Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Monday, December 22, 2014

How do I feel at the end of the day?

In my innocent youth, this was merely an appropriate TV theme song. Then I learned that it hit the crowd in the solar plexus just before the sun went away at Woodstock.

Of course by now it's known to me as the version--the only one--of this song...

...that even some thirty-plus years after Woodstock, gets you right in the gut. Joe does it, committing every syllable.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Frame me and hang me on the wall

I need happy tunes today, for no particular reason.

Okay, maybe because of this.

Or this. And this. This.

(Or, despite its utter inconsequence in this unjust world, this.)

Yeah, see how things get too serious too fast? Maybe that's why I've needed several layers of satire to deal with them.

I'll miss you, Ham Rove, Dr. Stephen Colbert DFA, and everybody.

Edit - adding this to save and remember: 
"'Stephen Colbert' was about creating a full person that both heightened the absurdity of those he was parodying while also grounding them in psychological truth."

Saturday, December 13, 2014

It's just a silly phase I'm going through

I've dug this song from Day One (which, for me, was when I wasn't even in school yet). It wafted out of the tinny AM/FM tuner and all around the little Toyota, borne on a hot summer breeze (the car did not have air conditioning).

And I can dig the moniker "cloud rock," without hesitation. The song, at least the layered vocals that form the most of it, is onomatopoeic to the fullest extent.

But it was revived in a big, blockbuster summer movie earlier this year? Okay. Well, at least that's better than another robot-voice booty song being foisted on the world.

Monday, December 08, 2014

But I'm not the only one.

"Make your own dream.

That's the Beatles' story, isn't it? That's Yoko's story, that's what I'm saying now. Produce your own dream. If you want to save Peru, go save Peru. It's quite possible to do anything, but not to put it on the leaders and the parking meters. Don't expect Jimmy Carter or Ronald Reagan or John Lennon or Yoko Ono or Bob Dylan or Jesus Christ to come and do it for you. You have to do it yourself.

That's what the great masters and mistresses have been saying ever since time began. They can point the way, leave signposts and little instructions in various books that are now called holy and worshipped for the cover of the book and not for what it says, but the instructions are all there for all to see, have always been and always will be.

There's nothing new under the sun. All the roads lead to Rome. And people cannot provide it for you. I can't wake you up. You can wake you up. I can't cure you. You can cure you."

John Lennon, 1980

Friday, October 17, 2014

You'll be okay, follow your heart

So he had a soul that couldn't tolerate the braggadocio and the bleakness of the biz. That's what happened. 
"It's the deal with the devil: if you want your work to be seen, it's unfortunately not just about the work. And when it becomes less about the art, then the art suffers."
I savored this interview with musician/songwriter Gregg Alexander yesterday, reading it twice, listening to the songs*. And THE song:

I loved this song. I found it because I listened to the radio--the actual FM radio--15 years ago, daily. So many blocks between 1 W and 2200 W and 10 S and 1600 N spent tromping around to this, wondering what the hell I was doing in this city after only five months. I only feel like I heard it all the time, because I mustn'tve. Some time was spent hearing this or this and straining to reach the dial when this came on.

But this was constant, at least in my head, and when, a few years later, I could obtain (not legally) and play (legally) digital music files, I found this first, or something close to it (not like I remember my first CD purchase, which was, of course, this).

The song--and its creator--were widely admired and naturally dismissed until he slipped into obscurity. Some of the admirers who stepped up were surprising; Joni Mitchell, herself once an idealistic newcomer, gave the highest praise, including the track among others by Debussy, Duke Ellington and Dylan on an album of "music that matters to her."

Gregg resurfaced later, but no on really knew it. Of course, of course he also wrote this other guilty-pleasure treasure of mine, aerial and poppy and classic rock-y, all at once.

My own well-loved digital file of "You Get What You Give" faded, disappearing sometime in the last few years between device changes and computer upgrades and virus-laden downloaded file flushes from my music storage. That's okay; it's a relic of a time past, sonically, socially, personally. But there are some things about this song that are ageless. I mean, replace some of these names, and then trawl Twitter, the New York Times, or some episodes of The Daily Show (which, incidentally, premiered in its current incarnation at the exact time that "You Get What You Give" and Gregg were pushed out over radio waves in January 1999):
Health insurance rip off lying FDA big bankers buying
Fake computer crashes dining
Cloning while they're multiplying
Fashion mag shoots
with the aid of 8 dust brothers Beck, Hanson
Courtney Love and Marilyn Manson
You're all fakes
Run to your mansions
Come around
We'll kick your ass in! 
But, for me, the bloom is still on this rose because the song's sound matches the point. The sound and the thought soar together. This song was not at shy about aspirational, and that's how I needed to be in early 1999. It says, "Remember how you did that/this with them/those? And who you are? You still are."

You still are.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Random Play: Like an oasis in the sand

Oh, man, What a find on internet radio. The playlist on this joint continues to surprise me.

