Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Hypothetical Tacoma, Washington 7 in 7

Some of you may know that I sponsored an event in San Francisco from 2005 to 2011 (each July) called the 7 in 7 ( The idea was fairly simple: 7 bars on 7 consecutive nights in 7 different San Francisco neighborhoods. Danielle and I have moved to Seattle now, but due to the hospitality of Bid Daddy, we were able to spend four months this year in Tacoma as we got ourselves squared away in the Pacific Northwest. And, as my mind does wander, I began to think about what a 7 in 7 Tacoma would look like. No, it will likely never happen (so why would you keep reading? Honestly, I have no idea), but could it kill a person to have a week long Tacoma specific drinking adventure tucked into a back pocket in case of emergency? I think not...

Sunday Morning, 7:00 - Knapp's: a brilliant breakfast menu, reasonably priced and huge portions. The bar is from another era, low-slung tables and chairs, comfortable half-booths.
Monday Evening, 5:30 - Bob's Java Jive: beer and wine only, but a huge space, and the damn building is shaped like a teapot. Outdoor seating available.
Tuesday Evening, 5:30 - Beach Tavern: friendly people and, as the name might indicate, down by the water. Lovely views.
Wednesday Evening, 5:30 - Crown Bar: Wednesday is Burger Night; a recreation of a pub in Belfast, drab on the outside but beautiful in. Also, the consistently best music I've heard in any bar in a long time.
Thursday Evening, 5:30 - Lucky Silver: Rainier in the can, Wild Turkey shots and, I believe, shuffleboard. All you need to know, really.
Friday Evening, 5:30 - Harbor Lights: tucked into a restaurant whose name escapes me, the entry to the bar is a tiny hallway with two steps going up that gives you the feeling you've come aboard a small boat. I actually MISSED the bar the first time and I was looking for it. Beyond nautically cute, one whole wall is a giant window facing the water.
Saturday Afternoon, 4:00 - Joeseppi's Italian Restaurant: Happy Hour in the lounge till six with the fabulous Andy. Have him make you a Martini or two and order up, oh, I don't know, two meatballs and one Italian sausage for a total of FOUR American dollars. Joe, the owner, will even come by and shake your hand; among others, he coached Ahmad Rashad and Ron Cey in high school football.

(Note the First - four months in Tacoma with somewhat limited funds did not allow for the comprehensive research that I prefer, so this list is fairly North/Northwest centric, as that's where we were located. But you'll have to trust me when I say it's a solid line-up.

Note the Second - Seattle 7 in 7? Let's just say it's crossed my mind...)


Sunday, December 25, 2011

"Grateful For Christmas", Hays Carll

The first time I heard Hays Carll was late 2009 or early 2010. The song - She Left Me For Jesus ("the last time we made love/she even called out his name"). I knew immediately Hays and I were going to get along just fine.

An excellent singer and songwriter (that you likely have never heard of), this one comes from his outstanding album KMAG YOYO (2011; I was able to see him live in San Francisco on this tour). Beautiful, sweet and sad...

"But the ladies from the church said they might stop by/I brought you this picture, aw Mama don't cry..."

Grateful For Christmas...


Saturday, December 24, 2011

"Merry Christmas From the Family", Robert Earl Keen

Because it's infection by light's favorite Christmas song, and for no other reason. Also, because it's who we are here at IBL, all the best to you and yours...

Merry Christmas From the Family



Thursday, December 22, 2011

Apparently There's This Thing...

...where if you bring water to a boil and then add something to it (wheat noodles, say, or brown rice), the water, just like that, can't remember how to boil anymore, and you have to wait for it to boil again. To be fair, it seems to have some kind of Strasbergian sense memory thing working, in that it does happen much faster the second time, but still - once I boil some water I expect it to stay fucking boiled. I'm not running a charity here.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"Wait So Long", Trampled By Turtles

So, as far as I'm concerned, this is as good a "new" song as I've heard in awhile (not that I know exactly what constitutes "new" - Wait So Long is certainly new to me (I'd heard it maybe a half a dozen times over the past four months, but then twice this week which lead me to investigate further), though it was released in April, 2010). It may not be representative of everything I'm listening to, but it's certainly part of the pie. I can't help but think of the Pogues when I hear this, and clearly there is a familial relationship here to speed metal and/or punk. This MIGHT even fall under the classification of "cow punk", but I'm not sure how hard and fast the rules are there (or, to be honest, exactly what the rules are, if any). When Hank III talks about his mixture of country and speed metal he refers to it as "hellbilly" (his speed metal band is called Assjack, and I kind of wish I could tell you I was making that up). In any event, this is my first and only TB Turtles song, but I will be digging deeper.

Bonus Trivia - there is a sort of power pop/rock cover of this song you can peep on youtube by a band called Motion City Soundtrack. I know nothing about them but would appreciate any information anybody might have...

Wait So Long...


