The Year in Music, Part 7

Various Artists/A Celebration of New Orleans Music
Various Artists/Our New Orleans
Various Artists/I Believe to My Soul
Dr. John/Sippiana Hericane

Today’s theme is pretty simple: the proceeds from all these CDs go to hurricane relief. Of course, you could accomplish more by just giving your money directly to, say, Habitat for Humanity, but where’s the fun in that? Anytime you can do a small good deed by buying music, I figure you’re ahead of the game.

This being Fat Tuesday and all, I’ve ingested a little too much single-malt scotch to go into any great detail, but these are all loaded with good music. If I had to pick one, it would probably be A Celebration of New Orleans Music, which is seriously โ€” as they like to say down there โ€” fonky, with an upbeat vibe that feels right on this most auspicious of days. In case you didn’t know, February 28, 2006 is not only Mardi Gras Day and the new moon, but also the last day of The Most Dangerous Month of the Year.

Happy Birthday to Abe

Abe Vigoda shows off the
smoldering good looks that
made him an international
sex symbol.

Today is the 85th birthday of Abe Vigoda, who contrary to popular belief is still alive. Celebrate by imagining a parallel universe in which Abe played the lead role in Saturday Night Fever instead of John Travolta, and picture him strutting down the street to the tune of “Staying Alive.”

The Year in Music, Part 6

Amadou & Mariam/Dimanche รก Bamako
Blackalicious/The Craft

So what do the Oakland hip-hop duo of DJ Chief Xcel and MC The Gift of Gab have in common with Amadou & Mariam, a blind husband-and-wife team from Mali? Plenty, in my mind. I’ve been a fan of Blackalicious since I heard a track from their A to G EP on the radio circa 1998, and of Amadou & Mariam since I heard their song “Mon Amour, Mon Cherie” in the Emeryville Tower Records around the same time. Though they work in very different idioms, both are heavily beat-centric and capable of dizzying, ecstatic heights when they’re clicking on all cylinders.

Word of the day/joke of the day

On the way to the gym this morning, I found an index card on the sidewalk. One one side, the definition “to annoy; to pester; to puzzle”; on the other side, the word “vex.”

Which reminds me of a joke. I didn’t make this one up, so I don’t deserve the credit or (more likely) the blame.

Mahatma Gandhi, as we all know, was a very devout and religious man. He often fasted, which made him very frail. He walked everywhere, usually on bare feet, and as a result was very calloused. And when he did eat, his diet was very unusual, which tended to give him bad breath.

So you could say that he was a super-fragile calloused mystic vexed by halitosis.

(Don’t get it? Read the last line aloud to yourself several times.)