Take this, for instance. What pierced my work-directed attention--and, really, it pierced--is the fuzzed-out guitar.

I'm pierced--and struggling. Struggling to fully remember other fuzzed-out guitar sounds. Maybe?

No; it was fuzzy--but gloppier. A little wah-wah AND fuzz (as if I know what I am talking about). It's fuzz guitar, but in an R&B song, that this prog-rock (and eventually electronica; see below) guitarist's handiwork reminds me of.

There's this, of course:

But that's not it. No, there's another song with a slow-burning, fuzzy guitar lick, accompanied by sharp syllables gulped by back-up singers, and then...

Send help. Googling "fuzz guitar in R&B song" just sent me chasing that musical cottontail down his hole.

It's not Edwin Starr, or The Undisputed Truth, or The Temptations.

Perhaps I ought to just focus on what's at hand, rather than search frantically forward to try to reach what's way back.

And this guy, Steve Hillage? Brit, prog, summoned forth weird noises from a guitar in the 70s (including a track called "Glorious Om Riff") and weird noises from other artists in the 80s and weird noises from machines in the 90s and beyond.

For the unsatisfied seeker that this guy's earlier efforts sent tumbling across bytes and days (this post was started over a week ago), his second career output is soothing away the burning need to know. But not entirely.

In the end, I'd rather burn with curiosity spawned by the fuzz of electrical impulses snapping through wire and metal and wood and human hands than fade away on gentle, digitally-processed waves of sound.

Monday, September 29, 2014

On Repeat: In love, in love, in love, in love

Not only am I obsessed--obsessed--with this song (and it's been a long time since that has happened), I have developed a huge retroactive crush. An I'd-put-a-poster-on-the-ceiling crush.

My fantasy bf, BF. Can you blame me?

Sure, we might have started out shakily

and aged a bit, as we all must do

But, really, can you blame me for a crush on some essence that's some 39 years old?

I mean, come on.

Friday, August 29, 2014

A love like ours is love that's hard to find

A ballad that resonates today because, well, because.

There's a time in life when you form a relationship with a dining establishment, and the sudden demise of that relationship can be unexpectedly devastating.

I know it's food--but it's more.  Friends, family, loves--memories. The biggest part of me.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Summer at the Pool: an' I can't blame all on the sun

I ran past the neighborhood pool the other morning, and that unnaturally blue water took me back to those lazy days of sizzling sidewalks and French fries and involuntary gulps of chlorinated water and that moment when you get to the pool early in the day and it's still crisp and clean-feeling. All day spent at the pool, with a Realistic boombox playing the radio end-to-end. You'd float along to whatever was being broadcast, and when it was crowded, only chopped bits of hits would penetrate the cries and splashing, like the gut-rumbling synth chords in this one:

Of course, at the time, gurgling and gasping from 3 feet to 15, we had no idea the song commemorated a riot.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Don't you know that you can count me out

I'm back and I still have Beatles on the brain.

While on a vacation, I read this new book detailing the drek, the droll and the decadent of early 80s Brit (mostly) New Wave. While it was "highly entertaining" as promised, I wish it had dispensed with the sometimes-cutesy personal intros that chirp or moan about the writers' personal connection to and memories about each group profiled. I wouldn't want to read that kind of thing even if I had written it.

Oh, wait.

Anyway, I have New Wave Brits and Beatles on the brain now; to wit:

Oh, I had this whole record (and still do) and I'm listening to it now digitally, realizing that it's not as terrible as I remember it to be  

Wait. I didn't own this record, I had the follow-up (and still do). And it is terrible.

However, they did somewhat redeem themselves at Live Aid's Philadelphia stage in a performance that preceded said terrible album's release, with some high-powered back-up:

I was nodding my head at the end there. But it's still pretty electric-drum-filled terrible.

I guess I have a new album to add to my vinyl hunt list. Oh yes, because this one that I don't have, Into the Gap, sounds like the distant places that New Wave began to conjure for teens in American suburbia, whether it's the coast of Antigua, slick Berlin streets, or the inside of David Bowie's closet. It sounds like the safari look of '83 (found here, a boatnecked treasure trove!), back when Banana Republic was a J. Peterman-style catalog operation.

Until I find it in the bin, I will enjoy Into the Gap digitally, and cleanse myself of the cover that followed it in 1985 (ugh, pearls, satin, giant shirts, ugh) with a different cover:

Thursday, July 10, 2014

For the world will soon be waking

Basking in Macca afterglow today, this track from his modest 1980 McCartney II struck me whilst pecking away at very the usual negligible affair of bossing people around through emails.

Was it the inspiration for another honeyed meditation on a summer day? I  mean, it's the first thing I thought of upon seeing the song title.

And, of course, it's timely. I look out the window and see white pleasure boats dotting the blue lake, a soft breeze, rain-fed leaves.