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"Lover's Cross" and "Operator", Jim Croce

When I did my 30 songs in 30 days in September, I knew I was likely to forget an artist here and there, so here we have two from Jim Croce. I was ten when his plane went down and it devastated me; I Got a Name was just going into massive airplay and I thought to myself, every time I heard it, "This guy CAN'T be dead, he has a brand new song on the radio." (The second guitarist here and four other people also died.) A lovely and emotionally honest voice to my mind. Mr. Croce would have turned only 69 in January, yet he's been gone nearly 40 years. Hardly seems possible...

Lover's Cross...



Sunday, December 18, 2011

"I'd Rather Go Blind", Rod Stewart

Pursuant to the previous post, it dawned on me that Rod Stewart had a version of I'd Rather Go Blind as well. It's from 1972, the Never A Dull Moment album, and though it's technically credited to "Rod Stewart", I think it is, in essence, a Faces album. (Steve Goldstein, can you weigh in on this, please?)

In any event, it's sometimes hard to remember now what a great singer Rod Stewart was then; this demonstrates that nicely, I should think...

I'd Rather Go Blind...


"I'd Rather Go Blind", Etta James

Speaking of beautiful songs and a beautiful voice...

We will lose Miss James in the very near future as she is terminally ill; thanks to George Angel for putting this one back in my thoughts again...

I'd Rather Go Blind...


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Infection By Light's Fun Fact O' the Day About the Planet Venus

Reading a short article by Alan Lightman in the December Harper's, I learned that on the planet Venus it rains sulfuric acid. You may have known this, I did not. But it got me to thinking...

When we were planning our move to Seattle, and while the move was occurring, and even after we got here, I can't tell you how many people who didn't live here said to me, you know, "How can you stand all that rain? I couldn't stand all that rain." Or, even better - "You do know it rains a lot there, right?" (Seriously: somebody said that to me, as though we would pick up and move our entire lives WITHOUT FIRST INVESTIGATING as much as we could (yes, including the weather) about our new home.) Anyway, to the first quote, what you want to say is, of course, "Well, it's a good fucking thing you're not the one moving there, then, isn't it?" But you don't; instead, you patiently explain that cities such as New York, San Francisco, Dallas (yes, Dallas) get more annual rainfall in a typical year than Seattle. You kindly explain to them that what they mean to say is that it's overcast a lot in Seattle.

But now if somebody starts going on about all the rain in Seattle, I think I'll try a different response, something like, "Well, it DOES rain a lot, you're certainly right about that; but did you know that on Venus it rains sulfuric acid? So, you know, we thought, what the hell, Venus isn't going to work, we'll move to Seattle and split the difference." Then I would smile at them beatifically.

So we'll see how that plays out...


Friday, December 16, 2011

"Dublin Blues", Guy Clark

Honestly, I think this is one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard, and this arrangement is particularly striking. I don't have much more to add except to say that Steve Earle - who surrounded himself with Texas songwriters at an early age, including Townes Van Zant - considers Guy Clark to be his teacher.

"I have seen the David, seen the Mona Lisa, too/and I have heard Doc Watson play Columbus Stockade Blues."

Dublin Blues...


The Obama Administration Stands Up for LGBT Rights - Speech by Secretary of State Clinton

The speech is thirty minutes long, but it's outstanding, I think. This link also provides a transcript if you want to dip in here and there.

Secretary of State Clinton on LGBT equal rights...

Everybody in, nobody out.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

(In Which I Talk A Little About Some of the Upcoming Music I May Well Be Talking a Little About...)

So, back in September, I did the 3o Songs in 30 Days bit, including songs that had some kind of impact/influence on me from, say, childhood to my very early 20s. I believe at the time I threatened to follow that up down the road with some music that may have had an impact on me since then, including, you know, stuff I may have heard just this week. Consider this fair warning, then - that threat is well nigh upon us...

So, although I will likely reminisce about songs from my youth as they occur to me, I'm also going to start talking about songs that I did not become aware of until my "mature" years (aw, shut up!). Of course, many of these songs could well have been recorded before I was born; certainly others will be of a more recent vintage. And, again, I hope you will consider adding any recent discoveries you might have made (old or new) that will help round out my musical knowledge. Or, really, any song you'd care to share, recent discovery or not. I'd sure appreciate it, and we could put it right here in the main feed should you feel so inclined...

Thanks in advance...


Monday, December 12, 2011

Introducing "The Discriminating Homophobe", An Original IBL Production...

1. The Discriminating Homophobe At Work

Sharply dressed he is: dark slacks and a brilliantly white shirt, thin black tie with flecks of gray, Varvatos coat tossed casually over one shoulder, an air about him that asserts Destination. The Discriminating Homophobe glides through the revolving door and into the lobby. He has a dozen roses in one hand – two red, five each white and pink, baby’s breath adornment. He wraps his knuckles smartly on the security guard’s desk. The security guard, a Filipino named JoJo, is on the phone; he waves in return and rolls his eyes, pointing at the receiver. The Discriminating Homophobe nods knowingly and mouths ‘Keep the Faith’, then steps into a waiting elevator and up, up, up.

