Particle Man

January 16, 2015 5:53 AM

My little old-timey number for the TMBG Flood covers project.

I was slotted in at the last minute to FoB’s Flood cover project, and scored Particle Man. Here’s my nontraditional/traditional rendition. Pardon the novice mixing, for I am but a novice mixer. And for those who enjoy a good backstory ...

In Rolling Stone Oct 8, 2009, John Linnell explains just what Particle Man was inspired by:

Linnell: "... Triangle Man was based on a friend's observation that Robert Mitchum looked like an evil triangle when he took his shirt off in Night of the Hunter. Nothing else not explicitly stated need be inferred. If the money were right, I'd consider a whole TV series."

I’d not heard of The Night of the Hunter, so I had to look it up. It’s a classic black-and-white 1955 thriller based on a 1953 novel, with Robert Mitchum as switchblade-wielding self-appointed reverend and serial killer, Rev. Harry Powell. It’s set in 1930s West Virginia along the Ohio River and is based on the real life killer Harry Powers.

In the film, Powell marries and murders a young widow and pursues her children to uncover the loot her bankrobbing husband hid before he was executed. The children flee and are taken in by a steely old farm woman (Lillian Gish) who looks after stray children and tries to fend off Powell’s attacks.

The film is quite expressionist, black and white, all shadows and angles … including many conspicuous triangles! I couldn’t find a full stream of the film but there are several YouTube clips out there. Powell announces his presence to his victims by singing the hymn ‘Leaning On The Everlasting Arms’, and Mitchum himself sang the version in the film. Get your chills right here.

I also read that Linnell often inserts a random unrelated song before the final verse/outro of Particle Man when performing, so my course was clear. And with the story set in old-time West Virginia I set my song with some pickin’ and clawhammer. A sweet little tune. About sociopaths.

Hope y’all enjoy!

posted by BlackPebble (12 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

Sometimes I get the urge to come up with extra verses to Particle Man, like there should be a whole Universe (Man) of Particle Men in the song.

It's cool how many approaches Particle Man lends itself to. It's like it's also, at the same time, a wave!
posted by JHarris at 9:18 AM on January 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

I know what you mean. When I added 'Leaning' into the track I really wanted to sing about Rhombus Man, who must be the most leaning-est Man in the Maniverse.
posted by BlackPebble at 9:40 AM on January 16, 2015 [4 favorites]

Very lovely, BlackPebble! Excellent work.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 12:59 PM on January 16, 2015

Nice use of the jaw harp. There's a nice synchronicity between your version and chococat's I think.
posted by Corduroy at 1:08 PM on January 16, 2015

I love learning the origin of Triangle Man but the idea that Robert Mitchum in The Night of the Hunter could ever inspire anything other than ABSOLUTE TERROR is something it will take some time to get my head around.

That said, you should try to find the whole thing to watch because it is great.

And all that said, I loved loved loved what you did here.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:06 PM on January 16, 2015 [3 favorites]

Love the crickets!
posted by jessamyn at 5:49 PM on January 16, 2015

You have a great voice, I love the crickets and jaw harp, and this is understated and gentle. Great re-imagining.
posted by not_on_display at 5:49 PM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Can you tell we are listening to this together?
posted by jessamyn at 5:50 PM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

[jinx, you owe me a coke]
posted by not_on_display at 5:50 PM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Needs Lillian Gish
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 8:44 PM on January 17, 2015

Thanks all! I did think about including Lillian Gish, but went with focusing on the sociopaths alone. Triangle Man and Robert Mitchum's Harry Powell are in the same posse for sure. Glad you all enjoyed it, it was a lot of fun to make.
posted by BlackPebble at 7:16 AM on January 20, 2015

Nice job. Last summer/fall I went on a (really) long car trip and took along a bunch of my (really) favorite songs to keep me and the other guy in the vehicle company. By far his favorite on the playlists turned out to be Particle Man.

p.s. I have listened to PM for years, and never in my wildest imaginings would have connected it with Robert Mitchum.
posted by LeLiLo at 11:07 PM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

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