Sunday, January 31, 2010

Serge Gainsbourg - The Initials BB

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Jefferson Airplane - Today

Happy birthday to Marty Balin, who wrote and sang this song.

Friday, January 29, 2010

J.D. Salinger

The fact that J. D. Salinger died one year to the day after his whilom apostle John Updike is, in fact, only a coincidence. It is a fact as meaningless as any in this random universe, a universe that both described with attentive devotion. When Updike died I posted a brief passage from his work. For Salinger I can do no less.

It is a morning in 1957. Zooey Glass is taking a leisurely bath, trying to figure out how he might help his younger sister Franny, who is apparently having a nervous breakdown. Twenty-year-old Franny is the youngest of seven, but their mother Bessie has already buried two of her children. Seymour, the oldest and the star of the family, committed suicide, while Waker died in World War Two. She doesn't exactly wear her sorrow lightly, but obviously at some point she decided that nothing was going to throw her, but that she wasn't going to make a big show of that decision. Here Salinger describes her entrance in the story "Zooey."


The door opened, and Mrs. Glass, a medium-stout woman in a hairnet, sidled into the bathroom. Her age, under any circumstance, was fiercely indeterminate, but never more so than when she was wearing a hairnet. Her entrances into rooms were usually verbal as well as physical. “I don't know how you can stay in the tub the way you do.” She closed the door behind her instantly, as someone does who has been waging a long, long war on behalf of her progeny against post-bath drafts. “It isn't even healthy,” she said. “Do you know how long you've been in that tub? Exactly forty-five—”
“Don't tell me! Just don't tell me, Bessie.”
“What do you mean, don't tell you?”
“Just what I said. Leave me the goddam illusion you haven't been out there counting the minutes I've—”
“Nobody's been counting any minutes, young man,” Mrs. Glass said. She was already very busy. She had brought into the bathroom a small, oblong package wrapped in white paper and tied with gold tinsel. It appeared to contain an object roughly the size of the Hope diamond or an irrigation attachment. Mrs. Glass narrowed her eyes at it and picked at the tinsel with her fingers. When the knot didn't give, she applied her teeth to it.
She was wearing her usual at-home vesture—what her son Buddy (who was a writer, and consequently, as Kafka, no less, has told us, not a nice man) called her pre-notification-of-death uniform. It consisted mostly of a hoary midnight-blue kimono. She almost invariably wore it throughout the apartment during the day. With its many occultish-looking folds, it also served as the repository for the paraphernalia of a very heavy cigarette smoker and an amateur handyman; two oversized pockets had been added at the hips, and they usually contained two or three packs of cigarettes, several match folders, a screwdriver, a claw-end hammer, a Boy Scout knife that had once belonged to one of her sons, and an enamel faucet handle or two, plus an assortment of screws, nails, hinges, and ball-bearing casters—all of which made Mrs. Glass chink faintly as she moved about in her large apartment.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

RIP Ed Thigpen

The great jazz drummer Ed Thigpen died at his home in Copenhagen recently. He had worked with, as they say, nearly everybody who was anybody in jazz, particularly many who were prominent in the fifties and sixties. John Coltrane, Art Farmer, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Zoot Sims, Dinah Washington, Teddy Wilson, Ben Webster, and Dexter Gordon were among those who profited from his taste. Here he is in 1958, explaining, then demonstrating, his technique.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Herbert on Obama

Bob Herbert, because he writes for the New York Times, may be the most prominent African-American political columnist in the country. He has said good things about Obama, but is starting to have some doubts.

Mr. Obama may be personally very appealing, but he has positioned himself all over the political map: the anti-Iraq war candidate who escalated the war in Afghanistan; the opponent of health insurance mandates who made a mandate to buy insurance the centerpiece of his plan; the president who stocked his administration with Wall Street insiders and went to the mat for the banks and big corporations, but who is now trying to present himself as a born-again populist.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Otis Taylor Recapturing the Banjo

This is a promo video from the record label explaining what Otis Taylor's "Recapturing the Banjo" project is all about. He collaborates with fellow African-American roots musicians like Corey Harris, Keb Mo, and others. The banjo, if you don't know, is the sole American instrument that has been shown to be clearly of African origin, but over the years became associated with only white music. So that's what "recapturing the banjo" is about. Wonderful stuff.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Buckethead - Nottingham Lace

There's a lot of guitar shredders with tons of technique these days. Many of them have no idea how to turn their playing into actual music, as opposed to showing off. Buckethead, who performs wearing a mask and a KFC bucket on his head, is an exception. No matter how blistering a string of thirty-second notes he unleashes, he's interested in creating something musical. Here he performs in a club and is captured by what looks like amateur video. To describe this as raw energy would be inaccurate. There's a lot of energy, but it's focused and pointed straight at a clear goal: music.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Random Advice to Musicians