So, then, it’s his floor, 18, and he bounds into the hallway and swipes security card, and he’s through the frosted glass doors shining with twin company logos. He deliberately slows his gait as he approaches his secretary’s desk (Brenda, he shares her with two other associates), flowers behind his back. Though it’s early, Brenda, like JoJo, is already on the phone. He hovers patiently, doesn’t exude pressure; in a moment she’s off the phone and smiling up at him like the cutie pie darling she is. He flourishes the roses and wishes her a happy anniversary, her third with the firm. She blushes deeply and lowers her gaze, then comes out from behind her desk to give him a quick hug and a (surprisingly) dry peck on the cheek.

“I’m just going to put these in water.”

And she’s off to the kitchen, and he contentedly strides down the hall to his office, not a corner but very near a corner (give him time) and, as this is the 18th Floor, he has a lovely view of the bay. Already there are a few boats out on the water.

On weekends he favors sailing.

There are no photos on his desk (he’s between girlfriends at the moment), but here again fresh flowers (daffodils, all sunny and yellow), because clients generally favor fresh flowers, unless they are allergic; but by some magic he does not pretend to comprehend, Brenda knows who’s allergic and who isn’t, and schedules the flower-free mini-conference room as appropriate. This morning, a Thursday, he has no client meetings, just some free time to get caught up on paperwork and make a few phone calls.

Yes, a Thursday, the weekend right around the corner. Sometimes people get booked early, he knows that, but he likes to keep his options open – can you blame a guy? Don’t want to organize a Sunday morning sail for six when a young lady met on a Friday evening at, say, Elephant and Castle, precipitates the need for a more private excursion on the Steely Dan, his nautical pride and joy. Brunch afterward on the deck. He can whip up a frittata or something.

His phone buzzes and it’s Brenda on speaker, thanking him again for the flowers (“No, thank you,” he says), but there’s more – he has a call, his best friend, Yves.

“I’ll put him through.”

He picks up the phone, delighted.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

"Jolene", Dolly Parton; then, by White Stripes

Jolene, written by Dolly Parton, and originally recorded by her in 1974. To my mind, a fairly haunting and heartbreaking song, and an indicator that her talents are not limited to singing, and being an all-around in general sweetheart. The first link below is to her studio version. There have been many covers of this song over the years (I heard a new one by Nora Jones yesterday), but the one that stands out for me is by White Stripes (there's a studio version, but I chose a live version from 2004). First, Jack White does not change the pronoun, which I like in general because, you know, those were the lyrics. Second, as he is (obviously) a male vocalist, it provides a different take on the original endangered relationship. And I think the vocal itself is really fine and emotional in all the right ways.

I don't know that much about White Stripes - I've heard three albums but have not "followed their career" - I know he gets in fights and might possibly (people have intimated) think quite highly of himself. I'm still not sure if that drummer is his sister or his ex-wife or something else. But none of that matters to me, I only care about the songs; he is a good lyricist, at times very good, and has written songs that are funny, sad, sweet, angry and more adjectives I won't bore you with here. Now, whether you care for his style of music is another matter, of course. At any rate, I can tell you he produced a come-back album for Loretta Lynn in 2004, and another for Rockabilly Queen Wanda Jackson last year, exposing those fine ladies' voices to whole new generations of fans, so he certainly can't be all bad.

And, so, two Jolenes, and please note - on the White Stripes' version the song starts 30 seconds in...

Dolly Parton...

White Stripes...


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Most Gorgeous Hunk of Savagery on the Face of the Earth

The Little Red Hen, a country western bar in Seattle's Green Lake neighborhood, is our favored local (undoubtedly I've made that perfectly clear by now in a variety of other posts). Over the last month we have met quite a few regulars, and one of them, a gentleman named Kary, has become quite fond of Danielle. Kary is in his mid-50s, I would guess, slightly built, and with long gray hair and a bushy beard that hangs down to the top of his chest (the first night we met him he noticed my hair and said, "You mean you can have long hair and still get a beautiful woman?"). He always wears a Guinness ballcap (American flag pin attached); his voice is a bit squeaky (can't help it, I invariably think elf); and he orders multiple dinner items to go, but never eats there ("You don't want to see me eat; that's not a pretty sight").

Last night Kary won $100 on a pull tab game (I couldn't begin to explain how it works), and not only bought everybody at the bar a round of drinks, but he bought our dinner, too. Now, in the past, we have had short conversations with Kary - maybe once or twice a week - and often I've not been exactly sure what we were talking about (I think there may have been drug use in the past (his, not mine)). So, at one point last night, he was (you'd have to call it) flirting with Danielle, and in the process he referred to her as The Most Gorgeous Hunk of Savagery on the Face of the Earth (right, I don't either). Of course I was compelled to write those words down, which Kary noticed. He asked me what I was writing. I repeated his words back to him. He denied that's what he'd said. Then, he asked me to read it again, which I did. He paused for a moment and said, "Yeah, that's right" (at one point he also referred to her as The Most Silliest Hunk of Savagery in My Whole Life).

At any rate, Kary seems like a good guy, even if he's a little bewildering (and/or bewildered) at times, and he's certainly generous when his ship comes in. The general schtick now is that he tolerates me and teases me pretty hard about how I don't deserve Danielle; for the most part (or at least last night, at any rate), he addresses Danielle in conversation, and much of the conversation has to do with the troubling fact that I'm in the vicinity, which apparently puts something of a damper on he and Danielle "getting to know each other".

