correspondence and coherence
Saturday, at Scritti Politti's instore in the cafe behind Williamsburg's Sound Fix, Green didn't sport a red Strat bearing a huge sticker reading "PHILOSOPHY," as he did at Bowery Ballroom the previous night, but he did employ Isiah Berlin's (via Archilocus) fox/hedgehog typology in reference to Dave, his utility player/keeper-of-the-lyric-sheets. But playing spot-the-allusion with the banter (or even the songs), fun as it is for a fan of my background, isn't exactly insightful -- no more so, anyway, than telling you that he apologized for his voice even more often Saturday than Friday, and with equally little audible reason, or noting that if I thought I could find a drummer like this band's down the pub, I'd develop a taste for bitter, but quick.
I will say that, as one who just got off tour with a guy who really wants to play recent, mostly introspective material in front of crowds who are shouting for -- depending on the case -- "Perfect Way" or "Going to Georgia," I had no problem with the light-on-oldies program. (Of course, actually loving the new songs doesn't hurt.) At this point in Green's career, there's no question of besmirching the legacy; in different ways, Provision (which I fully intend to revisit) and Anomie & Bonhomie already have. Still, White Bread Black Beer and (especially) the accompanying tour feel like the best sort of gratuitous acts. The man's demonstrably a perfectionist (and, qua bandleader, a benevolent despot -- not a lot of wiggle room in those arrangements), seemingly a touch pained by even the small divergences and spontaneities any live show entails.
So the fact that he was game for an extra, unpaid, promotionally unnecessary show -- with the whole band, but about half the gear and a fairly primitive P.A. -- made at least one song sound as though he had to remind himself of something: "Never play your cards and you'll never lose the bet/Standing on the corner of the road to no regret." Yeah, we can have a ball referring the underlying metaphor back to more highly theorized notions of risk or excess, or playing it against the conception of capitalist conversation and speculation as a casino economy (see also "The Gambler" and The Mekons' "Gin Palace." But really, it's hardly the cleverest or most critical line Double-G's ever penned; just one of the more practical.