Paranoia in Bb Major

anjos have been on my mind a lot of late. My brother is allegedly finding all the parts to my tenor banjo to return to me, but that’s iffy at best.Rush keeps finding me new music, and some of it goes straight to my core. Like the Avett Brothers.

[l1]B[/l1][az]B000OZ2CLQ[/az]anjos have been on my mind a lot of late. My brother is allegedly finding all the parts to my tenor banjo to return to me, but that’s iffy at best.

Rush keeps finding me new music, and some of it goes straight to my core. Like the Avett Brothers.

When I’m listening to Paranoia in Bb Major in the car, I can sing all the parts. It feels good to hear and feel myself singing like I know I really can. [az]B001AZI20Y&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=F3EABC&f=ifr” style=”float:left;width:120px;height:240px;margin:0 0.3em;” scrolling=”no” marginwidth=”0″ marginheight=”0″ frameborder=”0″>Gives me hope that I can start doing the same with my own music; nudges me toward better arrangements. Educational music; wonder of Scott and Seth planned that . . .

Marvelous harmonies (brothers singing together seems to work well; there were these two guys named Phil and Don who made quite a career of it as I recall.) Great instrumentation—very bluegrassy, without making the music into bluegrass. It’s rock, really it is. It just rocks without ear-splitting pain or noxious guitar rage.

[az]B00096S2LE[/az]Hard not to smile at the end of Paranoia when they go into the incredibly high falsetto ‘la, la la, la la da, la-ah la-da’ with cello (cello!)

Murder in the City, from Second Gleam, was my first Avett Brothers song. Poignant, gentle, loving; sometimes when I wake up at night and it’s playing, I think about my family and the people who I’ve loved and never see. One of the best wistful songs I’ve ever heard. St. Joseph’s on the same album is darker; a slice-of-life moment that’s less storytelling, more feelings-of-the-moment.

Intelligence in music always appeals to me. When it makes smile, it moves right into the inner circle.

I’ll Be Your Lover, Too

t fell into the hole left by Astral Weeks and Moondance. Van’s His Band and the Street Choir may not be their equal; that’s fairly subjective. But my subjective opinion is that it contains one song which, as yet, is unequaled in my life.I’ll Be Your Lover, Too is the single most passionate song I know. There’s nothing overtly sexual in the song; it is, truly, about the overwhelming experience of two people being completely subsumed into a new, single entity.

[l1]I[/l1][az]B000002KBD[/az]t fell into the hole left by Astral Weeks and Moondance. Van’s His Band and the Street Choir may not be their equal; that’s fairly subjective. But my subjective opinion is that it contains one song which, as yet, is unequaled in my life.

I’ll Be Your Lover, Too is the single most passionate song I know. There’s nothing overtly sexual in the song; it is, truly, about the overwhelming experience of two people being completely subsumed into a new, single entity.

The simplicity of the arrangement, just a couple guitars and shuffling brushed drums and cymbals, focuses attention on Van’s, even for him, intense vocal delivery.

The song’s ending is fun; as the music wraps, Van asks “How’s that?”

It opens with three promises most men never make, and those who do, rarely keep:

 I'll be your man I'll understand Do my best to take good care of you

The love I feel for my Best Beloved consumes me at times. I know she knows that I love her more than music. I only hope someday I can put into lyrics what she’s done for my heart and my life.

Stuck in the Middle of Stealers Wheel

erry Rafferty’s music makes me smile. His lyrics make me smile. His voice is warm and soothing, making me believe, as the title of the last song on Ferguslie Park says, everything will turn out fine. I know Joe Egan is part of Stealers Wheel, but I can’t dredge up feelings about his contributions. Maybe it just needs more attention.Stuck in the Middle with You, their one huge hit from their eponymous first album, seems to annoy some folks. Puzzling. Slide guitar doesn’t make it to pop music much, and this has it in spades. Slick, slippery, wiggly slide. From the opening chords on acoustic guitar, the no-nonsense bass, silly-serious hand-claps, through vocal harmonies, multiple electric guitars snapping, and some of the subtlest drumming in a pop song (cowbell! before cowbell was, well, whatever) it bounces perkily through really strange lyrics I still love, nearly 40 years later.

[az]B0001AEVGI[/az][l1]G[/l1]erry Rafferty’s music makes me smile. His lyrics make me smile. His voice is warm and soothing, making me believe, as the title of the last song on Ferguslie Park says, everything will turn out fine. I know Joe Egan is part of Stealers Wheel, but I can’t dredge up feelings about his contributions. Maybe it just needs more attention.

Stuck in the Middle with You, their one huge hit from their eponymous first album, seems to annoy some folks. Puzzling. Slide guitar doesn’t make it to pop music much, and this has it in spades. Slick, slippery, wiggly slide. From the opening chords on acoustic guitar, the no-nonsense bass, silly-serious hand-claps, through vocal harmonies, multiple electric guitars snapping, and some of the subtlest drumming in a pop song (cowbell! before cowbell was, well, whatever) it bounces perkily through really strange lyrics I still love, nearly 40 years later.

