Archive for the 'Music' Category
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.
Posted by Lexington Green on 6th October 2013 (All posts by Lexington Green)
Security, Otis Redding (1964)
Classic Stax, with the horns up front.
Security, Thane Russal and Three (1966)
Classic Brit sixties beat version of an R&B song, with the guitars up front.
“If you are going to cover a song, rip it apart a bit and make it your own.” Dan from Madison
Dan and I went to Lollapalooza for the Friday, August 2nd show. We primarily went to see Nine Inch Nails who headlined on the North Stage late Friday night.
I saw NIN at Lollapalooza a few years ago and frankly, the show sucked. I am a big NIN fan and I came away seriously disappointed, especially since Kanye was tearing it up on the other side of the festival. The crowd was dead, the volume was low, they seemed to choose a strange mix of songs, and the light show was boring.
This time NIN put on a great show, with a huge light show, and an awesome sounding band. I was very impressed. Also note the “sign language interpreter” on the lower left. They have these ASL interpreters at many festivals now and they are fun to watch and really seem to get into the music. You can see her dance and move with “The Hand That Feeds” in the short video here. I wanted to see what she was going to do for the notorious song “Closer” but this is more family friendly.
Cross posted at LITGM
I was killing some time downtown when I went into Reckless Records, one of the few surviving independent record shops. I browsed a bit and saw the new CD from Grant Hart, formerly of Husker Du, and bought it for $12.99. Why not. I loved Husker Du growing up and even bought a CD from Grant Hart’s first solo act, a long, long time ago and it was decent.
After I got home I ripped the CD using iTunes. I hadn’t done that for so long that it wasn’t even set up to find the songs on the Gracenotes online library, and for a second I was panicked that I’d have to put the song titles in by hand, like I used to have to do many years ago. But I checked a box in preferences and it found everything and then the CD ripped in just a few minutes. I remember staring at my computer for half an hour in the early years when it took eons to rip a CD.
After I was done I was staring at the CD. What to do with it? I gave away all of my CD’s a while ago. I used to keep a few under the TV cabinet for when I was driving but now I have satellite radio or I hook up my iPod when it’s just me in the car. So after a bit of thought I… just threw it in the garbage. The CD kind of wasn’t that great (haven’t given it much of a chance but it was very weird) and if I was going to have ONE CD in the house, it wasn’t going to be Grant Hart.
That is truly the end of media.
Cross posted at LITGM
Recently I saw the art-metal band “Pelican” at the Bottom Lounge on Lake Street in the West Loop. It was a Thursday night and I just took a cab over there by myself. Pelican is one of my favorite bands – they play metal in a major key with no solos or lyrics (OK, they did have one song with lyrics). It sounds boring, but definitely isn’t (to me at least). Recently they had a switch out of some key players but since I hadn’t seen them before I couldn’t tell the difference and they sounded fine. Here is a brief movie of them playing “Lost in the Headlights” which is the first song from them that I heard that I really liked.
As a rock music fan, it is difficult for me to stand back and appraise the impact of rock and roll in an objective and neutral manner. Growing up, I listened to music continuously, and over the years have bought it in almost every format from album to cassette to CD to digital. I owned early MP3 players (like the Rio) on to pretty much every variety of iPod. In addition, I have been going to concerts for many years, some of which I’ve discussed in the blog. I’d consider myself pretty knowledgeable about rock music from the ’60s through today.
At Lollapalooza I’ve seen the growth of “Perry’s Stage”, which is an electronic music tent. Here is a link to a post I wrote about it after the August 2011 show. I noticed how the young kids migrated over to the DJs and had a great time, while the “old” concert goers sat on blankets and watched the mainstream acts.
Today we look back on rock music as if it has always existed in its current form but it used to be an electric, alive, underground party. The rebellion has moved over to hip hop but the party migrated over to electronic music. Rock doesn’t stand a chance today in the popular consciousnesses compared to the DJs.
While rock bands struggle to find a few thousand fans at a show, the “Electric Daisy Carnival” can pack in over 100,000 fans a day. Here is the link to the trailer for the inaugural event that they will hold in Chicago.
It is amazing that the last Grammys telecast didn’t feature much in the way of electronic music, but then again they have not been a very good indicator of anything. They had many performers but none of the electronic winners were highlighted (last year they had a mash up with Deadmau5 and Dave Grohl, at least). The Grammys too are in the thrall of the past, but that’s to be expected since their demographics and voters skew so old.
