Song of the Week, 10/13/2018

Posted in Song of the week on October 13th, 2018 by bill

While driving back from the Bay Area this week, I heard the following and had a real WTF moment. If you want to do the same, listen before reading any further:

This turns out to be the work of one Bruce Haack, an electronic music pioneer who built his own synthesizers and put out lots of records, including one called Electric Lucifer that was fairly notorious in the 70s. Upon repeated listening “When Mothers of Salem,” culled from a recent compilation of his previously unreleased music, is maybe not quite as mind-blowing as I first thought; but I like the groove, and I’m always a sucker for weird songs about Jesus.

Through a strange series of circumstances, Haack appeared on Mr. Rogers Neighborhood back in 1968. Fred was super-into it:

As were the kids:

I think that last clip has been somewhat manipulated after the fact; the original seems to have been blocked by PBS, which now has Mr. Rogers behind a paywall. My instinct is to say “Screw you, PBS”; but I know Fred would want me to be nice.

Song of the Week, 9/30/2018

Posted in Song of the week on September 30th, 2018 by bill

Word arrived today of the demise of Otis Rush, one of the more underrated bluesmen. Though less than a household name, he was a guitarist and singer of raw, simmering power. Don’t take my word for it; here’s no less an authority than Lester Bangs, in Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung:

His singing is as fierce as any of the other Big Boys in the neighborhood, but it’s that guitar work you’ll keep coming back for. It’s beyond blues, beyond rock, certainly into atonal propositions too lewd for a family publication such as this. It sounds like giant bloody icebergs shuddering up to crunch together in the deepest, longest night of typically endless midwestern winter, and if you don’t think there’s icebergs in the Midwest you’ve never been here. This album is a masterpiece. It has nothing to do with anything but pain and hate and exorcism and impossibility, and if I were you I’d buy it.

I honestly had no idea that Otis was still alive, so it would disingenuous of me to feign great sorrow at his passing. But he was the man in his day. Check out, for instance, this oddly jaunty little number called “Violent Love” — blues guitar and cognitive dissonance at their finest.

It Is Risen

Posted in Whatever Else on August 21st, 2018 by bill

Turns out reports of my iPod’s demise were greatly exaggerated. It was the outlet the electrician had killed, as I discovered when I tried to plug in a replacement speaker. When retrieved from where it was lying in state and supplied with electricity, the iPod sprung right back to life.

Roll away the stone!

Song of the Week

Posted in Song of the week on August 19th, 2018 by bill

Since Aretha passed away this week the encomiums have been coming hard and heavy, as well they should. I don’t know what I can add; in the end it always comes back to the music, doesn’t it? I mean, check this shit out.

R.I.P. My iPod

Posted in Whatever Else on August 18th, 2018 by bill

Screen Shot 2018-08-18 at 1.37.00 PM

This week saw the demise of not only the great Aretha Franklin (of whom more later) but also my ancient and decrepit iPod, a gift from my stepfather back in 20(??) [this information not available] — engraved with my name and the URL of this very blog, no less.

For the last few years, after its battery died, it lived in the dock of a small speaker in the bathroom. But it continued to serve, providing shower music a couple times a week. Last Monday, though, the electrician working on our kitchen shut off the power for several hours. Apparently the electricity had been providing life support for the iPod, which did not revive when the juice was restored.

No tears need be shed — it had a good run. But we shall not see its like again, that’s for sure.

 

Song of the Week, 8/11/2018

Posted in Song of the week on August 11th, 2018 by bill

I’ve been in an apocalyptic mood this week after reading the brilliant, illuminating, and horribly depressing special issue of the New York Times magazine about the brief period in the 70s and 80s when it looked like we were actually going to do something about climate change.

Spoiler alert: We didn’t, and this summer half of California is on fire. Some might say that you can’t draw a direct line between carbon emissions and wildfires. Maybe so. I’d love to think that all the climate change skeptics are right, because if they’re not, we’re fucked.

We’re probably fucked.

Well, at least we can have an entertaining soundtrack for the end times, as long as the electricity holds out. This demented scorcher from Bauhaus’s 2008 reunion album is a good place to start.

Song of the Week, 7/15/2018

Posted in Because he's David Bowie, that's why, Song of the week on July 15th, 2018 by bill

Saw this on the big screen in the chill-out room at the David Bowie Is exhibit on Friday, and Had a Moment:

Song of the Week, 7/1/2018

Posted in Song of the week on July 1st, 2018 by bill

Song of the Week, 6/10/2018

Posted in Song of the week on June 10th, 2018 by bill

Just got back from a week in Kansas City, where we had a good old time hanging out with the Old Man and his lovely wife. As it happened — well, as I planned it — both David Byrne and Ween were in town at the same time as us, and so we had a couple of full-on rock’n’roll experiences with the folks in tow.

Byrne was touring in support of his new album American Utopia, but he was kind enough to favor us with a half-dozen Talking Heads songs, including “Once in a Lifetime,” “I Zimbra,” “Naive Melody,” and “Burning Down the House.” Some of his new material was quite good too, but there is simply no matching the power of those classics. A full-on Heads reunion seems to be out of the question, so I guess that’s as close as we’ll get.

The Ween show was a bit disappointing; both the acoustics and the selection of material left something to be desired. Though we did get great renditions of “Ocean Man,” “Big Jilm,” and “Piss Up the Rope.” Thanks to the latter, I can now say that I’ve heard 2,000 Midwesterners enthusiastically singing “On your knees you big booty bitch, start sucking.” Which is nice.

We ended up leaving during the first encore, and so not until I looked at the set list later did I learn that they had closed with one of my very favorites, “Buenos Tardes Amigo.” So it goes. On the whole, I can’t complain.

NBA Finals, Game 4: Warriors 108, Cavaliers 85

Posted in Golden (State) Years on June 9th, 2018 by bill
Hugs all around.

Hugs all around.

At the beginning of this year’s playoffs, the conventional wisdom was that whoever won the West would hammer whoever came out of the East. And sometimes the conventional wisdom turns out to be right. Last night the Warriors completed a sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers with a definitive, whistle-to-whistle domination on the Cavs’ home court.

And there was much rejoicing. Though maybe not quite as much as last year; one is forced to admit that after three championships in four years, a little bit of the novelty has worn off. When the Champagne (actually Anderson Valley Brut) was gone and the coverage of postgame revelry gave way to local news, the feeling here on Evergreen Avenue was of pleasant exhaustion more than active jubilation.

Do I feel bad about my boys claiming another title when the fans in Houston, in Oklahoma City, in two dozen other cities would give their left arms to see their teams hoist the trophy? Not really. Does any fan ever say, “Enough, please stop winning now.”? If they win three or four more we might be there; but probably not.

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