Saturday, January 31, 2009

Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks - Milk Shakin' Mama

With the Lickettes, from his classic era. Hippie musicians in the late sixties/early seventies who weren't playing loud electric music were, of course, the truly strange ones.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Mance Lipscomb - Hattie Green

Mance Lipscomb, the pride of Navasota, Texas, left the planet on this date in 1976. Like the other "rediscovered" blues artists of his generation (hey, they knew where they were all along), it's gratifying to think that his last years were in some ways his best. Here is a pretty typical example of his work.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Caetano Veloso - O Leaozinho Live

This is the first Caetano Veloso song I fell in love with. The ghostly whispering of the original studio version is replaced by a guitar part in this amateur video taken at a show in Paris, although an audience member attempts to add it anyway, to the obvious amusement of the performer.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

John Updike RIP

To acknowledge the passing of John Updike, below is the end of his early story "Pigeon Feathers." In it is evidence both of Updike's training as a painter and his Christian faith. But like Graham Greene and Flannery O'Connor, there was nothing lazy about Updike's faith—he had little sympathy with Pat Robertson and his ilk.

Updike's control of the English language was extraordinary. Apparently many people are tone deaf to such music—I guess you either get it or you don't. Me, I feel lucky every time I get to read a passage like the one below.

The teenaged David is burying the birds he has shot:

"He had never seen a bird this close before. The feathers were more wonderful than dog's hair, for each filament was shaped within the shape of the feather, and the feathers in turn were trimmed to fit a pattern that flowed without error across the bird's body. He lost himself in the geometrical tides as the feathers now broadened and stiffened to make an edge for flight, now softened and constricted to cup warmth around the mute flesh. And across the surface of the infinitely adjusted yet somehow effortless mechanics of the feathers played idle designs of color, no two alike, designs executed, it seemed, in a controlled rapture, with a joy that hung level in the air above and behind him. Yet these birds bred in the millions and were exterminated as pests. Into the fragrant open earth he dropped one broadly banded in slate shades of blue, and on top of it another, mottled all over in rhythms of lilac and gray. The next was almost wholly white, but for a salmon glaze at its throat. As he fitted the last two, still pliant, on the top, and stood up, crusty coverings were lifted from him, and with a feminine, slipping sensation along his nerves that seemed to give the air hands, he was robed in this certainty: that the God who had lavished such craft upon these worthless birds would not destroy His whole Creation by refusing to let David live forever."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Beatles - Slow Down

Back before he was the great and powerful John Lennon, the Smart One was a teenage boy sitting in his room at home listening to his favorite songs and learning how to play them. What seemed to appeal to him most was passion -- it spoke to something inside him. When the Beatles made their first recordings what stood out about Lennon was his commitment to the songs he sang, and it actually seemed to be stronger on the covers than on the originals. Here's "Slow Down" as a case in point.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Krugman on the Economy, Again, Again

Krugman lays out a few items.

So as a public service, let me try to debunk some of the major antistimulus arguments that have already surfaced. Any time you hear someone reciting one of these arguments, write him or her off as a dishonest flack.

Who the Hell Made the Economic Mess?

From the Guardian, a list of the "twenty-five people at the heart of the meltdown." (Hat tip to the Huffington Post.)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Politics and the Media, Again

It's time to play another round of "What Digby Said."

The problem has never been that members of the media are conservative, although plenty of them are. The problem is that they are subject to sophisticated manipulation by the permanent political establishment (which is conservative by definition) and live and work in a world in which conventional wisdom cannot be freely challenged. And after many years of being called the "liberal media" they are still sensitive to the charge that they are in the tank and feel the need to prove their credibility. (The left's media critique has no similar slogan --- or clout --- unfortunately.) This ads up to a media which is now feeling the need to prove their "independence" --- and that never works out well for the liberal program.

The political establishment and the right wing noise machine are very, very good at this. They've been doing it for decades and their methods are far more nuanced and subtle than Rush Limbaugh screaming that he wants Obama to fail (although Limbaugh plays a part in this by legitimizing those who are playing a smoother game but are no less hostile.) They have the ability to manipulate the press to sabotage the progressive agenda through the building of false expectations, propaganda, social pressure, tabloid scandal and a long term commitment to the indoctrination among the people of ideological dogma. It's a very well-developed strategy and it doesn't suffer from Republican political failure because it exists outside of, and in spite of, electoral politics.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

No, It Wasn't a Dream

Yeah, this is the second time I've posted this same photo in less than a week. So sue me--I just like looking at it.

Friday, January 23, 2009

RIP David "Fathead" Newman

Rhythm and blues tenor sax master, here he is with his longtime employer Ray Charles.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Roundhay Garden Scene

For me, there aren't that many real "holy shit" moments, but seeing this was one. This is a movie made in 1888, and no, that's not a typo. It's the oldest known moving image, and lasts all of two seconds.

H/t The House Next Door & The List Universe, where the entire list of Top 10 Incredible Early Firsts In Photography is well worth seeing.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

January 20, 2009

I've posted this song before -- last April fourth -- but I can't think of a better song for today. It's been a long time coming.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Happy Days Are Here Again

With all due respect to U2 and Bruce Springsteen, this is the song that's on my mind these days. Introduced in 1929, it became associated with Franklin Roosevelt's presidential campaign in 1932, and is performed here in a contemporary version by bandleader Jack Hylton.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

How a Company Dies

Jeff Bertolucci explains in PC World magazine.

While a dreadful economy contributed to its downfall, Circuit City's real problem was getting stuck with bad management that ultimately drove the company out of business.

