The title track from one of Vic's most celebrated albums is bittersweet for me today. Mark Linkous, of Sparklehorse fame, committed suicide this past weekend, in Knoxville, TN. Not only was he a fantastic musician, an artistic genius, and one of my favorite all time performers, but he did a amazing cover of West of Rome, for the Sweet Relief 2 compilation.
Ironically, the last time I ever saw Mark, he and Vic and I were chatting about this specific track.
Speaking of lyrics, West of Rome has some of Vic's most narrative lyrics. The scene is set, from the first line, and in just five minutes, Vic has presents an interesting character study of the protagonist, and his environment. Lines like "a childhood of dry goods and wet neglect" and "polishing his boots and pummeling his liver" are so simple yet descriptive. Just another facet of Vic's incredible talent and ability.
Here's Vic's version:
And Mark's from the Sweet Relief 2 Tribute
WEST OF ROME
west of Rome, just east of the border
in a static-y ramada inn
polishing his boots and pummeling his liver
steeped in the dark isolation
just what business does he have around here
credentials are wearing out with each little bit of cheer
yes it's a bad scene we're convening
brushing his teeth and milking his ulcer
preparing to waste another wily morning
stroking himself and them phoning up his sister
he tells her their life would make one whale of a movie
yes a childhood full of dry goods and wet neglect
the father they now sponge off they have no absorbing respect
yes he's a glad boy to have such a void
yes he's a martyr crawling accross cobble stones
from his cozy cottages just west of Rome
yes its a sad state for great suffering