J. Mascis is best known as a wailing guitarist who plays in front of a wall of speakers with Dinosaur Jr. But for this Tiny Desk Concert he busts out an acoustic guitar and plays some songs from his solo album (as well as an old Dino classic).
“Stumble” is sung in Mascis’ delicate falsetto. They zoom in on him singing and its amazing how he doesn’t seem to be straining in any way doing this really high voice. After all the falsetto, his saying “Thanks” in a deep voice is really kind of funny.
For the second song, he busts out the classic “Little Fury Thing.” This acoustic version sounds really good–so simple and clean. The original is great burst of loud rocking and it’s amazing that the song can sound so good stripped down. His voice is much deeper for this song . I love at the end how he plays the strings really really fast but continues to swing in his most languid style.
The third song is actually two songs. He switches guitars (and is apparently using sheet music) to play “Drifter/Heal the Star.” The first part is a lengthy, really pretty instrumental. For all of Mascis’ noise and rocking out, he knows how to write beautiful, lovely melodies. The main melody is played on the high strings alternating some great strumming on the low strings for the “chorus.” I could listen to this for ages.
The song segues into “Heal the Star” which sounds very Mascis–his most Mascis voice and strumming style. Although for the chorus he’s back to the falsetto vocals again. The solo a the end is great as he plays chords on the lowers strings while soloing ion the high strings (there must be a different tuning to make this sound so good).
I saw Dinosaur Jr a couple of months ago and I’m going to see them in November again. I love Mascis’ loudness, but it’s wonderful to hear him play these quiet pieces too.
[READ: April 1, 2016] Overpowered!
I loved the premise of this book right from the start. I mean, the cover alone is great, and flipping through it, there are some wonderful images of men with great mustaches in turbans doing all manner of hypnosis to people. What I didn’t expect (but probably should have if I’d read his bio on the back) is that Green himself is a practicing hypnotherapist (in addition to being an actor and performer who has created such characters as “US Country music star Tina C and pensioner rap star Ida Barr.”
It turns out that Green has been interested in hypnosis for a long time. He learned how to do it and then wanted to set the record straight for what hypnosis actually is as opposed to what we believe it is.
So this proves to be a thorough (and very funny) history of hypnosis through the years. He says the book is called “Overpowered” because “I’m fascinated by the delight human beings derive from the idea of being taken over. Being conscious may be beneficial, but it is also hard work.”
The book is chockablock with outstanding illustrations of people in hypnotic states and of old posters advertising upcoming shows–some are truly spectacular.
He begins the history in the 1770s with Franz Mesmer. Then there was Abbé Faria, a Catholic priest who demonstrated animal magnetism and commanded entire audiences to SLEEP.
Some important names in the history of hypnotism include James Braid, (a physician and surgeon in addition to being a mesmerist). And in the 19th century we get hypnotism on the stage like Kennedy the Mesmerist the master showman. Green shows us a pamphlet by Dr. Vint, a shoddy piece of work that looks much better in his glossy book. Dr. Vint sold The Electric Pad of Life. Green notes, “There is no clue as to what the ‘Electric Pad of Life’ is But doesn’t it sound like something you would want–even need?”
There’s lots of pictures of people stiff as a board supported by their head and ankles only. (With people standing on them or not).
Perhaps the best stage presence comes from Karlyn–it is Karlyn’s picture that graces cover
Karlyn the epitome of the showman from … the sheer girth of his collar … from the swagger of that stare to the thrusting bravado of the best mustache in the business.
Then he looks at the stars of stage in a chapter called “Sequins and Spandex.” Like Handy-Bandy and Nadia who wore a lovely turban, and Walford Bodie who promised Electric Life Pills. And then there The Amazing Kreskin (who is still alive). There’s also the still alive Anatoly Kashpirovsky who appears to have hypnotized multiple people at once.
Then he gives the stink eye to media representations of hypnotists. From film to TV to books, if there’s a hypnotist, he is always bad and always out to do harm, usually to a defenseless woman. This mostly started with George du Maurier’s Trilby, which brought us the character of Svengali. Even Woody Allen used hypnotists for nefarious purposes in a couple if his movies.
He has a brief (sadly all too brief) chapter on women and hypnosis. There just haven’t been that many professional women hypnotists. Even today, it’s a small subset. Joan Brandon appears to have been the most powerful and public hypnotist the 1950s
He’s got a very funny chapter on self-hypnosis items (and promises his next book is going to be about the strange patents in the patent office. There are the simple ones made overly complicated for patent reasons: ‘a bright spherical or globular or other shaped object attached to the end of either a stiff-curved or soft flexible wire rod…’ in other words it’s a ball on a string. And then there’s the full room devoted to the practice (with diagram).
And that’s where he explains that self-hypnosis is very easy. You don’t need all that stuff, you don’t even need an MP3 like he did. He provides a very helpful script for inducing self-hypnosis that he recommends reciting into a tape and then listening to.
While he enjoys the showmanship of hypnotism, he also knows of its benefits. You can’t make someone do something against their will–but you can achieve peace and relaxation and even to conquer fears or problems.
Interspersed with the history is Green’s own story (with pictures). He said that he downloaded an MP3 of self hypnotism became of his bird phobia. The MP3 worked wonders and so he took it further and went for a course in hypnosis. Three years later he was a fully qualified hypnotherapist. And his final words on this section sum up nicely. “So while I might joke and be flippant about all this stuff, I really do think it’s powerful–because it’s not about what somebody can do to you, it’s about what you can do for yourself.”
This book went from goofy lark about funny guys with big mustaches to an actually useful book about hypnotism. I do like a book that is both really funny and unexpectedly practical.