Tuesday, July 10, 2012

In My Mind - Dave Nordin



In My Mind
Dave Nordin
Specifications Records  5046
1971

I imagine many of you are aware of all the ruckus that NPR intern stirred up when she mentioned having tens of thousands of MP3s on her computer that she never paid for in a blog post celebrating the death of physical music.  I've stated my position on this in past posts so I won't go into it here although I'm not sure whether I'm more mortified that she has happily stolen so much music or that she is willing to settle for crappy sound quality in the music she claims to love so much.  The intern, Emily White, dreams of a service that will provide all the music in the world conveniently delivered via the electronic interface of her choice.  It would indeed be terrible if she had to leave her cozy home and shlep down to some dingy record store and touch icky records and CDs, the horror.  She will probably get her wish, but I wonder where that leaves records like Dave Nordin's.  When us dinosaurs with turntables die off, who is going to play this guy's music?  Assuming he makes it into the grand library of music, when you have millions of songs at your fingertips, why bother looking for one of Nordin's?  I have this record because I'm a collector and I play it because I bought it.  I only know about this record because I saw it, a physical copy sitting in a box of records one of my colleagues at work wanted me to buy.  My initial reaction to seeing the drawing of the hippie lothario on the cover was basically "eew!"  I stuck it back in the box, but then I had second thoughts and looked at it more closely.  It was obviously a demo or a vanity pressing so it had to be rare and when I examined the song titles they sounded trippy so I took a chance since I knew I'd never see another copy.  As a collector it is exciting to me when I see a record I've never seen before and it is exciting to listen to a rare record that I've discovered.  When you have access to all the songs ever, it is a different experience.  It may be illogical or even perverse, but to me the collecting experience is a valuable part of my overall musical experience.  I'm not going to make any grand claims that this is some lost masterpiece, but it is a worthwhile record and I'm happy to have found it.  I know nothing about Nordin but I assume that he was based in the San Francisco Bay Area since the record label that released the album was located in Marin County.  The album consists solely of Nordin singing while accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. The album opens with "And Roses" which is a cascade of hippie-type imagery heavy on descriptions of idyllic nature that reminds me of the Youngbloods.  "The Feeling" is an energetic tune in which he and his girlfriend take a romantic trip to the country in search of freedom, a theme that ought to be familiar to any connoisseur of late 1960s rock.  "Voyage" opens with a display of Nordin's guitar skill before he starts singing about a voyage of the mind with the apparent aid of some illicit substances.  "Once There Was A Time" is a short introspective song of confusion with tricky wordplay.  "Billy" is about a junkie and his demise.  It is a grim song but I dig the frenetic, raga-ish guitar work.  Side one concludes with "Rosemary" a striking song about a girl in his mind.  It is very much in a psych-folk vein.  "Old Joe" starts side two off with more trippiness with lines about touching the sky and raindrops making love to his face.  More nice picking from Nordin on this one.  "Maryjane" refers to the herb rather than a girl.  It describes the interesting perceptions acquired from "burning leaves."  "You Make Me Feel Like Someone" is a sunny love song with a euphoric vocal from Nordin.  "All Strung Out Again" sounds like it ought to be another drug song, but it is actually a romantic love song given a passionate almost florid vocal from Nordin.  "Pinball" is also about love, although it is more observational than personal regarding love as a sort of game.  Some really pretty guitar lines on this one. The album concludes with "This Thing of Ours" which is about making a new start with his girlfriend.  Nordin's lyrical style emphasizes a lot of outlandish imagery "strawberry skies" "eyes like windows" and so forth which often comes close to being really bad poetry.  Fortunately song lyrics aren't poetry and when accompanied by Nordin's charismatic singing and vigorous guitar playing, most of the songs work pretty well.  There is a lot of trippiness running through this album and if you hate hippie bullshit you'll probably have a tough time with Nordin.  I eat this stuff up and I really dig the record.  It sounds great late in the evening and I imagine if you are buzzed it sounds even better.  I think Nordin was genuinely talented and it would be nice to see this record get reissued, so he might finally get some of the attention he deserves (assuming he's still alive out there somewhere.)  Recommended to fans of Pearls Before Swine.

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