Or at least try sometimes to be happy despite your worries. But it’s not like we’re giving advice here, because what do we know. In any case a catchy tune couldn’t hurt.
Archive for the 'Music' Category
We watched an episode of “Chicago Tonight” the PBS news program where they discussed the Ed Paschke Art Center, a museum highlighting the work of the vibrant visual artist Ed Paschke, a Chicago native who died in 2004. They also have other artists featured at the museum, and when we went it was photographer Steve Schapiro, who photographed Warhol, Reed and Bowie among many others.
The museum is easy to reach – by car you can take the Kennedy and get off at Lawrence, and it is an easy walk from the blue line or the metra (if you take that line). Here is the outside of the building, which is painted in the style of his work. The museum is free (we made a donation) and the docent working there was friendly and interested if you had any questions.
We talked to the museum employee and the building used to be a call center; they redesigned it to hang his big art canvas projects and set it up so that the light illuminated everything properly. Downstairs they had his paintings, and upstairs they re-created his studio, including the last painting that he was working on at the time of his death.
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I was recently on a plane doodling and thought of some funny / interesting stories from 25+ years of working and traveling. So I decided to write them up as short, random chapters of a non-book with the title of this post. Hope you enjoy them and / or find them interesting. Certainly the value will be at least equal to the marginal cost of the book (zero)…
Chicago, the 1980s
Recently I was at an art exhibition and I saw a book about the “School of Rock” which takes kids with an interest in music and sets them up in a band situation and allows them to work together and perform live. I think it is a great idea and I have a friend whose son plays drums and has really gotten a lot out of this in terms of confidence and poise.
I had my own experiences learning an instrument and playing in a band which really were formative to my business experience, although I never really thought of them as “formally” part of my background until I looked at that photo and remembered these 25 posts.
Back in the 1980s I used to play bass guitar (switched from regular guitar) and was in various local bands with friends which typically went nowhere except maybe some free gigs in a public place or someone’s backyard. I absolutely am not a good musician nor was I particularly talented.
However, the act of participating in a band in that era had many of the hallmarks of being in a small business. First of all – you needed to have some money to buy gear. You needed a bass guitar, a few amps (one to practice on at home, and one to leave at the primary practice space), and if you had extra money – a PA system which we could use for the entire band and microphones for the drums, vocals, etc… Actually having gear and these extra pieces of equipment immediately made you a more attractive potential band member, regardless of your skills.
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Posted by Lexington Green on 4th November 2014 (All posts by Lexington Green)
You Ain’t No Big Thing Baby, Sam and Dave (1963)
An early, solid soul song from the mighty Sam and Dave.
You Ain’t No Big Thing Baby, Holly Golightly (1998)
Holly’s version is more brooding and sultry.
Holly heard something in the song that was a lot different from the original.
She tore it to bits and made it her own, as we here at The Art of the Remake Division of the Chicago Boyz Zaibatsu demand.
And her live version of it is yet a third interpretation, more of a rave up, with harmonica.
Over the past year or so I have been dinking around on the banjo. I bought a decent instrument along with a couple of books and have been watching a few youtube videos here and there. In general, along with getting some basics down, I am trying to listen to bluegrass songs to try get my ear put together. I am stuck for time – running a business, raising kids, running a tiny farm and all the rest and didn’t want any big commitment – so when I feel like playing, I play. When I don’t, I like looking at it in the corner of the room. After I get some decent basic technique put together and know basic cords, and have some extra time, probably in 2024 or so, I may start taking some lessons.
The banjo is a surprisingly fun instrument to play, and even when you miss, the mistakes aren’t really cringeworthy, like if you were playing a clarinet or trombone. Progress has been slow, but I probably have 25 or 30 years left on this mortal coil to perfect my skills – or not.
Anyways, on the way home from work, after I get the financial headlines from Bloomberg on XM, I typically flip it over to the Bluegrass channel. A few days ago I heard this remake of a (bad) familiar song. The original, from The Proclaimers:
I really have always hated that song.
This is the remake I heard, by Wayne Taylor and Apaloosa:
Obviously, this is the way this song was meant to be played.
