Tuesday, December 31, 2013

BBC Symphony, Chorus, and Singers - Auld Lang Syne

Out with the old, in with the new.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Moody Blues - Peak Hour (Live)

A band known for its studio recordings performs live on TV in 1967. Not bad.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Krugman on BitCoin

As you might have suspected, the fact that it's not a scam doesn't mean it's a good idea. Krugman explains.

I have had and am continuing to have a dialogue with smart technologists who are very high on BitCoin — but when I try to get them to explain to me why BitCoin is a reliable store of value, they always seem to come back with explanations about how it’s a terrific medium of exchange. Even if I buy this (which I don’t, entirely), it doesn’t solve my problem. And I haven’t been able to get my correspondents to recognize that these are different questions.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Cat Stevens - Sad Lisa

Yet more boomer music. I've posted this song before, but only the Kermit the Frog version. Here's the original. The ending is cut short, but you can't have everything, I guess.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Yusef Lateef - Like It Is

RIP Yusef Lateef, who was never as well-known to the world at large as people likes Mile Davis but was widely respected by his fellow jazz musicians. Ninety-three is a good age.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Howling Puppy

In once swore to myself that I'd never have a post that was nothing but a cute puppy, but hey, things change. H/t Buzzfeed.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

Ray Price - For the Good TImes

Let's have one more Ray Price song. "For the Good Times," besides being one of Price's biggest hits, was also one of the songs that helped establish Kris Kristofferson as a songwriter.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Keith Richards - Locked Away

The rock musician whose death has been predicted for decades turned seventy yesterday. Here's my favorite song from his solo career.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ray Price - Crazy Arms

Let's keep the RP love going a little longer. I'm pretty sure this was his first really big country hit.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Monday, December 16, 2013

RIP Peter O'Toole

From The Ruling Class. O'Toole's character is an English lord who believes that he is God.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Mozart - Requiem

On the first anniversary of the Sandy Hook shootings, this is what came to mind as appropriate music. It's a live performance of one of the best-known works of music expressing sorrow in the face of death. Hebert von Karajan conducts.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Harry Nilsson - Nevertheless

From 1973. I hadn't known this video re-creation of at least some of his album of standards, A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night, even existed. What a voice.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

What Digby Said, Part the Next

Digby links to Andrew Sullivan because she agrees with him, which she points out is rare.

Having expectations of [leaders] and demanding accountability from them is hugely important. It's fundamental to how human beings understand how the world works.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Krugman on "Third Way"

The professor gives his take on the Third Way's editorial excoriating Elizabeth Warren et al.

I mean, going after Warren and de Blasio for not being willing to cut Social Security and their “staunch refusal to address the coming Medicare crisis” ??? Even aside from the question of exactly what the mayor of New York has to do with Medicare, this sounds as if they have been living in a cave for years, maybe reading an occasional screed from the Pete Peterson complex.

On Social Security, they’re still in the camp insisting that because the system might possibly have to pay lower benefits in the future, we must move now to cut future benefits. Oh, kay.

Friday, December 6, 2013

RIP Nelson Mandela

At ninety-five, he had enough time to accomplish a lot. And he did.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Frank Zappa - Peaches en Regalia

Yesterday marked twenty years since FZ left this vale of tears. To mark the occasion, here's one of my (and a lot of other people's) favorite pieces of his. It was the first track on his solo album Hot Rats from 1969.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Los Lobos - When The Circus Comes

I've posted this before, but the link is dead. Apparently for many people this is now a Phish song, but Los Lobos wrote it and performed it first.

The song seems to be about the death of a longtime friendship.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Laurel And Hardy - Putting Pants On Philip

On this date in 1927 the first official pairing of Laurel and Hardy was released on film. (They had appeared in a movie together once before but in separate scenes.) Their familiar characters were not yet set, so in this movie they never quite look like "Laurel and Hardy." As a historical artifact it's very interesting. Plus it's funny.

Monday, December 2, 2013

YouTube Comment Reconstruction #2 - 'GoPro: Fireman Saves Kitten

What happens if you take a typical argument provoked by some jerk in a YouTube comments section and re-create it with actors? From Gawker. H/t Digby.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Los Lobos - Bertha

The Wolves have been playing this song for so long that it's now part of their regular repertoire, but it was written and first performed by the Grateful Dead. Thus Cesar's shout-out to Jerry at the beginning, and the inclusion of longtime Bay Area musician Pete Sears on piano.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Joe Tex - Hold What You've Got

Once again, just a song that's been in my head. Some of the sentiments expressed are clearly pre-feminist, but the message that says you should show respect for your partner is timeless. And the musical backing is the Muscle Shoals rhythm section in its prime.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Seth Rogen & James Franco: Bound 3

If you haven't seen it yet, first go watch the original. Then come back to watch this.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Flying Jellyfish

I'm still enough of a science nerd that innovations like this fascinate me. Aerial propulsion is something that birds, bats, and insects make look easy, but coming up with a new concept for a machine that can do it is always difficult. It's true that airplanes today are technologically far beyond the Wright brothers' flyer, but the basic design in terms of what keeps them up is essentially the same. Helicopters are different, but helicopters also all use the same basic design. Having a machine emulate a bird is harder than it looks, because birds (and bats and insects) are basically constantly adjusting their flight, unlike an airplane which is much less flexible.

