Flying Saucer Attack — ‘Sally Free and Easy’

My grandfather passed away this morning. The only reason I can sit here now (thoughts as collected as can be I suppose) writing in a pop weblog is the fact that his passing had been ‘eased’ by the lead-in time: an illness long enough – not too long, mind – that grief had already acquiesced to exhaustion, that hoping had turned to waiting and, finally, relief.

Driving home from the hospital, the silence in the car (surrounded on all sides by a fog that had blanketed the entire county in eerie counterpoint) was too much to bear. The news station was too static-ridden to bother with. The only other ‘talk’ was the hatefuck aggro posturing of sports radio. So to the oldies station, naturally, to avoid much of the hatefuck aggro posturing of modern pop.

For a while it was okay, a string of Motown-esque hits, ‘soulful’ voices a non-obtrusive balm. Then: ‘I Got You Babe,’ and in the first few seconds Cher’s voice became a death drone of pure banality, like a swarm of ennui-laden locusts buzzing between my ears. Then, at home, searching for something — anything — which would wash over me, fill up all the spaces in the room so I wouldn’t be forced to fill them myself. At the same time, a song — a real true song, anything too chipper or dour or melodramatic or sardonic — would have sent me right over the edge.

And then I remembered this, this slim EP of only two songs sitting in my collection, the only FSA record I own (although I am remedying that via mp3 as I write this.) Everything Tom said is true. This is a record that is as pure an exploration into texture as anything which came out of the post-shoegaze world. Yet it feels even older than the ’58 folk it covers, stretching back into the sort of traditional English/Irish/Scottish provincial song so beloved of my grandfather. (And which could be heard round the house when he and his family got together, with a few [or more than a few] shots between them.)

I realize, now, that those songs are one of the few ways I ever connected with relatives my grandparent’s age about music. Loathing the Celtic Commerce Machine that makes ‘Irish’ music the largest section of any World Music department, this is as close as I come to having one of them on disc. So, you may keep your kind words and your condolences, much as they are appreciated. Light a candle if you must, but perhaps instead just try to listen to this song. And give an old man his due.