Thursday, December 31, 2009

Pearl Jam “Glorified G”

Hitting Random on the iTunes list . . .

Is it my fault that Eddie Vedder could be a bit mumbly? Or do you still think that this track from their monstrously popular album “Vs.” contains the line:

“Glorified version of a Pelican!”

You know, I went to a Catholic Middle School, and our basketball team was the Immaculate Conception Pelicans, so pelicans are near and dear to my heart, but even so, they are kind of a goofy animal.

So why would someone, or something, be a glorified version of a pelican? How could someone, or something, have their embellishment stripped away, only to be revealed to be a common pelican?

I pondered this question for years.

Then I figured out the title. “Glorified G.”

G, as in “Gangster,” of the street lingo the kids these days (these days being 1993, when this album came out) use.

What does a “G” carry? Well, a pelican would certainly be garish, in a 70s Pimp/Blaxploitation style, but no, a “G” carries a gun.

“Glorified version of a Pellet Gun!”
Makes much more sense. But is less hilarious.

Hear the whole original song and see the band perform it live, here

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Vic Chesnutt “Flirted With You All My Life”

Of the many musical passings that I’ve heard about over the years, for one reason or another, the ones that have struck me the most have been the ones I heard on the radio in the car.

Certainly, since about a third of my life is spent inside the walls of a radio station, my memories of getting the news of this person or that person dying, are closely tied to radio.

But the couple I really remember, have been in the car.

I was with my Mom and my sister Julie, coming home from Logan Airport after a trip to Disney World, when I learned about Stevie Ray Vaughn’s death. Hearing his music that day was really the beginning of my understanding of how important his guitar playing was.

I got the news of Bob Stinson death (who was the guitarist for my favorite band, the Replacements), as I was pulling away from the radio station that I worked at in Virginia, at midnight, just after my shift. I actually ran back inside from the parking lot, to confirm what I had heard on the ABC Newsbrief.

Is it something about the safety, the womb-ness of a car that makes radio news so indelible? I’m not sure. I just seems to be, for me.

This past weekend, on the radio, I got the news about Vic Chesnutt.

I was down in Newport, spending a couple of post-Holiday days with family, and I had been dispatched to the grocery store, to make sure we had breakfast food for the following morning. After several days of caroling to and fro, visiting all our relatives, engulfed in the madness of the season, this was the first moment of peace I’d had in a while. I was in the car, by myself, alone on the wet streets of Newport, in the post-Christmas quiet.

I was flipping the dial as I drove. I like to check out the local public radio stations whenever I’m on the road.

“We’re starting out the show with some sad news,” the announcer said.

They didn’t have a lot of information, only that he had been in a coma for a short time, and had died, due to an overdose. Intentional or not? They weren’t sure.

I wrote a little about Vic in an earlier post. Knowing that he had struggled with depression his whole life, I guess it’s not a shock that he left us this way.

But despite his physical and mental troubles, he was incredibly prolific. He’d put out two records just this Fall.

And strangely, one of those records had a song called “Flirted With You All My Life,” which he had called his break-up song with suicide. He sang like he was ready to start living.

There are many tributes and obits out there worth reading, if you’re not familiar with the man, his songs or his story, but this one has a wonderful Vic quote. And Vic Chesnutt was a highly quotable man. Check out his lyrics, but I’m glad he left me with this thought about his career, which I think can apply to all of us who live a creative life:

“I thought I had a calling. Anyway I just kept dialing.”

See him perform the song in concert, here

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dala “Levi Blues”

Starting in the early Fall, record labels release albums from Big Name artists. Marquee names. Hoping to get the word out, so you’ll buy the record for Christmas.

By early November, they are releasing music from Brand Names---artists SO BIG, you don’t even need to hear the music, to consider buying it. Boxed Sets, Greatest Hits, Christmas albums and such.

Once December hits, the labels go into hibernation. With all the Holiday Hoo-hah, they realize that trying to get a new record started would just get lost in the shuffle.

So no new releases come out at this time.

But the radio station beast still needs to be fed. Songs we added weeks and months ago are burning out, and we want to replace them with fresh material.

I really enjoy this time of year, because it gives us a chance to reconsider records that we missed earlier in the year.

We met Dala at Newport this summer, and fell in love. They are charming, sweet, and super-strong in their singing. But we never added the record. It’s a little on the poppy side of mvyradio.

But in the light of no new releases, we are able to listen again, and be won over by these young Canadians.

Check out a sample of "Levi Blues."

Hear the girls live at Folk Festival 50 and in an interview from that day with Barbara Dacey.

See the video, here

Monday, December 28, 2009

Magnapop “Open The Door”

Hitting Random on the iTunes list . . .

In my pre-mvyradio days, I hosted a Modern Rock specialty show on a great little independent radio station in Virginia.

I’d end each December with a big Friday night show, counting down the top Alternative songs of the year. And in that countdown, I had a few sub-categories and awards, including handing out what I called “The Magnapop Award.”

Music History is rife with stories of great bands that made great records, that no one heard, due to Record Label injustices. Some of my favorite artists are famous because of records that didn’t get released, or got released but didn’t get supported by the label. Big Star, Bettye Lavette, Delbert McClinton and Wilco all have stories to tell.

But I started the award after hearing about Magnapop.

They had enjoyed breakthrough success in the Modern Rock world in the mid-nineties, with the release of “Hot Boxing.” They had recording/producing support from Michael Stipe, and Bob Mould. They were opening for The Lemonheads and R.E.M.

The acclaim for their next record, “Rubbing Doesn’t Help,” was hugely positive, when they had the rug pulled out. Shortly after the release of the record, their label, Priority Records went out of business. With no label behind the record, it didn’t get distributed to stores properly (in the pre-MP3 age, if it wasn’t in your local record store, you couldn’t buy it), and it didn’t get proper support at radio.

But the real kick in the ass was this: due to the kind of contract only a Record Label could write, the band was contractually prevented from using the name Magnapop for 7 years.

Yes, the Label couldn’t provide for them, but wouldn’t let them provide for themselves.

