I've been maintaining this blog (for better or for worse) over the last eight years. Over these years, its natural evolution has led it into becoming something of a niche place for discussion of music in general and Qawwali in particular. Rather than trying to return my existing blog to its pre-Qawwali eclectic roots, I decided I’d start anew on Tumblr. So if you’re interested in music, Qawwali and subcontinental culture, keep reading/listening/watching/commenting here. For all of the above and everything else under the sun, head on over to my Tumblr page .

Sunday, November 30, 2008

... Of Coccoons And Calloway

     It is one of the most primitive forms of survival,practiced by divers sub-genuses of the phylum Insecta.But see,there lies the problem.Humans, last I checked, do not belong to any sub-genus of the phylum Insecta.So I guess it must be one of those Darwinian sod-ups that cause species to share each other's habits.The poor Mantis found religion and I ended up spinning a (figurative) silk-and-saliva mantle around me to lie in a semi-vegetative state for three odd months.

   There's something worse than ennui.It's lethargy,I-don't-care-a-whoop,mental block and winter-madness combined.I call it cocooning and it's bleeding terrible.Now that my final year of Med school has started and the moments of leisure are few and far between,I ought to start appreciating them before they run out.And run out they will,come February next year.Run out forever I fear.But instead, a queer listless sod-all-ness has gripped me.

    As an aside....God Bless Rafi !!!

  It started with the blog.There's tons of things to write,tons of ways to write em and tons of time to write 'em in.But it doesn't seem worth the effort.There's hare-brained schemes to be hatched, hatched schemes to be incubated, but all I seem to be doing is collect blue jokes.In that department,I'm proud to say,I am now self-sufficient !!

  Although life is going on as smooth as it's ever gone,there's a clear scent of dry rot.It's insidious and it's bleedin' dangerous, but there it is.(If it wasn't for Rafi on iTunes as i type,I woulda left the blog as it is,shut down my PC and gone to sleep.So, blame him.) And as anyone wh's ever had to deal with dry rot knows,measures have to be taken or there'll be trouble.Well,it's about goshdarned time to take the goshdarned steps.There's a Mission Statement mapped out, a time-frame set and To-Do lists made.

  I've spent the weekend revisiting Betty Boop.Thank heavens for Youtube,the uninhibited Bette Davis-Marion Davies-Gracie Allen mash-up is viewable in all her trippy fabulousness.But this time,it wasn't Betty that had me sozzled,it was this . . .

   Originally derived from another song called  "The Unfortunate Rake",this traditional tune has been done by many,but this Louis Armstrong version had my hairs stand up on end.There's many theories about what this song is about,but my favorite ones are that it's a song about a gambler who goes to the St. James Infirmary to identify his dead sweetheart and then goes off to gamble again.Or that it's about a man who sees his girl dead of Syphillis and knows that he's next ...

   Either way,it's an incredible song, and Satch does it full justice.But take a look at this if you will ...

    That's Cab Calloway rotoscoped as Ko-Ko the Clown from the Betty Boop short "Snow White".For the uninitiated,rotoscoping is a form of animation where the movements of a person are traced-around from a live action film and then animated.The backgrounds, the kooky dance steps, the voice, you don't see that any more.

   From there to the two other shorts Cab Calloway did for Betty, to this ....

    If that isn't enough to snap one out of a coccoon,I don't know what is....

    Cheers !!

    Song Of The Week,"The St. James Infirmary Blues",Louis Armstrong,Cab Calloway,The White Stripes.
    Movie Of The Week,"M*A*S*H"


  1. For any one who's interested,here's the words to St James Infirmary Blues

    Lyrics: Joe Primrose, Irving Mills

    I went down to St. James Infirmary,
    Saw my baby there,
    Set down on a long white table,
    So sweet, so cold, so fair.
    Let her go, let her go, God bless her,
    Wherever she may be,
    She can look this wide world over,
    She'll never find a sweet man like me.
    When I die, want you to dress me in straight-leg shoes,
    Box back coat and a stetson hat,
    Put a 20 dollar gold piece on my watch chain,
    So the boys'll know that I died standing pat.

  2. And of course,apologies if the third clip seems offensive. . .

  3. Nice posting. The White Stripes version of St. James Infirmary is based on Cab Calloway's take - right down to the opening exclamation, "Ohh Koko" - the name of the clown in the Betty Boop cartoon. A couple of moinths ago I posted an article about another Calloway tune, "Minnie the Moocher." If you're interested you can find it here: http://iwentdowntostjamesinfirmary.blogspot.com/2008/10/st-james-infirmary-willy-weeper-and.html