; Tangled Up In Blue: September 2005

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The One About TV Show Theme Songs

I got this idea from the eternally lame Emmy awards, which made its snubbed actors warble through television show theme songs this year. After I finish posting, feel free to talk amongst yourselves, kids.

1.) Buffy the Vampire Slayer theme by Nerf Herder
2.) King of the Hill theme by The Refreshments
3.) "Woke Up This Morning" (The Sopranos theme) by A3
4.) "Life Goes On" by Patti LuPone (but written by The Beatles..., so technically, not gay)
5.) "Movin' On Up" from The Jeffersons
6.) "Nobody Knows" (The Grey's Anatomy theme) by Psapp
7.) "Let It Shine" by Randy Newman (from a defunct sitcom in the '70s)
8.) South Park theme by Primus
9.) The Simpsons theme by Danny Elfman

That should get you started...

Hippies Hate Water

When I was a freshman or sophomore in high school, we used to listen to this band, Mucky Pup (I think... I'm pretty sure that's the name) who were like a funny Bloodhound Gang.

They had a lot of songs about gophers and Batman going around butt-raping people. But their best song, by far, was "Hippies Hate Water," which started out (if I recall) like this "One day I found myself driving myself around. Then I saw them like a herd of sheep calling 'Give us a ride to the Dead show, man.' Now, don't be sad. They may be smelly but they ain't that bad."

My brothers and I used to play those tapes over and over again and we'd sing "Hippies Hate Water" all the time, even as we were making tie-dye on the stove.

Anyway, I don't really know anything about that band, other than they had that awesome song. But I wonder if they, like everyone else, moved to Nashville. Does anyone know? Has anyone else heard of them?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Sympathies to Bernadette

Musical theater fans will be sad to know that Michael Wittenberg, the husband of the Tony award-winning actress Bernadette Peters, has died on a business trip when his helicopter crashed into high voltage power cables.

Deepest sympathies for Bernadette and others who called Michael family.

Ari Hest

A few years ago I saw a coffee shop performance by a guy named Ari Hest. Like many coffee shop performances there was no band, just a lone singer and his guitar, but man could this guy sing. It was a good thing too because he didn't have much of a stage presence (which fortunately isn't a big deal when you listen to the CD). Still, I said I'd be mentioning musicians who have gotten less attention than they deserve, and I'd say Ari Hest definately fits into that category.

I bought his first complete CD, Come Home, there at the concert (I say first complete because he apparently had an EP out prior to his first album called "Incomplete") and it's a great one to have. The thing I like about Come Home is that it's one of those rare CDs that you can actually listen to from beginning to end without wanting to skip over certain tracks. He has a new CD out that I've only heard clips of from his website.

Unlike many similar musicians, Ari keeps most every song energetic with a heavy use of syncopation and unique rythymic ideas. His light but energetic style is alot like what I'd proabbly play if I wanted to strap on my guitar and hit the coffee shop circuit. One thing I'll warn you is that you should steer clear of Ari if you're looking for a great lyricist. Ari has a great voice, is more than an able guitar player, and has a great style but some of his lyrics are poorly written enough to make you cringe ("I don't need no good luck charm, hanging 'round my big ole neck. Nothing in this world could make you're being away correct").

If you can get over that, check him out. If you're looking to download just a song or two, might I suggest "Caught Up in Your Love" or "Aberdeen" from Come Home and "Consistency" sounds pretty good from his new album based on the clip that on his site, www.arihest.com

Monday, September 26, 2005

Don't Let My Husband Hear Your Band

Mr. Kat has a much more limited taste in music than mine. He hates disco, he loathes rap and can't stand much from the 80s. Even though his range is smaller, he is very devoted to that which he likes--devoted almost to the point of obsession. Like poor ol' Lennie in Of Mice & Men, he loves them too hard. Some examples?

The Grateful Dead: Jerry Garcia. Exit Stage Right.

Phish: After years of touring together, the band breaks up mere months after Tim starts getting into them earnestly.

Warren Zevon: A year and change after we see him in concert, he announces to the world that he is dying of an incurable disease.

I ask now, in the face of such evidence, that you all begin praying very hard for the health and well-being of Keller Williams. He is poised to be Tim's next victim. He's been listening to Keller all weekend and is planning to go see him live at TPAC this November.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Big Spring Jam Huntsville

Last night I traveled down to Huntsville for their annual Big Spring Jam Music Festival. I got there kind of late so I really only had the option to see two bands. The first act I saw was the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Not to anyone's surprise, they put on a great show. The New Orleans based group played everything from Jazz to Dixieland Jazz to 70's style funk. It was awesome.

After that, we had the choice of seeing the O'Jays or Travis Tritt. I reluctantly went to see Tritt, at my friends suggestion. I never have been a big fan of Travis, but I certainly am now. In fact, he put on what is definitely one of the best performances I have seen in a long time. I loved it when he played the old Hank jr tunes "Old Habits" and "Whiskey on Ice, Women On Fire". For a moment there, I was back home in Munford, Al. tearing up those dirt roads and jamming to Hank. He even covered some Waylon, Merle Haggard, and Johnny Cash. He did an awesome rendition of "Folsom Prison Blues". The high point though was the encore, which consisted of about five songs. He came out there and rocked ZZ Top's "La Grange", Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama", Steve Earle's "Copperhead Road", The Georgia Sattellite's "Keep Your Hand's To Yourself", and the Atlanta Rythm Section classic "Homesick".

I was stunned. To be honest with you, I don't listen to a lot of radio country. Most of it just sounds like watered down pop to me. When I listen to country, I usually listen to the old stuff on WSM. You just don't hear a lot of Haggard and Jones on modern country radio anymore. While I don't care much for country that is mixed with pop, I love country that is mixed with rock and this guy really rocked. In that encore, those guys were swapping guitars solos like the Lynyrd Skynyrd boys or Dickie Betts and Warren Haynes. Tritt is not one of those guys who just shakes around with a microphone, he can actually play the guitar and play it well.

What a show. I never would have considered going to see Travis Tritt, but after seeing that show last night, I can't wait to see him again.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

525,600 Minutes

The musical RENT, which opened on Broadway in 1996, is finally coming to the big screen this November. I always have a bit of apprehension when an outstanding stage musical is done as a movie. What works on stage doesn't always work on the screen and, particularly in musical such as RENT where the minimalistic set adds so greatly to the work, the realism of Hollywood can be damaging if not carefully planned and artfully executed. Even still, I am greatly anticipating the release (and have been since Nov 2004 when I found out it was being made), and suspect that the production will be worthwhile since it gleans much of its cast directly from the original Broadway cast.

RENT is the story of seven New York friends who find themselves struggling with finances, love, friendship, and disease and over the course of a year learn to live each day to the fullest because you never know what tommorrow will bring. An essay I wrote about the theme of RENT won me a $1000 scholarship once upon a time.

If you live in New York, Los Angelos, or Toronto you'll be able to see this film on Nov 11th. The rest of us have to wait until November 23rd (a day which I have already marked to keep clear on my calendar). For more information you can check out the official site or view the trailer (requires Windows Media Player, for Mac users the official site has two trailers that I believe are in Quicktime)

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

killing them softly

The term ballad, according to Wikipedia, refers to a song that tells a story. I know the term conjures up some woo-pitching ditties from the likes of Billy Ocean and an unashamedly mulleted Michael Bolton who spent the better part of the eighties trying to win over the fairer sex with constipated facial expressions and the simplest of drum machines, but those are not necessarily ballads.

Murder means to kill someone. It was what you wanted to do to Billy Ocean and Michael Bolton, but no one ever did (though I haven’t seen either in quite some time).

A murder ballad, as you may have already guessed, is a song that tells a story about murder. I will spare you my notes from a folklore class that I took back in college, but the genre has been with us as long as lyrics have been set to music. Long before the narrator killed his “Knoxville Girl” the “Wexford Girl” was being murdered against the same chords and melody line back in Ireland.

I love a good murder ballad, and there is nothing wrong with that. Johnny Cash may not have shot a man in Reno, and Marty Robbins may not have been quicker on the draw than some handsome young stranger in the west Texas town of El Paso, but they each did their part to feed our dark side, I suppose.