Tributosaurus is a Chicago cover band that has been around over a decade and has covered an astonishing range of songs and artists. When they cover a song they go to great pains to sound as close as possible to the original song – this usually involves multiple guitarists to do overdubs which are tracked in the studio, horns, strings, and an array of drummers, synthesizers and backup singers. Here is their web site and they are a lot of fun. I have seen them do XTC, Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones, Dire Straits, and most recently the “One Hit Wonders of the ’80s” at Copernicus Hall at Jefferson Park in Chicago (it is a few blocks off the blue line stop; we took the train and walked).
Here they are at the start of the show. Later they bring on the horns, the strings, more backup singers, and more of everything. It was a lot of fun – they played a lot of forgotten songs like “This Beat Goes On / Switching to Glide” by the Kings which got the whole place rocking (it was a huge hit in Chicago) and also Dexy’s Midnight Runners with real banjo players.
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Riot Fest in Chicago was held over three very cold and rainy / muddy days in Chicago’s Humboldt Park in September. I went with a friend on Friday which was cold, rainy, muddy and insane and on Sunday when the weather was nice (still cold) and the mud had somewhat hardened. Riot Fest is more of a fan-friendly (cheaper) Lollapalooza with a bigger dose of punk / emo bands and without any of the EDM flavor that you get from Lolla (and get on a massive scale elsewhere). It was also held in Humboldt Park which is relatively far afield for the more gentrified classes but actually is closer to where the younger fans of this music might actually live and work. For me, it was an opportunity to see some of the bands I like such as Social Distortion, Mastodon, Slayer, Primus, Weezer and the Afghan Whigs. Definitely skewing a bit older for certain.
Here is Gwar! I wasn’t a huge fan of Gwar before seeing them live but they put on an awesome show that needs to be seen to be believed, where they kill a giant dinosaur and banter with the crowd in a completely disturbing manner. At one point they wanted everyone to put their heads down for a moment of silence (their former front man died recently) but then their deranged emcee said that everyone was looking down for a crack rock that the band had dropped since they couldn’t do this sort of stuff sober. They also sprayed everyone near the front with fake blood which is their trademark – many fans throughout the park for the rest of the day looked a bit sunburned from the residue of their pinkish hue thanks to Gwar.
Riot Fest had great food and it was very reasonable. They had a Cevapcici stand where I had a great Serbian sausage for about $7 and all kinds of different items, not just the usual “festival” type stuff. Fortunately they set up most of these stands on the roads that curve through the park so they didn’t sink into the mud.
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As I was growing up in the 80’s I listened to heavy metal music of all types and had a great time doing so. I went to a lot of shows as well and that is part of the reason that my hearing is fading at an early age, I assume. No regrets.
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Posted by Lexington Green on 2nd September 2014 (All posts by Lexington Green)
This is an unusual entry in this occasional series. A demo from a songwriter that is later recorded by another artist is not exactly a remake. Nonetheless, the contrast here is interesting, so I pass it on.
That is a lovely bit of vintage pop, with the feel of that musical annus mirabilis of 1966. It would have been a good single by itself, and possibly a hit just as it is. Carole King had a very nice voice. She wrote a lot of hit pop songs in the Sixties, which were great. I am not a fan of her later solo career music, which is pleasant but does nothing for me.
Here is the version of her song which was a well deserved hit for the Monkees:
The Monkees are more rockin’ with it.
The changed lyrics are interesting. The Monkees sing “My thoughts all seem to stray, to places far away. I need a change of scenery … .” Carole sings “My thoughts all seem to stray, to places far away. I don’t ever want to see … another Pleasant Valley Sunday.” The Monkees leave their rejection of the bucolic suburban scene more ambiguous, which is a lyrical improvement.
Note that there is a lot of utterly unjustified disparagement of the Monkees. Dr. Frank once provided a total rebuttal to that stance, which he described as Monkees Derangement Syndrome. It is worth reading if you care about these controversies.
