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Richard Brautigan: Listening to Richard Brautigan

Album Notes

Author, humorist and recording artist, Richard Brautigan's long-player, Listening to Richard Brautigan (1970), provides insight into his everyday life, world and written works. The San Francisco-based poet had already established himself as a hip, underground Bay Area fixture -- even occasionally supporting burgeoning rockers Mad River, turning up on their Paradise Bar & Grill (1969) album reciting "Love's Not the Way to Treat a Friend." He'd also gained notoriety from his most renown prose and much of this disc is devoted to excerpts from Trout Fishing in America ("The Hunchback Trout"), A Confederate General From Big Sur ("The Rivets of Ecclesiastes"), In Watermelon Sugar ("The Watermelon Sun"), Revenge of the Lawn ("Revenge of the Lawn") that includes "Short Stories About California" with "A Short Story About Contemporary Life in California," "The Memory of a Girl," "The View From the Dog Tower" and "Pale Marble Movie" all taken from that collection. Similarly, The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster is the source for "Boo, Forever," "The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster" -- gathering "All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace," "December 30," "A Boat," "Haiku Ambulance," "Death Is a Beautiful Car Parked Only," "Karma Repair Kit: Items 1-4," "Crab Cigar," "Widow's Lament," "The Pumpkin Tide," "Man," "Adrenalin Mother," "San Francisco," "1942," "At the California Institute of Technology," "Xerox Candy Bar," and "Alas, Measured Perfectly" -- as well as "The Telephone Door That Leads Eventually to Some Love Poems" sporting: "The Shenevertakesherwatchoff Poem," "The Double-Bed Dream Gallows," "November 3," "Flowers for Those You Love," "I Lie Here in a Strange Girl's Apartment," "The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster," "Lovers," "Gee, You're So Beautiful That It's Starting to Rain," "I Cannot Answer You Tonight in Small Portions," "The Way She Looks at It," "A Good-Talking Candle" and "I Live in the Twentieth Century." Interspersed throughout are fly-on-the-wall sonic vérité excursions such as "The Telephone Door to Richard Brautigan," self-explanatory "Here Are the Sounds of My Life in San Francisco," "Here Are Some More Sounds of My Life" and the aforementioned "The Telephone Door That Leads Eventually to Some Love Poems" as it also contains dialogue about Brautigan's manipulation of the telephone -- or is it vice versa -- before commencing with pieces from The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster anthology. Arguably the most interesting concept from the listener's point-of-reference is "Love Poem" -- a single-sentence composition as interpreted by Brautigan himself in addition to Bob Prescott, Valerie Estes, Michael McClure, Margot Patterson Doss, Bruce Conner, Michaela Blake-Grand, Donald M. Allen/David Schaff, Ianthe Brautigan, Imogen Cunningham, Herb Caen, Betty Kirkendall, Peter Berg, legendary DJ Alan Stone -- who reads his live on-the-air via KSAN-FM, Antonio, Donald M. Allen, Cynthia Harwood, and Price Dunn. Studious collectors should be on the lookout for a rare promotion-only cassette version of Listening to Richard Brautigan that was circulated by Beatles' label Apple Records. There are a few discrepancies between the two, primarily the absence of "Boo, Forever" and minor liner revisions. ~ Lindsay Planer


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