Monday, February 27, 2006

You named your new album after a Replacements b-side why exactly?

Seriously, though. Does Westerberg get royalties, or at least have to grant permission? After all, he'd get a cut if they sampled a riff or something.

Maybe I'll call my first album I'm in Trouble.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Oh sir? You forgot your map! And our millions of dollars!

Dave Kehr reports in his "New DVD's" column in the New York Times that I no longer have to rely on a VHS (or cut-up TV version) of Bill Murray's Quick Change. This has been my favorite Murray movie for a little while, mainly because I've seen Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day and Rushmore all far, far too many times. But also, it's nice to see people begin to realize that this (not GD) is arguably the movie where he made the transition from being a comedian who is in movies to a comic actor. QC is also significant for being the anti-Ghostbusters, in its virulent anti-New York attitude. And as a foil/romantic interest, Geena Davis does nearly as well as Sigourney Weaver, and way better than Andie MacDowell.

Yes, this is in fact a blog about music. We just happen to think about movies a lot too. So some music talk. John Coltrane's Live at the Half Note was a birthday present from my sister; if you are at all jazz-inclined, you should get it for yourself. The version of "My Favorite Things" alone will melt your brains, but in the awesome way.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Received the Criterion Shoot the Piano Player DVD from my parents for my birthday. While watching one of the extras, an early-‘80s documentary on director Francois Truffaut, I was quite pleased to learn the following regarding the book that the film was based on -- a pulp-noir novel called Down There by David Goodis:

The “imaginary landscape” is really Philadelphia, the city where Goodis was born in 1917, where he spent most of his life, and where he would set almost all of his books. Though Goodis himself might be found in the quiet, historical areas of Philadelphia, his characters only passed through there on the way to the slums they called home, the swampy hell of Port Richmond, Ruxton Street, Skid Row, and other seedy backstreets. To enter these neighborhoods isn’t just to enter a ghetto. It’s stepping into the first circle of hell, the circle of misery and ruin.
Well then. That’s a pretty dim view of Philly, even for me. Here is a Philly-centric article about Goodis, from an online ‘zine on pulp writers. It elaborates further on that bleakness, and it also explains "Ruxton Street."

Truffaut of course transplanted the scenario of Down There to France.

Monday, February 13, 2006


Hearing: Neil Young- Time Fades Away; Tonight's the Night; On the Beach. Beth Orton- Trailer Park; Comfort of Strangers. Ray Davies- Other People's Lives. Quasi- When the Going Gets Dark.

Reading: Truth and Beauty: The Story of Pulp by Mark Sturdy. The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil by George Saunders. The New Yorker, Feb. 6, 2006 issue.

Watching: Broken Flowers. Kicking and Screaming (not the Will Ferrell one). Arrested Development finale. The Olympics.

Drinking: Trader Joe's Wintry Blend coffee. Assorted Magic Hat beers. Jack and Ginger (or Ginger and Jack).

Thursday, February 09, 2006

First of all, though you can't tell it, I wrote the short Supergrass thing at the bottom of this page. UPDATE: It looks like they eventually remembered the bylines.

Second, here's the latest column -- a review of the new six CD Richard Thompson boxed set. And, as a supplementary piece, here's the low-down on the mix CD I made of selected favorites from this box.

1. Meet on the Ledge (2003): RT solo acoustic revisiting one of his very first compositions, originally from the second Fairport Convention album, What We Did on Our Holidays.

2. Oops! I did it Again (2002): A Britney Spears song, obviously. I put this as track two in case I ever were to play this CD for someone – I figure they’d want to hear this sooner rather than later.

3. I Misunderstood (1992): As the article says, thematically this is strikingly similar to “Oops! I did it Again.”

4. Drowned Dog, Black Night (1997): A long song with a long guitar solo.

5. The Great Valario (1972): An incredibly lo-fi recording of a Richard and Linda song. Despite the iffy sound quality, it sounds like the guitar and vocal arrangement was determined very early on. And even now, I can’t imagine how it might have been improved on. Also, after the second line, you can hear Linda clear her throat.

6. Walking on a Wire (1982): A song originally from the alleged divorce album, recorded on the tour where they actually fell apart. Again, this song seems to already exist so fully formed in its arrangement, you can’t tell if they’re pushing the song into raw territory, or the song is pushing them.

7. Substitute (1992): Is it just me, or are most covers of Who songs pretty lame? Here’s an exception.

8. Now Be Thankful (1994): Another revisiting of a Fairport song. Guitar, upright bass, drums, mandolin, harmony vocal. I like this a lot better than the original version, which was sung by fiddle player Dave Swarbrick in a manner that makes twee sound robust.

9. Calvary Cross (1986): This song has gained a reputation for being seldom performed in concert. Which is a little odd, since this is the third live recording to surface on an RT compilation. Still, he performs it like it’s still a mystery or a curse being drawn out of him (giving credence to Greil Marcus’ mythmaking, I suppose), and the band hits especially hard in return. The song leads to another long solo, one with phrases that seem to only contain two or three notes at time, but it all adds up to something staggering and epic. Also, at the 6:39 point, it really sounds like my cell phone’s ringing.

10. I Feel So Good (1991): RT on acoustic guitar, Danny Thompson (no relation) on upright bass.

11. Lucky in Life, Unlucky in Love (1982): RT accompanying himself on mandolin, so non-folky ears such as mine have to be in the mood for something like this. This track does highlight his ability to craft a tune that seems to have existed for ages.

12. For Shame of Doing Wrong (1979): Live Richard and Linda, at a tempo that’s a little faster than I prefer for this song. But the guitar brings it all home.

13. Time Has Told Me (1981): The Nick Drake cover. It’s really quite something.

14. Genesis Hall (2004): Another solo live version of a Fairport song. I really think his days in that band are so integral to understanding his greatness. I interviewed RT once before I heard those albums, and I really didn’t know shit and it shows.

15. Wall of Death (1985): One of my favorite songs ever. On paper, the idea of the song sounds so polite and jangly. But executed in a manner like this rendition, it sounds so strong and so intense. Check that interview I did with him to find out why.

16. Shoot Out the Lights (1991): And that’s exactly what he does.

17. Meet on the Ledge (1969): Ah, full circles. An actual Fairport recording. The liner notes don’t make it exactly clear whether this is a demo, rough mix or what. This is from the CD you have to send away for, and it’s the only time you really hear the voice of Fairport’s best singer, the late, great Sandy Denny. I think her vocals are especially crucial to the RT saga (as well as to post-Beatles, pre-punk British popular music), so I’m a little miffed she got short-changed on this particular boxed set (and I didn’t have room to say so in the actual review).

Monday, February 06, 2006

An Alternate Reality for this Blog

If I had the time and resources, I would re-dedicate this space to somehow getting more and better work for the deeply underrated Chris Eigeman.

(I watched Mr. Jealousy last night, if you're wondering what brought this all along.)

Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Final Countdown

Talking to friends, I've gotten the sense the following information is not as well-known as it should be. Here goes: Friday, February 10, Fox will air what will almost certainly be the final four episodes of Arrested Development. Consider this my public service announcement for the month. Sigh.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

This was supposed to run last week, but there wasn't enough room. And so the January column runs in February. These things happen.