Or, to put all this another way? Yes, I'll be keeping an eye on him.


Friday, December 2, 2011

Fictional Lesbian Pairings (II)

Dolly Dagger hearts Molly Hatchet with a love that has no qualms about speaking its name. Molly seconds that emotion with extreme prejudice.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Because We Like William Carlos Williams Very Much - "This Is Just To Say"

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Because We Like W.H. Auden Very Much - "Epitaph on a Tyrant"

Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after,
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;
He knew human folly like the back of his hand,
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;
When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,
And when he cried the little children died in the streets.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"Broken Heart", The Babys

Right, I know - I didn't anticipate a Babys' song making its way into this space, either. But a fine gentleman by the name of John Marcher recently started following this blog, and when I was in San Francisco earlier this month I was fortunate enough to meet him in person at the Mission Bar. Prior to that, through a variety of on-line communiques, we discovered that, growing up in Southern California at the same time, we likely had attended many of the same concerts (confirming two for sure, I believe - Blue Oyster Cult, Pat Travers and Cindy Bullins (sp?) at Pauley Pavilion on the UCLA campus in 1979 (the Cult were touring the LP Mirrors), and the "festival" I'm about to discuss), including this gem at the Coliseum in either '79 or '80, I think - Cheap Trick (I want to say the Dream Police tour); Journey; Black Sabbath (Dio on vocals); Molly Hatchet (not Danny Joe Brown on vocals but his replacement (although I think, later, DJB returned)); The Babys (Jonathan Cain had recently joined; later he moved up the food chain to Journey); and then a band named either Force 10 or Russia (they went by BOTH names for a time; not sure which banner they were flying this day). Anyway, as these things happen, this got me to thinking about the Babys, and the first couple of songs I heard by them (Isn't It Time and Broken Heart) which appeared on their second album, also called Broken Heart.

The pop hit was the aforementioned Isn't It Time, and like a good little 15 year old I went out and bought the single (the flip side was a song called Give Me Your Love, with the Audenesque opening lyric, "Give me your love/ooooo, I need that thing real bad."). Along about that time I was juggling back and forth between AM and FM, and started buying albums instead of singles. When I heard the FM song, Broken Heart (and still enjoying the single), I went ahead and bought the album. The next record, Head First, featured a monster FM "rocker" of the same name (this was around 1979 and I'd just started high school), and they really took off for a couple of years after that, releasing two more records (I think) - Union Jacks, a fairly solid pop/rock album (the AM hit was Back on My Feet Again; the FM Midnight Rendezvous), and then, finally, Over the Edge, which was just awful (sample lyric from Sweet 17 - "Blowin' bubbles in the parking lot/got her mouth full of sticky stuff". Cheers, guys!).

And, yes, that was WAY too much time to spend on the Babys - fair enough, I'm not going to argue. But give the song a listen nonetheless. It's short; you likely have not heard it; the drums send it along its way quite nicely; John Waite sounds like he actually gives a shit on this one; it doesn't overwhelm with keyboards or dumb backing vocals; it has a couple nice guitar pieces, especially behind the vocal on the chorus. And then you never have to think about it again!

Broken Heart...


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Croce - Slyde Croce...

I just got an e-mail from Slyde Croce. Slyde Croce wants to loan me money, and I'm almost certain he wants to loan YOU money as well. But don't take my word for it, let's hear it directly from Slyde and his pals - "we offer out loan at a low rate of 2%, both secure and unsecured". I mean, hell - with a name like Slyde Croce how could anything go wrong, you know? So, if you're interested, just send me your e-mail address and some personal information which we can discuss in private, and I'll pass the whole kit and kaboodle along to Slydesy (as his friends call him). Oh, and if you're not interested, don't give it a second thought: I'll see to it that you never get on his "mailling list"...

Just more informative shit from your financial wizards over at infection by light...


(In Which I Share Some Trivia Tidbits re: Chicago-Born American Film Actor Robert Ryan, 1909 to 1973...)

The other day I watched a Max Ophuls' film from 1949, Caught. The movie starred Robert Ryan, Barbara Bel Geddes, and James Mason. Now, I was under the impression this was film-noir, or at least some kind of thriller (I will take the blame for not researching any further than what NetFlix told me off to the right in my queue). Technically, it might qualify as film-noir, but it certainly wasn't very thrilling, and there was (at least) one fairly major flaw in the story line that pretty much ruined the movie for me mid-way through. It's just not a strong screenplay any way you look at it. But what kept me watching to the end was the presence of James Mason, one of my favorite actors; also, the movie looks beautiful - the lighting and many, many shots are pretty marvelous (cinematography by Lee Garmes). And then there was Robert Ryan, with his grim, determined, angry face, and I remembered that he'd always been one of my father's favorites, so I thought I'd take a look at his biography over on to learn a little something about him, and it is now your Great Fortune that I will share a couple of the details I learned...

First, should you not be familiar with his face, here is a shot of him from Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch (1969)...

