Roxy Gordon - Crazy Horse Never Died
The ten songs on Crazy Horse Never Died, his first officially released and distributed album, were recorded in Dallas in 1988. “Songs” is perhaps an imprecise taxonomy for what Roxy captured on this and his other albums, all of which remain out of print or were released in instantly obscure limited editions of homebrew cassettes and CD-R’s. (Paradise of Bachelors plans to reissue remastered, expanded editions of his catalog; Crazy Horse is the first.) He only occasionally attempted to sing, and his musical recordings are primarily corollaries of, and vehicles for, his poems. His sharp West Texan drawl, tinged by formative years of reservation living in Montana and unmistakable once you hear it high, lonesome, flat, and cold-blooded as a bare rusty blade instead patiently unfurls in skewed sheets of anecdotal verse and discursive narrative rants. His songs are essentially recitations over backing tracks of fingerpicked guitars, rubbery washtub bass, and buzzing, oscillating keyboards. On the stark yellow and red jacket of Crazy Horse, which he designed himself, Gordon describes these recordings as innately ambivalent in terms of form, content, and identity: These are poems and/or songs about the American West, white and Indian.
Crazy Horse Never Died comprises songs that span the personal and political arcs of his writing practice and the poles of his native and white ancestries. His introduction to the almost-title track in the strikingly illustrated poetry chapbook supplement to the album (included in the LP edition) draws explicit parallels between the oppression and displacement of Palestinians by Zionists and the similar treatment of Native Americans by Europeans, justifying the historical necessity of resistance to racist imperialism through terrorism.
In his 1984 essay “Breeds,” from the fine collection of the same name, he concludes with a note of hope:
The voices of these continents are not stilled because, for a few centuries, this land is overrun by human beings who cannot hear. Over years of cultural and racial genocide, over centuries of lies and misdirection, That Which Is still calls . . . and the old American blood in us listens.
Roxy’s friend and fellow poet-turned-musician Leonard Cohen had kind words for Breeds, writing: “It is strong. The word goes out. Can a change come on dove’s feet?” Bestir that old American blood and listen.
Release Date: 12th May 2023
Format: LP or CD
Label: Paradise of Bachelors
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