Which brings me to another top five. It might not be something you’ve ever really thought about, but there are a number of great murder ballads out there in popular music. Here are my top five.

1. “Sinkhole” by the Drive By Truckers
2. “Jack Straw” by the Grateful Dead
3. “Excitable Boy” by Warren Zevon
4. “Caleb Meyer” by Gillian Welch
5. “King’s Highway” by the Joe Henry

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

What's going on...what'd he say??

I heard the long version of the Ray Charles epic 'What'd I Say' before I understood about sex. I WAS in bed at the time, but my bed partner was my green transistor radio ensconsed in a black leather case with perforations that allowed you to 'feel' the bass notes. I was nine years old. My parents hadn't had THE talk yet. When I heard the sighs and moans in the background of Ray's release, I just thought they were ecstatic utterances not unlike the pentecostal glossalalia I had heard about in sunday school. I thought these women really just LIKED Ray (After seeing the movie, I think most of these women not only liked Ray, but may have passed on his legacy genetically). A few years later, I UNDERSTOOD the moans and the double-entendres. When the song came on the radio anytime my parents were within the city limits, I was diving for the tuning knob or pre-set button in the car.

When Sgt Pepper came out, I taped it off the radio and listened to that tape so many times that my K-Mart mini-tape player gave up the ghost. Eventually, I purchased the album and wore the grooves out. About six months after Sgt. Pepper had been out and I could tell you not only every word but pretty much every freaking note on the thing, I realized that the letters 'LSD' were embedded in the title of 'Lucy in the Skies with Diamonds'. D'oh! Desperately wanting to be a little hipplet (I"m around 14 at the time), I was disgusted with myself that I had missed such an obvious clue to the inspiration of the song.

I vaguely knew that Norwegian wood was about marijuana, and that the Beatles had certainly smoked their share of chronic, but I didn't always connect the musical dots..

Later on when I was listening to whatever Billy Joel album contained Captain Jack for the 153rd time, I realized that there probably wasn't really anyone named Captain Jack but that B Joel was describing an activity not unknown to 99.9% of all teenage boys (and many older ones...).

Some songs don't take too long to decipher: Spill the Wine by Eric Burdon and War was so laden with drug imagery and references that I may have 'got it' by the third time I heard the song. Translating 'losing streak' in 'Satisfaction' to a girl having her period took a little longer, but 'Dead Flowers' was as a subtle as the proverbial brick when it came to heroin.

A more recent example comes from one of my favorite songs of the early 90s. The Liverpool group known as 'The Las' recorded only one CD and had one big hit ('There She Goes') and then pretty much disappeared. The song 'There she Goes' (I think this was namechecked in the one-hit wonder posts/comments), imo, is the nearly perfect power-pop jangly English rock song. The way the singer pronounces the syllable 'gain' with the long AAAAAAAA in the word 'again' (there she goes again) somehow just makes the song and evokes perfect memories of an earlier more-well-known band from Liverpool.

The song appears all over the movie "So I Married an Axe Murderer' and was covered by 6 Pence None the Richer who also charted with the song.

It's taken me 10 years, but the song really isn't about a girl. The song is really about the reason I suspect the band disappeared. Here are the lyrics...what do you think?

There she goes
There she goes again
Racing thru' my brain
And I just can't contain
This feelin' that remains
There she blows
There she blows again
Pulsing thru' my vein
And I just can't contain
This feelin' that remains
There she goes, there she goes again
She calls my name, pulls my train
No-one else could heal my pain
And I just can't contain
This feelin' that remains
There she goes
There she goes again
Chasing down my lane
And I just can't contain
This feelin' that remains

Any musical revelations after hearing a song a number of times and then realizing that what you thought you heard was really something else?

Monday, September 19, 2005

I sung it my waaaay (yeah baby)

Yesterday on the radio I heard a unimaginative cover version of “I’m A Believer” by the Monkees covered by Smash Mouth – the hook was there with a bit of beach music tossed in on the mini guitar solo, but there was nothing of value and the vocal was… ugh.

Maybe I was missing something. Could it be that the version was just a camped up version like Devo’s “I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction)” or maybe it was just the sound of Smash Mouth that makes them a success. Like two buck chuck wine.

So what is a cover song? Wikipedia defines “a cover version [as] a new rendition of a previously recorded song. Pop musicians may play covers as a tribute to the original performer or group, to win audiences who like to hear a familiar song, or to increase their chance of success by using a proven hit or to gain credibility by its comparison with the original song. Covering material is an important method in learning various styles of music. Bands may also do it simply because they enjoy playing it.”

Personally I enjoy covers if they add more “value” i.e. a significant reworking whether tempo of a song, a radical style or vocal interpretation – otherwise to me, it is just upscale karaoke or unimaginative arrangement.

My top ten covers (subject to flux) at the moment are:

1) All Along the Watchtower (Bob Dylan) by JimiHendrix
2) Black Magic Woman (Fleetwood Mac) by Santana
3) Crossroads (Robert Johnson) by Cream
4) Feelin' Alright (Traffic) by Joe Cocker
5) The First Cut Is the Deepest (Cat Stevens) by Rod Stewart
6) I Heard It Through the Grapevine (Smokey Robinson) by Creedence Clearwater Revival
7) Stop Your Sobbing (Kinks) by The Pretenders
8) Summertime Blues (Eddie Cochran) by The Who
9) Take Me to the River (Al Green) by the Talking Heads
10) You Really Got Me (Kinks) by Van Halen

I’m giving my age away – but the above songs have significant arrangements and in my mind and ears, add more value… By the way, the Beatles are most covered band of all time. Chime in with your top ten!

Best Concert You Ever Saw?

Last night Coldplay was in Nashville. Tomorrow, Paul McCartney is in Atlanta, and tickets go on sale this morning for Neil Diamond at the GEC for his concert on Oct 17.

I don't know how many concerts I've seen in my life. My first one was "The Kingsman" when I was about 8 in the mid 60s, and I never missed a concert from 65-80.
(someone had to inspire Cameron Crowe to write about "Penny Lane," but that's another story)

I saw the Beach Boys in their prime, and they were great. I caught Elton before "Your Song" was a hit, and I said to myself,"That boy's got some talent." (Obviously a brain surgeon even then)

I hate being cliche, but I think Bruce, circa 1985 was the best concert I ever saw. His concerts were usually 3-4 hours long, and the concert goer didn't sit down the entire time. He was exhausting and exhilarating.

Next would be Billy Joel. I saw him circa 1980, and he was fun and dramatic and extraordinary.

I saw McCartney in 1993. You'd have to ask my ex husband how I liked it because all I can remember is repeating over and over, "That's Paul McCartney."

Marilyn Manson was fun in a sadistic sort of way. Brian Warner, (Manson) actually does great performance art, and we ended up discussing Kabbalah (Jewish Mysticism...don't ask) for quite a while.

I got to see the greats--from Elvis to Chuck Berry to McCartney to the Beach Boys to The Hollies to Simon and Garfunkel...too many to remember, but not enough to forget.
(I think I have the title of my next country song, but I digress...)

So, what was your favorite concert, and, who would you most like to see of those still performing?

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Tom Waits Does Broadway (Kind of..)

Looking for the Heart (and Rasp) of Tom Waits

By Rob Kendt
The New York Times

Got a frog in my throat," Stewart D'Arrietta said with a cough last week near the end of his splendidly imperfect Tom Waits cabaret act, "Belly of a Drunken Piano." Recognizing that as a serious understatement, he added, "I got a whole reptile park in there."
In this case that's not self-deprecation. Dressed in a cream suit and a chocolate fedora, the wiry Mr. D'Arrietta cuts a figure closer to William S. Burroughs than to the vulpine Mr. Waits. But when he's growling and howling his way through the three-decade Waits song catalog, Mr. D'Arrietta musters a gripping, uncanny imitation of Mr. Waits's trademark rasping roar.
Elsewhere Mr. D'Arrietta, an Australian, does a passable impression of Mr. Waits's warmer, mellower tones, and he faithfully recreates a few Beat-style spoken-word riffs, flecked with slight traces of an Aussie accent.
Mr. D'Arrietta's own between-song patter is more variable, and includes some hoary jokes and stories from his life as well as from Mr. Waits's. He's a genial master of ceremonies, and he touches rock-solid emotion when he dedicates a few songs to friends. But he stumbles with stabs at drollery or commentary, making genital-themed jokes about the president and the pope and recalling a piano teacher with a "flatulence problem."
At its best, though, "Belly of a Drunken Piano" takes us squarely into Mr. Waits's wee-hours world, with its many shapes and shades: from weepy-drunk soliloquies to screaming blues stomps, from cackling chanteys to rain-slick word jazz. Backed by a snappy trio of double bass, drums and electric guitar, Mr. D'Arrietta is a middling pianist, banging away on a gutted, tuneless upright whose sustain pedal seems stuck.