I’ve had a long relationship with heavy metal. I remember being a kid for a show at the Aragon Ballroom back in 1986 – I think it was Yngwie Malmsteen (who is often known as Yngwie “F@cking” Malmsteen for his reputation as being a jerk) and we waited outside all day for a general admission show. At that time the Uptown neighborhood was dangerous and populated at all hours by drunks and bums. Some of the more clever fans had stolen lawn chairs along the way so they’d have something to sit on during the long hours of waiting. We watched the minutes click by oh so slowly at a big bank across the street. And of course everyone in line was drinking or smoking or doing something else to pass the time. Many people passed out not once but twice in line, shook themselves off, and went back to what they were doing (one guy in a big mud puddle). Later a kid had a limo drop him off in front of the venue and walked out towards the line. That was a big mistake as the entire crowd was jeering him as one. A few homeless people came by asking for change and someone had the idea to toss a quarter at them and soon the whole line was hurling their change in a shower. Towards the end they installed barricades to segment the crowd so that the entire line of a couple thousand people wouldn’t all surge forward at once when they began letting people into the venue. At that point you were penned in like veal in a cage packed next to other leather jacketed rowdy and drunk fans. The grizzled Chicago street cops eyed the crowd with disdain… you could tell that if they had their way this whole bunch of bums and idiots would get taken into custody…
Over the years I don’t go to as many metal shows as I used to and won’t spend all day in line, obviously. But I still feel affection towards the music and the no-compromise attitude of those that have stuck with it regardless of the fact that it gets no radio airplay, little iTunes action, and is on the fringes of the “general” entertainment landscape. Of all the genres of music, metal can live on because it doesn’t need any of these things, just fans who are dedicated, and these fans revel in the fact that they are outsiders.
Indonesia just elected a new president, a “man of the people” named Joko Widodo who took on the establishment tied to the former dictator. I am astonished to see that he is apparently a fan of metal, and even a fan of bands like Lamb of God, whom Dan saw recently in Madison and described their show as “insane and sonic”. All of this comes from this Noisey article (Noisey is part of the awesome Vice media empire). It is unthinkable that a US presidential candidate would ever admit to being a fan of metal, especially the non-cartoony metal bands like Lamb of God. Lyrics are NSFW (if you can understand them). Here is a clip…
Cross posted at LITGM
An honorary ChicagoBoy and an American classic if there ever was one. Thanks for the good times, Johnny.
Carbon Leaf: The War Was in Color
Neptunus Lex, when first posting a link to this music video, remarked:
They all are.
Rambler, Gambler by Ian and Sylvia
Poor Poor Pitiful Me, Linda Ronstadt
Poor Poor Pitiful Me, Warren Zevon
Dublin in the Rare Old Times, The Dubliners
I Who Have Nothing, Ben E King
Acres of Corn, Iris DeMent / Tom Russell
Posted by Ginny on 20th January 2014 (All posts by Ginny)
Steve Fromholz died in a hunting accident this week-end. One of the Austin songwriters of the seventies, Fromholz perfected a kind of tough lyricism. The laconic irony was caught in a tag from that time – “a rumor in his own time.” But he was a rumor with legs. His influence on the next generation is obvious in works like Lovett’s.
Fromholz was named poet laureate of Texas in 2007, four years after he’d suffered a stroke and then retrained himself in his art. Perhaps best known for the narrative precision of the Texas Trilogy, which captures the tough (and often rewarding) life of ranching in dry places. Here is a version of the lyrics. It’s hard to get some of those lines out of your head; they reverberate because they work, somehow, intensely; they give us a warm strength (“and cattle is their game and Archer is the name they give to the acres they own . . .”) thinking of those resilient characters.
Another obit. And another.
Lovett saw him as mentor and they share that ranching/literary background.
Newgrange is an ancient structure in Ireland so constructed that the sun, at the exact time of the winter solstice, shines directly down a long corridor and illuminates the inner chamber. More about Newgrange here and here.
Grim has an Arthurian passage about the Solstice.
Don Sensing has thoughts astronomical, historical, and theological about the Star of Bethlehem.
A wonderful 3-D representation of the Iglesia San Luis De Los Franceses. Just click on the link–then you can look around inside the cathedral. Use arrow keys or mouse to move left/right, up/down, and shift to zoom in, ctrl to zoom out.
