Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bran Van 3000 "Drinking In L.A."

Here's another Weekend Post:

I can't freakin' stand the "Autocomplete" feature on Google. It drives me ba-nonckers that it will actually change something I'm typing, because it thinks it has a better idea of what I'm trying to say than I do.

But I will give Google credit for reminding me of this band and song---a 90s nugget pitched halfway between Beck's work and Moby's work of that era---when I tried to search for "Brand Name Electronics."

See the video on Youtube.

Weekend posts are a chance to revisit songs that have happy memories, not of anything in particular, other than just hearing the tunes.

Many of these songs were tracks that I played during my 90s stint as an Alternative/Modern Rock radio show. They're tunes that I hardly hear these days, but are wonderful to revisit.

Click on the "Weekend Posts" label below, to see other posts like this.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Ryan Adams "Answering Bell"

I had heard stories about Adam Duritz of Counting Crows taking refuge from fame by continuing to work as a bartender. And while I believed it, it was certainly still strange to see him right in front of me serving a drink.

It was especially strange, since he wasn't serving a drink at a bar, he was serving it on-stage.

He simply delivered a drink to Ryan Adams, and quickly exited the stage.

This was at Ryan Adams' show at the Paradise in Boston, October 2001, just after his "Gold" album came out. Adam Duritz had been a guest on the record, but the audience was surprised and delighted to see Duritz emerge from the wings just 3 songs into the show to recreate his back-up part of "Answering Bell."

I thought that maybe he'd stick around and be part of the fun---athletes don't want to sit on the bench---but after that song, he waved to the crowd and slipped backstage.

I wasn't surprised to see him come back on stage 20 minutes later, but I assumed it was to sing.

Nope. He just brought Mr. Adams a cocktail.

When he came out again, I thought, "Surely he'll sing this time."

Nope. Just delivering another drink. If you didn't know it was Adam Duritz, you wouldn't have even noticed him. He was just a roadie, unobtrusively slipping in and slipping out.

He did come out and sing one more time, when Adams covered "Rocketman," but that was it.

At the time, Duritz was a much bigger star than Adams. I thought it was a real display of restraint and humility, for him to behave more like a roadie who got to sing a little back up. Much respect for that.

See the video on Youtube.

I found a bootleg of this whole show. Wow!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Baseball Project "Buckner's Bolero"

As improbable as the first album from The Baseball Project was, a second batch of songs seemed as likely as a game with 2 triple-plays.

But Volume 2 is here, and there are a couple of tracks of special interest to Red Sox fans, including one about Tony Conigliaro.

However, the neat feat of the bunch, is a song about Bill Buckner.

Lazy Sox fans blame the loss of the 1986 World Series on that ball the rolled through Buckner's legs.

But anyone who knows anything about baseball---or life, for that matter---knows it's a game of many, many intersecting decisions and paths. And today's result is not due to the last thing that happened, but due to the hundreds of choices and accidents that lead up to the moment.

Improbably, all of the inopportunities and bad breaks and poor decisions leading up to Buckner's replay-ready moment, are documented in this song.

Really? A song that puts Calvin Schiraldi in context? That takes Jim Rice to task for not legging out an extra base here or there? Or that remembers that former Met Tom Seaver was supposed to pitch Game One of the series for the Sox, but injured his knee?

You'd expect to hear this on some nostaglia Sports Yappers program, but not in a song.

A song that also reminds us of Buckner's many talents and achievements, as a rock solid, tough-as-nails career player.

Good on you, The Baseball Project.

Here's to a "Volume 3", as I'm looking forward to a song about the life lessons that can be gleaned from Grady Little's decision to pitch Pedro in the 8th inning of the 2003 ALCS.

See the video on Youtube.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Melissa Etheridge "Lover Please"

It's kind of hard to image now, but it really wasn't that long ago, that it was pretty rare to be a radio station that streamed live on the web.

mvyradio was among the first stations in the country to embrace the concept, and on the one hand, we have been better for being early adopters, because we had a jump other stations, and were quick to grow our online audience.

The downside of being a trailblazer, is that there is no trail . . .

We literally had to invent a set up to do the things we needed to do, to properly get our station online.

One hurdle we had to leap, was the blocking out of commercials.

When radio stations started sending their signal over the web, to a larger audience, the Unions who do voiceover work threw up alarms. Because the voiceover folks who do commercials get paid based on how widely their recordings are being distributed, if mvyradio was webcasting the spots, the talent wanted to be paid extra.

And there was no F-N way we were going to pay extra, to air commercials!

So our engineer came up with a system. When a commercial break started to play on the broadcast, it set off a tone. That tone fire up a computer down the line, that played filler music over our web feed, blocking out the commercials. When the last commercial ended, another tone played, and that stopped the filler music, and returned the web feed to regular programming.

Or, at least, that was how is was supposed to work.

Being a trailblazer, means cutting away as brush and debris, before moving forward. Lots of trial and error.

The distraught emails and phone calls started coming in.

"What are you doing?" "Why!?!?!" "Please stop." "What's up with the Melissa Etheridge?"

Well that last one was specific enough . . .

Further investigation revealed that the tone to start a filler song was working, but the tone to stop the filler music was not.

Not only that, but there was only one song in the filler music rotation. Melissa Etheridge's "Lover Please."

So when a commercial break started on the air, "Lover Please" started on the web. But when the commercial break was over, the one song didn't stop---it just started over.

And over. And over. And over.

Apparently, "Lover Please" played repeatedly for a good hour, before we figured out what was happening and how to stop it.

People thought we were torturing them on purpose.


See the video on Youtube.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dropkick Murphys "Peg O My Heart"

When a band cites Bruce Springsteen as an influence, it's most likely a songwriting thing--either lyrical or instrumental.

There are those artists who want to write like Bruce Springsteen. Epic street fables or working-class paeans. And that's a great height to aspire to.