Link me.

one and done

The problem with Looking Glass may have been that they looked more like roadies for Thin Lizzy than an actual band. Then again, maybe the rest of their music was unlistenable, and "Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)" was an anomaly. Who knows? I doubt that anyone outside of the band could name another song by this Rutgers quartet who hit one hit wonderdom back in 1972.

We can all laugh at one hit wonders, but we must always keep in mind that they still have one more hit than most of us will ever see.

“Brandy” is probably my favorite song by a one hit wonder, but I don’t know why. Do I think that the sailors will eventually discover that they can love both Brandy and the sea? No, I know that this tragic story of unreciprocated love is bound to repeat itself a couple of times a week on classic rock stations all over the country. Maybe I just like the lazy Leon Redbone-esque vocals set against the dramatic chord changes or the “such a fine girl” back-ups. Maybe it just got engrained into the music part of my brain while growing up in the late seventies.

I don’t know why, but I love it, and I know that some of you don’t. I have tried to get every band I’ve ever been in to do a cover of it, but no one has ever shared my enthusiasm or taken me seriously.

What is your opinion of the song? What is your favorite song by a one hit wonder? What are the benefits of choosing the sea over a real live female?

And The Opposite Of Love...

Since we just did great love making songs, why don't we do the opposite and list the songs we listen to when someone has ripped out your heart and stomped on it and then left it there to bleed while he/she runs off with your best friend and tries to take your dog?

Personally, I wouldn't know about such things. After all, I am the poster child for healthy, loving, nurturing relationships, so I can only imagine what you poor wounded souls go through.

That being said, I think I can try to imagine what that feels like and list my top ten songs to listen to after a breakup.

The number one song for this is:
Positively 4th Street--Bob Dylan. "You know as well as me you'd rather see me paralyzed, why don't you just come out once and scream it?" OH YEAH!

The rest are in no particular order:

Crying-Roy Orbison. When you are moving back and forth from throwing things to going fetal, this is great for the latter.

Head Like A Hole -Nine Inch Nails. This is good for the extreme angst phase.

Soul and Inspiration--Righteous Brothers. Ultimate desperation.

Unchained Melody-Righteous Brothers. You have the candles dripping, playing with the wax while drinking or taking some substance and tears stream down your face while you belt this one out and think you're Bill Medley, but you really sound like Yoko Ono.

I Will Survive-Gloria Gaynor. You don't own this record, but when it comes on the radio, you turn it up and if you're white, you look really stupid driving down West End while your hand is gesturing like Beyonce. Uh huh.

Push-Matchbox 20. With this one, you can trick yourself into believing you did the leaving.

River-Joni Mitchell. "I'm so hard to handle. I'm selfish and I'm sad. Now I've gone and lost the best baby that I ever had ooooo I wish I had a river." Man...

Every Breath You Take-Police. Should you find yourself lost while driving around and accidentally end up on his/her street.

For No One--Beatles. One of Paul McCartney's finest. "And in her eyes you see nothing, no sign of love behind the tears, cried for no one, a love that should have lasted years."

Et tu?

Friday, September 16, 2005

My Talented Cat

At Where the Dolphins Play, Fridays are for felines. I thought that today's Feline Friday just be close enough to on topic to post over here. Enjoy.
Tuesday would have been Arnold Schoenberg's 131st birthday so Hobbes has decided to play us a little piano in Schoenberg's honor.

If you could hear him play, you'd see that Hobbes is obviously a big fan of Schoenberg's experiments in atonality and serialism. I, on the other hand, prefer a little more traditional tonality so Hobbes had to cut his concert short and get off the piano.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Banished to a desert island - quarantining the bad stuff

I want to reverse the game and bring some curmudgentry into the festivus of music here.

What songs would you like to BANISH to a desert island never to be heard again by mortal ears other than those people banished into elevator-music limbo for all eternity? What songs make you practically jam your fingers into your knuckles punching the preset buttons on your car radio so that you won't have to hear one more wretched execrable crapulant note?

My top nominee is from the blando-pop group known as 'America'. Their offering 'Horse with no name' sounds like Neil Young after a focus group with cheese. There is one line in the song that still renders me insane when I am not quick enough to turn off whatever is blaring this song, 'I been through the desert on a horse with no name, where there ain't no one for to give you no pain'. WHATTHEHELL is that? Ain't no one for to give you no pain???? That one line alone would probably give Tim W. (Mother Tongue Annoyances) a coronary. I generally oppose capital punishment because of how it is rendered judicially, but I do make an exception here. Just to clear this up, I detest this song.

Second place goes to a guy whose voice I usually like: Gordon Lightfoot. He's not real exciting, but he is certainly earnest and possesses a nice tenor. Many of his songs are not unlistenable. One huge exception to the listenabilty list: The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The song goes on for about 12 plodding minutes, and I swear you will be as seasick halfway into the song as the poor people who were ON the damn boat. It is unfortunate that Lightfoot wasn't singing this song on board before the wreck, because most everyone would have jumped ship and perhaps would have been saved.

My last example is by a group that, to me, pretty well exemplifies the nadir of rock and roll. I know that some people like/love these guys, but, to me, they offer little but blandness: Styx. Particularly their corn-u-rockia number - Come Sail Away. Cheesy choruses, light-weight vocals and enough smarm to make a mean dog puke. Dave Marsh once said that Billy Joel has as much to do with true rock and roll as a sneeze does to Beethoven's 9th. I disagree with that assessment of Joel, but I do think the description applies to most of Styx hellish output. One exception for me is 'Mr. Roboto', the song from which I'm assuming that the maven of Nashville night derives his name.

There's more, but I'll shut up now. I'm getting irritated just thinking about these songs because they are buzzing in my head and I need some sleep...

Folk Uke

The legacy of Woody Guthrie has been a cherished vestige in folk circles since Bob Dylan popularized the notion of a rambling troubadour for a '60s-counterculture, melding the barefooted roots of folk music with popular culture.
I recently read Dylan's Chronicles: Volume 1 and gained a deeper appreciation for Guthrie and his rapturous influence on Dylan's words and understanding of the American fabric. Dylan wrote at-length about wading through pools of the polluted Hudson, just to gain a final glimpse at the man who inspired him to create such ferocious poetry. In the early chapters of Chronicles, Dylan's mentor was succumbing to Huntington's Chorea, and all Dylan could do was watch as his great hero wasted away.

You don't need to read Chronicles to comprehend Guthrie's echleon in the songwriting annuals. If you have a basic understanding of history and the "Dust Bowl refugees" Guthrie so eloquently wrote about, you realize that Guthrie captured an era of downtrodden outsiders. To use a tired adage, his music was by the people, for the people.
So you can imagine my numbing awe when I recently came across Guthrie's granddaughter at last weekend's Americana Music Association conference. Backed by a Brillo pad of curly hair and an aw-shucks grin, Cathy Guthrie was manning the fan booth for her father, Arlo. And truth be told, Guthrie is looking to capitalize on her grandfather's legacy in a slightly unconventional way: by good-naturedly poking fun at folk music's rigid confines.
Along with bandmate Amy Nelson, Guthrie is part of the Folk Uke collective, an admittedly crass duo who peppers the pure folk form with a mouthful of salty vulgarities. When you listen to Folk Uke's self-titled debut, the effect of songs like "Motherf----r Got F---ed Up" and "Sh-- Makes the Flowers Grow" is almost unsettling. (Who knew that a pernnial folk album would boast a parental advisory sticker?) But after the sting of it all has worn off, Folk Uke manages to poke fun at itself and Cathy Guthrie's place in history. Here's a folk act that doesn't take itself too seriously and is knowingly in on the joke. As a result, Billy Bob Thornton and Music City poet laurette Guy Clark can't get enough of Folk Uke.
And while her grandfather has a firm place in the history of popular music, Cathy Guthrie is willing to create a legacy all of her own. It may not be one of Dust Bowls and labor union disputes, but it'll have to do.

