Tag Archives: Salman Rushdie

Rushdie to judgment: Idaho journal

First snow hits the blade of the Sawtooths north of Ketchum, Idaho, in September.

By Bob Hicks

Mr. Scatter has been traveling the byways of America quite a lot of late, and by a quirk of fate he found himself in an open pavilion in Sun Valley, Idaho, on the eve of September 11, listening to Salman Rushdie talk about Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Sarah Palin, the nonpolitical and political natures of art, the difficulties of free speech and the true perils of reactionary jihadism.

The unlikeliness, and yet the unabashed Americanness, of this event occurring in this place and at this time, nine years minus a few hours after the jihadist suicide attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, was perhaps less ironic than celebratory. It was proof, in a way, that in a world wracked by violent religious and cultural insanity, good sense and mere goodness can survive.

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Love, Forever Changes and The Ground Beneath Her Feet

You are just a thought that someone
Somewhere somehow feels you should be here

Arthur Lee, “A House Is Not A Motel”

love“We change what we remember, then it changes us, and so on, until we both fade together, our memories and ourselves. Something like that.” This is Salman Rushdie on the way our lives intertwine with the history of rock ‘n’ roll. The Ground Beneath Her Feet (1999 ) is a novel about Ormus and Vina, Indians raised in Bombay, who become the first couple of international rock. Propelled by Ormus’ words and melodies and Vina’s voice, they blaze across the rock firmament as VTO (“Vertical Take Off”), their lives mirroring the rise and fall of many sacred monsters of rock the last half century.

200px-love_-_forever_changesI thought about Rushdie’s novel watching the documentary film Love Story, about the legendary L.A. band Love and their 1967 album “Forever Changes,” the best single album I’ve ever heard, and one of the most enduring albums of what folks still call the “the psychedelic era,” an odd term that reflects the cover art but not the bold lyrics, crystal clear vocals and resonant orchestral sound, acoustic guitars supplemented by symphonic strings and horns. The album is especially loved and respected in England, and British producers Chris Hall and Mike Kelly have made a quiet, fairly typical but informative rock history film, with vintage footage and interviews with Arthur Lee, the dark genius of the group, as well as Bryan MacLean and Johnny Nichols, who all played a critical roll in forming the band’s charismatic image as an early racially-mixed rock group. Recorded by folk the label Elektra, Love was not promoted very effectively in rock venues. They also refused to tour much outside L.A. Not burnt-out cases, really. They just faded out, disappeared. So the album “Forever Changes” has survived and thrived by word-of-mouth, although several years ago Rolling Stone placed it # 40 on the list of 500 greatest albums. My sons ride me for thinking it #1, but there you have it. “Forever Changes” is lodged there as firmly as Venus in my rock firmament.

If you haven’t heard it, it is never too late.
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