Songs of the Week 3/25/2017

Posted in Song of the week on March 25th, 2017 by bill

I was listening to the radio Thursday when the host teased an upcoming segment on the recently deceased Chuck Barris and I thought “No, you idiot, that was Chuck Berry who just died.” But alas, it turns out that both the Gong Show host/self-proclaimed CIA hitman and the co-inventor of rock’n’roll/ladies restroom video enthusiast departed the Earth this week, within three days of each other.

Both of these men led long and complicated lives full of triumphs and setbacks and a certain amount of just plain weirdness. I wrote about Chuck Berry on the Beatles blog today, but I did not have occasion to mention my very favorite Berry song, “Come On.” Just listen to the way he says “I wish somebody’d come along and run into it and wreck it”:

As for Chuck Barris, I recommend a spin through his Wikipedia page, where you’ll learn that in addition to being a television impresario, author, and “assassin” (the CIA denies it, but then they would), Barris was a musician and songwriter whose credits include Freddy Cannon’s #3 hit “Palisades Park.” Not exactly a lightweight.

Song of the Week 3/18/2017

Posted in Song of the week on March 18th, 2017 by bill

Recently I’ve been working on digitizing the aging cassette tapes of my old KZSC Santa Cruz radio shows, circa 1986–7, and it’s gotten me thinking it’s time to revive the old tradition of naming a song of the week. To honor the tradition I’m going to start with a classic from that era.

I first came to know Ashwin Batish when I started going to his shop, Batish Recording Enterprises, to buy blank cassettes. As my cassette needs were considerable in those days, I was a frequent customer, but to my regret I did not get to know him well and it took me a long time to learn what an interesting cat he was. And by the time I did learn my time in Santa Cruz was just about up.

It turned out, though, that Ashwin was not just the guy who sold me tapes by the case; he was a master sitarist from a long line of master sitarists. During my time at KZSC he released an album called Sitar Power where he laid classical Indian melodies over drum machines and electric guitars to create what might be called raga’n’roll. (He himself never called it that, though he did love to give his songs goofy pun names.)

My favorite song from it was one called “New Dehli Vice” on which Ashwin’s fleet fingers fly over the frets, shooting out bursts of cascading notes like sparks from a roaring fire. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve played air sitar to this song over the years; I was doing it again just now.

I find myself reflexively referring to Ashwin in the past tense because my memories of him are from long ago, but I just looked him up the web and he appears to be doing well. He’s on Facebook and Twitter (@sitarpower, naturally) has a website at ashwinbatish.com. He even has a new song called “Sitary Sitary Night.” It’s good to know some things haven’t changed.