And there are those artists who want to sound like Bruce Springsteen. Wide palettes. Pianos and saxophone and accordions, with multi-part movements. Part Phil Spector, part Motown, part Rock N Roll straight from its stem-cells.

But I appreciate it when artists who don't necessarily aspire to sound like Bruce in their writing or their instrumentation, aspire to Bruce's most appealing quality: his passion.

There isn't much about the general style/genre/sound of The Dropkick Murphy's Irish Punk that makes you think they'd been listening to "Born To Run" while making, say, "Shipping Up To Boston."

But it's the delivery of that tune that allows you to draw a straight line between their hark-back hardcore, and Springsteen.

So ultimately, it's surprisingly fitting when Springsteen adds his voice to the new song "Peg O My Heart."

His voice, his spirit, his passion---they were already there.

See the video on Youtube.

See the video on Youtube.

See the video on Youtube.

Monday, April 25, 2011

John Lennon "Jealous Guy"

It was 1 in the morning. I was holding the phone a good foot-and-a-half from my face. I could still hear her screaming. Even though we were a good 20 miles apart, my "flight" instinct was kicking in.

We'd gone out once, maybe twice, and she seemed nice enough. This was when I was in my early 20s. In the days when "liking the same music" seemed like a perfectly reasonable foundation to balance a new relationship on.

I remember that one of the first times we spoke, she made a point to note that her favorite songs were never the singles off a record. She didn't like Phish's "Down With Disease" as much as she liked "Wolfman's Brother," off the recently-released "Hoist." And she preferred "Jealous Guy" to "Imagine."

That encompasses the depth of the relationship, up to the point I found myself on the receiving end of a screaming telephone call.

I had just gotten home from work, wrapping up my night shift at the radio station, when the phone rang. Pretty late for a call to my quiet apartment. I hoped no one was dead.

When I realized it was her, I immediately felt this bit of hesitation. Even if you know the person is just getting off work, do you call someone you hardly know, at 1am? I knew that it was something I wouldn't do, and so I felt a little uneasy, right from the get-go.

She suggested I come join her. She'd been hanging out with a few friends, and wanted me to come over.

She was slurring her words.

"No thanks. Not tonight. I just got home from a long day and I'm---"

And that's when she launched into a tirade. First, she was just hot, but she cranked up to a scream pretty quickly. A obscenity-laden stream of consciousness about how I must be some kind of jerk to turn down an invitation to come over and that I was probably lying about being tired and I must be some kind of jerk to turn down an invitation to come over and I must lying about being tired, etc, etc.

At some point, I just kind of interrupted her and said, "I gotta go," and hung up.

I won't say that I had high standards in those years, but I wasn't going to endure someone's bat-shit-drunken-craziness either.

She called the next morning and apologized. I thanked her. She asked if I wanted to get together. I told her I'd pass on that, and that I'd just see her around.

A few days later, I got a note and a cassette tape. The note was a brief and sincere apology. And the tape was a mix of songs we'd talked about, and other favorites of hers. I listened to the tape and enjoyed it. A few days later, I bumped into her. She was contrite, and asked if I wanted to get together. I told her No Thanks.

She looked at me, part wounded, part disbelieving.

"I don't make mixed tapes for just anyone," she said quietly.

It was weird. We both liked "Jealous Guy."

But she couldn't understand how an apology and a mixed tape didn't set things right. And I didn't understand how it possibly ever could.

See the video on Youtube.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Ryan Montbleau "Eggs"

An Egg song for Easter!

I saw Ryan at The Narrows back in March, and at one point he asked the audience to choose the next song, and this fan favorite won the shouting match.

Happy Easter!

Easter, eggs and Ryan Montbleau---they're for the kids!

See the video on Youtube.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Jim Bianco "Sinners"

In yesterday's post about only tangentially-related-to-Easter songs, I didn't really go down the religious route. But I could have found more than a few cross songs (Prince's "The Cross," Scott Miller's "Is There Room On The Cross For Me?").

Earlier this week Jesse Barnett pointed me to this tune, and sure, on the day between the Crucifixion and The Resurrection, why not play a song about sinners and (maybe) forgiveness.

Thanks Barnett and Bianco!

See the video on Youtube.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Beastie Boys "Eggman"

What with Easter coming around again this weekend, I am pulling out the old playlist of only-tangentially-related-to-Easter songs.

I mean, Christmas has a pile of songs related to it. But (as years of church going in my youth taught me) Easter is a much more important holiday. Why are there no related contemporary songs?

That leaves the work to songs that really have nothing to do with Easter . . .

So you play Echo And The Bunnymen. Bunny Wailer. Eddie Rabbit. Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers. Or songs from Patti Smith's record "Easter," for a stretch.

And you can pull out all those candy songs you played on Halloween, like "I Want Candy," "Candy Everybody Wants," Iggy Pop's "Candy," Elvis Costello's "So Like Candy."

Did the Easter Bunny bring you Twizzlers? Add in Aimee Mann's "Red Vines."

You can scrape out a few lyrical connections, like the Sheryl Crow song that says "He's got a daughter he calls 'Easter,' she was born on a Tuesday Night." Or play The Black Crowes "Good Friday" and Tori Amos' "Crucify."

And then there are the Egg songs. Because nothing says Easter like eggs!

It's a good excuse to pull out my favorite record of all-time, "Paul's Boutique" and play "Eggman." And there's "Einstein On The Beach For An Eggman." Ryan Montbleau's "Eggs." And "I Am The Walrus."

Goo goo g'joob!

Being a DJ is fun. And silly. And seasonal!

Happy Easter to you!

See this video on Youtube.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tedeschi Trucks Band "Bound For Glory"

Nothing can screw up the best laid plans for an artist . . . like an artist.

Here's how the process works for a Major Label Artist:

An artist records an album and turns it in to their record label. While the artist takes a breather, maybe plans a summer tour, the label folks gear up.