In any event, someone coming up with a new idea of how to fly is interesting in itself. Here's a link to the story from NewScientist and a video.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Why the Oldest Music Posts on This Blog Don't Work

When I started this blog, I would post music tracks on an online service called Vox, then write a blog post here that would link to that entry on Vox. To make a long story short, over the years Vox has changed so much that the links now fail completely. A while back I asked in a post if there was any interest in my making an effort to fix those links. No one responded, so I never did it. Since Vox was a free service, there was no room for complaint when it stopped working.

Some day if I have a lot of time I may try to edit those posts and get them to work again, but until then anyone interested in exploring the archives will have to deal with a certain amount of frustration. If you come across an old link that you're really interested in, put a comment on that post and I'll try to fix things. I get an e-mail telling me about any comment that's added to any blog post, no matter how old, so just comment on that specific item and I'll be alerted.

Zoot Sims - Embraceable You

Joe Pass performs the beautiful guitar intro. With Oscar Peterson on piano, Grady Tate on drums, and George Mraz on bass.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Friday, November 22, 2013

Frenk & Roy - President Kennedy

I can't find on YouTube a version of Sleepy John Estes's song about the death of President Kennedy that has decent sound (Estes's own version and Ry Cooder's cover have been pulled for copyright violations). So this one, covering Cooder's cover of Estes, will have to do. It's well-done, just hard to hear, so here are the lyrics.

Late one Friday evening everybody was sad
We lost the best president we ever had
But he's gone home, gone back home
He's staying away too long

Rode from town to town holdin' up for our rights
Some low down rascal took the President's life
But he's gone home, gone back home
He's staying away too long

Mrs. Kennedy got a mansion on the Island, stayed 9 months, all she'd be
She have another mansion, soon as she reach Washington, D.C.
But he's gone home, gone back home
He's staying away too long

Everybody votes, they don't know what's goin' on
If Goldwater get it, we won't have no home
But he's gone home, gone back home
He's staying away too long

While horses and cars all in a row
I think Mr. Kennedy have a right to this long white robe
But he's gone home, gone back home
He's staying away too long

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Tom Waits - Tom Traubert's Blues (Four Sheets to the Wind in Copenhagen)

Often called "Waltzing Matilda," for obvious reasons, but the title above is correct. Sad, sweet, just...I don't know. Cathartic?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

James Taylor - Captain Jim's Drunken Dream

Just 'cause I love the part where the voices come in singing "Welcome home."

Monday, November 18, 2013

RIP Doris Lessing

Deeply influential, a true original, like Simone de Beauvoir an outspoken feminist when that was extremely rare. Her fellow novelist Margaret Atwood has an appreciation in the Guardian.

She was political in the most basic sense, recognising the manifestations of power in its many forms. She was spiritual as well, exploring the limits and pitfalls that came with being human, especially after she became an adherent of Sufism. As a writer she was inventive and brave, branching out into science fiction in her Canopus In Argos series at a time when it was a dodgy thing for a "mainline" novelist to do. She was also very down-to-earth, having famously remarked "Oh Christ!" when informed in 2007 that she had won the Nobel prize. She was only the eleventh woman to do so, and never expected it; a lack of expectation that was in itself a kind of artistic freedom, for if you don't think of yourself as an august personage, you don't have to behave yourself. You can still kick up your heels and push the limits, and that was what interested Doris Lessing, always.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Breaking Bad - Alternate Series Ending

It's admittedly a takeoff on the Newhart series ending, but it's well-done. H/t HuffPo.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Freddie King - Hideaway

I've posted this before, but it looks like the link is broken, so it won't hurt to do it again. This song is one of the classics of guitar blues, and generations of young guitarists, including Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan, have learned it.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Band - Ferdinand the Imposter

Apparently this is one of the most widely bootlegged of rare songs by the Band, but I'd never heard it until it was released as a bonus track on the remastered Music From Big Pink in 2000. It's been in my head ever since. "Claimed he was a Doukhobor, but they never heard of that in Baltimore."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Before and After in the Philippines

The Washington Post has a page with some of Digital Globe and Google's before-and-after pictures of some of the areas devastated by the storm. Be sure to click and drag the bar across each image to get the full effect.

