Musical Stuff Articles
A Slightly Pissy History of "Man of Constant Sorrow" (24 Apr 2014 08:14pm)
You probably know the song "Man of Constant Sorrow" from the excellent version of it (which I will get to) in the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? But it is a very old song, dating back to 1913 when Dick Burnett published it. And even that version may just be his version of an earlier version. Unfor...
Deuce, Douche, and Blinded by the Light (23 Apr 2014 03:00pm)
Like many people, I have a great love of misheard lyrics—especially my own. My favorite is in the Janis Ian song "At Seventeen." One line toward the end of the song is, "In debentures of quality and dubious integrity." I can probably be forgiven, because I had no idea what a "debenture" was. F...
Translator Again Everywhere That I'm Not (12 Apr 2014 01:55pm)
Will sent me a little video of the band Translator playing one of their rare gigs back in 2009 at Slim's in San Francisco. Translator has been a problem for me for almost three decades. In the early 80s, they were really big around here—kind of like American Music Club in the early 90s. But t...
"If I Only Had a Brain" and Political Smarts (05 Apr 2014 12:43pm)
My favorite song is "If I Only Had a Brain." Or at least it is if you go by the song that I sing most often. Following from my mom, I am always singing bits of songs that comment about what is going on in my life. And given that I find myself often doing very stupid things, singing "If I Only Had a ...
Staged Don Giovanni Is Best (20 Mar 2014 11:56am)
The other night I watched the Mozart's Don Giovanni, a 1955 filmed version of what is essentially a stage production starring Cesare Siepi in the title role. He's somehow perfect for the role, even though it is a baritone part and Siepi is a bass. The rest of the cast is equally good. But I was espe...
The Crave Cat Food Challenge (12 Mar 2014 06:26pm)
Many songs haunt me for days on end. But they are not classics like "A Horse With No Name" and the wrongly maligned "MacArthur Park." But if one of those songs haunts you for the rest of the evening: you're welcome! I am different. I normally get television commercials stuck in my head. This makes p...
Morning Music Classics From Joe Tex (08 Mar 2014 09:48am)
Good morning my friends! The other night my sister sent me a text asking if I knew the song "I Gotcha" by Joe Tex. Of course I knew the song! I doubt a week goes by when I don't sing it. It dates back to those days of my childhood when we used to walk around with a little transistor radio listening ...
A Little Mississippi John Hurt (25 Feb 2014 07:47pm)
For some reason, I mentioned Mississippi John Hurt to a client who had never heard of him. So I went looking for a song to send him. Hurt was an interesting guy. He was a sharecropper in Mississippi, but his guitar playing and singing made him popular as a local act. This eventually led to some reco...
Ne Me Quitte Pas (22 Feb 2014 09:41am)
Good morning. I thought we would start with this nice video by French Rescue of Jacques Brel's "Ne Me Quitte Pas." As they note, the English translation is meant to be accurate and not poetic. For example, they translate the refrain "Don't leave me." They do, however, mention (on the YouTube page) t...
Russia, Sixteen Tons, and Inequality (12 Feb 2014 12:06pm)
Last week, I wrote about the Russian police doing "Get Lucky" at the Olympics. It was mostly just an opportunity to snark at the complicity (Or more!) of Russian law enforcement regarding the country's anti-gay laws. But Will send me a Yahoo! article, "Get Lucky" and 5 Other Mind-Blowing Covers by t...
Why Do Concerts Cost So Much? (12 Feb 2014 10:08am)
Matt Yglesias dug up a great bit of data about The Beatles' first tour of American 50 years ago: the tickets were really cheap. As you can see in the advertisement, tickets ranged from $2 to $4. Adjusted for inflation, this is $15 to $30. This is really interesting. At that same time, movie ticket...
Madeleine Peyroux for a Rainy Day (07 Feb 2014 04:00pm)
Given the glorious rain that California is finally getting, here is some music to go along with it: Madeleine Peyroux performing live at the Vitoria Jazz Festival in 2009. I can't really express how much I love her work. The solos are also quite good in this video. I don't know who any of them are. ...
Humor, Despair, and American Music Club (28 Jan 2014 05:53pm)
At one time, I listened to little else but American Music Club. I still think they are one of the best bands ever. They are sometimes referred to as "sadcore," which Wikipedia defines as having "bleak lyrics, downbeat melodies and slower tempos." That's not the greatest definition of the band, howev...