Magnapop is still out there, making dynamic music, but it’s hard not to feel like the wind was taken out of their sails (and sales) at a crucial moment.

So every year, I would give “The Magnapop Award” to a band that had been screwed by their label, and deserved better. Go back and check out “Rubbing Doesn’t Help”

See the video, here

Friday, December 25, 2009

William Burroughs “A Junky’s Christmas”

5 Great Christmas Tunes That Aren’t Really In The Christmas Spirit

I have a couple of musical Christmas traditions that I like to enjoy alone.

One springs from my childhood, when I used to listen to WBCN in Boston. On Christmas Eve, Oedipus, the Program Director, would send the staff home, and do the evening and overnight programming by himself.

When I became the Program Director at mvy, I made that my tradition too. I’m the only voice you hear on mvy, as Christmas Eve becomes Christmas Morn.

The other thing I like to do, is listen to a short story. It’s not for everyone, but actually, of all this week’s posts, it is the song that is most in the holiday spirit.

It’s writer William Burroughs, reading his story story “A Junkie’s Christmas” with music by Michael Franti’s early band The Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy.

It’s Burroughs’ story of Danny The Car Wipe, his search for drugs on Christmas, and the Christmas Miracle that befalls him, due to his generosity.

And while a junky’s search for drugs isn’t exactly wholesome, the moral of the story actually makes this tune, the most traditionally Christmas spirited, of all song entries this week.

See a video version
, that doesn’t have the music, but does have Burroughs himself, plus an animated telling of the story.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Jimmy Kimmel and Norah Jones "You Tube's 12 Days Of Christmas"

5 Great Christmas Tunes That Aren’t Really In The Christmas Spirit

Norah Jones was recently nominated for a Grammy for her duet with Willie Nelson, for the Christmas cover of "Oh Baby It's Cold Outside." No doubt, it made the Grammy cut, because it is a timeless cover of a timeless classic.

In fact, much of what Norah Jones does is timeless. Her songs often really sound like they could have been released any time between 1920 and 2011.

Maybe that's part of what makes her inclusion in this Jimmy Kimmel bit so funny. It is absolutely the least timeless piece of music Norah Jones has ever recorded.

When digital archeologists uncover the remains of 2009, and they find this clip, they will no doubt say "How quaint! The humans of 2009 viewed their viral videos through what they called a 'web site,' instead of their ocular-implanted microscreens! This 'YouTube' must've seemed very amazing to their puny 2009 brains."

It's unwieldy to sing this year, or any year in the future. But it should make you laugh today.

See the video, here

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones “Xmastime (It Sure Don’t Feel Like)”

5 Great Christmas Tunes That Aren’t Really In The Christmas Spirit

One of the things we all love about music, is in the discovery. By discovering a great track, we feel like we own it somehow.

If it’s really a great track, then it might get popular, and sometimes it becomes less ours. Didn’t you always hate it, as a kid, when EVERYBODY starting liking the band that you liked first?

But certain songs will always allow you to retain ownership over it. Like “Dirty Water.” It doesn’t matter who loves that song, it’s always ours, because it’s about Boston.

And that’s how I feel about the Bosstones’ cover of “Xmastime.” Even though it’s a pretty bleak portrait of Christmas in the City, it’s OUR city. As cold as the song gets, I still have a warm place in my heart for its mentions of the college kids heading home, of Kenmore Square and Filene’s Basement.

Hear the whole song, here.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

De La Soul “Millie Pulled A Pistol On Santa”

5 Great Christmas Tunes That Aren’t Really In The Christmas Spirit

This song just has so many things going against it.

No one---absolutely no one---wants to hear a song about child molestation.

Sure, you can get tricked into it, with a catchy song featuring an interestingly named child (yes, I’m talking about “Luka”). But you’re not going out of your way to hear it.

Nor does anybody appreciate a holiday tune where someone gets violent with Santa. It’s just not in the Christmas spirit.

Just the title is going to make folks pass over this one: “Millie Pulled A Pistol On Santa”

But if you can get past all that, this is a masterfully told narrative, telling the story of Millie’s abuse at the hands of her Foster parent, recounted through the eyes of the classmates who had been dismissive of her accusations.

One of the things rap music can do much easier that some other forms of music, is incorporate other voices, to give a story multiple narrators, and paint a more vivid, nuanced landscape. (You wish it were a device more often, and more effectively, employed)

Another one not for the kids, but not to be missed (just maybe save it for after the Holidays).

Monday, December 21, 2009

Spongebob Squarepants “Don’t Be A Jerk On Christmas”

5 Great Christmas Tunes That Aren’t Really In The Christmas Spirit . . .

I suppose what makes something a perfect tune for Christmas, is if it makes you feel good while decorating the tree. Does it add to the ambiance of opening presents? Does it make everyone want to sing along?

That’s a great song FOR Christmas, but what about a fully enjoyable song about Christmas that doesn’t fit that bill? What if listening to it depressed everyone? Or annoyed them? What if it didn’t really lend itself to singing along? Then it will wind up here on a list of Great Christmas Tunes That Aren't Really In The Christmas Spirit.

There’s an episode of the TV Show “30 Rock” where Kenneth has just seen Cable TV for the first time, and asks Jack:

“Is Spongebob supposed to be terrifying?”

The answer is Yes.

Here is a terrifying Christmas tune that you would prefer your kids did not sing over and over from the back seat.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Free Dar Williams, Stephen Kellogg, Brett Dennen and more


We were headed into Baltimore's Camden Yards to see the Red Sox versus the Orioles.

Screaming at the top of his lungs, was a guy with a table full of Major League Baseball caps.


My buddy Tom said, "Hold up, I'll get something for the kid."

"Give me a hat. How much?"


The real story: He had a couple hats for $5, most were $12.


Is it "Free?" Well, they want your email address, so they can put you on their mailing list. But the mailing lists are for the bands listed. So if you like the bands, you probably wouldn't mind some info on them from time to time, right?