A drill sergeant in the Marine Corp, Ryan was also an accomplished boxer, as well as a long time champion of civil rights. He was against McCarthyism (in fact he worked with John Wayne in the early 50s and was appalled by Wayne's support for McCarthy; in truth, anybody against Wayne's politics earns a special place in IBL's heart), against the Hollywood blacklist, was an early founder/champion of the anti-nuclear movement, and close friends with Lee Marvin (earning him another tip of the IBL cap). {But wait - THERE'S MORE!} Jeff Bridges, another IBL favorite, sites Ryan as a major influence; originally, Ryan was to play Commodore Decker on The Doomsday Machine, absolutely my favorite Star Trek episode (William Windom wound up with the part); finally, because why not, Ryan lived in Apartment 72 at the Dakota in New York City until shortly before his death from lung cancer in 1973. He then rented it out to John and Yoko and subsequently his estate sold it to the couple.

Cheers to whomever manages the data over there at, and here's hoping they're fairly accurate, too (anybody with knowledge of conflicting information please feel free to let me know)...


Monday, November 28, 2011

Ken Russell - July 3rd, 1927 to November 27th, 2011

Once in the early 90s I was at a video store with Nick Jorgensen in Noe Valley, San Francisco, looking to pick up a couple of movies. One of them (I forget the other) was Whore, by Ken Russell. When I got to the counter, the guy took the box from my hand and said to me, "Look, you don't want to rent this movie. Please don't rent this movie. Go home, think about it, and if you STILL want to see it, come back another day and I'll let you have it for free, okay?" He seemed like a nice guy, so we put Whore back and picked out something else.

A few years later I was in Michigan and it was 2 for 1 night and so I thought, well, maybe now it's time to see Whore, as it will sort of be "for free". And that is how Whore made my top 3 worst movies I've ever seen list, which also includes, sadly, Nicholas Roeg's "Cold Heaven" and Baby Lynch's "Boxing Helena" (and, yes, there are likely worse movies than these three out there in the world, but these movies were TRYING to be good; I'm sure The Rock starring in The Tooth Fairy is worse than any of these, but a) I obviously didn't see it and b) just based on the trailer a person would be pretty clear about the fact that they were not trying to make a serious movie (but I digress)). However, Whore is NOT how I will remember Ken Russell. How I will remember Ken Russell is -

  • Lair of the White Worm - Fantastically silly and campy and scary (based on a lesser known Bram Stoker).
  • Salome's Last Dance - Just a fine fucking movie.
  • The Devils - Ditto (and Vanessa Redgrave as the most beautiful nun I have ever seen).
  • The Music Lover - Richard Chamberlain as Tchaikosky!
  • Crimes of Passion - Just almost impossible to describe if you haven't seen it, but Kathleen Turner is an architect by day and a prostitute named, as I recall, China Blue by night, and then Tony Perkins shows up with a rather large dildo (kids don't try this at home).
  • Women in Love - sure, Alan Bates and Oliver Reed nude wrestling, but so much more too!

At any rate, he made some movies that didn't work for me (Gothic, Tommy) but, in general, you knew if it was Ken Russell he'd thrown himself into the thing completely, hit or miss, and it would almost always have something in it that you'd say to yourself, "Well, haven't seen that before..."

Cheers, Ken...


Sunday, November 20, 2011

And, when I awoke, I was alone, this bird had flown...

So before I left San Francisco the first time, for Michigan (say summer of 1993), I was staying with Paul Romano and Nick Jorgensen up at the top of 22nd and Grandview for a few days (weeks?). One evening Paul and I sat down to watch some late night TV, either Carson (is that possible?) or Leno, or MAYBE Letterman. Anyway, one of the guests that night was Pat Benatar, who was promoting her recent Blues (!) album...

Then, lo and behold, for reasons that I don't recall, and unprompted by the host, Pat Benatar starts talking about Thomas Pynchon. Now for Paul, after Dostoevsky, Mr. Pynchon might be his favorite writer, or at least VERY near the top of the list. I don't know if moments like these are deemed "epiphanical" or simply "jaw-dropping", but Paul stared at the screen in shock and awe (tm) and then turned to me and said, in essence, "If you had told me that Pat Benatar would be on this show promoting a BLUES album AND THEN would start talking about Thomas Pynchon, well..."; and in my mind's eye (or verisimilitude?) he simply shook his head at the wonder and splendor of our modern world. Or, to put it another way, Paul did NOT see that coming...

I have now left San Francisco a second time, June 2011, for the state of Washington. Danielle and I finally made it to Green Lake, Seattle as of 11/1. Our local tavern is a country western bar called The Little Red Hen (link attached) and, to be perfectly honest, the LiReHe (as Bid Daddy might call it) is one of the main reasons we moved to Green Lake - lovely people, both customers and staff; good to really good music most nights; free dance lessons; tasty and inexpensive food (check out the extensive menu); a two minute walk. On Thanksgiving night (doors at 7 and, yes, we HAVE booked a seat at the bar, thanks for asking) we will be seeing Knut Bell and the Blue Collars, local favorites who get PRIME evenings at the Little Red Hen- Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Eve, etc.