The 20th Century Goes With Seeger (27 Jan 2014 11:24pm)
I just got word that Pete Seeger has died. Even though he was 94, he looked like he was doing great. So I'm a little surprised. It seems like the 20th century is finally over. Is there any other icon left? I've embedded a video below from a concert a little more than 20 years ago at Wolf Trap. He's...
It's Hard Out Here for Some Pimps (28 Dec 2013 11:03am)
So it was Christmas, and all day the same song was going through my head. "Santa Claus Is Coming to town"? "The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot"? "Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me"? No, nothing like like. It was "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" from the movie, Hustle & Flow. You know, "It's hard...
Musical Dreck to Commie Propaganda (19 Dec 2013 10:25am)
I don't know how other people dream. I figure it is like most of my dreams that are just some other reality—kind of a jumble of stories. But sometimes, my dreams become like puzzles. When I was in college, before a math or physics exam, my mind would be a chaotic stream of ideas. It was like m...
Not the Last Record Store (06 Dec 2013 05:40pm)
After Matt Yglesias came back from Singapore, the first thing he did was write an article about how old I am, Someone's Opening A Record Store. You see, I have a pretty big music library that spans many different genres. It ranges from Devotchka to Jacques Brel to JJ Schultz to various Mozart Operas...
Cause We're the Fishes (03 Dec 2013 11:54am)
Since I was quite young, I've been a big Syd Barrett fan. For those who don't know, he was for all intents and purposes the founder of Pink Floyd. And with all due respect to the other members of the band and all the great work they did, it was Barrett who put them on the psychedelic music road that...
Muppet Mash (09 Nov 2013 05:06pm)
Ryan Cooper alerted me to this great video. Look: normally, I'm not that fond of this kind of music. But this is Sesame Street and for whatever reason, I find it really compelling. It could be as simple as this: Grover. He was long my favorite Muppet and I was crushed when he did not show up on The ...
I Can't Stop Loving Madeleine Peyroux (30 Oct 2013 11:17am)
Really. She's just so great: ...
Lou Reed Sowed and Reaped for 71 Years (27 Oct 2013 04:50pm)
I guess I have to say something about Lou Reed who died today, apparently from complications of a liver transplant earlier this year. I used to be a huge Lou Reed and Velvet Underground fan. Frankly, the Velvet Underground holds up a whole lot better. Whenever I listen to his solo work, there is som...
Rainy Days and Mondays (09 Sep 2013 06:24pm)
It is in the 90s even as I write this. And what song has been going through my mind all day? The Carpenters' "Rainy Days and Mondays." I don't think much about The Carpenters. They certainly created finely crafted music with Karen Carpenter's beautiful voice. And boy did they work with great people....
Lyrics of "Watching the Detectives" (23 Jul 2013 09:52pm)
Elvis Costello's first album My Aim Is True was released 36 years ago yesterday. And that got me thinking about one of the songs on that album "Watching the Detectives." So I got my guitar out and fiddled around with it. Soon I checked online for the lyrics, which are fairly complicated; I certainly...
Ingrid Michaelson Will Love Me When I'm Sixty-Four (26 Jun 2013 10:10pm)
Somewhere in my Pandora listening, I came upon the Ingrid Michaelson song "The Way I Am." I had never much paid attention to the lyrics. I think it shows up on my Jacques Brel station, and so most of the songs are in French, and I don't know much French. I do, however, find some songs are so compell...
Wittgenstein's One Armed Gambit (01 Jun 2013 04:11pm)
Paul Wittgenstein was one of the many talented Wittgenstein children, the best known being his brother Ludwig. He was a concern pianist. According to Wittgenstein in 90 Minutes, he wasn't even the best pianist in the family. That sounds to me like family mythos; perhaps he was not the best in his te...
Transubstantiation of Elvis (07 May 2013 12:51pm)
In 1992, I went to Hong Kong for the first time. I was sitting in the back of a little Irish pub. And I was pretty drunk. And in walks a Chinese Elvis impersonator in a white jumpsuit studded to the ridiculous extreme that we are all accustom to. Holding an acoustic guitar, he performs "Hound Dog," ...
