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Gemstones

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History

I’ve been an Adam Green fan for a while and a part of this site is dedicated to his music. This goes back quite a while. Probably to the autumn of 2001 when I first heard some Moldy Peaches songs and Dan copied the CD for me before I left England. I wasn’t too impressed at first but the music started growing on me and I really liked it a few months later, even going to a brilliant gig of The Moldy Peaches in the end.

Garfield record coverUnfortunately there wasn’t too much more happening after that as far as The Moldy Peaches are concerned. Just their County Fair/ Rainbows single in the summer of 2002 and that was about it. But earlier that year, Adam Green had released his first solo record. The CD has a nice thick cardboard card instead of a booklet and interestingly the writing on the CD suggests that the copyright is owned by Adam himself rather than by Rough Trade. Also, the European version of the CD, as Rough Trade promotional material suggests, is self-titled, while the American version is named Garfield for some reason or another. The music is good as well.

The initial record went by mostly unnoticed as it seems. At least, most of my attempts to talk people about the music were futile at the time. But Adam became more mainstream with his second solo album, Friends of Mine. Friends of Mine album cover Where with ‘mainstream’ I mean that there were music videos which had a chance of actually being played on telly during the one hour of decent music television of the day. There was more media coverage as well and probably deservedly so as the album, while keeping its fair share of rude lyrics, just sounded much more friendly than its predecessor. In fact, I was easily tempted to hum songs at one time or another.

The more friendly sound made many (many of those who knew the first record, that is) people think that it’s a bit mellow. I mean there were strings in the support band and so on. But in the end nobody seems to have too much and the friendlier sound meant I could actually play the stuff during dinner without my flatmates getting a larger urge than usual to kill me. At the same time, Adam seems to have worked a lot, doing many tours – quite a few of which I managed to miss – particularly in Germany, which is nice.

New Album

Gemstones album cover And now, Adam has released his latest album: Gemstones. Visually it’s without doubt the most shiny of his albums as it’s printed on some kind of sparkling paper, which can’t be seen on the images you get on the web, so I put a photo of it below. The other bit of news is that the strings are gone and he’s playing with a band only, the same one he played with on tour, I guess. Yet, the sound has remained on the friendlier side with Adam singing to more or less normal piano and guitar tunes.

When people ask me why I like Adam’s music, I find that hard to answer. Particularly as I usually prefer listening to faster or at least louder music and I don’t think that Adam’s song are particularly groundbreaking music-wise. They were more experimental and creative on Garfield and with The Moldy Peaches but I find them pretty standard now. But then, of course, there are the lyrics. They’re partly nice, partly rude, partly evil, humorous and in places only loosely connected and lightly adjoined. I think that’s exactly what I like about the music. But it’s something that may not be apparent at the first sight.

Shiny booklet of Gemstones CD

But back to the new album. I think the songs are slightly less ‘nice’ than they were on Friends of Mine. They’ve all remained very short, which I like. But while I can’t put my finger on it well yet, I find that, in some songs, such as the opener Gemstones the music is varying too much for no apparent reason. The lyrics have remained mixed and partly rude and the song I find most appealing, musically, so far is Carolina (track seven, once again…)

Carolina,
she’s from Texas;
Red bricks drop from
her vagina.
Oh her lips taste
just like sunk ships;
But her breasts taste
just like breakfast.

There’s her hand now
on the cock sock
filled with white tears
from the thrift store.
She’s an eyesore
in her red dress
I’m the ghost of
her deceased
when she said:

Give us back our lives,
leave him Carolina.
Everything’s just fine
refill my prescription.
Until next time
I get so lost inside the rooms
inside my mind.

California, presidente,
Coje mucho, estoy cansado.
Dostoevski, Fab Moretti,
antiseptic, complimentary.

There’s her hand now
on the cock sock
filled with white tears
from the thrift store.
She’s an eyesore
in her red dress
I’m the ghost of
her deceased
when she said:

Give us back our lives,
leave him Carolina.
Everything’s just fine
refill my prescription.
Until next time
I get so lost inside the rooms
inside my mind.

Goodnight sweetheart,
flying high on birth control.
She knows the pregnancy will show
that she smells nice,
when you look twice.
Who’s your boyfriend?
Carolina?
And it’s goodnight sweetheart
flying high on birth control.
She knows rejections in her bones.

Carolina,
she’s from Texas;
red bricks drop from
her vagina.
Carolina.
Carolina.
Carolina.

