Friday Fives – that reminds me

What movie do you quote/reference the most?

Princess Bride, or Spinal Tap

What TV show do you quote/reference the most?

Seinfeld. Every hour that goes by lends itself to a Seinfeld reference. I have read a book by a writer on that show, and he mentions that show was unique. Larry David wanted real stories from people’s lives for the show. He didn’t want things made up that would seem funny. Other shows, the writer said, stayed FAR away from real life because everyone was afraid of getting sued. The book was by Fred Stoller. I forget the title, but if you hop over to my ‘what I am reading’ section and do a control F on the name ‘Stoller’, it will come up.

What song do you quote/reference the most?

Bob Dylan.  Anything, and everything, off ‘Blood on the Tracks’.  Now, why didn’t you ask me what book I most reference? You don’t even care, do you? Well, I’ll tell you anyway… and you likely know this by now – Alice in Wonderland.

What TV series has/had the best music/soundtrack?

The music around the Sopranos was always just perfect. Lot of ambiance and tension.  Just hearing that opening sequence and watching Tony drive across the bridge, you knew great and amazing things were going to happen in the next hour.

What movie has/had the best music/soundtrack?

No question here, no race to the top – Blues Brothers takes it far and away. Ok, listen, that was short. You ain’t getting more. I started a new job and I am on day 2 of a 10 day in a row swing. Going from not working, to ten days in a row… or even TWO days in a row… well, I am going to bed now. I love you, have a great weekend!

Friday Fives – musicology edition

What album do you enjoy every song on?

I wish I could tell you it was Blood on the Tracks, which I think is an absolute masterpiece.   BUT… there are some absolute dogs on there. I mean… Lilly and the Jack of Hearts? To call that filler would be hurtful to things that fill things. So, what albums do? I have to name a few, and they all came out very close together.

Pearl Jam – Ten

Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream

Guns and Roses – Appetite for Destruction

What’s your favorite lyric of all time?

First, let me tell you the one I simultaneously love and hate with great passion on both sides… this line from the Rolling Stones –

“she blew my nose, and then she blew my mind!”

Is there better writing than that?  Yes, but just barely. Is there worse writing than that?  No sir.

To answer your question, though, I have to go to this line:

I was living in London with the girl from the song before

That is Paul Simon, from the ‘Late Great Johnny Ace’. It is remarkable not just for being one of the best songs ever written, it is remarkable that you have never heard it… nor heard of it. That lyric is so great it hurts my heart to think of writing that good. I mean… is there a song before? Was there a girl in the song? No, it’s nonsense.  It’s your imagination.  That is what makes it so great. It’s as if you two were in the middle of a great conversation, and he lets that drop. I guess if we have to give that girl a face and a name, it would be Carrie Fisher. That is Princess Leia to you, to whom Paul was married.  Yeah, not just great songwriter… dude is banging the Princess of the friggin’ Federation.  You better check yourself!

You date Taylor Swift for a Year before breaking up. What is the name of her next album?

“I never fully appreciated, or understood him”

OK, this is it. The executioners are taking aim.  What is the last song you want to hear?

Mayonaise from the Smashing Pumpkins. Studio version. I think this is my favorite song in the whole world. It also embodies the Smashing Pumpkins, and Billy C, so perfectly. Pretty, thoughtful, spacy, and balls out rock your skull off… all in the same piece. Here is a secondary live, acoustic, on the fly version. You may watch this only after you have heard the studio version about 30 times and cried to it.

It’s a quiet little genre and only you enjoy it – what is it?