[az]B0002LHQH2[/az]The slide guitars (plural; there are, briefly, two) shimmer over another electric guitar playing a noodley little lead, and two rhythm guitars, one electric, one acoustic. One benefit of an endless stream of top-notch studio musicians instead of a regular band is you get a wide variety of ace performances on every instrument.

Lyrically, I’ve always thought this was another guy at the party Randy Newman’s momma told him not to come to.

When I bought Feguslie Park long after its release, I rediscovered Star, which somehow sneaked onto San Diego radio while I still lived there. But the real killer here is Blind Faith; something about the earnest search for just the right memories of happier-but-harder times always felt like a journey I wanted to finish.[az]B0007735A8[/az]

All three Stealers Wheel albums are available on CD these days. Joe Egan and Gerry Rafferty are master songwriters (their first album was produced by the illustrious team of Lieber and Stoller) and delicious performers. Even their wistful sad songs feel good.

The Salvador Dali-esque covers don’t disturb me as much as they should. Animalised faces, disemboweled lizards, faces in the ground; I suspect even Dali would find them strangely disconnected from the bright cheerful music within. Perhaps another case of production decisions made by someone other than the artist?

Hubcap Diamond Star Halo

earches are down here at the ranch, but this one is one of those snippets that’ll drive you mad if you don’t know where to find it.Of course, if you’re really old and paid attention, you know that ‘hubcap diamond star halo’ is a line from the T. Rex song “Bang a Gong” which was covered by the incomparable Robert Palmer (working with the Duran Duran boys as Power Station.)

[az]B000069V25[/az][l1]S[/l1]earches are down here at the ranch, but this one is one of those snippets that’ll drive you mad if you don’t know where to find it.

Of course, if you’re really old and paid attention, you know that ‘hubcap diamond star halo’ is a line from the T. Rex song “Bang a Gong” which was covered by the incomparable Robert Palmer (working with the Duran Duran boys as Power Station.)

[az]B0000APVHW&[/az]A review at Amazon calls T. Rex “one of the most influential rock acts of the ’70s.” Either I wasn’t paying attention, or that’s fairly hyperbolic (and I’ve been told more than once that I’m given to hyperbole, so I know whereof I speak. Probably.) Although, if Bowie and Rod Stewart were at his funeral (Bolan was killed in a car crash on 16 September 1977, two weeks before his 30th birthday) perhaps I should give it a think.

Robert Palmer probably wasn’t as influential as he should have been, though he lived almost a quarter-century longer than Bolan.

Frontier Ruckus

usical oddities twang relentless. Miniature concerti on the strings of the holler. Multiple musicians stretch lyrics taut over the bones of memory and loss and hope. Minor keys, major melodies.A quavering voice driving earnestly before the musical buzz of flexing hardware and jangly picking.

[az]B001INZ7EC[/az][l1]M[/l1]usical oddities twang relentless. Miniature concerti on the strings of the holler. Multiple musicians stretch lyrics taut over the bones of memory and loss and hope. Minor keys, major melodies.

A quavering voice driving earnestly before the musical buzz of flexing hardware and jangly picking.

The Orion Songbook by Frontier RuckusFrontier Ruckus is perpendicular to bluegrass; somehow, they cross it at right angles, leaving no doubt that either you are on the train or you have missed it until it next passes your station. Which it will, so pay attention.

The City is a Washing Machine

r so says Marvelous Toy.I think this has always been my theme song (one of them, at least) and I just had to wait 40 years for someone to write it. More assertive than folk, less aggressive than rock, more intelligent than pop. Retrobilly, maybe.

[az]B001GUJFRM[/az][l1]O[/l1]r so says Marvelous Toy.

I think this has always been my theme song (one of them, at least) and I just had to wait 40 years for someone to write it. More assertive than folk, less aggressive than rock, more intelligent than pop. Retrobilly, maybe.

The City is a Washing Machine opens with acoustic guitar, a vigorously thumped kick drum, and vocals, eventually we get organ and other stuff (the happy click of drumsticks, for instance, and piano) but it’s far into the song, the last word of the chorus in fact, before I hear a bass. And that’s very minimalist cool. As is the ending: an unfinished line, both lyrically and musically. Witty. I like witty.

 I know how my life began and I know how it will end; I will be searching for a word that rhymes with 'dying' as I lay dying

Every instrument is played with panache, and some, in addition, with a pick. jordan hudock, ny lee, cody hudock (look; two folks with the same last name) and franck fiser (they’re listed on their MySpace page in lower case, and with my ‘no period after the ‘D’ in Joel D Canfield, please’ affectation, who am I to correct them?) are having fun.