It is easy to figure out where they kids are going. They are heading where ever there are bikinis and a good time. Bye bye rock music.
Cross posted at LITGM
…at Grim’s Hall.
Speaking of things Irish, there is an interesting Dublin-based blog called Sibling of Daedalus. Check it out.
…people are still writing songs about the Civil War.
Josephine, by Rory Lee Feek
The song is based on actual letters written by Confederate soldier J W Robison to his wife Josephine.
I am reminded of something Connie Willis said:
Because the Civil War isn’t over. Its images, dreamlike, stay with us — young boys lying face-down in cornfields and orchards, and Robert E. Lee on Traveller. And Lincoln, dead in the White House, and the sound of crying.
The Civil War disturbs us, all these long years after, troubling our sleep. Like a cry for help, like a warning, like a dream. And we pore over it, trying to break the code, its meaning just out of reach.
Posted by Lexington Green on 31st January 2013 (All posts by Lexington Green)
“When I talk to Loretta, she makes me feel like number one!”
The Nervous Eaters, Loretta (1976)
Classic Boston early punk rock. Rough and satisfying.
Neko Case, Loretta (2004)
A nice (dare I say superior) remake by Miss Case, who has exquisite taste in covers.
(I have always thought the original version sounded like it grew out of a jam based on the Velvet Undergound’s White Light / White Heat. But that is just a guess.)
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
With Youtube it is easy to try out new music so I recommend that you check on some of these links and see what you think. iTunes is also just a couple of clicks away.
Bob Mould – The Silver Age – Album
Bob Mould was the lead singer and guitarist of Husker Du, the seminal punk (?) band. After they broke up he went solo, formed the great band Sugar, and then got weird. He’s back now, guitars blazing, and it sounds great. Here he is playing the lead single “The Descent” on Letterman.
Calvin Harris – Feel So Close – Single
This simple, hypnotic song with a very humanistic video is one of the best songs of the year (see it here). The sparse use of electronics in all the right places is what moves it into something great.
LCD Soundsystem – Shut Up and Play the Hits – DVD
The great electronic band LCD Soundsystem fronted by James Murphy disbanded this year and he had a farewell tour and DVD of their final shows in New York City. I had the privilege of seeing LCD Soundsystem three times and they put on a great show every time. Here is a clip of them playing “All My Friends” from the DVD.
Soundgarden – King Animal – Album
When Soundgarden came back to Lollapalooza I was amazed at how great Chris Cornell’s voice sounded. This is their first album in many years and it is as if they never left. Here is “Been Away Too Long” on Letterman.
M.I.A. – Bad Girls – Video
The video for MIA’s song “Bad Girls” was completely original and new. Talk about doing your own stunts… check it out here.
Afghan Whigs – “Lovecrimes” – Song
The Afghan Whigs were a great alternative band back in the day known for “Gentlemen” and other hits. Front man Greg Dulli is still out there making great music and he reformed the band – this is their cover of a Frank Ocean song “Lovecrimes” You can download it for free at their web site here.
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Here’s a Christmas-y song that I think is beautiful:
The song was written and sung by Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders.
Here’s what Hynde said at a rock concert in 2003, not that long after the 9/11 attacks:
“Have we gone to war yet?” she asked sarcastically, early on. “We (expletive) deserve to get bombed. Bring it on.” Later she yelled, “Let’s get rid of all the economic (expletive) this country represents! Bring it on, I hope the Muslims win!”
I like several Pretenders songs (Back on the Chain Gang, for example), and this pretty much spoiled them for me. I’m not boycotting the group…I don’t turn the radio off if one of their songs comes on…it’s just…sad.
Fast forward to 2012. The Korean rapper known as Psy (“Gangnam Style”) was scheduled to perform at a Christmas concert (a benefit for Children’s National Medical Center) which is traditionally attended by the President of the United States. It turns out that in 2002, he smashed a model American tank onstage “to oppose 37,000 U.S. troops that descended on the Korean Peninsula” (in the words of a CBS Local writer who seems to be as ignorant of history as Psy himself evidently is)…and a couple of years later, he rapped:
Kill those f***ing Yankees who have been torturing Iraqi captives/Kill those f***ing Yankees who ordered them to torture/Kill their daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law and fathers/Kill them all slowly and painfully
This rant was apparently inspired at least in part by the murder in Iraq of a Korean missionary by Islamic terrorists after the SK government refused to cancel its plan to send troops in support of the Iraq war.
