Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years Eve - 1957

Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians ring in the New Year. Wonderful period piece from the immediate pre-Mad Men era. The shameless and incessant plugging of the sponsor, viewed now in Time's sepia-tinted glow, seems not so much mercenary as charming.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Digby on Republican Double Standards

Love this story. Hadn't heard it before.

Gosh, it seems like only yesterday that American singers could get themselves in big trouble by going to a foreign country and criticizing the President of the United States. They had their records burned, were subjected to death threats and blackballed from radio stations.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Herbie Hancock - Maiden Voyage

I could be posting something appropriate to the season, but the hell with it, this is what I feel like hearing. "Maiden Voyage" has gradually worked its way up from being an admired composition by a respected young jazz musician to being a jazz standard. Of course, it took a few decades for it to make that journey. From 1965, with Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, George Coleman on tenor sax, Hancock on piano, with Hancock's Miles Davis bandmates Ron Carter and Tony Williams on bass and drums respectively.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Krugman on Economic Growth in the Zero Decade

His comments are, let us say, Krugman-esque:

Let me quote from a speech that Lawrence Summers, then deputy Treasury secretary (and now the Obama administration’s top economist), gave in 1999. “If you ask why the American financial system succeeds,” he said, “at least my reading of the history would be that there is no innovation more important than that of generally accepted accounting principles: it means that every investor gets to see information presented on a comparable basis; that there is discipline on company managements in the way they report and monitor their activities.” And he went on to declare that there is “an ongoing process that really is what makes our capital market work and work as stably as it does.”

So here’s what Mr. Summers — and, to be fair, just about everyone in a policy-making position at the time — believed in 1999: America has honest corporate accounting; this lets investors make good decisions, and also forces management to behave responsibly; and the result is a stable, well-functioning financial system.

What percentage of all this turned out to be true? Zero.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Willie Nelson - Stardust

To mark the passing of songwriter Hoagy Carmichael on this date in 1981, here's "Stardust" by the pride of Abbott, Texas, Mr. Willie Nelson.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Big Brother & The Holding Company - Summertime

RIP James Gurley. I actually posted this song last August as one of several versions of the Gershwin standard, but now post it to mark the passing of Gurley, who plays lead guitar on it. According to some of the comments in news articles, he was probably more responsible than anyone else for bringing the sense of freedom and openness that in the hands of people like Jerry Garcia marked the guitar styles of the Summer of Love. On "Summertime" he cuts loose, tears it up, explodes the instrument, etc. But it's all still music.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Bob Dylan - Must Be Santa

Just to prove that life can still contain surprises, here's Bob Dylan singing the polka Christmas standard "Must be Santa."

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Rascals - Groovin'

Always one to anticipate, and then counter, expectations, may I present to you on the winter solstice...a summer song. Ladies and gentlemen, "Groovin'" by the Rascals.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Frank Rich on the Person of the Decade

Mr. R on who best exemplifies US public life in the last ten years. Hint: scammers and conmen and phonies, oh my.

If there’s been a consistent narrative to this year and every other in this decade, it’s that most of us, Bernanke included, have been so easily bamboozled. The men who played us for suckers, whether at Citigroup or Fannie Mae, at the White House or Ted Haggard’s megachurch, are the real movers and shakers of this century’s history so far. That’s why the obvious person of the year is Tiger Woods. His sham beatific image, questioned by almost no one until it collapsed, is nothing if not the farcical reductio ad absurdum of the decade’s flimflams, from the cancerous (the subprime mortgage) to the inane (balloon boy).

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Children - I'll Be Your Sunshine

In yesterday's post I said that the song featured Cassell Webb in power mode. In "I'll Be Your Sunshine" she's working in a much softer mode. Singers who can sing in more than one way are rarer than you might think. The string arrangement here, as on all the album's tracks, is by the Children's keyboard player, Louis Cabaza.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Children - Sitting on a Flower

"Sitting on a Flower" is yet another track from the Children's only album, Rebirth. The ones I've posted so far were sung by Steve Perron, but the Children had two lead vocalists, and this song features Cassell Webb in her power mode. The arrangement is authentic 1968 psychedelia.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Townes Van Zandt Sings Bruce Springsteen

Since Townes is considered to be a master songwriter, the fact that he's singing someone else's song is worth noting. But if you want to see a singer inhabit a song, watch his face while he sings. The sax player is not exactly providing the most sensitive accompaniment, but hey, it's an imperfect world we live in.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Krugman on the Economic Outrage du Jour

The Nobelist speaks.

I’ve been highly critical of Alan Greenspan over the years (since long before it was fashionable), but give the former Fed chairman credit: he has admitted that he was wrong about the ability of financial markets to police themselves.

But he’s a rare case. Just how rare was demonstrated by what happened last Friday in the House of Representatives, when — with the meltdown caused by a runaway financial system still fresh in our minds, and the mass unemployment that meltdown caused still very much in evidence — every single Republican and 27 Democrats voted against a quite modest effort to rein in Wall Street excesses.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Pixies - Caribou

"Caribou" was the first song on their first release on a record label. Nearly perfect, and a good example of why they should get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame their first year of eligibility in 2012.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Elmore James - Dust My Broom

The real thing, in every sense. In this clip the succession of images repeats from the mid-point of the song, and for some reason ends with what looks like Sonny Boy Williamson II instead of Elmore James, but what the hell, it's still a good job.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Children - Pictorial

Sunday I posted a cut from the Children's Rebirth album. Here's another. "Pictorial" is the big centerpiece of the album, the "A Day in the Life" equivalent. The Children aren't the Beatles, but it's still a great psychedelic-era ride.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - Mr Bojangles

The NGDB made this song written by Jerry Jeff Walker a hit, but it's been covered by nearly everyone. Thought it would be easy to find a lip-synced version from a TV show recorded back in the day, but it wasn't, so this will do. If you care about such things, this song is still a heartbreaker, because, well, the dog up and died.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Children - Beautiful

Some authentic sixties psychedelia that you've probably never heard of, let alone heard. "Beautiful" is from the only album the Children ever put out, Rebirth. They were contemporaries and I think label-mates of the Thirteenth Floor Elevators. The CD, as usual, also collects miscellaneous singles and unreleased tracks. I'll probably post some more tracks over the next few days, as like all good Sgt Pepperesque albums of the time, there's a wide variety of music offered therein to the listener.

This post is dedicated to the memory of Donald Eugene Curling. Don was something of a musical mentor, but I'd lost touch with him over the years. I just found out he died several years ago. Requiescat in pace.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Richard Thompson - When We Were Boys, At School

"When We Were Boys, At School" comes from Richard Thompson's 2005 release Front Parlour Ballads. He demonstrates both his usual dour view of human relationships and his skill at blending a folk-based guitar style with fairly sophisticated chord changes.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Neil Young - Winterlong

It's "Winterlong" cuz winter time is coming. Written in '69, recorded in '74, classic-era Youngster.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Willie Nelson - Moonlight in Vermont

From Willie's first album of standards, Stardust, in 1978. "Moonlight in Vermont" has no rhymes, which makes it very unusual for a popular song written in the nineteen-forties. Or indeed at any time.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bird Lives

Coleman Hawkins plays, then Charlie Parker. According to the YouTube info, there are only two known film clips of Charlie Parker playing, and the other one is fifty-two seconds long.