Song Of The Day 12/1/2014: Melvin Van Peebles - "Chippin'"


Housekeeper's Holiday: Melvin Van Peebles is a still-unsung renaissance man. He made movies, mostly, including Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, whose chapter in the history of independent cinema is one of the most important. Not being an auteur in that department my explanation as to why won't be sufficient, but a couple of reasons are that it jump-started black filmmaking in the '70s and provided a good example of a director handling all aspects of production: writing, directing, acting, composing the score, editing, marketing, co-production -- it was a movie he willed into existence. The MPAA slapped an "X" rating on it, ostensibly because of its explicit sex and violence, but quite possibly for its allegiance with the black revolutionary movement. "Rated X by an all-white jury" read the advertisements, presumably designed by Van Peebles, who wears a T-shirt bearing that statement on the cover of his 1974 album As Serious as a Heart-Attack.

"Chippin'" is from that album, one of six he released under his name. I confess, even after hearing the song a few times, I'm not sure exactly what "chippin'" is. Just going by the lyrics, it sounds like it's navigating our ongoing series of expectations and disappointments, surprises and deficits, each event nicking away at the hourglasses of our lives until the small portions within comprise our timelines, as we let information gleaned from the most recent event inform and adjust our attitudes towards the revelation of future events. Furthermore, this process reinforces itself both within our own philosophical constructs and in comparison or competition with others.

I sound like William F. Buckley trying to parse an orgy.
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