Archive for the 'Music' Category

Mr Bad Example

Isn’t there an energy crisis or something that we all have to worry about?

Guess, we can just call him “Mr Bad Example,” and be done with it.

The capital flew into a bit of a tizzy when, on his first full day in the White House, President Obama was photographed in the Oval Office without his suit jacket. There was, however, a logical explanation: Mr. Obama, who hates the cold, had cranked up the thermostat.

“He’s from Hawaii, O.K.?” said Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Axelrod, who occupies the small but strategically located office next door to his boss. “He likes it warm. You could grow orchids in there.”

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Misfits Halloween Consumerism

I was in the supermarket earlier tonight buying candy and they had a rack of Halloween themed t-shirts. I didn’t notice it at first, but the slogan on each shirt was an old Misfits song. “Ghoul’s Night Out”, “Astro Zombies”, “Die, Die My Darling”, “I Turned Into A Martian” you name it. Pretty damn fine, thought me. Time to kick some Misfits in all its noisy low-fidelity, punk rock glory methinks. “Halloween”:

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I’ve mentioned before that I lived (in the fullest sense of the word) in Charlottesville, VA for many years in the 90’s. During that time I got to know a great many talented musicians including Dave Matthews. We weren’t buddies or anything but, like many small towns, our paths crossed enough to know who each other was at the time. Dave likely wouldn’t remember me nowadays, but I surely enjoyed his concerts at Trax back then, and I’m always happy to reprise bits of happy moments.

While searching for something entirely different, I came across this is a rendition of “Warehouse” delivered near UVA’s campus at (I believe) a former used record store on Main Street. I thought you all might enjoy it:

In less happy news, the saxophonist for The Dave Matthews Band has, tragically, died:

Dave Matthews Band saxophone player LeRoi Moore, one of the group’s founding members and a key part of its eclectic jazz-infused sound, died Tuesday from sudden complications stemming from injuries he sustained in an all-terrain vehicle accident in June. He was 46.


Moore, who liked to wear his trademark dark sunglasses at the bands’ live concerts, had classical training but said jazz was his main musical influence, according to a biography on the band’s Web site.

“But at this stage I don’t really consider myself a jazz musician,” Moore said in the biography. Playing with the Dave Matthews Band was “almost better than a jazz gig,” he said. “I have plenty of space to improvise, to try new ideas.”

Lead singer Dave Matthews credited Moore with arranging many of his songs, which combine Cajun fiddle-playing, African-influenced rhythms and Matthews’ playful but haunting voice.

The band formed in 1991 in Charlottesville, Va., when Matthews was working as a bartender. He gave a demo tape of his songs to Moore, who liked what he heard and recruited his friend and fellow jazzman Carter Beauford to play drums, and other musicians.

RIP, LeRoi.

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All Tomorrows Parties

A treat for Velvet Underground fans, Bud Benderbe reinterprets the seminal alternative band:

More over at Airforce Amazon.

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Surreal Video of the Day

Feist, the glorious female vocalist from Broken Social Scene who went solo and got in an iPod commercial, recently made an appearance on Sesame Street:

I don’t know if it’s creepy or not, but it is most definitely surreal. And awesome. I wish I had learned to count like this.

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Did We Ever Escape the Nineties?

Yo Yo, a flash in the pan empowered-but-sexless female rapper (try selling that today), got her big break by teaming up with Ice Cube on her 1991 debut Make Way for the Motherlode. Why, here she is, being so early-90’s empowered.

Unfortunately, she was overtaken by Salt ‘N’ Peppa, and later Missy Missdimeanor Elliott, and now the kaleidoscopic variety of rapper-sluts that pollute our previous cable music channels… like how Flava Flav fell from being an outspoken and effective voice for black frustration at their marginalization to spawning atrocities like Flavor of Love and I Love New York. Something is missing, somehow.

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Ellas Otha Bates, R.I.P.

Bo Diddley Rock & Roll lost one of it’s brightest and most penetrating stars yesterday, even if one of the least well known. The founder of the jungle beat heard in too many songs to count over the last 50 years succumbed to heart failure at his home in Archer, FL, at the age of 79.

Bo Diddley was a musical innovator who helped forge the sound and contributed to the style of rock ‘n’ roll. He sported a trademark fedora, played an iconic square-shaped guitar and from it he extracted a deep, rusty reverb and a peculiar playing style that influenced generations of players.


“He was by far the most underrated of any ’50s star,” says producer Phil Spector. “You listen to those (reissued box sets) and the rhythmic invention, the consistent high quality of imagination and performance, the excellence of the writing, the power of the vocals – nobody else ever did it better or had a deeper, more penetrating influence.”

Perhaps no guitarist was more influenced by Diddley’s sound and style than ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, who carries on Diddley’s tradition of strange-looking instruments and full-bodied guitar riffs with prickly solos.

Gibbons called Diddley “the ‘artiste.’

“He was the man who constructed the sound we all grew to revolve around,” he said. “And a vision of simplicity delivered through effortless expression and sense of humor. Many times, Bo made a point to say, ‘I’ll always be around,’ and we know he will.”

In other words, when it comes to rock music, if you don’t know Bo you don’t know Diddley. Eric Burden and the Animals offered the best testament to Bo’s prophetic words:

R.I.P. Ellas Otha “Bo Diddley” Bates.

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Spam Comments

Reading through our spam comment queue is like listening to .

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Synergy at ASHC

This post + this post = .

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Cheap Sunglasses: ZZ Top and the Price of Fame

Previously posted on, now with political addendum at the end.

The concept of the price of fame is usually applied in the sense of the personal cost to the famous, from the relatively mild annoyance of not being able to go out without being recognized, to the deep existential crises and insanity of megastars like Kurt Cobain and Michael Jackson. You could certainly argue that Kurt and Michael would have been crazy anyway, but clearly becoming famous was not healthy for either of them.

But there is another cost of fame that is a little harder to pin down, because it’s the cost that is charged to a band’s account of cool points when the band gets too famous. In some contexts, this cool-points account might be called “indie cred” or “punk cred” or (more generally) “authenticity.” I’m sure there are specific equivalents for jazz and metal and klezmer and so on, but it all comes down to the same thing.

If you are an indie kid or a hipster of any stripe, or have spent any time around hipsters, you have experienced or observed the phenomenon of the band that gets too famous for its original fans to tolerate, as if the band’s quality is dependent upon its obscurity. Of course that’s objectively ridiculous, but music fandom is no science, and people naturally enjoy music for more than its purely musical qualities. So it’s understandable why a fan might grow bitter at the object of his (gendered pronoun intentional—it’s usually guys who do this) affection’s success. Now he has to share with a bunch of bandwagoneers who weren’t there during the lean times and who can’t possibly understand what made this band really great. That’s a bit of a caricature, of course. Sometimes when a band gets famous the quality of the music really does decline, sometimes via intentional changes (the “sell-out”), sometimes because the band has started to run out of ideas, and sometimes because the band has plenty of new ideas but they aren’t very good.

