The Freelance Mentalists.
Friday, August 11, 2023
  From '03: P&J Ballot, NScene Ballot & Comments

Unearthed by Frank Kogan—P&J comments are prob printed out and/or preserved on floppy. Some of the Scene comments were posted here in 2004, but not the ballot.

Don Allred, your votes have been recorded.

Your Pazz & Jop albums ballot was submitted as follows:


1. Johnny Cash - AMERICAN IV:THE MAN COMES AROUND - American (10 points)

2. Miles Davis - THE COMPLETE JACK JOHNSON SESSIONS - Columbia/Legacy (10


3. Dysrhythmia - PRETEST - Relapse (10 points)

4. - THE SOUL OF A MAN - Columbia/Legacy (10 points)

5. Essential Logic - FANFARE IN THE GARDEN - Kill Rock Stars (10 points)

6. James Chance - IRRESISTIBLE IMPULSE - Tiger Style (10 points)

7. - NEW YORK NOISE - Soul Jazz (10 points)

8. Groovski - GROOVSKI - Groovski Records (10 points)

9. Lyrics Born - LATER THAT DAY... - Quannum Projects (10 points)

10. Nancy McCallion and the Mollys - TROUBLE - APN (10 points)



Your Pazz & Jop singles ballot has been recorded as follows:


1. Johnny Cash - " Hurt" - American

2. Klezmatics - "I Ain't Afraid/Di Gayster (Ghosts)" - Rounder

3. Rosanne Cash with Johnny Cash - "September When It Comes" - Capitol

4. Steve Earle - " The Unrepentant" - Artemis

5. Dixie Chicks - " Mississippi" - Open Wide/Monument/Columbia

6. - " "

7. James Carter - " Gloria" - Columbia

8. John Fahey - "Remember" - Revenant

9. Fountains Of Wayne - "Stacey's Mom" - S-Curve/Virgin

10. Jean Grae - "Code Red" - BabyGrande


Subject: Don Allred's Country 03 Ballot/Comments

Date: Saturday, January 03, 2004 11:17 PM


Don Allred's 2003 Country Music Ballot & Comments

Equal points to all entries.



2.Dixie Chicks: TOP OF THE WORLD TOUR LIVE (Open Wide/Monument/Columbia)

3.Steve Earle: JUST AN AMERICAN BOY (Artemis)


5.Lucinda Williams: WORLD WITHOUT TEARS (Lost Highway)

6.Drive-By Truckers: DECORATION DAY (New West)

7.David Allen Coe: LIVE AT BILLY BOB'S TEXAS (Smith Music Group)

8.June Carter Cash: WILDWOOD FLOWER (Dualtone)

9.Gary Stewart: LIVE AT BILLY BOB'S TEXAS (Smith Music Group)

10. Nancy McCallion and the Mollys: TROUBLE (APN)



1.Johnny Cash: "Hurt"(American)

2.Rosanne Cash with Johnny Cash: "September When It Comes" (Capitol)

3.Merle Haggard: "That's the News" (Hag)

4.Terri Clark: "I Just Wanna Be Mad" (Mercury)

5.Terri Clark: "I Wanna Do It All" (Mercury)

6.Dwight Yoakam: "Back of my Hand" (Audium)

7.Carlene Carter: "I've Always Been Crazy" (Dualtone)

8.Dolly Parton: "I'm Gone" (Sugar Hill).

9.Martina  McBride: "This One's for the Girls" (RCA)

10.Cracker "Sinaloa Cowboys" (Artist Direct/BMG)



1.Willie Nelson: CRAZY: THE DEMO SESSIONS (Sugar Hill)

2.June Carter Cash: PRESS ON (Dualtone)





