Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I Am But Mad North-North-West

KALX, the local Berkeley radio station, is hosting its "Best of 2006" week. Each DJ plays the songs he or she thinks are best from last year. Twice today I heard a track from a band called A Hawk and the Hacksaw. I recognized immediately that it was Elephant 6 related. At first I thought it was the Olivia Tremor Control, only with fewer members. Both times I heard it, the DJ said that it was former members of Neutral Milk Hotel and Beirut.

Beirut is indie-rock inspired by Balkan gypsy music. I eat that sort of thing up, all heavy layers and bells, but I think I prefer field recordings to things like this. I bought the Beirut cd only because Jeremy Barnes (the NMH drummer) was playing on it and I heard a snippet and thought that it was good. I'd like to emphasize that Mr. Barnes isn't a member of the band, he just played on the record.

So these DJs throwing around this A Hawk and A Hacksaw project as being from former members of NMH is mildly annoying. I think I wouldn't mind it if it was just "A former member."

What I do like is the name of his new project: A Hawk and A Hacksaw. What a great name for a band!

"I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw." --Hamlet, Act II, scene ii

According to T. Burton:

"Parrying Rosencrantz' and Guildenstern's clumsy inquiries, Hamlet warns them not to underestimate him, 'I know a hawk from and handsaw,'(II.ii.394) with 'handsaw' widely considered to be a variant or corruption of 'hernshaw,' an early word for 'heron.' He means 'I'm sane enough to know the hunter from the hunted.' "

I took a Shakespeare class from and Anthony Burton at BYU. I wonder if T Burton is him. Dr. Burton wrote a sonnet every morning for a year. I really think only a Mormon would or could do something like that. I remember one of them was in praise of toast. The others were more serious; I think one was about his wife, some nuanced understanding between the two of them. I wonder if she liked his poems, if she looked at him and saw him twenty years younger, when his hair was thick and it was cool to wear a braided belt, if she imagined herself then thinking of the future being married to a Shakespeare professor who wrote sonnets for her. I see him backlit in a brown field coat, and her looking straight ahead, loving him because he sees himself as the hero in his own text.

Some small part of me wishes that things like that would work for me.

1 comment:

Mac said...

A (wo)man is free to do what (s)he wants, but (s)he cannot will what (s)he wants.