To contribute to relief efforts, here's more information.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Gerry Mulligan - Line For Lyons

There are many treasures of jazz waiting out there for your discovery. Like this, for example.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

James Taylor - You Can Close Your Eyes

I've posted a version of this JT song by Sting, so it's only right to let the composer have a go. This is a relatively recent live version.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Chieftains - March of the King of Laois / Paddy's Jig /O'Keefe's / The Chattering Magpie

I have no idea who the person in the image is, where this was recorded, anything like that. But doesn't it sound good?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Fairport Convention - I'll Keep It With Mine

I just learned that this is based very closely on the arrangement used on Judy Collins's much more obscure recording. So it goes. Nevertheless, this is the version that's burned into my brain. Sandy Denny nails the vocal, Richard Thompson contributes his usual tasteful guitar.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Monday, November 4, 2013

Duran Duran - Perfect Day

Thought I was done with the Lou Reed tributes, but a friend told me about this version of "Perfect Day." Who knew?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Velvet Underground - Sunday Morning

One more from Lou Reed. This is the first song on the first Velvet Underground album, and since I'm posting this on Sunday morning, and Mr. Reed died a week ago today, well, I guess everything is aligned.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Lou Reed & John Cale - Nobody But You

One more Lou Reed song. This is from the Reed/Cale Songs for Drella, their tribute to their late mentor and friend Andy Warhol.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Velvet Undergound & Nico - Femme Fatale

More Lou Reed. This is the Reed-penned Nico-sung classic from the first VU album.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Friday, October 25, 2013

Krugman on the Deficit Fear-Mongers One More Time

Because the deficit fear-mongers never seem to go away no matter what. Prof. K. explains.

It’s curious how readily people who normally revere the wisdom of markets declare the markets all wrong when they fail to panic the way they’re supposed to....Why, then, should we fear a debt apocalypse here? Surely, you may think, someone in the debt-apocalypse community has offered a clear explanation. But nobody has.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fox News Disinformation Channel

No real surprise, but worth noting anyway. Erik Wemple explains.

In his new book “Murdoch’s World,” NPR media reporter David Folkenflik documents one of the perils as part of a chapter on the sharp-elbowed ways of Fox News’s PR operation. These are the folks who take all incoming press inquiries on Fox News, ignore some, scoff at others and arrange access or statements on yet others. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Henry Thomas - Bull Doze Blues

Forty years after this recording was made Canned Heat turned it into "Going Up the Country" and had a hit single. They always acknowledged the source, but by then Mr. Thomas was long gone.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Jimmie Driftwood - He Had A Long Chain On

I knew this from the Peter, Paul, and Mary version, but here's the songwriter's own rendition.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Journalism Today

H/t Atrios. From MediaMatters:

In a chapter focusing on how Fox utilized its notoriously ruthless public relations department in the mid-to-late 00's, Folkenflik reports that Fox's PR staffers would "post pro-Fox rants" in the comments sections of "negative and even neutral" blog posts written about the network. According to Folkenflik, the staffers used various tactics to cover their tracks, including setting up wireless broadband connections that "could not be traced back" to the network.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Police - Invisible Sun

Once again, just a song I've had in my head. There's an important political message about life under oppression, but the point is that you go on anyway.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Shutdown is Dead - Long Live the Shutdown!

So the shutdown is over, and conservative Republicans in the House didn't get what they wanted. What will they do next? Dylan Scott at Talking Points Memo offers some evidence about what to expect.

Polarized politics have become the norm in the United States, and the first government shutdown in 17 years is its most extreme manifestation. But long-time Congress watchers don't see the fever breaking any time soon, even after the debacle of the last few weeks. Rather, as these early responses from the House GOP's right flank indicate, we might instead see conservatives become even more entrenched in their positions when the same drama plays out in early 2014.

"I think we're going to see a drumbeat out there that our spineless leaders caved," Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, told TPM. "If we had held on, we would of [sic] defaulted, but it wouldn't have made any difference. Obama would have caved, and we would have gotten what we wanted."

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Monday, October 14, 2013

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Last Budget Standoff and Lessons Learned

From David Atkins at Digby's blog:

Let's all stop pretending that the President was playing 11th dimensional chess in 2011. He wasn't. He wanted a grand bargain on the deficit (wrongly) and he thought the debt ceiling negotiations would be a good time to get it. That was an even bigger error that emboldened Republicans and put the nation at risk. Those of us who called it an error were right, his defenders were wrong, and the President is now admitting that and acting on it--much to his credit. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Shirelles - Soldier Boy

When Scott Carpenter made his Mercury mission into space in May 1962, this song was high on the charts. It was a different world, but the one thing the world never does is stay the same.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Alice Munro Wins Nobel Prize in Literature

This is good news. Thirteenth woman, first Canadian, and a specialist in the short story instead of the novel or poetry, Munro is a genius with a heart, which is supposed to be what literature is about, one hopes. Here's more from the Toronto Globe & Mail:

Jane Smiley [has] noted that: “the surface of Alice Munro’s works, its simplicity and quiet appearance, is a deceptive thing, that beneath that surface is a store of insight, a body of observation, and a world of wisdom that is close to addictive.”....Fellow short story writer Cynthia Ozick has called Munro “our Chekhov.”

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Robots Are Coming

They're still not really robots in the sci-fi sense, because they have no real brain, but the strides (pun intended) that they're making in mobility are amazing. The Beeb tells us more.

Meet Atlas, a humanoid cyborg capable of crossing rough terrain and maintaining its balance on one leg even when hit from the side.
And WildCat, the four-legged robot that can gallop untethered at up to 16mph (26km/h).

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Lucius - Goodbye

A Paul McCartney cover, done well, which is to be expected from Lucius.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Thursday, October 3, 2013

John Tavener - Fragments of a Prayer

A piece used extensively in the film Children of Men. The opening chords are reminiscent of the opening of Erik Satie's "Death of Socrates."