1 Willie Nelson 2.Merle Haggard 3.Toby Keith



1.Dolly Parton 2.Iris DeMent 3.Emmylou Harris



1.Willie Nelson and his band 2.Merle Haggard and the Strangers 3.Dixie Chicks



1.Dolly Parton 2.Willie Nelson 3.Neko Case



1.Willie Nelson 2.Doc Watson 3.Vassar Clements



Mindy Smith


COMMENTS:Country is a certain place, fuller and emptier than it seems, always

counting that sought-after, expensive, hard-to-maintain, easy-to-lose,

hard-to-avoid home on the emotional range. All of my favorite performers are quite

capable of locking themselves in one room all night, but I don't have to share

their particular fixations of the moment; each can project through walls real

well. Lucinda's WOLRD WITHOUT TEARS is a world of hurt and candles, art and

medicine, surrogate soldiers and juicy tunes, which of course just make it all

too concise and too clear, that you ain't here. Yeah,YOU. Sure as a shotglass, 

and a calendar. Yet there's always a sense of something in reserve, no matter

how much I actually hear: something more, and that's the way the world (oh

yeah, and home) should be, or at least seem. The old guys make a virtue of

necessity, and so experience and self-awareness come close enough to wisdom, for a

few mercifully brief (though still expensive)pre-and-post-CD-bloat minutes (as

itunes and the like usher us toward the end of the Album Age altogether).Cash

(in digitized immortality/present tense) knows he can't notes any more, if he

ever could, so finds some sounds that don't need to be held, in fact sound

better the more they decay. The Apocalypse and the "Bridge Over Troubled Water"

and that consarned "Sam Hill" 's soapbox/scaffold are just three more stops,

and no places to loiter now, if they ever were, which o' course they weren't.

But each is just as real, just as expensive, yet just as safe from/in erosion,

in the view he affords us, which is all he and we (or I, caffeinated

geezer-cadet) can afford. The layout, the sequence of rooms, views, songs (choices

which will be more pesky in the true-post-Album Age, but of course our ushers will

be guiding us), still matters greatly. "That's The News" is a sure shot, like

"Philadelphia Lawyer," but I love how we go from getting the news I already

knew but still feel the need to hear (and don't take the abilty to do so for

granted, not any more), to "Stick out yo' can, here comes the garbage man."(and

"Yellow Ribbons" is one trippy little march, on down the same road apiece).

When the Chicks go from Bruce Robison's "Travelin' Soldier" to Maria McKee's "Am

I the Only One Who's Ever Felt This Way," busting out of the little room o'

memory into the bigger one of RAT NOW, ready to head on down the highway right

between those walls, it's a paycheck Jack. Cracker's David Lowery can't help

but keep his distance, which makes his extremely belated and delighted

discovery of Outlaw chestnuts on COUNTRYSIDES a hoot (as if the Kinks had made a

covers-savvy cross between MUSWELL HILLBILLIES and EVERYBODY'S IN SHOWBIZ). A

distance close enough to wisdom on Springsteen's "Sinaloa Cowboys," which any sense

of  "closure," much less justice, or whatcacallit compassion, dares not

understand too soon.

Other notes: Sometimes when you try to get back to that home, to pick up

where you left off, it's such a crazy idea, nothing to do but see and raise it,

get audacious, and settle into THAT , if you can. There's a certain

transgressive circuit-riding, sometimes should-be-circuit-breaking tradition, the orbits

of Uncle Dave Macon, of Harmonica Frank, Townes Van Zandt mebbe, John Fahey,

then there's what Cledus would call Hankenstein, and Steve Earle's the Baron of

that, sometimes shambling through the mud like his own golem. He wills not

just himself but also other dead and even moldy heroes (quotes Abbie Hoffman,"We

told an army to stop and it stopped." Does Steve really believe it went just

like that, or real close? Like, the Vietnam War didn't last 9 years, and the 

Vietnamese might suggest even longer?) But at any rate, sometimes he's it even

beyond reanimation, just screw it here's the electricity: "Somebody's gotta do

it, smbdygtdt," and"The Unrepentant" goes lurching into another

guitar-squall. But the "bluegrass" is all about the bearing down and passion too, and ditto

solo-voice-and acoustic guitar going around the world with the "Ft.Worth

Blues" and other place-blues in permanent rotation on yr. headbox (reflecting the

higher isolationism of other Texans' tunnel vision, and all country karma.

