Monday, June 30, 2008

pride & prejudice & nada

Nothing today, sorry.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Who - The Song Is Over

Some songs are relatively straightforward: they start in one place and explore that patch of musical ground for a while, and then they end. Most songs are like that, in fact, and it works well. But there are other songs that start in one place musically, then go somewhere else, then somewhere else after that, etc. It's harder to pull off, and the hardest thing of all is to have the changes so seamless that a casual listener never thinks about how many times the song is changing. Here's the Who from 1971.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Frank O'Hara - The Selected Poems

A new version of selected poems by Frank O'Hara, who was part of the New York art scene in the 1950s and 1960s, has just been published. Here's a decent review from the New York Times, including a brief overview of the poet and his world.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Thanks, my blood wasn't already boiling--part 19

David Addington, "Cheney's Cheney," at least doesn't argue that he is not required to respond to a congressional subpoena. The photo of Addington and John Yoo posing like frat boys is priceless.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Obama Brings Out the Crazies

A good kerfluffle is simultaneously entertaining and serious. Over at the Undercover Black Man blog, UBM himself, who in the meat world was once a reporter, found what was passing itself off as a pro-Obama website that looked suspicious. So he did some digging, identified the website's white McCain-supporting creator, and outed him. In the ensuing comments, the McCain supporter himself showed up to argue. Read it all here.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin, RIP (via Silicon Alley Insider)

It's interesting to watch the bulk of someone's career over time. When I first saw George Carlin it was on the Ed Sullivan show, and while he was obviously not middle-of-the-road as a comic, neither was he a rebel. (This also describes his colleague Richard Pryor at the time, who was even more mainstream, and correspondingly went even further outside the mainstream when he went.) When Carlin grew his hair long I thought he was an opportunist, cashing in on the Woodstock generation. I was wrong. He was an original, and if he never hit the manic heights of Pryor or Lenny Bruce, he found and worked a deep well of word-based and/or politically rooted humor. The Bush II years seemed to exasperate him more than even most people, but this did not necessarily make him do better work.

Here is the best appreciation I was able to turn up. At the end is a clip of Carlin in his prime.

George Carlin, RIP - Silicon Alley Insider

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Taj Mahal - Ain't That A Lot Of Love

Jesse Ed Davis died twenty years ago today at the age of forty-three. Like so many of the musicians of his time he had a long-running battle with substance abuse, which eventually took its toll. In his prime he was a much-sought-after session guitarist. Rather than list a lot of names, maybe it's easiest just to say that Eric Clapton invited him to play on his records, and Clapton had pretty high standards for guitar playing.
Jesse Ed Davis appears in Levon Helm's memoirs as a sixteen-year-old standing right in front of the stage when the Hawks would play the Cherokee reservation in Oklahoma. He became one of the masters of the Telecaster, but his musical abilities extended to playing keyboards and arranging horns. He displays that latter skill, along with his guitar, on Taj Mahal's take on a Stax standard.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Aretha Franklin - (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman

So let's make it three in a row--another Goffin/King song (although Jerry Wexler also gets a credit here). You've probably heard this one before.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Beatles - Chains

Just for the heck of it, here's a post that's tangentially related to yesterday's. Like "The Porpoise Song," "Chains" was written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King. This version by the Beatles features George, who had turned twenty a month earlier, on vocals.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Monday, June 16, 2008

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

"Father’s Day – the most sacred of the bullshit Hallmark holidays." Ken Levine

Saturday, June 14, 2008

NBC's Chuck Todd Mourns The Death of Tim Russert

Since I'm one of the people who has complained about the work of Tim Russert in the past, it's only fair to note, at the time of his passing, how many of those who knew him looked up to him. H/t to TPM for the clip.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Thanks, my blood wasn't already boiling--part 17

I normally don't link to DailyKos, because while it's a great site, I figure most people can find it on their own. But this is too good to pass up.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Junior Wells, Mike Bloomfield, Nick Gravenites - Messin' With The Kid

One of the things I love about this clip is that you can see the outline of the TV screen. It dates from before the VCR era, so it's a sort of home-made kinescope. Other than that, well, it's Chicago blues.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Steely Dan - Home At Last

I was in a hurry when I created today's earlier post, and the song I posted does not provide as good an example of Bernard Purdie's drumming as he deserves. So here's another, in which his smooth touch is given a better chance to be heard.

