Wayfaring Strangers: The Gods Without Men mixtape (2012)

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 20 tracks that informed, inspired, or were just on heavy rotation while I was writing Gods Without Men.

1. Poor Wayfaring Stranger - Almeda Riddle Southern Journey, Vol. 1: Voices From The American South

From Arkansas, recorded by Allan Lomax in 1959. The longing  in her voice – she's already half way to the next world.
 
 
Gram Parsons spent a lot of time in the Mojave, looking for UFO’s and getting high. He OD’d in room 8 of a modest motel called the Joshua Tree Inn in 1973. When I stayed there, almost forty years later, a guy with dreads who described himself as ‘the inn keeper’ took me to check the room out. We stood there, looking out at the little shrine in the yard (Jack Daniels, guitar strings), trying to feel the vibes. The Inn Keeper told me he had a personal line of chai mixes, which were for sale in the lobby.
 
 
There's infinite survival in
The high baptismal flow.
Slip inside this house as you pass by.
 
4. Lovefingers - Silver Apples    Silver Apples
 
The Tronics:. Imagine how insane this would have sounded in 1968. When the oscillators started to rumble, it must have been like the future, like someone had torn open your head and was pumping in the sound of some Berlin warehouse rave circa 1992. The Tronics are, of course, a nod to Mike Moorcock and Michael Butterworth's 'Time of the Hawklords' a postapocalyptic science fiction novel featuring Hawkwind.
 
 
Well, better listen girl to what I'm tellin' you
You better listen girl, or we are through
You better stop all your foolin' around
Stop your runnin' all over town
'Cause you're pushin' too hard
Pushin' too hard on me (too hard)
 
6. A Rainbow In Curved Air - Terry Riley A Rainbow In Curved Air
 
I listen to a lot of Terry Riley while I work, particularly this, various recordings of In C, and the organ trance of Persian Surgery Dervishes. I could have chosen the Nonesuch recording of Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians, because I listened to it constantly when I made my first journey through the Mojave desert, in the week after 9/11. There’s a whistling overtone to the strings on that record that seems to come from some other place. But A Rainbow In Curved Air has the quality of universal communication, information from the stars.
 
 
When Laila, the Iraqi emo kid, is slouching around the Marine base, trying to ignore everyone, this is what I imagine she’s listening to. ‘Then I’d dig a tunnel / from my back yard to yours …’
 
8. Sugar Baby - Dock Boggs His Folkways Years 1963-1968
 
Boggs was a Virginia coal miner. There’s something cyclical and weird about this song, which becomes more intense until it’s almost too painful to listen to.
 
 
Another one for Laila. The sound of the suburbs. So large on the horizon / people thought my windows were stars...
 
10. Strange - Wire    Pink Flag
 
There’s something strange going on tonight
There’s something going on that’s not quite right.
 
All Nicky's taste, if he only knew it, comes from some combination of Wire and PiL, though he's probably more into this, or this. When he's talking to journalists, he pretends to like Battles and Suicide
 
11. On The Road Again - Canned Heat Boogie With Canned Heat
 
Because of that sitar drone, and because it’s got that line ‘we might even leave the USA’. It’s the ‘even’ that slays me every time. 
 
12. Saro - Sam Amidon All Is Well
 
There are any number of versions of ‘Pretty Saro’, but I'm fond of Sam Amidon’s gentle voice and Nico Muhly’s orchestration on this song about what it might have felt like to be an emigrant in 1849 – leaving the old country and going West.
 
13. Spike Driver Blues - Mississippi John Hurt  Avalon Blues: The Complete 1928 OKeh Recordings
 
This is the hammer that killed John Henry, but it won’t kill me. 
 
 
Dawn’s music. When she was one of the kids hanging out on the Strip outside Rodney Bingenheimer's English Disco, she would have done anything to get backstage at Led Zep or Bowie.  She has bad memories of The Doobie Brothers. Her tune could also have been ‘Carry On Wayward Son’ by Kansas, ‘The Joker’ by Steve Miller or pretty much anything by the Eagles. But Manfred Mann understand the most important thing about the desert – the thing about the light.
 
15. Spoon - Can Box Music (Live 1971-77)
 
This is 15mins worth of what they’re up to out by the rocks. Actually they probably sound more like some inept Amon Duul 1 primitive squat jam. Or like the Taj Mahal Travellers playing at the same time as Les Rallizes. But in their heads ...
 
16. Pharaoh Sanders  - High Life      Wisdom Through Music
 
This is also what they’re up to out by the rocks.
 
 
This is one of the most extraordinary vocal performances ever committed to tape. It sounds like the earth itself is singing. It sounds chthonian. Writing music. It is absolutely what they're up to out by the rocks.
 
 
My itunes tells me I played the 1 hr version of this at least 38 times while I wrote Gods Without Men. Plus partial plays... I also wrote quite a lot of My Revolutions listening to it.
 
19. 1969  - The Stooges The Stooges
 
The obvious track would have been Helter Skelter  but this …. Another year for me and you / another year with nothing to do’. I caught precisely two weeks of the sixties and it felt exactly like this.
 
 
This one, at least, should be obvious.
 
 
 
 
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