And When I Get That Feeling, I Want Sexual Healing

Romance. What would it be like without music? I've been dating a long long long time, and sometimes I'll forget someone I dated until I hear a song on the radio, and I'll remember exactly whom I was with and what we were doing. Music. Truly the soundtrack of our lives.

So, what songs do you play when you're with that someone special, or, someone who seems pretty special because the right music is playing? What are some of your all time favorite romance songs? Let's try a top ten on this one.

In no particular order, here are mine:

Let's Get It On-Marvin Gaye. His vocal comes in cold and desperate and hot, and only gets steamier as the song progresses. If you're with someone and you're not sure if you want to get romantic or not, and this song comes on, it will tip you over the edge. Of course, a lot of Marvin Gaye songs could apply to this theme.

No Woman No Cry- Bob Marley.(Live version-slow) The rhythm is perfect for love, and the lyrics are profoundly unifying. It's Bob telling his woman everything's gonna be all right, we're fighting this fight together and together we can do anything.

Here, There and Everywhere-Beatles. Paul McCartney at his finest. It's perfect from the simple lyrics contrasted with complex harmonies.

In My Life-Beatles. John Lennon at his finest. I had this song played at both of my weddings and have it in my will to be played at my funeral. Best love song ever written, in my opinion. It's about having many loves, but when he meets "the" love, it's all new to him.

Wonderful Tonight-Eric Clapton. If I'm dancing in my livingroom with a date to that song, well, we'll be more than dancing soon after. Very romantic song.

Crazy-Patsy Cline. While I'll tolerate Willie's version because he wrote it, Patsy's vocal makes every note come alive, and it cuts me to the bone.

Gypsy Woman-The Impressions or Brian Hylands version. Okay. I bet this one is a surprise. It's incredibly romantic.

God Only Knows-Beach Boys. True love and romance and no handcuffs and whips with this one.
One of the all time great love songs EVER written.

Bolero-Ravel. Because I saw the movie "10" and we tried what they tried in the movie and it worked.

When A Man Loves A Woman-Percy Sledge. The raw, pleading vocal rips my heart out. Fabulous belly rubbing music.

So, what are some of your romantic favorites?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Guns N' Lawsuits

Two ex-Guns N’ Roses members are suing lead singer Axl Rose for allegedly denoting himself as the sole administrator of the group’s copyrights. Former members Saul Hudson (Slash) and Michael McKagan (Duff) claim that Rose is profiting from a back-catalog of recordings with a revenue share of $500,000 a year. Hudson and McKagan maintain that Rose inked a multimillion dollar publishing contract with Sanctuary Music without their permission. However, Rose argues that his band members’ claims can be linked to a clerical error courtesy of performing rights organization ASCAP. Hudson and McKagan have sued Rose in the past for wrongly claiming ownership on the group assets and for mismanaging synchronization licenses.--Joey Hood (TV on the Fritz)

Hat tip: Pollstar

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Music Banned from My House Growing Up

My dad is a Methodist minister. He considers himself a liberal and an urban sophisticate in exile in America's rural heartland, so he wasn't going to ban rock & roll from the house. But there was music that was forbidden (I've just polled my brother and apparently such craziness did not exist when he came along six years later, so my parents must have realized it was futile at some point.) and I thought y'all would get a kick out of knowing what I was not allowed to listen to.

1. License to Ill by the Beastie Boys. Reason: Vulgar and misogynist. Work around: The mayor's daughter made me a copy and labeled it "Duran Duran."

2. Lies, Lies, Lies by Guns & Roses. Reason: Practically naked chick on the record sleeve and disparaging terms for African Americans and homosexuals in the songs. Work around: Sneaking over to neighbor boy's house to listen to it and learn how to smoke cigarettes and appreciate Anthrax.

3. "Don't you want me, baby?" by Human League. Reason: Grandparents thought my parents were bad parents after the middle brother and I spent a whole Christmas singing "Don't you want me, baby? Don't you want me, oh oh oh oh?" Work around: None. Once the parents got yelled at, our work was done.

4. "I want to hold your hand" by the Beatles. Reason: Some parents don't appreciate a young girl and her brother holding hands and singing "I want to hold your hand" at the top of their lungs from Joliet, Illinois to Rock Island, Illinois. Work around: Once your dad starts swatting wildly into the back seat at LaSalle/Peru, you don't try to come up with a work around for fear he really will pull this car over and give you something to sing about.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Popular Music's Bastard Child

I wasn't allowed to listen to Rock & Roll until I was ten. Something about pot or Satan, I think. I loved music, and spent hours by myself dancing around the living room, daydreaming and becoming someone other than a little girl in Indiana. Since R&R was out, I was left to scrounge what was left from my parents' record collection. Unlike Cool Kids (TM, all rights reserved) everywhere, I have no tales about growing up with John Lennon and Mick Jagger--my John and Mick are Richard and Oscar and Meredith and Stephen.

Showtunes. Musical Theatre. Where the corn is as high as an elephant's eye and you walk through a storm with your head held high. Where learn that problems have the same name as the wind, pronounced slightly differently. Where hookers and nuns sing and dance about love, and Lola gets what she wants. I knew every song from just about every show staged between 1930 and 1970. I can't sing worth a damn, but I could screech and warble my way though anything.

When I was 10 I abandoned the Fogey Showgies for Blondie and Billy Joel and the rest, but then one night in 1982 I was sneaking late night television and they had an ad with the most beautiful music I'd ever heard. Ever. I stayed up late every night for 3 weeks trying to see that local television ad for the road company tour ["Coming To The Scottish Rite Auditorium"] of Evita. The snippet of 'Don't Cry For Me Argentina' was like crank. I couldn't get enough and it kept me up nights.

That's how I lost my heart to Andrew Lloyd Weber. In the musical theatre lovers' world, that's the equivalent of admitting that you lost your virginity to the callow quarterback who was just using you, but I don't care. I also realize that while I was sleeping with Andrew I was really falling in love with Tim (Rice), but it was a beautiful menage a trois. I remained so devoted to those men that I spent many months of allowances, babysitting money and birthday presents on tickets to Cats, Evita and the inevitable trip to Mecca...London's West End Theatre District. I went there for school but starved to see every musical possible, with a couple of plays thrown in. My breakfasts came with the lodgings, but dinner and supper money went more often than not to the the Leicester Square Half Off Ticket booth.

Sorry. I'm rambling. Lost in reminiscence. Nothing strikes the cord in my soul like musicals. I understand that's not the kind of thing you talk about in public, but rest assured. If you see me with an iPod, it could be the Clash, it could be Zep, but it also just might be Side By Side By Sondheim.

Drop a Dime in the Box and Play a Song about New Orleans

(The title is a line from "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant" by Billy Joel)

On the way to golf tonight I was thinking about songs set in New Orleans or that mention New Orleans. Three of the songs on my "100 favorite pop" list are such songs.

What are your favorite songs that mention New Orleans?

"Heart of the Night" - Poco
"Down in the Quarter" - Poco
"New Orleans Ladies" - LeRoux
"Mississippi" - John Phillips ("dressed herself like a cajun queen in New Orleans, baby, yeah she looked good like a lady")
"Dreams of a Dreamer" - Darrell McCall ("lost my pickup in a card game in New Orleans")

The Deserted Island Question

You're stuck on a deserted island for the rest of your life with a boombox and a lifetime supply of batteries. Which five albums do you take? No box sets or collections, but double discs are okay.