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The (English) Beat - Save it For Later

Just another wonderful song that's slowly becoming lost in the mists of time, which is a shame.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Perry Como - It's Impossible

I guess I could be posting something about the government shutdown, but there's a lot of info available out there. The world is still turning (for now), so it won't hurt to talk about something else.
Such as the now-defunct genre of "easy listening" music. It used to be a huge commercial presence in the music world, and now is gone. Here is a perfect example from 1970.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Elizabeth Cotten - Oh Babe It Ain't No Lie

"Oh Babe It Ain't No Lie" is not as famous as Cotten's "Freight Train," but it has been covered pretty often. Still, there's nothing like the original. This was recorded late in her life, so her voice is a little worn, but the spirit shines through, and the guitar playing is still exemplary.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

James Fallows on the Budget Showdown

Some guidelines.

This isn't "gridlock." It is a ferocious struggle within one party, between its traditionalists and its radical factions, with results that unfortunately can harm all the rest of us -- and, should there be a debt default, could harm the rest of the world too.

H/t Digby.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Jefferson Airplane - Martha

Watched a JA documentary on Neflix and got reminded of this song.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Ted Cruz as Political Operative

A nice summary of Ted Cruz's situation from Steve Benen.

Indeed, the far-right's senator's entire scheme is imploding in ways that he apparently didn't see coming. Cruz has lost House Republicans, who were furious when he predicted failure last week after they followed his lead. Cruz has lost Senate Republicans, who consider his hare-brained scheme ridiculous and are annoyed by his efforts to exacerbate intra-party tensions.

H/t Greg Dworkin @ dailykos.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Cruz, Obamacare, and the Senate

Talking Points Memo has a good article that lays out what we can expect in the Senate in the next few days.

Now that the House has passed a bill to keep government open as long as Obamacare is defunded, [Senator Cruz] is pressuring his Republican colleagues to filibuster any continuing resolution unless Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) agrees to gut Obamacare. Reid has vowed not to do so. But he needs 60 votes to advance legislation, and Democrats have 54. That means six GOP members are required to help him move a bill to avert a shutdown. Cruz is working to slam that door shut for every Republican.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Happy Birthday BB

September 22 is the birthday of both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, of course, so we must mark the occasion.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Krugman on the Republicans, One More Time

Just go read it.

First came the southern strategy, in which the Republican elite cynically exploited racial backlash to promote economic goals, mainly low taxes for rich people and deregulation. Over time, this gradually morphed into what we might call the crazy strategy, in which the elite turned to exploiting the paranoia that has always been a factor in American politics — Hillary killed Vince Foster! Obama was born in Kenya! Death panels! — to promote the same goals.

But now we’re in a third stage, where the elite has lost control of the Frankenstein-like monster it created.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Jackie Lomax - Is This What You Want?

RIP Jackie, another Beatles protege who never had much commercial success. "Apple pie and ice cream, do you treat your mama mean?"

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Traffic - (Sometimes I Feel So) Uninspired

Well, it's true. Happens to everyone, right? The percussion sounds really nice, in any event.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Voyager Seen from Earth

That blurry blue dot is the radio-frequency image of Voyager 1 as it appeared to the  Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) radio telescope in February of this year, approximately 11.5 billion miles from Earth. When we put our minds to it, we humans can do pretty cool things. Here's more from Discovery.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Brahms Trio op.8 - Edwin Fischer Trio

One nice thing about only knowing a certain amount about classical music is that I get to discover talents that are now long gone. Edwin Fischer was considered to be one of the great classical pianists of the middle of the twentieth century, but I just got some of his work recently. Here he performs in a trio setting, which means he must be accompanist as well as soloist. Needless to say, he acquits himself well.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Conservatives vs. Republicans in the Congressional Health Care Fight

Some interesting reporting/analysis from Talking Points Memo.

The conservative opposition to Obamacare has become unappeasable and it’s tearing the GOP apart. The base is anxious to make a stand now because implementation of the law is set to accelerate on Oct. 1 and its major components poised to take effect on Jan. 1. Advocates privately gloat about their chances of sticking it to GOP leaders as they mobilize in favor of a standoff. Stare down President Barack Obama until he blinks on his own signature achievement, they demand of the GOP, even if it means shutting down the government. But Republican leaders aren’t optimistic that he’ll blink, and worry that initiating this battle could damage their already weak brand and threaten their otherwise secure House majority.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Goodbye Solar System

So cool. From Discovery.

After a 35-year, 13-billion mile journey, NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft has become the first human-made object to reach interstellar space, new evidence from a team of scientists shows.