Vienna Boys Choir, from Maggie’s Farm
Lappland in pictures, from Neptunus Lex
Snowflakes and snow crystals, from Cal Tech. Lots of great photos
A Romanian Christmas carol, from The Assistant Village Idiot
In the bleak midwinter, from The Anchoress
A Christmas reading from Thomas Pynchon.
An air traffic control version of The Night Before Christmas.
Ice sculptures from the St Paul winter carnival
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, sung by Enya
If you are going to cover a song, rip it apart a bit and make it your own.
The original version of “This is the Day” by The The:
The remake, by Manic Street Preachers:
A fantastic job.
The original song is now thirty years old, which makes me feel old, but what is new.
Posted by Lexington Green on 14th December 2013 (All posts by Lexington Green)
Otis Redding, That’s How Strong My Love Is (1965)
The most famous version, and a great one:
My favorite version: The Creation, That’s How Strong My Love Is (1966). The Creation perform live on the German TV show Beat Beat Beat.
The original version, nicely done by O.V. Wright, That’s How Strong My Love Is (1964).
Here is a nice version by the Rolling Stones, on the Ready Steady Go show, in 1965.
Our standard: “If you are going to cover a song, rip it apart a bit and make it your own.” Otis did it, taking the song farther down the soulful road it was on. The Creation took it to a different place, making it a rock song, but still with soulful singing. The Stones version is closer to the Otis Version, with saxophone, but still Stonesy.
A great song can withstand a lot of “ripping apart.”
Bryan Ferry, That’s How Strong My Love Is (1978).
Tommy Young, That’s How Strong My Love Is (1972). She sang this song over the music track in one take. Nice.
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Smashing Pumpkins, Space Oddity. A fantastic job. As always, remember the standard:
If you are going to cover a song, rip it apart a bit and make it your own
Recently one of my all time favorite bands, The Replacements, got back together and played three shows at Riot Fest. Of the four original members, one of the Stinson brothers is dead, their replacement guitarist Slim Dunlop has a life threatening disease, and their drummer Chris Mars is a full time artist. So the last two Replacements, Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson, played shows to rapturous reviews by fellow Gen-X’ers.
I am just kicking myself in the rear that I didn’t go see those shows. The Chicago show conflicted with a bunch of other things but in hindsight I could have gone off and seen them in Denver (maybe). Now I am waiting to see if they get back together (or even record some more music) and this time I’ll be sure to go, where ever they play.
After watching some of the songs on You Tube I went to put some more replacements on my iPod while working out and realized that I only had a few snippets from their albums in my collection. Back when I first ripped the Replacements CD’s a long time ago I only put a few songs from each CD on my computer (trying to save space) and of course the quality was low, at 64 bit. I realized that I didn’t even have “Tim”, my favorite album, at all.
I started looking around on itunes and now I need to buy these songs for a THIRD time. I had them all on albums, then CD’s, and now I need to buy them AGAIN, on iTunes? Really? And all the while I can hear Dan’s voice in my head saying that he doesn’t buy any music anymore, relying on the internet and services like Pandora / Spotify and for me at least, Sirius / XM (I have it in my car and house and started paying a bit more to stream it and play on my “Jambox” speaker through my iPod or iPhone).
In this case I knew where my old CD’s were… I gave them all (more than a thousand) to my brother, and he was ripping them in some high fidelity manner. He looked through the stack (they were all out of order because of a flood) and found three CD’s, which I took back, and I will re-rip again and put on my iPod. After I got home I realized that I didn’t get “Let it Be”, probably my favorite, and I don’t have all the songs on my iPod. Oh well, I may have to buy a few here and there.
But how long before I don’t buy any music at all? It can’t be too long. I don’t buy too many books anymore, and I probably buy less eBooks than I used to buy of the equivalent hardcover variety. I am consuming paid media at a fraction of the rate that I used to, and can probably see a day when I get rid of everything (I got rid of all my CD’s a while ago, so these three are the last three in my house).
Cross posted at Chicago Boyz
Posted by Lexington Green on 27th October 2013 (All posts by Lexington Green)
I was a little bit shocked to hear Lou Reed was dead. 71 is not old these days. I knew he’d had surgery recently, but since I hadn’t seen further news, I assumed he was doing OK. Yet another musical hero gone.