A couple of nights ago we were sitting at the bar and met a bartender, Lila (about my age, give or take), for the first time. In the course of conversation, she told us she'd grown up in Green Lake - elementary school, high school (a cheerleader), family still lives close by in the neighborhood. Then, and I'm not exactly sure why, Lila started singing a childhood bedtime song to us ... in Norwegian. She went through it once (very lilting, I must say), then a second time, providing us line by line translations of the content as she went (vocabulary word of the day: "rumpa" is "booty"). She then indicated she could teach us Norwegian if we were interested (!). To which I said, "You mean to this day you speak Norwegian fluently and could, for example, hold an extended conversation with a Norwegian speaker if they came through the front door?" To which she said, "Of course"; then added, "in fact I will this weekend when KNUT BELL COMES TO PLAY." (Emphasis mine.) "He's from Norway."

And, I mean, of course he is, right? "Knut" (Ka-Noot). At any rate, our sudden immersion into All Things Norwegian (ATN - childhood BEDTIME songs?) at our local country western bar? No, I certainly did NOT see that coming.


Fictional Lesbian Pairings (I)

Eva Destruction hearts Betty Rubble. Betty is cautiously optimistic.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Friday, November 4, 2011

November Poem (In Which I Shamelessly Promote my Poetry Chapbook, "Big Cotton Sun")

So it's November, and Danielle and I have actually moved to Seattle, the Green Lake neighborhood, and boy do I like it here. At any rate, things have been hectic so not much activity on the blog, but I did manage to update November's poem to an oldie but goodie, Shooting Up Jesus. Should you take a shine to this poem and develop a longing and yearning for others like it, there is a 30 page chapbook of poetry called Big Cotton Sun which I published with Main Street Rag Press out of Charlotte, NC, in 2003. As the holiday season is approaching, this could be JUST the gift for all your Friends of Faith. The link below will take you to their website and I think he does have a few copies still available -

Main Street Rag On-Line Book Store...

If this all seems to0 busy somehow and you want to contact me directly at, I may be able to track down a copy for you in one of our moving boxes...


Thursday, October 20, 2011

"I Love You Period", Dan Baird

The unabashed joy I get EVERY TIME I hear this song probably exceeds the actual quality of the song; but there's no accounting for taste and, of course, a pure emotional response.

Other thoughts -

  • You know, wanted to go a bit lighter after the Randy Newman.
  • From an album titled "Love Songs for the Hearing Impaired".
  • He looks like he could NOT be having a better time screwing up his lip-syncing in this video. That makes me happy.
  • His band is named Homemade Sin, which also makes me happy.
  • At some point was (is?) the singer for Georgia Satellites (but likely some of you already knew that).
  • All in all, a song about punctuation correction? How could I not like it? And the line "I want to hold you in parentheses" absolutely slays me. (And then the teacher's, "here's the way that it should have went"..)
I Love You Period...


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"Rednecks", Randy Newman

So I decided to take a double dip with Mr. Newman if only because this was likely the first song I heard on the radio where I thought to myself "but that's the N-Word; you are not even supposed to say that word LET ALONE put it in Popular Contemporary" (I would have seen it in fiction prior to that, of course; Huck Finn springs to mind).

Well, I got a hold of the lyrics and sorted out about Lester Maddox and also this "cage" in the various Northern cities, and learned something about character in song, POV, and how a songwriter could, conceivably, use "racist" language in such a way that it was attacking racism (don't recall any of that running around on the ol' Amplitude Modulation). And, of course, both the North and South take hits here (no reason to be smug, Yankee).

From his 1973 album Good Old Boys; I probably heard it for the first time right before Short People came out. (Oh, and Marie from the previous post is on that same record.)

"College men from LSU/went in dumb, come out dumb, too..."



"Marie", Randy Newman

Because he is just so fucking good. I was certainly aware of him before Short People (more on that in the next post), but it wasn't until later that I realized the impact of what he could do. If there is a song sadder than this one I'm not sure what it is. Probably another Randy Newman song...

"And I don't listen to a word you say/when you're in trouble I turn away..."



Saturday, October 15, 2011

"Dreaming My Dreams", Waylon

Not too much needs to be said about Waylon, though it's hard to believe he's been gone nearly ten years. He is one of our absolute favorites, and I think one of the greatest voices we have. I chose the title track of his 1975 album because the arrangement is so spare and his voice really stands out.

Written by Allen Reynolds, of whom I know very little.

Dreaming My Dreams...


Tevye We Hardly Knew Ye

When I was maybe 13 my mother took me to see Fiddler on the Roof in Los Angeles. Now, this was a big, big deal. We lived in Orange County and we NEVER went to Los Angeles; all I knew was that L.A. was "dangerous", it was unlikely I'd ever lay eyes on Dodger Stadium (certainly not for a night game!), and you had to be EXTREMELY careful and always alert if and when you got anywhere near the place (this from my father who, to be fair, lived in Los Angeles for years and years). At any rate, my mom and I got in the car late morning one Sunday, drove to Los Angeles from La Habra (about 45 minutes), had lunch someplace and then went to the theater for the matinee (and I know it wasn't the Pantages, but I'm not sure which theater it was; I just ran a cursory Google search and didn't find anything - Dave Stein? Garth?).

