white whales, redneck noise, and context

Oct 19, 2012| Leave a comment

Another image that works best as a black and white due to a busy background and poor lighting but you get the picture. Wink wink. This is the Swedish Saab 96 which helped establish the brand and was the first Saab model imported to the UK. The model 96 was the car of choice for Finnish rally driver Simo Lampinen in his early races and established him as a “Flying Finn“. Check out the car in action:

I found the Saab after a stepping out of Black and White Records in Hakaniemi area of Helsinki. I like shopping for vinyl when I travel, always hoping to discover that elusive white whale of a record. This shop had lots of great records to choose from including Alejandro Escovedo‘s True Believers and folky, sad bastards, Tir Na Nog but I settled on a nice copy of Jamaican DJ Big Youth‘s first LP, Screaming Target on the mighty UK label, Trojan Records.

Across the street from the record shop is Cafe Talo which has an American diner theme on one floor. While sitting in the restaurant having an American burger (and Brooklyn beer!) I heard a song by Southern rockers, The Marshall Tucker Band. It was a familiar tune but hearing it at that moment and in that place, I started to think more about it. I was able to take it out of context and have a blank slate, a tabula rasa if you will, to enjoy it and form a new opinion. It’s a catchy country-flavored tune but I started noticing little details like the flute intro which stamps 70’s AM radio all over it. Then there’s a descending piano run after the first lyrics of the chorus which brings to mind Summerteeth-era Wilco. A pretty mariachi-style guitar lick right before the second verse rounds out my discoveries. Three little instrumental parts that I never really noticed all these years but somehow make the song kind of special. This experience immediately reminded me of how Jim Jarmusch reveals tiny slices of American culture in his films like Mystery Train and Down By Law by showing it to you through the eyes of a foreigner or newcomer. Could I have formed the same opinion about the song if I heard it say in a Manhattan diner? Maybe so but I like the new context and I like that we have the capacity to see things anew. 

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