May I Say, "Fly off, mate!"
OK, print junkie, you've read enough here today. Now go fly with them at AirAmerica, the Drug-Free Radio.
Guaranteed no white trash heroin powering the hate processes of conservative motor mouth talk show hosts, no sounds of facades slipping to reveal the vile beast behind the mask as the glass pipe explodes in the foaming at the frothing mouths of Ann Coulter wannabees bottoming out on a crack binge, and none of those other common kinds of talk trash talk show host people that have been foisted off non-stop 24/7 coast-to-coast year after year on the captive American populace, either -- no! None of that eardirt and mindrot allowed here -- they are determined to get clean for Janeane.
This Land Is Your Land (The Hidden Lyrics Revealed)
David Hajdu reviews the new Woody Guthrie biography
(courtesy of Bob Sarles Music Wire. You can subscribe and get these juicy stories before I do ... just mail Bob
. Don't delay: you just missed a 25-page extravaganza from Downbeat's own Mitch Meyers on Frank Zappa himself).
New music blog alert: The London News Review's ACME
(pretty sure via the problem drinker at TMFTML
, but not positive)
My review explaining why I think she is boss and why you should listen to her:
Essra Mohawk "You're Not Alone"
She made the nonstop soundtrack for a country lawn party last Saturday afternoon on into the late evening, the lovely gardens in rich spring bloom were filled with lots of great country folks young and old. They are the local heroes who beat the bush every single day all the way through the last primary on Supa Toosday (having trudged through hill and dale and along the muddy trails that are the only sidewalks in the ghettos of our town in the pouring rain in barn boots and clutching clipboards under slickers to register voters all the way until midnight on the last day to register to vote).
We gathered in the lovely bowers last Saturday before sundown and listened to Essra and tippled some wine, talked story, and a minimal amount of whining and moaning was heard from those strong young cowhands and sturdy but gentle cowgals. We ended the evening with some planet gazing and bonfire jumping. Getting ready for more fun soon.
We Know We're Going To Love Them Dept.
(or, honeys, don't waste too much of your time reading here today when you can listen to them on the radio or innanet today)
Yes, Come Fly With Them: AirAmerica Radio
Synaptic Collisions Dept.
This music critic takes a listen to new music from Armenia, and this review on the Cascade Folk Trio
results. Do not be fooled by the name Cascade Folk Trio. This is fairly fundamental.
Then, a listen to a group called Taxi Chain
who add bagpipes to their bar in the remote frozen north blues. Um, that's right!
But Rough Guide's Chicago Blues
brings out the great Valerie Wellington singing about what it feels like when facing a walk down "Bad Avenue" every single day, one of the hardest blues I've heard from a woman for awhile. And there's also John Littlejohn to make icicles go down your spine. I went to blues heaven each time this disc rotated in the player. Serious blues fans will want it for the Valerie.
Strange Days Are Here Dept.
Germany's Hans-Eckardt Wenzel tackles lyrics of folk icon Woody Guthrie.
... Wenzel's music, with its echoes of anti-fascists like Weill and Brecht, is a perfect complement to the social criticism of Guthrie's lyrics ...
''It shows,'' he said, ''how music unites a kindred spirit.''
Still Writing about Music subsection
Today's look and listen to Hiroshima
and a listen to Putumayo's collection of American Blues
, that ends with Soloman Burke's mighty "None of Us Are Free"
Dialing up the Wayback Machine:
(More From the Nervous and Litigious World of Parody)
About one year ago, flaskaland offered this post:
Posted 3/14/2003 07:41:22 AM by barbara flaska
In examining the past, some people respond with the "what ifs" and the "might have beens", trying to wish a "colorful" era or character back to life, all expressive of a dissatisfaction with the ways things have turned out. In response to a book review on blogcritics, I posted this:
After that idiotic flip out scene at Bill G's in 1977 (which is quite unpleasant just to have read and heard about at the time, violence and piggery being what it is) ...