With that groundwork laid, I want to posit a kind of weird argument: that ZZ Top is an underrated band today. Yes, that band that is enshrined in the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame, the one that played to packed stadiums and sold multi-platinum heaps of records. That band that played a Super Bowl halftime show with James Brown. I realize that the concepts of “underrated” and “overrated” are thrown around a lot, usually meaning “this band is way too good to be so obscure” or “this band isn’t good enough to be this popular.” That’s not really what I’m interested in. Instead, I’d like to talk about ZZ Top’s critical reputation and its lack of currency or buzz among contemporary hipsters, and to argue that ZZ Top is (critically) underrated precisely because of their MTV-era success.


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Pressing the Flesh

Robby and I got back to our roots a few weeks ago, garage band roots that is. We went to see the Fleshtones. Robby shared his thoughts over at Last Fm. I figure they belong here as well. First, my verdict. Maybe the most fun band ever live. Yeah, click the links, go listen to the music.


Since forming thirty-plus years ago at the dawn of the punk era in New York, The Fleshtones are not only still together, but they still bring the Super Rock party to whatever bar they play in. It’s the same classic lineup they’ve always had, except for their “new” bass player Kenny (who has only been with the band since 1992).

Last night at the Spanish Moon, an embarrassingly small crowd of about 40 (which coincidentally seems to have been the median age of the audience as well–I saw lots of old friends from my Here Comes a Regular years) showed up for the masters of garage rock; many bands that count on lots of audience interaction might have felt deflated by the sparse crowd and come out flat. Not The Fleshtones. They don’t depend on a crowd to show up stoked, they instead always create the audience they want, enticing people to the front of the stage, frequently foraying out onto the floor of the club, constantly dancing, playing the whole time. It’s infectious. I don’t like to dance much, but The ‘Shtones have a way of loosening the locks on my joints.

To describe the specifics of their stage show (jumping up on the bar, the semi-choreographed stage moves, guitarist Keith Streng’s high kicks) makes it all seem cheesy and cliched to someone who hasn’t seen them live. Believe me, I’ve seen bands that do all that exact stuff, and they come off cheesy and cliched, like they’re aping the rock star moves they’ve seen. (For example, The Cynics. Nice records, but posers live.)

It’s hard to say exactly how The Fleshtones pull it off, except to conjecture that it’s because they’re not ACTING. They are rock stars in every way that matters, and professional entertainers to the core. It’s not so much that they do things differently from other down-and-dirty bar bands, they do everything that’s already been done better. The only other band of this genre that I’ve ever seen put on a show in their league was The Lyres.

The music, in itself, is competent guitar-and-farfisa garage rock, not significantly different from hundreds of other bands of this type. Listen to their records, yes; but they’re really all about the live show, the bright kinetic energy of which is all the more amazing considering they’re really kind of old. I mean, I first saw The Fleshtones in Baltimore about 1990; they had already been together about a decade and a half at that point. That show was 18 years ago, which is the same amount of time that passed from The Beatles‘ first singles until John Lennon’s shooting. And here we have the ‘Shtones, still bringing it to the stage with the same energy and enthusiasm they had back when I was a kid.

When they last played Baton Rouge, it was 1983. Singer Peter Zaremba promised to be back in another 25 years. “Tell your children,” he urged us. “Tell your children about The Fleshtones.” I would add to that, if you have children, don’t let them see The Fleshtones before you do: trust me, you’ll be embarrassed. And younger folks, don’t skip seeing them because you think they’re old. You’re right; they’re old. But you are guaranteed to have a good time at a Fleshtones show. You’ll leave sweaty, and tired, and grinning.

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Beware the Believers

Heh, a response to Richard Dawkins and the unbelievers amongst us. Right or wrong, arrogant condescension does not go unpunished.

Hat tip: D.A. Ridgely

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Yuri’s Night

A worldwide celebration is happening tonight. Yuri’s Night!

The local arts organization I am a member of, Art Mob, is supporting our local version. Unfortunately Art Mob’s sight is having trouble, but the temporary site can be found here. I just spent the afternoon at a juried art competition and art walk we organized, “Smock Paper Scissors.” It was raising money to support the arts programs for Baton Rouge’s new Autonomous Schools Network. My job was to take students around to all the exhibits, discuss the art, engage the artists and students, etc. Great fun, the kids were wonderful, the artists eager to discuss their work and art with the kids.

To find your own version of Yuri’s night:

Yuri’s Night is like the St Patricks Day or Cinco de Mayo for space. It is one day when all the world can come together and celebrate the power and beauty of space and what it means for each of us.

You can go here. If there isn’t one, it isn’t too late to start an impromptu one. Ours will be at a local alternative bar downtown, Redstar. I am attached to the place because the jukebox is fantastic (The lovely lady pictured at the Jukebox is certainly a consideration as well.) I think it is the only place in town that I can count on being able to play the Stooges. Sometimes you just need to hear Search and Destroy while you are out drinking beer.

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American Idol Inspired-UPDATE

I actually enjoyed American Idol tonight, in past years I couldn’t say that (though Carrie Underwood was hot.)

One of them performed this song, and did a pretty good job. No graphics, but the best sound quality of the video’s I found:

There was also an interesting copy of the Carpenters Superstar. However, to hear the definitive cover, one needs Sonic Youth

(Update: I have no idea what the problem is, but the video works on YouTube. .)

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Two things you probably don’t know about me and one you probably do:

(1) I’m a pretty decent musician and singer.

(2) I love American Idol.

(3) I hate John Lennon’s “Imagine” because of the message, even though I’ve always enjoyed the tune itself.

This is 17 year old David Archuleta singing his own version of “Imagine” tonight on American Idol. It, and he, are both something very special. Enjoy:

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Historical Revisionism

Did you ever wonder what it would be like if The Beatles had written Stairway to Heaven instead of Led Zeppelin? Yeah, me neither. But the Australian tribute band, the Beatnix, give us some insight anyway [via: Marginal Revolution, and Michael Blowhard]:

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Whaaa? When did this happen?

Last week?

…but I can no longer stand idly by and watch the media and independent voters continue to throw themselves at the feet of John McCain.

Because I’m trying to remember anyone swooning over McCain and I’m not having much luck at all.