Disclaimer: This offer is from Vanguard Records, a great independent label, dedicated to REAL artists. This offer comes from them, not me or mvyradio. If you don't like what the songs are, or what else comes in your mailbox, I can't help you. End of my Holiday Disclaimer Of Joy.

Enjoy the free-ish-ness!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Lonely Island “I’m On A Boat”

(As evidenced by my Monday post) My Rap Music knowledge is pretty well stuck back in the late 80s and early 90s.

At some point I just lost touch with the scene. Or lost interest.

Or it lost interest in me, is actually what I thought. I knew that rappers were not writing their songs for white, middle class 40-somethings. So I haven’t really been qualified to assess the Rap music scene.

And for that reason, I would dismiss the dismissive comments about Rap music, that I often hear from mvyradio listeners. People on the request line, and in emails to the station, will express their strong distaste for Hip-Hop. But they aren’t supposed to be the audience for Hip-Hop, so their judgement seems too subjective.

But what to do with information that is not subjective, that supports the claim that Rap music is completely devoid of musical value? That a once-creative, urgent, necessary, dynamic art form, had devolved into a crass, commercialized parody of itself?

How else do you explain the Lonely Island Grammy Nomination? And no, not for the Comedy category.

Lonely Island is a comedy troupe from New York, who’s members famously got absorbed by Saturday Night Live. A couple of members are SNL writers, and member Andy Samberg is a part of the cast. They are the team responsible for the Digital Shorts that have appeared on the program for the last couple of years. You may remember them from such classics as “Dick In A Box,” “Lazy Sunday” and “Jizz In My Pants.”

And now you can remember them as the 3 comedians (plus T-Pain) who are nominated in the “Best Rap/Sung Collaboration” next to Beyonce, Kanye West, Keri Hilson, Ne-Yo, Jay-Z, Rihanna, T.I. and Justin Timberlake.

Is this the state of Rap music? That a song, made explicitly so they could shoot a video that mocks the stupid, crass commercialism and conspicuous consumption of Rap music videos and lyrics, is actually held up as one of the best of the year.

How could an outsider not laugh with this video, and then laugh at what the genre holds in high regard?

Of course, now you have to see the video.

And you can hear clips of all the Grammy nominees in this category. See if you can spot which one is the joke.

Buy the intentionally funny album, here

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bonnie Raitt “I Can’t Make You Love Me”

It’s pretty likely that if you have a relationship with this song, it’s because you went through a break-up, and you listened to it, over and over. And you go through the break-up again. Because the words really do ring true.

And yes, this song DOES remind me of an old girlfriend. But not OUR break-up.

When I graduated college, my at-the-time girlfriend and I decided we’d had enough of New England winters, so we packed up and headed to Florida. We were, as recent post-grads are, dead broke, but we had the invite to live with her sister, who was just a couple years older than we were.

While the three of us were living together, the sister went through a very, very sad break-up. I truly did feel bad for her.

But, Man, did she love that “Luck Of The Draw” Bonnie Raitt CD. And we heard “I Can’t Make You Love Me” over and over again.

And every time I hear it on mvyradio, I think of my at-the-time girlfriend. And I go through the break-up again. Just not our break-up.

Go through it with me, one more time!

See and hear the full song, done live with Bruce Hornsby, here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

W.P.A. "Rise Up"

Guest blogger . . .

mvyradio gave away tickets last week to see W.P.A. at the famous Exit/In of Nashville. Libby, who's a Friend of mvyradio, won the tickets, and had this to report from the show:

WPA offered a fabulous show tonight. It is wonderful to see five musicians who are each incredibly talented come together to highlight their gifts. They alternate between the songs each has written or love, and they pour their souls into their interpretation. The respect they have for each other and the fun they have performing together combine to make an excellent performance. Their songs range from fun to sad to bittersweet. Thanks so much to MVY for allowing me the chance to hear them.

WPA gave a diverse performance. The high caliber musicians were reminiscent of bands like the Thorns. I liked the raw emotion contained in many of the songs. A great show.

Hear "Rise Up" and see them do it live here.

Monday, December 14, 2009

3rd Bass “Pop Goes The Weasel”

Hitting Random on the iTunes list . . .

When you become a parent, you first find that there’s nothing like experiencing the joy of Christmas, through the eyes of a child. The wonder, the excitement, the magic.

However, shortly after becoming a parent, you realize that there is no magic, only Allen Wrenches.

It’s now become as traditional as watching “It’s A Wonderful Life” for my wife and I to be up late, on the nights leading up to Christmas, spread out on the living room floor trying to assemble some kind of Christmas present, sniping about who’s “doing it wrong.”

“That piece doesn’t fit there.” “You’ve got it upside-down.” “Did you read the f***ing directions!?!?”

I’m not a particularly handy husband, and my wife doesn’t have a lot of patience for manuals. When it comes to being Christmas Elves, we’re not a great team.

But in so many other ways, we ARE perfect match. Even when we are getting on each other’s nerves.

My wife, the artist, picked out a beautiful easel, as a gift for our daughter, to encourage the little artist inside our two-year old.

As we sat on the floor---my wife unscrewing Steps 4 through 6, because I’d skipped Step 3 and we had an extra piece floating around, me trying to separate two parts of a plastic bin that she’d jammed together---I started singing.

“Pop-pop goes the Easel, the Easel. Pop-pop goes the Easel, the Easel. Pop-pop goes the Easel, the Easel. Pop goes the Easel goes the Easel goes POP!”

I got the reaction I expected “Oh Gawd, you’re so annoying!”

But she laughed. And I laughed.

Tis the season to be jolly.

Don’t remember the 3rd Base song? Hear a sample:

And check out the old video, featuring Henry Rollins as Vanilla Ice!!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tori Amos “Snow Angel"

People have lots of strong opinions about what call this time of year.

While many Americans celebrate Christmas, many Americans do not. So we went from saying “Merry Christmas” to “Happy Holidays.”

Then there was a backlash, where people insisted that this was an assault on Christmas, so you’d better not wish your customers a “Happy Holiday” without facing the wrath of folks who don’t just celebrate a general Holyday. It’s specific, for X’s sake!