“It’s kind of like landing on the moon. It’s a milestone in history. Like all science, it’s exploration. It’s new knowledge,” long-time Voyager scientist Donald Gurnett, with the University of Iowa, told Discovery News.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Muddy Waters - I Can't Be Satisfied

One of his earliest Chess recordings, from 1948. Muddy himself handles the guitar part.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Van Dyke Parks - The Parting Hand

This has become one of my favorites on the new VDP album. It starts out as a straightforward rendition of an old shape-note hymn, but then the orchestra comes in, and, well, it becomes very Van Dyke Parks-ish.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops - The Hill Country Theme

Just found out today that this was written by the great country songwriter Cindy Walker.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Carolina Chocolate Drops - Your Baby Ain't Sweet Like Mine

I guess technically they're folk revivalists, but the term seems not quite right. Does it matter? The music's great.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Monday, September 2, 2013

Rose Royce - Car Wash

From the mind of the great Norman Whitfield. Work and work: happy Labor Day.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

RIP David Frost

Frost's career in journalism actually grew out of his earlier work in comedy. At first he was strictly a comedian, then a political satirist, then a political journalist. Here he reminisces with Ronnie Corbett about early years on the Frost Report and shows a clip from that era. Note a pre-Monty Python John Cleese as a policeman.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sting - All This Time (Unplugged)

As so often nowadays, I'm posting a song I've had in my head lately. Hadn't heard this version before.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Pink Floyd - One of These Days

This live version isn't really as good as the original studio version, but all the studio Pink Floyd has been removed from YouTube. So this'll have to do.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Simon & Garfunkel - Slip Slidin' Away

From the concert in Central Park in 1981, the guys do a song Simon had recorded solo a few years before. One of Paul's sweet but gloomy meditations.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Why is There Music?

Since I post a lot of music, a link about music instead seems like a good idea. This article is about research done on why people like music in the first place.

"This hypothesis centers on music's unique ability to influence the mood and behavior of many people at once," [the researchers] write, "helping to mold individual beings into a coordinated group." They cite the power of military music, music played at sports games, and "ritualized drumming" as examples.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Krugman on the Prevalence of Bubbles

Doctor K really is like the Cassandra of classical myth: he tells the truth and is ignored. Read the article to find the answer to the question below.

This latest financial turmoil raises a broader question: Why have we been having so many bubbles?

For it’s now clear that the flood of money into emerging markets — which briefly drove Brazil’s currency up by almost 40 percent, a rise that has now been completely reversed — was yet another in the long list of financial bubbles over the past generation. There was the housing bubble, of course. But before that there was the dot-com bubble; before that the Asian bubble of the mid-1990s; before that the commercial real estate bubble of the 1980s. That last bubble, by the way, imposed a huge cost on taxpayers, who had to bail out failed savings-and-loan institutions.

The thing is, it wasn’t always thus. The ’50s, the ’60s, even the troubled ’70s, weren’t nearly as bubble-prone. So what changed?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Kris Kristofferson - Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends

A friend of mine loaned me a copy of Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends: The Publishing Demos 1968-72. This is the song that stood out for me.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

RIP Cedar Walton

Cedar Walton was one of those highly respected jazz musicians who never really becomes famous to the  larger world in the way that someone like Duke Ellington does. With his death two days ago, one more link to the great flowering of jazz in the middle of the twentieth century is gone. Here he performs Ellington's "Satin Doll" in a trio setting.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Marty Robbins - El Paso

How have I missed posting this until now? One of my favorites for many years, it's an old-fashioned cowboy movie rendered in song. In fact, it's said to be based on an old silent movie. Grady Martin plays the classical guitar fills, Tompall Glaser and his brothers do the backing vocals.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Krugman on ACA Implementation and the Republican Dilemma

Professor K lays it out.

I guess that after all the years of vilification it was predictable that Republican leaders would still fail to understand the principles behind health reform and that this would hamper their ability to craft an effective political response as the reform’s implementation draws near. But their rudest shock is yet to come. You see, this thing isn’t going to be the often-predicted “train wreck.” On the contrary, it’s going to work.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Bruce Springsteen - Devil's Arcade

The beat of your heart
The beat of your heart
The beat of your heart
The beat of your heart

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Lee Dorsey - Do Re Mi

Lee Dorsey was one of the great New Orleans artists of the 50s-60s associated with Allen Tousaint. This song is from 1962.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Elton John - Harmony

One of my favorite EJ songs. Just a pop song, but sometimes that's all you need.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Ewan McColl - I Loved a Lass

To continue in the twentieth century Brit folk vein, here's a song I've loved for many years.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Swan Arcade - Black Seam

I've posted a different version of this song in the past, but sadly its message of callous greed and the toll such greed takes is almost always relevant. This a capella version was recorded by a British band shortly after Sting's original came out.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

RIP Jody Payne

Willie Nelson's longtime guitarist dies at 77. Here he gets a solo spot in 1995.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Robyn Hitchcock - Open The Door Homer

If the tradition of English eccentrics was completely dead, Robyn Hitchcock would not exist. Here he sings a Bob Dylan song, with a touch of Beatles thrown in at the end.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Blind Faith - Well Alright

Saw Santana do a nice version of this once, using this arrangement. Interesting that guitar god Clapton doesn't take a true solo.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Monday, August 5, 2013

Anticipating Congressional Budget Follies

Looks like some realistic and sober analysis, which makes it all the more disturbing. H/t PK @ NYT.