A marketing plan is crafted. Interviews with major magazines are booked. Copies of the new album are sent to taste-makers and reviewers. And the folks who'll be promoting the record to radio, listen to the album and choose a single.

The radio folks have promotional singles printed up and shipped to stations. Ads are taken out in the trades. Phone calls are made to Program Directors ("Be on the lookout for that new single!"). Videos shot for that song. An "Add Date" picked as a target date that will be suggested to the stations to put the song into rotation.

The date is marked on the calendar, and the radio folks work with an eye toward that date. And then . . .

The artist posts a free MP3 of a completely different song.


I have sympathy for the folks who were preparing to make the new Tedeschi Trucks Band CD a strong selling and widely listened-to record. They had a single all picked out and were preparing to release it at the end of April. But the band---clearly excited about the record---wanted to share with the fans. So they made an MP3 of the song "Bound For Glory"---not the single---available to folks who signed up for their newsletter.

You know who's a fan of The Tedeschi Trucks Band? Just about every Program Director in our music format.

So, despite the best laid plans of mice and major labels, radio stations started downloading and adding a song the label wasn't prepare to promote.

It's not the worst problem to have---radio stations playing your song without you asking---but now gears have to be shifted, if you want everybody on the same page.

Next label marketing meeting? Awkward!

See the video on Youtube.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lisa Lisa "All Cried Out"

We were slow dancing. She was singing along to Lisa Lisa's "All Cried Out." She was smiling. Her hair was perhaps the hugest 'do at the Prom. It was totally 80s.

Let me see if I can describe her outfit.

Black stockings. Some kind of black tutu frilly thing, with a studded belt twice wrapped around her. She had some kind of black undershirt on, but over that was a ripped up black t-shirt, off the shoulder a la Flashdance. Jean jacket with the sleeves rolled up. Covering each forearm---what must have been hundreds of bracelets. And on each hand, a pink lace glove.

Eyeliner. Eyeliner. Eyeliner.

And her hair. Huge. The top pulled into a ponytail on the top of her head. All of it crimped for the evening. It smelled of hairspray. A pink feather earring.

In short, she looked like a young Madonna.

I, on the other hand, was desperately trying for a punky coolness, with my Miami Vice jacket, with the Clash t-shirt underneath, hair spiked straight up. And sunglasses. At night.

"All Cried Out" by Lisa Lisa blasted over the P.A. and she sang the ballad at the top of her lungs as we slow danced the night away.

And now, whenever I hear "All Cried Out" it takes me back to that night . . . five days ago.

Yes, last Friday, my wife and I re-lived our youth, at the "Awesome 80s Prom" hosted by WXLO in Worcester.

I can't tell you the last time I saw her that happy. Just the getting-ready process made her giddy. She and her friend Nikki had an absolute blast trying on various outfits and hairstyles and make-up scenarios, acting like teenagers again. Going to the event was just icing on the cake.

And good Lord, what a scene. We were not the only ones excited about going back to the future. Sixteen hundred folks dressed from Prom 1985. And a handful of folks in amazing costume: Beetlejuice, Marty McFly, Pac-Man, Tom-Cruise-in-Top-Gun-dress-whites.

Music cranking, with videos on big screens of all the hits of the 80s. And when I say my wife was singing along to Lisa Lisa, I mean the real thing. They had Lisa Lisa on stage, running through her hits. She sounded good.

I can't say that I have really ever spent any time wishing I could do my teenage years all over again. But it's cool to now have prom pictures in a Clash t-shirt, instead of that white tux I wore in 1986.

See the video on Youtube.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Emmylou Harris "The Road"

I got to interview Emmylou Harris once, by phone.

Being an interviewer gives you license to ask questions. It even gives you license to ask questions that you wouldn't ask a total stranger under any other circumstances.

In short, you can ask personal questions---up to a point---without seeming . . . unusual.

Musicians (and actors) have been asked probing questions thousands of times before, and if your question crosses a line, most know how to simply deflect it if it's something they don't want to answer.

Knowing this as an interviewer, I'm aware of the kind of question a particular interviewee has been ask before, and I usually try to avoid asking it if I know they're not going to answer.

Talking to Emmylou . . . I really wanted to ask probing questions about her relationship with Gram Parsons. But geez, Gram died nearly 40 years ago, so if she were going to talk about it in detail, she would have done it somewhere else already.

I mean, she'll talk about him. I asked her an open-ended question about him, to see where she'd take it.

I'm my interview fantasy world, I'd ask her to talk about what her relationship with Gram Parsons was like, and she'd refuse to answer, and instead tell me that everything she has to say, is in the song, "The Road."

And really, telling you everything you want to know through their art, is how pretty much every musician (and actor) would prefer to answer all questions . . .

See the video on Youtube.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Passengers "Miss Sarajevo"

I’ve had this argument with perhaps every DJ I’ve ever managed . . .

Inevitably, they get the itch to play something that goes beyond the bounds of normal station programming. Every DJ has done it (including me).

The station---whatever station you are talking about---has a defined sound, defined boundaries. But people---DJs---have tastes outside of the station’s parameters. What could it hurt to slip a little something in?

And this is the argument we have.

I say to the DJ, “Hey, that’s not really something mvyradio would play.” And the DJ counters with, “It’s just one song, what's the big deal? . . .”

And yeah, it IS just one song. And, yeah, on some level it's not a big deal. But sometimes one song is all it takes.

I used to bump into this guy, a UPS driver on the Island, who wasn’t a listener. But because we’d talked a few times, and he was a (classic rock) music fan, he was interested in checking out the station.

I had told him that, yeah, we play a lot of classic rock artists like The Allman Brothers and The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, and that we mixed in contemporary artists who were compatible.

“I’ll check it out,” he promised me.

The next time I saw him, he gave me this perplexed, frowny face.

“I tuned in yesterday, around 1 o’clock, and I heard some opera shit. I could only take about 30 seconds of it. Is that what you guys play?”

