Status Report, Sunday 11/13/16

Posted in Dancing about architecture on November 13th, 2016 by bill

Tough week.

For one thing, we lost another one of the greats: Leonard Cohen, master of erotic melancholia. As it happens, over the last week I’d been listening to Leonard’s latest (and I guess last) album, You Want It Darker, and the 90s LC tribute album I’m Your Man — the former because I just got it, and the latter because I was forced by water damage to replace some favorite CDs.

Like Bowie, Leonard pulled off the neat trick of releasing a new album just before departing this plane. It’s quite a satisfying piece of work, especially the title track, which in classic Cohen fashion manages to be dark, funny, spiritual, and sexy all at the same time:
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X-Post: Lennon Turns 26

Posted in Something about the Beatles on October 9th, 2016 by bill

This post also appears today on The Beatles Plus 50.

On this day in 1966 John Lennon — DOB October 9, 1940 — celebrated his 26th birthday in Spain with his wife Cynthia, Ringo Starr, and Ringo’s wife Maureen. He’d been through a lot in barely a quarter-century; at an age when most people were just starting their careers, he was in a band that was more popular than Jesus.

Looking over Lennon’s bio just now, it struck me that his life was organized pretty neatly into decades. He was 20 when the Quarrymen became The Beatles in 1960; 30 when they broke up at the end of the 60s; and 40 when he died at the dawn of the 80s.

A cynic might say that Mark Chapman mercifully spared Lennon his “Dancing in the Street” moment, but you have to wonder what he would have done with the years he lost. He would have been 50 just as the 90s started, a beloved godfather to the Nirvana generation, and 60 at the turn of the millennium. He’d be turning 76 today if he’d made it this far. I picture him as a grumpy but lovable old man, still wearing those glasses, yelling at Beatles fans to get off his lawn.
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What’s Blowing My Mind, 2016 Edition (Part 6)

Posted in Dancing about architecture on September 14th, 2016 by bill

Stranger to Stranger

I suspect that I’ve pretty consistently underrated Paul Simon for the last 40 years or so. Probably because that whole Simon and Garfunkel–type style — extreme softness and prettiness — was never really my gig. I recognize the beauty of it, especially now that I’m no longer a testosterone-addled young man, but it’s not generally what I choose to listen to. And some of Paul’s early solo work has that same feel, though there are other songs I quite enjoy — something like “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” is pretty hard to dislike.

So when his profile began to fade a bit, I wasn’t super-motivated to keep abreast of what he was doing. Occasionally, though, I’d hear something of his that made me prick up my ears — a few years back he did an album with Brian Eno, which was a surprise. (In fact, it was called Surprise.)

This year, with it being easier than ever to check out music online, I decided to give Paul’s new album a good listen. And lo and behold, it is wonderful. Stranger to Stranger exceeded my expectations by several orders of magnitude.
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X-Post: The “Fab Four” Were Titaniced and Replaced with Despicable Spies

Posted in Something about the Beatles on September 1st, 2016 by bill

This post also appears on my other blog, The Beatles Plus 50.

Now it can be told. According to a website I just found,

On August 31, 1966, the “Fab Four” were titaniced and replaced with despicable spies who were thoroughly familiar with the SOE Training Manual, first issued in December 1941, at the British run “school for killers” called Camp X in Canada!!

Aside from “car accidents,” the favorite way for the British Empire to get rid of their enemies . . . or people who have outlived their usefulness . . . is by burial at sea. Burial at sea leaves no physical evidence that the person ever existed. The mighty Russian Orthodox Romanov dynasty ended in a watery grave . . . and Lord Kitchener’s military career ended in a watery grave in 1915.

Likewise, the Beatles’ “musical” careers were cut short when they were buried at sea. The bodies of the “Fab Four” were dumped into San Francisco Bay, and their places were taken by 4 doubles or doppelgängers!!

And they couldn’t say it on the Internet if if wasn’t true, right?

In all honesty you have to check out this site to see what is either one of the most baroque, wackadoo conspiracy theories I’ve ever seen or a magnificently detailed and deadpan hoax perpetrated by someone with way too much time on their hands. Among the things you’ll learn:
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X-Post: The Beatles’ Last Show (August 29, 1966)

Posted in Something about the Beatles on August 29th, 2016 by bill

This post also appears today on my other blog, The Beatles Plus 50.

Mark Twain once famously said that “The coldest winter I every spent was a summer in San Francisco.” The good people of San Francisco apparently took this as a challenge. Unsatisfied with the opportunities for frostbite offered by, say, the perpetually fogbound Inner Sunset, in 1958 they decided to build a stadium on an exposed, windswept point south of the city.