Hey, did you know that “X” in Greek is the letter “Chi” or “Christ”? Oh those Greeks, they wouldn’t be trying to diminish the holiday if they were Christians (oh wait, 97% of Greeks are).

Adding another layer to the debate? Tori Amos, who wants you to know that her new record is not a Christmas album. Don't call it a Christmas album!

And it’s not a Holiday album.

It’s a Seasonal album.

Try this, next time you bump into acquaintances of indeterminate religious-affiliation: “If we don’t see you before the end of December, Happy Seasons to you!”

Trips right off the tongue, No?

All kidding aside, Tori Amos is giving a free, streamed concert today, to promote her new “Midwinter Graces.” You can check it out, at

She’s also giving away a track for free at Amazon. Get your own copy of “Snow Angel.”

Thursday, December 10, 2009

David Gray “Stella The Artist”

Should mvyradio be playing this song . . . or that song?

Picking a single that is really going to pull people’s attention to an album is not an exact science. But it is certainly an art.

Take the new David Gray, for example. Word had been, for several weeks, that the follow-up to “Fugitive” was going to be the beautiful duet with Annie Lennox, “Full Steam.” Their voices soar, and the arrangement is interesting. It seemed like a challenging, but satisfying choice.

At the 11th hour, the label changed his mind. I asked my friend Sean Coakley, an independent record promoter, why Downtown Records had switched to “Stella The Artist.”

Sean said, “Hopefully, because I convinced them to.”

His point was that the song was interesting. Striking even. But it wouldn’t stand up to multiple listens.

I always make the knock-knock joke analogy, in these situations. You may laugh your ass off the first time you hear a knock-knock joke. But is it still funny the 5th time you hear it. Is it funny after 6 months of hearing it regularly?

Other songs are like pizza. I could eat a slice every day, and never get sick of it. My attention turning to different flavors each time I bite in.

Ultimately, Sean felt, “Full Steam” just wouldn’t have a long life, as a radio single. The novelty of the duet would wear thin, quickly, in his opinion. And a long life at radio, is what propels listeners to seek out the full album, and hear the other amazing tracks.

Was Sean right? Which one of these songs would you have added to rotation?

See the video, here

Buy "Draw The Line"

See this previous post, for details on how a song gets into rotation on mvyradio, then let me know what you think.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Luscious Jackson “Citysong”

Hitting Random on the iTunes list . . .

Every once and a while, a journalist or DJ from another part of the country, or another part of the world, will drop in on the radio station. They’re on Martha’s Vineyard, on vacation, and are interested in interviewing one of us about Local Radio/American radio, and about Martha’s Vineyard.

Of course, the Vineyard has a reputation for being a place where celebrities visit, vacation and/or live, so the questions inevitably turn to “Who have you met?”

Of course, they expect to hear BIG names (Oprah!?), or even Big Names (Meg Ryan?!).

In my decade out-and-about on Martha’s Vineyard, I’ve met or at least passed on the street, familiar folks like Ted Danson and Mary Steenbergen, Mike Wallace and Walter Cronkite, Spike Lee and Larry David.

But not every famous person that comes to the Island is a household name, and I’ve had more than a few “Hey I know that guy” moments as well, bumping into Paul Benedict (Mr. Bentley on “The Jeffersons”), Jere Burns (Kirk from “Dear John”), CC Pounder (“The Shield”) and loads of others.

A few years back, on a quiet, sunny, shoulder-season day, I was walking to the bookstore on Main Street in Vineyard Haven, when I passed this couple, walking in the opposite direction, pushing a baby stroller.

I locked eyes with the woman for a moment, and I had this flash of recognition. Did I go to High School with you or something? And she glanced back, with a look that seemed to indicate that she didn’t necessarily know me, but she knew she’d been recognized.

I got about 30 steps past them, and “Citysong” popped into my head.

I don’t know for sure that the woman was Jill Cunniff of Luscious Jackson. I didn’t go back to ask---that’s an MV faux pas. But the “City” that I think about when I hear this song, isn’t New York any more.

See an interview with the band, and the music video for ”Citysong”, plus if you didn't recognized the actors mentioned above, see them too!

Buy the album, ”Natural Ingredients”

Monday, December 7, 2009

Rey Fresco "Precious Time"

There are rock and roll viola players. Rock and roll flute players. Rock and roll xylophone players.

But I've never seen a Rock And Roll harp player until Rey Fresco.

Bass, Drums, Guitar and Harp.

"Harp" as in the big, unwieldy string instrument (not "harp" as in a hip way to say harmonica).

Check out the track "Precious Time"

See them play live, and check out the cute home video of the band hearing their song on the radio.

Buy their album "The People"

Friday, December 4, 2009

Too Much Joy "Cereal Killers"

Art and Commerce certainly have an uneasy relationship. Art is all "Isn't what we have beautiful?" And Commerce goes "I would love to be able to eat and pay our mortgage. Can we sell beauty?"

The sad truth is that most Art and Commerce marriages end in divorce, with accusations and recriminations aplenty.

Art often plays the role of the victim (drama!), but just as often, Commerce lives up to its reputation as a big fat jerk.

If you've ever wondered how the music industry functions, or should I say dysfunctions (zing!), check out this post by the lead singer of the 90's band Too Much Joy, as he breaks down, figuratively and literally, his royalty statement from Warner Brothers. It's shocking, hilarious, and shocking.

Then, go buy some of their music, just to make things more complicated!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Mike Doughty “You Should Be Doubly Gratified”

. . . and “From A Gas Station Outside Providence” . . .

What do you think of this one?

Are lyrics, poetry? Poetry, lyrics?

Mike Doughty has had success and recognition as a member of Soul Coughing, as a solo performer and as a poet. And it seems like his writing moves pretty fluidly between both worlds.

Check out his poem, with words and images that pop, called “From A Gas Station Outside Providence.”

Then check out his new solo song “You Should Be Doubly Gratified.”

What do you think of this track? Is it something mvy should be playing? See this previous post, for details on how a song gets into rotation on mvyradio, then let me know what you think.

