Chinese Whispers, The Making of Lady From Shanghai
by David Thomas
Published by Ubu Projex/Hearpen, 100 pages.
Paperback, ISBN 978-1-291-21934-0.
Buy at Ubutique
Excerpts from the book
'Chinese Whispers' is the companion to Pere Ubu's album Lady From Shanghai released by Fire Records in January 2013.
Penned by lead singer and Pere Ubu founder, David Thomas, he introduces it as the chronicle of 'the making of the album and the thoughts and ideas that shaped it.' Obviously, being Pere Ubu, there are curveballs throughout.
The songs from the album are placed in context with previous material from the back catalogue to illustrate the journey of 'the road' that Thomas often references. There is also fascinating text that examines and deconstructs the often philosophical theories and protocols that Thomas and his band have abided by for the past forty years. For apparently the first time, there is also an autobiography of the author that tells of his early life and brushes with bees, Chevys and his search through literature for the essence of America and its people.
The book was designed by Kiersty Boon.
Cover design by John Thompson from artwork by Alexandre Horn and a photo by Kathy Ward Thompson.
Greil Marcus, Double Trouble (Faber And Faber, 2000), pgs. 167-168.
Thomas' gnostic argument - that art exists to at once reveal secrets and to preserve them - makes sense of a particularly American - or modern - form of storytelling. In a big, multifaceted democracy, you're supposed to be able to communicate directly with everyone, yet many despair of being understood by anyone at all... Out of this comes an American language that means to tell a story no one can turn away from. But this language - identified by D. H. Lawrence in 1923, in Studies in Classic American Literature, as the true modernist voice, the voice of Hawthorne, Poe, Melville - is cryptic before it is anything else. It is all hints and warnings, and the warnings are disguised as non sequiturs. The secret is told, but nonetheless hidden, in the musings, babblings, or tall tales of people who seem too odd to be like you or me, like us - like the author who puts his or her name to the story, insisting that he made it all up, that she just did it for the money.