Saturday, August 20, 2016

Blood Oranges

I didn't know the music of Tom Russell until a reader, commenting on my post about aid workers in Africa, provided the link to one of his songs about that continent, titled 'Blood Oranges'.  It was a startling, troubling song, particularly because I've met some of the Bedouin tribes in North Africa.  I can confirm from personal experience that their attitudes, as depicted in the song, are real.

The song comes from Mr. Russell's album 'Box of Visions'.  A commenter at the album's page on had this to say about it:

I bought Box Of Visions because it includes 'Blood Oranges', a song based on Paul Bowles' short story 'A Distant Episode'. The short story is one of the most disturbing things I've ever read, and the song manages to capture Bowles' eerie images of Moroccan "random violence/vengeance" so well that it makes me shudder every time I hear it, almost caused me to wreck the car the first time I heard it on the radio. A well crafted song should evoke emotions, and this one can certainly do that for me, goosebump city.

There's more at the link.  Scroll down to find the review.  It's also worth reading Mr. Bowles' story.  It's short, but very punchy.

I have to agree with the Amazon commenter.  This song is truly "goosebump city".  It's dark, tragic, and full of pain.  Nevertheless, the attitudes of many in Africa really are as they're portrayed in the song;  and Mr. Russell, having lived in Nigeria for a year during the Biafran War, probably experienced them for himself.  Those same attitudes towards Westerners have been on display throughout Africa for decades, most recently during events last week in South Sudan.

Here's the song.  Don't listen to it unless you're prepared to be challenged.

Haunting, chilling . . . and very true to life.



Jim said...

A terrific songwriter and performer, Russell has often worked with another favorite of mine, Ian Tyson. Blood Oranges is a chilling song. I read the short story later.

JWM said...

I read the story first, then played the song. Not the best start for my Saturday morning. Horror is only fun when it is cushioned with suspension of disbelief.
Ice bones. Deep and cold.


Uncle Lar said...

Thank you for that most disturbing tune.
In case you've missed him so far I offer in exchange John McCutcheon best known for his Christmas in the Trenches.
Best I can describe John is a modern day Woodie Guthrie.

Anonymous said...

Now multiply the half dozen cruel, vicious men depicted in the story by 100,000 ... by a million ... and you know that these (invited! by Mama Merkel!) guests have much to teach their German hosts.

Anonymous said...

I was unfamiliar with Tom Russell or his work. His song Blood Oranges made me think back to Warren Zevon’s Lawyers, Guns, and Money and a bit of Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner or the haunting song, Veracruz.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh if Peter Capstick could only see his beloved Africa now.