No, never did.

Somehow, I never read Grapes of Wrath before now:

The Western land, nervous under the beginning change. The Western states, nervous as horses before a thunderstorm. The great owners, nervous, sensing a change, knowing nothing of the nature of the change. The great owners, striking at the immediate thing, the widening government, the growing labor unity; striking at new taxes, at plans; not knowing these things are results, not causes. Results, not causes; results, not causes. The causes lie deep and simply — the causes are hunger in the stomach, multiplied one million times; a hunger in a single soul, hunger for joy and some security, multiplied one million times; muscles and mind aching to grow, to work, to create, multiplied one million times. The last clear definite function of men — muscles aching to work, minds aching to create beyond the single need — this is man. To build the wall, to build a house, the dam, and in the wall and house and dam to put something of Manself, and to Manself take back something of the wall, the house, the dam; to take heart muscles from the lifting, to take the clear lines and form from conceiving. For man, unlike anything organic or inorganic in the universe, grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead of his accomplishments. This you say is man — when theories change and crash, when schools, philosophies, when narrow dark alleys of thought, national, religious, economic, grow and disintegrate, man reaches, stumbles forward, painfully, mistakenly sometimes. Having stepped forward, he may slip back, but only half a step, never the full step back. This you may say and know it and know it. This you may know when the bombs plummet out of the black planes on the marketplace, when prisoners are stuck like pigs, and the crushed bodies drain filthily in the dust. You may know it in this way. If the step were not being taken, if the stumbling forward ache were not alive, the bombs would not fall, the throats would not be cut. Fear the time when the bombs stop falling while the bombers live — for every bomb is proof that the spirit has not died. And fear the time when the strikes stop while the great owners live — for every little beaten strike is proof that the step is being taken. In this you can know — fear the time when manself will not suffer and die for a concept, for this one quality is the foundation of man self, in this one quality is man, distinctive in the universe.

Cannery Row is certainly more fun, but reading Grapes while watching our would-be corporate masters struggle to maintain control is quite resonant….

285) Status Quo: The Complete Pye Collection

Like many people in the USA, I only knew Status Quo from “Pictures of Matchstick Men,” but I picked up this 3CD set for 10 bucks and found out they’re quite an institution in the UK. I also found out that a lot of there songs, at least from this period, aren’t very memorable; it seems like every time they wrote a good song, they then tried to copy that song 3 or 4 times. There are, for example, 3 other songs that sound A LOT like “Matchstick Men.” Donovan did much the same thing, I think. But, worth checking out if you have something else to do while listening….

286) Pere Ubu: The Story of My Life

Pere Ubu gets back together to record a CD? Could they have mortgages to pay, nostalgia to indulge in? Crap product to crank out? Nooooo! And, well, no, this isn’t just crap laurel-resting, though it’s not as prickly and experimental as their best stuff, and though they “disbanded” in 1982, they rebanded in 1993 for this recording and have produced stuff ever since. Now, if I could just find the version of Ubu Roi David Thomas did with the Quay Bros… oh, here is some of it.

287) Sparklehorse: Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot

A while back I listened to It’s A Wonderful Life, my favorite Sparklehorse CD, and wondered why M. Linkous hadn’t made a recording that good since. A few days later, he committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest with a rifle. If you live long enough, these coincidences start to pile up. Anyway, this is also a good CD, not quite as good as It’s A Wonderful Life,
but nearly so; this was Sphorse’s debut, so the seeds of It’s A Wonderful Life are everywhere, some very good dissonant noise alongside the hushed baby voice songs.
Sorry the shit got too rough, Mark, rest in peace.

288) Gong: You

I never heard Gong, heard lots about them: hippy space rock stuff, like Hawkwind for people who though Hawkwind were too punk. And yep, that’s what this is:

Now I know.

289) Cowboy Junkies: The Nomad Series Vol 1.

An interesting direction for the Junkies to head in: grafting some Chinese sounds (literally–samples of people working, etc) onto the bluesy spooky groove, keeping the arrangments sparse; the title makes me think this will be the first of a few releases with the same theme, but with different countries and cultures visited. Good stuff.

290) Townes Van Zandt: Live at the Old Quarter

Such an underrated voice. Townes in known for his songwriting, but the way he sang them was incredible too, like a man so used to being ridden that the rider becomems part of him… CDs like this are exactly why I hate the band America.