Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Who - My Generation (Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour)

Yes, everything you've heard is true. The Sixties really were like that.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Janis Joplin - Little Girl Blue

I read somewhere that this version was adapted from a version by Nina Simone, which makes sense considering that Janis Joplin was a beatnik chick before she became famous. Listening to La Simone was a rite of passage for such, as she was an icon of tough female cool in a world dominated by the likes of Mrs. Cleaver. The song is by Rodgers and Hart, and Lorenz Hart, who wrote the words, knew from outsiderdom. I'd say "enjoy," but it's a little grim for that.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Greenwald on the FISA Debate

I'm a sucker for political analysis that is informed and realistic. I guess I'm just a weirdo that way. For example, Glenn Greenwald on Democratic senators:

Reward lawbreaking with immunity? Fine. Give the President new warrantless eavesdropping powers? No problem. Abolish habeas corpus and legalize torture? Sure. Deprive a Senator of the Right to vote on an amendment before cloture? Unacceptable!

To read it all, click here.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Juno & Jane

Finally saw Juno over the weekend, and it's as good as people say. But the current most recent Jane Austen revival somehow came to mind while I was thinking about what I'd seen, and Juno as Jane Austen heroine isn't really as much of a stretch as it seems. Like Emma, Juno is bright, insightful, but unaware of when she's sailing into waters over her head until it's too late.

P.S. Ellen Page may live until she's ninety and never have a role this good again.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Nick Gravenites With Michael Bloomfield - Moon Tune

I probably post more Bloomfield than any other musician. This song is posted for no other reason than that I heard it yesterday and fell in love with it all over again. It's blues-based without actually being a blues, and not just because of the chord changes. It's also because of that slow, slow beat with a ton of power behind it, that comes straight out of people like Albert King doing slow-tempo but burning blues songs in live performance. The heart of the song is the guitar solo, where Bloomfield effortlessly and without rock-star ego dominates what is something like an eleven-piece band. Enjoy.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Washington Phillips - I Had A Good Father And Mother

Washington Phillips is another of the African-American songsters who in the nineteen-twenties and -thirties "traveled through East Texas, where many martyrs fell." He was more or less a street preacher who played and sang. There is still some dispute as to exactly what the string-harp-sounding instrument is that he played. It gave him a unique sound, as you can hear.

Friday, January 25, 2008

David Bromberg - Try Me One More Time

Bromberg retired from touring for several years. Now he's back. This is such a low-key performance that it's easy to miss how strong it is.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

RIP Heath Ledger

Cary Grant once said something to the effect that every man at some point wished that he were Cary Grant, and sometimes so did he. The larger-than-life embodiment of our shared hopes, dreams, fears, and passions, movie stars seem to be safe even when the characters they play are being destroyed. What they give us, even when it seems heartfelt and profound, no matter how believable, is never quite real. Who they are offscreen is as unknowable as the heart of the person next to us. Shocks, surprises, broken hearts that are contained within the screen's four corners seem real, until the real thing comes along.

James Wolcott on Al Giordano on the Nevada caucuses and the Democrats. Trouble ahead? Let's hope not.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Wordsmiths on Celluloid

Over at Hullabaloo (digby's place) Dennis Hartley has a nice post on films which feature writers, which I recommend. It's resonating more strongly for me than it otherwise might, because I've been reading a collection of John Gregory Dunne's nonfiction, much of which centers on his work as a Hollywood screenwriter. Dunne's take is interesting because he acknowledges the venality and idiocy of studio heads without then assuming that writers are paragons of virtue and rectitude. Not a common perspective on the subject. Anyway--if you're interested in both film and literature, Hartley's post is a good'un.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

News You Can Use

I think what I love most about the way the Internet has changed political reporting is that it has provided a forum for people with information that is harder to get than usual. Take this, for example.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday = Cats

Funny Pictures
moar funny pictures

This is, in fact, what is actually going through a kitten's mind at such times.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

nada - the saga continues

One of those days. Nothing. Talk quietly among yourselves while I stare out the window.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Teddy Wilson - Don't Blame Me

Aside from being one of the most charmingly low-tech productions I've ever seen on YouTube, this video contains the music of Teddy Wilson in his prime, and it's pure, unfettered, solo jazz piano. If you play piano at all, you can appreciate his technique--if you love music, you can appreciate the, well, music. Under the right circumstance, it's amazing what one single human being can do.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Muddy Waters - Fox Squirrel

Just posting this song for no better reason than that I like it. It's from The Muddy Waters Woodstock Album of 1975, produced by Henry Glover but something of a labor of love for Levon Helm, who had loved Muddy since his own childhood in the Delta, when Muddy's early records were popular locally. This track for some reason didn't make the final cut and was finally released as a bonus track on the CD release. Can't see why--it's another in Mr. Waters's series of slow-burning paeans to sexuality. Enjoy.

Our Chattering Class Part Two

Once again, the estimable Glenn Greenwald has some good analysis of our political punditry. Here's a taste:

Are Gloria Borger and Chris Matthews and Howard Fineman and Wolf Blitzer suddenly going to abandon their desire to impose shallow, melodramatic narratives on our elections and spend their time, instead, analyzing the candidates' responses to Charlie Savage's questionnaire on presidential power, or the dominant, corrosive role lobbyists and large corporations play in our political culture, or the widening rich-poor gap, or the strain and stain on our country from our imperial policies? The question is so absurd, so laughable, that to ask it is to answer it. None of them could remotely do that even if they wanted to, even if they were allowed to, and they don't and aren't.

Read all of it here.

Monday, January 7, 2008

God Loves Rock and Roll

I can't think of anything to add to this. The exhalation of smoke at the end is a sublime touch.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Silhouettes - Get A Job

Monday post is early. See you Tuesday.

Jerry Garcia warming up backstage

More guitar-player-ness. This is what guitarists are like when not on stage--at one point Garcia makes a mistake, even though he wrote this song. Then he backs up, tries it again, gets it right, then goes on.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Elizabeth Cotten - Freight Train

Another entry in the guitar player's choice series. For finger-pickers in the sixties this was a standard.

Elizabeth Cotten plays the guitar "upside-down," i.e., strung right-handed but played left-handed, which if you're a guitar player means you watch her just to see how she does it. Wish there were more and better shots of her hands.

This is something like the fourth clip I've posted from Pete Seeger's Rainbow Quest series, which I don't think I ever saw at the time. Here's a brief article about the series from Mother Jones. If there are any rich folk music fans reading this, there's a project for you: get Rainbow Quest released on DVD.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Our Chattering Class

When I suggested earlier today that I couldn't find anything on the Web that really stood out in terms of linkage suitability, I had not yet read Glenn Greenwald's post.

Friday Cats

It's Friday, I got nothing, so that all adds up to cats.

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

P.S. Congratulations to Senator Obama.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

It's here--again. The quadrennial monster.

The 2008 presidential nominating process gets its first votes cast today. The Iowa caucuses will be conducted tonight, and I've looked for something appropriate to link to, with no luck (due to limited search time on my part rather than a paucity of worthy link-ees, I think). So instead, here's something recent by the ever-worthy Paul Krugman.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Beatles - Ticket to Ride

I seem to have inadvertently stumbled into Classic Rock Icon territory. Be that as it may, I've been hearing this song a lot lately, so for that reason alone I'll post it here. Plus, it's a good song.