Maybe everybody's, but let's say ZZ Top is a little too RocknRoll in literal

sound, even if current mainstream Kinda Country raids the Top feel like it used to

squeeze the Eagles (and Rosanne Cash, who once reigned over Urban Country,

now polishes her RULES OF TRAVEL into consolation prizes  more perfectly

reflective than Lucinda's, and so R.C. makes really smart, woman-of-the-world

folk-rock, almost a contradiction in terms, not as inventive as young Dylan or

McGuinn, but never as geeky either, and never as country, not anymore-except when

she and Johnny lead each other through a September song's long afternoon of

clues, vanishing in footprints).

Coe LIVE AT BB's T: not as good as IF THAT AINT? Doesn't give his band as

much room here? Oh well. Warren Haynes and Johnny Neel are long gone,anyway, but

(70s-boogie-ing or banjo-and-mandolin picking in a good, trashily-electrified,

expertly-rationed way), these current guys are high generic, as is Coe, the

original John the Baptist (or John the Confederate Mormon Polygamist, he'd

correct me)/ poet laureate of  the longhaired daddies(and mamas) of today's

Montgomery Gentrified, Buffed-Hat mainstream. (a letter from a forsaken,

guilt-tripping daddy[the more nuanced re audible aging of Coe, and young-sounding lungs

of his fairly well-behaved, sometimes-sing-along attendees] is slipped in under

the smoke,as moody and deft as anything I've heard him do). Some nods in the

direction of recognition, but.he still feels residual pain of neglect and

other "old scars under new tattoos"(as he tells us, around the campfire, a few too

many times, but even the boring parts keep me alert, ready for the good times

to come again). The songs co-written with Kid Richie fit well, not many mere

rehashes of hits (not many hits to be rehashed, but still) (and "You Never

Even Called Be By My Name" gets a surprise guest-shot of "The Real Slim Shady")

When he finally resumes the group vocals (which made for a strong start)), we

get a lilting, expressive "Free My Mind," (like a lawnneck Cooke/Marley-smoker)

and certainly a better "Follow Me" than Uncle Kracker's watery Steve


Mollys TROUBLE: the party's over (on this record, anyway).  Now Nancy's hung

her name overhead, but isn't (always) quite the right lone frontperson her

pungent barstool ballads deserve (really it still takes two-so where are you

tonight, Catherine Zavala? ). But somewhere in the winter West, keyed-up,

mixed-buttoned Accordion-Americans still prowl a mining town, ghost town, college town

(all the same, if you stay long enough). Seven years after I started

listening to these erotic pilgrims, notes begin to multiply again, like (a new

generation or ten of) jackrabbits with every spin, so better hit PAUSE and send over

my own  round of label-peelings (TROUBLE songs' last lines): "I've paid off

all the interest with my tears. Put the baby in the shopping cart and run. It's

all spanking new like a white dress and vow, and you're a stranger now.  If

you don't stop to tell me that you want me back again, I won't stop to tell you

it's too late. First class patrons be spilling their wine, never make the

station on time. You will have him or you won't. This is my round put it here. It

has done it before it will do it again. They wish us well and what the hell,

tonight is all our own." Just don't let me get to first lines.

"Jolene" 's beauty hits Mindy Smith so hard, and keeps coming on, as if tears

could burn like they could dazzle. I get just a glimpse of how a woman might


effectively Mindy's (debut) album, as much as it is Shelby's, Me'Shell's, Emmylou's.

and Dolly's latest still-fresh kill(didn't quite make my Top Ten because comps

can get a bit diffuse with the roomful of voices,  and still and yet

Dolly-as-writer doesn't show quite as much  range as she does performing, in her own

studio, or ,Lord knows,on her OWN stage [any one she's on she owns]) Wouldn't

have hurt for Terri Clark to be on JUST. Her own PAIN TO KILL just missed my Top

Ten on account of its top half being a mite flattened by"guest" production,

but her old ally Keith Stegall almost saves the day in the homestretch, and the

words are often her own, and always delivered by the clearcut, cleancut voice

of experience. Like the lady deputy always sez on "Reno 911," "Ah believe

everyone should do what they want, long as they take a shower."



