Sorry

Last week I sort of didn’t have anything to say.  I wish that were my problem this week.

Mom had a UTI that got out of control and turned into something a lot worse.  She’s at the hospital with some of the same problems she had last year, which has got me all kefuffled.  I worry so much, and I feel a little bit like I let her down.  Like I didn’t take good enough care of her.  I’m not blaming myself; she’s a grown woman who made her own choices.  I just wish I were blessed with the insight to know when to let her take care of herself, and when to nag her until she does what I want her to.

That’s why I’m probably going to be a little spotty in posting for the next little while.  I’ll be back, but I need to devote more energy to Mom.

“Sweet Dreams”

I’m not sure anything I have to say about “Sweet Dreams” would really do this song justice.  Patsy Cline’s performance on this song is masterful, made even more bittersweet by knowing it was one of the last songs she recorded before her death in March of 1963.

Cline’s version wasn’t the first.  Songwriter Don Gibson recorded his own composition in 1956, and it was a top ten hit on the Country chart.  Country singer Faron Young also recorded “Sweet Dreams” in 1956, and had an even bigger hit with it.  Gibson re-recorded it in 1960.  Emmylou Harris, Reba McEntire, Tammy Wynette, and even Elvis Costello have all tried their vocal cords at this classic.  But Patsy Cline owns this song.  You can hear it in every single note.  I don’t know what she was thinking while she sang, but she took what could’ve been just another generic performance and turned it into the purest, loveliest heartbreak imaginable.

Just beautiful.

You Can’t See Me, But I’m Doing a Happy Dance Right Now

Who cares if the world is going to hell in a handbasket?  Dial-a-Song is coming back!

Dial-a-Song was a service from the perfectly weird They Might Be Giants which was pretty much what it said on the tin.  You dialed the number, listened to a song TMBG recorded, and presumably hung up.  I never had the guts to call the long distance number myself (this was a time before unlimited long distance plans on landlines, much less cell phones), but I just loved the idea that it existed.  Only a band this strange and smart could do something like that.  And now, thanks to the wonders of the interwebs, they’re doing it again.

The new Dial-a-Song is a website that will officially begin in January.  The video I posted is the song that’s currently available on the site, “Authenticity Trip” from the 2011 compilation Album Raises New and Troubling Questions (which I might have to get just for the title).  It doesn’t quite have the cool cache of calling a New York area code just to hear a song taped on an answering machine, but I know I’ll be clicking at least once a week.  More if the song is as awesome as this one.

“Hero Takes a Fall”

I suppose my last post could be seen as ripping on the Bangles, but that wasn’t my intention.  True, I think “Eternal Flame” is one of the most hideous songs to ever assault my ears (think nails on a chalkboard, and you have my opinion of that song).  I also didn’t think much of “Walk Like an Egyptian” and “Manic Monday”.  Something about their biggest hits just kind of grates on my nerves.

But the Bangles were a talented band, and I know it meant a lot to girls of my generation to see an all female Pop/Rock band be successful.  They usually weren’t my cup of tea, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy some of their stuff.  Their cover of Paul Simon’s “Hazy Shade of Winter” is far superior to the Simon and Garfunkel version.  They added some glitz and grit to the pathos, making it a more evocative song, IMO.  And sometimes, they were just kind of irresistible.

The hook in “Hero Takes a Fall” is one of the sharpest I’ve ever heard, delivered with verve and sex appeal by Susanna Hoffs.  The music is tight, and they always looked like they were having a great time performing.  I think people underestimate the Bangles a little bit.  Maybe because they’re “girls.”  Or maybe because their music always seemed kind of slight and lightweight.  But good Pop/Rock is hard to pull off; you have to walk a very thin line between being appealing and accessible without looking stupid.  The Bangles walked that line–in high heels, no less–like experts.

“Is this burning an eternal flame?”

No.  It’s not an eternal flame.  It’s an STD.  Go see a doctor.

“Bring on the Lucie (Freda Peeple)”

I got caught up in doing a whole lot of nothing yesterday, so I forgot to post something for John Lennon’s birthday.  (I still think it needs to be an international holiday.)  It’s a day late, but a good John song (or any good song, really) is never a dollar short.

The one thing I wish is that this song wasn’t still so relevant.  I wish to all that is good and holy we would just stop killing each other.  That we’d let people talk and express their ideas in peace.  That we’d stop trying to discriminate against others in the name of god.  Free the people.  All the people.  Everywhere.  Ideologies don’t really matter.  Fairness and justice and peace do.

I’ve got a button that I wear once in a while that kind of fits here: “God bless the whole world.  No exceptions.”

