Thursday, April 17, 2014

Luna "Hedgehog"

A Throwback Thursday post:

I remember this as the song that asked the burning question:

"Are you a Fox or a Hedgehog?"


I finally found out what the hell he was talking about, on Wikipedia.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

PHOX "Slow Motion"

You have to feel a little bit bad for this band.

If their debut album had come out over a year ago, I'm sure that any interview they did would focus mainly on the music.

Unfortunately, here in 2014, I think they are pretty much condemned to having every single solitary excruciating interview include the idiot DJ/journalist/blogger asking them:

"What does the PHOX say?"

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Jerry Garcia & David Grisman "Friend Of The Devil"

I played this on the air once, and said that it was "from 1997."

I had a Deadhead call and yell at me.

"Jerry DIED in 1995!  It can't be from 1997."

So, to clarify, for this impassioned gentleman . . . the album "Live On Letterman" was released in 1997.  The performance on that disc is from a television appearance in 1993, while Mr. Garcia (I didn't know him well enough to call him by his first name) was decidedly alive.

For someone who knows waaay more about The Dead than I do, and can talk about it properly, check out a new episode of Shakedown Stream.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Ziggy Marley "I Don't Want To Live On Mars"

Is it good, or bad, when are artist who has a clearly defined sound, goes ahead and does something that totally defies that expectation.

If I say "new Ziggy Marley song" I bet you have something in mind as to what it might sound like.

You'd be wrong.  It doesn't sound like that.

But is that a good thing, or a bad thing?

Hear the song on Youtube.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Serena Ryder "Stompa"

This is a terrible association to make, but I make it nonetheless.

Listen to the way that Serena Ryder says the very first word of "Stompa."


My college roommate Billy used to do this imitation of Charlton Heston, at the end of "Soylent Green," when he is shouting "Soylent Green is PEE-pull!!!"

And the way they all (Serena, Charlton, Billy) pronounce "people" with an emphasis on the "PEE" sound the same to me.

So as a result, whenever I hear "Stompa," I hear the lyrics in Charlton Heston's voice.

Sorry, Serena.

Hear Serena Ryder on Youtube.

"Soylent Green Is PEE-pull!" (wait for the end of the clip) on Youtube.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Scott Miller & The Commonwealth "For Jack Tymon"

When my sister's first son was born (my first nephew), I framed the lyrics to this song for her, and him.

My own son turns 4 today, and I turn to this special little obscurity (at least, I've never had anyone mention the track to me) to think about my boy.

We all wish for amazing things for our kids---great achievements, thrilling adventures.  But sometimes its good to return to the thought that praying for simple things like easy times and good friends are more likely to, in the end, give our children the kind of life and happiness we so fervently wish for them.

May your back be straight and your fingers ten
My your cup be full when you say when
May your parents be so that they always let you grow
And may your heart be so pure its one that God wants to know
May your schooling be good, and if its not
May the times be easy and you still smart
May your friendships be so that they almost feel like home
And your heart be so pure its one that God wants to know
And may you have the joy of passing something on
Like the laugh of your father or the courage of your mom
But if that never happens and you end up alone
May your heart be so pure its one that God wants to know

Hear the song on Youtube.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Brown Bird "Bilgewater"

How do you walk the line of being respectful without being opportunistic?

David Lamb of the band Brown Bird passed away this week.  He had been battling leukemia and had received tremendous support from the Rhode Island (and beyond) music community.

When listeners started letting us know that Lamb had passed away, I remembered that we have a Brown Bird performance in our archives.  And my first thought was to post it on Facebook, or make it this week's MVY Live.
But something about doing that felt like it would be too self-serving, too self-promotional, too opportunistic.

When Lou Reed passed away, we did many a tribute to him on the air.  But even before his passing, not a day had gone by where we didn't play a few Lou Reed/Velvet Underground tracks.

The same isn't true for Brown Bird on MVY.

So would promoting it, just be co-opting a tragedy?

These are the weird, unexpected questions that they never teach you to answer in DJ School.

For a really beautiful rememberance of David Lamb, read this.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Black Grape "In The Name Of The Father"

A Throwback Tuesday post:

"Mash-up" is such a 2000s-phenomenon.  Crashing together multiple genres and sounds.