As it turned out, NOT ONLY was there no matinee that day (the box office was closed, no people around at all), but the marquee was ignorant of the antics of Tevye and his family - Fiddler on the Roof wasn't even PLAYING; instead, the current production was Your Arms to Short to Box With God, an all-Black musical that imdb describes as "a soaring celebration in song and dance". Which it may well be, but I never saw it.

We drove back to the safety of Orange County, my mother and I did, and if you've noticed this thing about me, that I often call ahead even if we are meeting at a bar that we ARE ABSOLUTELY DEAD CERTAIN WILL BE OPEN; or if I'm running down to get something at the pet store or whatever - well, impetus thine name is Mrs. Murray.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Knapp's Lounge, Tacoma, Evening of October 12th (In Which I Buy a Drink for Terry)

Those of you who avidly follow this blog ( wait for it ... har) might recall that back on August 3rd or 4th I told the story of a gentleman named Terry who played me a bunch of Badfinger on the juke box at Knapp's here in Tacoma. After the first two songs he got up, said good evening, and left; then three more came on - he had played them just for me. I said to Danielle, "I'm buying that guy a drink the next time we see him in here."

Well let's close the loop on this heartwarming tale of human bonding, shall we? Diet Coke and bourbon? Robin, put that on my tab!

Cheers, Terry...


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

In the 3rd Grade, I Discuss Art w/ Elizabeth Hiatt (a Movie - "Days of Wine and Roses", Starring Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick)

As I've been thinking back on all these songs from my youth, another memory sprang to mind. I was in 3rd grade at Our Lady of Guadalupe Elementary School in La Habra, California; Mrs. Borchardt was the teacher, as I recall. Now, I read a lot of books and saw a lot of movies as a kid that were not necessarily kids' fare (the novel Ice Station Zebra in 2nd grade stands out in particular). So one night I went home from school, I was either 10 or 11, I guess, and watched Days of Wine and Roses with at least my mother and possibly my father, too, though I don't recall him being in the room. I do recall being so traumatized by the film that I don't believe I've seen it since (I likely need to remedy that).

The next day at school I still couldn't get the movie off my mind, and desperately wanted to talk to somebody about it. So I went to a classmate, Elizabeth Hiatt - I don't know now why I thought she was the best bet - and asked if there was any chance she'd seen Days of Wine and Roses the night before. She had. And I remember being so RELIEVED; there was somebody who'd seen it, somebody I could talk to about it. Now, I have no idea what we said about the movie, no recollection at all, but I do know that was probably the first conversation I ever had with another person about art - to see some piece of art that effected you and find another person whom it also effected and then to talk about it.

So, Liz Hiatt, from across the years - cheers to you.


IBL Travels to Outlaw Country (In Which I Re-Post Something From Yesterday Because I Now Realize It Should Have Its Own Personal Venue)

I felt this was important enough to have its own post, not to be buried in the Tom Russell post of yesterday. So this will be a repeat for some (as in word for word, cut and paste, etc.) -

So my evolving (har redux) musical tastes have lead me to Sirius Satellite Radio and, in particular, a station owned by Miami Steve Van Zandt called Outlaw Country. The thing about this station that makes me pretty much ecstatic every time I turn it on is that, first of all, they paint with the Outlaw Brush (IBL tm) very broadly (especially depending on the DJ), so I hear everything from Social Distortion to Lynyrd Skynyrd to polka music; Jimmie Rodgers to Loretta Lynn to the Bobby Fuller Four. Plus, of course, there's plenty of Waylon, Willie, Johnny, Merle, Kris, Shaver, Coe and all three Hanks; PLUS there's plenty of twang ta boot. And the DJs are often musicians (Steve Earle, Shooter Jennings, Elizabeth Cook) or producers (Don Was, Cowboy Jack Clement), so there is also insight as to the making of the music (both in and out of the studio), who was influencing whom, and just general Outlaw Country history.

Then, this - often I have heard country music dismissed as "hillbilly" or "hick", and likely there is a fair amount of music out there that fits this label. But very little of it is played on Outlaw Country (and, again, they are not playing strictly country music; I believe they think of it as a kind of "Americana"). But, nonetheless, there are endless intelligent, thoughtful songs by a variety of songwriters in a variety of genres, plus just some real fucking good country music, rock and roll, rock (yes, I think these are two different genres), folk, blue grass, Tejano, etc.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"Boogie Stop Shuffle", Charles Mingus

Nothing I have to say about this; the music speaks for itself.

And, like Bobby Winant before me in these pages, I want to send a shout out to George Angel for the jazz enlightenment.

Boogie Stop Shuffle...


