Sunday, September 6, 2015

what happened to dave edmunds' guitar

Anyone who knows me or follows this blog (and, honestly, is there anyone who follows this blog and doesn't know me?) knows that I'm a big Dave Edmunds fan.

There's something I've been wondering about for a while...Dave's guitar.

For the longest time, Dave was associated with one specific guitar -- IIRC it was a Gibson ES335. It wasn't the only guitar he played, but it seemed to be his go to instrument, and that view is supported by numerous comments in interviews. It's what he's playing in the clip below:



But in recent years -- and I mean for more than a decade -- I don't see him plaing that guitar.

In videos, or concert footage it always seems to be something else.

Here, performing with the Refreshments, he's playing a Telecaster:
 
And here, in the video for "Again," it's a Stratocaster:
 
So, what happened? Did his taste change? Or did the Gibson get lost or stolen? Did he fly United with it?

Monday, August 31, 2015

rocky horror as my pick for film class

My son and I take a science fiction/horror film history class. It's taught by local film historian, Keith Crocker. Keith has directed a couple of features (The Bloody Ape and Blitzkrieg: Escape from Stalag 69). He also teaches cinema history classes at one of the local community colleges, lectures at libraries, runs programs in schools, etc.

At any rate, the class generally runs in groups of four sessions -- each with a theme. Such themes have been foreign-made films, drive-in trash, and 1950's sci-fi. The class format is simple. Keith talks about the week's movie -- the context, the people involved, other interesting facts, then we watch the movie and discuss.

This summer we experimented. For a special five-week session, each of us in the class picked a movie to show, and introduced it. Five weeks because there are five of us in the class. I went first, and chose The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I wanted to go with something that spoke to me, a movie that matters to me. And within the constraints of the class, TRHPS seemed like my best bet.

I am under no illusions that TRHPS is a great movie. Or even a good one. But I love it anyway. The two primary reasons for that are (1) I saw it at just the right point in my life for it to work its way into my head; and (2) The music.



There are, what, a dozen songs in the soundtrack? And not a bad one in the bunch. Sarandon's lustful "Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me," And Tim Curry's equally lustful "I Can Make You a Man." And, during the floor show, there's the longing when Tim sings:

What ever happened to Fay Wray?
That delicate satin-draped frame?
As it clung to her thigh
How I started to cry.
'Cos I wanted to be dressed just the same.

And, while he's singing that, I'm tempted to call out comments about Ms. Wray being buried in ape shit.

I love the clever wordplay so evident in "Dammit Janet" and "Sweet Transvestite," and the energy of "The Time Warp" and "Hot Patootie, Bless My Soul."



Keith noted that the movie musical had, as a form, reached a dead end, and TRHPS, love it or hate it, guided the form into a whole new direction.

I can't say that the others in the class loved the movie, but they were glad to have seen it. The consensus was that the music was great, but the plot was lacking and it was hard for the guys to identify with the characters.

I can't really argue with that.

Next year I'll show Shock Treatment, the non-sequel.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

bobtown last night

Last night was the album release party for Bobtown's A History of Ghosts.

It was a favorable crowd. I was standing -- I wasn't planning on buying food, so it didn't make sense to reserve a table. Unfortunately I was a bit too exhausted to fully enjoy the show. And my friend, Meep, who was planning to join, begged off pleading exhaustion.

Good show, albeit a bit short and rushed. They ran through all eleven songs from the new album, plus a one-song encore of a song from their first album. I wish I could remember which song it was, but alas I can't. Charlie Shaw joined them onstage as a guest drummer on a couple tracks. And Efrat Shapira joined them on violin.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

bobtown tonight

Tonight I'm going to the album release party for Bobtown's A History of Ghosts. It's at Hill Country in Midtown Manhattan. I can't wait.

This, their third album, is their best yet. Of course, ince it includes "Kentucky Graveyard," which is my favorite song from their live show, I can hardly think otherwise. But, seriously, the harmonies are smoother, and the album has a fuller sound.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

who put the bomp in my soul?

A friend posted a link on Facebook, asking what was the band that first got me into Rock and Roll. I answered, "Ducks Deluxe."

It was a bit of a difficult answer. I was into the Monkees years before Ducks Deluxe. But I realize that The Monkees got me into the Monkees. My musical interest wasn't moving on from there. With Ducks Deluxe it was different. I came upon an album of theirs (technically, a compilation album) called Don't Mind Rockin' Tonite. I got really into that record, and from there there was an explosion. From the Ducks I moved on to Dave Edmunds. Then Nick Lowe. Then Rockpile, the Motors, Graham Parker & the Rumour, Dr. Feelgood, Wreckless Eric. I could name lots more pub rock bands. And then other non-pub bands that I got into as a result of them. Suffice to say it kind of exploded out from there in many directions. In a manner of speaking, Ducks Deluxe was my big bang of music fandom.

That's not to say that everything I like can be traced back to Ducks Deluxe. There were some small bangs too. The Monkees, I guess, were a small bang (that, as I said, came long before the big bang). So was Twisted Sister (which I got into because of a girlfriend). And Simon and Garfunkel.

But the big bang that opened my world was Ducks Deluxe. I've posted it before but here's a clip of them at their sweaty best:

Thursday, January 8, 2015

avenue q

A few months back, I went with my two older kids to see Avenue Q. We thought it was on Broadway, but it was actually Off Broadway; that's another story.

Anyway, I loved the show. But...

Here's the thing. The story line is thin. Maybe not nonexistent, but thin. The characters are not believable. I will admit that the use of muppets with their puppeteers being visible (you're supposed to ignore them) worked better than I expected. But the characters were inconsistent -- often making me think "no, (s)he wouldn't do that."

Now, the good part. The music. The songs, often ...irreverent... were great. "Shadenfreude," "The Internet is for Porn" and "It Sucks to Be Me" are wonderful sendups.

This is not a play that will go down in the annals as a classic. But, given my musical taste, it was loads of fun.
 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

how is that a compliment?

I was thinking about the Captain and Tennille hit, "Do That to Me One More time." Specifically, the two lines, "Do hat to me one more time. Once is never enough with a man like you." Seems to me that's not exactly a compliment.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

mccartney fans trolled.

So apparentkly one of the "things" now is Kanye West fans tweeting about how Paul McCartney's career is going to take off now that they've done a duet. They are also hitting the note that it's great of Kanye to help out an unknown like McCartney. See the article here.

It's easy to make all sorts of smug comments about how kids today know nothing. Or tro make some snarky comment about how he was in some band called "Wings" a while back. But I'll resist. Partly because I think most of the tweets are jokes. I saw a bunch of them, and ity seems to me that these are not things that people would actually say if they really thought McCartney was an unknown.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

lost case

Aargh. I've been ripping my CDs onto my wife's computer, and in so doing I misplaced the case and liner notes for Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here.