I tried to explain to him that it was just this U2 and friends track, and that we didn't play opera as a rule, and I told him to try back again another day, and he said he would . . . but I could tell by the look on his face that he wasn't coming back, that I'd lost him.

I'd lost him in the same way people/places/shows have lost me.

Like that restaurant that everyone says is good, but when I ate there I had a lousy experience. Or that show that's popular, but the one time I watched it, I thought it was dumb.

With life full of choices and options, yeah, one underwhelming experience can mean the customer is never coming back. Or in a less-worst-case scenario, has hit the button to change the channel.

And in the story I'm telling, this is a song that we normally play. Imagine his reaction if we were really stretching boundaries.

Anyway, this is a beautiful song, and is a great chance to hear Pavarotti's voice on a rock radio station.

See the video on Youtube.

And here's a Luciano-less version, with Bono doing great justice to the Pavarotti part.

See the video on Youtube.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Jon Astley "Jane's Getting Serious"

Here's another Weekend Post:

Here's an 80s hit that I remember being ubiquitous back in the day, but never hear anymore.

And as an added bonus, the song used in a commercial, starring a pre-Friends Matt LeBlanc!

See the video on Youtube.

See the video on Youtube.

Weekend posts are a chance to revisit songs that have happy memories, not of anything in particular, other than just hearing the tunes.

Click on the "Weekend Posts" label below, to see other posts like this.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Peter Wolf "Lights Out"

Here's another Weekend Post:

We were reading bedtime stories to our 3-year-old last night, and after the last one, my wife started singing this. Which was so weird and surprising and fun because she doesn't have this reservoir of lost hits rattling around in her brain like her husband.

She reserves that space for things like, you know, our checking account balance and stuff.

See the video on Youtube.

Click on the "Weekend Posts" label below, to see other posts like this.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Lori McKenna "I Know You"

I did this interview with author Sandra Boynton, who writes and illustrates children's books, and I asked her if her family and friends ever had this moment of discovery where they looked at one of her characters and said:

"Hey, I think that cow is me?!?"

She laughed, and pointed out that her renderings were generally benign, so folks in her life didn't mind if they were portrayed as a Pig or a Goose or a Chicken.

It must be a little harder, and weirder, if you're a songwriter and your lyrics aren't benign.

If you write incisive or sad or angry lyrics, that you record and put out to the world, are your family and friends wondering if those cutting remarks are about themselves? It must be especially true if you use a little of your real life as a starting point.

You know, you start a song about a break-up, using a line from a recent argument you had with your spouse. But because you are a storyteller, the characters in the song take the argument to deeper, more hurtful places and the story ends with the characters splitting.

Does your spouse then worry that your little spat about cleaning the coffeemaker has really led you to consider divorce?

Hopefully, your spouse understands your creative process. But how about your mother-in-law?

Since being in the room for this interview*, I have always wished I could've been a fly on the wall, the first time Lori McKenna's husband's Mom heard this tune.

Lori describes "I Know You" as a list of bragging rights she has about her husband, as she reels off all of the little details that have accumulated through years of marriage. And no doubt, many, if not all of the details are about her real life husband. Then the song makes mention of the husband's mother and her wooden spoon and her tattoo.

I get the hugest kick hearing Lori crack up at the end of the song---which was pretty new at the time of the interview---realizing that her mother-in-law would probably hear this song and blanch at the way she was portrayed.

Awkward next family get together!

See the video on Youtube.

* She introduces the song around the 15:45 minute mark.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Beastie Boys "Make Some Noise"

If a new R.E.M. track throws me back to when love was young, a new Beastie Boys track has the magical ability to make me feel like a teenager.

I remember the effect that first Beasties record had on me, clearly. And this new track taps into this very primal, very youthful, very joyous place in my psyche, in a way that no other current artist (who was making records in the 80s) is able to do.

The song isn't nostalgic in-and-of-itself. It's not a throw-back. It simply possesses something in its DNA, identical to the Beastie Boys songs of a generation ago.

I'm not sure anybody who wasn't 17 in 1986 would say this, but "Make Some Noise" feels timeless . . .

See the video on Youtube.

And check out this amazing preview of a 30 minute movie featuring Seth Rogen, Elijah Wood and Danny McBride as The Beastie Boys of the Past, and Jack Black, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly as The Beastie Boys of the Future!!!
See the video on Youtube.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Carly Simon "Halfway Around The World"

This is a little tune I hum to myself, whenever I'm grinding through a long task but I'm making progress and suddenly, there is more behind me than in front of me.

I started this blogging venture nearly two years ago at the behest of my boss, who had suggested that some of the mvyradio DJs should be blogging as a way to offer listeners more music-related information and entertainment.

I was pretty resistant to the idea, knowing that blogs are like diets and New Year's resolutions---people start them and they don't last. And I also knew that blogs are only successful if you post frequently---once a week would never build a following.

Call it good luck or stupidity . . . I ran through a bunch of names for the blog, based on some favorite song titles. You came very close to reading something called "Real Live Bleeding Blog" (after a Lucinda Williams song about Paul Westerberg).

Every Day I Write The Blog.

And, well, settling on a name like that, is a challenge to live up to.

I started slowly, to see if I could get into the swing of writing regularly. Three days a week. When I got comfortable with that, I bumped it up to 4, then 5.

By January 2010, I was actually writing a post every day. And I've been able to maintain that groove for the last year, plus.

It's been extremely rewarding.

I mean, I hope people are enjoying it. I certainly do write for an audience, I write to be read.

But let's face it, blogs are an indulgent art form. But that's the rewarding part.

I've had fun revisiting old songs and old times and old girlfriends and old memories, while throwing in new thoughts about new songs that provide new twists to my job as a Music Director.

And I've been rewarded with discipline. Demanding of myself that I write a post per day has been a challenge that I've been happy to rise to. It's made my writing better, and it's been an asset to my time management and my creativity.

