Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The India Song (or just a dream some of us had)

I'd like to go to India, live in a big white house in the forest, drink gin and tonic and play a grand piano, read a few books, far from what saddens my heart...

Sounds like a nice exotic escape, eh? (A delicious G & T is always a good thing.)

Although there's not much to it, I've always liked The India Song (buy album) by Big Star.

Big Star's debut album #1 Record was not fully appreciated in its own time, but modern day hipsters have since made up for that. So I really can't call it "underrated"--just a great record. Digging around for something to say about The India Song I happened on two interesting (and conflicting) reviews addressing its merit.

Bud Scoppa said in Rolling Stone that "the only unsuccessful track is 'The India Song,' and that was written by Hummel; it just doesn't fit with the rest of the music. But 10 out of 11 is practically unheard of. No. 1 Record is one of the sleepers of 1972."

Robert Christgau saw it differently, describing as a "special attraction" Big Star's "fantasy about India with gin-and-tonic in it."

The India Song is the only track on the album composed by bassist Andy Hummel. In an interview Hummel explained "I was really into Joni Mitchell's "Blue" at the time and kind of trying to imitate her. Also I was upset about a girlfriend who had dumped me and feeling very depressed and escapist."

The song on Blue that most resembles The India Song is All I Want, but my favorite tune from that essential album is California (buy album).

Johnny Cash was also a fan of Joni (and her dulcimer): Click HERE.

STWOF trivia question: What does Joni Mitchell mean when she sings about kissing a "sunset pig"? Post answer in comments section.


Brendan said...

Great post as usual Paul. Love a good beverage in there! A record just popped on my itunes and I had to mention it to you just in case you may have somehow missed it. For a fan of country music and Big Star, you must check out The Long Ryders!


Anonymous said...

Sunset Pig. Probably means a cop on Sunset Strip

Paul said...


Although I listened to pretty much everything around the Long Ryders in the 1980's I somehow managed to miss their albums. I've got a few random tracks but have never given them a fair shake. (I vaguely recall that they did a beer commercial or something that turned me off...I was militantly anti-sellout back in those days!) Anyway, I will make a point to check them out. What record should I get first?

Paul said...


You've named one of two possible answers. The other possibility is described here:

"The 'Sunset Pig' in California refers to a tradition at a Malibu bar and restaurant (Moonshadows?) where a pet pig was held up at sunset each day. The crowd would gather to celebrate the sunset, and each evening one person was selected, or goaded, or eagerly volunteered to be the one who would complete the tradition by actually kissing the 'Sunset pig.' When Joni says 'I'd even kiss the Sunset Pig,' she's saying she'd actually kiss a pig."

From the Joni Mitchell lyric glossary (http://jonimitchell.com/research/g_entry.cfm?id=40)

Dave said...

Blue was one of my favorites, and I didn't have any idea what Sunset Pig meant. Google seems to indicate that cop on Sunset Strip is the most likely answer.

B said...

The Long Ryders - Native Sons

it's a bit glossy but the tunes have really started to grow on me.

Holly said...

FINALLY posting and I'm WAY behind, but when I saw Joni made an appearance (after I'd already missed my chance to comment on Nat), I had to chime in. BLUE is one of my absolute favorites, and A CASE OF YOU is the one that brought me to it!

Now I have to spend a day (or WEEK) looking at and listening to all of the rest (or you need to slow down so I can keep up).

Thanks, as always, for your musical insights.