I won't buy another copy just for the liner notes. Actually, I won't ever buy another Pink Floyd CD, since I don't want to support Roger Waters, the anti-Semitic piece of shit. It's for that reason that I give a thumbs down every time Pandora plays one of their songs.

But as long as it's my CD and collection, I'm not above listening to it...

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

albert and dave and sweet little lisa

So, speaking of Dave Edmunds...

I happened to find this little snippet of interview. Dave Edmunds is talking about the song, "Sweet Little Lisa," from his Repeat When Necessary album, and Albert Lee's guitar lead. For some reason, I can't seem to paste the video into my blog, so here'a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLwbFY_9WF0

But it reminded me of a section from the British TV special, "Born Fighters." See the first five and a half minutes or so of the following:

"Born Fighter" was a British TV special providing an inside look into the Rockpile's recording process. Rockpile was co-led by Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe. But because of contractual commitments they couldn't release records under the group name. Instead, they would record as a group, but release records under Nick's and Daves' names. "Born Fighters" caught the band recording what would be Dave's fifth solo album (Repeat When Necessary) and Nick's second (Labour of Lust). You can watch it in four parts on Youtube. But the first half (or so) of part four (above) includes footage of Albert Lee recording the guitar lead for "Sweet Little Lisa." See the expression on Dave's face -- at once orgasmic and jealous -- as he hears Lee play.

Anyway, the finished product is below:

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

the worst live appearance lip sync video ever

OK. Maybe not the worst. But I give it extra points because I'm such a big Dave Edmunds fan.

As far as I can tell, this was from a British show called "Disco," and it aired in 1971. Great sleuthing on my part -- that's what it says on Youtube.

Anyway, first of all, notice how the women are dancing. A good example is at around 1:22 in. These women look stoned. Or confused. In all fairness to them, it may be because this is not really a good recording to dance to. But this looks like some kind of Brady Bunch slumber party.

Second, Dave himself looks like he's on something.

And what's with the beginning. You see people milling around on the side, waiting for a cue that they can enter the dance floor. And Dave strolls through the crowd, guitar in hand while the guitar part that he is supposedly playing has already started.

But the biggest thing? What's with bowtie guy? There's a guy who's occasionally visible, wearing a yellow shirt, furry vest and a big black bowtie. At 0:29 you can see him in the background doing some exaggerated walk. At 1:17 you can clearly see him playing air tambourine with a huge grin. At about 1:50 he's in the background playing air guitar.

I think the only thing that worked right is that this shows Dave alone -- no band. That, FWIW, is appropriate since he made the recording himself -- producing, engineering, doing all vocals and playing all instruments.


Here's a more recent video:

Sunday, August 17, 2014

feeling stupid about a bounced email

Nearly a month ago I got together with Allan Backer and Charlie Shaw, two local musicians whose work I admire, to discuss the possible production of demos. We went through a few songs -- the rewritten version of "Music No One Else Can Hear," "Jackpot," "Five Missing One," "Do You Think of Me (Now and Again)?" and "Funny in My Head."

We talked about possible arrangements, did some very minor wordsmithing, and and talked about the logistics of making demos. Also, Allan asked me to email him the lyrics to "Jackpot" -- he likes it enough that he could see performing it. Anyway, I emailed some informatuion to Allan -- the lyruics to "Jackpot" and some questions about pricing. But I hadn't heard back. I should have followed up, but haven't.

Today I realized that my email got bounced back -- I'm not sure why -- and I never realized it. So I have to resend. But I feel somewhat stupid, since now Allan thinks I'm remiss...

Saturday, August 16, 2014

speaking of grammar rage

I noticed that the Weekly Standard has this item about Weird Al Yankovic's new album Mandatory Fun and single "Word Crimes."

"Word Crimes," to remind, is a parody of Robin Thicke's single, "Blurred Lines." The khop is that it attacks the common abuses of the English language. According to the item in the Standard there are a bunch of linguists objecting to this kind of linguistic piety on the grounds that it's racist and classist.

World, meet end.

Following are the videos for "Blurred Lines" and "Word Crimes."

Friday, August 15, 2014

guys and dolls and grammar range

By way of background, I should note that I suffer from grammar rage. It annoys me when I hear people say things like "If you can, please get back to Vicki or myself," "I feel badly for him" or "That's a picture of my father and I."

So tonight I was at a production of "Guys and Dolls" in upstate New York. I've never seen the show before, though I did buy the Broadway soundtrack album in preparation.

Anyway, at the beginning of the number, "Marry The Man Today," Adelaide sings something about being able to "rely on you and I." I muttered "and me" under my breath. Half a second after that, Sarah sang "and me." And I felt vindicated. The offending-and-vindicating portion is at about 28 seconds into the video below:

Thursday, August 14, 2014

trouble boys pairing reminds me of rockpile

At some point in the last two years, Billy Bremner and Sean Tyla got together and formed a band called "Trouble Boys" after Billy's song of the same name. They released an album, Bad Trouble, which I resisted buying for quite a while. Both Tyla and Bremner have done a lot musically that I love. Each was in one of my favorite bands -- Bremner in Rockpile and Tyla in Ducks Deluxe.

But my experience with their work outside of those bands has been somewhat mixed. Tyla did a great solo album, Sean Tyla's Just Popped Out, with a killer single, "Breakfast in Marin" (see video). But his second solo album wasn't nearly as good. I never got to hear the third album. And I never really got into his band, Tyla Gang. There was too much of a rough edge (I don't really know how to put it better). Bremner had a great single, "Meek Power," but his albums weren't great. His first one, Bash! had some catchy tunes, but I thought it lacked energy. The second, A Good Week's Work, was boring. I never bought the third and fourth albums. Of course, I see that allmusic.com gives Rock Files a good review.

So when I did buy Bad Trouble, I wasn't sure what to expect. But it was really great. Power Pop with catchy hooks. It's got a bunch of really solid pop tunes on it. It seems that Tyla's rough edges have been softened, and Bremner has been toughened up.

It kind of reminds me of Rockiple -- Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe had complementary interests and together they softened each other's excesses.

Sean Tyla -- Breakfast in Marin
 
Trouble Boys -- Trouble Boys
 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

a conundrum for the anal retentive

I ordered the Dave Edmunds Live at Rockpalast CD. It came today. The fourth and tenth tracks are "Loud Music in Cars" and "Trouble Boys" sung by Billy Bremner (who was touring as part of Dave's band). In my database do I indicate that Dave is the peformer on those tracks? Or Billy?

 
 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

sometimes there's a reason things are unreleased

Someone sent me a link to an article in vulture.com (which, admittedly, I hadn't heard of) about some unreleased Weird Al Yankovic parodies. The article is here. I was a bit skeptical of the chances that these are real, since there are lots of song parodies out there that people think are Weird Al, but aren't really. "Cat's in the Kettle" and "Baby Got Jack" come to mind.

But these seem to be legit. Maybe if Al had devoted some more work to these they could be good parodies. But they're not there yet. The best (by far) of them is a parody of The Beatles' "Taxman"

Monday, August 11, 2014

price discrimination or paranoia?

A funny thing happened on Amazon. After going to amazon.com, I typed in "Dave Edmunds" just to see if there were any new discs that I wasn't aware of. I do that sometimes -- type in the names of bands or musicians that I like -- just to make sure I'm not missing anything.

Lo, I found something -- Live at Rockaplast, a live album of a concert from 1983. It was released this year. I was interested, but the price -- over $40 seemed steep. Amazon had scanty information about this one, so I had to do a little snooping. There seem to be a couple reasons for the high price (other than that it's a new product): It's an import, and it contains both a CD and a DVD.

Well, I'm not much interested in the DVD, so for me it seemed kind of high. I balked. I came back the next day, still mulling it over in my head. Lo, the price had dropped by about $10. At $30 or so, it was still high. But low enough that I was willing to buy it.

So, the question. Was this just some weird event where prices changed? Or did Amazon's AI price it high (having determined that I'm likely to buy it at a high price) and then lower it when I balked? Am I beuing paranoid? Or are online vendors getting really good at manipulation to wring the most money out of me?

Moish wants to know.

At any rate, here's a video that I think is from the concert on the disc. Enjoy:

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Saturday, August 9, 2014

one of these things is not like the others: twisted sister edition

Twisted Sister recently made an appearance on the Today Show (or some other network morning talk show). I don't know what all was involved, although apparently they did a short concert outside the studios. I didn't see the appearance live, but I did watch it on the intertubes later in the day. What I saw was a brief interview and then a performance of "Stay Hungry." Something struck me.

Four of the guys look like one might expect. Kind of the prototypical aging heavy metal rockers. They have some combination of tattoos, long hair, and rough or intimidating looks. But Jay Jay French looks different. With short, well-groomed hair, and relatively staid dress, he looked more like a lawyer than a rocker. He also seemed to be the most sedate of the bunch -- almost like he's not really into it and just going through the motions.

I don't know if it means anything, but I found it interesting.

Here are a couple videos from recent performances (I couldn't find the one that I saw and am was referring to above -- sorry). Judge for yourself.

 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

the call of the yankovic tells me i'm old

There are several musicians and bands whose works I will buy immediately upon release (or at least soon thereafter). But most of those are relative unknowns -- bands that haven't made the big time (e.g., Bobtown, The Dusty Buskers) or former stars who (how do I say it delicately?) aren't as popyular s they once were (e.g., Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe).

One exception is "Weird Al" Yankovic. Yankovic is one of the few (maybe the only -- I'm not sure) musician whose albums I'll buy right away who is actually a household name. With that as backdrop, I discuss his latest release, Mandatory Fun. Scratch that. I'm not writing about tha album. I'm writing about my reaction to it.

MF makes me feel old. Of the twelve tracks, five are parodies. Of those, I am only familiar with one of the original songs being parodied. That one is "Word Crimes," which is a parody of Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines." And it's probably too strong to say I'm "familiar with" the Thicke song. "Vaguely aware of" would be a more accurate phrase. And that's only because someone I know posted the video on facebook with a comment about how this is a good example of our rape culture. Oh, and I haven't heard of the other four musicians and bands whose songs are parodied.

Turning to the Polka medley, there are twelve songs represented in the medley. I'm familiar with three of them. And that overstates my familiarity with current pop music. One of the three is "The Too Fat Polka," which was a hit in 1947. The other two are "Gangnam Style," which became a pop-culture phenomenon way beyond the world of music, and "Wrecking Ball" the Miley Cyrus hit which has become widely known throughout the culture because of the video and the popular reaction to it.

Bottom line? I am way out of touch with the world of pop music.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

and there was much rejoicing in bobtown

I'll admit I was kind of nervous. As time went by Bobtown's Kickstarter campaign was sputtering, and it looked like they wouldn't make their goal.

Somehow, though, in the last few days, they got a bunch of large pledges -- one for $1000, a couple for $501, and one for $500. I don't know all the others. But that put them over the top. So they'll record their new album, supported in part by 126 supporters on Kickstarter. And I will get:
  • A recording of them doing one of my songs (I'll probably go with "Five Missing One," but that's subject to change.
  • My name in the liner notes
  • An autographed copy of the album
  • Two spots on the guestlist for the album's release show
  • A limited digital album of all the song demos from the album
  • A separate unreleased bonus track
  • The entire Bobtown discography
  • A Bobtown T-shirt and button
And now, as a thank you for reading this far, an outdoor version of one of my Bobtown favorites:


Monday, July 7, 2014

i reiterate: please support bobtown's new album

I don't know how to stress this enough. Please go to Kickstarter and pledge your support for Bobtown's new album. I did. And I want the album to come out.

Full disclosure: Part of the reason I want this Kickstarter to succeed is, of course, the fact that I want this album to see the light of day. There's also the fact that I pledged at the level that will have them recording a cover version of a song of my choice. They agreed to do a demo of one of my songs. I'll be asking them to record "Five Missing One." I want this to happen. So please, please, please. Pledge, pledge pledge.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

an earwig from wyoming

So, thanks to my sister I have a very annoying earwig that I can't get rid of.

We were reminiscing over old times, and she asked if I remember, years ago at summer camp, there were some counselors who used to always sing about Wyoming. Singing, I didn't remember. But I did remember chanting. There was one year that a contingent from Wyoming would interrupt every Sabbath meal with chants of "Wyoming! Why Not?" or "We're going to Wyoming! How 'bout you?"

But my sister remembered singing, and could recall the specific song:

Ma tov le'echol
Et ha'donut hole
B'eretz Wyoming

Essentially, it means "How good is it to eat a donut hole in the land of Wyoming?" Obviously, it was mostly Hebrew, with a few strategic words in English. And it was such a beautiful melody. I can totally see it as being sung during the dancing at the Sabbath meals. Heck, the melody probably is from one of the regular sabbath songs.

Of course, we couldn't leave well enugh alone. We wrote another verse:

Ma to li'shtot
Et ha'root beer float
Be'eretz Arkansas

This translates to "How good it is to drink a root beer float in the land of Arkansas."

Add an emphatic "Amen" after it, and you've got an earwig that I can't shake.




Sunday, June 29, 2014

please support bobtown's new kiockstarter project

I've written about Bobtown before. It's hard to describe them, so I'll just quote their website:

Drawing on field hollers, gospel music, folk songs, pop melodies and bluegrass harmonies, Bobtown reinvents American choral music for the 21st century to create a unique and compelling blend of voices and instruments that move gracefully between elegy and celebration.


I have both of their existing albums, and I've seen them in concert a few times -- I would love to see them more often, but job and family keep interfering. They're clever and innovative, and fun to listen to. But that describes a lot of bands. Bobtown is also interesting. The influence of the field hollers makes them unique among New York-area bands.

The reason for this post is to plead with anyone reading this to support their new Kickstarter project. Bobtown has gathered the necessary material for their third album (A History of Ghosts), and I want it to see the light of day. I've gone to their Kickstarter project and pledged. Won't you?

To read more about Bobtown, check out their website.

Friday, June 27, 2014

the donovan of trash

Wreckless Eric's album, The Donovan of Trash, has been rereleased on Fire Records, and Eric a has been touring to support it.

I saw him perform on Wednesday night at the Mercury Lounge. It was a good show -- Eric looked youthful and energized despite his thinning grey hair. His playlist emphasized tracks from DoT (naturally), whichj I liked. It was good to hear "Birthday Blues," "Duvet Fever," "Joe Meek" and others. I wished he had also played "School" and "Nerd/Turkey," which are two of my favorites from the album. Oh well.

Anyway, I don't want to devote this post to the concert. I bought a copy of the reissue despite it not having any bonus tracks because I wanted to read the new liner notes. And I'm a sucker, I guess. Once again, Eric aquits himself nicely as more than a musician. The liner notes, recounting the long recording process, are entertaining. But what I found interesting is that it gave me an extra insight into why the album sounded like it did.

Compared to all of his other solo albums, DoT seems inconsistent. There isn't one sound. I can't say that I've actually wondered about that -- that would be too strong a statement -- but I have noticed it.

Based on the notes, it seems that Eric recorded the various tracks over a long stretch. He wasn't really recording an album -- at least not on purpose. These are, by the way, my words (not his), and there is a bit of extrapolation. If you want an authoritative voice (free of my translations), buy the album and read. It seems that Eric was bored, and he was a singer and musician. So he wrote songs and recorded them. And he did it with whoever and whatever were available.  When a frind was visiting with a full band in tow, he recorded with a full band. When it was an old mate from another band, he recorded with the one other person. Often he recorded alone, and some tracks feature just Eric and nobody else. At some point he had enough material, so he mixed it, mastered it, and went about trying to sell it. Eventually it came out on Sympathy for the Record Industry, a small label. It's not my favorite WE album, but it has some really good high points.

Also, now I have a new earwig: "And I think I must be going crazy / But I've never been more sane in all my life. / I'm just living with the realization / That all I want to do is live until I die."

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

me and graham

As mentioned, a few thoughts regarding Graham Parker. Fair warning, though: it's kind of stream-of-consciousness.

I first got interested in Graham Parker's music because his backing band, the Rumour, included Martin Belmont who had been in Ducks Deluxe. I loved the Ducks and was exploring the world of music by expanding out from act to related act. The first album I bought by Parker was Another Grey Area, which actually didn't involve the Rumour. That wasn't his best work, and I didn't really take to it. I like it better now than I did then. Even though I didn't care for the album, I still bought his earlier ones (which did include the Rumour), since I was a bit of a completist. I guess I still am, but not as obsessively so.

I liked the early albums better (and now I love some of them -- especially Heat Treatment) but he just didn't make it to the top tier in my book. That level was occupied by Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds and Wreckless Eric. Over the years I picked up tyhe albums he did with the Rumour, and some of the solo albums as well (if I found them cheap). But I never really liked his music as much as I wanted to.

But that changed in the last few years. A few things happened. For one, I have come to better accept the mellowing of his music. I think I owe that to Nick Lowe. When he started his transition to crooner, I didn't like it. At one point, seeing an article that referred to his new style as "Americana" I joked with a friend that that must be another way of saying "Adult Boring." But my brain had hooked itself on Nick's voice, so it was able to make the transition and I slowly started appreciating Nick's new incarnation. That effectively helped my brain to appreciate Parker, who had also mellowed with age. So, when there were solo albums of stripped down versions of his early angry material, I was able to get my head around them. I realize that this may sound nutty, but I believe that's a big part of how the brain reacts.

More recently, Parker recorded an album, Your Country, with a version "Crawling from the Wreckage." Crawling was a song of Paerker's that Dave Edmunds had recorded for his album, Repeat When Necessary, which many people consider to be his best. I had to buy that. And, whicle I was dissapointed in the new version of the song, there was enough good material on the album to get me to notice Parker again. His next album, Songs of No Consequence, was a spectacular tour de force. He saounded angry again, and I loved it.

But what I like even better than his newer material are live recordings from his days with the Rumour. Which gets me to my recent support for a Kickstarter project that involved putting together a six-disc set of concerts. That box set reminded me of Graham at his greatest.

A couple concert videos for your enjoyment:

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

jolene at 33

Dolly Parton's single, "Jolene" played at 33 RPM. I find it oddly compelling.

In case you're interested for comparison purposes,  here's what it sounds like at full speed.

Monday, May 5, 2014

an award-winning letter

Going through some papers, I came across this, from the letters to the editor section of the Ann Arbor News, some time in June of 1988.

Back then I was a graduate student in the PhD program in mathematics at the University of Michigan. And, lest anyone say that I am trying to give a false impression, I state here clearly that I did not finish a PhD. I left with a Masters degree after two years and became an actuary.

My hobby at that point was writing letters to the letters sections of newspapers and magazines. That was a hobby that started in December, 1983 and lasted about ten years. I would go out of my way looking through magazines and newspapers to find things to write about. Some not so much. Some were sent under my real name, and some under a variety of pseudonyms.  This one was prompted by a tongue-in-cheek article about a rash of Elvis sightings, and -- if memory serves -- a book that came out claiming that Elvis was alive and living an anonymous life.

The icing on the cake came that winter, when the News selected my letter as being among their best of 1988. So, yes, gentle reader, I am an award-winning letter writer.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

more purchases from amazon


Last week my wife asked about a couple books that she wanted to get from Amazon. And, of course, I couldn't resist adding a few CDs to the order. I stopped at four. They were (in the order that I received them -- and note that this is not intended to be read as reviews):

Graham Parker: Imaginary Television
This album has been on my radar and in my Amazon shopping cart for quite a while, but I kept not buying it. That's kind of symptomatic of my relationship with Graham Parker's music. I'd like to devote a post to that. No promises. But since I want to devote a whole posty to it, I won't get into it now. Anyway, I heard a track -- "It's My Party (But I Won't Cry) -- on Pandora, and liked it enough that I wanted to buy the album.The album itself has a peculiar conceit. Each song is the hypothetical theme for an imaginary TV show. And in the liner notes, in stead of lyrics, Parker includes descriptions of the show. It's kind of pretentious if you ask me, but the music's good. So I'll try to go easy on it.

Puffy AmiYumi: Spike
Puffy AmiYumi is a Japanese pop duo. They're kind of disposable, but the music is infectious and fun. I wanted to buy a different album -- Splurge -- on the strength of one track "Call Me What You Like (If You Like Rock and Roll)," which I'd heard on Pandora. Somehow, I had a hard time finding Splurge. I found this album for a low price (used), so added it to my cart. Of course, I found Splurge before I placed my order, so I bought that too.

John Otway: Under the Covers and Over the Top
I'm kind of an Otway fan. Not a huge fan. But kind of a fan. Years ago, I got his record, Deep Thought, on Stiff Records -- I was pretty much trying to buy anything on Stiff that I could find. I loved his cover o
f "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" on that album. And there were other great songs -- "Beware of the Flowers 'Cos I'm Sure They're Gonna Get You, Yeh" comes to mind. I loved Otway's loopy delivery. Anyway, I already have a two-disc compilation of his, and that's pretty much got what I need. But I saw this -- an album of covers. Since I'm a sucker for a well-done cover I couldn't resist. It wasn't quite as good as I was hoping for, but remember -- I say that having had very high hopes. My favorite track is "I Will Survive, which Otway turns in while imitating Bob Dylan.
 
Puffy AmiYumi: Splurge
This is the P AY album I wanted to get. Like Spike, it's part English and part Japanese. But it's pretty consistently fun.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

jackpot

I've talked a bunch about my songs. Here is a "video" of "Jackpot." I put thwe word video in quotes because it's not a true video.


Saturday, April 12, 2014

a correction to "be al"

In my last post, I goofed when I wrote out the lyrics to "Be Al."

There was a third verse:
I live my life, don't ask me why.
I'm one handsome hunk of guy.
I'm a legend. I'm a rave.
Even if I need a shave.
Be Al! Be Al!

There was an alternate version that never made it to recording:
I live my life like Candid Camera.I'm the guy who turned down Temra.I'm a legend. I'm a rave.Even if I need a shave.Be Al! Be Al!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

old mix disc titles

I was recently cleaning out my office at work, and came across a bag full of mix discs I made years ago. That was back when I had embraced Minidiscs as a recordable technology. I loved them, but obviously they never took hold in the US. Anyway, these discs were lovingly recorded and anal-retentively labelled. This series had names that were simply cultural references that I liked. That's as opposed to prior series that had one key word in each title. For example, the "Cheesedip" series had titles that were popular phrases but in which one word was replaced by "Cheesedip." For example, E Pluribus Cheesedip. The "Peabo" series was similar, but had titles such as A Man, A Plan, A Canal, Peabo. You get the idea.

Anyway, I was amused enough by these titles that I decided to list them here, with an explication of where the title came from. These are listed in alphabetical order. Unless I goofed.

All the Good Times in a Pocketful of IOUs
From the Wreckless Eric song, "Take the Cash (K.A.S.H.)"

But there's only good in leaving with a suitcase full of loot
'Cos where's all the good times in a pocketful of IOUs?
Arriving Back at Where She's Coming From
A line from the Wreckless Eric song, "Hit and Miss Judy"
Goin' round in circles
Arriving back at where she's coming from
Life for Miss Judy surely can't be any fun..
Beacons of Absurdity
I have no idea



Come in Space Monkey
From the Julie Brown song, "Earth Girls Are Easy:"
Come in, space monkey!
Kiss me here, kiss me there!
He still looked disgusting
But I didn't care.
Darwin vs. the 1941 St. Louis Browns
I have no idea

 
Depending on the Zero Tolerance Factor
I have no idea.

Fighting for a Window Seat on the Road to Hell
I have no idea



The Ghosts of These Western Lands
From the Beat Farmers song, "Hollywood Hills"

The ghosts of these Western lands
Are gonna rise up against English sands

A Half-Eaten Pizza and Three Catatonic Scuzzos on the Couch
I think this from an article in The Onion. But I'm not sure.

Here Is One Dollar for the Post Stamp Cost
From a book I have somewhere of crackpot-type letters. A guy wrote to the American Nazi Party asking about joining. His humor was in sounding stupid -- using horrific grammar and other devices. The last line of his letter, written to explain that he was enclosing a dollar to cover return postage, read "And here is one dollar for the post stamp cost."

Darwin vs. the 1941 St. Louis Browns
I have no idea



Herman was Healthy but Herman is Dead
From the Christine Lavin song, "Cold Pizza for Breakfast." The Herman in question was Herman Tarnower. Look it up on Wikipedia.
Herman was healthy. But Herman is dead.
Pizza surely didn't do him in.
Jean Harris is behind bars feeling quite sad and thin
Do you see what I'm getting at?
You tend to kill when you're  skinny but not when you're fat

I Pulled Your Name Out of My Rolodex
From the "Weird Al" Yankovic song, "One More Minute:"
So I pulled your name out of my rolodex
And I tore all your pictures in two
And I burned down the malt shop where we used to go
Just because it reminds me of you.

I Remember One Night the Kid Cut Off his Right Arm
From the Nick Lowe song, "So It Goes"
I remember one night the kid cut of his right arm
In a bid to save a bit of power. 

If You Break My Arm I'll Join the Union
From the Mickey Jupp song, "You'll Never Get Me Up (In One of Those):"
I'd rather work in the city
In a pinstripe suit and bowler hat.
If you break my arm I'll join the union.
You know how I feel about that.

It Comes Springing from My Lips
This is part of the patter at the end of the Monkees' song, "Gonna Buy Me a Dog"

It Took Me a Fortnight to Remove the Thistles
I know that this is either the punchline to a joke or the prototypical (but not an actual) punchline.

It's Fatal and It Don't Get Better
From the Graham Parker song, "Mercury Poisoning:"
I've got mercury poisoning
It's fatal and it don't get better 
A Jew Who Doesn't Even Like Funerals
At some point my wife was asked to accompany one of her friends to a family funeral. Some time later he got a very angry letter from his cousin who berated him for a variety of offenses including coming to the funeral with "a jew who doesn't even like funerals."

K and Other Letters
I have no idea where this title came from.

Knocking Me Out with those American Thighs
A line from from the AC/DC Classic, "You Shook Me All Night Long."
She had the sightless eyes
Telling me no lies
Knocking me out with those American thighs

Lessons in probability Density
I assume this was from a probability textbook. But I have no idea which one.

Life Was Never Like Iowa Could have Been
I have no idea 


My Best Friend Debbie Was Homecoming Queen
From the Julie Brown song, "Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun"

It was homecoming night at my high school.
Everyone was there. It was totally cool.
I was real excited. I almost wet my jeans
'Cos my best friend Debbie was homecoming Queen

No Special Parking Permits Available for Aunt GriseldaThis was from one of those crackpot letters books. I forget which one. But the author wrote a letter to Clint Eastwood, who was then mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA. He asked for an autographed photo and a special parking permit for Aunt Griselda who would be visiting the town. He explained that Aunt Griselda was getting old and might forget about parking rules, and the thought of Clint Eastwood enforcing the laws might give her a heart attack. Or something like that. Clint wrote back. He sent the autographed photo, but wrote "No Special Parking Permits Available for Aunt Griselda.

The Odyssey That is Spiro Agnew
I have no idea

Once You're Up to Foursies You're in the Zone
From a Calvin and Hobbes comic.

  
The One in the Middle Looks Like Willie Nelson
The punch line to a dirty joke.  I'm not going to repeat the joke in a family blog, so Google it if you really want to know. Oh, what the heck. You talked me into it. A woman goes to a tattoo parlor and says that she wants tattoos of her two favorite country singers on the insides of her thighs. She wants Johnny Cash on one thigh and Hank Williams on the other. So the tattoo artist gets to work. Oh, did I mention that she's drunk and not wearing panties? Well, we can't leave that part out, because it's kind of necessary. Pretend that you didn't already read the punchline. So the tattoo artist finishes the job, but he was kind of distracted because he had her naked crotch staring him in the face, so he didn't do as good a job as usual. The customer picks up a mirror and looks, and immediately gets angry. They don't look like Johnny Cash and Hank Williams, she says. And she doesn't think she should have to pay. He insists it's fine and she should pay. So they're at an impasse. But they agree on a solution. They'll find a random stranger to look at the tattoos. If he can't tell who they're supposed to be then she gets them free. If he can tell, then she pays double. So they find a stranger on the street and bring him in. She hikes up her skirt and spreads her legs and asks the stranger if he can tell who's in the pictures. The stranger takes a minute, then finally says, "Well, I don't know about the ones on the sides. But the one in the middle looks like Willie Nelson.

One Part All-American Horndog
I'm not sure, but I think this was from a Jim Anchower column in The Onion.

Onion Fields Within Saskatchewan
I have no idea

 
Passersby Were Amazed by the Unusually Large Amou8nts of Blood
From The Onion. When there was a print edition, they used to fill space with what looked like text from an article. But it was simply this phrase repeated over and over.

Relative Groups and Their Topological Invariance
I'm pretty sure that I took this from a topology textbook. Or maybe it was an algebra textbook. Probably algebraic topology.

Which reminds me of a joke: How do you tell whether a mathematician is an analyst, an algebraist or a topologist? If he's an analyst, he begins his proofs with "Let epsilon greater than zero be given." If he's an algebraist, he begins his proofs with "Suppose not." If he's a topologist he begins his proofs with "Nothing up my sleeve."

Robots Aren't Supposed to Be Furry
I think this is froma Calvin & Hobbes strip, but I'm not sure.

She's Got a Boyfriend Who Thinks He's Jonathan Bimbleby
From the Wreckless Eric Song, "Sarah." Of course, I got the name wrong.
She's got a boyfriend who thinks he's Jonathan Dimbleby
He's obsessed with his career in TV.
Some Schmucko DH-Liver Doing the Wave Upside My Face
From a satiric column Desmond Devlin (yes, the Desmond Devlin. I was friends with him in college. You can all express awe and envy now) wrote for his college newspaper, parodying the writing that appeared in the paper. To illustrate the self-absorbed style, he wrote the line "I can't tell you how many double plays I've missed because of some schmucko DH-lover doing the wave upside my face."


Sometimes My Clothes Are Crunchy
I want to say that this is from a Calvin & Hobbes comic strip. But I'm not sure. 

Somewhere Over Blighted Loves There Hangs a Heavy Pall
The second-to-last line of Casey's Revenge," which was written as kind of a sequel to "Casey at the Bat." The last verse goes:
Oh, somewhere in this favored land dark clouds may hide the sun
And somewhere bands no longer play and children have no fun.
And somewhere over blighted loves there hangs a heavy pall.
But Mudville hearts are happy now, for Casey hit the ball.

A Straggling Few Got Up to Go in Deep Despair
Most of the first line of the second verse of Casey at the Bat. The verse goes:
A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast.
They thought, if only Casey could but get a whack at that.
We'd put up even money now with Casey at the bat.
The Suffocating Historical Dominance of Conservative Utility
I have no idea.

Suggestions for Service Improvement
I have no idea.

A Ten Pound Parakeet Named Mr. Whiskers
I have no idea.

That Sums It Up in One Big Lump
From the Charlie Manson Song, "Garbage Dump: 
Garbage dump, garbage dump
Why are you called the garbage dump?
Garbage dump, garbage dump
That sums it up in one big lump.
The Thick Fog of Human Incompetence
I have no idea.
 
Too Passionate to Bathe
I wouldn't swear to it, but I think this is from a Calvin and Hobbes strip.

Traffic Patterns of the Soul
I have no idea 

Trickle Down Pyrotechnics
I have no idea

Twelve Cents Worth of Lumber
I Have No Idea



Watch Me Run Just Like a Reptile
This is from a song called "Be Al" that some friends and I recorded at the Queens College radio station almost thirty years ago. It was about a guy named Al, and some of his foibles. If I remember correctly, the lyrics were as follows:
Hey hey! I'm a pasty grey.
My name is Al, I'm really grand
I'll be your pal with X's on my hand.
You like my rap? I wear a cap!
Be Al! Be Al!
Do a stagedive on my head
Or maybe drink alone instead.
Don't you like the way I smile?
I drive all the women wild.
Watch me run just like a reptile.
Be Al! Be Al!
This song'll be heard by millions.
Play that bass riff!
I'm a natural singer.
 The reptile line was a reference to an observation I once made about Al during a softball game. When Al ran, he looked like he kept his torso vertical with his legs and arms flailing in front of him. It reminded me of lizards that I used to see running on water in old National Geographic specials. See the following (starting at about 50 seconds in):

Now, I know Al couldn't be running like that. He didn't have a tail, so he would have fallen over backwards. But, dang if he didn't look like that lizard.

Watching for the Blinky
I have no idea.




We Look for Things That Make Us Go
From some annoying episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. There was an annoying race of people that seemed very simple. They had a broken engine and kept saying that they look for things that make them go.