The John McCain they fell in love with in 2000 — the straight-shooting, let-the-chips-fall-where-they-may maverick – is no more.

Oh. EIGHT YEARS AGO. Now it all makes sense.

But… I have felt fondly for McCain. It happened when I saw this:

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Lance and the R.E.M. Tickets

Love letter, 1982-1985.

In between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, a section of I-10 stretches out as a low, dead straight bridge across 25 miles of swamp. This is the story of how I came to be hauling ass across that long, low bridge at 120 mph (still and forever the fastest I have ever driven any car) on my way to an R.E.M. show in a baby blue Ford LTD festooned with vestigial cop antennae.

I had bought the Ford for $300. Its name was Lyman T. Droogworth, and it was a heavy, creaking metaphor for an MC5 song. It had begun life as an unmarked cop car, primarily used to catch speeders on the Lake Pontchartrain Bridge, and when I bought it, all the electronic cop radio guts had been taken out, but the state didn’t bother to remove the antennae. That meant that cops thought that I was also a cop, and that I could pretty much go as fast as I wanted to. This irony was not lost on me. Lyman did not go in reverse, and it took a long time and a half gallon of gas to get up to top speed, but once it got there, it was one terrifying hunk of Detroit steel. The terrifying part was especially pertinent for the people inside the car.

One of my passengers that night was Lance, who has been my best friend since high school. Lance is the kind of generous person who used to supply beer for all his roommates and assorted hangers-on simply because he had a very little bit of money and the rest of us didn’t. At one point he decided it would be cheaper just to buy kegs rather than keep running to the store for cases. He was incorrect in that assumption, since we just drank more beer during the time of the keg experiment, but what a grand experiment it was. Hats off to Lance.

Lance also performed the priceless service of introducing R.E.M.’s music to me. He had seen a show they performed at our local dive, The Bayou, when we were seniors in high school, and told me he thought they were pretty good. I had heard “Radio Free Europe,” and thought it was a good song, but I wasn’t motivated to check out the rest of their work. Lance wasn’t a huge fan either, but he continued to bring up the little band from Athens from time to time over the next couple of years. By that time we were attending college at Loyola University in New Orleans, and when R.E.M.’s Reckoning tour took them to Tulane’s McAlister Auditorium (walking distance from our dorm), it sounded like a good time to go check them out live.


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REM’s New Single

Can be found here. For those who missed the tale of REM, Robby and I, I am promoting it to the front page.

Hat tip: Instapundit

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If The Beatles Had Been Irish

My first thought was something along the lines of that soliloquy from The Commitments where Jimmy Rabbitte encourages his erstwhile band to internalize the thought “I’m black, and I’m proud.”

Do you not get it, lads? The Irish are the blacks of Europe. And Dubliners are the blacks of Ireland. And the Northside Dubliners are the blacks of Dublin. So say it once, say it loud: I’m black and I’m proud.

This is actually funnier than that (via, Jim Henley):

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Tired of the Primaries Yet??

This BLAST from the PAST comes to you from the glam pop rock band SWEET!



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Sarkozy’s New Wife

Carla Bruni.

Quelqu’un m’a dit

Ten things to know about Sarkozy’s bride:

5. Criticise her intellect at your peril: her last album, released in 2007, was based on poems by W.B. Yeats, Emily Dickinson and Dorothy Parker. She has sold more than two million records in a singing career launched in 2002.


9. The new Mrs Sarkozy has not always praised marriage. Last year, she told Le Figaro newspaper: “Monogamy bores me terribly.”

10. A British journalist who visited her exclusive Paris apartment for an interview last year was astonished when the singer greeted him topless.

Category: Foreign Affairs.

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Ain’t No Sunshine

And now for an unscheduled musical interlude:

Bill Withers wrote and recorded that song while he had a job installing toilet seats on 747’s. Apparently, he had intended to write more lyrics to replace the 26 consecutive “I know’s” but was convinced by friends that he should just leave it the way it is … a timeless classic.

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Unfortunate cultural dominance

18 years ago when I was in the Philippines a somewhat similar song was popular. The song advised, “Not all the World is America.” Well, I figured then that the point made was a good one. It’s a good one now. What I think is significant, though, if you can manage to watch a Rammstein video all the way through, is that this is primarily a song about cultural dominance. “Sometimes war” he sings, but only as an after thought to Coca Cola.


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Walking Spanish

To love a song, it’s not important that you understand the words. And I say that as a onetime lyricist and singer. As one of my guitarists often reminded me, “the words don’t matter.” Well, yeah they do, but not as much as lyricists like to think. For example, I enjoy Elvis Costello’s lyrics tremendously, but I don’t always know what he’s singing about. It’s enough for me that EC’s words are interesting in and of themselves, given how great the musical elements of the songs are.
On the other hand, understanding the meaning of the words can enhance my appreciation of a song. Case in point is Tom Waits’s “Walking Spanish,” which for the last 20 years I have completely misapprehended. Until recently, I carried around the idea that “walking spanish” was just a kind of funny way of walking, like John Leguizamo doing a pimp roll or something. I know that is a ridiculous thing to think, but I have a lot of odd notions that are probably wrong, and I’m comfortable with that.

Anyway, I recently discovered that “walking Spanish” means, literally, being forcibly carried from a place by one’s collar and belt, with one’s tiptoes scrabbling at the floor, so that the Spanish walker is being forced to go somewhere he doesn’t want to go. The expression derives from being made to walk the plank on a pirate ship, but a more modern example might be being thrown out of a bar.

“Huh!” said I upon being given this information. Maybe Tom Waits isn’t just growling about a funny way of walking in that song. So I went back to the lyrics, and whaddaya know, “Walking Spanish” is a song about death.

The first three verses tell the story (in an elliptical, Tom Waitsish way) of Mason, a man who “got himself a homemade special”(a gun) and committed a crime. He thinks “his glass is full of sand,” but he’s got less time than he thinks, as he is arrested and sent to death row. The song offers the possibility of spiritual and material comfort (respectively a picture of Jesus, or “a spoon to dig a hole” to escape through), but neither can change Mason’s ultimate destination.

Jesus appears again in the last verse, as one who “wanted just a little more time” when he was walking Spanish down the hall. In Christian theology, Jesus stands in for all of us, taking on the sins of the world, etc., and so the song expands from the story of a single death row inmate to everyone’s story: we’re all walking Spanish from our very first staggering baby steps, and no matter how full of sand our glass seems, it is sand, and it is an hourglass, and it does that hourglass thing where the sand runs out. Damn gravity.

