Sunday, November 8, 2009

Terry Allen - What Of Alicia (Juarez,1975)

There may be no greater maverick than Terry Allen in all of country music from the mid-'70s onward. Along with Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely, and Butch Hancock -- all of whom he's known and collaborated with -- Allen is a standard-bearer of the Lubbock, TX, country scene. Though not widely heralded, this is perhaps the most progressive movement in all of contemporary country, digging into modern-day concerns with a gutsy, liberal perspective, while maintaining a firm musical grounding in regional country and folk traditions. Allen is perhaps the most ambitious of them all, writing complex song cycles that have been performed with the help of fellow eclectics ranging from Lowell George to David Byrne...
Terry Allen is, first and foremost, a visual artist. He just happens to make brilliant, idiosyncratic albums on the side. In fact, his first album, 1975's Juarez, wasn't even initially conceived as an album, but as a set of songs recorded to accompany an artwork installation. Original copies of the album were released with a set of lithographs illustrating the characters who populate the album's world, an elliptical place where motivations and desires are often shadowy to the point of inscrutability, but the characterizations are almost three-dimensional. The story of two couples on a drinking spree that turns into a murderous chase through the southern California desert, Juarez is a tough-as-nails narrative with the deadpan, biting humor of crime fiction writers like Jim Thompson or Chester Himes. The album was recorded quickly and on a low budget, so the musical settings are ultra-spare, with Allen's whiskey-cured vocals and thumping piano often the only musical elements. As a concept album, the individual songs don't work as well out of context, but listened to as a whole, Juarez is one of the more fascinating country albums of its time, like Willie Nelson's Red Headed Stranger as reimagined by Quentin Tarantino.

What Of Alicia

Well he just turned 17
When he left old Abilene
With his bags?nd permission
From the kin
Yeah but things just weren? the same
After his Momma signed her name
And let the navy?ake him inahhh but
What of Alicia
13 years old
Child of Mexico
An he just turned 19 years
When he learned to face his fears
Of growing up?nd acting
Like a man
He just cocked his sailor cap
Stuck his hands down in his lap
Leaned back and stroked?hem girls in Japan
ahhh but
What of Alicia
15 years old
Child of Mexico
An he just turned 23
When he finally took his final leave
Anchored in the port of
San Diego
Yeah he met this border girl
An he fancied her body? curl
So he married her?hen carried her to Colorado
ahhh but
What of Alicia
19 years old
an old woman
But out of Mexico
yi yi yi yi yi yi yi yi yi yi yi yi yi yi yi yi yi yi yi yi yi

No comments: