Thursday, September 29, 2011

30 in 30, 9/30/11 - "Lipstick Vogue", Elvis Costello

Elvis was my biggest love for a long, long time. First heard the second album around 1978 (it includes this song) and then just kept going. There was a time when I would have called him my favorite songwriter/performer/musician/Whatever. I still don't think there's any songwriter working in English who is better than he; certainly there are some folks out there who are just as good, though.

Now, as I am committed to deeply exploring country music, the influence that country music had on Elvis becomes far clearer to me. I still love him, but he's taken something of a back seat for awhile as I learn about artists I've missed out on, everybody from Waylon Jennings to Lefty Frizell to Gram Parsons to Vern Gosdin.

But Jesus he can do anything, Elvis (and if you've watched his TV show you will also know that his knowledge of ALL music is Beyond Encyclopedic) - among other things, he has a straight up country album, one of Sinatra-esque ballads, one with a string quartet, one with Burt Bacharach NOT TO MENTION all of his rock and roll albums, and a little masterpiece called King of America. (For the record, my absolute favorite is Get Happy.)

I chose Lipstick Vogue because I knew of this song when I was 15 and idly wrote those two words down on a Peechee and my mother demanded to know what that could possibly mean (she was not happy - I might also add she and I have still not had our birds and bees chat; I can't help but think that is related to her obvious fear of those two words in combination). Anyway, this live version has all the energy that he brought with him when he first came to our/my attention.

More info because why not finish 30 in 30 with a bang: swear to God this is true - Declan McManus became SUCH a huge part of my life that, anytime anybody mentioned Elvis, I always thought of Costello first, even when, in retrospect, it was clear they were talking about Presley and I was just being dense (with no disrespect intended to Elvis Aaron, I do like him, especially all that really early stuff)...

(This also happens to me on the CNN sports page, by the way, or on ESPN anytime there's a headline about a certain golfer, and they only use his first name, and it'll be December, maybe, and I'll not immediately comprehend why there's a headline-worthy story about that baseball team from Detroit that I love so much (and I mean this happens OVER and OVER again). Plus I really don't give a shit about golf or Mr. Woods, so there's that.)

Lipstick Vogue...


30 in 30, 9/29/11 - "Debbie Denise", Blue Oyster Cult

And how could I leave these gentlemen out; it just wouldn't be right. I saw Blue Oyster Cult once a year from 1979 to 1986, and enjoyed each and every one of those shows. They get dismissed out of hand, I think, by a lot of people. True, they only had two hits, Don't Fear the Reaper and Burnin' For You (and outside the odd Godzilla or Goin' Through the Motions, people might not have even HEARD any of their other songs); true, once you get to their sixth record, Mirrors, the overall quality of the albums starts to dip. True, by the time you hit Club Ninja, maybe their 10th album, you've got a giant steaming bowl of shit in front of you (I wouldn't say it if it wasn't true.) So, when I say that there is a lot to like about their first five albums, well, maybe you'll concede me the point.

And I spent a lot of time listening to these albums in high school. The first three are guitar and drum heavy and tell tales of women burying corpses in quicklime, folks engaged in a variety of dominant and/or submissive activities, drug deals gone wrong in the desert (more corpses, natch); there are titles such as Harvester of Eyes, Career of Evil, Hot Rails to Hell. You know, typical AM fodder. But with Agents of Fortune ("The Reaper Album") in 76 and Specters in 77 they started mixing things up a bit (I think the word is "maturity"), got a few more keyboards front and center, and turned out some very fine slower songs and outright pop ballads (though often with a kink in the lyrics, to be fair).

I could have gone with either Fireworks or Death Valley Nights from Specters, two of my absolute favorites; or with Revenge of Vera Gemini from Agents (with Patti Smith on guest vocals, she co-wrote; this one has my favorite Cult lyric "you have slipped from beneath me/like a false and nervous squid"). However, Debbie Denise is the one I always come back to, the final song on Agents, a song that had a huge emotional impact on me as a kid (and with another Patti Smith co-writing credit, she was girlfriend to Alan Lanier, the Cult's keyboard player, in the early 70s). I thought it was beautiful and sad in high school; I listen now and see no reason to change that assessment...

Debbie Denise...


30 in 30, 9/28/11 - "Carmelita", Warren Zevon

Possibly my favorite songwriter/musician. Not that I think he's the best, I don't; but I do think he's my favorite. He wrote some mediocre songs, and he wrote some bad songs, that's just a fact. But when he got it right, his songs were as good as anybody's, and he did it with SUCH an economy of language that I would often wonder how he pulled it off. Like this one. Three verses and a chorus, I think, and none of the verses that long. You're in, you're out - oh, but while you're there. Of all his great songs, and there are many - Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner, Hasten Down the Wind, Lawyers Guns and Money, Mohammed's Radio, Poor Poor Pitiful Me, Desperadoes Under the Eaves (with my favorite single line of his: "But if California slipped into the ocean/like the mystics and statistics say it will/I believe this hotel will be standing/Till I pay my bill") - this is the one...

Mister Zevon died eight years ago this month. While Warren was dying Bob Dylan was on tour, and each night he played a Zevon song in tribute. High praise from a great songwriter.

I first became aware of him when the Excitable Boy album came out, 1978. I couldn't stop playing that one; I still love it. Fragments of his lyrics continue to make it into my writing today.

And, so the song - that's David Lindley on guitar; the audio is SLIGHTLY out of sync with the video, but the existence of the video trumps that for me - and this is Carmelita...


30 in 30, 9/27/11 - "My Old School", Steely Dan

One of my favorite songs ever (I love it when people say that; how many songs are we TALKING about when we say that? 10? 100? 1,000? Something to sort out another day, I guess). Steely Dan put out some great music in the 70s, I think, though I have to admit Messrs. Fagen and Becker lost me post-Aja. And even Aja is a little ... oh, never mind. Anyway, all those amazing songs, the fantastic guitar work, Fagen's voice (not to mention named after a dildo). But this is the one I always come back to, no disrespect intended to Reelin' in the Years, Kid Charlemagne (one of my all time favorite lines - "is there gas in the car/yes there's gas in the car"), Deacon Blues, Bodhisattva, Show Biz Kids, Dr. Wu or any of the others...

The picture is not ideal, but the sound is clean, and here is My Old School...


30 in 30, 9/26/11 - "So It Goes", Nick Lowe

I still put on my Best of Nick Lowe compilation if I've had a few cocktails and I'm seeking out groups of my absolute favorite songs. He's hit and miss at times, no doubt; but he's a good live show, and his 1979 album, Labor of Lust, which contained Cruel To Be Kind, was a great record from one end to the other (and another one that Music Plus guaranteed or your money back). I chose this one because I listened to it a LOT when I was 15. Well, I listened to the whole album a lot, I guess (though I can't seem to find it on CD, hence my purchase of the Best of).

Nick Lowe produced a bunch of the early Elvis Costello records; was a member of Rockpile and I THINK Brinsley Schwarz; was married to Carlene Carter (making him Johnny Cash's son-in-law for a time); and just seems like an all around good guy to me.

So It Goes...


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

30 in 30, 9/25/11 - "I Go To Pieces", Rachel Sweet

This would likely be the 30 in 30 artist you'd never heard of (though she did have a hit pop duet with some feather-haired boy in the early 80s; Rex Smith, maybe?). She had four records from 1978 to 1982 or so, was from Akron, Ohio, was almost literally my age, and I had a major crush on her. I saw her at the Roxy in Hollywood in late 1978 or early 1979, I'm going to say, the evening of a day we drove out to Torrance to get her autograph at a record store signing. That night at the Roxy I was standing up at the stage pretty much right in front of her.

Did a quick bit of research on her now, and it turns out she's doing pretty well for herself as a TV producer, apparently, so I guess she saved her pennies and invested wisely. I chose something here from the first album, one of the first things I ever heard by her. Whether I would have been aware this was a cover at that time, I'm not sure. Her voice sounds good on this one though, I think; I see why she was a big deal to me...

I Go To Pieces by Rachel Sweet...


David Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest" - I've Made 500 Pages...

(I just thought you'd want to know.)


Sunday, September 25, 2011

30 in 30, 9/24/11 - "The Man With the Child in His Eyes", Kate Bush

So Kate Bush came out on Saturday Night Live one evening. I was 15 or 16, she was just a couple of years older. She was touring her first album, the Kick Inside, and she sat on top of the piano with her knees tucked under her chin (I couldn't find clips of this on youtube, so I might be remembering the specifics of her posture wrong, but that's how I picture it, at any rate) and did two songs, Man With the Child in His Eyes and Them Heavy People. Some have called her an acquired taste, but not for me. I immediately went out to get that first album which was, as I recall, not that easy to find in Orange County...

Man With the Child in His Eyes...


30 in 30, 9/23/11 - "Once Bitten Twice Shy", Ian Hunter

In high school I had a friend named Mark, and we were very close. I knew him pretty well into my early 20s, and we eventually drifted apart. Mark was the kind of person who, as he got older, would hustle guys at pool in the Plush Cue in Whittier for hundreds of dollars a night, sometimes more; he owned a three-unit apartment building at what I thought was FAR too young an age, which lead me to believe, along with the weapon options he kept in his car, that perhaps he had some fingers in other pies (as the kids are saying). At any rate, he tracked me down in the mid-90s and we chatted a time or two. I was in Ann Arbor and he was down near San Diego. Then, again, the connection faded. Last year, via a somewhat complicated process, I discovered he'd died in 2003 at age 39, leaving behind a wife and five or six year old daughter. Based on the brief obituary I could find on-line I'm guessing some kind of fast-moving disease.

Ian Hunter's You're Never Alone With a Schizophrenic came out in 1979, and Music Plus on Whittier Blvd. (not that far from the Plush Cue, in point of fact) had a special where they guaranteed the album - if you bought it and didn't like it, you could return it no questions asked. I listened to it once and forgot all about the guarantee - soon I was collecting other Ian Hunter records and sharing them with my friend Mark, and he became a fan immediately.

One day Mark told me he'd been browsing a used record store and come across some albums by a band called Mott the Hoople and lo and behold guess who was the lead singer? So, then, I listened to the Mott albums with him and became a big fan. And at one point he said to me, 1980 or so - I may not have the words exactly right, but along these lines - "How great is that? You turn me on to Ian Hunter and then I'm able to return the favor with Mott."

I combined Ian and Mott for this installment of the 30 in 30. The line-up featured in this video I saw several times, most notably at the Country Club in Reseda, CA, in 1981 with seats literally at the edge of the stage and directly in front of (and I mean by that inches) the late and sorely missed lead guitarist Mick Ronson (author of, among other things, so much of the amazing guitar work on the early 70s Bowie records).

Ronson has been gone nearly 20 years, Mark nearly 10. I shook hands with Ian Hunter that evening in Reseda; he was 42 and I was 18. I saw Ian this January past at the Fillmore in San Francisco and he was 72 and I was, well, older than HE was when I shook his hand. Which is to say, in essence - what the fuck...

Once Bitten Twice Shy...


Saturday, September 24, 2011

30 in 30, 9/22/11 - "Good Girls Don't", The Knack

Yes, absolutely - juvenile to a certain extent. Or maybe not even to a certain extent. BUT to this 15 year old Catholic boy going to an all boys' Catholic school, well, it certainly spoke to SOMETHING ELSE, and they were so relentlessly UPBEAT, and they had these nice suits and ties, and there was a harmonica! I mean how nasty could the song possibly be? Well, pretty nasty, I guess.

Added information - lest you've forgotten, on that same debut record was a nice cover of Buddy Holly's Heartbeat, and some other really fine pop love songs, like Oh Tara.

Bonus Trivia: lead singer Doug Fieger's brother was Dr. Kevorkian's lawyer.

Super Extra Bonus Trivia: in 1981 I saw Pat Benatar like maybe second row center at the Fabulous Forum in Inglewood, CA (David Johansen opened). I had seen the Knack at the Forum a year or so before in nosebleed seats, but the night I saw Ms. Benatar (it was October; the Dodgers defeated the Yankees in a World Series game that day, Fernando got the W) we were sitting about four to six rows in front of the Knack's bassist. Yes, we had better seats than the Knack's bassist! He even spoke to us for some reason; I forget why exactly. As I recall, his date was attractive.

BEYOND Super Extra Bonus Trivia: Ms. Benatar did not make my 30 in 30.

Good Girls Don't.


30 in 30, 9/21/11 - "Six O'Clock News", John Prine

Thanks to George Angel for turning me on to John Prine my first year at the University of CA, Santa Cruz (Go Sea Lions!). There were many of John's to choose from, but I picked one of the absolute saddest (don't worry, next up The Knack!). In the universe of American songwriters there aren't very many whom I consider to be better than Mr. Prine...

Six O'Clock News.


30 in 30, 9/20/11 - "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters", Elton John

Along with Queen, Elton John was another of my very early favorites (I mean was I gay positive as a kid or what?); likely EJ pre-dated Queen for me by a year or so, I would think. I still believe that period from 1969 to 1975 - say from Empty Sky to Captain Fantastic (and we'll throw in a handful of songs from Rock of the Westies (76) and Blue Moves (78?) as well) - Bernie Taupin and Elton John were writing some of the finest, intelligent (and what category do you put them in, pop? not all of it WAS pop) songs we will ever hear. Elton heavily influenced by Leon Russell vocally, Bernie by the Band lyrically (I think Levon is Levon for a reason). I could have picked any of fifty or sixty songs here - Madman Across the Water, Tiny Dancer, Levon, High Flying Bird, Blues for Baby and Me, Writing, Ticking, Your Song, Take Me to the Pilot ... that list just goes on and on.

Went with Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters off of Honky Chateau...


30 in 30, 9/19/11 - "What Do You Want From Life", Tubes

So okay, right - I'm just a kid going across the street to the aforementioned Roger Woodfill's house and listening to all kinds of things (though a little too much Kiss, if you ask me; it was NOT my choice and they did NOT make my 30 in 30, even if I did enjoy the Peter Criss song Hard Luck Woman, which is BASICALLY a Faces song as I recall). Many the afternoon was spent at Roger's playing Careers and listening to the White Album (time well spent on both fronts). But maybe in the summer of 1976 or so the second Tubes album came out, Young and Rich, and Roger bought that, and suddenly I was listening to the FIRST Tubes album from 1975 and wondering what the hell was going on. In White Punks on Dope they said "fuck"; in Boy Crazy a girl was off to the clinic to get an IUD; Mondo Bondage - likely that is self-explanatory. And then of course the hit from Young and Rich was the duet Don't Touch Me There ("I love your salty taste"; hmmm...). Be assured this kind of thing was NOT on any radio station I had access to at age 13 and 14...

I chose to go with What Do You Want From Life from the first album (with it's provocative "does your bank account swell while you're dreaming at night" line). Sadly, later (sometime after the Remote Control record), the Tubes became a crappy commercial corporate rock band. So there's that. Although I'm sure they're still touring around playing these old songs to this day; everybody else seems to be.

What Do You Want From Life.


Monday, September 19, 2011

The Luckiest Guy in Rock Music

You know how some people say Beatles' drummer Ringo Starr is the luckiest guy in rock music? Well I have to disagree. I believe the luckiest guy in rock music is John Deacon, the non-singing bassist for Queen.

30 in 30, 9/18/11 - "Amy", Pure Prairie League

And, then, Amy. From '74 or '75, I think, but maybe it came out earlier and was re-issued? That could be.



30 in 30, 9/17/11 - "Third Rate Romance", Amazing Rhythm Aces

Third Rate Romance - this and Amy, which follows directly after, made HUGE impressions on me as a kid, and both clearly pre-figure the music I am interested in and listening to today. I believe this was the only crossover pop hit for Amazing Rhythm Aces; this was on AM radio in 1976, I want to say.

"I've never really done this kind of thing before, have you?/Yes I have, but only a time or two."

Uh-huh. Just once or twice...

Third Rate Romance...


30 in 30, 9/16/11 - "I'm in Love With My Car", Queen

I would be remiss if I didn't backtrack a bit and discuss my first major crush on a band, which was Queen in 1975 with the release of A Night at the Opera (and, in retrospect, likely my first crush on a guy - Roger, not Freddie). Loved this song the first time I heard it and still do - the drumming, the vocals, those lovely bits that May plays on guitar in and around the vocals. Another song that, as a kid, struck me as incredibly sad. To be honest, I still find it sad today; of course, our narrator made a conscious choice, and some people might read that as empowering. I just never did.

I'm in Love With My Car...


30 in 30, 9/15/11 - "Whatever You Want,Babe", Nazareth

What can I say. This was from No Mean City, 1979. I heard it a couple of times on FM radio and then it was gone; to say it was even a minor hit in L.A. would likely be overstating it. But it always stayed in my mind and then, a few years ago, it occurred to me that SOMEBODY had likely put it on youtube - and so they had. To be honest, I don't even think of it as a guilty pleasure - I still like it after not hearing it for nearly thirty years (and, no, I don't have any Nazareth CDs). At any rate, these guys put out a FUCK of a lot of records, I'm not going to kid you. Their cover of "Love Hurts" was pretty much their only big deal American hit.

But in the end, the bottom line is how could I, personally, not get SOME enjoyment out of a band named Nazareth? (Plus, it's a love song - could these guys be ANY more sensitive? I think not...)

Whatever You Want, Babe...


Sunday, September 18, 2011

30 in 30, 9/14/11 - "Southern Girls", Cheap Trick

Also 8th grade, but maybe the tail end of 7th? Two years or so before their live record came out and that Cheap Trick EXPLOSION. The first album in '77 had lots of loud guitars and fast songs, and some that were quite nasty (He's a Whore; Daddy Should Have Stayed in High School), and it's definitely worth listening to. But that second album, In Color and in Black and White, which was the first one I heard, was loaded with a bunch of fine pop songs - my two favorites were always Oh, Caroline and Southern Girls. Chose Southern Girls to represent...


30 in 30, 9/13/11 - "I Never Loved Eva Braun", Boomtown Rats

I likely discovered the Boomtown Rats in 1979, during my first year of high school, courtesy of my friend and neighbor Roger Woodfill (he was six years older than I, and exposed me to a LOT of music I might not have heard otherwise, and he took me to a million Dodger games that I certainly wouldn't have been able to attend otherwise, and he had the Playboy calendar on his wall, too, so there was that).

Now somewhere around this time with L.A. radio - and I think it happened over a couple of years - the rock stations (Zeppelin, Doors, Hendrix, Beatles, etc.) were starting to branch out just a little bit, and playing some things that were not necessarily in their wheelhouse, stuff that might be considered 'new wave' or 'punk' (probably in an attempt to cash in on these emerging trends). So on KMET I was starting to hear things like Mirror Stars by the Fabulous Poodles; Rat Trap by the Boomtown Rats; Just What I Needed by Cars; and of course the Stray Cats (and I can remember people going APOPLECTIC that KMET was playing Stray Cats, this 'new wave shit', which in retrospect I think is funny since Stray Cats were actually a real rock and roll band, just more in the mold of a Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, early Elvis, etc; also funny to me - if you put on a classic rock station now (and I try to stay as far away from them as I can to avoid the inevitable Journey-Foreigner-Loverboy conflagration) you will HEAR the Cars, but when they were first on the rock airwaves in L.A. in 1978 they, too, were treated with a great deal of suspicion and derision).

At any rate, I took a shine to these Irish boys and went out and bought A Tonic for the Troops which included this little gem (among many others), and I went ahead and added the lyrics below because, to be perfectly honest, this was a whole new type of narrative in a song for me, which is why I never forgot it (and please note the Leader of the Pack-esque call and response in the vocal)...

(Note - there are some violent images in the video; I include it here just for the sonic portion.)

I Never Loved Eva Braun

Are you really going out with Adolf?

I never loved Eva Braun (oh no?)
No, a thousand people say I did (oh yeah?)
Yeah, she was just some girl who was on the make (Yes, we see)
Boy she wanted to be so big.
And in the end it got to be a drag,
She's doing her exercises every day
No matter what people say,
I never loved Eva Braun.
I never heard all the screams (oh no?)
I never saw the blood and dirt and gore (oh yeah?)
That wasn't part of the dream, (yes, we see)
Of maps and generals and uniforms.
I'd always like the big parade,
I always wanted to be adored,
In '33 I knew I had it made,
I never loved....

Eva Braun wasn't history,
She wasn't even part of my destiny
She never really fitted in the scheme of things
She was a triumph of my will,
Oh yeah!

I saw the blondies and the blue eyes, (oh yeah?)
I saw the millions mouthing me, (oh yeah?)
But underneath I was really gentle, (oh yeah?)
D'ja ever see me touch a scrap of meat?
O yeah I conquered all those countries
They were weak an' I was strong
A little too ambitious maybe,
But I never loved Eva Braun.

Bob Geldof


30 in 30, 9/12/11 - "Candy's Room", Bruce Springsteen

No discussion of my early musical favorites would be complete without Bruce. I remember that Darkness came out the week of my 8th grade graduation (1978), and Bob Coburn, KMET's afternoon DJ (2 to 6), set the needle down on Badlands at 2 and then, throughout his show, played the entire record. The next day after graduation practice I rode my bike to Music Plus and bought the album for $4.59 (The NICE PRICE; normally it would have been $4.99). And so but now it's the summer, and I have to be honest my thoughts were turning to girls in a serious way around this time, but since it WAS summer there weren't really all that many girls around, PLUS I was headed to an all boys' Catholic high school in the Fall, PLUS I was convinced no girls would like me, anyway. But what I did have was this album, and I played it over and over, and that line from Badlands "We're the ones who had a notion/a notion deep inside/it ain't no sin to be glad you're alive" probably had as much influence on this young boy and the way I eventually came to think about my life as anything else I've read or heard since.

But it's this one, Candy's Room, Side 1 Track 4 (I think) - THIS was the one I could barely listen to because it spoke to those feelings I was having about girls, and it made me simultaneously hopeful and sad, with a hint of something else sprinkled in I'm not sure I've identified to this day. So, I found this live version, and though the sound isn't great, the energy is, and it's a fair approximation of this mixture of emotional energy and courage it gave me...

Candy's Room live, 1978...


Sunday, September 11, 2011

30 in 30, 9/10,11/11 - Los Dos Marias

The two Marias of my 10 to 13 year old life (well, plus the Virgin, of course)...

first, B.W. Stevenson with My Maria...

then, R.B. Greaves with Take a Letter Maria...

("it just so happens I'm free tonight would you like to have dinner with me...")



Not much to say that hasn't been said already, but I will add this - I spent the day with Danielle, and we learned what we needed to know from Peter Jennings, and I really, really miss Peter Jennings.

Friday, September 9, 2011

30 in 30, 9/9/11 - "Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again", Angel City

And then there's this one, a little bit of power pop from Down Under. I knew the Angels as Angel City when I first heard them in the early 80s; they had to adjust their name stateside due to the existence of the Punky Meadows lead pop-rock nightmare that was Angel. But Angel City's MONSTER hit on FM radio in Los Angeles (a little bit of heaven 94.7 KMET (tweedle dee)) around that time was "Take A Long Line (Reel 'Em In)". Inexplicably, my parents let me go and see these guys at the Roxy on Sunset Boulevard for the "Face to Face" tour (or whatever album featured aforementioned monster hit), and when I think about the band at all this is the track I remember. I found this live version on youtube and I imagine it sounds pretty much like it sounded when I saw them at the Roxy and then, later, at the Forum in L.A. opening for the Kinks in maybe 1985 (and don't get me started on how good the Kinks were that night; they did a version of "You Really Got Me" that made Van Halen's attempt sound pretty weak by comparison. Which is what I think they were striving for).

Anybody remember this?


30 in 30, 9/8/11 - "Photograph", Ringo Starr

Another one I loved as a kid: the second album I ever bought was "Ringo", 1974, largely for this song. (Oh, make that 8-Track tape; the first, also 8-Track, was "Band on the Run".) On the final song of the album Ringo speaks the "liner notes" (I guess you'd call them) over the end music. I'd never heard that before (obviously) and I'm not sure I've heard it since (though I think it happens in a few movies, Fahrenheit 451, maybe).

But this song, with its giant wall of sound, those clean rhythm guitars and then, also inside that wall, the bells, the accompanying and then sort of chorale vocals, the piano and, yes, even the strings (castanets!). I just think it's an amazing pop song. Written by George and Ringo.




God's retirement has not been a simple process. This kind of bureaucracy and corruption would be disheartening for anyone. Then, once the application for benefits is finally accepted, comes the periodic humiliation of proving that the beneficiary continues to exist. Clear and simple proofs are submitted, at least this is the idea, with the appropriate documentation, of course. Various state entities show significant interest in proving that they are fit to receive such proofs and evaluate them. Without getting into the whole sin question, it can be said that this interest forms part of a generalized agression felt toward the applicant at the present time. Pigeons and turtle-doves are everywhere and almost like angels of divine vengeance, they shit on all the crowns and on the statues of the Fathers of the Nation.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

And Onward I Go With David Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest"

Today I hit page 400, and my update from last mention (7/15/11) is that I still think it's fantastic, and it remains (though I've yet to finish) one of my two favorite novels (the other being Joyce's Ulysses). So, if anybody out there is reading or even thinking about reading and wants to talk, you know where I am...


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

30 in 30, 9/7/11 - "Baby Blue", Badfinger

Same old - heard it a time or two as a kid, a few times after that, and then not again until six or eight months ago when Steve Earle played it on his radio show. Phil Spectorish beat and big old power pop chords. And it makes me sad every time because of how it ended for Ham and Evans later (which I discussed a little more in an 8/4/11 post if you are interested)...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

30 in 30, 9/6/11 - "Sylvia's Mother", Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show

I heard this song a couple of times as a kid and it haunted me, and then I think I forgot about it in general, and every few years I might hear it again and remember how good it was, and then forget about it again. It wasn't until I was an adult (insert snide comment here) and really gave it a more careful listen (as opposed to just letting it haunt me) that it knocked me out all over again.

So it's written by Shel Silverstein, who as you might know had a pretty phenomenal career as the creator of children's books, children's songs, adults' songs, naughty Playboy cartoons and a variety of other stuff. I believe he wrote all the songs for the first two Dr. Hook records, though I wouldn't swear to it (though he certainly DID write Cover of a Rolling Stone). But in this one - by God it just didn't work out for Sylvia and our narrator; or did it, but for reasons not made apparent to us somehow the kibosh was applied. We can speculate of course.

But what I absolutely love is the narrative turn at 2:40 or so when Mom directly addresses Sylvia with regard to the umbrella, THEN thanks our narrator for calling (referring to him as "Sir"), which can only mean that Sylvia has entered the room and Mom is attempting to shield/protect her in two different ways. I mean it's practically Robbe-Grillet, there...

Sylvia's Mother...


30 Songs in 30 Days Will Not Necessarily Be Chronological...

...though it seems to have started out that way. Also, as I'm ONLY doing 30 songs, I'm clearly going to be missing some music that was pretty influential on me for whatever reason. I mean, there was Bruce Springsteen and Blue Oyster Cult (who would have thought to combine those two, I wonder?); Kate Bush and Mott the Hoople (ibid.); the aforementioned Jim Croce and Elton John; Boomtown Rats, Rachel Sweet, Humble Pie ... You get the picture.

Also, it's not impossible there will be something included here down the road that I only heard this year or last. Hard to know where this is going. Not that you asked.


Stephen Strasburg on the Mound Tonight for the Nationals...

and I, for one, am happy - I believe he is good for baseball, and if it's good for baseball, I support it.

30 in 30, 9/5/11 - "Show and Tell", Al Wilson

Still, to my mind, a fantastic vocal for sure (especially when he lets it fly in the chorus), and a fantastic pop song EVEN WITH what I think of as a "regrettable" (though brief) interlude around 2:20...

Show and Tell by Al Wilson, from 1973...


Monday, September 5, 2011

30 in 30, 9/4/11 - "One of a Kind Love Affair", Spinners

To my mind, simply another great pop song from my childhood. And, like the 4 Tops number prior to this, a song that I thought of as a "favorite song" whenever it came on the radio...

One of a Kind Love Affair by the Spinners, an apologies in advance for the visuals that accompany the music...


A Brief 30 in 30 Addendum

Just a quick note - I'm guessing nearly 100% of the songs I will discuss this month were made known to me via radio, vinyl, a friend, etc. and WITHOUT any video enhancement (or dis-enhancement, as appropriate). In retrospect, hard to say how that would have factored into my like or dislike of the song. I do remember when MTV came along, though, that I couldn't figure out why I would like a song BETTER because of the video; I mean, when I played it in my room, say, or heard it on the radio, I sure wasn't seeing the video then, and I would ultimately have to like the song on its own merits, with or without David Coverdale's wife splayed on the hood of a car (dislike). So perhaps I've answered my own question...