Buy the album, "Poemfone" for a couple of Doughty verses, and/or buy his new solo album "Sad Man Happy Man"

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tim Krekel “Casualties”

Hitting Random on the iTunes list . . .

“What does this song make me think about” is the game I play here, daily. And sometimes a really clear picture of a moment or idea pops into my head.

And other times, it’s like a pumpkin hitting the pavement. So many thoughts and emotions and ideas hit at once, in a bit of a jumble.

Today, it's the latter.

Tim Krekel died this year. Cancer. Quickly.

He’d found out that he was sick in March. By June 24th, he was gone.

On June 24th, my wife and I were in this room (I’m writing, on my laptop, at home), working on details for my sister’s impromptu wedding, scheduled for the 27th.

She had cancer. She was gone a month later. Cancer. Slowly.

Eight years she fought cancer. It kept coming back. She fought. Literally, Fought. Angrily.

Tim Krekel didn’t know he was sick when he wrote “Casualties,” for 2007’s “Soul Season.” It’s a song about lifting off the burdens of your troubles, despite the hardship of life.

Though he was a star in his hometown of Louisville, Krekel had never achieved the mainstream National success of the folks he worked with, including NRBQ, Jimmy Buffett (he plays on “Son Of Son Of A Sailor”) or even Kim Richey (with whom he co-wrote “Come Around”). But when he knew he was dying, he still was able to describe his as “a most wonderful life.”

Just 10 days before he was gone, he decided to get married, and, he got hitched in a private ceremony.

My sister did the same thing. When she knew her time was at the end, she and her long-time boyfriend got hitched in a private ceremony.

At that point, in June, she was weak enough that she had to be in a wheelchair. And within a couple of weeks, cancer in her brain took away her most of her ability to speak.

In the end, she could only conjure up a handful of words. They included “No,” but not “Yes.” And “Fuck.”

I met Tim Krekel once. Just once. So I’m placing a lot on him, as I think about the parallels and perpendiculars and particulars between him and my sister, and how they left.

My wife just looked across the room and asked “Are you still at it?” I’ve been working on this post for a couple of hours now.

I started with a jumble. I’ve touched on the things I wanted to think about. But I don’t know how I want to end here.

How to leave it. I guess that’s the question, isn’t it?

Hear a clip of "Casualties" plus a Buffett track Tim played on, and several clips of songs he co-wrote:

See The Tim Krekel Orchestra perform "Casualties" live and check him out on acoustic guitar, supporting Jimmy Buffett on Saturday Night Live, 1978.

Tim played guitar during one of the best, funniest, most personally memorable interviews I ever did, when I talked to Kami Lyle, in Louisville.

Buy "Soul Season".

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Joe Bonamassa “Further On Up The Road”

Here is the sound of a man peaking in life.

A former child guitar prodigy (he’s been making records since about age 14), the 32-year old had a career culminating point during the filming of a new concert DVD, when Eric Clapton joined him on stage to trade licks. “Further On Up The Road” is supposedly the first song Joe Bonamassa learned to play on guitar. And it’s the tune that Clapton played with The Band, during The Last Waltz.

At the end of the song (it does get cut off in the YouTube sample) you'll hear Joe’s genuine enthusiasm, that that moment was “the coolest thing I’ve ever done.”

See and hear the whole song, here

Buy the DVD “Live From The Royal Albert Hall” here.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Ramones "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue"

After last week's All Time Top 5 Songs Under 90 Seconds long, I thought I'd do a Hot Seat around that them. I did have to expand it to Songs Under Two Minutes Long, to make a solid hour of short songs. But it's still over 30 songs in under an hour.

You'll, of course, hear from the masters of the short song, The Ramones, among others.

If you don't catch the show live, you will be able to hear it in the archives at mvyradio.

And you can check out samples of songs featured on the show:

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Beatles “Her Majesty”

All Time Top Five Songs Under 90 Seconds . . .

Not to get all Manson Family on you, but should we read, too deeply, into this Beatles song?

The Beatles had tried, and failed, to film the recording of an album, from beginning to end. After acrimonious battles within the group, they shelved the “Let It Be” project.

Realizing that they were perhaps at the end of their partnership, they agreed to collaborate, as peacefully as possible, on one final album, “Abbey Road.”

Side Two of the Beatles final record seems to end with “The End,” which features Ringo’s only-ever-in-the-Beatles-catalog drum solo, and three short guitar solo leads, by Paul, John and George in succession.

And In The End, The Love You Take,
Is Equal To The Love You Make.

A fitting final lyric to the legacy of this monumental band.

So what to make of the fact that after “The End” and a breath of silence, Paul comes in, solo, singing, “Her Majesty”?

The song was supposed to be a part of the Side Two medley, but the band didn’t like how it fit into the whole, so it was snipped out. And its tacked-on appearance at the end of the album, was the result of an engineer, who did not want the performance to be lost.

But why did it Stay?

What does it say about The End of the Beatles? About Paul? Or his Ego? About the other Beatles? Or does that fact that I’m thinking about it some 40 years later, really say something about me?

How does this 23-second coda suddenly change the final word?

What do you think?

Hear "Her Majesty"

Hear the song and see some nice Beatles photos, here

Buy the album, here

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Pete Weiss “Robert Robbs”

All Time Top Five Songs Under 90 Seconds . . .

From time to time on Every Day I Write The Blog, I do a week’s worth of my five favorite songs on theme. For the All Time Top Five rules, see this previous post.

What’s the connection between super short songs, and real world, yet hilarious topics?

They Might Be Giants are the masters of this, with songs about toupees and brooms and James Polk, in two minutes or less.

The Ramones went down the same kind of path with tunes that seem pretty much straight out the mouths of the band members---not the result of some literary exercise. “Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment” is more of an exclamation, than a piece of poetry.

Can you imagine Van Morrison, or Ray Lamontagne, or Joni Mitchell (or insert your own legendarily serious artiste) writing a song about Hotel Detectives, Sniffing Glue or the man who actually delivers their mail?

Pete Weiss lives out in western Massachusetts, and seems to effortly toss off hilarious, memorable dittys, “ripped from the headlines” of his actual life.