When it comes to the budget there's so left much to do, so many moving pieces and so little time that the overall situation -- let alone the fate of a particular bill -- is virtually impossible to predict with any degree of certainty.
And when you add the somehow-still-increasingly-intractable budget politics to the mix, the odds of being right about what's going to happen get even longer unless you're suggesting something close to fiscal chaos.
That's what I'm predicting: budget bedlam this fall and beyond.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Pareene on Cruz vs. the GOP Old Guard

Hat tip to Digby. I think this nails it:

This week, all the respectable, professional Republicans told Ted Cruz not to try to shut down the government over Obamacare. Karl Rove said it, in a Fox News editorial....Jennifer Rubin — who has clearly detested Cruz for a while now — has been relentless in her attacks on Cruz and his shutdown caucus....Charles Krauthammer called the Lee and Cruz plan “nuts” and “yet another cliff dive as a show of principle and manliness.” Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson, who has an opinion column in the Washington Post for some utterly unfathomable reason, is similarly opposed.

To all these critics, the only reasonable response is, hope you enjoy this bed you made for yourselves.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Nirvana - Something In The Way

Watched the Classic Albums episode about Nevermind and got reminded of this song. Never had really thought much about the vocal, but Butch Vig talks about how hard Cobain worked to get it right. And in the end it's battered-but-not-hopeless quality gives the song real strength.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Sir Douglas Quintet - Mendocino

It's August, so let's listen to a little August "Augie" Meyers, longtime musical partner of Doug Sahm. Here he's the keyboardist for the Sir Douglas Quintet, in an appearance on Playboy After Dark from 1969, complete with chatter between Doug and Hugh Hefner.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Hurdy-Gurdy

More people have heard its name than the instrument itself, so an introduction is a good idea. Here an expert hurdy-gurdy player explains and then demonstrates the instrument.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Krugman on the Presidential Lean

When it comes to the economy, what is the president thinking? Krugman offers his take.

So, here we are with inflation at a long-term low, many economists arguing that we need higher inflation expectations, and unemployment the overwhelming problem we face. Yet Obama appears if anything to give more emphasis to inflation-fighting than to unemployment reduction, and throws in stuff about bubbles; basically, he has a definite tight-money lean. I don’t know who it’s coming from.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Van Dyke Parks - Missin' Mississippi

Still enjoying the new VDP album. Being politically engaged can be a positive, no?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The View From the Booster Rocket

Way cool. Cameras and microphones were mounted to the booster rockets on a couple of the space shuttle flights -- this film shows what happens in real time, from liftoff to the jettisoned boosters splashing down.  H/t JM @ TPM.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Van Dyke Parks - Hold Back Time

This song was on Orange Crate Art, Van Dyke Parks's album with Brian Wilson back in the mid-nineties, but this solo version is much newer. I guess you either love VDP's chord changes and intricate off-the-wall arrangements or you don't - I do.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Pete Seeger - Twelve Gates to the City

The first time I heard this gospel song, it was in a version similar to this one, so this is how I usually remember it. Not deeply authentic in sound compared to its origin, but deeply heartfelt.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Don Drummond - Man In The Street

Classic ska from the classic ska era. The trombone player Don Drummond was considered by his peers to be perhaps the most talented of all Jamaican musicians of his time.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Dirty Mac- Yer Blues

John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Mitch Mitchell on The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus from 1968. The clip starts with Lennon and Mick Jagger spoofing TV interviews.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Chait on the Most Conservative of the House Republicans

Good stuff from New York magazine. H/t Huffington Post.

Republicans in 2009 made an intellectual breakthrough of sorts when they grasped that the conventional folk wisdom of Washington, which held that they risked public scorn if they refused to cooperate with a popular new president, had it backward. Americans don’t pay much attention to legislative details, Republicans realized. If some of them supported Obama’s proposals, they would only help the proposals seem more sensible. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Friday, July 19, 2013

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Who - The Song Is Over

Watched the Who's Next episode of  "Classic Albums" and got reminded how good this song is.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Paul Robeson - Going Home

The news out of Florida is truly disheartening. There may be nuances in what the jury saw that aren't clear to us -- there often are -- but it's hard to escape the feeling that justice wasn't done. This is a song that came to mind.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Janis Joplin - Trust Me

I've posted this before, but I think the link to the music is broken, so it's fair game. This might be my favorite track off the Pearl album. The writer, Bobby Womack, who had a solid career as a singer himself, plays acoustic guitar.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Pierce on House Republicans and the Washington Insiders' View of Them

Can't add much to this - just read it.

The problem with the [Politico article] is that it begins with the premise that the Republicans in Congress, and especially in the House, ever had any intention to help govern the country in any real fashion. This is a fundamental error in which you must be complicit, if you ever plan to Win The Morning again.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Greg Sargent on Republican Obstruction and Journalistic Awareness of It

Once again, a few respected journalists break ranks and state the obvious.

It goes well beyond Obamacare implementation and the relentless blockading of Obama nominees for the explicit purpose of preventing democratically-created agencies from functioning. We’ve slowly crossed over into something a bit different. It’s now become accepted as normal that Republicans will threaten explicitly to allow harm to the country to get what they want, and will allow untold numbers of Americans to be hurt rather than even enter into negotiations over the sort of compromises that lie at the heart of basic governing.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Josh Marshall on 21st Century Conspiracy Theories

This is fascinating. Basically some Egyptians have decided that American conspiracy theories that Obama is a secret radical Muslim are true.

