Friday, August 11, 2006

Sunny Novak, August 10, 2006

So, everybody, I hope this is okay—I’ve invited a guest to post for me today. Sometimes I get a little tired of reading my own writing and, well, my aunt happened to be visiting and she happens to really love music. She even did a critically lauded one-woman show on the Poconos resort circuit in the early 60’s, so I guess you could say she’s got a few stories to tell.

Her name is Secretia Lawrenson. She put out a couple of albums that you might be able to turn up on eBay if you’re interested—one’s called No One Here Gets Out Alive and the other is cryptically entitled Spelunking Enthusiast? She’s a legend. I think we’re in for a real treat.

So without further ado…

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you…

Ten Songs from Secretia Lawrenson


1. “’93 ’Til Infiniti,” Souls of Mischief, ’93 ’Til Infinity

About three years ago, my manager Bernie Hagelstein came to me with an offer I could barely refuse.

“Secretia,” he said to me, “whaddya say we go back on the road for a little while, make a coupla bucks.”

He went to work booking venues while I tried to put some polish on the old routine. Bernie thought it’d be a good idea to jazz it up a little for the kids, you know, throw a couple of newer, hipper songs into the mix. I put together a medley of hits from the past ten years—some “Macarena,” a touch of “Whoomp, There It Is,” a little bit of “Mambo #5,” a smidge of “Who Let the Dogs Out,” that sort of thing.

I thought it worked pretty well, but I wish I’d heard this song before I put the arrangement together, because the lines, “I roam the strip for bones to pick/ When I find one I’m gon-na take her home and quickly do this/ I need not explain this/ Yo, Buster’s famous/ So get the anus/ Heinous,” would’ve flowed nicely out of, “A little bit of Secretia all night long.”

By the way, that tour never got off the ground.

I’m still a little p.o.’ed about that.

2. “Shriek,” The Willowz, Talk in Circles

Recently a male consort of mine took me to a Wolfmother show. He told me that they were going to remind me of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. I never much cared for those fellows’ music, but I did like the way Robert Plant’s kiester looked in those leather pants, so I went. We somehow managed to miss all of Wolfmother’s set but did arrive in time to catch these well-scrubbed youths in action. Boy, were their clothes splendid! I don’t remember them sounding like this, though. Mostly they just sounded loud.

3. “Stop the Fuss,” Horace Andy, Dance Hall Style

In the mid-70’s, I sought political asylum in Jamaica and found myself entangled in a torrid affair with a middle-aged Rastafarian. If you’ve never heard of Horace Andy, then let me be the first to tell you that he is Kingston’s answer to Isaac Hayes. Hearing this song will take a lady back to steamy afternoons spent smoking grass and making love on a grass mat to the delight of gathered crowds.

4. “Deux Guitares,” Etienne “Sara” Ferret, Jazz a La Gitane

“Sara” was one of my best friends, actually. Even though this song has no lyrics, if you listen carefully you’ll realize that this song is clearly about me.

Oh, hell, kids, you caught me. I have no idea who this person is. I don’t even know if it’s a man or a woman. It’s kind of a catchy little number, though.

5. “One More Cup of Coffee,” Bob Dylan, Desire

Bob came to see me perform at Goldenson’s Ranch while he was recording this album. After the show, he approached me shyly for some advice as to what he should call it.

“What’s the feel of it, Bob?” I asked him. “Is it more of that political shit, because no one wants to hear that anymore. They’ll think you’re a one-trick pony.”

“It’s more of a women-and-wanderlust affair,” was his reply.

“Right! Now we’re speaking the same language.” At this point, inspiration struck. It was magical. “If I were you, I’d name it after whatever emotion you are feeling most strongly right in this very moment.”

And you see what he called it. What a mensch.

6. “After the Goldrush,” Neil Young, Decade

Sunny says she loves Neil Young because his voice penetrates her like “needles of exquisite pain.” I say that’s horseshit.

This man sings like someone’s got his bojangles in a vise.

7. “Burnt Pride,” Latyrx, The Album

I’d like to think I know a little something about “Burnt Pride.” When that bitch Liza Minnelli called me “an untalented slut whose vagina is like a cave from which even the bravest and hardiest cannot return unscathed,” on The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson on the very same night I was scheduled to perform, I went out there and sang my guts out with my head held high. Inside, though, I was dying. I hope no one hurt Mr. Lateef or Mr. Lyrics Born in this cruel way, because they both sound like such nice boys.

8. “Our Time,” Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Yeah Yeah Yeahs EP

Back in 2002, I was fortunate enough to catch Karen O and the boys at a teeny weeny club in Los Angeles. Karen wore some sort of getup involving a unitard and tinfoil. I liked her style, and I loved her music.

After the show, she approached me humbly, asking, “Secretia, how do I maintain my punk edge in the face of enormous success?”

“Karen, honey,” I said, “I have three words for you: opalescent track suits.”

I bet she wishes she’d listened to me now.

9. “Potion,” Morphine, Tricky’s Back to Mine

I don’t know much about this band, but their music sounds exactly like how it feels to be drunk off Carlo & Rossi in the middle of a summer afternoon.

10. “Bird Song,” Grateful Dead, Reckoning

A beautiful song. Word on the street is that Jerry & Co. wrote this song in honor of the lovely and talented Ms. Janis Joplin, with whom long-defunct keyboardist Pigpen enjoyed an unusually close alcohol-fueled friendship.

That’s a lie. Anyone interested in the real story should contact Bobby Weir and ask him directly.

By the way, the lyrics commonly misheard as, “All I know is something/ like a bird within her sang,” actually read, “All I know is something/ like a bird within her stank.”

I have no idea what that could possibly be referring to.

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