But Waits is neither weepy nor solipsistic about that grim conclusion. The loose, relaxed blues riff that anchors the song suggests a wry acceptance of facts, and one death or many deaths doesn’t change the equally pertinent fact that “tomorrow morning there’ll be laundry.” That is, there’s always work to do, so quit your bitching, death-boy.

Discussion: what other songs might be good for a “Death Mix”? I mean songs (like “Walking Spanish”) that are at least a bit subtle, that don’t hit you over the head with their deathily deathish deathiness (e.g. The Doors or Cannibal Corpse). A couple that spring to mind would be “Glowworm” by The Apples in Stereo or by Neutral Milk Hotel.

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So happy that I’m blue …

I’m probably the last one to see this, but this song/commercial is really well done. I especially like the homage to the Beatles.

And I think sums it all up:

why cant real apples sing like that?!?!?!?!?!,


As a bonus, here’s the video for that other commercial that’s stuck in my head:

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Pot Meet Kettle…

This is highly amusing…

Punk legend John Lydon has lashed out at Sting – calling The Police frontman a “soggy old dead carcass”.

The Sex Pistol, also known as Johnny Rotten, poured scorn on the Eighties band’s recent comeback.

Lydon, 51, was speaking as the Sex Pistols prepare for a one-off gig to mark the 30th anniversary of their album Never Mind The B*****ks.

The former punk rebel dismissed Sting as “Stink”, saying: “That really is a reformation isn’t it? But honestly that’s like soggy old dead carcasses.

“You know listening to Stink try to squeak through Roxanne one more time, that’s not fun.

“It’s like letting air out of a balloon.”

Especially after seeing this the other day…

soggy old dead carcass

The Sex Pistols have joined the growing list of 1970s bands hitting the comeback trail, after announcing a one-off gig in London later this year.

The four surviving members of the band will take to the stage at the Brixton Academy on Nov 8 to mark the 30th anniversary of their album Never Mind The Bollocks.

Their announcement follows the ticket scramble sparked by last week’s news that Led Zeppelin are to play a charity gig at London’s O2 arena, also in November.

The Sex Pistols – the most celebrated and notorious British punk band – split in 1978 shortly before the death of bassist Sid Vicious.

They last reformed at a poorly-received show in Crystal Palace in south London in 2002.

Frontman John Lydon – formerly known as Johnny Rotten – told music website that “all of Britain” was welcome to attend the Brixton show, which coincides with the re-release of their first album.

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Is It Plagiarism?

Lance was teasing me for not posting this here. I may be mistaken, but my review of Laurence Jarvik’s article on NGOs in Central Asia, which I had posted at The Registan, is re-posted without attribution on the subscription section of a newspaper’s website in violation of our Copyright. More info here.Now, in case any of you wish to draw attention to the spat MichaelW and I had over the property rights of file sharing, know this. Since the Times of Central Asia is a for-profit publication that makes money by stealing—meaning, it is a routine occurrence for them and can be considered part of their business model—and because I specifically don’t mind (and in fact rather enjoy) the copyright on my writing, which allows copies and modifications so long as it’s non-commercial and properly attributed, they’re not the same.

Also, writing and music are not the same—the economics, business models, and property rights involved are totally different (the “sampling” criteria alone, which is limited to three notes in music but paragraphs in writing, is but one example). Besides which, an analogous situation would be me pasting my name on a Rakes CD and selling it under my name, which isn’t at all what file sharing entails.

File sharing is much more akin Lance’s initial treatment of my news briefs, which I am totally fine with and found rather flattering. Like the indie bands who to a large degree enjoy the broader exposure they get with increased torrent downloads (which then translates into bigger shows, which nets them more money at negligible cost), I appreciated (and do appreciate) similar exposure for the same reason, as it makes it more likely that I will get future paid writing assignments (the writer’s equivalent of the musician’s show). Taking my writing and locking it behind a subscription firewall denies me any windfall, thus removing the otherwise compelling argument that more sharing is better for the producer.

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Einstein may have had an inauspicious start as prodigies go, but this four year old has gotten a bit of notice.

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Listening Notes: A Project for Punkologists

I am loving my new discovery Jason Forrest (his myspace and his main site here[some pages NSFW]). Well, I didn’t really discover him. I mean, other people were already there, and since I do not have a technological advantage over them (quite the opposite, probably), colonization is out of the question. (more…)

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How to Piss Off a Hippie

People who love music sometimes identify a little too closely with the musicians/songs they love, to the point that any criticism of those musicians/songs becomes, in the music lover’s mind, a personal attack. That’s true even if the music lover himself had absolutely nothing to do with the creation of the music, which is usually the case.

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Great Lyrics Series: Sunday Morning Coming Down-Updated with audio and Video

(Lance’s listening notes: I just spent the evening with my wife and a friend at a little bar, in a very little town, Fordoche Louisiana, called the Red Monkey. I loaded up the Juke box with what interested me (no The Jam, Clash or Pixies) which ended up being The Band, Van Morrison, Creedence and Janis Joplin, plus Johnny Cash. Since I have reprised a couple of posts, I thought it would be a good time to bring you once again Robby’s excellent discussion of Sunday Morning Coming Down. Listen at the bottom.)


One of the most durable traditions in American popular music is the drinking song. Our national anthem’s melody and structure is based on “To Anacreon in Heaven,” an 18th-century drinking song, a fact that tells me 18th-century drinkers were far more ambitious than we are today, the melody being much more challenging to sing than “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.” I guess that’s why we sing the anthem at the beginning of sporting events, anyway: by the 7th inning stretch, everybody would sound like Harry Caray. (more…)

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Listening Notes: Comfortably Numb

Note: Google, and thus YouTube, is down. So the video is unavailable at the moment. Please check back later. The entire online world seems to be suffering from rolling outages right now. I don’t know why.


I love good covers; always have. There’s something about hearing a familiar song in a new context that can make me appreciate both original and cover all the more, if the artists remaking the original put something new into their interpretation. On the other hand, there’s nothing more boring to me than a band trying their best to make their version of a song sound exactly like the original. I want to say, “I already know what they sound like-what do you sound like?”

The best covers are those that completely re-imagine the original; canonical examples in that category would include Jimi Hendrix’s and Devo’s The Scissor Sisters’ “Comfortably Numb,” which transforms Pink Floyd’s bloated classic into a spangly glitter disco romp, is another in that group. Even if the genre is not your cup of tea, you’ve got to admit that recording a disco cover of Pink Floyd–as a serious enterprise, not just a goof–is creatively daring.