I noticed what I have to say is one of the most fascinating and weirdest developments in Egypt’s now week long coup/revolution/uprising thing. There are a lot of people in Egypt who aren't just mad at Morsi and upset with the US for not more forcefully supporting his ouster. Many actually think the US is actively supporting a Muslim Brotherhood takeover of the country. And just to be certain we’re crystal clear: I don’t mean supporting Morsi and the Brotherhood as the legitimate government because they won a fairly free national election. I mean a conspiracy to help the Brotherhood take over the country, even to the extent of rigging the election that brought him to power.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Neil Young - The Old Laughing Lady

From his first album. He later referred to this album as "overdub city," and the contrast in sound between this one and the electric-guitar-drenched second album couldn't be more pronounced.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Krugman on the Ideal and the Real USA

Been trying to rely on Krugman less as a source for this blog, just to vary things, but this column is too good to pass up.

It’s not just that we have maintained continuity of legal government, although that’s not a small thing. The current government of France is, strictly speaking, the Fifth Republic; we had our anti-monarchical revolution first, yet we’re still on Republic No. 1, which actually makes our government one of the oldest in the world.

More important, however, is the enduring hold on our nation of the democratic ideal, the notion that “all men are created equal” — all men, not just men from certain ethnic groups or from aristocratic families. And to this day — or so it seems to me, and I’ve done a lot of traveling in my time — America remains uniquely democratic in its mannerisms, in the way people from different classes interact.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Lightnin' Slim - Bugger Bugger Boy

Still listening to Lightnin' Slim, as I have been for several weeks. What a voice.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Jonathan Bernstein on Republican Hypocrisy

This is an obvious but frequently overlooked point.

The Republican Party’s standard operating procedure is to invent talking points out of whole cloth, broadcast those talking points through the GOP-aligned press, and wind up with every conservative commentator out there adamantly and apparently sincerely hitting that point, over and over — to the point that people who pay attention to those outlets wind up passionately believing them.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Krugman on the Republican War on the Unemployed

This may be just as ugly, uninformed, and ultimately pointless as the invasion of Iraq. Krugman explains.

So what’s going on here? Is it just cruelty? Well, the G.O.P., which believes that 47 percent of Americans are “takers” mooching off the job creators, which in many states is denying health care to the poor simply to spite President Obama, isn’t exactly overflowing with compassion. But the war on the unemployed isn’t motivated solely by cruelty; rather, it’s a case of meanspiritedness converging with bad economic analysis.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Friday, June 28, 2013

Krugman on the New Climate Plan

Professor K discusses Obama's new climate plan, which, as he points out, was announced during such a busy news week that it's received only a little attention.

So, what is the plan? Mainly, Mr. Obama announced his intention to use the powers of the Environmental Protection Agency to impose limits on carbon emissions from power plants. Such plants aren’t the only source of greenhouse gases, but they do account for about 40 percent of emissions. Furthermore, regulating power-plant emissions is standard practice; we already have policies limiting these plants’ emissions of pollutants such as sulfur dioxide and mercury, so adding carbon to the list isn’t that much of a departure, at least in principle.

But wouldn’t imposing carbon limits raise the cost of electricity? And wouldn’t that destroy jobs? The answer is, yes and no.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Texas State Senate Fails to Pass SB5

H/t thereisnospoon @ Digby's blog for the link to this story from the Texas Tribune.

The nation watched on Tuesday — and into Wednesday — as Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis and hundreds of impassioned reproductive rights advocates stalled proceedings and ultimately defeated controversial abortion legislation in a storm of screams and shouts as the clock struck midnight.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Bobby Blue Bland - Turn On Your Love Light

RIP Mr. Bland, who possessed one of the finest voices of his time. It was a voice like thick honey, sweet but  tough, and capable of expressing passion in a way matched by few others. Here's one of his classics, later to become a standard for the Grateful Dead.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Cream - Deserted Cities of the Heart

I was going to post something about politics but got too depressed. So instead, more music more music more music.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Lauritz Melchior sings Wagner

No matter what the genre, a great singer is a great singer. The clip is a little awkwardly cut at the beginning and end, but what the hell - in between it's magic.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Roland Kirk - Skater's Waltz

With Jack McDuff on the organ. Just an example of the state of the art in jazz in 1961: taking a cliched easy-listening sort of tune and making it bop.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Amy Winehouse - Take The Box

As so often these days, I'm posting a song just because I've had it in my head lately. But if a song is staying in your head, it's there for a reason.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

RIP James Gandolfini

Like everyone, I was shocked by the news of James Gandolfini's sudden death. There'll be a lot of Sopranos clips posted in tribute, and rightfully so, but Gandolfini was good in a lot of things, such as the Coen brothers' The Man Who Wasn't There. Here he has a scene with Billy Bob Thornton.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Krugman on Whether or Not There is a New Economy

Professor K is different from most commentators, and one way is that he's often willing to ruminate rather than pontificate. This is not a weakness if it's done well.