The Velvet Underground meant a lot to me, so I will put up a few words here.
I was a fan of sixties rock’n’roll and first wave punk rock as a teenager. This was pre-internet. You found out about things via college radio or some musical publication, like Trouser Press, Boston Rock, Subway News, Goldmine, Creem. But you could not just find any song, any time, the way you can now. It was a universe of scarcity, in a way that people already have forgotten and cannot imagine.
One name that kept coming up as semi-legendary precursors of punk rock, as a dark doppleganger to sixties rock was The Velvet Underground. I was on the look out for them, but I had not actually heard anything them by the time I got to college in 1981.
There was a guy in the dorm who had all their records. He was gay. He made a half-hearted pass at me. I told him that was just not my thing — but I loved him for his record collection! Which was true. And I am forever grateful to him for his generosity with the music he had accumulated. I got my Velvets fix from him.
I bought all the albums, too, starting with the first. I listened to The Velvet Underground and Nico over and over again.
For whatever reason, the Velvet Underground was undergoing a revival in the early 1980s, and I had the good fortune to be there for it. Various bands came along and you could hear the Velvet Underground in them, it was in the air at the time. The Velvet Underground had somehow permeated everything that was happening a decade or more after the broke up. There was a band on campus called the Rhythm Method — a great, great band. They were immersed in the Velvet Underground. They did various Velvets songs, and could probably have done all of them if they wanted to. I recallOver You as a standard. There was another band called Dumb Ra. I was not a big fan, but they were also saturated in the Velvet Underground, and did Heroin as part of their set. My friends formed a band called Fang Beach, and in their early shows that had a light show based on The Exploding Plastic Inevitable. My own band — Flemme Fatale — did a cover of I’m Waiting for the Man. Our name was a Velvet Underground reference, of course.
The Velvet Underground became a brooding musical omnipresence over my young adult life, and to a nontrivial degree over the rest of it as well, so far.
With the arrival of the Internet, various Velvet Underground bootlegs, which were fantastic rarities in the vinyl era, became available. I had this to say on the blog:
The various live bootlegs are simply mind-blowing. These guys were so in the pocket it is like they are all one group-mind, a single organism. They were not only ahead of their time, no one has ever really sounded like them before or after. Sterling Morrison said somewhere that the Velvet Underground were ten times better live than on record. I think that is right, and the bootlegs show that even more than the “official” live albums, as good as those are.
I was referring to this song, I’m Not A Young Man Anymore.
Discovery of these bootlegs has been a great pleasure in recent years. These bootlegs are the secret crown jewels of rock’n’roll.
The Velvet Underground have not lost their power to blow me away.
With this kind of music, you either hear it or you don’t. One friend had a cassette I sent him the Summer after our first year of college. There was a song on there by the Velvets, I Heard Her Call My Name, which is a storm of dissonance, with a catchy pop sung buried deep in the din. He listened to it once and couldn’t stand it. Then one day right before school started again he put it on … . And he HEARD it. And he became devotee from that day on. Sometimes it happens that way. It is like love at first sight.
Thank you Lou, for everything.
Thank you also to John Cale, Maureen Tucker, Doug Yule, the late Sterling Morrison, and of course, to Nico, for making the Velvet Underground the timeless and deathless phenomenon it is and always will be.
Posted by Charles Cameron on 15th October 2013 (All posts by Charles Cameron)
I’m borrowing this announcement from the New Liturgical Movement blog, where Fr Thomnas Kocik posted it today:
This coming Sunday, October 20th, at St John Cantius Church in Chicago, His Eminence Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago, will bless the church’s recently installed, fully restored Casavant pipe organ (Opus 1130) at 4:00 pm.
Immediately following the blessing, a Pontifical High Mass will be celebrated by the Most Reverend Joseph Perry, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago. There will be a dinner in the church hall at 6:00 pm, and at 7:00 pm the Organ Dedication Recital by Thomas Schuster of Miami’s Church of the Epiphany.
The event, as you see, will be both musical and liturgical: if I come across a suitable video of the liturgy taken during the event, I will drop it in here.