Sunday, February 05, 2023


by Paul Eluard (1942)

On my school notebooks

On my desk and on the trees

On the sands, on the snow

I write your name

On all the pages I've read

On all the pages that are blank

Stone, blood, paper or ashes

I write your name

On the gold images

On the warriors' weapons

On the crown of kings

I write your name

On the jungle and the desert

On the nests on the bushes

On the echo of my childhood

I write your name

On the wonders of nights

On the white bread of day

On the seasons of brides

I write your name

On all my rags of blue

On the musty pond in sunlight

On the living lake in moonlight

I write your name 

On the fields, on the horizon

On the wings of the birds

And on the windmill of shadows

I write your name

On each breath of daybreak

On the sea, on the boats

On the mad mountaintop

I write your name

On the foam of the clouds

On the sweat of the storm

On dull, heavy rain

I write your name

On the glittering forms

On their ringing colors

On the physical truth

I write your name

On the awakened trails

On the routes deployed

On the crowded squares

I write your name

On the lamp that is lit

On the lamp that is not

On homes reunited

I write your name

On the fruit cut in two

Of the mirror and my room

On the empty shell of my bed

I write your name

On my dog, that loyal fresser

On his perked-up ears

On his klutzy paws

I write your name

On the ramp to my door

On everyday objects

On the roar of the hearth

I write your name

On flesh in rapport

On the foreheads of my friends

On each outstretched hand

I write your name 

On the window of surprises

On expectant lips

Far above the silence

I write your name

On my hideouts destroyed,

On my lighthouses, collapsed,

On the walls of my tsuris

I write your name

On absence purged of desire

On naked solitude

On the death marches

I write your name

On recovered health

On danger long past

On hope free of memories

I write your name

And by the power of one word

I begin my life again

I was born to know you

To name you


–translated by j.w.

« Liberté »

Paul Eluard wrote this poem in Paris in 1942, and it was published in an underground edition in occupied France on 3 April of that year.  

Then in June, Eluard was persuaded to allow the poem to be reprinted in the magazine Fontaine, to be circulated in the southern part of France governed by Marshall Pétain's regime based in Vichy.  Max-Pol Fouchet, the editor of Fontaine, tells of how Eluard thought that publishing the poem in Vichy France was sheer lunacy, because it was bound to get both of them in serious trouble with the censor and the government.

According to Fouchet, the poem was then examined by the French censor, in the company of the relevant German and Italian officials.  When he was presented with a poem of 21 stanzas, with each stanza ending with the line, "I write your name", the censor became so bored that he couldn't be bothered to read it all the way to the end.  He declared, "These poets are rambling. I write your name, I write your name! Let him write it already, and let's not talk about it anymore!"  Then he asked Fouchet, "What is this, some kind of love poem?" and Fouchet answered "Yes."

And that's how the poem got past the Vichy government's censors.

The story is told here:

Then a couple months later, the poem was reprinted in England by the official Gaullist magazine La France libre.  The Royal Air Force then loaded thousands of copies of the poem onto their planes and dropped them by parachute over occupied France.

And still later, in January of 1943, the poem was published in Switzerland, with copies again making their way back to occupied France.

The original text, along with the backstory, can be found here:

You can hear Paul Eluard himself read his poem here:

It was Paul Valéry who is reported to have said, "A poem is never finished, only abandoned," and it's the same with translations. There's probably a minor howler or two lurking somewhere in my version, but the process of second-guessing can be drawn out forever.

Some of the lines are fairly obscure in the French -- as borne out by the fact that the translations of those lines vary so widely. However (1) interpretation varies from translator to translator, with some of them opting for wording that's equally obscure in English, and (2) even though Paul Eluard started out as one of the original Surrealists (e.g. collaborating with André Breton on L'Immaculée Conception in 1930), by 1938 he had broken away from Breton and the movement, became politically committed, and during WWII was active in the French Resistance and a member of the Communist Party. So despite the ambiguity of some of the wording, I'm sure he was writing with a wider audience in mind.


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