R.E.M. To Unveil New Songs At Dublin Run

The year was 1991, I was a sophomore in high school, REM was my band. I had flirted with the band since the mid-eighties. With songs like “Stand” and “Pop Song 89” and “Fall On Me” they had captured my little teenage imagination, but it wasn’t until Out of Time that I fell in love. Lawd, I loved that album. I must have listened to it a million times that year.

I can still remember my mother being shocked, (shocked I tell you) at “Radio Song” with it’s disturbing use of the words “damned” and “sucks.” She would years later, be bemused at her shockedness for such mils terms (well if my mother was ever bemused at anything, she would be.)

When Automatic For the People was announced I was as excited as I think I’ve ever been toward anything For weeks I bothered anybody who would listen with the details, as I knew them, and chastised them for not being nearly as excited as I thought they should be.

When it finally hit the streets, I did nothing but listen to that album. I sucked it in, lived with it, and cherished every note. I still love that album. It is a rare and beautiful thing.

Continue reading “R.E.M. To Unveil New Songs At Dublin Run”

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Fresh Tracks – 03/30/07

Elton John – Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy

I have been slowly obtaining Elton’s early back catalogue.  I’ve already got Tumbleweed Connection, Madman Across the Water, Honky Chateau, and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (and somewhere I’ve got Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player on vinyl)so when I found a copy of this one, I just HAD to have it.  I know very little about this disk, as I don’t know any of the songs, but I’ve really been digging the 70’s Elton (as opposed to the dreck that became the 90’s Elton, but excludes the resurgence to roots of 00’s Elton.)

I was just reading on Wikipedia that it is a concept album detailing the struggles of Elton and longtime writing mate Bernie Taupin.  Sounds great.

Bruce Springsteen – Devils and Dust
Born to Run
The Essential Bruce Springsteen

Continuing with my brand new Springsteen obsession, I landed copies of these three disks.(well actually four since, Essential is  double album.)  Born to Run has been playing in my car all week, and I hate to admit it (not really) but I’m really loving it.  I think I may finally be GETTING the legend that is Springsteen.  I don’t know what that means yet (except that my list of Must Have albums will continue to get bigger) but I’m happy to start including myself in conversations about the Boss.

Have only given Devils and Dust one listen yet, and that on crappy work speakers, so I can’t say much.  With the small speakers, and distractions at the office, the soft sound of this solo album didn’t really do much for me.  But hopefully with more developed listens I can make an informed opinion.

Guster – Lost and Gone Forever

Speaking of brand new obsessions I keep listening to these boys more and more.  At first I didn’t get it for I kept hearing how catchy they were, and when I listened they didn’t seem catchy at all.  But after repeated listens I see what they mean.  Guster isn’t immediately approachable, or at least not to me.  Their music certainly has hooks, but they aren’t so radio ready as say Fountains of Wayne.  Their hooks are buried in a pretty substantial sounding musicality.  They seem to put the song first, and then the catchy hook.

Here’s to more new obsessions!

“What Is That Smell?”

Starting yesterday afternoon, my office took on a very strange, and quite horrendous odor.  It smelled like death, or rotten eggs.  I sit underneath a air vent, and I have a pretty piss poor sense of smell, so it didn’t bother me too much.  Only when I moved out from under the vent, or first came into the office. 

We searched the office for something peculiar.  The trash was investigated for rotting foods, the corners and underneaths checked for dead things.  Nothing was found. 

Today we complained, conjectured and made faces about it.  But there was nothing to find as for a cause.  

About a week ago, the group who work upstairs from me had complained about bats in the attic.  There was some conjecture about whether it was bats, birds, or mice, but measure were taken to get rid of them.  Somewhere on the roof there was a slight opening which, it was thought, would be the place to which the bats might enter.  A wire cage was placed around the opening and the problem was theoretically solved. 

The smell, so went our thinking, might be from a trapped bat/bird/rat from the cage, that has since died.  We got a ladder, pulled open the drop ceiling and went to investigate. 

Nothing still. 

