Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Music Of My Courtship

My first kiss with MB was in a vending room of the Double Tree Hotel in Albuquerque.  It had the immediacy and intensity of a car bomb exploding.  I couldn’t believe I was kissing this woman whose beauty I had found, well honestly, intimidating.  From that seemingly seedy start, something wonderful grew.  We exchanged long emails that started with the trivialities of the day but quickly evolved into expressions longing for each other’s companionship, mine sometimes quoting poets that I liked.  At one point, I even sent her a packet of poems, some of my favorites by others and some that I had written.  For me, this was a large risk.  She was the first woman I ever shared my poetry with in such a comprehensive manner.  I was essentially entrusting her with my heart and she has guarded it zealously ever since.

I decided to be with MB for the rest of my life at a sidewalk cafe/toy store in Albuquerque, New Mexico, right before her return flight to Indiana after a week long visit. She had excused herself from the table to go to the bathroom; and in that short time, I had decided to move closer to her and commit myself to her.  It was the best decision I ever made.

And there were, of course, mix tapes.  (Streaming music was impractical because we were all using dial up modems).  Like most courtships, ours has revolved around music, and specific times of the relationship can arrest my memory most vividly upon hearing certain tunes. For example, hearing “Someone’s Daughter” or “My Invisible Gun” instantly takes me back to the two hour, 4 AM drive to the Albuquerque airport to catch an early morning flight to stay with her during spring break.  MB had sent me a cassette of songs she loved, and I listened to it as the moon filled my darkened truck cab, loving them sometimes for no other reason than because she loved them.  “Charm Attack” was on the mix tape she made me for my final move home from living in AZ.  This tape was a radio show that she had hosted, complete with skits from the Red Bud Players.  (“Red Bud Players” = people she worked with.)  It was a great, hilarious, loving effort.  I smiled all the way home to her.

 I’m still smiling today.  Happy Anniversary, MB.  I love you so much.
(Enjoy this non-comprehensive collection of songs from our courtship.)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fat Friday Feature: Savarah Soul

My brother Paul has hipped me to the artists of the Tru Thoughts label.  That's a different post for a different day (Where's that guest post, Paul?), but for now I'll say that there doesn't appear to be any duds on label.  For today, Imma concentrate on Saravah Soul - I've yet to hear anything by them that is sub par.  I'd say they're somewhere between James Brown and Antibalas - not a bad place to be.  And they're fronted by a "fiery break dancer"!  Bonus!  I'm not a dancer myself, but the percolating, fluid bass playing of Matheus Nova (dig the playing that begins at the :50 mark!) and the creative drumming of Eduardo Marques could be the cure for that.  Dig deep into Saravah Soul - I'm guessing you won't be disappointed.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Straight Jacket Required

When I get an earworm, I usually know where it came from and why it is there. Perhaps it's a song from an album to which I frequently listen. Maybe, like commercial jingles, it's designed to get stuck in my head. Or maybe it was the last song I heard before I went to bed.

But Phil Collins? Why God, why? I haven't heard him on the radio in years (mainly because I don't listen to the radio much), and I've never owned so much as a cassingle of his. Phil was has always been on the periphery of my entertainment radar - I have to admit he was good in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?", but I've never paid much attention to him beyond that. So why is he stuck in my head? And why has this week old earworm turned into a fucking earworm playlist? Of really, really crappy 80s music?

Perhaps if I unload it on you it will flush it out of my head. Please enjoy that crap that's been plaguing me. I'm sorry to do this to you; I just want my life back.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Fat Friday Feature: Cris Kirkwood

Recall that each Friday I showcase an amazing bass player or bass part.  Today, you get to dig on Cris Kirkwood.  We're lucky this dude is still alive.  The Meat Puppets have so many amazing songs; this live recording showcases Cris' virtuosity on bass.  I highly recommend you dive into the Meat Puppets' album "II", even if you don't care about bass.  You'll hear amazing, highly original, drug fueled songs that can be found at the intersection of country, punk, and psychedelia that most folks think Nirvana sing.  It still stands up well to the test of time.  Cris never got the press he deserved for his bass playing - as far as I know, he's never been on the cover of "Bass Player" magazine or anything even close.  As much as people like to rave about his brother's guitar playing (which, by the way, is legit), the Meat Puppets be nothing without Cris.  