My picks (and I'll probably change them next week):

1. Dylan "Blood on the Tracks"
2. Rolling Stones "Sticky Fingers"
3. Tom Petty "Wildflowers"
4. Dr. John "Mos' Scocious: The Dr. John Anthology" (Double disc)
5. Rolling Stones "Let It Bleed"

For the funk of it..

So far, not much mention of funk in TUIB. In honor of N'awleans and the funk that we need, listen to THIS from the Meters.

Best funk song ever???
Atomic Dog - Georgia Clinton?
One Nation Under a Groove - G. Clinton
You Dropped the Bomb on Me - Gap Band
Roller Coaster - Ohio Players

Any other nominations?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

I Don't Like It, But I Guess Things Happen That Way

He was the first person elected to both the country and rock halls of fame. (There are others in both, but most of the country artists in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame were inducted as "early influences" NOT as rock and roll performers.) He was not the first "man in black" (Lefty Frizzell actually had that nickname at one time), but he's the first person you think of when that term is used. While the terms "original" and "genius" are so often overused in this day and age by journalists too lazy to check a dictionary or their synonym checker, Johnny Cash truly deserved both.

Johnny's Sun stuff is absolutely incredible. There was a three-CD box set put out by Charly Records in England (that turned out to be a bootleg -- an amazingly packaged one at that!) that had everything including a 45-second snip of Johnny doing the Sons of the Pioneers' "One More Ride" and demo versions of hits. If you can find it, get it. It is well worth the price. When he moved to Columbia Records he showed no sign of being a "flash in the pan." Even when Columbia dropped him in the 80s, he moved to Mercury and didn't miss a beat, as the excellent Johnny Cash is Coming to Town (featuring a good cover of Elvis Costello's "The Big Light") proves. Toward the end of his life he churned out the American Recordings collection, winning Grammy after Grammy for these albums that showed his amazing diversity.

He gave us one of the first "concept albums" in country music (Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian) long before concept albums were cool anywhere. He entertained prisoners so frequently (as two live albums and a TV special recorded behind bars will attest to) that some people are genuinely surprised to discover the man NEVER did prison time. He had a network TV show that featured not only country superstars but people like Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, and Mama Cass.

It's been two years now since his death on September 12, 2003. Do not mourn his passing, but celebrate the exceptional music we have from this gifted artist. We will never see the likes of him again.

The Roches

I don't know if this is an appropriate post after a discussion of Metallica, but have any of you ever listened to the Roches? The three women blend influences from church choir music, traditional Irish folk, country, and pop. Many of their songs are a cappella or with minimal accompaniment. (The only album I've heard where they did use full accompaniment was awful.) My personal favorites are pretty and high and hammond song from their 1979 album. The group's multi-talented, having performed with and written songs for a lot of other artists including Suzzy Roche's appearance in some songs by Crash Test Dummies. (An odd musical marriage considering how dark so much of the CTD songs are and how upbeat and comical the Roche's songs tend to be.)

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Plus 104

Flipping through my CDs today to find something I hadn't listened to in awhile, I came across Metallica's album "S&M." For those who don't know "S&M" is a live album featuring Metallica plus the 104 musicians of the San Francisco Symphony (in fact S&M stands for "Symphony and Metallica," what were you thinking it meant??). While I love the album I've always thought that whoever orchestrated the music could have done a bit more to emphasize the orchestra.

In any case, the orchestra adds so much fullness to the sound that I can only imagine the concert would have been a once in a life time experience to have attended. I've been to a Metallica concert and I can only imagine that with 104 musicians on such a wide range of instruments as are included in a symphony, it would be like swimming through an ocean of sound. Since Metallica released that album (though I'm sure they weren't the first to do it) a few other artists have forked over the bucks to play with a symphony.

What artist would you want to hear play over the backdrop of their music orchestrated for symphony? Think about it and don't just pick your favorite artist. Think of who's music would gain the greatest from being interwoven with orchestral sound.

Covering up..

I believe, unequivocally, that Linda Ronstadts version of Randy Newman's 'Sail Away' is the worst cover version of all times. Not because she can't sing - damn, she CAN sing, but because she just didn't get the song. Newman's voice, dripping with irony like spanish moss hanging from those New Orleans cypruss trees, informs the listener that the sing-along-lilt of the chorus is a cruel device letting us know how happy all those slaves-to-be really were down in the hold of those slaver ships. Ronstadt approaches the song like a six year old might approach Picasso's Guernica - you know it's really something but you can't comprehend exactly what that may be.

Ms. Ronstadt musical path is strewn with mangled misinterpretations: Elvis Costello's 'Allison' and his 'Girl's Talk' (much better covered by Dave Edmonds). Her version of TUIB favorite Warren Zevon's 'Poor Poor Pitiful Me' misses the point of the song by more than the length of the 'double Es' mentioned in the song. Her voice, her pitch, and her enthusiasm are all there, but like the town described by Steve Martin in the movie 'Roxanne' - 'we don't do irony here'.

On a positive note, there are covers that are better than the original. As much as I love the Dylan version, I think Hendrix tops him with his haunting version of 'All Along the Watchtower' . The Boss rocks, but I think that Patty Smith trumped him with her cover of 'Because the Night'.

The Beatles transformed 'Twist and Shout' by the Isley Brothers, while the Stones out-Chuck-Berried the master in their live version of 'Little Queenie'.

My favorite covers belong to latter day legends: Nirvana. The Nirvana Unplugged CD contains a good David Bowie cover, two great covers: Vaselines - Jesus Wants me for a Sunbeam and Meat Puppets - Lake of Fire and one abso-freaking-lutely transcendent one: In the Pines - an old Leadbelly number.

The anguish and fear that earmarked Cobain's end days are all in that song. By the time you get through the last chorus, you can really understand what it means when someone says the singer IS the song.

IMO, Nirvana's 'In the Pines' is the greatest cover of all time.

Friday, September 09, 2005

What Were The Top Five CD's/Cassettes/8 tracks/Albums That You Listened To When You Were A Senior In High School?

We have all shared a lot about cool music on this website. But I am just curious to know what we all listened to when we were just young'uns. I know that there may be some people who are not much older than a senior in high school and that is okay. I know that some of us may have to think back a long time, but that is also okay. Let's be honest now, and if you had a mullet back then, you might need to share that too. So here is the question:

What were the top five CD's/Cassettes/8 tracks/Albums that you listened to when you were a senior in high school?

Here are my answers and please remember that I grew up in rural Alabama so I deserve a break here. To quote Jeff Foxworthy, you might be a redneck if your top five list from that time includes:

5) Lynyrd Skynyrd, "Pronounced"- I think everybody in Alabama owned this cassette at that time. It was like a rule or something. More people owned this album than they did the Good Book.

4) Hank Williams jr., "Greatest Hits"- I know that it might not be too cool to like old Bocephus, but I still love these old outlaw country songs. I grew up around Talladega Superspeedway and I remember that if you went out there and partied, you would always see a bunch of rebel flags with Hanks picture in the middle. "Why do you drink? - to get drunk. Why do you roll smoke?- to get stoned." Yes that was me screaming out those wonderfully artistic lyrics.

3) Lynyrd Skynyrd, "Second Helping"- Okay now it is official. Anytime there are two Skynyrd albums in somebody's list, you know for sure that they are a redneck.

2) Aeroesmith, "Greatest Hits"- Since this was 1987, you know that this cassette didn't have any of the crap on it that they would later do on it. I still think that "Walk This Way" is one of the greatest rock and roll songs of all time.

1) AC/DC, "Back In Black"- Between the ages of 16 and 18, I don't think I ever rode in a car that did not have this cassette in the cassette player. Everybody owned it and everybody knew every single word to every single song on it. I am not ashamed to admit to Back in Black. I think it might possibly be the best straight up rock and roll album ever.

Now it's your turns. Remember to be honest now. You are among friends.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


I thought I'd spend my inaugural post on Missy Elliott since few people here seem to be big rap fans. No, it's not just so that no one can disagree with me, but also because I love Missy and think everyone should at least appreciate her.

Most everyone is, I guess, at least familiar with her music videos, which are always some of the strangest things you've ever seen on MTV--jerky movements, wild futuristic costumes, and the familiar sounds of Missy's experiments with noise.