We'll Get Some AM-FM Action in the United States
A line from the Wreckless Eric song, "A Popsong"
My record company phoned me today
They said we're running out of product and we need some airplay
Just a two-minute song, a snazzy middle eight
We'll get some AM-FM action in the United States.
Here's the video:

Whenever the Facts Betray the Desires
I have no idea.

You Kissed Me So Chastely That I Could Have Cried
From the song "One More Night" whose author I don't know. I am familiar with Dave Edmunds' performance.
The cold hits my face as I stumble outside.
You kissed me so chastely that I could have cried.
Now that I think about it, I think it's supposed to be present tense -- not past. Oh well.

You Yourself May Be Named One by the Tribunal
From Star Trek. "All Our Yesterdays" was the name of the episode (if memory serves). Captain Kirk, is told that the tribunal may identify him as a witch.

Your Beer and Your Change Are in Your Boot
Spoken in 1998 by a then-friend of my then-future-wife. I forget exactly what had led up to it, but this woman had returned from running some errands, and had a beer and some change for me. Maybe I had asked her to pick up a beer? I don't remember. Anyway, she put my beer and change in my boot (it was a shoe-off house) and informed me.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

an unexpected gem

One of the fun things about going through CDs that I got off Freecycle is when I come across something that I had never heard of, yet really like. All the more if its a CD that, based on the cover, I expect to not like. I'm human, and just like everyone else, I make judgements when I see a CD cover -- what genre, whether I will like it or not, etc.

So I came across an album by someone I had never heard of -- Henri Salvador. It's obviously a French language album, it's called l'essentiel, and it has a picture of a greasy old man with a shit-eating grin on the cover. I wasn't expecting much. But I gave it a shot anyway.

There was a version of "Mah-na Mah-na," titled "Mais non, Mais non" (which I understand means "But no, But no."). That was fun. But what really got me was "Zorro est Arrive" which seems to be a French reworking of the Coasters classic, "Along Came Jones" (presumably with Zorro as the title character." And there were other playful numbers -- more than enough to make this a keeper.

Never having heard of Henri Salvador, I decided to ask our couchsurfers (by coincidence we happened to have some French couchsurfers over), and they clearly recognized him. Apparently he's a big star in France. Or at least he was until he died in 2008 at age 90. I learned that last fact looking him up on Wikipedia. I'm glad I gave him a listen. Now it's your turn:






Sunday, March 30, 2014

rain songs

I spent most of yesterday moving bricks in the rain. I couldn't help but thinking about songs that mention rain in the title. So if I were making a mix disc for rainy weather...

  1. Crying in the Rain (The Everly Brothers)
  2. I Wish it Would Rain (Wreckless Eric)
  3. Raining Raining (Nick Lowe)
  4. I Love a Rainy Night (Eddie Rabbit)
  5. Mandolin Rain (Pam Tillis)
  6. Walking in the Rain (The Partridge Family)
  7. It's Raining Men (The Weather Girls)
  8. Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head (BJ Thomas)
  9. Have You Ever Seen the Rain (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
  10. Rainy Jane (Davy Jones)
  11. Purple Rain (Prince & the Revolution)
  12. Freeway in the Rain (Sean Tyla)
  13. You Don't Have to Walk in the Rain (The Turtles)
  14. Thunder and Rain (Graham Parker and the Rumour)
  15. Here Comes the Rain Again (Eurythmics)
  16. The Rain (Oran "Juice Jones)
Your mileage may vary

Thursday, March 20, 2014

a poetic line

Until today I had never stopped to think about how poetic is a line from a Creedence song:

Have you ever seen the rain
Coming down on a sunny day?
 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

syd barret is not an outsider

In my last post, I wrote a little bit about outsider music, and listed a couple of the big names in the genre -- as if that's not an oxymoron.

Irwin Chusid's book includes a section on Syd Barrett -- the man best known as a founding member of Pink Floyd. At the risk of being tendentious, I do not accept the notion thatBarrett counts as an outsider. It doesn't matter how badly his mental state degenerated or how unhinged his solo works are. If you were the creative force in a band as prominent as Pink Floyd -- to the point where some hardcore fans consider Piper at the Gates of Dawn (the only Floyd album to include Barrett) to be the only "legitimate" Floyd album -- the, I'm sorry, but you can never qualify for outsider status.

Friday, March 14, 2014

intro outsider music

It's kind of hard to define exactly what is outsider music.

Certainly it has to do with msuicians and singers who are outside of the mainstream. But that definition casts a huge net. It has to do with honesty and earnestness. But there's more to it than that. There are many musicians who are really good but will never "make it." And being in the realm of outsider music isn't about being good. The best known and most beloved outsiders aren't great. Many are terrible (by most of the usual yardsticks). But not too terrible. There's some kind of sweet spot in there -- awful, but compelling. That's a tall order. I can't really define it. You can look it up on Wikipedia if you want. But I find that unsatisfying. Irwin Chusid is one of the leading experts on the genre. He wrote a book on the subject, titled Songs in the Key of Z. The companion CD and its sequel provide several examples.

Yet there are a handful of recording artists both past and present who are generally recognized as being at the epicenter of whatever outsider music is (and however it is defined. A few of those artists? 

The Shaggs
A band of three sisters who recorded what Rolling Stone once called the worst album ever. Now, I know what RS was getting at, though that classification was wrong. The Shaggs' album (both of them actually) sucked. The vocals were frightening, the rhythm was off, and the songs were disturbing. But that's better than many supremely boring albums.

Wesley Willis
A homeless schizophrenic street singer who somehow managed to record several dozen albums and tour extensively. His songs seem to all have the same elements: A tinny repetitious synthesizer track, a chorus that consists of him repeating the title over and over, and verses that consisted of him shouting sentences about the subject. Many of his songs were about celebrities he had met, and the lyrics were along the lines of "You are a great musician!" or "You are a nice person to the max!" My favorite of his numbers is the classic, "Shoot Me in the Ass."

Wild Man Fischer
Another schizophrenic homeless man. But Wild Man ("Larry" to its friends) was also severely paranoid and bipolar. He wasn't as prolific as Wesley, but he did have the distinction of recording the first release by Rhino Records. He also worked with Frank Zappa for a time, until they had a falling out.

BJ Snowden
BJ was (is? I'm too lazy to look it up) a music teacher in Massachusetts. She is best known for two songs -- "In Canada" and "America" which are tributes to their respective countries. Her enunciation is off. Her lyrics are off. So off that one would think that it was done on purpose. But as far as I know she was absolutely serious.

There are others, and I intend to talk more about outsider music in a future post. I have some definite thoughts to express. But this is the intro to whet your appetite. Following are videos of some of the better-known outsiders.