I remember an immensely talented parody of Led Zep that was broadcast throughout the Bay Area on what was the vestigial remains of "underground" radio in 1978. A true parody, the subject was a mock of media favorites who have achieved massive and sometimes questionable popularity. This was a crossed version: The "Theme to Gilligan's Island" performed in the style of "Stairway to Heaven", but not merely imitative or sound-alike.
Led Zep's legal squad inexplicably exploded on the scene, out to (somewhat inconceivably) collect all copies of the tapes. They apparently interrogated the radio station personnel in order to uncover the source, to find and punish the parodists as well. They apparently implied they were out to search and destroy, sending out threats and warnings. Well, those tactics were ineffectual in the long run as they predictably always are.
But that seems fairly typical of Led Zep vibes. At the time, I doubted they could even so much as comprehend the cultural complexity of the parody.
Today, through the modern marvels of electricity, you can hear a version of what might be that very parody! Now, I don't have my computer speakers hooked up and this might not be the same version I heard a few times twenty years ago and referred to above, but it seems the lawyers are getting involved again. Who cares -- You can always make up and sing one of your own, too!
Stairway to Gilligan
Techy stuff dept: Comments back in action I hope
I've caved in under the pressure of popular demand and the heart wrenching pleas from all those dozen or so people who wrote in recently especially to say they wanted to comment here. OK, it's for you that the comments section has been revived if not fully resuscitated.
So you'll know the tech-heck I've been subjected to this evening: I've tried to post a handful of interesting comments rescued from the distant cache and attach them to the appropriate posts that sparked the remarks. The majority of the remainder have truly and totally disappeared, just rubbed out, obliterated, and exterminated as it were, due to some weird thing. A very rare few comments here and there I've had to gently lay aside despite my ongoing love for their creators (and this note is addressed to Marshall B, Mark D, and Kenan H) because the original link to the cited article has been lost to time and without that context the comments were walking on air.
I did look through the shockingly large number of compliments from people who enjoyed the site or liked one of my very own articles enough to go out of their way to comment on that. (Like running my fingers through the dried petals of a scented crush to re-read those today!) Oh ... so many, though, that to keep my ego in check I could not easily repost any of them.
Anyway, the comments section is back.
This just in:
(Washington, DC) WHITE HOUSE AND INS DENY VISAS FOR ALL INTERNATIONAL MUSICIANS
The White House and the Immigration and Naturalization Service announced yesterday that as of February 1st, visas for any and all international musicians to perform in the U.S. will be denied indefinitely.
INS spokeswoman Linda Emerson read a statement issued yesterday which read, in part: "It may sound extreme or over-arching but the United States Government and the Immigration and Naturalization Service feel that the only foolproof way of preventing further terrorist activity or dissemination of anti-US or "questionable" opinion is to have the policy of total denial be blanket in nature." However, she added, "those international artists currently on tour in the United States will be allowed to complete their tours before being allowed to return home to their respective countries."
White House spokesman Jeremy Thornton added: "It's a privilege, and an often very very profitable one, to perform in the United States. We don't want, and simply can't have, anyone performing here who might be critical of either the President, his policies or his administration. That's an outrage. The President loves freedom, and we know there are lots of foreign artists who love the US, the President and freedom too, but we can't make exceptions for them. To be completely fair, everyone's got to be shut out. At least for the time being."
The White House added that it would be looking next at American groups who do "world music," or, the music of other countries. "We know there are groups and musicians in this country that are sympathetic with the people of other countries, for example Cuba or Finland, and who are critical of our government in their lyrics. We will be looking at these groups and individuals, and seeing what we can do about them."
-- from roving correspondant Mark Gorney
(None dare call it parody dept.)
(originally posted Tues Mar 02 11:13:55 AM,
but it's such a good one to keep thinking about).
Music Critics on Music Criticism
"What price absolute values when context can change perception so radically?"
Music to a Critic's Ears
"Why riffle through your parents stash of old records, looking for ways in which to mock them? It's all right here."
