Friday, November 30, 2012

Today's Shuffle: Everything is so provocative

My iPod showed me love today. The poor thing, after subjecting it to a steady diet of XTC, Radiohead, and running music, I decided to throw caution and morning-commute thought engineering through careful soundtracking out the window and throw it on shuffle.

Hoo boy, that little silver Classic guy rewarded me! So much so, I'm starting a new feature whereby I do the same--play the iPod on shuffle during my morning commute--and record the tracks here (with an audio/video call-out, as per usual).

This is also in hopeful anticipation of actually purchasing, downloading, and loading this prescient 'pod with tracks instead of relying on free Spotify like a harried, all-day desk jockey driven to tears by Powerpoint slides (and unknown "consultants" who do not understand nor ever consider grouping their charts and graphics for easier manipulation and, yes, I pretty much want to off myself for even typing that sentence, let alone experiencing it).

I ought to share what I got, the good, the bad, and the tracks I downloaded for comedy shows (That's why I have "The Electric Slide," really!!).

Today, iPod knew it was FRIDAY:

The Breeders, I Just Wanna Get Along (Last Splash)
The Crusaders featuring Randy Crawford, Street Life (Street Life)
The Jam, Move on Up (Extras: A Collection of Rarities)
Chicane Saltwater - The Remix (Behind the Sun)
Andre 3000, She Lives in My Lap (The Love Below)
Jill Scott, Show Me (Who Is Jill Scott?)
Willie Nelson, Me and Paul (One Hell of a Ride)
The Brand New Heavies, Put the Funk Back in It (The Brand New Heavies)
Steely Dan, The Fez (The Royal Scam)
Beck, Peaches and Cream (Midnite Vultures)
Elvis Costello, Big Boys (Armed Forces)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The beauty that surrounds them.

I'm watching dead, brown leaves tumble out of the window and thinking about how I probably got hold of All Things Must Pass exactly two years ago, and how it turned out to become a balm for my heart and mind, and how I can listen to it again without either immediate recoiling or renewal. This track in particular just is what it is: majestic, wise, yearning, soothing, prescient, pushing.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Has given me a feeling

This morning I got to relive the moment I first heard this song during a dissection by Sound Opinions of the legendary albums by Big Star, #1 Record/Radio City. The word "swoon" was used. That is, in fact, what I did when I was sitting on my couch on a Friday evening in September 2009 before I went out to see someone or other's comedy show later that night.

I told you I was reliving it.

Eventually, some eighteen months later, after a lot of how "Feel" feels had been felt, in fact, I learned to play it myself. (A D G A D G A D G A D G A G A C G G A C G)

But back to the discovery: I discovered Big Star, really, then. I became one of the "children by the millions," finally, when I'd not bothered myself ever to really investigate those beloved by so many beloved by me (actually, after the first full listen of #1/Radio I was going, um, hello, Elliott SMITH and not um, RePLACEments, somewhat to my surprise). So much so that weeks later, in October 2009, I buried spring bulbs in my front yard while that double-album pop-rock magnificat coursed through my earbuds. And, I like to think, romantically, into the soil itself.

I was still listening, not as much, but still, when those bulbs erupted, to my delight, into towering hyacinths, daffodils and tulips.

Must. Play. SO. LOUD.

Friday, November 23, 2012

All I care is to smile in spite of it

I first encountered "Lush Life" when I was around the same age as Billy Strayhorn was when he wrote it. In the early/mid-80s, Linda Ronstadt mounted a career second (or third) act by continuing to make matchless covers other artists' songs, but during this era, instead of recreating the hits of her peers, she turned to pop songs of an earlier era. Three collaborations with bandleader Nelson Riddle produced three hit albums and introduced kids like me (whose parents dug her Cali-country take on pop and rock songs) to the songbook of Gershwin, Rodgers and Hart, and Strayhorn. Linda's is one of those voices that, If I Could Have a Singer's Voice and Persona, I Want That One--but that is a feature I just made up that I'll have to launch another time on this jukebox.

Hearing "Lush Life" around 1984, I didn't really understand how "too many through the day" would make the girls' faces "sad and sullen gray," but I got the mournful remorse of loss at that tender age, and the declaration of, god, just moving forward somehow while there's pain in the heart and the brain. Rotting in a dive? That would come--and cease, thankfully--later.

Strayhorn is a character; protege of and then lifelong collaborator with Duke Ellington, who said that "Billy Strayhorn was my right arm, my left arm, all the eyes in the back of my head, my brain waves in his head, and his in mine." All that and he wrote the lyrics for "Take the A Train," too. Black, gay, gifted in classical music in a time when all three were a liability, he forged ahead anyway. Like you do.

But, my god--I just heard Johnny Hartman for what is likely the first time only about nine hours ago, and this track about an hour ago, and I am gobsmacked, a puddle on the floor and a half-dozen other cliches for simply mesmerized. The facility, the interpretive nuance, the command of his voice, the sheer ear-ease of it all.

And, oh yeah, Trane plays, too.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

It will come back to you

I am thankful for the songs that, when I hear them, I am thankful for that and every time that I hear them. The blush never fades from its sonic rose, the seven-year itch never prickles, the metaphors never turn cliche.

This is one of those songs:

The first strains send me back to the PCH; the rest is just pure joy.

And this beneficence has a bonus, to boot!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Give me things that don't get lost.

Happy birthday, Neil. I would have posted that Massey Hall clip from 1971, but I want to expose the fact that you have not lost a particle of passion since you were the young man that was a lot like the old man.

Also, I have to find this 45.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Life goes where it does.

This is one of my favorite albums of all time. I cannot hear it without driving in Southern California in my mind's eye; up, up, over the arid hills east of San Diego, on the freeway curving down to the island, Coronado, gliding on the 5, the ocean on one side and the daunting, vast military base on the other. The towns on the PCH hang from it like gems on a necklace - San Clemente, where Nixon maybe found soulful peace in the horizon line, Dana Point, then, after not much at all, increasingly less lush seascapes at Laguna and Newport, and then Huntington with its oil derricks. The topography is always stark and the sky is perpetually pink. The car navigates the curves as though they are coming from inside me. In Los Angeles County, the 10 is a conveyer belt moving you west to Santa Monica; it drops you into  wide boulevards until you can make some left turns and find the ocean again. But it's below, too far to seem churning, or even real, but it is.

Everything here is foreign and familiar at the same time.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

So if life is your table and fate is the wheel

Watch this and know that a lot of what you see happening on stages both diminutive and vast today is happening because this happened:

To that end, and if you are a fan of what happened (and is happening), you should also watch this documentary. The "aliens arrived" in 1972 and changed what happened after.