Saturday, September 3, 2011

30 in 30, 9/3/11 - "Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch (I Can't Help Myself)", 4 Tops

One of the first songs I heard that I remember thinking of as a "favorite". Though I'm guessing I didn't hear it until 1972 or 73, so it was already an "oldie" by then. But I wanted the 45, I did, so I walked down to Record Town (corner of Beach and La Habra Boulevards in lovely La Habra, CA) to purchase this little gem and THEY DIDN'T HAVE IT! They only had recent Top 40 singles, as it turned out, but they did special order it for me...

Sugar Pie Honey Bunch by the 4 Tops...


30 in 30, 9/2/11 - "I'd Love You to Want Me", Lobo

So one day I take this old black like Philco AM radio from the back bathroom and put it in my bedroom and turn it on. It's maybe summer of 1973, let's say. And the dial was off-white/cream with gold "leaf" numerals and there were NOT enough numbers on the dial, do you remember those? Like there was a "5", and then "7", and then "9.5" (and a few others), and you had to sort out the tuning based on that. Anyway, I turn the radio on, and the songs of the day that I remember that were in full rotation were One Tin Soldier by Coven; Free Electric Band by Albert Hammond ("my father sent me money and i spent it awfully fast/on a girl i met in Berkeley in my Social Science class/she wanted to get married and have a little track of land/so i gave her up for music and a free electric band"); Signs by Five Man Electrical Band (which mixed me up at age ten due to the title of the Hammond song); and Bad Bad Leroy Brown by Croce, who is SORELY missed and i might have to send one of his around before the month is over.

So there was another song that got played, though not as heavily, and it was I'd Love You To Want Me by Lobo, and I believe it was the first song I ever heard on the radio that moved me (whatever that means at age ten; granted, it was likely one of the first ten or twenty songs I DID hear, but still). I'm not saying it necessarily moves me now; if so, likely it's only in memory because quite frankly I'm seeing a bit of cheese I'm not going to kid you. And, yet, I still think about it fondly (true!) from time to time, and should you care to sample it, you can find it here...


30 in 30, 9/1/11 - "Emma", Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate, a mixed-race British sort of soul group I guess you'd call them. A bunch of hits in England; I only recall two in America. The MONSTER hit You Sexy Thing which I hope to never hear again (not that I think it's good bad or otherwise, it's just that it was SO overplayed on L.A. radio when I was a kid I'm good to go). What was NOT overplayed on L.A. radio was Emma, the (minor) hit right before YST. Maybe I was 13, 14 tops, and this was one of those songs that made me feel a certain way, and though I might not have been able to describe it then, the feeling would have been in essence "this is something I'm not normally hearing on 93 KHJ, Los Angeles" (perhaps why it was a minor hit). First, it told a story; not all pop songs were doing that. Second, it was SAD. That was also different.

And, so, the mournful backing vocal breaths, and THEN at 3:12 or so until 3:32 we get what he does with his voice and how the guitar goes along with that pain (which I realize means I've given something away story-wise; I'll try and be more careful in the future). I was sold at 13 or 14, and i remain sold at 47. And here it is...

30 Songs in 30 Days

So I had a plan to do this 30 songs in 30 days thing in September for a couple of friends (G and Big Al) and Danielle. Then I thought, you know, fuck it - why do I have a blog if I don't post more shyte to said blog? So, yes, we are a couple of days into September, but I plan to first get caught up, then get something out on a daily basis. And what, pray tell, might I be getting out there?

I will, daily, send a link to a particular song. I will include a little paragraph about when I first heard the song, why I liked it then, why I like it (or don't) now, what it meant to me, how it may have caused me to think differently, etc. In short, how the art of music influenced me and, based on any response that you might have to these particular songs, or any other songs that made an impact on you for whatever reason at whatever time (Paul Romano I'm really hoping you'll play along with this one, Sir), how the art of music might have influenced you. I'm hoping it will be a way to look at trajectories and memories, and welcome any and all input, including musical selections of your own choosing you might care to post.


Friday, September 2, 2011

Dang Me

You may or may not know Roger Miller's song "Dang Me". It's a fairly famous country song, and it's also fairly silly. I have included a version of it here.

Next, I have included what Buddy Miller (no relation) did with it, I believe, last year. I don't think I have ever heard a song so completely turned on its head before (for me, even more so than Coltrane's "My Favorite Things"); it literally becomes a different song, and about something else. That version is here.