Herbie Mann - Never Can Say Goodbye

Today is the birthday of drummer Bernard "Pretty" Purdie. Here is a sample of his work from 1971. The album is Herbie Mann's Push Push.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Prince - I Wanna Be Your Lover

Weeks ago I noticed that Prince's fiftieth birthday was coming up, and decided to do a post honoring the occasion. Then of course I forgot about it. So here, three days late, is that post.

This is the first Prince song I ever heard, and I remember exactly where I was when I first heard it -- the car I was in, the road I was on, the hour of the day. I had learned a habit which I still follow if I come across music I'm unfamiliar with: listen to it carefully, once. In other words, give the music one fair chance to make an impression. And don't cheat -- listen to it all the way through to the end. Then I can come to some sort of conclusion about it. I do this with artists I'm not familiar with, to see if I want to follow something new, and also with artists I already know, to see if their latest work is worth buying. For example, by following this rule, I have avoided buying the last eight or so albums of new material by both R.E.M. and the Rolling Stones.

But this is about Prince. So I listened to this song, thought it was good, and waited for the moment when it started to sound a little false, or lazy, or mindlessly trivial. That moment never came. It was good all the way through to the end. And that was, and still is, rare.

So happy birthday to the artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince, whose place in the pantheon of American popular music is secure. He was so young when he started that he seemed young forever, and it's hard to register that he is most likely past the halfway point in his earthly existence. Welcome to the club, sez I, and thanks for the music.

Monday, June 9, 2008

One Reason HRC Lost

Over at DailyKos yesterday there was a series of posts in which different writers offered their opinions as to why Hillary lost. This one in particular caught my attention.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

George Coleman (Bongo Joe) - I Wish I Could Sing

Bongo Joe was the stage name of George Coleman. A street musician who spent the last thirty years of his life in San Antonio, he was resourceful enough to continue as a performer into the 1980s, long after street musicians became rare. He'd ride his scooter through the streets with his homemade oil-can drums tied on back. Here is the first track from his only album, recorded live on the sidewalk by Chris Strachwitz around 1969.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Greenwald, Broder, & Our Political Media

Sometimes things that should be obvious need to be pointed out many times before enough people pay attention. I guess we still haven't reached that point yet on this issue.

Friday, June 6, 2008


Forty years is a long time in any human life. There are many ways to memorialize, to remember the dead. Here's one way.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Obama '08, and Change and Continuity

Last night Barack Obama clinched the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. A lot is being said about that achievement, so adding something different to the conversation is not easy. But I'll try.

Obama built his political reputation in his adopted home, the South Side of Chicago. For decades now, that area has drawn African-Americans looking for a place that combined the promise of opportunity with a congenial social atmosphere. Here is the work of another longtime resident of Chicago's South Side. Throughout most of his life the idea that he was an authentic representative of America would have seemed outlandish to many people. But it was true. And so is Barack Obama.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Bo Diddley RIP

Of all the tributes being rained on Bo Diddley now that he no longer walks among us, it's worth remembering that for a musician, the best tribute is always influence. And Bo had that in bucketfuls.

Years ago there was a hit single called "Hooked on Classics," which strung together snippets of various tunes from the classical repertoire. This record was followed by similar ones, like "Hooked on Gershwin." So I thought somebody should release "Hooked on Diddley," a medley stringing together as many songs as possible that used the Bo Diddley beat. Here's a list of many, but not all, of the songs released in the last fifty years that used the Bo Diddley beat.

It's worth pointing out that Bo did not invent that beat, as it was part of the African-American musical tradition before he came along. But he became so closely identified with it that it now commonly bears his name.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Joni Mitchell - California (The Johnny Cash Show)

The contrast between the standard TV variety show set (often paired with something like a Neal Hefti horn arrangement) and the fact that the only musical instrument to be heard is a mountain dulcimer, well, it makes parts of my brain light up.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Prada - Trembled Blossoms

Animation comes in so many varieties it seems imprecise to think of it as a single genre. This piece combines CGI and motion capture, at the least. Yes, it is in fact a commercial, for purses at that, but damn it's cool.(h/t to Kimberly Brooks @ HuffPo).