Matt Yglesias Is Confused About Songwriting (11 Apr 2013 05:28pm)
Matt Yglesias is upset that Taylor Swift's new Diet Coke commercial perpetuates unfortunate stereotypes about songwriting. He doesn't like that the video shows Swift scribbling lyrics in a notebook. According to Yglesias, that's just not the way it's done in the modern world. He claims that songwrit...
Good God Y'All (03 Apr 2013 07:28pm)
This song has been going through my head for days. It is a great one at least: Edwin Starr's "War": What a great live version: totally kick ass band. And Starr sounds great— regrettably just a couple of years before he died. ...
Operator by Jim's Son (22 Feb 2013 10:24pm)
In late 1972, the second single from Jim Croce's first album You Don't Mess Around with Jim was released. It was "Operator" with "Rapid Roy" as the B side. I have a certain fondness for "Rapid Roy" because my father raced stock cars when he was young. But in my experience, everyone likes "Operator."...
Cat Scratch Fever (18 Feb 2013 10:10am)
I don't think you appreciated me enough. You see, I suffer to bring you stories here and man did I suffer last night! I listened to the entirety of Ted Nugent's Cat Scratch Fever. Of course, the only reason I listened to it is because Nugent is such a nut. But I kept an open mind, because I don't ex...
Sylvia's Mother (10 Feb 2013 08:04pm)
Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show is best known for the song The Cover of the Rolling Stone, a humorous Shel Silverstein song about the excesses of rock stars. "We sing about beauty and we sing about truth... at ten thousand dollars a show." But Dr. Hook's first hit was almost as popular, and also a ...
Conformity on American Idol (01 Feb 2013 08:31am)
I came down to visit my sister and help her with her taxes. As a result, she tortured me by making me watch American Idol. There was an interesting woman auditioning for the show last night. She wasn't much of a singer. In fact, I couldn't catch the melody of the song that she was singing. In her de...
Krugman Challenge (26 Jan 2013 09:15am)
Paul Krugman claims, "If [the following video] doesn't make you smile, something is wrong with you." Dare you take the Krugman Challenge? Click below the fold for my reaction. ...
My Favorite Ice Cream (06 Jan 2013 12:53pm)
I was at the Supermarket yesterday, and a song came on. It was pretty typical pop—offensive only in its design to be utterly inoffensive. The singer was a typical American Idol style screecher. But the first lyrics struck me, "I want someone to know my favorite ice cream." That is basically th...
Victor Borge Plays "Birthday" (04 Jan 2013 08:38pm)
I found this via Mustang Bobby's Bark Bark Woof Woof blog, A Little Night Music. It is an early TV performance of Victor Borge doing the birthday song in various styles. It is both funny and brilliant. Watching people like Borge always makes me think of vaudeville and how it helped to develop acts....
The Tennessee Waltz (02 Jan 2013 10:17pm)
I've never been a big Patti Page fan. But I admit, she does a good job with The Tennessee Waltz. The truth is that it's an odd melody that most people mangle. I much prefer this very unfaithful version by Otis Redding: Or if I had to pick a more traditional version, I've always been partial to D...
Ray Collins (27 Dec 2012 09:04pm)
Ray Collins of the two really great Mothers of Invention albums died on 24 December 2012 at Pomona Valley Hospital in Claremont, California. He left the band because of its increasing commitment to comedy over music. Zappa did have that problem. Unfortunately, the comedy wasn't that good. And certai...
Positively Christmas (25 Dec 2012 02:00pm)
As we celebrate Christmas, the family has been listening to a local station playing holiday oriented songs. And then on came Bob Dylan doing one of the Christmas classics, Positively 4th Street. You can't get enough bitterness and anger during the holidays. Merry fucking Christmas! ...
A Decade Without Joe Strummer (22 Dec 2012 09:30am)
Ten years ago today, Joe Strummer died suddenly of a congenital heart defect. He was only 50. I always wonder about people who believe in a loving God. If God loves me, why did he take all the music that Strummer would have made for me but left all the bad law that Clarence Thomas has and will conti...
Sonny Curtis (21 Dec 2012 07:10pm)
Getting ready for tomorrow, I was reminded of the great Sonny Curtis. Here he is doing a version of his song I Fought the Law, which kind of sums up my life: an iconoclast who lost. He also wrote and sang the theme song to The Mary Tyler Moore Show and wrote Leo Sayer's hit More Than I Can Say....