All good things.

While part of me feels like I could go on and on and on . . . well, that's not realistic.

This blog is largely about memories, and the supply and demand was never going to be in synch. I'm writing about more memories than I'm creating. I mean, I can't have a memorable life experience with a song to remind me of it, every day (now THAT would be a project).

So somewhere along the line, I picked 1000 entries as my goal.

I still have tons of stories I haven't put down, and lots of ideas to come, so 1000 seems like a good number.

That'll take me to around August 2012.

Maybe I'll write beyond that. But at the very least, I want to write up to that number.

Thanks for checking in with this blog, thanks for your feedback and thanks for passing the link on to friends.

I hope my stories have made you laugh or think or conjure up memories of your own.

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Nirvana "Heart Shaped Box"

It was some kind of amazing teenage Rock N Roll fantasy come true. I was on the radio.

Better yet, after only a couple of weeks on the air, I was getting my own specialty program, and it started tonight! It was April 8th, 1994.

I'd been hired to work at a small, independent radio station near the Virginia/Tennessee border, as a part-time evening DJ. They needed someone to cover their nightly 2-hour call-in request program. But in the interview, I pitched the idea of having an Alternative specialty show.

It's kind of hard to imagine this, but in 1994 much of the country still didn't have radio stations for Modern Rock. Classic rock station were playing Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, but as "Alternative" got punkier and/or weirder, there wasn't a place for it on the radio dial yet.

And in Southwest Virginia, there was nowhere on the radio to hear Beck or Smashing Pumpkins or this up-and-coming little band called Green Day. But that was about to chance.

I was positively giddy at the notion that I'd be sharing this great music with an audience that (I believed, anyway) hungered for it. So I spent the week preparing and refining the playlist for my first program, Friday, April 8th.

Unfortunately, the pickings were pretty slim at the station. WABN was a Top 40 station, so the CD selection for Alternative tracks was limited. I used a ton of my own CDs, but there were still gaping holes between what we had, and what we needed.

Still, I had crafted a playlist for an amazing tour-de-force of a debut program, and bounded into the station Friday evening, ready to set the world on fire.

Rita, one of the station owners, stopped me dead in my tracks.

"PJ, Kurt Cobain is dead. I'm sorry."

She said "I'm sorry" with a seriousness that made it feel like I had known Cobain personally. That this loss was real and profound and near.

The wind was definitely taken out of my sails.

Instead of hitting the airwaves like a gleeful pirate, spreading musical anarchy to southwest Virginia, I now had the unpleasant duty of being the guy who came on the radio and told you about a terrible human tragedy.

Worse, we only had one Nirvana song in the building: "Heart Shaped Box." It had crossed over to Top 40, so the station owned a copy of that, and nothing else.

In the ensuing years, I would do a Cobain tribute on April 8th, and play songs from throughout the band's career: "Lithium," "About A Girl," "Sliver."

And I would play that one song that I had played (and replayed) on that sad day in 1994, that represented a small and feeble gesture in the face of incomprehensible sadness.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Hanson "Mmm Bop"

I spent 6 years in radio---my first 6 years in radio---at a station that played Top 40.

And yes, a lot of what hits the Top 40 is inane drivel. Pap. Garbage.

Silly Pop songs that don't have the gravitas of a Fluffernutter sandwich.

But not "Mmm Bop."

Sure, when I first heard this song, I was ready to dismiss it. The chorus is ridiculously catchy, yet requires no knowledge of a spoken language. I saw that it was performed by young boys so precocious they practically qualified as Muppets. And the Request Line phone calls from hyperventilating teenage girls . . . Oy!

But then I heard an interview with one of the Muppets who explained that an "Mmm Bop" was a split-second. That in the larger picture, our time on Earth is nothing but a blip, and then it's gone. Gone in an Mmm Bop.

That's right, Ladies and Gentlemen, "Mmm Bop" is about death.

"Mmm Bop" is about the temporal nature of our corporal being. It asks the existential question of "Who will still care?" when you look up one day and you have become old and irrelevant.

So next time you hear this song and you start to mock it as a sugary trifle, know that the song, and the universe, are paying your disdain no mind, as you will be gone and forgotten in an Mmm Bop.

Hanson, introduced by Kelsey Grammer. How 1998!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

R.E.M. "Let Me In"

Here's another Weekend Post:

I didn't have a chance to write about the anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death this week, but I'll do a longer post on Monday. This weekend I'm just posting a couple of "lost in the 90s" Cobain tributes.

This one was buried deep into R.E.M.'s "Monster" record. As usual, it's pretty hard to decipher what Michael Stipe is talking about, but you have to appreciate that this is a tribute done by someone who truly was a friend of Kurt's, who knew him and cared about him.

Weekend posts are a chance to revisit songs that have happy memories, not of anything in particular, other than just hearing the tunes.

Many of these songs were tracks that I played during my 90s stint as an Alternative/Modern Rock radio show. They're tunes that I hardly hear these days, but are wonderful to revisit.

Click on the "Weekend Posts" label below, to see other posts like this.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

For Squirrels "Mighty K.C."

Here's another Weekend Post:

I didn't have a chance to write about the anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death this week, but I'll do a longer post on Monday. This weekend I'm just posting a couple of "lost in the 90s" Cobain tributes, including this one from a band that had it's own tragic story.

Weekend posts are a chance to revisit songs that have happy memories, not of anything in particular, other than just hearing the tunes.

Many of these songs were tracks that I played during my 90s stint as an Alternative/Modern Rock radio show. They're tunes that I hardly hear these days, but are wonderful to revisit.

Click on the "Weekend Posts" label below, to see other posts like this.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Bill Conti "Gonna Fly Now"

This week's guest blogger, Tanya Primo-Jones, is writing about songs that exemplify what she calls The Primo Spirit.