"The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)" was her first or second big hit and, if you were listening to rap then, or even rap now, it stands out as a shiny strange feminine dot on an urban, masculine, some would say blighted, landscape.

I'm trying to think what you should listen for first, and I think first you should just give yourself over to the noise of the song. Much of Missy's music is, I think, right in line with Gertrude Stein. It's not about what the words mean, not about their dictionary definitions, but what the sounds of the words together mean, how they make you feel. It's nonsense that makes sense. "Sway-lo dosi-do like you loco" and "Susie Asado which is a told tray sure. A lean on the shoe this means slips slips hers"--which is Elliot? Which is Stein?

Then, sure, listen to the words. In general, they're about driving around smoking pot with her friends. But by now, you've noticed the sample. In the background, Ann Peebles singing "I can't stand the rain, against my window." And, if you know that song--and please tell me if there's any more heartbreaking a song that makes you want to tap your fingers--when Missy's going one way with her lyrics, you're bound to drift off another way, filling in the rest of Ann's lyric, "I can't stand the rain, against my window, bringing back sweet memories."

Which begs the question: why is a song about smoking pot with your friends sampling a song about not being able to stand the things that make you miss your man? And that's when I'd recommend you go back for one more listen. Notice the shout-out to SWV--Can we get kinky tonight?--and that lone girl on the hill--Lauryn, who was burning up the airwaves with her remake of "Killing Me Softly" at that moment--and all the sad talk about sex, "You don't wanna play with my Yo-Yo" and "I break up with him before he dump me."

Yeah, it seems to be a song about chilling with her friends, but really it's all about the strategies she has to "try to maintain" in the face of heartbreak--the sad soul songs, the self-medicating, hanging out with friends, driving around aimlessly, and the pep talk, "I'm supa fly, supa dupa fly," "To have me, oh yes, you lucky."

I don't know how many sad breakup songs there are in rap, but this is definitely one of the best.

Grateful Dead Downloads

With all the talk of the Dead that's been going on the board, I figured I'd put this link out for anyone who's interested. Downloads takes some time (depending on your bandwidth and what quality you want), but the shows I've downloaded so far have been of great quality.

Commercialization and art

A good friend of mine is fanatically into the Greatful Dead with walls full of tapes from every concert. After years of refusing to listen to his poor-quality recordings of the band endlessly singing a similar repertoire of songs, I finally broke down and took some on long drives. To my surprise, I found that the music was much easier to listen to repeatedly than the polished commercial stuff put out by most bands. I've noticed this also when I listen to jazz. I can enjoy John Coultrane for hours at a time, always discovering something new in the music. I wonder why this is. Is there something subconscious in the production of great music that requires that the musician be given some lattitude for making "mistakes"? Bands that do freestyle jamming occasionally come up with brilliant pieces. In their wilder moments when they weren't lost in performing post-modernist Pop, Phish did some brilliant jams that must have been almost completely spontaneous and unplanned.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

She's Leaving Home...

tasty jazz piano of a Beatles song (hey, the Beatles were all right too, lol). This clip may require Quicktime.

I thought this piece by Brad Mehldau was a great end-of-day moment of Zen.

And there IS a connection to a previous post..Brad has played on at least one Joe Henry CD...

Rock Legends

John's Stones post below brought up (perhaps unintentionally?) an interesting point. The Rolling Stones are a rock legend. Also claiming the title would be Aerosmith, Ozzie, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Springsteen, and of course, perhaps the ultimate legends of rock (albeit a lighter genre of rock) the Beetles. I'm sure you can think of many more. What all these groups have in common though is that they all existed prior to let's say 1990 (some of them more so than others).

To be certain, there's not a shortage of good new music out there. But most of today's music comes in the form of one-hit wonders mixed with a spattering of the lucky few bands who've managed to pull off 3 or 4 hits. Sure, some of the older legends are still strapping on guitars and pleasing fans, but there really are no new "legends." Think about it. Can you name anybody you'd call a "legend" who got their start post 1990? The only possible option I could come up with was the Dave Matthews Band. What do you think?

I Love Hank Williams

I love Hank Williams. Hank Williams was the original outlaw of American music, in my opinion. He was the first bad boy of popular music and he was even fired from the Grand Ole Opry for his wild behavior. He was the first of a long line of artistic geniuses to die a tragic death at a really young age. Hank's death is as legendary as his life. Having overdosed on whiskey and morphine, Hank was found dead in the back of a Cadillac at the age of 29. His compositions have stood the test of time and have been recorded by many different artists from many different genres of music.

Being an Alabama native, I feel a genuine closeness to Hank's music. I love the story of how he learned to play guitar from a Montgomery blues singer named TeeTot. I really think that Hank's lessons from Tee Tot laid the foundation for what would later become rock and roll. I mean here you have a black man in the 1940's who plays the blues, teaching a young white boy how to play guitar. Tee Tot wanted to hear the young boy play "hillbilly" music, while all Hank wanted Tee Tot to do was play the blues. When you mix hillbilly music with the blues, you end up with rock and roll. If you ever get a chance to see some old video of Hank singing "Move It On Over" or "Honky Tonkin", notice how much he is shaking. Nobody did that kind of thing before Hank. Elvis would do the same kind of thing a few years later, but it all started with Hank.

When I hear him sing "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry", I swear that I can feel his pain. He sings it like he means it. The same goes for "Cold, Cold, Heart". I appreciate a singer who sings with feeling, much more than I appreciate a beautiful voice, and Hank's voice had feeling. It was pure country blues and it was an accurate reflection of his life. Hank spent much of his life in both physical and emotional pain. Already a heavy drinker, Hank began taking morphine for back pain and he quickly became addicted. But it was out of that pain that Hank wrote some of his best music. He even took on an alter ego and recorded some very dark spoken word music under the name Luke the Drifter.

His relationship to his wife Audrey was also a source of pain and inspiration. His and Audrey's relationship was a tumultuous one and when they separated for the final time, Hank told Audrey that if she left him, he would be dead in a year. Sure enough, one year to the day that she left, Hank was found dead. As I stated earlier, he was only 29 years old.

"Did you ever see a robin weep
When leaves begin to die?
Like me he's lost the will to live
I'm so lonesome I could cry"

Still Rolling with the Stones

I don’t know if I’m still the oldest poster in the TUIB house, but I suspect I still have the ‘grise’, not necessarily the eminence. I’m almost 53 and I’ve literally grown up with Keith, Mick, Charlie and all the other assorted Rolling Stones.

In 1964, I was a skinny kid in 7th grade wrestling with a series of badly mangled haircuts courtesy of my mom’s sadistic home barbering kit. I, not unlike 99.9% of my peers wanted desperately to be cool. We all loved the Beatles, but when I heard the Rolling Stones doing Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters, I knew that the true north of cool was at least within my earshot.

I was only one of two people in the 7th grade who preferred the Stones to the Beatles. Randy Hurt, who got to have cool hair, was the other Stonesophile. We banded together – brothers in vinyl - endlessly dissecting every note of every Stone's album. I still think the covers to ‘Out of Our Heads’ and ‘December’s Children’ are the two coolest album covers of all time.

The Beatles wore these cutesy matching lapel-less jackets and wore their hair neatly trimmed (at least at first). The Stones wore non-matching leather jackets and were just damn scruffy: the look of nirvana to this Sears-clad cool-wanna-be.

I’m listening to the new Stones CD right now. It’s called The Bigger Bang and it is the best thing they’ve done in 20 years. They still haven’t made a truly GREAT album/CD since 1980, but every one of their subsequent releases have contained a nugget or two. Keith still slouches and stings and Charlie still bangs like, well, Charlie Watts (the man swings).

Mick, at 61, can’t hit all the high notes anymore, but he still has the great falsetto and swagger.

I’m grateful there is still new product from these guys who are even ‘gris-er’ than me. I don’t want it to be nothing more than a nostalgia act straining out sawdust from a dozen dusty hits.

Has any singer/band been a part of your entire teen and adult life? I quit worrying about cool several decades ago, but just hearing Charlie’s downbeat and Keith chiming in 4 beats later makes me realize that cool is still out there and it’s just a shout away….