I think many 90s artists did a better job of MIXING-up.  Actually incorporating multiple styles, but blending them together, instead of juxtaposing them.

Check out how much is going on in this song from the Happy Mondays offshoot band, Black Grape . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Joseph Arthur "Walk On The Wild Side"

A minor footnote to the announcement that David Letterman is retiring, was that Mike Mills of R.E.M. fame, broke the story.

He was part of the band for the scheduled musical guest that night, Joseph Arthur, so he was at the afternoon taping, and tweeted the news.

Joseph Arthur was on, because he has recently released a cover of "Walk On The Wild Side."  Arthur was a friend of Reed's, and recorded this reworking, as a tribute to his late friend.

See the Letterman performance below, which includes Mike Mills, and Peter Buck of R.E.M.

See the video on Youtube.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Warren Zevon "Hit Somebody"

It may come as a bit of a surprise to you, but if you were to ask me who has influenced me most as a Radio Announcer, the answer would not be a name that would seem obvious. 

I can certainly say I loved and listened intently to folks like Casey Kasem and WBCN's Charles Laquidara and Mark Parenteau when I was a kid.

But really, the person I have idolized the most, as a broadcaster, is David Letterman.

Now, I have never thought of myself as anything like (and certainly not equal-to) Letterman, in the ways that you perhaps appreciate Dave.

I was never trying to replicate his sense of humor, or his quick wit, or his wonderful grasp of irony, or his delightful snarkiness.  I do love all those things about him, as a fan.

But as a broadcaster, I've always paid close attention to the way that Letterman communicates information, the way he simply (or sometimes, complicatedly) tells a story.

Take the way he announced his retirement on his show last night.

He did what he does most every night on the program.  After the monologue, he heads to his desk and will tell a story, often with a personal aspect.  I don't suspect that Dave is a racounteur, holding court with friends and telling endless stories.  But we he does these direct-to-the-camera-and-audience moments, he is masterful at getting at the heart of the matter.

So he opens with some facts about how many shows he's done, and then he segues into a seemingly unrelated yarn about how he spent an entire day trying to identify a bird picture.  And just when it appears that this is a simply shaggy dog story, you realize that it actually boldly underscores his point, that it is time for him to retire.

This is what I aspire to every day.  Can I tell stories on the radio (and actually, on this blog too) that are engaging, even if they seem a bit shaggy, but that ultimately circle around to a clear, relatable point?  I'll never be as good as Letterman, but setting the bar high is not such a bad thing.

The other, minor thing I learned from Letterman, is how to carefully, but clearly, show your passion.

Letterman must treat each guest as important.  The show simply wouldn't work if he wasn't displaying enthusiasm for each and every guest.

And that is kind of how I approach being on the radio.  I don't love each and every song I play, equally.  But I recognize that each and every song is somebody's favorite.  And I display enthusiasm of all songs with that in mind.

That being said, you can tell when Dave is passionate about a guest, particularly the musical guests.  You can see it in the early days when R.E.M. came on, or in the late 90s when the Foo Fighters were guest, or recently when Jason Isbell appears.  He'll give just a little bit extra to the introduction, or greet the band after the song with energy that lets the viewer know just how engaged he was.

I too have certain artists that I feel passionately about, and yes, I can let that sneak through in the way I talk about certain artists, hopefully without lessening the importantance of other folks we play.

And when you've set the audience expectation that you, as the host, have your special passions, the audience will respect those occasions where, when the moment is really right, you dive into a personal obsession. 

Warren Zevon wasn't such a major artist that a network television show would normally devote a whole hour to him.  But he was a major artist to David Letterman, and Dave's passion for Zevon allowed the netork door to be open for an hour.  It was some pretty great television.

I've learned a lot from Dave.  And I'm grateful for the things I've been able to take away, to make me a better air talent.

So, Mr Letterman, as you yourself once said to Johnny Carson, "Thanks for my career."

Did you know Dave is on a Warren Zevon recording?  Listen for him on "Hit Somebody."

Hear the song on Youtube.

The retirement announcement on Youtube.

See Warren Zevon on Letterman on Youtube.