Did I mention that I was a country music junky? It’s true. I’m kinda surprised a country song didn’t make the cut. I have plenty of songs from Sugarland, Kenny Chesney, Zac Brown Band, and Kid Rock (his newer stuff) that motivates me to live a fun, care free life, to seize the moment and make the most of what I’ve been given, but maybe country music is too laid back to make THIS list. I guess I personally equate those things to more of a Zen thing than really winning and achieving personal greatness.

“And now, the end is here and so I face the final curtain...”

I’ve had so much fun as the guest blogger this week I can’t believe it’s already Friday and we are on our last song!!

This is the ultimate “winner” song. When you hear it you don’t want to waste time, you just want to get up and go, you want to live life to the fullest, you want to be the ultimate champion!

I have awesome memories of this song. When I was a kid we went skiing most weekends with our cousins and friends and my Dad would crank this song on the record player (haha…yes, record player) at the crack of dawn to get a house full of people awake, out of bed and onto the slopes. It worked every time! And we were all pumped up to get moving!

You’re dying to know, right?

Here’s a hint...

Put your sneakers on, you’ll wanna go for a run
With a hook like that you don’t need a gun
Didn’t take him long to find his Primo Spirit
“To my wife at home, yo Adrian….I Did It!”

You got it…The Theme song to ROCKY. "Flying High Now" by Bill Conti.

“Trying hard now, it’s so hard now, trying hard now. Getting strong now, won’t be long now, getting strong now, Gonna fly now.”

This video saved my life…thx! -- Comment on Youtube

Hey Rocky, never Lose Yourself man! You’re a fighter and a survivor! You’ll win some and you lose some ‘cause, That’s Life! I know you’ll never say never because you have a Heart of a Champion...You’re a winner! You must be Flying High Now!

TODAY: Find your inner strength, embrace your challenges, work hard, persevere and BELIEVE!

Find out more about Tanya Primo-Jones and the Primo Spirit at Find Your Primo and In Search Of Primo.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Eminem "Lose Yourself"

This week's guest blogger, Tanya Primo-Jones, is writing about songs that exemplify what she calls The Primo Spirit.

LOL...I know your laughing too at the extremes I’ve chosen. I warned you that despite the genre, the era, the target market, these artists are on the same mission with these particular’s all in the searching and in the finding of their inner Primo.

I gave a speech recently and I stated that motivation and inspiration has been around since the beginning of time. I went on to say how awesome I thought it was that we can take practically the same words, rearrange them, set them to our own tone, speak them in our voice, and back them with our own stories and continue to motivate and inspire others over and over and over again. Frank, Nelly, Justin, Eminem they are all saying the same thing..more or’s a beautiful thing!

Eminem asks you this...
Look, If you had one shot, or one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted -One moment, would you capture it? Or just let it slip- yo
He goes on to say-
You better lose yourself in the music, the moment, you own it , you better never let it go, you only get one shot…do not miss your chance to blow.
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo
Success is my only option
Failure’s not
So here I go with my shot
Feet fail me not
This may be the only opportunity that I got
You can do anything you set your mind to, man

So Poetic………Music to Primo’s ears!

Primo says “jump in with 2 feet, face things head on, persevere and defeat those things that challenge you! If he believes it, he will achieve it!”
*What were you determined to achieve and did ?
*Have you had a shot at something and missed it because of excuses, fear or self doubt?
*What is your greatest excuse for not achieving a huge goal or dream?
TODAY: Know that you can do anything you set your mind to –

Find out more about Tanya Primo-Jones and the Primo Spirit at Find Your Primo and In Search Of Primo.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Justin Bieber "Never Say Never"

This week's guest blogger, Tanya Primo-Jones, is writing about songs that exemplify what she calls The Primo Spirit.

I know you’re going to laugh when I give you today’s song but bear with me. This next artist is the cutest little thing to walk (or should I say dance) the stage since...I don’t know when. Someday I’m going to marry him...haha, me and about a gagillion other screaming 9-12 year old girls: Justin Beiber. I admit I didn’t give the Beib much attention until I was forced to see his movie. The movie tickets I pre-purchased were about to expire and his movie “Never Say Never” was the only thing playing. My husband and I and my 2 ten year old sons went, and to our surprise we loved the movie and found a whole new respect for the boy. We think (although the other 3 would never admit it) Justin is the bomb!

The 3-D documentary of his journey to stardom showed me that the Bieb exemplifies the Primo spirit. From a very young age he found that place inside of him that made him want to work hard, persevere, believe in himself and win. He would get down at times but he never gave up. Based on the beginning of the song “Never Say Never” I don’t think he always thought he would be as big a star as he has become, but he worked hard and always did his absolute best and things started to unfold for him. Like a switch going on he sees and feels his destiny and nothing can stop him from getting there.

See I never thought that I could walk through fire.
I never thought that I could take the burn.
I never had the strength to take it higher,
Until I reached the point of no return.

And there's just no turning back,
When your hearts under attack,
Gonna give everything I have,
It's my destiny.

I will never say never! (I will fight)
I will fight till forever! (make it right)
Whenever you knock me down,
I will not stay on the ground.

I never thought I could feel this power.
I never thought that I could feel this free.
I'm strong enough to climb the highest tower.
And I'm fast enough to run across the sea.

And there's just no turning back,
When your hearts under attack,
Gonna give everything I have,
Cause this is my destiny.

Like JB, my heart is under attack--I feel a burning desire to share Primo and use him to do ‘good’ in the world. I never thought I could “walk through fire,” I never thought I could “take the burn,” I never thought I had “the strength to take it higher” ...but then I just kept plugging along...working hard, sometimes I didn’t even know what I was working hard towards, then I hit a point of no return--now there’s just no turning back, cause my heart’s under attack, gonna give everything I have, cause “I can see clearly now, the rain is gone” (oops, wrong song), cause...this is my destiny!