Just about everything Astrud Gilberto ever did. You know her as the ‘girl from Ipanema’ lady. She is that, and so much more. Her and her hubby, along with a couple others (like Stan Getz and Antonio Carlos Jobin) basically invented Bossa Nova… AND got it to the states. Now that you know that, you will start to notice that a muzac version of Girl from Ipanema plays in they background in all elevator scenes. I know it is one of the most iconic songs ever recorded.  Think about this, is there a better known melody in all of music?  There are a precious few – ‘My Favorite Things’, Fur Elise’, ‘New York New York’, ‘Star Spangled Banner’… these are all melodies that you know whether you like it or not. Same with ‘Girl from Ipanema’.  Why then do I regard this as a ‘secret quiet little music genre’? Because – popular culture has only used that song as an ironic hipster statement.  That song is regarded as the most boring and sanitized song ever. It is used to define something lame. No sir, it was groundbreaking at the time – 1964.

when I say ‘groundbreaking’, that isn’t hyperbole.  When you hear ‘Purple Haze’, you don’t think anything about it.  When people heard that first, in 1967, their faces exploded.  No one had made noise like that, and certainly no one had seen a black kid playing rock.

There is a great story that may or may not be true about Miles Davis meeting the first lady (Nancy Reagan). Supposedly, she said to him “and what do you do that got you a seat at the President’s table?” having no idea who the super creepy, probably super high, and extra black man in front of her at dinner was. His response – straight-faced, Davis replied:

“Well, I’ve changed the course of music five or six times. What have you done except fuck the president?”

In that anecdote, was it necessary I pointed out how black he was?  Since we are talking about old rich white Republicans… yes it is.

Friday Fives – more music and michael vick, too

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Which music artists football players* have changed the game?

Well, I will tell you about something a lot of people don’t talk about. Michael Vick! Yes, he is a horrible person and a psycho who killed dogs for sport. However, he also changed the game of football… completely and single-handedly. Allow me to ‘splain.

Before Vick, the guys on the line of scrimmage (both sides, defense and offense) weren’t designed for endurance or distance. They were big fat bastards. There only job was to run into each other at top speed, and allow the fat, planetary-like collisions to buy the QB enough time to dump the ball (to a running back behind him, or a receiver down field). So, if you worked on the line you didn’t have to be fast, or in shape. All you had to be was a fat motherfucker. Remember William ‘the refrigerator’ Perry? He was 382 pounds. That was his single only contribution to the Bears. He was AWESOME.

Quarterbacks didn’t run, for the most part. Dan Marino, for example, held every passing record in the NFL. He had 32 yards running, in his CAREER. Vick changed that by being incredibly mobile. Once you hiked him the ball, he just took off. Not even forward, necessarily… just everywhere.   So, the guys in charge of chasing him… just about fell over dead. This allowed him to take all the time in the world.

This changed the game. His mobility meant those guys on the line (again, both sides) had to be fit and fast and have endurance. Yes, other quarterbacks moved before him and after him… but no one like him. I think he changed the game of football more than any one single person before him. Also, don’t worry about the dog thing. He not only went to jail and humiliated himself… but if you believe in hell I assure you he is going there.

* I felt like talking about football.  So, I made an executive decision

What’s the best acoustic version of a song?

I have to go with Everlong on the Howard Stern show. Again, that single leaked recording was a revolution that made acoustic cool again. It was a breakthrough for everyone, ESPECIALLY Dave Grohl. He clearly hadn’t planned to play guitar for Howard. They probably had a guitar in studio. It was also apparent he had NEVER played the song on acoustic before. This is unusual, as almost all songs are written on acoustic.

Also, he didn’t choose the song, Baba Booey did (Dell’Abate, the show’s producer). So, he wings it… and creates an historic moment.

Keep in mind, ‘Unplugged’ had largely fallen off the radar… especially for rock groups. His performance is amazing. It also shows how unbelievable good that song is. It stands up without distortion or a big band or special effects or overdubs. To this day, Grohl plays that song with an acoustic intro all because of that day. Now, we don’t have video of this. It was when Howard was on terrestrial radio. We do have the audio though. Listen to this with headphones. Seriously, that is an order. Note his singing, as well. When Foo Fighters play live, Dave Grohl screams. There is little nuance to his singing OR playing, historically. In this performance, he sings carefully, and plays carefully. He is a good and talented musician.

Now, if I may generalize, 99.99999999% of the time I prefer an acoustic version of anything.  It shows the actual musical proficiency of the artists, and shows when a song can stand on its own without special effects and studio magic.

