For years, I’ve used Pink Floyd's 1968 studio album "A Saucerful of Secrets" as my secret weapon for an instant nap when I wasn’t sure if my brain was up for a break or there was too much going on around me to ensure a solid sleep. Most of the time, this is my trick for sleeping in airport terminals or the middle seats of airplanes but it has come in handy in many situations. It’s not that the album is a sleeper... quite the opposite. It is so think with notes and auditory tricks that my brain can’t keep up with all of it and shuts down. From the movie Amadeus, “Your work is ingenious. It's quality work. And there are simply too many notes, that's all. Just cut a few and it will be perfect.” Since I'm so familiar with this albums hypnotic effect on me when Susan and I saw a Pink Floyd cover band last year and they played track 3 “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” I had to warn her. “There is a pretty good chance that I may soon pass the hell out!” I said.
Today, I may have found its replacement... The Dirty Three’s 1995 self titled “The Dirty Three”. Throw in some mental fatigue, a pair of Bose headsets buried beneath a hoodie, several blankets and you’ve got yourself a sensory deprivation chamber. Except of course for the music... which is a frantic jazzy mix of violin, bass and drum.
I first saw The Dirty Three in early 1996 at the Cat's Cradle in Chapel Hill, NC when they opened for Pavement. In September that same year, I went back and saw them as the headliner the night before my 21st birthday. The bouncers let me in with an over 21 badge when I was under age but gave me a hard time the night before I was legal? On one of those two nights, I played Tron with the bass player before they took the stage. He told me he sucked at video games but was pretty good at playing Bass.
Their live shows are similar to the albums except much, much faster. And the song names are changed. I remember the live version of "Indian Love Song" being introduced as... "This song is called... 'one time when I was on a plane... and I was sitting next to the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens and I thought, I don't think this one is gonna end well'. That's what this is called. But I might call it, 'I once slept with Stevie Nicks and Mick Fleetwood was there'. I haven't figured which one I want to call it yet." The album isn't full of too many notes for the royal ear... it has just enough notes and just enough chaos to match with the chaos in my head to cause deep sleep. Just enough to listen to and focus on to knock me out by track 2. I look forward to trying this one out in the airport. Often, with my Captain's hat pulled over my eyes like a cowboy, I wake wake up sitting below the CNN Airport News Network TV just as they’re airing another story about overworked regional pilots.