Some months back Alex Rawls alerted me to the existence of a Marc Ribot documentary DVD called Marc Ribot: La Corde Perdue (it’s a French production; I gather that title means “the lost chord string [see comments]”), that included a live Ribot take on “SJI.” I’m an unabashed Ribot fan, so it’s no surprise that the version he included on his solo-guitar record Saints is a favorite.
Before watching the “SJI” take in the extras, I watched the documentary itself, and (again it’s no surprise) I loved it. Actually toward the beginning Ribot made a really interesting comment that I think is relevant to this blog’s ongoing examination of a single song:
I had more the feeling like, the world was becoming a big pile of garbage. And whenever I would express myself lyrically, even if it was fun, I was adding to a great big mountain of garbage. And so [lauhgs] this made me eventually want to do other things — like quotation, using what was already there, in some way. Or else, just make noise.
You can consider that a mission statement: What I’m doing with no notes is using what’s already there, quotation. Or else I’m just making noise.
Anyway, the take itself is actually quite distinct from what’s on Saints, even though both are solo guitar efforts. Most obviously, the live version is a lot longer — close to six minutes, compared to a bit less than four for the Saints version. The length difference largely consists of, in the live rendition, a long, slow, and totally beautiful lead-in: Instead of the tough angularity of the Saints take, it’s a very sweet, gentle handling of the melody, for a couple of minutes.
Then he does get to the harder edges heard on Saints, though in this live version it’s both more restrained and somehow more raw. Ribot is able to make the technical sound soulful, but here he’s much more the latter than the the former (whereas I think the Saints version, which I love, inverts that). Anyway, I really like the extended tease that takes us there.
Maybe the world is a mountain of garbage, and maybe it isn’t. Either way, I’m happy Ribot keeps contributing to … whatever it is.