(flak takes a brave look at bizarre album covers and the phenomenon known as bizarrerecords.com
Why "go long" explained
"Why do I go on so long? Part of it is the context. I'm addressing a readership that knows almost nothing about, say, Wayne Shorter, and consequently I have to explain things that could be taken for granted if I were writing about him for a music magazine. I need to establish who he is, and why he's worth writing about -- and that takes up many column inches right there. At the same time, there have to be ideas in the piece; ideas that transcend music or the question of whether someone's new CD is any good or not, because regardless of whether my readers have the leisure to read a long piece or their level of education, I've got to grab their attention quickly and hold it for a few thousand words. I mean, after all, there might be an article on the future of Islam or something like that in the same issue, and I'm competing with that. It's not like I'm trying to provide the last word on Wayne Shorter (to use him as an example), or even the first word. In terms of most of The Atlantic's readers, what they're hearing from me is the only word they're ever going to hear about him.
"Finally, though, I write long pieces because that's my nature. Believe me, I admire brevity. I just don't seem able to achieve it."
(from an interview by Clouds & Clocks with Francis Davis
, courtesy Scott Woods
Olde News Makes a Vague Little Smile Dept.
Smithsonian Label to Sell Folk Catalog as Downloads
Mon January 26, 2004
01:32 PM ET
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Billboard) - Nonprofit label Smithsonian Folkways
Recordings is making its entire collection of 33,000 folk and world
music songs available as downloads for 99 cents apiece. The service will
debut April 1 on the label's own site, http://www.folkways.si.edu
, and later
this spring on the Smithsonian's http://www.globalsound.org site
The Folkways catalog was donated to the Smithsonian Institution in
Washington, D.C., after the death of label founder Moe Asch in 1986.
The recordings, which date back to 1948, include material by Woody Guthry,
Leadbelly, Brownie McGhee and Pete Seeger.
(courtesy of world music list)
Music Critic and Editor Patrick Schabe emails an urgent message:
"Dropping a reference to an obscure webcomic without reference is kind of silly and pretentious, like maybe I think everyone should like the things I like... "
Getting it nailed
This Year's Most Important Song
Come Fly with Me Dept.
Public Enemy frontman Chuck D will co-host a daily show on Air America Radio, a new liberal talk radio network set to launch March 31. The outspoken rapper will join Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" co-creator Lizz Winstead and radio talk veteran Laura Flanders on "Unfiltered," which will air 9 a.m.-noon ET daily Monday through Friday.
Initially, the Progress Media-owned franchise will be heard on WLIB-AM (1190) New York, WNTD-AM (950) Chicago, KBLA-AM (1580) Los Angeles, and via an as-of-yet unnamed station in San Francisco. The network's programming will also be heard streaming live on the Web Airamericaradio.com
. In addition, Air America Radio is in negotiations with satellite television and radio providers to carry its programming nationally.
A number of high-profile comedians will be heard on the network's airwaves. Al Franken will host the three-hour "The O'Franken Factor" daily at noon with co-host Katherine Lanpher, which promises "fearless barbs, sketches and interviews." Janeane Garofalo and political humorist Sam Seder will co-host "The Majority Report" a nightly four-hour block beginning at 8 p.m. and Marc Maron will participate in the morning show "Uprising" (6-9 a.m.) with co-hosts Sue Ellicott and Mark Riley.
Air America's afternoons will boast "The Randi Rhodes Show" (3-7 p.m.) and will be followed by the one-hour "So What Else Is News?" anchored by Marty Kaplan. Weekends will feature "Champions of Justice," hosted by environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Mike Papatanio, along with yet to be announced original programming and "best of" segments culled from the daily shows.
In other news, Chuck D is also due to take part in the National Hip-Hop Political Convention along with Hip-Hop Summit Action Network co-founder Russell Simmons June 16-19 at Rutgers University in Newark, N.J. The three-day conference will include dialogue between hip-hop and civil-rights leaders, panel discussions on economic empowerment, criminal justice, education and healthcare; and artist performances.
