Even if he wanted to, Giant Sand’s Howe Gelb couldn’t repeat himself. Just watch him sing sometime; the guy’s got two vocal mics, one distorted, one clean, and he doesn’t make up his mind which one he’ll be singing into until he’s halfway through his line. Tucson (Fire), Gelb’s latest release (credited to Giant Giant Sand), is named after his Arizona hometown. He will also be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.
Gelb: A car is a horse, and mine was a Barracuda 1966 model. I found it in a driveway when I lived in Hollywood for a few minutes the first time around. The folks said if I could get her running I could have it for 200 bucks. So I did, didn’t take much.
It was a green Barracuda originally from Tacoma. Now in my possession, this was a car I had sought after for a while and one had found me. I just walked up to the door and knocked where the thing was parked in the driveway and collecting weeds, and that was that.
It was a fine ride out in the desert, once I got it highway worthy. The year I got her was 1985, or there about, and soon enough I was driving it back and forth to Arizona and California. I even tried to invent a swamp cooler for it that fit in the small trunk, but it didn’t really work without a more powerful fan.
I raised my daughter, Indiosa, in that car. I would usually have to find a large bus or semi truck to drive next to on the freeway so I could hang out for a while in its shadow, just enough to not singe my poor kid sitting in her child’s seat. In fact I hadn’t ever had air conditioning in a car until 1994. My girl grew up strong and fine and a little tattooed, too. Someday she was gonna have that car for herself just for revenge of suffering growing up in it. The worst of it was in the summer when the engine heat escaped up the drive shaft and into my face, but that’s a Barracuda in the desert for ya, sticky black interior and all.
At some point I painted it, more like tattooed it. I had a job as set painter in Hollywood, and one day on a break, I just drew all over it. The tattoos showed up on some album art on Love Songs and also as a cover for a Leaving Trains album. I even saw it once on a Chris Issak bootleg CD cover; not sure how that happened.
Anyhow, it was fun to go camping in that ride. I’d lay back under the long rear window and have the stars seem like they were right on the other side of the glass. I remember how many times that car almost froze me to death or broiled me to toast as well as refuse to brake at any random intersection it chose.
I had fitted it up with several horns under the hood, slightly out of tune, so they would very much sound like the trains around here when they moan. The car was a can I would probably just run into the ground, but nope. Almost, but not quite.
On Friday the 13 earlier this year, a knock came on my door. Just like my knock some 23 years ago, only this time I was the seller and “Skinny Jack” was the buyer, an older gent who lives out in the desert and loves them Barracudas, well hell yeah! So I let her go. She hadn’t been running for about four years now, and it was never gonna do my daughter any good without a lot of time and money sunk into it. So I sold it then and there for her.
I lamented quite a bit as I would with the death of any automobile, like a horse, a thing that had stuck around for decades and filled itself with so many of my memories. Time to get gone. Done. Now when I’m not in my air-conditioned Volvo, you’ll see me scooting around town to feel the heat again in my ’65 ‘cuda instead.
Video after the jump.