Our destiny is often a mystery but just keep working hard, keep believing, keep praying, know you have a purpose and keep your mind open to all possibilities. When opportunity knocks, open the door, it may be uncomfortable, you may have to face your fears, but I encourage you to walk through.

TODAY : NEVER SAY NEVER ….great things await!

Find out more about Tanya Primo-Jones and the Primo Spirit at Find Your Primo and In Search Of Primo.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Nelly "Heart of a Champion"

This week's guest blogger, Tanya Primo-Jones, is writing about songs that exemplify what she calls The Primo Spirit.

Today’s song is a “must have” on your iPod for a run, a gym workout, or any time you are about to face a fear. The beat of it alone will make you want to get up and move...get up and be a champion. Here are a few excerpts from the song “Heart of a Champion.” Nelly has got his Primo goin on!

I got that cain't stop, won't stop, in my veins
That's why they cain't stop, won't stop, screamin the name
NELLY! NELLY! Go tell a friend to tell a friend
I'ma keep the same grin whether I, lose or win
Up, or down ten, I'ma fight to the end
Let's go...

Chorus –

Ain't no way they can stop me now Nelly
Cause I'm on my way, I can feel my reign comin
It's the blood of a champion, pumpin
Deep inside my veins, too much pride to be runnin
I'ma give what I can and more, even if
My blood, my sweat, and my tears don't mean nothin
It's the heart of a champion

My work habit ain't no habit man, I do it on purpose
I push myself to the limit so my talent'll surface
So now it's, curtains and drapes, on anybody who hates
Dislikin what I'm recitin, bitin what I've been writin
I've been dogfightin, scratchin and clawin on every height
Tryin to make you remember me like you "Remember the Titans"
Cause I'm a WARR-IOR...

Nelly is a champion, that he is aware
Never doubts himself, whatever the affair-
He calls upon his Primo, and fights until the end
They try to steal his thunda, he don’t shatter, break or bend
Primo, Primo… He calls upon his friend
Nothins gonna stop him, he’ll fight until the end!

...haha, how was that? Maybe The Primo Lady will start writing rap songs????

TODAY: Live like you are a champion!

Find out more about Tanya Primo-Jones and the Primo Spirit at Find Your Primo and In Search Of Primo.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Frank Sinatra "That's Life"

This week's guest blogger, Tanya Primo-Jones, is writing about songs that exemplify what she calls The Primo Spirit.

Hey There,

My name is Tanya Primo-Jones, people call me The Primo Lady; I am your guest blogger for the week. I went to high school a few….aaahem…20 something years ago with the master mind behind “Everyday I Write the Blog” and thanks to a tiny little thing called Facebook we reconnected. I guess the motivational quotes and sayings I was posting on my Find Your Primo page inspired PJ to ask me to write a little somethin’ somethin’ for his blog. So, here I am!

Before diving into today’s song you need to know a few things-
1. Why do people call me the Primo Lady?
2. What do I know about Music?

1. Why do people call me the Primo Lady? I am the creator of this little cartoon guy called “Primo,” I created him to give the world a visual for their inner competitive spirit…that spirit, that when ignited with hard work, perseverance and belief in yourself will lead you to your greatest successes! I use this guy in various ways to motivate and inspire others to find their inner Primo, to reach their goals and to achieve their dreams...Yea, PJ, that book you shared with us last’re gonna need to get that finished….and published!

2. What do I know about music? Um, nothing – but I do know that I love it! I certainly love dancing to it but I also love listening to the lyrics. The lyrics tell a story and for as long as I can recall I’ve always loved knowing people's stories. Not because I’m nosy but because I’m just so curious to learn more about people - where they came from, and their thoughts and dreams on where they’re going.
As this week's guest blogger I bring to you a motivating song-a-day that exudes the Primo spirit that I spoke of above. I have great admiration for people who are truly in search of their inner Primo, for people who don’t just settle. Folks who are willing to make the most of this one life they have... facing all odds, working hard, and persevering to win in this game called life. Musical artists have the ability to eloquently or in some cases not-so-eloquently put their “search for Primo” into words...into song, and that’s exactly what these 5 artists have done. I love it, and I love it all the same, despite the era they are from, despite their musical genre...despite their target market.

You don’t have to like the song but take from each one the message that if you find your inner strength, if you work hard, persevere, and believe in will be a that’s the Primo Spirit!!

This first song by the legendary Frank Sinatra, I believe, is the foundation for which Primo was built upon. You see, my Dad bowed down to Frank...In fact at times, I think he thought he was Frank and in my opinion when my Dad sang this song I think he sang it better than Frank! My dad passed away 4 years ago and it was shortly thereafter that Primo was created. Primo represents my dad, the kind of person he was and the kind of person he taught me to be; the lyrics of this song resonates deep with me because its all about being knocked down and getting back up again (no, not that Chumbawamba song)! A great strength – the greatest one my dad had and for certain the greatest one I have! How can you not feel inspired by this song???

That’s Life – by the great Frank Sinatra
That's life, that's what all the people say.
You're riding high in April,
Shot down in May
But I know I'm gonna change that tune,
When I'm back on top, back on top in June.

I said that's life, and as funny as it may seem
Some people get their kicks,
Stompin' on a dream
But I don't let it, let it get me down,
'Cause this fine ol' world it keeps spinning around

I've been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate,
A poet, a pawn and a king.
I've been up and down and over and out
And I know one thing:
Each time I find myself, flat on my face,
I pick myself up and get back in the race.

That's life
I tell ya, I can't deny it,
I thought of quitting baby,
But my heart just ain't gonna buy it.
And if I didn't think it was worth one single try,
I'd jump right on a big bird and then I'd fly

I've been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate,
A poet, a pawn and a king.
I've been up and down and over and out
And I know one thing:
Each time I find myself laying flat on my face,
I just pick myself up and get back in the race

That's life
That's life and I can't deny it
Many times I thought of cutting out
But my heart won't buy it
But if there's nothing shakin' come this here july
I'm gonna roll myself up in a big ball and die
My, My

Hmm, sounds like he may be losing his Primo spirit in that last line, but a guy like that I’m certain won’t stay down for long!