Robert Robbs would deliver the mail to Pete Weiss’ door, every day, as Pete and his band were making the album “Pete Weiss And The Rock Band.” So Pete invited Robert in, to introduce this song, about Robert Robbs.

Hear "Robert Robbs" with Robert Robbs' intro.

Buy the "Pete Weiss And The Rock Band" here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Replacements “Customer”

All Time Top Five Songs Under 90 Seconds . . .

From time to time on Every Day I Write The Blog, I do a week’s worth of my five favorite songs on theme. For the All Time Top Five rules, see this previous post.

Oh, the horror of awkward adolescence.

I was looking at the lyrics to this song, and I had to just stop. I closed the browser. Because my mind kept going back to those painful teenage crush years, where you would literally do what Paul Westerberg is singing about---go into a store and ask random, unnecessary questions to the cute girl behind the counter, not realizing how much you stank of desperate infatuation.

Why did you think that asking “What's on sale?” was somehow going to lead to a date?

Thank heavens your teenage years only last a couple of decades . . .

See some classic Replacements footage here.

Buy the album, here

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Glen Hansard “Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy”

All Time Top Five Songs Under 90 Seconds . . .

From time to time on Every Day I Write The Blog, I do a week’s worth of my five favorite songs on theme. For the All Time Top Five rules, see this previous post.

The bulk of the songs from the “Once” movie soundtrack have a melancholy, an ache (as in “If You Want Me”). Or they have an explosive, but deadly serious passion (as in “Say It To Me Now”).

Buy while Glen Hansard’s character spends most of the movie dealing with unrequited love (of his ex-girlfriend, of new love interest Marketa Irglova), you can’t have a movie, or a soundtrack, about falling in love without a little levity.

So even though he revisits the unrequited theme on this little, seemingly-made-up-on-the-spot ditty, he does it in a charming, self-deprecating fashion. And it becomes entirely believable that Marketa Irglova’s character would be won over by him in all of 53 seconds.

See the Glen take this request, somewhat uncomfortably.

Buy “Strict Joy,” and if you haven’t see the movie “Once,” get it on DVD.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ryan Montbleau “16 Reasons”

All Time Top Five Songs Under 90 Seconds . . .

From time to time on Every Day I Write The Blog, I do a week’s worth of my five favorite songs on theme. For the All Time Top Five rules, see this previous post.

Ryan Montbleau inspired this week's theme, with a clever little ditty that clocks in at :39 seconds, from his new live album called “Stages Volume 2.”

The tune is probably a little too sophisticated for the kiddie set, but having watched a lot of Sesame Street in the past 2 years, I can tell you, that being this solidly clever is difficult, welcome, and shouldn’t be dismissed as a trifle, despite its size.

See Ryan sing the song live on some fan footage.

Buy ”Stages Volume 2”

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bob Dylan “Must Be Santa”

I try to enforce a rule with my family:

There will be no discussion of Christmas, until after Thanksgiving.

But fighting the ever-lengthening holiday season is like fighting the tide, and inevitably, someone breaks that rule.

So why not me? And why not for the best reason possible?

Please enjoy the most bizarre, insane, jaw-droppingly improbable music video one could never suspect has sprung from the mind of Bob Dylan.

I mean, it was already a test of my suspension of disbelief, to think that Dylan was doing a Christmas album.

I checked my pupils for flashback-related dilation, when I actually heard the record, where Bob has thrown himself, wheezy voice and all, into Mitch Miller sing-a-long trappings.

But we’ve entered full-on, Matrix-level, altered reality on this one.

See it. Just see it. And make sure you listen long enough to hear Bob name Santa’s reindeer.

If you want to see it slightly larger, click here.

Track through samples of the album, to hear that I am not exaggerating.

Then buy “Christmas In The Heart” because Dylan is donating all the proceeds to feed hungry families in the U.S. and abroad.

Then ask yourself, “If I can believe in what just happened, is the idea of Santa really that far-fetched?”

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Swell Season “Low Rising”

I got tickets months ago to see The Swell Season, and booked a babysitter long in advance so I could go to the Berklee Performance Center with my wife, on an actual date. We’d seen the movie “Once” featuring Swell Season principles, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, on one of the few dates we’d had she’d become pregnant, now over 2 years ago.

The best laid plans . . . my wife came down with a cold, and just could not rally to get to the show. My Mother-In-Law was willing to play babysitter to both my daughter AND my wife, so I was given the pass to go to the show anyway. But it was the day of the show, and finding a friend to accompany me proved to be impossible.

So I went by myself.

Sitting there in the low light of the venue, waiting for the show to begin, I wondered a bit about what the dynamic of the night might bring.

Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova had been a couple, but during the recording of their most recent record, “Strict Joy,” they broke up. They decided to keep the band together, finish the record, tour, and move forward. Hansard’s songs are typically about girls and breakups and sadness, and he’s pretty direct about his feelings. There was no doubt that there would be new songs, directly about their break-up.

What must that be like? To be sitting on stage as your ex- stands center-stage and sings about the intimate details of your personal life? And you have to literally play along?

How do you come to a functional truce, so you can continue to work together? Where you have stripped away one element of your relationship (romantic love) but tried to keep the friendship, the partnership, the working relationship, in tact?

Sitting there in the low light of the venue, waiting for the show to begin, I watched a young-ish, twenty-something couple 2 rows in front of me, and wondered where they were in their relationship.

I couldn’t see his face; he seemed to be looking straight ahead, almost motionless, but he must have been talking, because his date was looking at him and smiling. She was in profile from my vantage-point, and her smile rose and relaxed, rose and relaxed, but never disappeared. He must have been telling some kind of funny story, because she wasn’t saying much, but occasionally broke into laughter.

The look on her face wasn’t one of infatuation. And it didn’t have that nervous energy of someone on a date. It was more comfortable. Her body language, and her smile, were relaxed.