Let's backtrack a bit. Back in March 2007, Circuit City fired more than 3,400 experienced sales people and other staffers simply because they were making too much money. Management then hired inexperienced, lower-paid workers to take their place. Bad move.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Nilsson - Nevertheless

The Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles was fifteen years ago today. There's an urban legend that the body of singer Harry Nilsson, in a funeral home awaiting his burial, was swallowed by the earth, and therefore the service was conducted with an empty casket. Apparently it's only an urban legend, but the idea might have pleased Nilsson, who was a total wacko incongruously blessed with a sweet voice. Here's proof of the latter assertion. It's from his 1973 collection of Tin Pan Alley standards, which anticipated Ronstadt et al.'s similar efforts by a decade. The arrangement is by old pro Gordon Jenkins.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Countdown Continues

There's now less than one hundred hours remaining in the presidency of George W. Bush. Conduct yourself accordingly.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Little Anthony & The Imperials - Goin' Out Of My Head

Congratulations to Mr A, his cohorts, and his fantastic voice, for being selected to enter the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Where Cheney Goes Next

Because I don't link to the Onion often enough.

A team of nine specially trained handlers have successfully lured outgoing vice president Dick Cheney into a reinforced steel traveling crate in order to transport him back to his permanent enclosure in Casper, WY, official sources reported Monday.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Lester "Roadhog" Moran & the Cadillac Cowboys - The Saturday Morning Radio Show

First heard this in a motel room in Bristol, Tennessee. Interestingly, Lester "Roadhog" Moran & the Cadillac Cowboys were not from within a hundred miles of Bristol. I'd recommend using a search engine to find out more about them.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bono, Sinatra, New Year

Bono explains things for you.

Is this knotted fist of a voice a clue to the next year? In the mist of uncertainty in your business life, your love life, your life life, why is Sinatra’s voice such a foghorn — such confidence in nervous times allowing you romance but knocking your rose-tinted glasses off your nose, if you get too carried away.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Howlin' Wolf - How Many More Years

Howlin' Wolf left this vale of tears on January 10, 1976, so let's mark his passing by celebrating his music. "How Many More Years" is not one of his best-known songs, but it's a good one, and has been recorded by others (including Little Feat on their very first album) and was one of the many songs by many composers that got ripped off by Led Zeppelin (as part of the lyrics to "How Many More Times"). If you don't know Wolf, this is not a bad place to start.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Led Zeppelin - The Rain Song

Happy sixty-fifth birthday to Jimmy Page, a grand seventies rock star and also a good musician, two conditions which did not always coincide. He gets so much attention for his loud music, so how about a quiet one instead, a long meditative study in an open tuning. This song is also a good example of how John Paul Jones's keyboard parts (including "string" parts played on the mellotron) were Led Zeppelin's secret ingredient.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Ron Asheton RIP

The musical center of ur-punk band the Stooges has absquatulated. "TV Eye" has been covered a lot of times, so how about listening to the song that comes after "TV Eye?" Not to be contrarian -- this is a great song, and a fine example of what Ron Asheton could do on guitar. He had a lot of taste for someone known to be the cohort of a maniac. (But then, so did the maniac.) It was good that in these last few years he got to enjoy the fruits of his labor.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Cassandra Speaks Again

Paul Krugman on the latest economic news:

The fact is that recent economic numbers have been terrifying, not just in the United States but around the world. Manufacturing, in particular, is plunging everywhere. Banks aren’t lending; businesses and consumers aren’t spending. Let’s not mince words: This looks an awful lot like the beginning of a second Great Depression.

The VRWC on the March Again

What Digby said.

The failures of conservatism are manifest and huge. But beyond some vague idea that politics has been too partisan I don't believe people have heard a story that really explains it yet and until we see real progress manifested in real life by an Obama administration, I'm not sure that people have anything other than some vague hope that the other guys should be given a chance. It certainly doesn't mean that a new narrative of progress and competence won't naturally just emerge, but it's going to take time. And during that time, the right will be spinning their epic tale of Democratic irresponsibility, fecklessness and elitism, among other things, while Democrats refuse to publicly engage.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Van Dyke Parks - Hominy Grove

Happy birthday to Van Dyke Parks, one of the few truly unique figures in rock music history. Musical collaborator with Brian Wilson, Lowell George, Harry Nilsson, and Stephen Stills to name just a few, he has also put out a small body of work of his own. This version of "Hominy Grove" is from his only live release, Moonlighting: Live at the Ash Grove.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Ha Ha Ha

From the Washington Post: "Obama's Team Rankles the Right: To Some Conservatives, Advisers Are Alarmingly Liberal."

H/t Talking Points Memo

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Joan Baez - One Too Many Mornings

The month of January is named for the Roman god Janus, who had a face on each side of his head, and so was able to look both forward and backward at the same time. He was the god of doorways, and therefore by analogy the god of transitions. So it's appropriate that this month is named for him, as it marks the turning of the year.

Most of us look both forward and backward at this time. My 2008 had some of the highest highs and lowest lows that I've ever experienced. My hopes for 2009 are tempered by experience, but experience has also taught me that it's not wise to ignore the unexpectedly good just because it doesn't fit my plans.

This is a song by Bob Dylan
, about the end of a love affair, a time of transition if there ever was one, and a time in which the bitter is rarely more bitter and the sweet never more sweet. Joan Baez interprets it with the help of Nashville's finest circa 1968, including Grady Martin's guitar which, just to prove life is odd, is reminiscent of his work on Marty Robbins's "El Paso," once you listen closely.