Or at least I’ve always thought the Sisters’ take on the song was serious, in the sense that it is composed of all glam surface and icy detachment, which fits the alienated and solipsistic theme of the lyrics far better than Floyd’s grandiose symphonic original, which is the size of an ocean liner and about as maneuverable. But reading Tricia Romano’s Village Voice article characterizing the song as a “flamboyant punchline” makes me wonder if I’m the only one who takes it seriously. To me, the escapism of the package resonates with the content of the song. Doesn’t that make it more than just a goof? Or am I being unnecessarily pedantic?

Lance: I think they meant it as both. In fact it is a bigger goof that it is serious. It transforms and mocks the original at the same time. I think the disco aspect is not only a great counter to Pink Floyd’s take, it also is appropriate for the Scissor Sisters to bring the sound of gay club music to the subject. Maybe I am making too much of that, and someone more intimately involved in the gay club music scene than I have been might disagree, but for a gay man or woman alienation might be attached much more fully to the disco and dance music than to someone like Roger Waters. Is there an element of camp? Sure, but camp is also a serious part of much of gay life, both as defense and as affirmation, as setting one apart and declaring solidarity.

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Dollar Bill And the CBC (Updated)

In the months leading up the 2006 mid-term elections, Republicans were repeatedly hammered by ethics scandals, so much so that the Democrats promised that, if elected, they would be the corruption-free party. As you may recall, the Democrats had a few ethics problems of their own, albeit problems which never received quite the same media attention. The misdeeds of one of those Democratic rapscallions stood out as newsworthy, however, primarily because of the comically stereotypical situation in which the congressman found himself:

Democratic leaders sought to distance the party from Mr. Jefferson, the Louisiana Democrat who has been accused by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes. In doing that, the leaders tried to draw a distinction between the accusations against him and what they said was a much broader pattern among Republicans of trading legislative influence for campaign donations, trips and other perks.


In court documents made public on Sunday, the F.B.I. said Mr. Jefferson had taken bribes to help a small technology company win federal contracts and to help it with business deals in Africa. The F.B.I. said he had concealed $90,000 from the scheme in the freezer of his home in Washington.

It’s basically what you’d expect Mayor “Diamond Joe” Quimby to be caught doing.

In spite of his legal and ethical problems, Rep. Jefferson was re-elected this past Fall (although, Nancy Pelosi had the good sense to spike him from the House Ways and Means Committee), and yesterday he received a standing ovation from the Congressional Black Caucus:

On the same day that the 110th Democratic-led Congress convenes with a plan to immediately pass lobbyist and ethics reforms, the Congressional Black Caucus Thursday gave a standing ovation to Rep. William Jefferson, the Louisiana Democrat who faces an FBI probe into bribery allegations.

“The haters… and negative nabobs…the people who spoke against him couldn’t prevail against the people who spoke for him,” Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, master of ceremonies for the CBC’s celebratory event, said Thursday morning.


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Listening Notes: Golden Years

How deeply, unfathomably weird the 70s were. Roughly contemporaneously at mid-decade, top 40 radio hitspace included , , , . I’m not even mentioning ; if you’re looking for the mainstream, these songs were it.

Station to Station Placed in the context of all the other eccentric fare of the era, it’s no wonder that David Bowie’s “Golden Years” didn’t seem that strange at the time, but in retrospect, it was just as odd a hit as any of its popular contemporaries. Structurally daring (or perhaps rickety), “Golden Years” features Bowie’s baritone and falsetto calling and responding as they melt into each other, complemented by Bowie’s own ghostly chorused backup vocals, a proto-rap dropped into the middle, and an incongruous whistled section near the end of the song, as if Andy Griffith had suddenly stopped by. It’s all held together by an utterly infectious funky scratch guitar riff that keeps the song from wandering off in five different directions at once. The funny thing is, it works so seamlessly as a danceable blue-eyed soul track that I doubt casual listeners think of it as weird at all, which is magic, or a masterpiece of tricky pop craftsmanship, or both.

David Bowie “Golden Years”

The source of the song’s emotional resonance is the tension between the seeming indestructibility of youth and its inevitable ruin. To the youthful singer, time is elastic and virtually meaningless, so he can promise to “stay with you baby, for a thousand years.” But he has to work at convincing himself, insisting, “I believe a lot / I believe all the waaaayyy.” The more knowing or perhaps cynical backup vocals, commenting on the proceedings chorus-like, sing “run for the shadows,” an apt metaphor for the lead’s willful ignorance.

According to one source, Bowie wrote “Golden Years” for Elvis Presley. The very idea of fat Elvis singing “Golden Years” is delightful; it could have been brilliant or it could have been Shatneresque, but sadly we will never know. If Elvis’s version does not already exist in some alternate universe, we will be forced to invent one just to find a home for it.


I’ve been thinking recently about why Bowie seems to be fading in terms of a general recognition of his significance. I think part of the reason that is happening is that the influence he has had is unappreciated. By that I mean, he was always appreciated by the “alternative” set if you will, but alternative music has changed. Thanks Nirvana. Throw in, that when we listen to “Classic Rock” these days he doesn’t seem to fit the genre as it is presently appreciated. He is a bit too offbeat for most adult contemporary listeners. He is still played, but nowhere near what his one time sales or critical acclaim might suggest. Out of sight, out of mind. He bent not only gender roles, but genre roles as well.

He still has a lot of fans, but he seems to be off the radio, and therefore is part of Chris Anderson’s “long tail” to an extent that other more visible artists of the past, though no more successful or critically acclaimed (or less so) at the time, don’t seem to be.

Obviously that is as much fashion (which Bowie above most artists should appreciate) as anything else, and I mean literally (clothes, etc.) Glam and other aspects of the seventies that he mined are seen as shallow and inauthentic, though that is ironic given his artistic stance vis-a-vis the fashions of the seventies. He dove into them, reveled in them, but also subverted them and made them anything but shallow tools in his hands.


Your discussion of fashion makes me wonder if Bowie is not an unacknowledged precursor to Madonna–and I say that with no disparagement intended to either party. His involvement with disco certainly cost him authenticity points with traditional rocker types, but you would think it would have added to his cachet for present-day club kids and hipsters. I don’t know, maybe it has. My stable of club kid acquaintances is at an all-time low these days.

I would also (morbidly) add that Bowie might have sustained his popularity at a higher level if he had died in some dramatic way at some point in the 80s. Enclose the enigmatic artist in a tragic narrative arc, with the anniversary Rolling Stone cover and all that.

