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Tricked Out Tunes on the Cosmic Sly: Ray Wylie Hubbard's "Grifter's Hymnal"

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So there I was hearing nothing but this wicked whirring Bandit Model Whole Tree Chipper rammed up against a load of Bibles, books, old newspapers, and brown-paper-covered magazines piled high as the Davis Mountains being scooped up and fed to the chipper by a Cat Ultra High Demolition Hydraulic Excavator.  

 

And with the backup alarm blaring from a 469 horsepower Segmented Ejector Truck moving relentlessly into loading position I was finally able to focus my attention on the dusted vinyl lettering that marked every piece of equipment as the property of Ray Wylie Hubbard, Unlimited.

 

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Because when you tune into the opening tracks of Hubbard's freshly released "Grifter's Hymnal" (2012: Bordello Records) you can't help but thrill to the sound of re-shredding everything you thought you knew.

 

From the beats of the opening bar of the opening track you can tell that Ray Wylie is in a mood to groove right through this millennial year of long reputed doom.   After all, there's nothing at risk if your gods are archaic enough to come from places that can't be undone.   And all powers of such antiquity have something to say about eternal slyness and the essence of trickery that goes by the name of existence.   Go ahead, I dare you, roll tape, then see if you don't start smiling right away, finding yourself snakebit before you hear the first warning rattle.

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Mirothane is one word you might study up on in preparation for track number one.   As defined by its inventors at Mirotone.com, Mirothane PU (TM) is a "flexible sealer with good clarity, superior chemical resistance and resistant to white marking under sharp impact."   Might be a sign of Hubbard's acquired taste for custom interiority.   Might not.

 

By the time we get to track two, we're tuned up, warmed over, and rockin, but not at one of those smokeless, sober, early venues like the kind they put Hubbard through at SXSW.   No, no.   Here we are full tilt throttled for that wide open midnight threshold where everybody grabs everybody else and jumps into the future unknown, crossing over into some other life that may or may not catch you just in time.   Yes, yes.

 

Then, long after the midnight hour, some random mirror catches you reflecting on life and death.   And if you've been reading Gloria Anzaldua lately, you'll have some additional enrichment to draw upon as Wylie Hubbard sings in track number three about life up against the memory of Lazarus, who only died twice, not five times like Gloria did.

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Track four finds us lighting up and looking around on "New Year's Eve at the Gates of Hell," somewhat like Dante, finding all these familiar faces and refusing to be all that repentant about it.   So another year comes and goes and we're still looking at all the souls who haven't yet been sorted where they're supposed to be.   As our judgment turns on its own temper, lookout Ma, ain't nothin all right now.

 

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Greg Moses writes about peace and Texas, but not always at the same time. He is author of Revolution of Conscience: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Philosophy of Nonviolence. And he is co-editor with Gail Presbey of a new collection of peace (more...)
 

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