Nice Things Being Said About TUIB

I would like to take this chance to welcome all of our new members. We now have eleven people contributing to TUIB.

Lot's of nice things are being said about Tangled Up In Blue. Check out this post from Kerry Woo of Wonder Dawg. You guys make this a cool place to hang out. Thanks.

When I Grow Up I Wanna Be An Old Woman

In London there is a dive record store off of Covent Garden. It's in what used to be one of the storage cellars of the market, and I wasted much time there, browsing for showtunes. They played an album in heavy rotation that got under my skin like junky's worms--so much so that I ended up skipping two days' worth of meals to buy the cassette tape--Short Sharp Shocked. That love for Michelle Shocked has continued to this day.

She writes folk and blues and rock, all of it from the perspective of a woman from Texas whose cut her teeth on her own broken heart. Any list of Michelle Shocked favourites would undoubtedly be headed by Anchorage, her wistfully mournful ballad about the unexpected turns in every ordinary life. Prodigal Daughter, her beautiful duet with Alison Krauss is a haunting feminist country ballad worthy of Loretta Lynn. But just when you think Michelle is the queen of the weepy guitar, up pops the entire Captain Swing album, with its raunchy blues and danceble swing.

One quick trip through her website reveals that she and I probably disagree about many things, but that will never stop me from loving the way her songs speak to me. A further glance at her website also provides the happy serendipity of seeing that she will actually be playing here in town on Friday Night. Even if you don't see her live, listen to a song or two when you get the chance. You'll be glad you did.

Remembering Warren

Two years ago today, September 7 2003, Warren Zevon died after a year-long battle with lung cancer (mesothelioma, to be exact). First known for his 1978 novelty song "Werewolves of London" and for being the author of the Linda Ronstadt hit of that same year, "Poor Poor Pitiful Me," Zevon found his name in the headlines again as he fought the illness that had spread to his liver by the time it was discovered as he recorded his final album, The Wind. He died less than two weeks after the album's release. The album netted him two posthumous Grammys, one for the track "Disorder in the House" (which featured Bruce Springsteen) and one for "Best Contemporary Folk Album."

There is so much more to the life of Warren Zevon than his death and that goofy song from 1978. His original aim was to be a classical composer. Warren's idol was Igor Stravinsky, a man he befriended in his teenage years. He was an exceptionally literate and well-read man, counting among his friends the late writers Hunter S. Thompson and Ross Macdonald. Carl Hiaasen titled a novel Skinny Dip at Zevon's suggestion. His songs popped up in movies (from "She Quit Me" in Midnight Cowboy to the title song for the film Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead). He conquered the bottle after it almost conquered him (he once told David Letterman that his alcohol intake at one point was "a couple of quarts of vodka a day"). He fathered two children who are also entertainers (daughter Ariel is an actor; son Jordan just released his first EP of music).

But it all comes back to the music. The song that grabbed me and refused to let me go was "Accidentally Like a Martyr," a song about Warren's estrangement from then-wife Crystal. In a musical sense, that song changed my life. It knocked me on my butt the way only two other songs ("The Last Resort" from Hotel California and John Hiatt's title song to Crossing Muddy Waters) have in the 30 years that I've been listening to rock and roll. I bought Excitable Boy, then his Asylum debut album, Warren Zevon, and never looked back.

Warren could be incredibly funny while dealing with serious aspects of his life ("Gorilla You're a Desperado," "Detox Mansion"). His observations were frequently droll ("They say this place is evil but that ain't why I stay" he sang in "Join Me in L.A."). He gained the nickname "the Sam Peckinpah of rock and roll" because of his occasional violent subject matter (most of side one of Excitable Boy, The Envoy's "Charlie's Medicine," or "Jeannie Needs a Shooter" from Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School). However, one of the most underappreciated facts about Zevon was that he could write fabulous heartbreak and love songs. "They say love conquers all," he sang in "Searching for a Heart." "You can't start it like a car, you can't stop it with a gun." "Reconsider Me" should've been a top ten hit. In short, there was simply no limit to Warren's range of topics. Additionally, he addressed them with brutal honesty and sardonic wit (as the sadly prophetic ninth song on Life'll Kill Ya -- the G-rated version of the title being "My Stuff's Messed Up" -- shows). Even when facing death, Warren covered Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door"' while singing, "Open up, open up, open up for me" over the chorus.

Warren's last recording was the song "Keep Me in Your Heart." His health had deteriorated to the point where the song had to be recorded in segments at his home. "Shadows are falling and I'm running out of breath," he admitted. He then told his girlfriend and his fans, "If I leave you, it doesn't mean I love you any less. Keep me in your heart for awhile."

Warren Zevon will always have a place in my heart.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

meet joe henry

Great lyrics that flow poetically while fitting naturally into the song aren’t easy, and such songwriters very often go unnoticed. Take Joe Henry, for example. If you know of him at all, it might be because he is married to the sister of Madonna, but in a perfect world he would be right up there with John Prine, Randy Newman, Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, and Bob Dylan in terms of great songwriting.

But Joe’s problem might be that he is constantly reinventing himself. His early singer-songwriter material—best represented by the two albums I want to recommend, 1992’s Short Man’s Room and Kindness of the World, which was released the following year—gave way to drum machine and sample experimentation on 1996’s Trampoline and again on 1999’s Fuse, and then a heavy dose of jazz on 2001’s Scar (with an appearance by Ornette Coleman) and 2003’s Tiny Voices.

You can’t blame an artist for branching out, and Henry has certainly kept his amazing songwriting ability throughout his many reincarnations, but a part of me is always hoping that he delves back into his Americana roots for old time’s sake.

Henry essentially uses the Jayhawks for his back up band on both Short Man and Kindness at a time when that band was also at its zenith, but the songs would’ve worked if Henry had sat alone in the bathroom and played them into a Mr. Microphone. Fold out the CD sleeve and randomly point at the printed lyrics and you will find a line that any given songwriter would kill for. I have never been to Michigan, but the way he croons “ In Sault Sainte Marie the hills glow without the hand of God” has done more to motivate me to visit than any commercial or ad in a travel magazine. Any songwriter in Nashville would’ve taken a line like “And if I never hear another word from you, then I’ll remember that too, as something you once said” and made it into a damn fine hook, but Henry casually places it near the end of “Reckless Child” with equal weight to the rest of the song.

Those are a couple of examples from Short Man, but I would probably have to go with Kindness if I had to choose between the two. There is something about the sense of loss and steel guitar waltz of “Third Reel” that gets me a little choked up every time, and it sets the listener up perfectly the upbeat and driving “Dead to the World” that immediately follows and begins side two.
I mention Joe Henry now because I always revisit him in the fall and spring. I went digging into my chaotic mountain of CDs for these two this morning, and I have yet to find my copy of Short Man. If you go looking for your own copy of either of these—and I highly recommend that you do—you’ll probably have to find a second-hand copy through Amazon, but there is something poetic in that too.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Guilty Pleasures

Music is one of those things that it's very easy to get all gummed up about. When people hit on each other in bars, they like Shostakovich. When they dance around the house in their underwear they like Madonna.

I'm dancing around the house in my underwear, but taking a break to type this. (Still in my underwear. Screw the Pajamas.)

Billy Joel's Glass Houses rocks. Completely. Utterly. Whenever I hear this album I'm 11 and I just got my first REAL ie. Non-fisher price record player. The kind with a radio and casette deck built in. I recorded 6 years of songs off the radio on that thing, all minus the first 3 seconds that it took me to hold down the "record" and "play" buttons together.

Katrina- The Musical Community Responds

As it usually does, the music industry is in full-force raising money for the victims of hurricane Katrina. These are the events I've heard about and you can feel free to add additional ones in the comments

  • "Good Morning America" in Bryant Park - Country singers Brooks and Dunn performed in Bryant Park for "Good Morning America." Kix Brooks, a Lousiana native, urged listeners to "kick in and donate what they can" to the hurricane victims.

  • Red Rocks Benefit - the Dave Matthews Band will be holding a benifit concert at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Denver on September 12.

