When I started with this One for Friday exercise just over a year ago, I decided that I was going to try to stick with songs that were out of print and, to the best of my determination, entirely unavailable for purchase. There have been some cheats and missteps regarding that principle over these many weeks, but for the most part I’ve stuck with it. As part of the process of determining what to feature next, I have a small mental list of albums that I check with some regularity thinking that they must have slipped from the lists of readily available releases. One of those is Primal Dream by Richard Barone. Every time I look it up on Amazon, I discover that it is indeed available, albeit for a hefty price.
Primal Dream came out in 1990. It was Barone’s second solo album after he made his name, at least in some circles, by serving as the lead singer and chief songwriter for The Bongos. It was produced in part by Don Dixon, still considered enough of a hero in college radio circles for his work with R.E.M. and The Smithereeens that his involvement immediately meant that the record merited special attention. It quickly became one of those albums I pulled out when I needed something a little different to break up the set: something bright and arresting, but unfamiliar enough to the listeners that it was a bit of a surprised wedged in amongst the songs and artists dominating our playlist at the time. If find the music still serve that purpose for me today in the hefty collection of songs shuffling out of my iPod.
They are just pop songs really, not some Sonic Youth abrasive musical deconstructions or Arcade Fire sonic sermons or Bon Iver backwoods exhales or any other performer that sounds thoroughly different and unique, and grabs you with its pure otherness. On the surface, they probably sound and seem like hundreds, evens thousands of other songs I have in my little black radio station I carry with me. And yet they are as immediate as they ever were for me. When one of them come in, it immediately stops the flow and pulls back my focus from wherever it was drifting. Some songs just demand to be heard.
So even though it’s available, and doing so breaks my own rule, I’m putting one of the songs here today. Some songs just demand to be heard.
(Disclaimer: I type out some version of this every week, but some special emphasis may be required this time out. Should anyone with due authority to do so ask me to remove this song from the Interweb, I will gladly comply. My intention in sharing this is not to pull nickels away from the artist who crafted the work; it is simply to share something I adore. If that conflicts with the desires of those whose livelihood is connected to the music, I’ve no desire to buck against those expressed wishes.)