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The Greatest Unknown Guitarist

First off, Happy New Year to everyone. I hope that all your dreams and visions come to some fruition this year, as they seem to have already for some ;^)

Secondly, in order to give your new year a good send off, I one of the coolest things that I’ve ever seen: Danny Gatton, the “Greatest Unknown Guitarist.” In the vein of Crocodile Dundee, “that’s not a “Cool Guitar Video”. THIS is a Cool Guitar Video: (more…)

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Listening Notes: Capital Keeps Raining On My Head

Yields are low throughout the world, and despite the rising equity markets low yields on equities mean low long run returns on them as well as bonds. So we may actually be facing an end to the decade characterized by growth punctuated by either choppy to low returns on financial assets or a massive bubble as the economy stays relatively stable and people extrapolate that in a search for return that drives long run returns even lower. If that happens watch your wallet as yields climb and asset values fall upon deflation of the bubble. My guess? Choppy returns with a couple of 2000-2003 like collapses in various segments of the asset markets every time the economy slows as assets move unevenly to more normal valuation levels. Why are yields low on financial assets? Excess liquidity which is positive for growth, but negative for long term investment returns is one theory (while growth is good due to a low cost of capital, the high valuations drive down the yield per dollar actually invested.)

If true watch risk carefully! This is not the time to be reaching for yield or Goldilocks scenario returns even if growth is solid.

The thesis that it is the monetization of an aging western population’s assets that is providing this excess liquidity is held by Sam Zell amongst many others.

Oh, this is a listening note, which is supposed to be about music. And so it is, here is Sam Zell. (Click on the Theory of Relativity icon)

Hat tip: Greg Mankiw. (more…)

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Listening Notes: Walk on Gilded Splinters

Dr. John’s “Walk on Gilded Splinters” has been covered by a slew of artists from Humble Pie to Paul Weller, but the Dirty Dozen Brass Band’s version is the spiciest. The tight horn arrangement, underpinned by a rumbling tuba, is as dense and visceral as a thrash metal chord progression, and John Bell’s growling vocal is charged with voodoo charisma. While Dr. John’s original recording is creepy and menacing, foreshadowing trouble on the way, the Dirty Dozen’s take is the soundtrack to a post-apocalyptic Mardi Gras, where trouble has already moved in and changed the rules. They’re both great, so please, blues/roots purists, don’t shoot me if I prefer the cover.

Dirty Dozen Brass Band

Dr. John


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Listening Notes: The Replacements and MTV

My relationship with the Replacements is inextricably tied to a bar, The Bayou. A magnificent, loud, smoke filled bar packed with regular patrons from all walks of life. Old men, aging hippies, bikers, college students, punk rockers, everybody under the sun. The Bayou burned down in the late 90’s, but every time I hear the Replacements “Here comes a regular” I can’t help but think of that legendary place. Many of you have seen the Bayou, though you weren’t aware of it. It was featured in Steven Soderberg’s breakthrough film, “sex, lies, and videotape.” Steven was a frequenter of the Bayou, and a Chimes street regular back when Chimes street, where the Bayou was located, was the heart of the tiny “alternative” scene in Baton Rouge.

The Replacements songs stretched across the various genres of the post punk era. Punk, thrash, heavy metal, delicate ballads, folk, country, it all bubbled up in a stew of youthful angst, romantic inertia, depression, rebellion and reflective longing.

The Replacements weren’t much into the whole MTV culture of the time, and hated the idea of putting a video together, but the record company insisted. Typical of their self destructive ambivalence toward their career, they relented, but only by putting out two of the more uniquely rebellious against the format videos ever released. The lead singer and primary songwriter, Paul Westerberg, felt showing them playing invaded the unique experience they felt their live shows were, so they weren’t going to show them playing live. I’ll let you see what they came up with for yourself. Video after the break. (more…)

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Blues Power

If you’re in the mood for a little Chicago and Delta blues done the way it was meant to be done, head on over to Random Acts of Insensitivity where Blewsdog has conjured up an impressive array of clips featuring Albert King. Just a teaser of what’s over there:

I’ve often been surprised at how many people can identify B.B. King, Albert Collins, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, or Buddy Guy, but don’t really know who Albert King is (no, he’s not related to B.B. or Freddy). Personally, Albert King has been my favorite blues guitarist since I first heard him. He coaxes sounds from his righty-strung, lefty-played guitars that defy physics. King always kept his playing style somewhat of a secret, which is impressive since you can usually pick up what someone’s doing just by watching them. But King’s style is as elusive as his sound, and his mastery is well on display in the clips Blewsdawg has rounded up. So do yourself a favor and head over there. You won’t be disappointed.

Oh, and one random trivia note: Do you know what Texas, guitar-slingin’ bluesman Albert King claimed himself to be the godfather of? (Answer below the break) (more…)

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Send Music To Our Troops

If you are in the giving mood this holiday season (and why wouldn’t you be?), then why not send our troops some free music:

Music for Troopsâ„¢ Inc. is a nonprofit, charitable organization founded by performer / songwriter, Cat Hughes. Cat has sent over 200,000 copies of her songs to the USA troops around the world. The mission of Music for Troops is to send music to the members of the USA armed forces at home and away from home.

Music is donated from the entertainment industry at large and sent to our troops free of charge in a secured multimedia transfer method. All copyright and other lawful obligations are strictly adhered to.

(via Hot Sauce)

And don’t forget Project Valor-IT, which provides voice-activated laptop computers to wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines. We here at ASHC are sponsoring the Army in honor of Lance’s brother, but you can pick any team to which to donate:

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Founder of Atlantic Records Dies

One of the greatest pioneers in music has died:

Ahmet Ertegun, who helped define American music as the founder of Atlantic Records, a label that popularized the gritty R&B of Ray Charles, the classic soul of Aretha Franklin and the British rock of the Rolling Stones, died Thursday at 83, his spokesman said.

A native Turk, Ertegun brought such notables as Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Cream and CSN&Y fame and noteriety. Arguably, Ertegun is the most important and influential record producer in music history.

“Ahmet Ertegun was a true visionary whose life’s work had a profound impact on our cultures musical landscape, as well as around the world,” said Neil Portnow, president of The Recording Academy.

Rolling Stone magazine founder Jann Wenner said Ertegun was a mentor to many in the music business.

“Ahmet was perhaps the most revered, respected figure in American popular music of the modern era,” Wenner said in a statement.

Like most great entrepreneurs, Ertegun indentified an underserved market niche, black music lovers, and exploited it. He soon found that he could extend the market to the white American audience. In addition, in a business rife with sharp dealers who paid musicians very little, Ertegun routinely outbid his competitors and Atlantic Records gained a reputation for being a fair-dealing company:

From the beginning, Atlantic was different from other independent record companies. Their financier/dentist did not put pressure on them for immediate return on his investment, so Herb and Ahmet were free to make decisions based on their own good musical judgment. They did not cheat performers, as many of the other independent labels did. They gained a reputation for being honest, and that reputation as much as anything was the foundation for the success of the company. Many talented performers were willing to sign long term contracts with Atlantic because they believed that their royalties would be paid. Atlantic’s business practices allowed them to hire the best musicians in the business. When it was industry practice to pay royalties below 2 percent — or in the case of many black artists, no royalties at all — Atlantic was paying 3 to 5 percent.