Adam Green, Carolina

It’s followed by Emily the song that Adam seems to like singing in public – well at least he does but more on that in a minute. First, let me mention that I got the ‘special edition’ double CD which contains a couple of acoustic versions, including said Emily but also My Shadow Tags on Behind and Her father and her which originally appeared on the Garfield CD. To top it off, there are also four videos for my convenience…

Magazine

Shot from video showing ADAM GREEN magazine One of the videos is the TV-shopping style video for Friends of Mine which contains a little snippet showing something called ADAM GREEN magazine. And while this looked like a joke at the time, it wasn’t. Adam has written down things, snippets as far as I understand, and for some reason they have been published now. With a little twist, even. They are only published by a German publisher in Germany with the text being there both in the original English and translated into German – at least the web sites suggest that people have to place international orders if they want to get it outside Germany.

So far so good – one theory goes that Adam isn’t all that popular in other countries, particularly the U.S. as media censorship there makes life harder for people with rude lyrics and such. So the book appears in a location where he’s at least known and it might be bought by suckers like myself. But what’s truly remarkable isn’t that it’s published but that it is published by Suhrkamp, which is probably one of the most intellectually prestigious publishers in Germany.

Adam in Sarah's show I didn’t manage to find the book in town last week but I’m sure I’ll get a copy next week. Needless to say that I’m enthusiastically curious.

Media

The final thing I’d like to remark on are the media. Adam’s new album seems to be out first in Germany, which is nice of course and may be due to the fact that he seems more popular here than elsewhere. But in the past week it seemed like there’s no newspaper’s arts section without Adam Green glorification. Starting from the obvious like record labels, to the expected, like radio stations, to even the weeklies. I won’t even be able to put all the links here as that would just be too many.

In addition to that there’s TV. Sure enough, Adam was to visit the wonderfully chaotic Sarah Kuttner, who may not be the most musically knowledgeable person around but at least gets the Adam Green thing right. Yet – with her energetic interview style – she managed to annoy Adam a bit, it seemed. In the end (well, actually at the beginning… or throughout) he looked a bit stoned, didn’t say too much when she charmingly suggested that his show appearances are, well, not the most sophisticated and asked what the idea behind that was and he was a bit annoyed when she told him to shout at her and be tough. All the while her directors inserted glorifying subtitles onto the screen. He didn’t look to happy with all that but he did show his little tape recorder that we could read about in exactly every single one of the ‘independent’ articles on his new album. After all that they had a little feature were he sang karaoke to some tacky 1980s song. Somehow that was strangely perfect – the absurd music with the even more absurd karaoke video and Adam singing rather well, I’d say. (They had Moneybrother do the same in autumn and it was horrible but except for the TV girls nobody seems to like Moneybrother anyway…)

Adam also appeared on Harald Schmidt’s show (kind of German Jay Leno or so) and so on and – as a consequence of all this, I assume, it is said that Gemstones is on number two of the album charts and even number one in iTMS this week. And while I appreciate this, I am as well scared (of all the teenagers who might come to see concerts) and puzzled by this. Puzzled, because I completely fail to understand how and why Gemstones should be more popular than Friends of Mine was and why people should like it more. I am tempted to believe in a media conspiracy. And I once more want to express how boring media are as they all write/tell the same stuff. (Question: How long has it been like that?)

P.S.

Just a little note that occurred to me when seeing my text with the images: All of Adam’s albums have his face as the cover art. And apart from the getting-older thing you can also see how he appears more orderly on each subsequent one. Heck, on Gemstones (and the associated TV appearances) he’s already wearing a jacket rather than just a shirt or a T-Shirt. This may also be a fashion thing, but he doesn’t seem to be too much of a fashion-victim otherwise.

[Buy at amazon .com, .uk, .de]

January 24, 2005, 0:35

Tagged as adam green, music.

Comments

Comment by Wolfgang: User icon

Sven, auch wenn ich bei vielen Worten in Green’s Songs nicht so ganz sicher bin (zumal die mehrdeutige Aussprache offenbar Methode hat), bin ich doch überzeugt, dass es sich in “Carolina” bei der Person nach Dostojewksky um Fab Moretti handelt. Schon mal von den Strokes gehört? Grüße, Wolfgang

February 22, 2005, 13:52

Comment by ssp: User icon

Danke für den Hinweis. Ich ändere das mal. An der Stelle war ich mir eh nicht ganz sicher, hatte aber nach Dostojewski gar nicht an die Strokes gedacht.

February 22, 2005, 15:03

Comment by Fran: User icon

You got the lyrics to Carolina wrong. And I take it you don’t speak Spanish. It’s ‘coje mucho’(they pronounce j as an h) and it means ‘drives a lot’.

And theres ‘…on the cock sock filled with white tears’ I don’t think I need to elaborate. But, there is a Strokes link and a zoidberg picture, so I forgive you.*

December 16, 2005, 20:53

Comment by ssp: User icon

Thanks for the help with the lyrics Fran. I updated the text.

December 17, 2005, 1:57

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