Category Archives: pop

Do NOT Miss Leftover Cuties

Joel  with Leftover Cuties' Shirli McAllenBest Beloved took me to see Leftover Cuties Wednesday night at the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis. Actually, we saw the cutest cutie three times, not just once.

Stopped at the light at 10th and Nicollet, I watched Shirli cross the street, a pair of high (really high) heels in one hand.

As she stepped to the curb on the northwest side of the intersection I thought, Shirli . . . Shirli. Wait. I just watched Shirli McAllen cross the street.

I felt like I should run after her an apologize for not saying hello. (She later told me “You should have!”) As we were seated at our table near the stage, there she was again, scooting between the tables toward the backstage rooms. I started to stand and apologize for my earlier rudeness, but she was just too quick.

Leftover Cuties are the kind of band which feels like you really ought to run after them and say hello.

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Better a Kansas City Star Than an Omaha Nobody

I love singing along with Kansas City Star. It’s one of those silly songs Roger wrote that leaves out all the struggle and heartache, and puts in everything that’s right with our hearts and heads.

Besides, how often do you get a trombone solo and scat vocals in a country song? Yeah, Roger had a hard time coloring inside the lines. (continued)

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Words by Roger Miller. Lyrics by Love.

Love is, even in the best circumstances, a complex thing. Good songwriters find the words to sing about it.

Great songwriters know there are no words for it. (continued)

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Happy Heartbreak #2: It Takes All Kinds to Make a World

Pretty sure Roger never meant us to take this one seriously.

My friend and I went to the picture show in town
They called his name and said his house and just burned down
I took his hand and offered him my sympathy
When suddenly, I remembered that he lived with me

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Mama Don’t Take My Kodachrome and Leave Your Boy So Far From Home

Some songs are obviously made for headphones. Anything by Pink Floyd. Some classical and jazz.

Paul Simon’s Kodachrome isn’t so obvious, but I just heard a different song from the one I’ve been listening to for lo these many years. (continued)

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Happy Heartbreak #1: Engine, Engine #9

A hallmark of Roger Miller’s songwriting is what I call his happy heartbreaks: the saddest stories, told with wit to cheerful music.

Just as Hitchcock makes pokes us with the incongruity of life by making us laugh during a terrifying scene, Roger reminds you that life isn’t the events, but our reactions. Even the poor guy standing in a train station somewhere 110 miles from Baltimore sounds more resigned than heartbroken when he says “I don’t think she loves me any more.” (continued)

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USSS: resonance

I don’t even know his real name; he signs his emails res, but resonance is not just a brilliant songwriter, but a world-class performer. More than one of his songs sound like Styx got back together. Except maybe with even better lyrics. (continued)

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USSS: oddbod

Why isn’t oddbod famous? Proof positive that talent and fame are not connected. Tim “oddbod” Conway is one of the finest songwriters and performers I’ve ever heard. His new songs at FAWM turn into a mad rush to comment. A week in, his first song Instamatic has nearly a hundred comments from other songwriters who are supposed to be scrambling to write 14 songs of their own. (continued)

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USSS: Mike Debenham

Achingly beautiful, deceptively effortless. Another prolific songwriter, Mike Debenham has written tunes that will live in my head forever. (continued)

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USSS: Evin Wolverton

Hard to pin down, is Evin Wolverton.


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USSS: Elaine DiMasi

The most highly trained FAWMer I know, Elaine DiMasi is also the only person I know who’s ever written a madrigal for a licorice advertisement.


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Elenore, Gee I Think You’re Swell

Effervescent music and witty lyrics and young love—how can it miss? The Turtles’ Elenore never made it onto my radar when I was younger. Perhaps I wouldn’t have appreciated it.

Witty rhymes like


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