Today: Live your life with maximum umph...or you may as well roll yourself up in a big ball...

Find out more about Tanya Primo-Jones and the Primo Spirit at Find Your Primo and In Search Of Primo.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Peter Cetera "The Glory Of Love"

I remember thinking: "Who the hell ARE these people?"

I mean, they were the kids I had gone to school with for 12-plus years, for crying out loud. High school, middle school (with a Catholic school detour), elementary school, nursery school . . . a few even as far back as pre-school playgroup.

And here we were on the verge of graduation about to go our separate ways, and we were asked to vote on our class favorites.*

Peter Cetera?

Somehow Peter Cetera was voted as the favorite male vocalist of The Class of 1987?

Who the hell ARE these people that would vote for Peter Cetera? Certainly not anybody I knew.

The choice was just so far from my frame of reference (and from that of my close friends), that I didn't feel any sentimentality about leaving high school, about leaving town, about leaving these people who I clearly knew not at all, and frankly, had no interest in knowing.

You can't get an 18-year-old to believe such a thing, but it's true, things change. People change. You change.

How could you get an 18-year-old to believe such a thing? That someday, more people than you think would wind up with interesting, fascinating lives and stories?

Hell, I don't know that I would believe it in my 40s, were it not for Facebook.

Yeah, you can knock Facebook for being a huge time-suck, but I have to say, it has been extremely rewarding to peek in on the lives of people from high school. People I maybe knew pretty well but lost touch with. Or people I hardly knew at all.

It's been rewarding to meet-again-for-the-first-time these interesting people, with jobs and ideas and tastes and humor that a pretty limited 18-year-old me would have never given them credit for.

Starting Monday, Tanya Primo-Jones will be the guest blogger.

We went to Newburyport High School together for 4 years, but I can't say I knew her well then. She always seemed nice enough . . .

But who would have predicted (perhaps least of all, her!) that the nice kid with the locker down the hall is now an entrepreneur, a motivational speaker, an active-wear designer, a blogger, a surfer and a Mom of 3 boys?

Working for mvyradio for all these years, I sure do appreciate an independent spirit and a positive message, so I'm happy to give Tanya the reins of the blog for this week. She's going to write about 5 inspiring songs that share the spirit of her ventures, what she calls The Primo Spirit.

And no, she does not play any Peter Cetera.

* Here are some other Newburyport High School Class of 1987 "Favorites." Thanks to Stephanie George Minister, who dug out her yearbook to send me this list.

Favorite Female Vocalist - Whitney Houston
Favorite Male Vocalist - Peter Cetera
Favorite Comedian - Eddie Murphy
Favorite Song - Stairway to Heaven
Favorite Group - Led Zeppelin & ACDC
Favorite Movie - Top Gun
Favorite TV Show - Moonlighting

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Rufus Wainwright "April Fools"

I just wanted to post this as a way to say I hope you have a happy April Fools Day today!

Friday, April 1, 2011

T Rex "Bang A Gong"

This Week: Excerpts From That Novel I'm Never Going To Write.

Here's the last excerpt I'll share. I remember when the light in my head went on, and I connected dinosaurs and vinyl . . . I just couldn't believe my brain came up with it.

Thanks for indulging me this week!

Vinyl was as doomed as the dinosaur.

Pea-brained and lumbering, the analogy is apt. Like the dinosaur, an LP’s brain could only contain a limited amount of information. And the dark discs were not portable.

With James Russell’s creation in the hands of the marketers, modifications were made to make the perfect beast.

And the perfect beast was determined to be 74 minutes long.

Why 74 minutes? That seems like an arbitrary number, doesn’t it? But somebody must’ve picked it, right? But who?

Well, depending on whom you ask, it was either Herbert von Karajan, Akio Morita or Norio Ohga.

Don’t know who the Polygram conductor, the Sony chairman, and the Sony president are? Doesn’t matter. Each would tell you that the real determination came from a man who died 50 years before Edison scraped his Reynolds Wrap.

Beethoven didn’t write his Ninth Symphony with the intention of you getting out of your chair in the middle of the piece to flip the record over. No, Ludwig Von meant his movement to be heard without your movement.

The CD prototype developed by Phillips was 11.5 centimeters in diameter---large enough to hold 60 minutes of music. Which was not quite long enough to hold a popular symphony.

So Sony’s prototype, at the suggestion of Karajan, Morita or Ohga, depending on what you read, was created slightly larger and therefore longer, to accommodate Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. And it became the industry standard.

With this lengthy advantage over vinyl, as well as the advantage of greater durability, there was only one more step to take to make CDs the consumer standard.

And that was to lower the price.

In the mid-eighties, record companies brought down the price of CDs, and raised the price of vinyl. Soon, they began printing fewer copies of an album on vinyl, and more on CD. Record buyers were more likely to find a new release on CD than record. CD sales skyrocketed, record sales plummeted.

But this was a trend manufactured from behind the scenes by corporations. It was not a natural evolution.

What killed off the dinosaurs?

Was it natural evolution? A comet? Smoking? A corporate committee? Sentient pond scum? War or disease or ennui? Was it destiny? Did the butler do it?

I suppose we’ll never know.

But we do know that dinosaurs lived on after death, if only to head toward a second extinction.

As their dying bodies sank into the sea and the mud, as millions of years of pressure and heat converted their remains into hydrocarbons, as hydrocarbons became petroleum, the dinosaurs came back to us.

Processed petroleum, when combined with chlorine, becomes vinyl.

Put on your old recording of “Bang A Gong,” and you’re spinning T Rex, literally.

Vinyl, a byproduct of extinction, was destined to be doomed as the dinosaur.