"East of Woodstock, West of Viet Nam", Tom Russell

So my evolving (har redux) musical tastes have lead me to Sirius Satellite Radio and, in particular, a station owned by Miami Steve Van Zandt called Outlaw Country. The thing about this station that makes me pretty much ecstatic every time I turn it on is that, first of all, they paint with the Outlaw Brush (IBL tm) very broadly (especially depending on the DJ), so I hear everything from Social Distortion to Lynyrd Skynyrd to polka music; Jimmie Rodgers to Loretta Lynn to the Bobby Fuller Four. Plus, of course, there's plenty of Waylon, Willie, Johnny, Merle, Kris, Shaver, Coe and all three Hanks; PLUS there's plenty of twang ta boot. And the DJs are often musicians (Steve Earle, Shooter Jennings, Elizabeth Cook) or producers (Don Was, Cowboy Jack Clement), so there is also insight as to the making of the music (both in and out of the studio), who was influencing whom, and just general Outlaw Country history.

Then, this - often I have heard country music dismissed as "hillbilly" or "hick", and likely there is a fair amount of music out there that fits this label. But very little of it is played on Outlaw Country (and, again, they are not playing strictly country music; I believe they think of it as a kind of "Americana"). But, nonetheless, there are endless intelligent, thoughtful songs by a variety of songwriters in a variety of genres, plus just some real fucking good country music, rock and roll, rock (yes, I think these are two different genres), folk, blue grass, Tejano, etc.

So, though I certainly wouldn't call him country from what I've heard so far, here's something from Tom Russell, one of the many songwriters, new to me, of whom I've become fond. This song in particular caught my attention because of the literary references - two Salingers, a Hemingway, a Conrad and Graham Green (at least those are the ones I GOT). And he's not just name dropping: they actually pertain to the story.

East of Woodstock, West of Viet Nam...


Upcoming @ IBL - More Music Discussions a la 30 in 30

So I enjoyed doing my 30 songs in 30 days, and heard from at least one person who indicated he would be pleased to see it continue in some fashion. And so it shall.

Going forward, though, I'm going to break up the music into two basic categories -

  • First, as with 30 in 30, songs from my "youth" (loosely defined as 10 to 25, let's say) that had some effect on me at the time, whether or not I like them today (though for the most part along the 30 in 30 path I DID choose songs that I still like today).
  • Second, songs that I have come to find in my "adult years" (har) that I think are fantastic for any number of reasons, some by well-known artists, others by artists of whom you may be unaware.
On both fronts I encourage people (as George Angel did) to share music that had or has an effect on them. I am always looking for new songs and artists to enjoy, either in or out of my wheelhouse.


Friday, October 7, 2011

(In Which I Recommend "Stax/Volt Revue: Live in Norway 1967" (on DVD))

If I have seen a better live concert film in my life I sure don't know what it is. First of all, this Revue is in glorious black and white; second, the camera work is, in general, spectacular; third, it features some of the finest music, musicians and singers we have to offer - Booker T and the MGs, Eddie Floyd, Arthur Conley, Sam and Dave (whose "Hold On I'm Coming" is particularly brilliant), the Mar-Keys and, finally, Otis. I don't know how much footage of Otis is available, but this stuff is beyond priceless ("Satisfaction" and "Try A Little Tenderness" are just really something else) - I think he is on an extremely short list of the greatest American singers. Which undoubtedly will lead to a follow-up topic here at infection by light, and perhaps HEATED debate (or not)...

In short, I cannot recommend this highly enough; available through NetFlix.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

(In Which I Choose a Few, Select Major League Baseball Post-Season Awards as Though I Were a Voting-Eligible Sportswriter)

Yes, sports fans, my picks are in for MVP, Cy Young and Manager of the Year in both the National and American Leagues!

In the American -

  • Manager: John Maddon, Tampa Bay. He loses his ace closer, his ace set-up guy and Carl Crawford's 29 homers and 100 RBI and STILL has his team back in the post-season? That's good enough for me.
  • Cy Young: Justin Verlander, Detroit. Not much to add there.
  • MVP: Justin Verlander, Detroit. Probably lots to add there, but I'll keep it brief. In general, my pool of MVP candidates is drawn from the teams that qualify for the post-season, or teams that were in it up to the end, even if they did not qualify. (Certainly there could be an exception to this, though I didn't find one this year.) Then I look at the candidates' numbers and imagine their teams without them. Verlander clearly had great numbers, no issue there, and without him there were no Tigers this year. That's the 1-2 punch to me. This may not be how you're supposed to do it, but that's why God created the blog, to discuss these kinds of things.
In the National -

  • Manager: Kirk Gibson, Arizona. Worst to first in the Western Division, with a team that, at least as I was reviewing their stats yesterday, did not look like a likely post-season candidate. Honorable mention to Ron Roenicke in Milwaukee.
  • Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles by a whisper over Roy Halladay and/or Cliff Lee of Philadelphia. As Robert Winant said to me, any one of these three could win and there wouldn't be much of an argument.
  • MVP: Whether a real sportswriter could do it this way or not I have no idea, but I'm taking Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder of Milwaukee as co-MVPs.

Everybody in, nobody out.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

T.S. Eliot and George Jones - Together Again for the First Time

I recently learned that T.S. Eliot was given a nickname by Ezra Pound - Possum; and, country singer George Jones, who just turned 80, is also nicknamed the Possum; and, if you'd told me this morning I would be talking about T.S. Eliot and George Jones in the same breath, well, I'm just saying I might not have deeply believed in that statement of yours.

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.