Langue d'Amour (19 Dec 2012 07:08pm)
Strangely, this is one of my favorite songs. Maybe it's because I kind of like women and don't like men. That is to say: I don't really like anyone. This is especially true right now when I'm sick and can barely breathe. It is great storytelling. It is the language of love. ...
35 Years, 6 Months, 5 Days Ago (05 Dec 2012 08:11pm)
It's sad whenever someone who is not actively evil dies. So I'm sad that Dave Brubeck died. But here's the thing... He wasn't great. Don't get me wrong: he had his moments. He was a very capable jazz pianist. But Bill Evans he wasn't. But here's another thing... If I could be Bill Evans or Dave Br...
Dead Milkmen with Special Guest Mojo Nixon (01 Dec 2012 11:25pm)
In personal correspondence, I was reminded how much I like Dead Milkmen. They are what I've always thought punk was at its core: fun. All the great punk bands have much more enthusiasm than talent, and that is entirely true of them. In fact, they hearken back to early Ramones. Anyway, here are Dead ...
Old Leftists Are Sexy (29 Nov 2012 11:26pm)
Jean-Luc Mélenchon rocks. From campaigns past, but the song is great: ...
Welcome Back McCotter (21 Nov 2012 11:35am)
Now that McCotter has left Congress, I'm not sure what he is going to do. Unfortunately, he was replaced by someone as bad or perhaps worse than he is. But perhaps it is a boon to the music industry. "Conservative Rock" could certainly use the help. A year and a half ago, I wrote that Thaddeus McCo...
Linda Linda (28 Oct 2012 09:27pm)
I came upon the song Linda Linda thanks to Atrios. It is featured in the 2005 Japanese film Linda Linda Linda, where it is played by the fictional band the film is about. Here is The Blue Hearts doing the song originally: This is rock music at its best. Any band that makes you think of Wild Thing ...
Stick This! (26 Oct 2012 02:05pm)
When I was in grad school, I lived with this crazy English brother and sister Straford and Andrea Wild. (This is a different person from American Andrea English who writes Curiously Clever.) Now they are respectable with jobs and spouses, but as I recall, their last name was a good description of th...
The Legitimate Rape Song (24 Oct 2012 09:39pm)
This is an ode to Todd Akin called, Sex Education in Missouri. It is posted via a YouTube Account LiberalRhythms. Otherwise, I don't know anything about it except that it came via Digby. It's a good song. What I'm most taken with is how it sets the stage so that people who aren't up on the news (Alt...
Ode to Paul Ryan's Abs (11 Oct 2012 03:55pm)
Thanks to Black Flag: ...
10 R&B Songs From My Childhood (08 Oct 2012 09:11pm)
I'm going out of town on business for a few days. I don't know how much blogging I will be doing. Maybe a lot. We'll see. Regardless, I created this set of ten R&B songs from my childhood. When all the polls are going against you, you can always turn to this: Update (8 October 2012 9:39 pm) When ...
Dreaming of a White President (21 Sep 2012 02:44pm)
I think that Randy Newman has been lacking artistically the last many years, but he's released a new song that I really like. It has an obvious connection to Sail Away. This one is called I'm Dreaming. The whole line is, "I'm dreaming of a white President." And an AIF version of the file is availabl...
KCRW's Greatest Hits (13 Sep 2012 12:55pm)
When I was down in Los Angeles last week, my brother-in-law introduced me to KCRW, which has an all-music channel Eclectic 24. It is rather good. They play a lot of music that I don't find that compelling, but they played very little that I was familiar with, and that's always a good thing. One so...
Sixto Diaz Rodriguez (16 Aug 2012 11:50am)
Ladies and gentlemen, the Latio Bob Dylan rock god of South Africa: Here is "Rich Folks Hoax": And "Sugar Man": ...
You Do That Voodoo... (03 Aug 2012 12:19pm)
Rather than something normal like "See you later," I am prone to quoting Cole Porter at the end of conversations. And not just any Cole Porter. "You do that voodoo that you do so well." In my head, it is always said with a German accent, because I mostly know it because of the version by you know ...
Roger Miller (22 Jul 2012 12:04am)
With the right combination of artistic brilliance and full tilt self destructiveness, Roger Miller is a hero to me. A long time amphetamine addict, it was the legal and encouraged drug of smoking nicotine that killed him. At his worst, Miller was a country hack; at his best, he was smart and tuneful...
