Song Of The Day 7/30/2014: Daniel Knox - "Debt Collector"

88 Teeth: You can take a few routes if you chain yourself to a piano. The road more travelled is to go all molto expressivo and coax out your flowery, sentimental side. This is the more fiscally sound option. Floating away on wisteria-soft currents of Clair De Lune-like romanticism, the pianist may erect the flocculent double threat of apparent emotional depth and assumed empathy with all living creatures who may be positioned near the sphere of his or her dulcet ringings. Or you could make the other, possibly more noble choice to fuck with people.

Subversion's the hardest thing for a pianist to pull off, but when it works there's no greater reward. Nobody pulled it off better than Randy Newman, one of my very biggest heroes. Maybe half of his music sounds like it would be at home at those Americana survey rides you'd find at Disneyland. The one with the animatronic President Lincoln? That one. The first part of Newman's destruction comes from the rough, beastly dialect of his voice. The second part comes from that voice's ability to sing phrases like "Let's drop the big one now" (or, even more directly, the lyrics to "Rednecks") over that cracked romanticism.

Maybe it's an overreaction against the elegance of Piano Archetype A, but I will always back a pianist who's chosen that instrument to sublimate their rage. Warren Zevon, Tim Minchin, Tori Amos, even Tom Lehrer and Ben Folds. They could even slip into Archetype A once in awhile and we'd believe them, just because we'd already heard them take people down.

Like Daniel Knox, introduced to me mere weeks ago by this blog's chief of marketing on sabbatical Andy Lewis. All I know about Knox is that he's from Chicago, is the Weill-iest singer I've heard in eons, and does something with "Debt Collector" beyond the reach of your Sedakas and Manilows. But not as much as you'd think, I think. Play this the next time you're choked with tumult at humanity and "Fancy" isn't helping.

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