Monday, May 31, 2010

Krugman on Who Will Feel the Pain

Krugman speaks. Again.

What’s the greatest threat to our still-fragile economic recovery? Dangers abound, of course. But what I currently find most ominous is the spread of a destructive idea: the view that now, less than a year into a weak recovery from the worst slump since World War II, is the time for policy makers to stop helping the jobless and start inflicting pain.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Byrds - Ballad Of Easy Rider

Sometimes you just have to do the obvious thing.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

John Aubrey - Brief Lives - Drench of Yew

John Aubrey was a real person, here portrayed by the fine British actor Roy Dotrice in 1979. This is a funny bit, but much of the full performance is very moving.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bert Jansch - Angie

One of the great English acoustic guitarists of the sixties, and still active today. The music scene in which Jansch grew up was interested in many kinds of music, as shown by the fact that he works in a bit of jazz man Nat Adderley's "Work Song."

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Searching for Jesus in the Gospels:

A while back I did some reading in some of the serious (in other words, using scholarly standards) work that had been done in Biblical scholarship. So often in our culture, a person is either a fundamentalist Christian or purely secular, but in both of those cases serious Biblical scholarship is considered meaningless, although of course for different reasons. Here is an article by the New Yorker magazine's Adam Gopnik that discusses some recent scholarly work about the life of Jesus. If you are interested in such things, it is definitely recommended.

Searching for Jesus in the Gospels:


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Grateful Dead - I Know You Rider

The website Wolfgang's Vault is selling recordings of live performances by a wide variety of rock, blues, jazz, and folk (as in Doc Watson et al., not John Denver et al.) musicians, recordings that were made over the last fifty years or so. Among them are (unsurprisingly since Wolfgang refers to Wolfgang Grajonca, better known to the world as Bill Graham) many recordings made at Fillmore West and Fillmore East in their glory days. Even less surprisingly, this means the Grateful Dead are well represented. This version of "I Know You Rider" dates from 1970 and is mostly acoustic. In some ways I prefer it to the well-known version on the Europe 72 album.

Friday, May 21, 2010

David Bromberg - Spanish Johnny

The songwriter Paul Siebel reworked a song for which Willa Cather, of all people, had written the words. Siebel never recorded it, but his onetime accompanist David Bromberg performs it here. It's about beauty, violent death, and sorrow -- you know, the usual stuff.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Gang Of Four - To Hell With Poverty (TV Live 1981)

The UK's best punk-funk dance band with political lyrics, shouldering aside the huge numbers of contenders in that category. Okay, that's a lame joke, but they were a good and very influential band, and are shown here on "The Old Grey Whistle Test," one of the best of the British pop music TV shows. Their sound was like no one else's.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Who - Sunrise

Happy birthday, Pete. This song is a nice example of Townshend's employment of chord progressions that most rock songwriters never use.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Blind Lemon Jefferson - See That My Grave Is Kept Clean

Been listening to some Lemon lately. If you're not familiar with him, you should know that the final shot in this video is apparently authentic.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Krugman on Greece, the US, and False Comparisons

The fact that Krugman speaks sense is good. The fact that he is so rare in that regard is not.

It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good, and the crisis in Greece is making some people — people who opposed health care reform and are itching for an excuse to dismantle Social Security — very, very happy. Everywhere you look there are editorials and commentaries, some posing as objective reporting, asserting that Greece today will be America tomorrow unless we abandon all that nonsense about taking care of those in need.

The truth, however, is that America isn’t Greece — and, in any case, the message from Greece isn’t what these people would have you believe.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Rich Fulcher

Some of the clips are from his work with the Mighty Boosh, which is where I first heard of him. But it's all good stuff.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hacienda - Younger Days

My new favorite band, in case the fact that I keep posting stuff by them hadn't made that clear.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Lena Horne - Stormy Weather (1943)

From her obituary in the New York Times: "Looking back at the age of 80, Ms. Horne said: 'My identity is very clear to me now. I am a black woman. I’m free. I no longer have to be a "credit." I don’t have to be a symbol to anybody; I don’t have to be a first to anybody. I don’t have to be an imitation of a white woman that Hollywood sort of hoped I’d become. I’m me, and I’m like nobody else.'"