So they weren’t on a first, or fifth date. Something more established than that. And they weren’t like that couple in their fifties that had just wandered in. That couple had clearly been married for years and years. They didn’t speak, and they moved as one---he letting her into the aisle in gentlemanly fashion, she helping him with his jacket. But there was no smiling or joke-telling. Not even any talking. They weren’t even really conscious of each other. They just were.

Sitting there in the dark light of the venue, with an empty seat next to me, I watched the body language of Glen and Marketa. He took center stage. She sat at the piano, three-quarter-turned away from the audience. When they switched positions, he touched her, but it wasn’t a familiar, comfortable exchange. More business-like.

He introduced “Low Rising” as a song about sitting down with your partner, knowing things are hard, but that everything is going to be alright.

That, and the whole show really, made me very emotional. I missed my wife.

We’re partners and parents and friends. We love each other deeply. But we’re in a place where the chance for us to sit in the low light of a venue, telling funny stories, sharing a relaxed smile, doesn’t come up as often as we need it. Instead, our world need us. Our mortgage, our girl, our basement refinishing project, leaves in the yard---all those things strip away romantic-love-aspect of a relationship, or at least crowd it out.

I missed her so much, throughout that show, that I even got up in the middle and walked out to the lobby to check my messages, partly hoping that she needed me to come home.

But I stayed, and I’m glad I stayed. I needed to see that show, and feel those songs. To think not about the couple on the stage, but the couple in front of me. And rest my hand in the empty seat next to me, knowing that I still, consciously and deeply, wanted that seat to be filled by love, by romance, by my wife.

See the amazing music video for “Low Rising,” directed by Sam Beam of Iron & Wine.

See some fan footage of the first song of the Berklee show, which shows Glen and Marketa more intimate than they would be at any point in the show.

I don’t know if You Tube really captures it, but one of the emotional highlights of the evening, was Glen’s powerful, solo cover of Van Morrison’s “Astral Weeks.”

Buy “Strict Joy,” and if you haven’t see the movie “Once,” get it on DVD.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Reel Big Fish “Everything Sucks”

Hitting Random on the iTunes list . . .

This is the sound of 1996 calling. Ska. Silly. Ironic. Ironic. And Ironic.

I enjoyed the mid-90s ska revival like I enjoy barbecue chicken. A little sauce on the meat on a hot summer day tastes delicious.

But hearing this track today, was a little like swallowing a big ladle of barbecue sauce, without the context of the chicken.

In the 90s, when bands exciting young bands paved the path to pushing away the over-serious excesses of hair metal, U2 and classic rock, part of the groups charging forward used irony and sarcasm as their weapons against self-importance. And things became drenched in irony.

“Everything Sucks” wasn’t just a song, it felt like a mantra meant to take the piss out of what the musical movement was against, as well as the movement itself.

The only problem was that there WERE bands like Nirvana---who might have used a dash of irony---who didn’t feel like the punk-based-rock they were performing wasn’t weighted with a serious message.

I saw Reel Big Fish at a Warped Tour stop in Atlanta. They had to follow Social Distortion, lead by the glowering, bad-to-the-f’ing bone Mike Ness, who’s neck bulged with tattoos and lyrics brimmed with righteous anger. And then Reel Big Fish came out with Day-Go shorts and beach balls and songs about “Doin’ The Fish,” and somehow, somehow, they seemed pretty inconsequential.

Fun, but no more than a little bit of sauce on the meat of the era.

See the very 90's music video for this song, here

Buy the Reel Big Fish album, "Turn The Radio Off"

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Levon Helm "Tennessee Jed"

It's one of those unfortunate realities of the music business that sometimes it doesn't matter how good your record is, if you are not able to go out and promote it, people may not hear it.

Fats Domino was one of the most successful recording artists of his era, but doesn't enjoy the fame, renown or status as folks like Little Richard or Chuck Berry, in large part, because he really didn't like to leave New Orleans to tour. He even turned down offers to play at the Clinton White House, because, you know, he'd been there once in the 70s.

Levon Helm had to stop touring several years ago, to fight a battle with cancer. And miracle of miracles, not only did he recover, he was able to retain his voice AND he went on to record a new solo record, and then win a Grammy. And even though he was carrying an AARP card, he was a Road Dog again, out there playing shows on a regular basis.

The follow-up record, "Electric Dirt," seemed poised to push the Legend further, when he got sick again. Thankfully, it's not cancer. But the lesion on his vocal cord will prevent him from singing for the rest of 2009. He's still touring, playing the drums and letting others sing, but without his voice he's not able to promote the record the way I'm sure he, and his record label would like him to.

Which is too bad, because it's a great sounding disc, which includes a rousing cover of the Grateful Dead song "Tennessee Jed."

So don't forget about Levon, and look for him in 2010!

See Levon on Letterman, here

Buy the album, here

Monday, November 16, 2009

Led Zeppelin “Misty Mountain Hop”

Hitting Random on the iTunes list . . .

You may or may not be able to imagine that your friendly neighborhood, mild-mannered afternoon DJ, was a major Led Zeppelin fan back in the day.

Maybe it’s not unusual. Probably every teenage boy, since 1967, goes through a Zeppelin phase. But I was definitely obsessive.

I bought every record and every bootleg I could find (on cassette!). I read the books, watched the movie, used time in art class to re-create album covers, in pencil sketches.

In putting together our Yearbook (Newburyport High School, 1987), we were all given the option to put a quote under our picture. The smart kids picked poems, the clever kids used Monty Python, and the cool kids used song lyrics.

Yeah, I wasn’t a cool kid, but we all want to belong.

Twenty-plus years later, I have to laugh at myself. Here at mvyradio, I put up the Lyric Of The Day, at the top of the station’s webpage. In nearly a decade of doing this job, I’ve come across hundreds of brilliant, thoughtful, insightful song lyrics.

But in 1987, I was insistent on using a Led Zeppelin quote. Two decades later, I just can’t figure out what my reasoning was.

“So I’m packin’ my bags for a Misty Mountain.”

That would have been great, if my life’s goal was to climb Everest, or attend the University of Denver or something. But I went to UMass and moved on to Florida (widely renowned for it’s towering peaks, you know).

