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Brass Knuckles

I hate jazz. I mean, jazz of the squeak-blatt-toot variety. I know that makes me Mayor McCheese of Squaresville, but I always felt like jazz was an inside joke and I was definitely not inside. It’s all smack and sunglasses and a smug sense of its own coolness.

But somehow I love ragtime, jazz’s crazy grampa in the attic. Ragtime is a joke, too, but I’m in on it. It’s wild, exhuberant bullshit; it’s showy and silly and just this side of stupid. It’s whorehouse piano — poor old Scott Joplin hisself died of syphilis.

My very favorite ragtime piano tune is by two moderns, William Albright and William Bolcom. Yes, this is self-conscious smarty-pants clever-boots well-nigh-atonal modern crap and I ought to hate it, but I don’t. It’s one of those rare pieces of music I’d give a non-vital body-part to be able to play, and then I’d waste my life playing it all day.

Okay, I know what you’re going to think: “You’ve got to be shitting me, Weasel! This is complete crap. He’s just mashing keys there at the beginning, and then it goes downhill.” Well, yes, but give it a chance. Clinical psychosis is the charm of this piece.

The tune is all over the place, the timing is all over the place, but it holds itself together just well enough to keep you listening. Anxious, but listening. It goes haywire and, right before you click it off in disgust, it turns sweet. Drift along on the sweetness of it, and suddenly it’s in your shower waving a knife around.

It’s like bringing home that new person you’ve been dating for dinner with the folks. You know, that new person with Tourette’s Syndrome. Or listening to a very important speech delivered by George Bush. Or being called upon unexpectedly in a meeting, when you were all hungover and daydreaming. You close your eyes, whisper the please-keep-it-together prayer and hope for the best.

Behold! Brass Knuckles:

Dear Music Industry Goons: this is a completely illegal music ripoff, but I tried. Really I did. I bought this thing over twenty years ago. I don’t remember the name of the album. I don’t remember the name of the artist. I think it might have been from a label called “American Heritage” — or something like that. It was one of the few pieces of music I bothered to digitize off cassette (hence the dubious sound quality in spots), and even that was many years ago. I did a diligent Google search for “ragtime” and “brass knuckles” and “American Heritage” (in the course of which I found — and bought — a couple other albums with Brass Knuckles on, so you got a piece of me). This particular recording is nowhere to be found. I would happily have given credit (and excerpt and link). So before you cart me away to the hoosgow, would you at least tell me where this comes from? I want to buy the CD.


Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: February 27, 2007, 3:27 pm

Ha! What a fun song! You inspired me to haul out my cassette tape of Scott Joplin rags this morning. But why are you playing piano songs? Don’t you know Tuesday is banjo picking day?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 27, 2007, 4:17 pm

Don’t tempt me. I have an extensive banjo music collection.

Very extensive.

Fear me.

Pingback from S. Weasel
Time: February 27, 2007, 6:54 pm

[…] You can thank Enas Yorl for this. Thank him good and hard. […]

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: February 28, 2007, 5:09 pm

Kind of reminds me of Perfesser Longhair’s stuff, he’s sloppy as hell and can’t sing but for some odd reason it just WORKS.

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: June 22, 2008, 11:39 pm

That’s really profound, Sandy. Tell me more! Especially about the unmittened hypermetropia. I got a dose of that from a girlfriend in college, and boy! did it itch! Then my testicles swelled up bigger’n tomatoes and drooped down to my ankles, and everyone on campus stared whenever I walked to and from classes. But there was this one chick from Brazil that was an EE major too who kept sitting next to me and putting her bare foot gently over onto my scrotum (the part that was stretched to the floor) and wiggling her toes, so that part was OK. When I got better she lost interest in me, until I discovered that if I held my breath and grunted real hard I could inflate my scrotum to the size of a soccer ball at will and then let it deflate. I did that for her while she was sitting on my lap and I think she had an orgasm.

…And yes, Weaz, I know I’m talking to a spambot. I was over drinking BMs at the milfs earlier and am being silly.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 23, 2008, 5:11 am

I have flung Sandy in the spam bucket, McGoo (dang it, it’s been a heavy spam weekend). So now you’re just some old guy telling improbable stories about his scrotum to nobody in particular.

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: June 23, 2008, 5:54 am

That’s OK, Weaz. Think of it as an episode of the cat staring intently at a blank wall for no reason whatsoever.

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