There is at least one important respect in which the 21st-century economy is different in a way that ought to have a significant effect on macroeconomics: the much larger role of rents on intangible assets. This isn’t an original insight, but I haven’t been finding systematic analyses of the point.

What do I mean by the role of rents? Consider the changing identity of the most valuable company in America. For a long time, it was GM, then Exxon, then IBM. These were companies with huge visible production activities: GM had more than 400,000 employees, which was amazing when you consider that the overall national work force was much smaller than the one we have today, Exxon had oil refineries. IBM was an information technology company, but it still had many of the attributes of an old-style manufacturing giant, with many factories and a large, well-paid work force.

But now it’s Apple, which has hardly any employees and does hardly any manufacturing. The company tries, through fairly desperate PR efforts, to claim that it is indirectly responsible for lots of US jobs, but never mind. The reality is that the company is basically built around technology, design, and a brand identity.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Monday, June 17, 2013

RIP Bernie Sahlins

The driving engine for innovation in American comedy for the last forty years or so has been the improvisational comedy movement, and one of the primary founders of improv comedy was Bernie Sahlins. He was the only surviving co-founder of Second City in 1959. Here's the Chicago Tribune obituary.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Robert Quine and Fred Maher - Bluffer

Robert Quine was one of the premier electric guitarists of the 1970-80s, but it is still relatively little-known. That's surprising considering that he played with people as well-known as Lou Reed and Tom Waits. But he sought out interesting work rather than fame, which means that he left a body of great work rather than a pile of cash. Here's a piece that puts his unique sound right up front.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Judy Collins - Pretty Polly

From 1968. Call it a late piece of folk/rock, because it's an old folk song done as rock music. Note the musicians listed at the beginning of the video: some stars, some master musicians. And Ms. Collins shows the strength of her voice as she rarely did.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Webb Pierce - There Stands the Glass

Classic country music. This song is old enough that the steel guitar is not a pedal steel guitar.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Krugman on the Changing Labor Market

So the question is: is the era when a college education taught you valuable skills so you could get a good job coming to an end? There's evidence that it's so. And has such a situation, in which painstakingly earned skills became less valuable, happened before? Krugman explains.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Kinks - Sunny Afternoon

Always one of my favorite Kinks' songs since it came out. I've never seen this video before, but apparently it was released with the song in 1966. The video itself is a fascinating artifact: the irony of the lyrics mentioning "a sunny afternoon in the summertime" while they're standing in snow and Ray's breath is visible in the cold; the instruments (a Fender acoustic, Gibson Flying V, and Gibson bass) that would make a vintage-instrument fancier drool; the simple fact that it exists, since such promos were rare at the time, and the glory days of music videos were a decade and a half in the future. In the end, however, what matters is the song, and it's a good un.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Spiders - Bells In My Heart

I've posted this song before, but not the original version, so here it is. A doo-wop classic from 1955.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

RIP Joey Covington

Joey Covington became the drummer for Jefferson Airplane after Spencer Dryden left the band in early 1970, so he wasn't part of their glory years, but he contributed a lot during his tenure. I've already posted what I think is his sole songwriting credit with the band, a bit of psychedelic weirdness called "Thunk." Here's a clip of him with the band in 1970 doing their biggest hit from three years earlier. H/t USA Today (of all people).

Friday, June 7, 2013

Joan Baez - Silver Dagger

The first song on her first album. She was eighteen years old, and the purity of that voice is...well....words fail me.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Paul McCartney - Little Willow

One of his lesser-known later songs. When he dials back the schmaltz, McCartney writes very good songs in the slow-and-pretty category.
According to Wikipedia, the song was written for the children of Maureen Starkey, Ringo's ex-wife, who had recently died of cancer. Since McCartney's own mother had died of cancer when he was a teenager, he's clearly drawing on his own experiences. The gentle reminder of life's vicissitudes - "No one's out to break your heart/It only seems that way" - pretty much makes the song.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Monday, June 3, 2013

Krugman on the Future of Social Security

Professor K lays some knowledge on his readers.

Start with Social Security. The retirement program’s trustees do foresee rising spending as the population ages, with total payments rising from 5.1 percent of G.D.P. now to 6.2 percent in 2035, at which point they stabilize. This means, by the way, that all the talk of Social Security going “bankrupt” is nonsense; even if nothing at all is done, the system will be able to pay most of its scheduled benefits as far as the eye can see.

Still, it does look as if there will eventually be a shortfall, and the usual suspects insist that we must move right now to reduce scheduled benefits. But I’ve never understood the logic of this demand. The risk is that we might, at some point in the future, have to cut benefits; to avoid this risk of future benefit cuts, we are supposed to act pre-emptively by...cutting future benefits. What problem, exactly, are we solving here?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Lively Ones - Surf Rider

Pulp Fiction was on one of the cable channels, and I got reminded how cool this song is.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Altered Images - Happy Birthday

To mark a couple of birthdays, here's one of the earliest popular music videos, from 1981.

Friday, May 31, 2013