that the stakes are a bit different. Any altered state here is premised on a warped negligence; your “mind” should be elsewhere and soaring. Just make sure to check in once in a while: lubricate social relations, follow “sign[s],” and “unwind” as others are wont to do. Testify to the intensity of experience. Make sure that your mind is “broke[n]. And always be packing a spare “you,” since it’s the best you can do on a daily basis (given the legal limits). Be here now and then.


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“Funkentelechy” (Parliament)

Funk’s not about freedom of speech since that enterprise is grounded on the possibility of future dividends (or “possible funkability” funded by “high finance”). Rather, funk is always fully realized and can “be scored everyday”; and it’s surely not “domestically produced” or given, but a given, free of charge. More succinctly, funk is a predisposition without a constitution and an affirmation of a possible being decoupled from sovereignty. This would be the freedom which can never be granted or purchased, and the dissolution of any (self)governance is premised on everyone “hav[ing] change for funk” or, more directly, untethering pleasure from self-care.

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“Black with N.V. (No Vision)” (Black Sheep)

From the second wave of the Native Tongues posse, Black Sheep’s critique of structural racism exceeds “conscious rap’s” occasional investment in a christian notion of “talent.” (The contrast between this standard of value and the brutal irony of “native” should be maximized here for refreshing reading.) First verse’s address to white people key: it’s not about retribution but redistribution of “opportunity.” Otherwise: it’s N.W.A.-time, what with all this labor on being “without pay.” As the less threatening option, being in “touch” with the superordinate group is the ground for reason. An early articulation of a “get yours” approach, but there’s an avoidance of petit-bourgeois aspirations; opportunity is: “a life for me/and generations to come within tranquility.” For a disposition in repose.

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“Brainticket Part I” (Brainticket)

Something amiss in otherwise groovy, organ-driven kosmiche musik: imposition of various alarms, breakages, garglings, and rantings which finally demand that you, the listener, get lost and “go.” Constant foreclosure of pure flight: interruption of the metaphysical self from the start, as ambulances arrive. Liner note “Advice”: “After listening to this record your friends won’t know you anymore.” Consequences of mortal being in a world governed by figures of undetermined presence.


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“The Secret Life of Plants” (Stevie Wonder)

Peristaltic vocals note the gurgling, rapacious nature of human being, which should never question the “inevitable being.” Problem: the being that is inevitable (plants) also embodied by Prime Mover—given that “discoveries” are to be had: holiness demands epiphanies that produce worship. Finiteness not possible in this equation, and our affliction is that we never realize that we are subject to the cosmic powers of Nature. “Doubt” inadmissable: tree hugging at its limit.


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“Refrain” (Lys Assia)

Is the “refrain” in the repetition, the singularity of the melody, or the repression of impatience? A bit of all, to tell the truth. As the first Eurovision Song Contest winner (1956), it’s a way to understand Europe’s sense of being at a particular moment. But it’s not a European song inasmuch as a Swiss song in French, which beat out the German Swiss song. This descent down the location ladder is challenged by the inversely proportional desire to sing particularly (here, of an experience), setting up the trax’s loop: the proper way of being and comportment writ large must be miniaturized in order to be magnified. The chanteuse sings in the present to the love of her youth, noting a sense of mutual maturity while lamenting what’s been lost. Instead of melancholy in which what has been lost must eventually disappear into a generalized longing, this could be taken as a desire to differ from one’s self—a need to retain previous identities to register one’s difference from them. What matters is a promise to decide, continually, on the promise of such difference.


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