Friday Fives – some more music edition

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I didn’t like any of the questions from my idiot editor.  So, I am going to my old fallback.  Setting my phone to full random on songs.  Going to tell my relationship to each song or band, in the order that they come up.

Bury Me – Dwight Yoakum

I just love this guy, and I am not a country fan by most definitions.  To me, his music is folk music.  I finally got to see him a couple years ago, at Red Rocks no less, and it was fantastic.  I don’t know how I came about his music, but for years I have been performing ‘Fast as You’ with my band, and alone camping.

It’s funny to me that he is an actor.  Being actor is about being a face.  Yet, find me one publicity photo of his face.  You can’t.  Wait… I googled a pic of him without that hat.  Never mind, Dwight, put that hat right back on.

I got to listen to him do a longform interview on the ACS.  He was stupidly likeable.  He didn’t just tell great stories, he sang old jingles and played guitar.

Estimated Prophet – Grateful Dead

One of the few Bobby songs that we all love and appreciate.  And their ain’t many.  Over the years, I have finally come to really appreciate Bob.  Basically, it took Jerry dying to realize what a treasure we always had in Bobby.  We took him for granted, and I will personally cop to it.   However, may I note that this was a big song he was doing when I was following the band in summers of ’90 and ’91.  He would do this caterwauling at the end that was just sad.  We used to call him ‘Bobby Cheese’.  Ok, maybe not ‘we’…. So much as ‘me’.

Side note, this comes from the album Terrapin Station.  My god I love this album.  Terrapin isn’t just my favorite Dead song… it is a super rare moment where the recorded original version is just perfection.  Most of their catalogue never really got great until it was played live.

Nice Boys – Guns & Roses

This is from the album before Appetite.  Can I tell you something?  I was listening to Guns & Roses BEFORE Appetite for Destruction came out.  Credit goes to Tim Ashton, of course.  They had an EP called ‘live like a fucking suicide’.  It was later re-released as side two of ‘Lies’.

Hello… sorry – Todd Snider

I love Todd Snider, he is a folk troubadour, a la Arlo Guthrie, and his father before him.  This isn’t a song, but an intro to one of his wonderful live collections… where he tells as many stories as he does sing songs.  Got to see him live a few years ago, and it was everything I hoped it would be.  One of my favorite clips you can find online is this.  Too Soon To Tell.

Buckets of Rain – Bob Dylan

well, it’s no surprise the list featured the Dead and Bob Dylan.  I still listen to Dylan almost daily.  This is from the masterpiece ‘Blood on the Tracks’.  This is a rather jaunty look at his miserable divorce… which the whole album is about.  Young Bob Dylan was a God, and I am thrilled he got the Pulitzer.  To me, 1974’s Blood on the Tracks is a mystery, of sorts.  This is the music Bob Dylan was making up to 1966.  This should be the successor to ‘Blonde on Blonde’.  However, Bob went weird for almost a decade.  For Bob to ‘go weird’… well that is saying something.  Lay Lady Lay?  What the hell was that?  What was that thing he was doing with his voice?

It’s like Bob went in to witness protection from 1966 to 1974.  Then, he comes back with Blood on the Tracks… and it is like he was never gone.

 

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Friday Fives – more music because my editor is a lazy bastard

I can say that, right?  I mean… it’s with love.  Plus, it’s about music.  I can hold forth all day long about music… but you poor sucks already know that, don’t you?

Who is the worst band you’ve ever seen live and why?

Flaming Lips at Red Rocks.  They were opening for someone, I don’t remember.  I was initially very excited to see them.  Wayne Coyne is famous for his great live shows.  Red Rocks is also a magical place that has coaxed amazing performances out of mediocre bands… like Radiohead.  The Flaming Lips were horrible.  I finally realized they are built on kitsch and novelty.  They are not good songwriters, they are not good musicians, and Wayne Coyne is not a good singer.  10 or 15 minutes into their set I have to leave. I went up top to drink and look at the amazing view.

See, if you go up top, the sound is horrible… which is best for the Lips.  It means it is also the quietest up there.  Red Rocks doesn’t put speakers anywhere but the base of a stage.  Normally, this would be fine… were you not on the side of the mountain.  If you are not in the first 30 rows, the sound is terrible.  This is especially true when the wind whips around, which it tends to do on the side of a mountain.

but why were they so bad?  The music just wasn’t compelling on any level.  Not catchy, nor thoughtful.  You know those kids songs Charlie Sheen’s character wrote on 2 and a half men?  It was stuff like ‘who cut the cheese?’.  Yeah, that is Flaming Lips catalog.  Anyone who likes Flaming Lips is a hipster douchebag!  Trust me, it takes one to know one.

But… any concert at Red Rocks can’t be that bad, right?  It’s like how they say a bad day fishing is better than the best day at work?  Well, they weren’t at this show.  To close, Will Rogers never met this band.

Who is the best band you’ve seen live, and why?

Oh golly, I have see a LOT of bands, and a LOT of great bands.  It is almost impossible to pick 1.  So, I’ll pick two.  This answer goes out to Cody in Utah, a month late.  Sorry on that, bud.  James Taylor and Barenaked Ladies.

James Taylor I have been seeing since high school, possibly longer.  For one, and maybe this is a given, he sounds perfect… every time.  80s, 90s, 2000s, 2010s… every decade I have seen him he was amazing and crystal clear.  Every show gets the obvious hits.  Here is what people don’t know who haven’t seen him; he is hilarious.  He is a seriously funny and engaging guy.  I have seen comedians live, many of the great ones:  Richard Lewis, Mitch Hedberg, Lewis Black, and Brian Regan.  I have laughed that hard at every single James Taylor show.