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Off Topic: The Rules

106. The more one talks, the less they have to say.
107. Don’t sweat it:  NO ONE looks good in a bike helmet.
108. If an eleven year old can't draw an NFL team's logo on a notebook while the math teacher is droning on about order of operations, the designer has failed.
109. Fuck your cell phone, man.  Seriously - put it away and don’t get it out until dinner is over.
110. I don’t care how creative it was, don’t film your wedding proposal.  That’s a private, personal moment and it should be kept that way.

More rules for livin' here.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Around The Internet: 15 August 2011

Yo - got an iPad?  Try this mix app out and let me know how it works.  It looks like it would be a ton of fun. I bet it can spruce up any damn party.

Grandmaster Mash shows off MiniMash from MiniMash App on Vimeo.
I really, really, really hope as many artists as possible take advantage of this.  The thought that more money would be going directly to the artist instead of the label makes me very, very happy.

I found myself at Grooveshark looking for this tune - I had to Google it first because I didn't actually know the title.  I've always liked "Ooh Child" for its uplifting message and funky drums.  I had never heard Nina Simone's version.  Holy.  Cow.  DIG that bass - I don't know who is playing, but (s)he is a monster!  James Jamerson's spirit is alive and well in this version.  Listen to it and you'll agree.

And while we're kickin' it ol' skool, I tender this video, which definitely has an old soul to it.  Love the photography, love G. Love's guitar.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fat Friday Feature: Esperanza Spalding

There was this woman who used to play piano at my wife's church before she went on to continue her studies in music.  Everything about listening to and watching her play was like seeing her perform for the first time.  Physically, she always seemed fairly petite to me.  But when she pulled the bench up the the grand piano, it was like watching a lion tamer - that piano did everything she wanted.  She was capable of playing with such power and physicality that at times I thought she'd dislocate her wrist; she played with such subtlety that you can see the congregation leaning forward to catch every note.  Her stylistic range was amazing - she was comfortable in any musical genre and played with complete cofidence and grace.  She was in short professional grade.

I feel the same about Esperanza Spalding, except you can throw in envy as something I feel when I watch her play.  She is so nimble, so creative with her bass playing that I can't tear myself away from watching her.  She makes it look so easy, so flipping easy.  She sings with the same precision that she plays bass and her stage presence is both cool and joyful - she looks like she's actually having fun.  She is equally at home on upright bass as she is bass guitar; and in addition to being "just" a bass player and vocalist, she's a composer and teacher.  Now, she's a bit of a pioneer too:  she was the first jazz artist ever to snag the "Best New Artist" Grammy. She even beat out everyone's favorite media juggernaut Biebs.  And, oh hell I'll just say it:  she's a total knockout too.

As The Stranger says in "The Big Lebowski", I done innerduced her enough.  She's the full package, the real deal.  It was hard to pick which clip to showcase here - the one I wanted to show can't be embedded - but it doesn't matter: all the clips - all of them - are phenomenal.  Just pick one and dig it.  Here she is covering Stevie Wonder.

Some Thoughts On A Music Video

Kathleen Edwards is proof that musically, there is a fuck of a lot more to Canada than Sarah McLachlan and Rush.  "Six O'clock News" is easily the best song I've heard in 5 years and is easily one of my all time favorite songs - any band, any genre.   The video for the song charmed the hell out of me.

