Wednesday, 19 April 2017

G0RDON JENK1NS - SEVEN DRE4MS (1953)

Jenkins cut his musical chops as a pianist in a prohibition era St. Louis speakeasy. His stature as an arranger and songwriter dates from the 1930s. He worked for Paramount, NBC, and radio before becoming staff arranger and eventual musical director of Decca records. He penned a few million-selling songs and lead arrangements for Johnny Cash, Sinatra, The Weavers, Billie Holiday, and Harry Nilsson, among others.

This sublime dreamwork is a concept album--a vinyl musical perhaps, or a radio-play-on-record--that combines detailed orchestration with jingles, ditties, and story-within-story narration: a sonic travelogue through the narrator's seven dreams.

This slice of unsettling weirdness/genius is notable for making the Billboard Top Ten, and for containing the obvious source melody and lyrics for Cash's hit "Folsom Prison Blues" (see "Dream #2 - The Conductor"). Jenkins sued; Cash settled out of court. For us at OWOD, this album represents one of the best conceived, honestly rendered and phenomenologically accurate documents of the human-made artifices we call dream logic. It's also a striking, cross-perceptual (pan-sensual?) representation of the most ineffable of subjects--dreams themselves--and the near impossibility of their verisimilitude.

Dream it...

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