What is something you were a huge fan of BEFORE it got really popular?

Your mother. Ha, just kidding. Never liked her at all. How about this, I knew Guns and Roses before they were big. Before their first album. Before ‘Welcome to the Jungle’. Now, I don’t get credit for discovering them. That goes to Tim Ashton. He had a very obscure limited EP ‘Live like a fuckin’ suicide’ on cassette. Once Guns got big, they re-released that EP as side two of ‘Lies’. In fact, lemme tell you about that summer. Tim and I were inseparable. We spent every waking moment together. We had a cassette that we listened at all times. It never got pulled out of the cassette deck. We were, and it was a blank tape. One side had Appetite for Destruction and the other side had ‘in the Dark’ from the Grateful Dead. Two masterpiece albums

Also, I was a fan of Pumpkins years before ‘Today’ and all their hits off of Siamese Dream.

What are you listening to right now?

Mr Wonderful on Shark Tank. Oh.. you meant in music? The usual suspects, Pearl Jam bootlegs, Grateful Dead, early Dylan. Also, I picked up the new free U2 album today. It is quite good. Though I don’t listen to U2 like I used to, I think they are biggest and best rock band in the business today. Their disc from about 7 or 8 or 5 or 10 years ago (editors note:  2000.  So, it was 14 years ago)  is one of the top five albums EVER made. It’s called ‘All that you can’t leave behind’. It’s super duper good. You should not even finish reading this. Find that album and download it. Don’t even talk to me unless you have heard it about 45 times.

What’s the saddest song in the world?

Idiot Wind. Well, I dunno. Each and every song on that album is a serious heartbreaker and soul crusher. The album is Bob Dylan’s ‘Blood on the Tracks’. It is his masterpiece form 1974 about his divorce. Dig these lyrics from Idiot Wind.

I can’t feel you anymore, I can’t even touch the books you’ve read
Every time I crawl past your door, I been wishing I was somebody else instead
Down the highway down the tracks down the road to ecstasy
I followed you beneath the stars hounded by your memory
And all you raging glory.

I been double-crossed now for the very last time and now I’m finally free
I kissed goodbye the howling beast on the borderline which separated you from me
You’ll never know the hurt I suffered not the pain I raise above
And I’ll never know the same about you your holiness or your kind of love
And it makes me feel so sorry.

Every single song on that album is that well written and that sad. This album, most famously, produced ‘Tangled up in Blue”.

OOOHHH WAIT. Even better and sadder – John Prine. Which song? Try every song he ever wrote. More specifically, look at this song – ‘Lake Marie’. At first glance, it appears to be sweet. The subtext of sadness is so well written, it simply defines the issue of heartbreak.

Yes, that it what it looks like at first… like ‘My Last Dutchess’. But look closer at the words. Holy fuck this song is sad. Here is a verse, and here is a clip of him playing said song.

Many years later I found myself talking to this girl
Who was standing there with her back turned to Lake Marie
The wind was blowing especially through her hair
There was four Italian sausages cooking on the outdoor grill
And Man, they was ssssssssizzlin’
Many years later we found ourselves in Canada
Trying to save our marriage and perhaps catch a few fish
Whatever seemed easier
That night she fell asleep in my arms
Humming the tune to “Louie Louie’
Aah baby, We gotta go now.

Friday Fives – grab bag edition

1.  What two celebrities do you often confuse with each other?

good question.  Greg Fitzsimmons does a bit on this on his podcast.  He calls it ‘half a man’.  I will tell you a new, less obvious one.   I have been watching this show called the Americans.  It’s awesome.  Anyhow, the lead male looks disturbingly like Zach Braff.  See for yourself here vs here.