Ertegun’s influence on the business of music is comparable to Robert Johnson’s influence on the Blues. Probably the two greatest accomplishments of Ertegun were in popularizing “black music” with such R&B acts as Franklin, Ruth Brown and Big Joe Turner, and in facilitating what’s known as the “British Invasion” which ultimately derived its sound from the Blues, thereby introducing America to its own greatest musical tradition from foreign shores.

You can read much more about the history of Atlantic Records here. Suffice it to say, the music world has lost one of its greats.

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Listening Notes: Black Foliage

Black Foliage, by Olivia Tremor Control, is Sergeant Pepper’s as a cheap but astonishingly well-crafted home recording, proving the concept that such multilayered sonic frippery can be accomplished by virtually anyone now that recording equipment and professional editing software are so inexpensive. As ever, not just anyone can write such great songs (”California Demise Pt. 3,” “I Have Been Floated”), and most who can do that are unable or unwilling to marry their sugary pop melodies to such a variety of psychedelic sounds. Despite Black Foliage’s grand ambition, it is refreshingly unpretentious in comparison to most psychedelic/experimental rock; instead of “man, that’s heavy,” it’s “wow, that’s shiny.”

I have been floated

California Demise Pt. 3

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Music Blogging- Listening Notes

When I first started this little project, before I even knew Omar, Michael and Keith as anything but annoying commenters at QandO (okay, that is a cheap shot at my co-bloggers, but I have it on good authority that I am one of the most annoying commenters at QandO, so I consider them in good company) I had originally planned to cover music a whole lot more than I have. So starting today that is going to change.

Why? Well, while wandering around at Inactvist reading the always worth reading D.A. Ridgely I came across his discussion of Time Magazines All-TIME 100 Albums. Reading the list I was mostly bored. Don’t get me wrong: a great deal of it is truly great music, though it has the feel of being put together by committee and little strikes me as surprising. The fact is sometimes I want to be surprised, even on something that by its very nature requires a bit of consensus. (more…)

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George Bush swallows Max Headroom and throws up U2

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Songs and Celebrities

When I decided to start writing about rock lyrics, I promised myself I wasn’t going to talk about the Beatles or Bob Dylan, because forests have already been harvested to provide the paper for musings on their lyrics, and I don’t really have anything further to add. At least not without breaking out some Marxist/feminist/Lacanian theory, and nobody wants that. (”Everybody run! I’ve got a Derrida and I’m not afraid to use it.”) But I’m going to break my rule, just a little, because a Beatles lyric that is both petite and grand (and that likes to think it’s full of great wisdom and import, and maybe it is after all) provides a nice jumping-off point for some sort-of related topics.

The lyric, “And in the end / The love you take / Is equal to the love you make” is from “The End,” which fittingly completes the Beatles’ final album Abbey Road. If you imagine the entirety of The Beatles’ work as one great piece of art, a giant gift to the world, then “The End” is a big red bow on that present. As endings to works of high modernist pop go, it hardly rises to the level of a Gatsby-esque “boats against the current” finale, and perhaps bears a whiff of Hallmark sentimentality, but as a simple evocation of a moral truth, it works.

Whether or not that claim is actually true seems less important than actually wanting it to be true, which has the happy real-world effect of making its truth-value more real. If everybody lives as if McCartney’s claim is true, then it is. (Game theorists, chime in with “prisoner’s dilemma” commentary now.) And maybe it is anyway; after all, we are talking about love here, not power. The Beatles were on this case early in their career, observing that money can’t buy it (love, that is; apparently money can buy other things, which must be why they were not reluctant to accumulate it). In any case, I find it amusing that decades passed before someone asked Sir Paul if the lyric from “The End” was true, and even more amusing that the questioner was Chris Farley, in his clumsiest and most innocent persona. (more…)

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The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul

Theology and moral codes tell us to be good, in conflict with our natural desires and appetites, which tell us the opposite: be bad! Take what you want! Look out for #1! Socializing ourselves to develop a sense of empathy–that is, an emotionally-based understanding for how our actions affect others–is crucial for the development of ethical frameworks, the rule of law, and free societies. However, there are two sides to moral injunctions, the social and the personal. For example, when we teach the Golden Rule (”Do unto others…”), a version of which is found in virtually all religions, the focus is usually on the social, playing on the empathetic feeling and the impact of one’s actions on another. The personal, self-centered side of morality is often ignored.

Empathy requires an imaginative leap: How would I feel if someone did that to me? But since we are naturally wired to be selfish, it is a shorter leap to imagine: How would I feel if I did that? Of course, those feelings are inextricable from empathy, a quality that (thankfully) all but sociopaths have to some degree, but I don’t mean the feelings of being sorry because of the pain I cause somebody else, I mean the effects on myself of what I do, without taking into account how others feel.

Nor am I talking about a cycle of violence, in which my actions invite retaliation from others I have harmed. In fact, I am not talking about violence at all, although certainly it could be argued (as Steven Spielberg recently has) that violence psychologically harms its perpetrators. Instead, I mean basic selfishness and its spiritual costs, which is the topic of XTC’s magnificent song, “The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul.”

Set against a John Barry-esque background suggested by producer Todd Rundgren, “The Man Who Sailed” would be a perfect title song for a James Bond film in which Bond gets honest with himself and finds that, despite all his babes and cool toys, his spiritual life is barren and sad. Such is the predicament of the Sailor, who sets out on life’s voyage “with ego as his drunken captain” and greed as a mutineer who has “trapped all reason in the hold.” The self, driven by greed, has “no compass, guide, or chart” to guard against carnal temptations represented by “sirens that sing.”

