I would like to highlight the importance of a glass of good cheap red wine, The Free Wheelin Bob Dylan on vinyl and Dean Young’s Skid and Elegy on Toy Piano at my side. I would like to describe the rain pouring outside onto the Wisconsin landscape, like sheets drowning my garden vegetables- in the words of Richard Brautigan “programming flowers and keeping snails happy”. These are the framework into which this particular blog entry must be plugged into.
I discovered Dean Young in McSweeney’s Book of Poets Picking Poets.
I would have liked to include Brandon Som in this but alas all I could find was what is printed in the McSweeney’s collection. Mr. Young has succeeded in pleasing the poetic palate of me, an obsessed media studies student, a viciously loyal Anne Sexton, Brautigan and Adrienne Rich reader. I have little insight into what someone familiar with these aforementioned works might guess Young’s work is reminiscent of- all I know is that it achieves a perfect balance of popular culture references, sincere emotional observations and scathing well-timed wit. The essence of his work is one that craves a certain level of sentimentality framed by grand inflection on the influences of his insight and abstract natural reflections. I could present Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska and Craig Finn’s songwriting on The Hold Steady Almost Killed Me and Separation Sunday as prime musical parallels; and if you haven’t heard The Hold Steady, you must, it is real literary rock’n’roll energy.
from ‘Knuckles’ off The Hold Steady Almost Killed Me:
i've been trying to get people to call me freddy knuckles.
people keep calling me right said fred.
it's hard to keep trying when half your friends are dying.
it's hard to hold steady when half your friends are dead already.
taxmen coming around the back with the kevlar vests.
militia men cooking up a batch of crystal meth.
there's a war going down in the middle west.
there's a war going down in the middle western states.
the kevlar vests against the crystal flakes.
Dean Young, however, achieves a music all his own- not with banjoes or guitar, but with prose, with commas and line breaks. What’s important to me, what really makes me lose my mind is the story-telling. I want stories- need them.
(I can’t listen to ‘Girl From the North Country’ enough)
from the poem Fire is Speaking by Dean Young:
Fire is speaking again,
Everything belongs to me.
A bird flies over- not even a challenge.
A handkerchief, a window, a war.
A little girl helped up the steps into a train.
Two crazy winos arguing about the formation of the universe,
one says, Time folding, the other, You’re not listening.
A valentine out of paper doilies with blunt scissors.
It’s almost eighty years ago,
the tree wants to tell how far it’s come,
the mountain how fast it can run,
the past in the form of a locomotive
knows it must switch from coal to electricity
to ever catch up.
Perhaps I’ve spent too many nights in trainyards smelling aerosol paint or maybe I just really love wine but what’s above is so very handsome.