A's to Q's, Part III
10/17/2006 (updated 10/18/2006)

In "Hard on Me," the reference to Anthony Shaffer's 1973 film "The Wicker Man" is a provocative one-- talk about being raked over the coals by a lover!   My question is how much of a role this film played in people's imaginations upon its release in 1973-- or was it simply a film that caught your eye upon its re-release as a "lost classic" in the 1990s?   The film is remarkable for its unrelenting violence, of course, but also for its Crackerbox Palace-like Celtic pageantry.  The film seems to suggest, on one level, that the anachronism of the pagan rituals somehow leads inevitably to its gruesome conclusion.  All the same, the film is unabashedly fond of its Maypole dancing, fertility rituals, and harvest-festival costumes.  And then there's the soundtrack by Paul Giovanni ('Corn Rigs,' etc).  Did, say, Fairport have any ties to Giovanni, or to this film?  More broadly, was "The Wicker Man" something people talked about in 1973-- or was the film, in your opinion, simply another part of the Albion sunrise?  I'd be keen to hear your thoughts about the film and/or its soundtrack. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.  I hope this finds you well. Sincerely, Jonathan E. 

I always had a parent/child relationship in mind for Hard On Me, but whatever. In Fairport, we studied the songs and ceremonies of Britain – ploughed through things like Hazlett’s Faith And Folklore Of The British Isles -  and realized that paganism was just a scratch away beneath the surface, which seems also the theme of The Wicker Man. In some cases, the Church, perhaps thinking if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, incorporated pagan ritual into Church service and calendar, and also borrowed folk tunes for hymns, and vice versa. In the early 70s, to say ‘Wicker Man’ was shorthand for that prevalent pagan presence, just as ‘Stepford Wives’ was shorthand for something else. I don’t think anyone in Fairport knew Paul Giovanni – I don’t know his name or anything else he’s done. I find the soundtrack slightly cheesy, in a way, what you’d expect of a film soundtrack by a ‘proper’ composer using folk themes. I still think it’s a wonderful film, and does say something significant about the British that I don’t think had been said before cinematically. 

I would like to know which amp you have used for the recording of Grizzly Man? I would like to know which pre-amp pedal did you used for the Grizzly Man recording sessions? 

I used  Henry Kaiser’s Divided By 13 amp. I don’t think I used any pedals – oh, just a Fulltone tremelo pedal and a Barbour overdrive. 

It’s a simple question I ask of prolific interpreters of great music, if I can get their ear: what are your favorite songs about food? Thanks! Cheers, Rich Wallace 

Peter Sellars and Sophia Loren – ‘Bangers and Mash’.