Here is why I found it so damn charming:

  • I like KE's crazy ass curly hair.
  • I like her slightly crooked teeth.
  • I like her Cate Blanchett cheekbones.
  • I like that she had the guts to wear that stupid looking fur hat.
  • I like how she purses her lips when she sings.
  • I like how she threw in the music video cliche of throwing a tantrum on the steering wheel of her car.
  • I think it's hilarious that she's squirming around on the bed, singing while her deadbeat boyfriend is trying to sleep.  (Why isn't he trying to, uh, "get with" her or sing with her or listen to her or something?)
Check into Kathleen Edwards - if she's good enough for Letterman, she's good enough for you.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

From The Archive: Play "Beyond The Sea" At My Wake

Some of you may not be aware that this blog is a resuscitation of the old "History Lesson, Pt. 2" blog.  It had the same mission as this one and ended up being such a lark that I couldn't resist starting it back up again a couple years after I shut it down.  Here is an entry that first appeared at the original incarnation of the blog on 4 December 2007.  Wonder why I was thinking of warm weather and beaches then?

It's kinda cool when you hear a song differently after having heard it a million times before. This happened to me in 1997 when my friend Dylan sent me a Pete Townshend's greatest hits-type album. In the sleeve notes, Townshend writes of the song "Let My Love Open The Door":
"This was a song about love, but this actually about divine love. It's supposed to be about the power of God's love, that when you're in difficulty, whether it's major or minor, God's love is always there for you. But I suppose, because I used the royal "we" - I sang with God's voice - it became a song about , you know, "Hey girl, I'll give you a good time, if you're feeling blue, come over to my place, and we'll catch a movie. . . "

Reading that little insight really enhanced my enjoyment of a song I already loved.

I became hipped to Bobby Darrin's "Beyond The Sea" around 1999. Since then, it has become one of my favorite songs in any genre by any artist. That song swings. Big time. It's usually a song that gets heavy rotation at our house starting in the springtime because for me, it conjures up images of beaches and warm weather.

But while commuting to work about two days ago, I heard it differently - it occurred to me that the lyrics for that song would be perfect for a wake. Townshend states that most people misinterpreted "Let My Love Open The Door" - well, I'm intentionally misinterpreting "Beyond The Sea". Think about it: it can be a nice little metaphor for ascent into heaven and being reunited with one you love. It's a journey to a happy destination, you know what I'm sayin'? Read the lyrics - you'll see what I'm talking about.

The song would have to be played at my wake (Editorial note:  "showing" is probably a more up-to-date term for this.) as my chosen faith is not known for it's noisy, song filled celebrations. And realistically, I don't care what happens to me after death - it's cool if I'm placed in a burlap sack and thrown in a hole in the ground, frankly. Usually I don't get much comfort out of thinking about death and its associated rituals, but playing "Beyond The Sea" is, oddly enough, the exception. And perhaps even weirder, thinking of people sipping cocktails and listening to "Beyond The Sea" has made that song even more enjoyable for me.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Audio Scratch Pad: Lake Leelanau

Lake Leelanau - Dock, 1:37 PM by mattzink
About:  Recorded in August of 2010 as I sat on our speed boat (which was perched on the boat lift).  I kind of just stuck the four track over the side of the boat.  You can hear other boats zipping around in the background.
Recommended Uses:  Listen to this with headphones to get you through the winter; or for that matter, the workday. What other suggested do you have?  Post 'em in the comments.

Some Questions For You

Do you miss the early days of MTV when the songs were sung and acted out?  Like this, and of course, this.
Do these pants make me look fat?  What about these?
Does anyone know the back story on this?  Why the switch?
I know that the line is “Well your mother told you all I could give you was a reputation”, but is that really what he’s singing?  Can you sing that line?

Original Poetry - "Blue Note Fantasy"

Wherein I fantasize about being the jazz cat I always wanted to be - just like the dudes on the covers of old Blue Note records.

The moment is eternal –
Filtered stage lights burn cool
I am a figure frozen in blue cut against a voracious black
I am laughing at someone off camera
arm draped around the neck of a beat up upright bass
an impossibly thick column of smoke meanders from the tip of a filterless Pall Mall
Probably before my fingers douse it in a glass of whiskey
Probably before my fingers dance on the fingerboard
orchestrating thunder.