After the information about Psy’s past performances came out (and Psy issued a standard pro-forma apology). some people thought that Obama might have declined to attend a concert at which Psy was a star attraction. But they were wrong, and he did attend.
One would think it would be obvious that for the commander-in-chief to attend a Psy concert..given the above backstory..is highly disrespectful to American military people, and indeed to Americans as a whole. What would have been most appropriate would have been for the concert organizers to disinvite Psy. Failing this (and there might have been contractual reasons making it impossible even had the organizers been inclined this way), Obama could have issued a brief statement of regret that it was impossible for him to attend given Psy’s comments about Americans. This would have demonstrated that the President has respect for his own country, and that he expects such respect to be shown by others.
No one familiar with Obama’s history would really be surprised that he did not choose this course. What is slightly surprising, and more than slightly disturbing, is that Obama’s attendance seems to have been just fine with many Americans, and with most of the old-line media. This Atlantic writer, for example, uses the Psy-Obama handshake to bash any “right-wingers” who might see anything wrong with Obama’s presence at the concert.
Of course, when a couple of months ago Americans in Benghazi were actually killed, as opposed to just being threatened with being killed, most of the old media showed great lack of interest in digging into the feckless Administration behavior that led to this debacle.
What is pretty clear is that we have a substantial number of people in this country who simply do not identify as Americans. They may identify with their profession, or with their social class, or with their educational background and asserted intellectual position, or maybe even with their locality…but identification with the American polity is missing. (And this phenomenon seems to be strongest among those whose self-concept is most closely tied in with their educational credentials.)
What such people do generally care about…a lot..is coolness, which means they care about entertainers and celebrities. We now have a President who apparently cares more about the transient glory of being associated with a flash-in-the-pan rapper (and whoever else sang at this concert) than about showing respect to those he has the responsibility to command. And this is evidently just fine with many among the media and academic elites.
From time to time I have to report out on the insanity of the Rolling Stones lists and their fixation with Bob Dylan, the sixties, and other obscurities. Here I had to revise their top guitarist list which was comically irrelevant, as well as their equally terrible top guitar songs list.
While I know hardly anything about hip hop relative to my knowledge of rock everyone knows that putting Eminem on the cover is a gaffe in that community. Even Eminem himself would probably cringe at being the face of hip hop, when you have icons like Jay-Z, Tupac, Biggie, Snoop, Dr Dre, and Kanye. Sure he’s the best white rapper alive but really…
Then onto the list. These songs are so old I even remember them.
1. “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash from 1982
2. “Rapper’s Delight” by Sugarhill Gang from 1979
3. “Planet Rock” by Afrika Bambattaa from 1982
4. “Sucker MC’s” by Run-DMC from 1983
5. “Nuthin’ But a “G” Thang” by Dr. Dre and Snoop from 1992
It is hilarious that Rolling Stone put their “musty test” to rap just like they do to rock (Bob Dylan) and guitar (Jimi Hendrix). They are really saying that those first four songs that are 30 years old or even older are the best hip hop songs? They are definitely old and were pioneers but that isn’t the best. Fine I’ll agree with #5 but the first four gotta go.
Luckily the list is so laughably bad right from the top and with Eminem on the cover I don’t need to spend even five minutes thinking about it. This post basically wrote itself.
Cross posted at LITGM
Dave Brubeck, whose music’s wit so delighted my parent’s generation – died at 91. He reminds us of another era, when smoking meant subtle lights in a dimmed room and when pauses spoke as couples in quiet clubs paid thoughtful respect to a music that moved and innovated and then returned to its roots before launching out, reaching out, again.
The obituaries seem fewer – he played long into a different culture. But Brubeck and Theolonious Monk and Jerry Mulligan were the sound tracks of the Baby Boomers’ parents and remind us of a vision that took notes, creating again and again a new order, a new beauty. Improvisations are grounded on Youtube: the interaction between musicians and an engaged audience lost, they remain to explain that time and those people. As the sixties became the seventies, we thought the fifties plastic, conformist, simple. All those vinyls my father loved remind us it was more complicated than we knew – perhaps because they were, themselves, like the music -laconic, cerebral even. Elvis and the Beatles, rock and country – for decades they all lived side by side with Brubeck.