This was Candlestick Park, where the Giants and the 49ers played for many years, and where the final show of The Beatles’ 1966 U.S. tour took place. I went to Candlestick several times, and I can tell you from experience that even on a good day you had to bundle up to avoid freezing. And August 29, by all accounts, was not a good day. Says Bob Spitz:

Gusts whipped through the stands with almost biblical vengeance. Banners strung around the stadium flapped ferociously against the squall and drafts picked up great clouds of dust and blew them volcanically across the infield.

That may why Candlestick was only about half full. If you ever choose to time-travel to San Francisco on 8.29.66, you’ll be able to walk right up to the box office and buy a ticket. Be sure to take a parka.
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What’s Blowing My Mind, 2016 Edition (Part 5)

Posted in Dancing about architecture on August 24th, 2016 by bill

Journey of the Sorcerer

So it’s come to this — here I am posting a video of an Eagles song. Sorry, Dude.

Amazingly, I did not learn until this week that what I thought of as the theme song from the original radio series of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy — one of my favorite things in the history of recorded sound — was actually “Journey of the Sorcerer,” a track from the Eagles’ 1975 album “One of These Nights.” It was written by Bernie Leadon, who quit the band soon after the album was released and was replaced by Joe Walsh.

I’ve always had mixed feelings about the Eagles, to say the least. I have a soft spot for “Hotel California,” and really enjoy it if I hear it about once a year. There was a period there when I was seemingly hearing it every day, and got sick of it unto death. But that was a long time ago.

As for “Journey of the Sorceror,” I dig it. Apparently I’ve been digging it for almost 40 years without my knowledge. Live and learn, live and learn.

What’s Blowing My Mind, 2016 Edition (Part 2)

Posted in Dancing about architecture on August 9th, 2016 by bill

This Is Where I Live

William Bell was never in the top tier of soul singers with your Reddings, Cookes, and Gayes, but he had a solid career as a songwriter and recording artist. He wrote “You Don’t Miss Your Water,” which was made famous by the aforementioned Mr. Redding, and co-wrote “Born Under a Bad Sign,” a big hit for Albert King and then Cream. As a singer, he was best known for “Forgot to Be Your Lover,” a stone classic that was later covered by everyone from Billy Idol to the reggae crooner George Faith (in a version produced by Lee “Scratch” Perry).

But I had no idea that Bell was still active in the music business, so I was surprised to hear that he was releasing a new album. I was even more surprised when I actually heard it. It is shockingly good.
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Streaming Music and the Collector’s Mentality

Posted in Dancing about architecture on July 22nd, 2016 by bill

In the last couple weeks I finally broke down and started using Spotify. And I have to admit, the depth and breadth of the catalog is pretty impressive; only twice have I been unable to find what I was looking for. But there’s something about it that I still find somehow lacking, and I think this has to do as much with ingrained mental habits as anything.

Any music fan old enough to have significant memory of the 20th century grew up on records, maybe eight-tracks or cassettes, and then later CDs. With physical media there was always this concept of, I have acquired it now; it is mine. And for a certain type of mind, which many of us have, this was very satisfying. We went along from year to year, slowly building our collections, which of course came to reflect our very personalities.
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A song for today

Posted in Because he's David Bowie, that's why on May 26th, 2016 by bill

Or any day, really. But today especially.

Shake It Up

Posted in The album project on May 14th, 2016 by bill

My first non-Star Wars LP purchases, if memory serves, were both Gibb-related. One was Andy Gibb’s Shadow Dancing, which I got only for the title track; I couldn’t name another song from it without consulting The Google, which I don’t care to do at the moment. The other was the two-LP soundtrack from the movie Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which starred the Bee Gees and Peter Frampton.

It is a painful but true fact that the latter served as my introduction to quite a few Beatles songs. I never listened to it much, though; I like to think that at some level, even at that tender young age, I recognized that it was an abomination. The Aerosmith version of “Come Together” was pretty good, I think, and the fact that “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” was covered by Steve Martin is an interesting little quirk of history; but on the whole the existence of that movie and the music from it it something that everyone, including those directly involved, has long tried to forget.

Somewhere in here the 70s finally petered out and 1980 rolled around. I was 12. When Scary Monsters came out, it got a lot of play on my local rock radio station, which also prominently featured the Cars. At that point I knew who David Bowie was, but I didn’t know who he was; I had not yet learned to distinguish his voice (the original) from that of Cars vocalist Ric Ocasek (the acolyte). I may actually have thought that “Ashes to Ashes” was a Cars song, may David forgive me.
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