Is Bobby Goldsboro Cool? (08 Jul 2012 07:11pm)
Let me come right and say it: if it weren't for the hair, Bobby Goldsboro would be cool—or at least a whole lot more cool than most people think he is. Let's look at the facts. He got his start in music as guitarist and band leader for Roy Orbison. That's very cool. And much of his work is sol...
Pathetic Rock Journalism at Rolling Stone (03 Jul 2012 09:58pm)
Just a quick note. I was looking at The Rolling Stone 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. Such exercises are silly, of course. For one thing: of all time? There is not a single classical guitarist on the list. There is no guitarist on the list from before 1930. But okay, I'll play along. Certain th...
Joplin Kills Summertime Every Time (01 Jul 2012 12:02am)
Atrios just put up this video of Janis Joplin with the Kozmic Blues Band performing live in Stockholm. What's important is that she killed with this song whenever she did it: The video, like every fifth video on YouTube, has been taken down. Whatever. The first time I ever heard this song was her s...
Out Pandoa's Box: Madeleine Peyroux (23 Jun 2012 01:19pm)
I was listening to my Jacques Brel channel on Pandora. I am used to a lot of (too much) Django Reinhardt and Edith Piaf. But suddenly, I was hearing Billie Holiday. Billie Holiday?! I switched over to my Pandora tab and immediately, I was face to face with... an ad for Santa Rosa singles between the...
Bad Dreams/Sweet Romance (10 Jun 2012 06:57pm)
Has pop music advanced in the last three decades? Let's look at the evidence. Here from just three years ago, is a song that, given what it is, is quite good: And here is pretty much an identical song from 26 years earlier: This occurred to me today when a motorcycle drove past me blasting what ...
Love Conquers Poses (03 Jun 2012 12:59pm)
I used to have a friend—a smart and funny guy. He is kind of an archetype to me, however. Because of his emotional unavailability, people really wanted to be around him. It was often commented that wherever he was around, you could tell he was calculated whether he might be having a better tim...
KISS Doesn't Want to Hire a Vet (02 Jun 2012 05:42pm)
I don't know where exactly I saw it, but there was a headline that read, "KISS Wants to Hire Vet."[1] My reaction was immediate. I thought, "Interesting. The most clownish band has decided to become even more ridiculous by having animals in their stage show." I couldn't have been more wrong. KISS j...
Famous Blue Raincoat (22 May 2012 09:49pm)
In a conversation, Leonard Cohen came up—in particular, his song Famous Blue Raincoat. It is my kind of song. It is written as a letter to a brother. It recounts the story of the brother cheating with the writer's wife: "So you treated my woman to a flake of your life / And when she got home s...
The Agony and Ecstasy of Mathilde (17 May 2012 12:46am)
Scott Walker is a fine musician, with interesting ideas and a great voice. And yet, when I listen to this great Jacques Brel song, I can't help but think of it as I do Pat Boone performing Blueberry Hill: As opposed to Fats Domino. Here is Jacques Brel, debuting the original song, Mathilde: Can...
Jean-Pierre Rampal Plays Francis Poulenc (15 May 2012 06:59pm)
This is arguably the greatest piece ever written for the flute. It is Francis Poulenc's Sonata for Flute and Piano. Here it is played by Jean-Pierre Rampal, the flutist the Sonata was composed for: And here is the master getting funky with composer Claude Bolling (also on piano[1]): [1] When f...
Jean Ferrandis Slums in Santa Rosa (13 May 2012 12:07am)
I am very poor. It has been many years since I have been to any live concert, much less a symphony. But I received a card in the mail alerting me to an upcoming performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony. The conductor, Bruno Ferrandis, had brought his brother, flutist Jean Ferrandis, in for the season ...
Cage Does Cage! (10 Apr 2012 10:26pm)
When I was a music major, before I learned that I was no musician, I loved John Cage's work for prepared piano. This will give you a pretty good idea of this kind of music: John Cage is best known for a piece of music titled 4'33". It consists of one or more performers sitting down at or with thei...
Conservative Rock?! (25 Mar 2012 12:15pm)
Back in 2006, National Review published Rockin' the Right, a list of the 50 greatest conservative rock songs ever, by John J. Miller (hereafter National Review or "they"). Like Christian Rock, Conservative Rock strikes me as an oxymoron. And even National Review agrees with me, starting the article,...