2.  What’s that one track you always skip on an otherwise amazing album?

Lily, Mary, and the Jack of Hearts on Bob Dylan’s ‘Blood on the Tracks’

3. Did your job exist 100 or 200 years ago? If not, what job would you have had?

no.  gosh, I have no idea.  I just kinda fell into this job.  Didn’t even apply for it.  A head hunter found me and hooked it up.  17 years later, I am still there

4.  What’s one popular TV show you just refuse to watch and why?

Game of Thrones.  just so many people talking about it incessantly.  I understand it has tons of nudity and violence.  These are great things.  However, I am not interested in fantasy anything.  Same thing with Dr Who.

5.  What artificial flavor tastes most unlike the real thing?

sugar free caramel flavoring from Starbucks.  That stuff tastes like ass.

Saturday Sixes

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1) What was the first song you remember hearing and enjoying on the radio?

 I have a very powerful and distant memory of waking up in a cabin in the woods from a nap of some sort.  I am about 5 or 6.  There is no one there, just the peace of the forest, and John Denver’s ‘Country Roads’ was playing from somewhere.  It’s a good memory, and I wish I remembered more of the context. 

2) If you could only listen to five CDs for a year, which five would they be? (Boxed sets can count as one CD. Sigh.)

In the business, we call this ‘desert island discs’.  Ok, off the top of my head:  Bob Dylan – Blood on the Tracks.  Grateful Dead – From the Vault (live 1975, the Help/Slipnot/Franklins will blow your fucking mind.)  Metallica – Master of Puppets.  Guns & Roses – Appetite for Destruction.  Pearl Jam – Yield.  No, wait… the one with the avocado on the cover.  I think it is just called ‘Pearl Jam’.

3) What was your favorite year, music-wise?

1977 seemed to be a sick year for rock and roll, as my buddy Eric pointed out.  You have the Led Zeppelin ‘Destroyer’ bootleg out of Cleveland.  Steely Dan is landing Aja.  Grateful Dead drop ‘Terrapin Station’ and Fleetwood Mac put out ‘Rumors’.  Also, I think that is the year for Eagles ‘Hotel California’.  So, that was a seriously epic year for rock.  Too bad I was only 5 at the time.

4) If you could witness one historical music event through all time, what would you pick, and why?

Not Woodstock.  Every musician there said there set sucked.  People romanticize that festival.  I mean, it was a landmark.  But, if you were there, it kinda sucked.  It rained the whole time, traffic was a nightmare, food and bathroom were almost non existant, and that sound system sucked.  None of it was built to support 500,000 people, which is how many showed up.  That was 1969.  The event I would choose, musically, would be the Monterey Pop Festival in 67.  This was the peak of the San Francisco scene, and it coalesced perfectly at that moment.  It is also when Jimi Hendrix was introduced to America.  My summer of 69, the San Francisco scene had gone to crap because of meth and freeloaders.

So, musically… that is my choice. Non musically?  The Kennedy assasination.  that is if I am just a witness and can’t stop anything.  If I could go back in history and stop something, it would be to protect either Bobby Kennedy or MLK.

5) Do you have a song that never fails to cheer you up? What is it and why does it do that for you?

Well, if I am bummed, I don’t listen to music to try and cheer me up.  I just get afraid that listening to that music will later make me remember the time I was bummed.  So, I don’t to ruin it.  But, some songs that bring me pure joy and happiness are > Come on Eileen, Take your Mama (scissor sisters) and Skookian from Louis Armstrong.

6) Ok, so you wanna know what I think happened with the Kennedy thing?

I do believe Oswald was the lone shooter.  However, I do NOT believe he acted alone.  I think elements of our govt put him up to it.  I think Lyndon Johnson was involved on some level, and I believe it had to do with the Vietnam War.  Now, keep in mind… in 1963… EVERYONE wants to kill Kennedy.  The mafia want him dead, because they feel they got him elected… and his brother (as attorney general) is busting their balls.  Casto wants him dead, because he has been overtly trying to kill Castro for some time.  The war machine (er… the possible Johnson connection) wants him dead because he said he was going to draw down Vietnam and get of out of that mess.  Note that after Kennedy is killed, the war goes on another pointless 8 years.  Also, the bible belt want him dead because he is a womanizer… and beleives black folk have rights.  So, a better question is… who didn’t kill Kennedy?