Barenaked Ladies have always killed it live.  First time I saw them, it was the ‘Rock Spectacle’ tour, which was a very early greatest hits tour… of sorts.  I wasn’t a big fan, but I Gordon.  The internet wasn’t everywhere yet, so I hadn’t seen clips or read reviews.  After that show, I was amazed.  As everyone knows now, they are amazing live.  Funny and sweet and musical and surprisingly improvisational.

Every show becomes a very unique experience.  It becomes about your city, and current events.  I have seen them 3 or 4 times, and every show was better than the last.  I should have to mention this was all back when Steven Page was with them.  I can tell you every person who has ever seen BNL at any era with Steven Page will tell you it was the best concert they have ever seen.  I agree.

What band has your go to perfect album?

Again, SO many.  How about three?  Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti,  Guns & Roses Appetite for Destruction, and Smashing Pumpkins Siamese Dream.

What are the best comebacks you know?

The question implies a witty rejoinder, a la ‘the jerk store called’.  In the spirit of the questions leading up to this, I will assume it is a poorly worded question about career comebacks in music.

I have been seeing bands for 30 years now (it starts with the Police in 1983 and Rush in 1985… and keeps going).  One day, ask me about the golden girl I saw at the Rush, and how that kinda changed my life. Hint, it involves boobs and a 13 year old boy. A lot of the acts I have seen were regarded as ‘comebacks’, but never left.  I saw Pearl Jam in 1997, and the critics were calling it their ‘comeback’ tour.  They never went anywhere, never broke up, and never stopped making music.  Same has been said for seeing Page & Plant together, James Taylor, and Paul Simon.  To qualify, we have to count a band who fully broke up before I saw them.  I think these guys broke up a lot.  Heck, they just re-broke up again last fall.  This time, I think it’s for good.  Greg must be in his 70s.

The Allman Brothers.  I first saw them in the late 80s.  They had already been broken up and reunited several times by then.  Over the years, I saw them more than any other band, except maybe the Grateful Dead.  I have seen both bands around 20 times.

When I count the Dead above, I am talking about with Jerry Garcia.  Since his passing, I have seen another 20 shows of their very many offshoot bands.  Also saw Bobby and Jerry solo while Jerry was alive.  Still go see Bobby every year.  Going to see him this summer, too.

The Allmans are a unique class of band that got better with age.  They are also a band that thrives live.  I say the same about Iron Maiden.  They not only get better, they get more popular.  Iron Maiden is amazing, and one of two bands I NEVER miss when they come to town (the other is Pearl Jam).  Sorry, since we are talking about great live bands, I had to get in a plug for Iron Maiden.

The radio is on and you are driving down the road, a song comes on. At what moment did you realize “Damn.. I’m getting old”?

HA… I remember the exact moment.  Wifey and I were driving through Northern Arizona on our bi annual trek to see movies.  We were in a car that likely only had a cassette deck, and we were sick of our tapes.  Maybe it was CDs, who knows?  We were searching the radio for anything.  Of course, when you are in the middle of nowhere, you only get county and bible shit.  Why is that?

FINALLY we find a good station.  Prince was on, from his Purple Rain heyday.  We were so pleased with ourselves until the dj came on.  “you’re listening to Northern Arizona’s golden oldies.”.  we listened for another hour.  We knew, and loved, every song.  We were OLD, man.  I swear we were only in our early 30s, if even that.  We are early 40s, now.

* for the record, Wayne did this.  It was cool and all, but clearly a distraction from shitty music.  Prince never had to do this.  Also, he was afraid to get passed back/up.  Reasonable, since Red Rocks is built into the side of a mountain.  Still, though, that woulda been cool.

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.

rock re-union – it will happen

Long ago, I posited that every band would get back together, if they are alive.  Long ago.  I wrote that, specifically, about Pink Floyd.  Since then, the most acrimonious of break ups have re-united.  Pink Floyd got back together, so did Zeppelin.  Van Halen got back with Roth.

So, who is left?  Well, Oasis, but that is easy.  They are attention whores, and will be back together soon.  Tougher?  Stephen Page and Barenaked Ladies.  Will they?  Yes, without question.  Why?  Well, the same reasons all other bands get back together.  Both are not as good without the other.  Both bands are having less exposure, and selling less tickets.  This is common.  Ask Ratt, Motley, Maiden, or Anthrax… who all fired their lead singers… and then had to take them back.

Tougher level of degree > this one is, to me, the holy grail of potential reunions.  not Pink Floyd, or Led Zeppelin.  No.  Guns and Roses.  Will they get back together?  I think they have to.  None of them are doing anything near what they were doing as a band.  I imagine they all became intolerable… we certainly know that Axl did.  However, now they are older (Axl just turned 50) so I assume they have melllowed  a bit.  Plus, there is literally billions of dollars on the table here.  I can’t imagine Axl is rich anymore.  He took 15 years to release ‘Chinese Democracy’, and he refused to do press or tours for it.  So, that is 15 years he wasn’t making any money.  Now, he is gigging again, but not making much.  The new Guns shows aren’t selling out… yet their costs remain fixed (roadies, union stuff, venue rental, transpo, security etc).  These costs are the same if you sell 1 ticket, or 18,000 (average amount of seats in venues they are playing, NBA arenas).

Plus, each smart local promoter has put fines in place if Axl goes on late.  Axl goes on late every show.  Generally, the new Guns and Roses do not go on until after midnight, and then play three hours.  So, let’s say it’s a work night (odds are, it is)… the concert is over until 3 am, you get home at 4 am.  The opening band, see, is over by 9 pm.  So, it’s 9 pm and beer sales have just stopped. You now have a 3 hour wait to see if they will show.

So… is there any band where the principles are alive that will not get back together in some fashion?  No.

your thoughts?