As previously reported, the Public Enemy frontman is also backing a venture to create a new cable music channel devoted to hip-hop.
-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.
(via rock n rap confidential
, all looking feisty in their AirAmerica caps)
Crawling far, far out on a critical limb where the laws of gravity still apply
Javier Ruibal's Sahara
P.S. can't let another hour pass without saying how saddened I am that Punk Rock Blues threw in the towel on his music commentary and has just deleted his blog. How I wish now I had cut and paste and posted his entire last post here. A personal reflection and introspection I read several times, which was quite moving (which is why he should be writing about music online). Darn fine writer with many interesting things to say, and good luck to him wherever he goes. (Damn fine guitarist, too, I am told).
Looking at words, language, and how they intersect with art, society, and culture day
"Christian Marclay plays with layers of language, but not of meaning, as a character uses signing to present pieces of music criticism to the deaf."
Even the simple phrase "Mind your language
" can have different meanings when it seems that culture is on the skids and why it might be that it appears that we tolerate it
More Sunday Morning Reading
Rants & Raves
, a regular feature that covered music which was predicated on reader participation and interaction, is on the chopping block in Kansas City.
How a classical music critic sought to maintain objectivity throughout his illustrious career
. A more intimate than usual look at the person who wrote about music, his trials, his triumphs.
More Sunday Morning Book Reviews
Radio Days, and Tyro Journalists and so on
, which gives a glimpse into the history of a radio station and so on by looking at ALL IN GOOD TIME: A Memoir by Jonathan Schwartz.
Sunday Morning Book Review
"Many critics, including quite a few superlative ones, are content to describe what is in front of them. This is no mean feat: Writing about (for example) music is indeed like dancing about architecture, and in the midst of all those gyrations, it's hard enough to report what you're seeing or hearing. There is, however, a smaller cadre of critics -- call them the Delta Force of cultural journalism -- who move beyond the descriptive into the realm of metaphysical inquiry. How do books, or films or songs affect us? To what extent do works of art make up the building blocks, the amino acids, of our inner lives?
" 'To attempt to describe how music pervades and flavors a life,' O'Brien confesses early on, 'feels a little like an invasion of privacy, even if the privacy is my own. Listening to music, which can be the very embodiment of public life (whether at Woodstock or marching down Fifth Avenue on the Fourth of July), is finally the most inward of acts - so inward that even language, even the language of thought, can come to seem intrusive.'
Pop Goes the Critic. (James Marcus on SONATA FOR JUKEBOX: Pop Music, Memory and the Imagined Life, by Geoffrey O'Brien.)
Music critic Greil Marcus does his part to define our current era as
"The Golden Age of Mediocrity".
It's Saturday, and the Random Reading Room is open:
Nurture Learning from the Past
Article 351 in a Series
(or why there's better writing to be found in the foreign press)
Dave Marsh's next book
This Modern World Dept.
The Brazilian electronic music of Ramiro Musotto
, where leading edge technology and ancient ritual exist together and share the same space time continuum.
Fumbling towards Ecstacy Dept.
"Nash and George-Warren are unhappy with the current state of music criticism in the mainstream press. 'I think it's hard to find good criticism today in the mainstream music mags,' George-Warren said. 'I hate the quickie reviews that are in vogue now that seem to be geared toward showing how snappy a sound bit a writer can pull off, rather than giving a good critique of an album.'
'It's (music criticism) soft in every way,' Nash added. 'There are very few forums for long and thoughtful reviews, especially in country music. And mainstream editors opt more for glib and entertaining writing than useful information or poetic reflections. I think movie reviewers have a broader canvas, by far. In music reviews, the content has really been dumbed down.' ...