"Philosophy of the World" by The Shaggs

"Cousin Mosquito" by Congresswoman Malinda Jackson Parker
"Jailhouse Rock" by Eilert Pilarm

Thursday, March 13, 2014

work-music strategy

I like to listen to music while I'm working. For the most part I can let the music be background, and it makes work more pleasant. Of course, it can be distracting -- there are some records or bands that I just have to pay attention to.

I saw a tip on Reddit that says that if you want to listen to music while working, listen to soundtracks to video games. Those are supposed to be stimulating but nondistracting. I don't know if there's anything to it, and I doubt I'll try it. Still, I found it interesting.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

words fail me

I don't know much about them, and I'm not sure I want to. But there's a band, Hatebeak, whose lead singer is a parrot.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

need to make more demos

There are a couple of local musicians I need to talk to to arrange a recording session. Right now I have four demos of four different songs, but I want to record new versions for a few reasons. In a couple of cases this is because of some rewriting.

But another issue that I've become aware of is making tracks available for use in independent movies. I have a friend who used to act, and has some knowledge of the world of independent film. She says that one of the hardest things for filmmakers is finding music to use in their movies. If I can provide them with completed tracks that they can just plop down into the film then I'm golden. I'd like to have that possibility open to me.

The songs in question (listed in alphabetical order by title):

Do You Think of Me (Now and Again)
I have a great demo that was made by Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby. It's definitely my favorite demo. But I am not sure that I can just tell independent filmmakers that they can use it in their projects. I emailed Eric and Amy to ask if I can allow such use (assuming the opportunity arises), and they responded that that would depend on the terms of the agreement. I think I need a new version that I can provide more readilly.

Five Missing One
The demo I have was recorded by HP Mendoza and me a little more than a year ago. I like the recording, but I think there might be complications in making it availabale. Which is probably just as well, since the recording that HP and I did is somewhat rough, and I rewrote one of the lines since then.

Jackpot
I have a great demo, courtesy of the fine folks at County Q studios in Nashville. But at the time they made it, I was told that it could not be used for commercial purposes. Something to do with the pay provided the musicians. I don't know all the ins and outs, but it was clear to me that this can't be put in a film. Too bad.

Music No One Else Can Hear
I like the chorus and the bridge, but I have grown to not like the verses. So I have been rewriting it. I converted the chorus to a verse and chorus, and have written two more verses to go with it. Then I modified the bridge to with the "new" song. It still needs a little polishing on the melody. And I have to work a little on piecing it back together. But what I have now is, essentially a new song. In a way, this change is bringing it full circle, since the chorus (turned verse/chorus combination) was originally a verse and chorus in the first iteration of this song. When Matthew and I rewrote it 20 years ago, we converted the verse and chorus into a chorus and went from there.

The musicians I'll be working with include Charlie Shaw (who was my daughter's guitar teacher for a brief time last fall, and who plays drums for The Wicked Messengers. He said I should call him and arrange a sit-down with him and Alan Lee Backer, the lead vocalist and guitarist for the Wicked Messengers.I've blogged about him before. The idea is that I can discuss with them, and play what I have. Then, based on what Alan thinks make sense we can arrange a recording session (in his home studio) involving other musicians. I am hoping that it won'tr be terribly expensive, and I will make clear that I want to be able to allow use of the recordings in independant films. That should all be workable.

I also have a few other songs I am working on. Maybe I can discuss with them at that time. They may be able to advise as to which ideas seem the most promising. And if it comes up I'd certainly be amenable to cowriting.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

meeting the space lady

Back in December I was on vacation in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Walking across the plaza, I noticed a street singer.

She was playing a small Casio keyboard and singing "Shakin' All Over." It was a bit minimalist, as necessitated by the circumstances. But what struck me was her voice. She sounded like a theremin. I stayed and watched and listened. I had to buy her album. Actually, I bought both albums that she was selling -- only to realize later that they had the same material. One was a rerelease of the other, with the tracks reordered. She insisted that I, a good customer, should take her card.

And that was my live experience with the Space Lady.

The liner notes on one of the albums explain it. Actually, they explain too much. Not that there's a lot of personal details that you don't want to know. But a lot of background details that you probably don't care whether you know or not. Let's just say that the liner notes are thorough. And illuminating. Her parents were living in Roswell at the time of the famous UFO crash, and she was born shortly thereafter. I won't go into all the details, but she spent some time living with her husband in a cave in California, before they relocated to Boston. In Boston they lived off of her busking until they could afford to relocate to San Francisco. There they lived off of her busking.

And the music? Intriguing is the best way to describe it. She sings, she warbles and she moans. Most of the songs are rock standards, though her theremin voice transforms them into things they were never intended to be. And there are originals (written by her ex-husband). I can't quite tell if they're good or not, since the arrangement is so overpowering.

After I listened to her album in its entirety, I decided that this was a true musical outsider, and I should bring her to the attention of Irwin Chusid -- chronicler of outsider music. I'll post about him some other day if I remember.

Of course, today I pulled out Songs in the Key of Z, Volume 2, a CD of assorted outsider performances assembled by Chusid. Lo, The Space Lady is one of the featured artists. I guess he already knows about her...

For your listening pleasure, here is The Space Lady, live in Santa Fe, performing "Radar Love":

Monday, March 3, 2014

with a nod to current events

listening to music this evening, I came across a television show theme song that mentions a certain former leader of the Soviet Union.

Just wondering if there are any other TV show themes that mention world leaders. Anyone know?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

born a woman and aging poorly

Going through some CDs, I found myself listening to Sandy Posey's 1966 hit, "Born a Woman." I can't help thinking that it hasn't aged well.

Let me back up a bit. My first exposure to the song was via Nick Lowe's version, which appeared on his 1977 EP, Bowi. Lowe's rendition is energetic and fun. The sound is very similar to that of "Marie Provost" which also appears on the EP. And, like "Marie Provost," it's jangly guitars and bouncy bass lines disguise the unpleasant subject matter. In the case of "Marie Provost," that subject matter is a has-been movie star fading from the public eye, dying in squalor and having her corpse eaten by her pet dog ("that hungry little dachshund"). In "Born a Woman," the topic is the mistreatment of women in society. "You're born to be lied to, stepped on, cheated on and treated like dirt." And in both, Ncik's smarmy presentation makes it hard to tell whether he's lamenting or celebrating.

It wasn't until years after I heard Nick Lowe's rendition did I actually hear the original. The two are -- how to put it? -- very different records. Putting aside the fact that Nick did some significant reqwriting of the song, the fact is that Posey's version is almost a dirge by comparison. But what gets me about it is that it could be a decent protest song, except that by the end she's singing that she wouldn't change a thing. Because, despite being under her man's thumb, it's worth it just be his woman.I don't think I like that message.

So you can judge for yourself, here are Posey's and Lowe's renditions.