The implied injunction against carnality should by no means be read as some kind of fundamentalist or Puritan tenet. Because songwriter Andy Partridge is probably an atheist, as witnessed by the more famous (and also great) song from the same album, there is no evidence to suggest that these orienting tools necessarily represent a religious moral framework. However, what’s important is not whether the framework is religious or secular, but that such a framework accounts for the self as part of a community rather than just a unitary, “ugly and cold” consumer of experiences. Considering Partridge’s rejection of an explicitly religious morality in “Dear God,” it is ironic that the fourth verse of “The Man Who Sailed” hints at predestination:


    The man who walked across his heart
    Was doomed to journey from the start
    Of every love affair he’d broken
    All the lies he’d ever spoken tattooed on his arm.
    In short, living a selfish, ego-driven life is a doom in and of itself. Behavior creates consequence, cause leads to effect, and the neat resolution of the song’s final line (”He found the treasure he’d been seeking”) reinforces the idea that we get what we deserve. It is tempting to view “The Man Who Sailed” as a thematic expansion and illustration of The Beatles’ dictum, “And in the end / The love you take / Is equal to the love you make.” So, yes, Chris Farley: it’s true.
    Implicit in “The Man Who Sailed’s” crisp depiction of a rudderless and lonely soul is the Big Question, “What is a life for?” As the song suggests, the hedonistic life is easy, but its reward is nothing but a “bag to keep life’s souvenirs in.” It’s a terrific and terrifying line, suggesting cheap plastic novelties, T-shirts with place names, and other items we buy to prove to ourselves that we have been there. And so a shallow life, led like a permanent vacation, yields similar gaudy, momentarily diverting, but ultimately disappointing returns. Partridge does not describe what his vision of a good life would be, thereby happily avoiding any hint of preachy-preach talking to kissy-kiss. As admirable as the sentiments may be, there are no “c’mon, people now, everybody get together, we are the world” mealy-mouthed and easily mocked platitudes. But he really doesn’t need to explain; in this negative, we can see all the outlines of the things that aren’t there.

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    Póg mo thóin

    It may be well known to you, dear reader, or it may not (it makes no difference), that Pogue Mahone is one of my favorite commenters, bloggers and writers. In fact, he’s been somewhat of a celebrity amongst my partners here, and our bretheren at QandO. His politics lean somewhat left for my taste (although he is a reliable anti-establishment type), and it can be difficult to draw him into topical debate. But it is not his political or philosophical predilections that strike my fancy.

    Instead, it his ability to convey, through humor, a common-sense view of life that can all too often be lost in philosophical ruminations about this or that. Pogue hones in on a point by whimsically dancing around it in such a way that you can’t ignore the point, and yet he rarely alights directly upon it. Like a bee circling a pollen-heavy flower, hovering and swaying without quite touching, until it goes in for the goods, but only for a moment before it flies often again for sweeter treasure.

    In short, Pogue is a wonderful writer, and you should read him. Even if you experience some turbulence along the way, you will enjoy the flight.

    Pogue’s latest screed touches on the subject of sock-puppetry, but only to illustrate a more salient point — he may employ a psuedonym for his facetious fortnight follies, but he is all Pogue and nothing but Pogue. Frankly, I don’t think he could pull off the whole sock-puppet thing anyway. His writing is too damned recognizable. For example, on the subject of venturing into the blogosphere under one’s true name:

    For some of us, anonymity is the latchkey that allows access for our ideas.

    For others, identity is what is to be considered and they wish to build upon their identity and reputation. Whether through fortunes of their own making or by having exiguous consequence, those who publish with their true identity give their reputation as fodder to their detractors and champions alike.
    Those who choose to identify should be commended for their honesty and fortitude.

    It is said that eloquence is the gift of the Irish (and that we waste it on drunken rambling). Pogue has that gift and it comes through in every word he writes. In exchange, Pogue, I offer you a link and a song.

    Incidentally, if you want to know what Pogue’s pseudonym means, you either need to understand Gaelic (as referenced in the title of ths post) or you’ll have to do yourself the pleasure of following the link to Pogue’s post.


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    The limits to tolerance

    Norm Geras has reached his, and his reasoning certainly resonates with me.

    On the other hand, I am trying to overcome my feelings about fans of Phish. Luckily my new brother-in-law, who is a musician, hates Phish, loves the Stooges. In fact, when my little sister called to tell me about her being engaged to someone who I had never met, she worked those facts in within the first ten seconds of the conversation. Needless to say I was on board with the marriage 12 seconds into the conversation. Nothing more needed to be said.

    I went to the beach this weekend, unfortunately it was rainy and overcast, but I enjoyed myself, because I got to stay off the beach. Beaches are lovely and all, if they could just do something about the sand.

    Unfortunately that means the best thing about the beach was missing, lots of attractive women wearing next to nothing or even less. I should take a moment to make it clear that that makes me an objectifier, not an objectivist. Now that I have alienated the fans of both Betty Friedan and Ayn Rand I will continue.

    This gave me a great opportunity to walk around and listen to my Ipod. It has a whole lot of stuff on it and I put it on shuffle because I enjoy the odd off beat juxtapositions of various genres and styles that results. There is something truly sublime about hearing a sequence wich includes REM, the Stones, Iggy Pop, The Posies and Dick Van Dyke singing Hushabye Mountain from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, all in one stirring sequence.

    This led me to consider how unappreciated the Posies are. For those unfamiliar with them, especially their best work, “Frosting on the Beater,” imagine if Graham Nash and John Lennon had grown up listening to the Replacements and Husker Du. If that doesn’t help you go to the store and pick up some of everyone you don’t recognize from those four and after a few weeks listen to the Posies.

    Coming to prominence in Seattle as the grunge sound was breaking out they should have ridden the guitar-noise band wave to tremendous success. Robby once told me that if he could create anything as perfect as “Dream All Day” he would die knowing he had lived a worthwhile life. I have to beg off, life is worthwhile to me in and of itself, but I know what he means (As for those opposed to extending life spans to the utmost, I’ll quote Peter, “I want the pill!”) Unfortunately Nirvana was the band that broke out in a huge way. Well, that isn’t so unjust, but it was definitely a shame long term as the Posies were a much more interesting direction for that sound to go. Nirvana was great, but as ten thousand bands (half from Seattle) proved, it was also a musical dead end. That is an appropriate end for Kurt Cobain’s influence, but musically frustrating. Anyway, listen to Frosting on the Beater and remember that radical Islamists don’t like Louis Armstrong. It is important.

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    The Star Spangled Banner

    Appreciating what happened in the past is a difficult thing. It takes a conscious effort to understand the artistry behind the creating of things and experiences that now are done so easily with technology. The artistry can still be appreciated, but it rarely seems as remarkable when aspects of the artistry have been turned into something routine.

    Billy Beck however has a deep appreciation for such things, and how amazing what has come before truly can be. A few days ago I let everyone know that Arthur Lee died. In his recorded work it isn’t as noticeable, though occasionally it peeks through, but Arthur was an amazing guitarist who in his live performances had a huge fan, a fan who would find inspiration in some of what Arthur was doing and go on to even more extraordinary heights as a guitarist, Jimi Hendrix. Go read Billy take apart what Hendrix was doing at Woodstock and see how to really appreciate our musical past, how to understand what was happening musically on that very day.

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