Let’s all buy their album so they feel obligated to tour. Los Angeles is too far to drive. Though, Marvelous Toy just might be worth it.

Jordan was kind enough to send a copy of their press kit which you can grab and read if you like. It suits their music, it does.

(See also Waiting for the Fire, much more complex than your average retrobilly song; earnest, passionate, and stupendous fun to sing along with.)

Journey Down the Nile

roving once again that it’s not just a river in Egypt, J. D. Souther’s Journey Down the Nile is my new intentional earworm.I think it’s a samba. I’ve forgotten most of the little I ever knew about Latin rhythm, but I think it’s a samba. With little machine-gun drum fills and a bass that knows how to samba. Or whichever dance it is. Apparently the horn section was recorded live, sliding in behind the languid vocals and wrapping around the piano which, like the bass, dances to whatever Latin rhythm that is. The trumpet solo defies the subtlety of the other instruments, blaring over the top, holding one long wavering note while they all change chords underneath. It’s one of those little musical witticisms I love.

[az]B001F7XITW[/az][l1P][/l1]P” border=”0″ align=”left” />roving once again that it’s not just a river in Egypt, J. D. Souther’s Journey Down the Nile is my new intentional earworm.

I think it’s a samba. I’ve forgotten most of the little I ever knew about Latin rhythm, but I think it’s a samba. With little machine-gun drum fills and a bass that knows how to samba. Or whichever dance it is. Apparently the horn section was recorded live, sliding in behind the languid vocals and wrapping around the piano which, like the bass, dances to whatever Latin rhythm that is. The trumpet solo defies the subtlety of the other instruments, blaring over the top, holding one long wavering note while they all change chords underneath. It’s one of those little musical witticisms I love.

Lyrically, there’s some kind of social commentary in there, but I’ll be hanged if it’s surfaced yet. The wit overshadows the message, but Joel David doesn’t care any more than John David did.

John Boy Drum

just discovered the Calman Hart’s The John Boy Drum is available at CD Baby.Up the River, If I Die in a Nuclear War, Barrel of Rain. Astonishing stuff, musically and lyrically.

[l1]I[/l1]Calman Hart's 'John Boy Drum' just discovered the Calman Hart’s The John Boy Drum is available at CD Baby.

Up the River, If I Die in a Nuclear War, Barrel of Rain. Astonishing stuff, musically and lyrically.

Get yours before it disappears again.

After 46 Years It’s Still Simple

orty-six years into his music career Van Morrison is still one of the best songwriters and performers alive. Keep It Simple should prove interesting.His official website has information about the album including audio clips.

[l1]F[/l1]orty-six years into his music career Van Morrison is still one of the best songwriters and performers alive. Keep It Simple should prove interesting.

His official website has information about the album including audio clips.

Continue reading “After 46 Years It’s Still Simple”

Scott Andrew’s Having More Good Days

t’s just Scott in an alley in Portland. It’s just great.I’ve written quite a bit more about Scott and what used to be Walkingbirds. But before you go, give this a look and listen:

[az]B000I0QK7E[/az]It’s just Scott in an alley in Portland. It’s just great.

I’ve written quite a bit more about Scott and what used to be Walkingbirds. But before you go, give this a look and listen:

Robert Palmer and Jools

it by bit we’ve been catching up on Later with Jools Holland (who is a story in himself.) While Best Beloved was doing other things, I thought I’d have a look at the last time Robert Palmer was on the show. He’d be surrounded by a gaggle of lessers, which made me suspect he’d get a single shot and be off; probably not worth dragging Best Beloved in from what she was doing.One of the others was Macy Gray. Hearing her voice again, watching her perform I Try, I realized I’d forgotten what an astonishing voice she has.

[az]B000065UNE[/az]Bit by bit we’ve been catching up on Later with Jools Holland (who is a story in himself.) While Best Beloved was doing other things, I thought I’d have a look at the last time Robert Palmer was on the show. He’d be surrounded by a gaggle of lessers, which made me suspect he’d get a single shot and be off; probably not worth dragging Best Beloved in from what she was doing.

One of the others was Macy Gray. Hearing her voice again, watching her perform I Try, I realized I’d forgotten what an astonishing voice she has.

Somehow I developed an uninformed attitude about Mary Chapin Carpenter at some point in the past. She sang Party Doll from Mick Jagger’s solo album. It melted me.

Palmer performed, not once, but thrice: with choir and band (Stone Cold), with David Grant and Jools doing a vocals and piano version of Lowell George’s Twenty Million Things, and ending the show with the choir doing Pride a capella. Palmer’s vocal control in each performance is perfect; it’s obvious his voice is doing exactly what he intends. As someone who merely carries a tune while wishing I was a real singer, it was glorious watching it done right.

I decided Best Beloved should see it after all. (When Pride snapped to its finish, she stared blankly for a moment, then laughed out loud. It takes work to get a reaction like that from her. Most gratifying.)