Since I'm still in that afterglow, I'll pose a hopeless wish for a obscurities- and deep cuts-only live show from Sir Paul, such as this or this, or even this (it isn't silly at all).

Once there was a way

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

You're asking me, will my love grow?

If you were here today


The long and winding road

Til the man of her dreams comes to break the spell

French Kiss

I've been watching this history of house music documentary in fits and starts over the last couple of weeks, to enliven chores that must be done during pre-bedtime brain-deadening hours on weeknights, which seems appropriate given the repetitive but enlivening nature of the form itself.

I've gotten to late 80s London thus far; the music has moved from Chicago to acid house nights at The Hacienda in "Madchester" to raves in undisclosed London locations.

Then, as if was shot back in time some twenty-four (!) years, my attention snapped to while performing some drudgery (probably laundry) when this track began to accompany the documentary's talking-head remembrances about loads of E and something Paul Oakenfold did.

I'm 90% sure that I heard this for the first time in "the boƮte" (club--there was a dude I worked with there who'd ask nearly every week, "Arrrh you goeeeng to the BOITE tonight, mademoiselle?") in France during the summer of 1990. The timing would be right. And the title.

I definitely heard it later, back in Milwaukee in a club (not a "boite," but probably Esoteria). Oh, it moves you around like an insistent, hypnotic sonofabitch--until it becomes a sonofabitch to dance to around the six-minute mark, for reasons that are clear--as well as definite reprise of an earlier, ground-breaking (shaking?) effect that was more integrated into the track itself.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

JUMP BACK! What's that sound?

Back to the week of July 7, 1984: gaining eight spots on the charts that week is that shiny machine:

I've got to work on my high kick.

Monday, July 07, 2014

And heaven waits here at the door

Seven months and seven days in, I've got to start commemorating the Best Year Ever, which was, staggeringly, thirty years ago.

Coming in at number 7 this week, July 7, 1984:

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Friday, February 14, 2014

We'll fight it out to see it through

I could eat this song--every delicious piano chord and that weird synth bridge, too, and then chew it all in time with those congas.

I used to go to Stephanie's off-campus apartment specifically to listen to this song on her copy of this record, on her turntable. Why I didn't just borrow it is beyond me. Finding and re-loving a song is so easy now, we take it for granted. Then, we had to sledge our way through snow on a February night to someone else's residence to hear what we wanted to hear, and hope that they had a working turntable-to-tape set-up and might offer to dub the record, that is, if they had any blank TDKs laying around. A song had to be worth all of that.

Now it can play after taking twenty seconds to locate it in a vast, faceless digital universe, and can play while while the first star of the night when it's still light outside is visible, so faint that your effort involves distinguishing star from sky. But it's there, and worth that less strenuous trek.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Random Play: Just let me close my eyes, memorize the way things are this minute

I miss:

  • Videos with parrots that are like little films in exotic locales, aren't in HD, and that don't have tongue displays
  • Diagonal stripes
  • Focusing on one thing at a time--like watching a three-minute music video--without constant distraction deflection
  • 1982

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Random Play: There was voodoo in the vibes

This is a fine example of what I like to call wide-lapel sleeze rock: you know, where a quick and sleazy encounter is described in great, brandied detail as a satin-sheeted, smoky assignation accompanied by a guitar riff that'll unzip pants, or by shoulder-baring saxophones, or some silken synths. This unfettered, sexy epoch was short, only 1977-79, but that's, what,

What kind of night? It's when you're asked to loosen up that pretty French gown since we can turn the lights down low and be swayin' to the music  til the night closes in (shout out to Richmond, KY!), because you'd rather be a fool with a broken heart than a liar.

Slow Hand, of course, just cuts to the chase. And when it's over, this guy pushes the hair out of his eyes and goes crazy when he sees you. Just make sure that he doesn't still see your face if he's married someone else.

But it's this guy who'll get you in the end. He's been waiting in the hall.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. Back when you walked into the room:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Random Play: There's only one way to get things done

I was surprised to find out this track was by BTO. I mean, they're what rawk music hissing out of a sticky-floored back room jukebox by the pool table sounds like. Ragtime piano trills and high-hat staccatos. Workin', then drinkin'. I hear "Takin' Care of Business" and immediately picture myself in the back of Flounder's on Clybourn and Diversey (which has closed, goddoggit!), playing pool and drinking Miller Lite after work from our desk jobs and the two friends who were scamming people as "personal trainers" at the Bally's that was kitty-corner from it.

This doesn't sound like that night.

Moreover, what Randy is saying struck a nerve. It's the old your-oxygen-mask-first principle. Get yourself feeling right, and everything else falls in line.

Related: I love these cryptic, terse reviews of BTO's albums by Robert Christgau.

Look at this yourself with your big brown eyes:

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Happy Birthday: Fill your heart

It was "square" of him to do it, but Bowie fancied and fashioned this song. 

Here, have three hours-plus of the lad to fill your heart.