No sign of dead vermin, less stink in the opening.  We sniffed around the vent, thinking something might have died in the furnace. 

Nothing. 

By afternoon I was crazy mad over it.  It stunk.  It is my office.  That’s not right. 

We searched in every cranny, and nook.  There is a box on one of my cabinets filled with junk from my predecessor.  I looked casually in it, but found nothing.  Then we noticed some mouse droppings on some papers near the box.  I checked again and found droppings on a glove inside the box. 

Then I found the mouse, dead, inside this box.  Rotting.  My office.  Dead things, for who knows how long. 

I worked amongst the dead. 

Gross.

DVD Pick Of The Week: The Shield – Season 5

b000k7vhjg01_ss500_sclzzzzzzz_.jpgSeveral years ago a coworker of mine was complaining that her cable was out, or her boyfriend was watching something else on the TV, or something. Anyways her point was that she was going to be unable to watch her favorite TV show, The Shield. At the time I was pretty much oblivious to all things television, except the movie channels, but I agreed to allow her to come over that evening and watch. In return she brought a big chocolate cake.

My first episode then, of the Shield, was just after the infamous rape of Captain Aceveda and mainly concerned his struggle to find the culprits. It was gloriously violent, and edge pushing, and really really good. After that I watched several more episodes, loving it, but for whatever reason it slipped away from me again. The next season we were in France and once again I became oblivious to television. This past season, I periodically caught the show, but my work schedule was really odd and I never did figure out when it came on. The result of this was I saw a few episodes, but missed a lot more.

Thus this week’s pick is Season 5 of the Shield. Hopefully I can quickly get through the season before Season 6 hits the airwaves.

Continue reading “DVD Pick Of The Week: The Shield – Season 5”

Random Shuffle – 03/26/07

“I’d Rather Go Blind” – Etta James
From Tell Mama

The dark, secret truth of my life is I just don’t enjoy the blues. I really don’t “get” it. It’s not because they are too sad, for I really like sad songs. It’s not because they are full of hard times, for I’ve had my share of hard times. I believe it has something to do with the way they are sad, and the means of which they talk about the hard times.

Actually, let’s back up a minute. This is the electric blues I’m talking about. I have no such hard feeling for the acoustic blues, and tend to dig them, in fact. It’s the electric part of the electric blues that gets me. It’s too electric. Too loud. Too much. I guess it’s in the brazen electric sound that is supposed to transmit the feeling of the blues, but to me it is all too often just annoying. I don’t feel the blues. I don’t hear the blues. I just hear loud. I’ve often said I’m not a lyric listener. But it is here that I must be proven a liar. I like sad song that is soft, and full of lyrics that can break my heart. And when I hear the sad lyrics being blazened by electric forces out of my control, I tend to tune out, or change the channel.

It is then here that Etta James proves that there is something to the blues. Sweet Ashton Kutcher, this song just slays me. What a voice. When she sings, “I’d rather go blind, than watch you walk away,” you believe her. Heck, you want to cut out your own eyes so you can’t see her lover walk away either. I may not care for the blues all that much, but this song cuts me in a way no others can. Maybe it’s because I’ve had my own share of heart ache. Maybe I’ve seen my lover walk away. Maybe Etta James knows how to conjure up emotional depths the rest of us only hear about. Whatever the case, and I suspect it is a bit of both, she has captured the essence of heartache in this song, and I for one, am grateful.

Continue reading “Random Shuffle – 03/26/07”

Bootleg Country: Pete Seeger and Big Bill Broonzy – 10/25/56

peteseeger2.jpgThere are many thoughts that come to mind when I hear the name Pete Seeger: Socialist, outspoken folkie, encyclopedic knowledge of music worldwide, compatriot to Woody Guthrie, Pinko-Commie, and axe-wielding madman running after an electrified Bob Dylan. It is his love and gift for folk music from around the globe, though, that I hope he will always be remembered.

Listening to Pete Seeger, in concert, is like being with a historian and archaeologist of the world’s music. He seems to know every song ever sung, and to be friends with their writers and singers. He is the soul of America, a true treasure trove of song.

