“Cliffs of Dover” (Eric Johnson)

The celebration of instrumental technique and the materiality of militaristic force to reinscribe the flexible (chalky, murder outline-like) contours of the nation. Driving backbeat propels dazzling arpeggios, intermittent two-hand tapping and, at end, the soaring higher octave reprise of chorus riff. Patriotism, or the consolidation of enforced populations, is only a byproduct of the seduction of community (through self-generation). D-days, then, are inherently premeditated due to continual need for national unity. Loving nature.


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“To Beat or Not to Beat” (The Horace Silver Quintet)

It’s difficult to see the relation between the Arthur episode (season 4, episode 7b) of the same name and the trax, what with the cartoon’s focus on the dangers of performative versatility and the general busybody-ness of friends. Same with Hamlet, in which the division or break between states is considered, contextually, inevitable. In both texts, an awareness of the law–of gravity in the former or of law’s tardiness in the latter–leads one down these analogous paths. Silver’s treatment isn’t enamored of subjection, and we’re asked to focus on the force of the beat. Spatially located and loosely arranged, this is a formal hard bop tune. (Unlike his “Song for My Father“–whose bassline was wisely lifted by Steely Dan for “Rikki Don’t Lose that Number“–this trax eschews boogie and avoids romantic notions of place.) Unfaithful to the citation, too, is the piano solo; ascending and falling twice, it meanders at high and low registers, ending further down the scale than where it began. Be(at): one is never and always emplaced, (actively) occupying and occupied.


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“You I’ll Be Following” (Love)

If this trax concerns “real” human beings, then it’s a story about the singer’s shift from chasing drug dealers all over the globe to a new place where another person has replaced drugs in his affection. But Arthur Lee’s vocal emphasis on “I” and “you” makes one wonder whether the deeper topic is strictly pronominal. Émile Benveniste, in “Relationships of Persons in the Verb” (1946) teaches us that first, second and third persons are born together and in hierarchical, force relations: “‘I’ is always transcendent with respect to ‘you’,” for instance, and both “I” and “you” lord it over the third person (or what Benveniste pointedly calls “the non-person”). So what does it mean to suggest that, at some time in the future, “You I’ll be following”? It would be too much to ask Lee to figure out a way to alter the entire structure of language. But at least this trax suggests an extended holiday from primacy.


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