'The biggest reward, I think, has been being able to tell readers about a new and important artist,' Nash added. 'Lucinda Williams once said I wrote her first, big national story. That was a thrill to hear. Because music can have such a spiritual quality and influence so many lives in ways we can barely imagine.' "
Today's Panel Discussion
Remember that precious village
I was telling you about? The real estate is much more expensive now and there are more SUV's. The only small local market in the town proper had 17 varieties of balsamic vinegar at last count, but everything else seems to be about as I remember it.
The perpetual adolescent
s get the public spanking they so richly deserve as the big media eye looks at neotony.
(Of course, music is always a part of social commentary)
"Music was a key element in the advance of youth culture. The dividing moment here is the advent of Elvis. On one side were those who thought Elvis an amusing and largely freakish phenomenon -- a bit of a joke -- and on the other, those who took him dead seriously as a figure of youthful rebellion, the musical equivalent of James Dean in the movie "Rebel Without a Cause," another early winning entry in the glorification-of-youth sweepstakes then forming. Rock 'n' roll presented a vinyl curtain, with those committed to retaining their youth on one side, those wanting to claim adulthood on the other. The Beatles, despite the very real charms of their non-druggie music, solidified things. So much of hard rock 'n' roll came down to nothing more than a way of saying bugger off to adult culture."
"Then he undoes his shirt and shows me a song tattooed on his chest. It is a song called The School of Love - which he wrote in the Gulf War of 1991. 'I placed this song and some others in one room and slept in another, so that if a bomb came, only one of us would go and I put a note with the song saying please give this to someone who knows about music.' "
Bet you haven't heard this singer yet
Behind on my reading dept.
"Did they finally decide to stop dumbing down their art to make it "commercially viable"? Do they fear being trapped by the imagination of their audience, or contained in what they imagine their audiences expect of them? And does hip-hop ultimately have to be like this, wedged between the conflicting demands of art, politics, and commerce, with precious little creative space left over?"
"You Failed hip-hop"
Small tasty snacks dept.
Short takes on music that shouldn't be overlooked, though flying in under the radar:
Blues, blues, blues, and roots.
My short takes today
-- three reviews I wrote all by myself with my own little pencil -- on Pinetop Perkins, Blues Guitar, Gino de la Fose & French Rockin' Boogie.
I'm dangling these so I can comment about why I wonder people don't just write such things on their own. Anybody, but anybody, believes they can write short reviews like these, and they most probably can -- although some I've read are much better than others (not necessarily included among mine here). I'm alarmed that outside of print magazines and newspapers with shrinking word limits that no one is. Not many places I am aware of in the paper world that are providing the freedom and space for "think" pieces, either.
This is the area of self-publishing that I had expected to bloom; individuals writing honestly and freely about music they like, the very music they pick themselves to write about or talk about, feeling in their hearts it is deserving of at least a small mention. With all the attending freedom to really say something. They can go long, if they want. But they seem to be avoiding this activity on their own blogs. I'm not sure why, there is not too much even in the way of short reviews. Perhaps familiarity breeds contempt. There's so much of this everywhere else.
The short review is a great writing exercise for nearly any writer, as this really shows the writer there is no much thing as "objective" writing. The very act of writing is a constant process of selection. You choose what you want to say, and what you want to discard. There is an angel on one shoulder and an imp on the other, and they're both talking to you at once. Should I say this, should I say that. What shall I include, what shall I scratch out. One or the other wins out. The self-editing process. 100 words.
My favorite quote of the week from Jeff Chang
: "Proof again that great music inspires lots of great writing: Johnny Ray Huston on Arthur Russell
Joel Selvin takes a pained look at
ALL-STAR CHARITY ALBUMS: FROM GOOD CAUSE TO THE BARGAIN BIN
Disclaimer: All but one of mine have ended up at charity thrift stores, though it was a halfer to begin with, with 50% of the money going to the Humane Society.