I look at that yearbook photo, and do what we all probably do when looking at our yearbook photo. I shake my head, laugh, and say “What the hell was that kid thinking?”

See the song performed live in 1979.

Buy "Led Zeppelin IV".

Friday, November 13, 2009

Jack Logan “New Used Car And A Plate Of Bar-B-Que”

Hitting Random on the iTunes list . . .

One of the parts of the job that seems like it would be easy, but causes much gnashing of teeth, is the process of naming something.

Back 5 or 6 years ago, we were tasked with naming the station’s 20th Anniversary Concert. We tracked through literally hundreds of names, trying to come up with the right name. While we DID end up going with a name, to me, it never felt right, and history seems to have forgotten it (though I have not forgotten MY best suggestion “mvyradio’s Jamie and Jon-athon, featuring Jamie Cullum and Jonatha Brooke”---I also remember that no one else was sold on my idea).

It’s easy to come up with a lousy name. But then you are stuck with it.

For all their creativity, do you think the best they could REALLY do was “Monsters Of Folk”?

Our guiding principle since then, has been to name things that clearly explain what it is. Sometimes it’s not glamorous or clever, but even a person who’s never listened to mvyradio probably knows what’s going to happen on The Blues At 8, Live Acoustic And Cover Tunes and The Morning Moviequote.

There is a bit of blunt clarity in a name that is not “Subterranean Homesick Blues” or “Also Sprach Zarathustra” or “Untitled.”

“New Used Car And A Plate Of Bar-B-Que” pretty much says what you’re going to get right in the title. Jack Logan is no slouch at songs, or song titles. This track is from his debut called “Bulk.” When he was discovered, his label asked him to send some of the songs he’d been writing, while working up to making a first record. He sent over 600. “Bulk” collects the first, best 44.

Great backstory. Great songwriter. Great title-maker.

Hear a clip of “New Used Car And A Plate Of Bar-B-Que” on iTunes

For no apparent reason, see Jack Logan on Space Ghost.

Buy the Jack Logan album used, for ONE PENNY!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Jay Farrar and Ben Gibbard “These Roads Don’t Move”

. . . and Son Volt “No Turning Back” and Death Cab For Cutie "Meet Me At The Equinox” . . .

There are many strange stories in the record promotion world, about artists competing against themselves. There is the famous story about John Fogerty being sued for plagiarizing a song, because it sounded too much like . . . John Fogerty.

And there can be strange conflicts for and between record labels, and the promotion folks who work to get radio stations to play the songs they’re promoting.

Johnatha Brooke and Davey Knowles recorded the duet “Taste Of Danger.” It appears on Jonatha’s album “The Works” and on “Coming Up For Air” by Davey’s band Back Door Slam. Representatives from each label were encouraging mvyradio to play “their” version of the song (it’s the same recording on both CDs).

Earlier this year, Pete Yorn recorded an album for his regular label, Epic, but also recorded a quickie album with Scarlett Johanssen for Rhino Records, who chose to put that CD out at the same time as the Epic Record. So promo folks were calling, asking if we were going to play the “right” Pete Yorn record.

And we’re in a similar situation right now. Son Volt has a new single out called “No Turning Back.” And Death Cab For Cutie has a song on the “New Moon” movie Soundtrack. And the lead singers of each band have collaborated on a new project called “On Fast Move Or I’m Gone.”

Is there any reason NOT to play two new songs by the same artist? No. We do it regularly. For instance, we’re playing several new tracks off Carly Simon’s latest release. But with a finite number of spaces on our playlist, we tend to do one new song at a time, even if it rankles the Record Company Promotion people.

So we went for the strongest, most interesting song. “These Roads Don’t Move” by Jay Farrar and Ben Gibbard has found its way into rotation on mvyradio.

What about the other two. Good song, both. But are they essential?

Hear samples of each:

Get a free MP3 of “These Roads Don’t Move”

Buy the Farrar/Gibbard album “One Fast Move Or I'm Gone Music From Kerouac's Big Sur” which includes a DVD of the Jack Kerouac documentary that spurred the musical collaboration, the Son Volt CD “American Central Dust” and the “New Moon” movie soundtrack featuring the DCFC song.

See the Farrar and Gibbard perform "These Roads Don't Move" live, see the movie trailer for "One Fast Move Or I'm Gone," see Son Volt perform "No Turning Back" Live and see the official music video for "Meet Me On The Equinox."

See this previous post, for details on how a song gets into rotation on mvyradio, then let me know what you think.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Stephen Stills “Treetop Flyer”

Radio stations always play songs for Christmas and Halloween, but (perhaps in keeping with an all-too-pervasive social attitude) Veterans and Veterans Day can be forgotten.

Of course, songs about Veterans are not as cheery as “Holly Jolly Christmas” or “The Monster Mash.” And it’s not like people are looking for tunes to play while decorating their home for Veterans Day.

But there are a lot of great songs for and about veterans, so let me point you to a couple, in case you wanted to put together a playlist. Maybe even make a compilation for your favorite Vet as a way to say Thanks.

One of the most requested Library (i.e. not new) songs we have at mvyradio, is Stephen Stills “Treetop Flyer,” about a Vietnam Pilot, who still flies dangerous missions, with the skills picked up at war.

Perhaps the best, angriest, starkest Veterans song, was originally recorded as an upbeat, kick-ass anthem, which obscured the despair of the narrator. Bruce Springsteen's "Born In The U.S.A." probably SHOULD have been part of his "Nebraska" album, alongside the story of another veteran, the errant brother in "Highway Patrolman." (Check out a neat graphic essay on the Legacy of "Born In The U.S.A" and listen to the clips below for a live version of the song, who's tone matches the lyrics)

You can click through the player below, for more songs about Veterans and Soldiers. Listen to these songs, and their lyrics, and maybe have a moment of thoughtful reflection today.

See Stephen Stills do "Treetop Flyer" with Neil Young, see Bruce do his tune with bombast and angst.

The original version of "Treetop Flyer" is out of print, but you can get it here if you're feeling flush. If not, you can buy a newly released live version.