Speaking of French (24 Mar 2012 11:40am)
Here is a great American band who pretend to be French, Les Sans Culottes ("The Pantless"): You might also check out their hit: Allô Allô. Or buy their latest album: 'Pataphysical Graffiti. ...
It's Hard to Die in French (24 Mar 2012 11:23am)
There are few songs in the world as insipid as Terry Jacks' Seasons in the Sun. If you doubt me, consider this statistics: it is one of the top 30 best selling singles in the history of the world. Apart from this, however, there is something about this romantic notion of death that ruffles me—...
Moe's Waiting for THE Man (10 Mar 2012 07:48pm)
There was one really important band in the 1960s: The Velvet Underground. Sure, there were other great bands like The Beatles at times and The Mothers of Invention for the first three albums. And there are lots of other bands of that period that I still enjoy. Today, I would rather listen to Creeden...
Late Night Interlude: Who Does This Remind You Of? (25 Feb 2012 01:31am)
This is Laura Cantrell. She's great. But the question is: who does she remind you of? It's taken me a while to realize that her voice is identical to Suzanne Vega. Of course, she's a country singer, but the kind we liberals like—people who remind us of Nanci Griffith. Here first album, Not th...
Girl Fight! (23 Feb 2012 07:49pm)
A friend told me that she was going to punish her girls for fighting by having them write a song about sisterhood. Yes, she is a cruel woman. This caused me to do a Google video search on the phrase "sisterhood song." It turned up this. (Don't click on it!) I wasn't ten seconds into it before I had ...
Tuba Tuba Tuba (16 Feb 2012 08:50pm)
Most people think of the tuba as a slow, ponderous instrument. In fact, in the right hands (And lips!) it is as light and facile as any instrument in the orchestra. But don't encourage your child to play the instrument. Student model instruments cost about $7000, whereas you could pick up a flute fo...
The Man from San Sebastian (27 Jan 2012 10:09pm)
Like most people, I discovered DeVotchKa (apparently Russian for "girl") in the delightful film Little Miss Sunshine. And I've heard a bit of their music since then and generally liked it all. Just today, I came upon a song from their most recent album 100 Lovers called The Man from San Sebastian. I...
Al Green Not Demented, Just Asshole (21 Jan 2012 07:51pm)
Ten years ago, I went to see Al Green in San Jose. It was a very annoying concert. Green finished less than half of his songs. He would start on something, go for a few bars, and then stop the band and say, "I don't want to do that one." It happened so often, that I decided that he had some form of ...
The Meaning of Marlene on the Wall (15 Dec 2011 09:13pm)
Suzanne Vega's Marlene on the Wall was one of the great pop songs of my youth, but its meaning was always murky to me. Over the weekend, I happened to hear the song again. For the first time, its meaning became clear. It is well known that the Marlene that is on the wall in this song is a picture (...
Personal Management (30 Nov 2011 12:47pm)
I just watched D.A. Pennebaker's documentary about Bob Dylan's 1965 tour in the United Kingdom, Don't Look Back. This was the second time I've seen it; the first time was about 30 years ago. What struck me most both times was the conversation between Dylan and the "science student." During this con...
A Musical Confession (21 Nov 2011 06:07pm)
Most people I talk to tell me that they like all styles of music. Sometimes they will admit to a particular style they dislike, especially Country or Heavy Metal. Such statements have always amused me, because I know these people are fooling themselves—not that I shatter their illusions. My ex...
Justin Bieber and the End of Western Culture (12 Oct 2011 02:59pm)
As I noted previously, Justin Bieber's Baby ft. Ludacris is the most watched video on YouTube with over 630 million views—200 million views more than the next most watched video, Lady Gaga's Bad Romance, which I will come back to shortly. The thing is, I really had no idea who Justin Bieber ...
What is a Truel Heart? (02 Oct 2011 05:10pm)
Earlier today, I was listening to Elvis Presley's The Top Ten Hits. This collection included his number one hit, "Don't Be Cruel," of course. I have never been able to sing the refrain of this song anyway but, "Don't be cruel to a heart that truel." This is not just a matter of my usual silliness. T...
Kiss Me (30 Jul 2011 05:57pm)
Sixpence None the Richer had a huge hit in the late 90s called Kiss Me. And why not? It is a sweet song, well executed. But I have a hard time believing that the success of the song was not, at least in part, due to the wonderfully romantic video (no doubt indicative of the whole marketing campaign ...