  • ReAct Now: Music & Relief - MTV, VH1, and CMT will be airing a two hour relief benefit concert special with a mixture of live and taped performances from over 30 artists. The will air commercial-free on September 10th simultaneously across MTV, VH1, CMT, MTV2, VH1 Classic and mtvU, as well as on the broadband online channels MTV Overdrive and VSpot.

  • "A Concert for Hurricane Relief" - NBC, MSNBC and CNBC aired a relief concert on Friday featuring Tim McGraw, Harry Connick Jr., and Wynton Marsalis among others.

  • Higher Ground Hurricane Relief Concert - Marsalis will also be headlining in a Sept 17th benifit concert at New York's Rose Theater. The event will be recorded and relased on a CD the proceeds from which will go the the relief effort.

  • S.O.S. Save OurSelves - The rap/hip-hop community will be holding a telethon on BET on Sept. 9. The event will feature a variety of hip-hop artists including "Juvenile" who lost a house in New Orleans and still has family members who not yet been located.

  • Download to Donate - Digital music giant Napster has launched a program in which it's members can download a pre-packaged set of 15 songs with 100% of the profits going to the Red Cross. The compilation includes "Walking to New Orleans" by Fats Domino who was still missing at the time of Napster's press release but has since been rescued from his home.

Best Love Song(s)

What is your all time favorite love song?
For me, it's an easy answer. "In My Life" by The Beatles (Rubber Soul album) is the all time best love song ever written. It's understated simplicity makes it that much stronger. The song basically is saying I've had a lot of lovers, and I've loved them all but in my life, I love you more. No one compares with you.

Anyhow, it's simple yet profound. My second favorite love song is "God Only Knows" by The Beach Boys. I don't think I've ever listened to it without tearing up. Again, the lyrics are simple, but oh so direct. And the harmony...sweet harmony.

I admit, with very little shame, I am a sentimental sap, and it doesn't take much to make me cry romantic tears. I still can't get through Casablanca without crying. Which of course reminds me of the beautiful, "As Time Goes By."

So, fess up. What does it for you?

Sunday, September 04, 2005

iPod Junkie*

Two months ago, I was indoctrinated into iPod land. I don’t mind admitting that I’ve been salivating over the music players for nearly two years now. But the high cost prevented me from buying one, and I resisted purchasing a different type of MP3 player because I felt it would be too difficult to navigate through a large quantity of songs. For about a year, I made do with a borrowed 128MB player that held around 28 songs. Several times a week, I would agonize at my computer, wondering which 28 songs I should put on there, and using the player’s tiny button to switch songs was annoying.

My boyfriend, after growing supremely sick of watching me drool over people’s iPod’s, gave me one for my birthday – not just any iPod, but the largest one you can buy – the 60GB. Yes, I am still thanking him daily for the gift.

For those of you who have eschewed the iPod because of its popularity or price, please let me assure that you are mistaken. There’s something truly exciting about being able to carry your entire music collection around with you in a package that is the size and weight of a deck of cards, especially if you commute a total of 3 hours and 45 minutes each day via train like I do. Maneuvering through songs is incredibly easy, and the ability to hold so many songs has really enabled me to listen to music I might not otherwise want to “waste” space on.

Yes, I realize that the $300 or $400 price tag is beyond many budgets (ours included). But if you happen to be looking for a music player, anything less than an iPod would be a disservice to your music collection.

*Note to readers: I am not a shill for Steve Jobs; in fact, this is the first Apple product I’ve ever owned. Despite my iPod love, I’m still a devoted PC user.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

New Design

A lot of people have commented positively on the new look here at TUIB. Well, I think we need to give credit where credit is due and give a big ole' thank you to Dolphin. Doesn't it look awesome?

Thanks Dolphin.

Thanks for letting me play....

and giving me an excuse to procrastinate on cleaning the bathrooms that desperately need the attention.

I, like many others, often suffer from the anti-arms-of-morpheus-insomnia-blues (which is why I knew that Katherine posted at an obscenely late/early hour last night on NIT).

One of the deep things I think about when I'm trying to sleep is what letter of the alphabet is the winner when it comes to bands/singers names. 'B' is an obvious strong contender with Beatles, Beachboys, Berry (Chuck), Blondie, Bright Eyes and for one great song, Blue Oyster Cult. There has been controversy about where you place Bruuuuuuuuuuuuuce, as in Springsteen, but I have to say he belongs with the 'S' group along with Squeeze, Supertramp and this relatively new guy named Sufjan Stevens (new to me, at least) who is doing some really interesting Stuff.

For me, my nearly life-long admiration of the Rolling Stones leads me to the conclusion that 'R' nips 'B' at the finish line. REM, Replacements, Roxy Music, Rilo Kiley and Radiohead contribute to a strong 'R' lineup.

When you throw the category open to anything that starts with a particular letter, then 'B' might come out on top, because I've been spending half my nights lately reading BLOGS, which brings me back to TUIB. Love the new look.

Thanks again!

Quick Trivia Question

Today is September 3. What song has the line, "It was the 3rd of September"

So Here Is The Musical Insight To Katherine and Me

I don't know what the odds were that Katherine and I would choose the same song that best describes us. What? Millions to one? So here's the lyrics to MY song. Okay...I'll share it with Katherine.

Watching The Wheels-John Lennon

People say I'm crazy doing what I'm doing,
Well they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin,
When I say that I'm o.k. they look at me kind of strange,
Surely your not happy now you no longer play the game,

People say I'm lazy dreaming my life away,
Well they give me all kinds of advice designed to enlighten me,
When I tell that I'm doing Fine watching shadows on the wall,
Don't you miss the big time boy you're no longer on the ball?

I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round,
I really love to watch them roll,
No longer riding on the merry-go-round,
I just had to let it go,

People asking questions lost in confusion,
Well I tell them there's no problem,
Only solutions,
Well they shake their heads and they look at me as if I've lost my mind,
I tell them there's no hurry...
I'm just sitting here doing time,

I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round,
I really love to watch them roll,
No longer riding on the merry-go-round,
I just had to let it go.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

What Do You Hear In These Sounds?

I somehow am lucky enough to randomly discover new artists before the make it big. For example, I was listening to John Mayer a full year before I first heard him played on the radio and turn a lot of people on to him before most knew who he was. However I end up finding out about these new artists (I don't really go looking for them), I like to spread the word about those who deserve more attention than they've gotten.

One relatively unknown artist who I love is Dar Williams. Dar may not be as unknown as some of the others. She has 7 albums out with an 8th coming this month, and I've even heard her music once or twice on the local "indie rock" radio station, but most people still don't know her name and even fewer are familiar with her music.

Dar plays a light folk music with the typical folk instruments (acoustic guitar, light drums, accordion, various woodwinds) and so if you're looking to dance you may want to look somewhere else but if you've had a long day and want to relax, grab one of Dar's CDs. The fullness of her voice stands out as unique amongst modern day popular singers and she has that ability to make it dance between chest voice and falsetto is a way that few others can get away with. The guitar work isn't extremely difficult but it rarely is in folk music and anything to distracting would take away from the most captivating part of Dar's work, the story.

Dar's real talent is her ability to tell stories in her music. She can and does take on different personas in most songs, weaving stories of therapy sessions ("What Do You Hear in These Sounds?'), a tense but fruitful family get-together ("Christians and Pagans"), and numerous others. While her official site (linked above) has few samples of her work a fan site located at www.darwilliams.net has a bit more material to offer. She's definitely worth checking out.

No. 1 Hits and Birthdays

People think it's something when a song tops the chart but I've learned it doesn't guarantee any lasting fame for the artist. I found this site that will tell you the Number One Pop Chart hit for your birthday (actually for any day). Topping the charts on the day I was born was "Chariots of Fire" by Vangelis. Must have been a real winner considering that I've never even heard of it before.

What song was number one when you were born?

Which Song Are You

Jill wants everyone to tell what songs most accurately describe them.

Name a song whose lyrics completely define you as a whole, your life and what it is, was or will be. One that conveys the essence of you.

Lots of interesting answers.

As always, mine are Watching The Wheels and The French Inhaler

Mostly Wheels, although my face does often look like something deathl brought in his suitcase.