Repost: Hoyt Axton

I haven’t had much to say lately.  Too tired and achy tonight.  I’ve spent most of the last two afternoons assembling some closet storage and rearranging things.  Tomorrow, I might put together my new tv stand.  Or not.  That could probably wait until the weekend.  Anyway, the song in this post pretty much covers how I feel right now.

You’ve heard a Hoyt Axton song, even if you’ve never heard of him. After all, you’ve heard Three Dog Night sing “Joy to the World,” right? Then you’ve heard Hoyt, since he wrote that song. He also wrote “Never Been to Spain,” which as another hit for Three Dog Night. He also wrote “The No-No Song.” Hoyt Axton was popular in the 70s as a performer in his own right. He also acted on television and the movies; you might remember him as the dad in Gremlins.

Hoyt Axton is one of those artists like Jim Croce and The Band. I can’t gauge how well-known he is out in the world because he was always well-known in my family. My parents used to listen to the greatest hits collection we had a lot. He’s one of those guys who sang the soundtrack to my childhood. (There’s a lot of others on this childhood soundtrack; it might even be a box set.) The music in the 70s wasn’t any better than music from today (no era is better than any other, they’re just different). What makes it more important to me in some ways, I guess, is the emotional associations I have with it. I still love the Eagles and Linda Ronstadt today because my mom used put her records of them on while she did housework. I have fond memories of Hoyt Axton: the country twang of his voice, his big beaming smile. These musicians are a little like family in a way. Relatives you don’t see very often but who always make you smile.

I prefer Three Dog Night’s version of “Joy to the World”; that organ and the harmonies are so perfect for it. But my favorite Axton sung performed by the man himself is this weary country classic.

Here’s hoping the work week goes a little easier for everyone.

Twin Peaks

There is a god, and he/she/it loves me very, very much.

When I read this morning that there would be a continuation of the brilliant Twin Peaks, I almost squeed in delight.  (Almost, because squeeing doesn’t quite fit in with the universe created by this surreal TV show.  Click here for the full article at Variety.)  I am soooooo looking forward to this.  And because it’s going to be on Showtime, David Lynch and Mark Frost will have a little more leeway than they did with network television back in the 90s, which could be really, really good.  Or it could be gratuitously gory and/or naked.  We’ll just have to wait a little over a year to find out.

God, I wish it was 2016 right now!

I’m excited.  Can you tell I’m excited?

Paul Revere

The leader of the classic 60s garage band Paul Revere and the Raiders has passed away peacefully at his home in Idaho.  Organist Paul Revere originally founded the band as an instrumental group, but that changed when he met singer Mark Lindsay, who joined the band in 1958.

Although they looked like refugees from a ballet (White tights and velvet military jackets?  Really?), the music is solid.  “Kicks” was one of their hits in the late 60s, and probably my favorite.  (I say probably because I just haven’t delved that deeply into their catalog, something I should correct.)  This was awesome Rock/Pop.  The songwriting was tight and concise, but they played with just enough fuzz and grunge to keep it from veering into white bread and mayonnaise territory.

Sadly, Paul Revere and the Raiders has slipped off the Classic/Oldies Rock radar.  While I don’t think the passing of Paul Revere will change that circumstance much, I hope a few more people will hear what is one of the better groups from the 60s.

Freaky Friday: “I Talk to My Haircut”

So Dangerous Minds has once again turned me on to a little bit of insanity I’d never heard of.  The two albums released by Reverend Fred Lane appear to be completely bananas.  Which makes them pretty damn awesome in my book.

I freely admit that I choose this song because I dug the title, but it turned out to be a pretty fun listen.  Although I was pretty entertained by the other clips I heard, too, so you should just search him on YouTube.  It’s all pretty strange.  What I hear most in Reverend Fred Lane’s music is the roots of another absurdist musical favorite, They Might Be Giants.  I have no idea if John and John ever listened to this guy, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did.

Of course, Reverend Lane isn’t a real guy.  Or, he is real, but he’s not a reverend.  Or named Fred.  It’s a persona created by an artist named T.R. Reed.  The music encompasses pretty much every genre of American music, while the lyrics are Dada-esque in nature (read: they make no sense whatsoever).  This isn’t novelty music, per se, but more like performance art.  What stands out most is the freewheeling abandon of these tracks.  Reed clearly decided at some point to not limit himself in any discernible way.  This is what the phrase “anything goes” was invented for.  He just tossed everything in, including the kitchen sink.

This stuff is wonderfully weird, but it’s not mainstream in any way.  The Reverend Fred Lane is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea.  Which of course means that these recordings are currently out of print.  I hope someone realizes there’s a market for this stuff and re-release it.  Soon.

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