I don’t know how many Tom Russell fans there are among the Chicago Boyz and Grrlz and Readerz, but whatever the number is, I think it should be greater, because TR is IMO one of the best singer/songwriters working in America today. He’s just published a new book: 120 Songs, with lyrics, guitar chords, and stories about how each of the songs was inspired and written.
Some other TR songs:
Russell’s concert tour is now on the east coast; schedule here
Singer Tom Petty is an Obama supporter and doesn’t like it when Republicans/conservatives use his songs…still, I can’t help thinking of his lines:
Well the good ol’ days may not return
And the rocks might melt and the sea may burn
Jonathan is right that we should eschew despair; still, we need to face the fact that the situation is very, very serious.
I have been following the cover song debate here at Chicago Boyz with the mantra “if you are going to do a cover, make it your own.”
Here is Ryan Adams covering Bob Mould’s “Black Sheets of Rain” on Letterman. I always liked Bob Mould and of course Husker Du (just downloaded the new album and will be giving it a spin, sounds great) but I have to say that Ryan Adams improved upon Bob’s version of this great song.
I started the video about at the 2:25 mark… typical of Ryan Adams there is a self indulgent time when he wanders around getting ready to play. But hell, the guy is a genius, so what do I know.
[Jonathan adds: I wasn't able to get the video to start at the right place. You will have to move the slider to the 2:25 mark to get it to start there.]
“Celebration Day” is the Led Zeppelin concert movie commemorating their 2007 one-time only show in London with John Bonham’s son Jason on drums. Here is a link to the web site trailer and show times.
I highly recommend that you head out and see the show in a theater, preferably one that is LOUD. Led Zeppelin sounds fantastic, playing a variety of songs from their 10 album catalog, with some unexpected choices. Robert Plant’s voice sounds great, Jimmy Page can still play everything, John Paul Jones plays a variety of instruments (including an amazing 10 string bass), and Jason Bonham is great on drums (with a bit of vocals on “Misty Mountain Hop”).
Cross posted at LITGM
In the wake of the first Presidential debate, a lot of people have been using boxing metaphors, analogies, and images. Which reminds me of three good songs:
Simon & Garfunkel, The Boxer
Tom Russell, The Pugilist is 59
Tom Russell, The Eyes of Roberto Duran
Posted by Lexington Green on 29th September 2012 (All posts by Lexington Green)
Strutter, the KISS classic, a standard in The Donna’s set:
Our standard: “If you are going to cover a song, rip it apart a bit and make it your own.”
The Donna’s version exists in a world where punk rock happened. They do an all girl version of a hairy chested, swaggering guy song, and do it without irony. They own it and make something out of it that is their own. I love how the crowd is singing along so loudly. I wish I had been at that party.
The official Donna’s video of the song also pretty cool. (Brett looks fetching in Paul Stanley’s makeup.)
Relationships don’t always work out. That’s why there are breakup songs.
Sometimes, the feelings leading to a breakup are mutual…neither partner wants to keep the other one around anymore. And yes, I think Obama is as dissatisfied with us, the American people, as we are with him. He clearly finds us to be very inadequate and unappreciative.
So, time to move on. And in honor of the impending breakup between American and Barak Obama, here’s a selection of fine breakup songs.
(From my old Sgt. Stryker archive – a meditation on 9/11, written on the third anniversary)
Around the time of the first anniversary of 9/11, I saw a drawing commemorating, and making a bittersweet comment about anniversaries, memory and the passage of time. Quick pen sketches of the WTC towers, each with a sequential date underneath; 9/11/02, 9/11/03, 9/11/04, but with each repetition, the outline of the towers became mistier, more diffuse. The first anniversary to me was almost unbearable, as much of a psychic battering as the event itself. The second was a sad and thoughtful occasion, and now we are facing the third year, and the day falls on a Saturday; not a work day for most of us. Curiously, that seems to set the event a little aside, this year. I will not be walking into the glass and granite lobby of the office building where I work— a lobby that looks eerily like the lobby of the WTC buildings, owing to the fact they were built at about the same time, following many of the same architectural precepts, and which houses many of the same sort of businesses, although on a much smaller scale— on a glorious September day, not knowing that the towers had already been hit, they were burning, and thousands of people doing the same job they did every day would be dust and ashes in the next few moments.
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