I have a handful of concerts by Seeger, some official, others not, and in every one is a historical road map of folk. Though he often plays by himself, with banjo for accompaniment, he is never short of musicians, for he makes everyone in the audience part of the band. No, Pete Seeger concerts are not Holy Places where the music is sacred, and the audience mere worshipers. We are part of the song, singers and clappers and performers one and all. In nearly every song, he points out a chorus, or a repeating line that he encourages the audience to sing. Where they can’t sing, he says they can clap and hum.

To be honest, I was not at all familiar with Big Bill Broonzy before I listened to this concert. I’m not particularly well versed in the blues, and Broonzy is a name that circumvented my musical heritage.

To be even more honest, I’m not one to particularly care for the blues. For the most part, I just don’t *get* it. For his part, Broonzy makes me wish I did. He is of the acoustic blues school, and his tunes are jaunty, even happy at times, and it is a simple pleasure to listen to him sing.

As for positioning, each performer takes turns singing his tunes, song for song for the most part, while the other one sits in the back ground listening. They do perform together on a couple of songs, and they spend a lot of time conversing, talking about music and telling jokes. But mostly it is a solo show, split between two people.

Seeger likes to talk, and I for one, could listen to him talk for days on end. He tells stories about the songs, about the writers of the songs, and of his life. And what a life! He’s been everywhere, done everything. Most people talk in hushed tones about the night Bob Dylan went electric at a folk festival. For Pete, that’s personal history. He was there. He’s the exciting part!

In no way would I consider this a brilliantly performed performance, musically speaking, for Pete doesn’t show off. He seems more interested in creating a community of music, than coming off as a musical savior. In doing so, he creates something special, something different than a simple concert. It is a communal experience akin to a religious service, or family reunion. I don’t suppose there’s anyone who has heard a Seeger concert that will ever forget the experience.

Broonzy is less talkative than Seeger, but shows his own gift of humor by asking if he can sit down whenever Seeger launches into one of his long stories. He plays his guitar with the fervor of a true prodigy and his songs gap the divide between Seeger’s folk and children’s music.

The highlight of the show is when Seeger plays what he calls the “Goofing Off Suite.” Folk music, he says, needs its own version of chamber music, for the thinking man, so he’s wrote his own high minded piece. If you’ve ever seen the movie Raising Arizona, you will instantly recognize the number. It consists of what must be the main theme of that movie, which if you’ll remember is composed of this incredibly goofy bit of banjo and the wildest bit of yodeling known to man. He even throws in the humming and banjo version of “Ode to Joy” as the middle section.

The first time I heard this I was driving in a heavily trafficked piece of down town. I’m surprised I didn’t get pulled over for all the swerving I did from the tears rolling down my face from laughing.

I am quite saddened to know that I will probably never be able to attend a Pete Seeger concert. His age and health keep him from appearing much in public. But I am heartened by the knowledge that there are these recordings, and that a man like Pete Seeger ever lived and shared his love for great music.

You can download the show over here.

The Biggest Loser

A few months back, I wrote this post on about how I was willing to pretty much give up loads of money and a free vacation in order to watch new episodes of Lost.  Being the visual male that I am, I included a couple of pictures in the post – jokes to show that I am, indeed, a loser.  The pictures came straight off a Google search for the term “loser.”  I stole them outright, saved them to my hard drive, then uploaded them to wordpress for the post.  No big deal, pretty much everyone does this.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have noticed a lot of hits directed right on that post.  At first this seemed very strange, since it’s title, “When Did It Get This Bad?” isn’t particularly Google friendly, nor it’s subject matter something that would draw a lot of readers.

At the same time, I noticed that I was getting a lot of search engine hits for the word “loser.”  I pieced these things together, and did my own searching.

I am now the number one Google hit for an image search of the word “loser.”  The funny thing is Google points towards the pictures that I stole.  But for whatever weird algorithmic  reason,  my site gets preferential treatment for losers.

That’s right kids, I am the number one loser, thank you very much.