The one: "A Tribute to John Lennon: Working Class Hero"
*Red Hot Chili Peppers: I Found Out
*Mad Season: I Don't Wanna Be A Soldier (with bumping scronching sax)
Candlebox: Steel and Glass
Blues Traveler: Imagine
Screaming Trees: Working Class Hero
The Minus 5: Power to the People
*The Magnificant Bastards: How Do You Sleep
*Flaming Lips: Nobody Told Me
*Super 8: Well, Well, Well
Cheap Trick: Cold Turkey
Collective Soul: Jealous Guy
Toad the Wet Sprocket: Instant Karma!
Mary Chapin Carpenter: Grow Old With Me
George Clinton: Mind Games
(None of these renditions moved too far afield from the originals. Those above have an asterisk for a reason, they're quite good I think).
This just up today, if you're In A Beirut Mood
... The amazing Jalilah's Raks Sharki 6.
A look at taking it from the streets:
The rise of upstart Mexican radio station KBUE-FM
(that's "Que Buena" for short).
Bet you can't wait to say, "It was forty years ago today" dept.
The Beatles on Ed Sullivan by Joel Selvin
(an historic overview)
The Beatles on Ed Sullivan: The DVD
(Via Bob Sarles, and his delightfully obsessed MusicWire)
How the information super highway has opened doors to some music critics
"Now Beebe has taken up a new pastime. He spends much of his time writing and posting opinions and anecdotes on Web pages that are mostly related to jazz. He says he learned to be a better writer through the Internet, learning to edit his own pieces."
Jazz man Jim Beebe recalls great career in music
A look through the olde fyles dept.
Reelin' in the years: 15 years of Flyer Music Writing
"But good writing, particularly in the arts, isn't just about information -- a historical record of who's hot and who's not, who got signed and who got dropped. It's also about language and ideas, about capturing the passion, the sound, shape, and meaning of a subject Memphians are quite passionate about."
Getting über-nostalgic about nostalgia, A Werk in Progress
"Now we’re older and wiser, though, we can see what the game was all along: Kraftwerk, far from heartless automatons, were pure romantics. Like the best sci-fi – that most romantic of genres – they expressed a nostalgia for a lost future; as the future itself has outstripped it, it has finally sweetened into plain old nostalgia. And they may only have had one idea, but heavens, what a very good idea it was."
"... we need music critics. Without them we would simply live in a world of press releases."
: This article explores how the role of the music critic is perceived as having changed in relation to the internet, and discusses online music criticism.
Punk Rock Blues explores the phenomenon known as the Beatles
, though such occasional visits into bygone eras even in a nostalgic way can sometimes bring a fresh sense of loss.
Someone Else's Chicago
Where blues, polka, and Durango-style music meet and get everybody on their feet.
Underline the thinking points dept.
"Well, I did think about the role of the critic, those years ago, and I have since thought about it further. You’ll be relieved to know that I have reached certain conclusions. The first thing we must say -- rush to say -- is that we must not exaggerate the role of the critic. I’m sure any musicians present would agree! Of all the roles there are to play in music, that of critic must be very small indeed. Many people would put it at the bottom of the list, or quite near it. There are composers, pianists, conductors, singers, teachers, impresarios, limo drivers, hair stylists -- the critics are barely an afterthought!"
Who Cares What Critics Say by Jay Nordlinger
(from Arts & Letters Daily
A fascinating look at the world of the working ethnomusicologist, Songcatcher Pioneer on Musical Heritage:
"It's our history. We have a written history. There are books for political history, the formation of nations, political and social struggles. But music is one of the most intimate expressions. Through music you become knowledgeable of the intimate aspects of life that aren't told in books. It's important because the people themselves tell you; it's not someone's interpretation. History books are written by the victors, but songs are the people's own words and melodies. That what makes music a very powerful tool to understand people."
And an unrelated reading list from Music 217: Rock and Related Music
Author claims he doesn't own stock
, working writer, today offers a tip on this innanet resource:
"The suite of free software at www.finalemusic.com
for composing music, exchanging it on the net, printing sheet music, and so on, is incredibly good. I've been fiddling with it, composing a bit myself, and it is user friendly and powerful and I have no idea why it is free. If you compose music or work with a composer, check it out. Onward."