A theme song for Poisonville

On this day in 1929, Alfred A Knopf published Dashiell Hammett’s “Red Harvest”, which had been serialised in the pulp magazine Black Mask in the previous year. It became the template for the hard-boiled detective novel. Its hero is the nameless Continental Op (he’s an operative of The Continental Detective Agency) who is called to Personville by the local Press Baron. Personville is known as “Poisonville” by the locals, and the plot turns on police corruption and gang warfare, and Red Harvest refers to the staggering amount of bloodshed that ensues, caused (mostly deliberately) by the Continental Op. It inspired Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo, which in turn influenced Sergio Leone’s Man with No Name in the Dollars trilogy. The Coen brothers’ film Blood Simple takes its title from a line in Red Harvest, and In the early 1970s, Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci considered filming an adaptation of the novel with Jack Nicholson or Clint Eastwood in the lead, but it never happened. I took the name Poisonville to use on a project with Mark Pringle and my daughter, Jordan, a decade ago, where we recorded skewed versions of songs from the 60s. Here’s a song called “Hammett” which uses cut-up loops and samples welded onto a narration of a dream sequence from the 21st chapter of ”Red Harvest”, which we recorded as a kind of theme song for the project. It features a sonorous cello part by Mark, as well as a guitar solo that, to this day, is one of the greatest I’ve ever heard. Read the book — it’s a cracker.

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