Today's lesson:

The secret to playing "Louie Louie" is the minor five chord. So if you're playing in E, the chords are E major, A major, B minor.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Kate and Anna McGarrigle: Heart Like a Wheel (Live)

Kate McGarrigle died on Monday at the age of sixty-three. Better-known these last few years as the mother of Rufus Wainwright and Martha Wainwright, she was with her sister Anna half of a great duo, the McGarrigle Sisters. Rufus has said that his mother taught him that the Everly brothers were the best harmony singers. Like the Everlys, the fact that the McGarrigles were siblings probably gave them an almost preternatural ability to blend their voices. Here they perform a song that Anna wrote and Linda Ronstadt made well-known.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What You Get For Your Taxes

If I knew where this image originated, I'd give credit. But it very clearly says something important.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Crazy - Ray Lamontagne

It's always interesting when someone known for songwriting does a cover, as it tells you something about that person's interest in, and respect for, the songwriting of others. Here Ray LaMontagne covers one of the best-known songs of the past few years, Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy."

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Frank Rich on Tea Party Revenue Streams

Frank Rich on This Moment in Republican Party History. The headline pretty much nails it: The Great Tea Party Rip-Off.

Tea partiers hate the G.O.P. establishment and its Wall Street allies, starting with the Bushies who created TARP, almost as much as they do Obama and his Wall Street pals. When Steele and Palin pay lip service to the movement, they are happy to glom on to its anti-tax, anti-Obama, anti-government, anti-big-bank vitriol. But they don’t call for any actual action against the bailed-out perpetrators of the financial crisis. They’d never ask for investments to put ordinary Americans back to work. They have no policies to forestall foreclosures or protect health insurance for the tea partiers who’ve been shafted by hard times. Their only economic principle beside tax cuts is vilification of the stimulus that did save countless jobs for firefighters, police officers and teachers at the state and local level.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Spaniels - Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight

Today we'll remember Pookie Hudson, the lead singer here, who died on this date in 2007. There are people who say they love music but despise doo-wop. There is something wrong with those people.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Krugman on What the Financiers Understand About the Financial Crisis

As usual, the combination of erudition and common sense that Krugman shows is far from common.

But the bankers’ testimony showed a stunning failure, even now, to grasp the nature and extent of the current crisis. And that’s important: It tells us that as Congress and the administration try to reform the financial system, they should ignore advice coming from the supposed wise men of Wall Street, who have no wisdom to offer.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

There are Still Things That Leave Me Speechless

Jesus: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Rush Limbaugh: Obama will use the earthquake in Haiti to get closer to the “light-skinned and dark-skinned blacks in this country,” and the U.S. has “already donated to Haiti. It’s called the U.S. income tax.”

I thought RL was no longer capable of shocking me, but this...

One quick way to help: Text HAITI to 90999 to make a ten dollar donation to the Red Cross for Haiti relief.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Beach Boys - Wake The World

Truthfully not much of a video, but hey, it was made in 1968. However, the song pretty much defines the term "short and sweet."

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010

Cal Smith - Country Bumpkin

This style of country music is gone, gone, gone. From 1974 -- dig the outfits.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

RIP Art Clokey

The creator of Gumby, Pokey, et al., as well as Davey and Goliath, has died at eighty-eight.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Johnny Cash - Luther Played the Boogie

Let the rest of the world celebrate the birthday of the King of Rock and Roll, here we'll acknowledge the birthday of his Sun Records labelmate Luther Perkins, guitarist in Johnny Cash's Tennessee Two. "Luther Played the Boogie" is Cash's tribute to his instrumentalist.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Tymes - So Much In Love

Recorded at a street fair in Philadelphia in 2008. I love stuff like this.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Krugman on What's Next in the Economic Recovery and Why It Probably Won't be Enough

I don't know, I just don't know...but this guy is usually right.

The Obama fiscal stimulus plan is expected to have its peak effect on G.D.P. and jobs around the middle of this year, then start fading out. That’s far too early: why withdraw support in the face of continuing mass unemployment? Congress should have enacted a second round of stimulus months ago, when it became clear that the slump was going to be deeper and longer than originally expected. But nothing was done — and the illusory good numbers we’re about to see will probably head off any further possibility of action.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Deep Thought

Avatar is set on the Roger Dean planet. Okay, so I'm not the first person to notice.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Buck Ram

Songwriter, producer, manager, impresario: Buck Ram accomplished a lot in his seventy-three years before passing on this date in 1991. Here are two of the many songs he wrote or co-wrote.

Oh, and Happy New Year.