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Frank Rich on Times Square and the News Media

I always check Frank Rich on Sunday mornings to see if he's got anything good to say. The truth is, he pretty much always does.

Here’s the time line from last Saturday. At 6:30 p.m. the abandoned Nissan Pathfinder was found smoking in Times Square. Relevant public officials marooned at the [White House Correspondents Dinner] in Washington quickly got word. Over the next hour and a half, several news organizations spread it as well while Times Square was evacuated. To clear the Broadway theater district at curtain time on Saturday night isn’t like emptying a high school; it’s a virtual military operation. By 8 p.m., the crossroads of the world looked like a ghost town, yet if you tuned in to a cable news network, it wasn’t news. No one seemed to know or to care. On MSNBC, which I was watching, it didn’t even merit a mention on a crawl. MSNBC was instead busy covering the correspondents dinner itself, so we could feast on journalists schmoozing with mostly B-list show business folk.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Blind Willie Dunn and Lonnie Johnson - Deep Minor Rhythm Stomp (1929)

Apparently the name "Blind Willie Dunn" is a contractual pseudonym used by Eddie Lang, pictured on the right. Johnson and Lang recorded together several times, and were both pioneers of guitar in the late twenties.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Hacienda - Little Girl

I love stuff like this -- a few musicians in a room, relaxed but in control, making great music.

It's worth pointing out that for all the retro music I post, Hacienda is a new band, having released their two albums in 2008 and 2010. But then, they're a little retro themselves.

Hacienda - Little Girl - HearYa Live Session from on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

John Boutté - At the Foot of Canal Street

It's unfair to say that when David Mills died so unexpectedly on March 30 that he left behind unfinished work, mostly because he had accomplished so much in his time on earth. However, when I recently visited his blog, I noticed that he had posted a song there on March 28. Usually the songs that he posted there would show up as links from posts on his main blog, undercoverblackman, but if he meant to do so for this song, as seems likely, he didn't have a chance to get to it. He's been on my mind again because I just finished watching The Corner, the 2000 HBO mini-series for which he and David Simon won Emmies as creators and writers. So to honor his memory just a little more, and to perhaps continue some of his work a little bit, here is that song that he posted. "At the Foot of Canal Street" is, as the title makes clear, a song about New Orleans, where David was working and where he died.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Krugman on Louisiana and the History of Environmental Politics

Certain things seem obvious but still rarely get pointed out. Fortunately there's Krugman (and a few others) to do some of the pointing.

It took futuristic technology to achieve one of the worst ecological disasters on record. Without such technology, after all, BP couldn’t have drilled the Deepwater Horizon well in the first place. Yet for those who remember their environmental history, the catastrophe in the gulf has a strangely old-fashioned feel, reminiscent of the events that led to the first Earth Day, four decades ago.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Frank Rich on Arizona and the Right-Wing Noise Machine

Mr Rich demonstrates his perspicacity once again.

If many of Arizona’s defenders and critics hold one belief in common, it’s that the new “show me your papers” law is sui generis: it’s seen as one angry border state’s response to its outsized share of America’s illegal immigration crisis. But to label this development “Arizona’s folly” trivializes its import and reach. The more you examine the law’s provisions and proponents, the more you realize that it’s the latest and (so far) most vicious battle in a far broader movement that is not just about illegal immigrants — and that is steadily increasing its annexation of one of America’s two major political parties.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Moonies Dump Rag

According to the Washington Post, the Unification Church is no longer willing to dump thirty-five million dollars a year into the conservative paper of record for the nation's capital, the Washington Times. Inside the Beltway, this may be a big deal, which means it could have long term real-world consequences for the rest of us.