Master Class with William Bennett (27 May 2011 12:07pm)
Roughly three decades ago, I went to a master class with the British flutist William Bennett—at the College of Marin, I think. The class consisted of four flute performers (three of them were professionals, just not of Bennett's caliber, and one was a college student, my age and slightly bette...
Two Songs and Counting (27 Apr 2011 01:17pm)
A very creative young man named Jonathan Mann started a project of writing a song every day for a year. This was some time ago now, and I don't think he has stopped. (You'll have to look him up—I'm not that interested in his work.) He goes by the name Rock Cookie Bottom (he has a song about t...
Box Office Poison at Mary's Pizza Shack (19 Apr 2011 03:34pm)
Yesterday while ingesting about a week's worth of calories in pizza, beer, and brandy, I over-heard my waiter mention that he had a band. Given that he looked something of thirty years old, I figured his band might actually be interesting. (Yes, I am an ageist; other than chess players and Olympic g...
Pow Wow Theater (15 Apr 2010 03:21pm)
Wayne Poehlman is a singer/guitarist that I recently discovered on You Tube. To me, he’s the kind of performer who you listen to when you tire of the glitz and the posing and the pitch-correction of what is today called music. Of course, this goes along with my recent submersion into music of the pa...
Leak (02 Apr 2010 09:24pm)
I have so much to do, especially finish my article and interview with Pow Wow (Wayne Poehlman), but I just ran into an old friend Yana Bogosian who I wrote a song with about eleven years ago. Actually, we didn't write it together. She had written a little nursery rhyme about a pipe that was leaking ...
John Stewart and Jules Shear (15 Feb 2010 10:40pm)
Many years ago, while I was in the process of flunking out of college, John Stewart gave a lecture about nothing in particular and everything in general: his life, songwriting, cars, women, performing. This was only a few years after his hit song Gold, so it was surprising that not many more than a ...
Pandora's Box (03 Feb 2010 10:16pm)
Okay, let's get this out of the way. My first experience with Internet radio was with Last.fm. And I know there are many others: Deezer.com, Mee Mix, Musicovery, Play It, Slacker, as well as many other similar kinds of services. I really liked the way that Last.fm worked, but it stopped working for ...
Elvie Thomas (31 Jan 2010 01:33pm)
Am I the only person who has noticed just how much Wikipedia sucks? (See: I won't even provide a link.) Wikipedia has no listing on Elvie Thomas and when mentioned on Geeshie Wiley's page it refers to Thomas as a man! Yes, for things that don't much matter, like Sirius Black's family background, Wik...
One Song, Two Song, Song Sung Blue Song (20 Jan 2010 01:17pm)
I have read a couple of sources that indicated that Thompson's Real has two extra songs, not one. However, from what I can tell, the original album contained 13 songs and the reissue contains 14 songs. I'm good at math: 14 - 13 = 1. It could be that I am wrong about the original album containing 13 ...
Skinny Leg Blues (20 Jan 2010 01:03pm)
My take on Skinny Leg Blues is that it is a revenge story. The singer has been raped by the man she is singing to and now she is coming to kill him. All the stuff about skinny legs and slowness put forward the idea that her revenge is inevitable: I am coming for you. The second verse lines "I've got...
Music Worth Listening To: Eric & Suzy Thompson (20 Jan 2010 12:35pm)
After Cher's 1998 hit Believe, I honestly thought I would never again have to hear digital pitch-correction used as an effect. The first time I heard it, I hated it. Every digital engineer had played around with it, but it wasn't something you allowed in public except maybe to scare kids on Hallowee...
The Passionate Shepherd to His Love (12 Dec 2009 11:00pm)
Some time ago, I stumbled upon Christopher Marlowe's "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love." It delighted me—it is so beautifully written. Instinctively, I picked up my guitar and quickly set it to music. But I'm getting ahead of myself. First, you really need to read this poem: Come live with...
She Said "No" (10 Dec 2009 06:48pm)
What is with these "You're a loser but I love ya, babe" songs? The classic is Midnight Train to Georgia, but I'll let that one slide because it is totally kick-ass. What I have in mind is Please Come to Boston. Here is the last verse: Please come to L.A. to live forever The California life alone is...

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