Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Judas Priest "Breaking The Law"

First, let me say that I trust my wife completely.

But every once and I while, I do imagine her secret life.

I was out doing errands, with my then-one-year-old in tow, and our last stop was the package store down the street. When I got to the counter, the several clerks working the registers all stopped to smile and wave at my baby.

They were strangely familiar with her.

“Oh yeah, she’s in here all the time with her Mom,” they told me.

All the time? With her Mom?

I mean, we buy an occasional bottle of wine. But we’re not in there so often that a package store clerk should recognize my baby.

Or are we? I mean, her. My wife.

I imagine this secret life, where my wife is buying bottles of wine while I’m working long hours at the radio station. Enjoying a big glass of vino to while away the long hours with the kids.

Do I really think this happens? No, but it’s funny to imagine.

My daughter is now 3 ½ and last week I let her watch the beginning of the “American Idol” finale show. She developed a little crush on James Durbin this Season, the Heavy Metal contestant. (Yes, it’s every father’s dream, to have your daughter in love with an older Metal dude)

Idol finales always feature the contestants paired up in a duet with one of their heroes. And James looked thrilled to be singing with Judas Priest.

When the Priest medley, which included “Living After Midnight” segued to the propulsive “Breaking The Law,” my little girl perked up with recognition.

“That’s where it comes from!” she said.

What? I asked.

“The song that Mommy sings.”

While my wife is known to listen to Jeff Buckley and The Replacements, truth be told, the first time we went out in her car, the 3 CDs she had were Outkast, Justin Timberlake and Pharell Williams.

She is NOT a Heavy Metal momma.

Or is she?

Now I have to imagine my wife, with the kids in the car seats, cruising around town in our little SUV, windows rolled down, stereo cranked, heads-banging Wayne’s World style, running red lights and shrieking:

“Breakinthelaw! Breakinthelaaaaawww!!!”

It makes me laugh.

See the video on Youtube.

See the video on Youtube.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Scott Miller "Dear Sarah"

I spent a lot of the weekend rolling thoughts around in my head about what I might write for Memorial Day.

Back on Veteran's Day last year, I was scrolling through Facebook, and lots of friends had posted a status about their thoughts on Veteran's Day. Some, as you might expect, expressed straightforward thanks. Others used their line to make a pro-America statement. And some wrote of their discomfort with the glorification of war and of their distaste for jingoism.

None of the statements fully reflected how I felt. But you can't expect a lot of complexity from the limited number of characters in a Facebook status line.

For me, my thoughts and feelings about Memorial Day, War and Veterans are complex at best, incommunicable at worst.

How to you wrap up the idea that War is bad, but maybe necessary; that I am against killing, but that defense (and sometime offense) is not indefensible; that sacrifice is noble, but blind sacrifice may not be.

Is there a song that I could post that could tackle these big issues?

No. There isn't.

So I went in the other direction. Small.

When thinking about songs and Veterans and how to memorialize them, I kept coming back to a couple of songs by Scott Miller. They seemed appropriate because they were songs set during The Civil War---and Memorial Day was originally a day to specifically remember Civil War losses (it wasn't until after World War I that the holiday was in honor of all war losses).

"Dear Sarah" was a song that Scott wrote after reading some of the letters that an ancestor of his, had written to his wife, while on the front lines of the Civil War.

And on the album "And Thus Always To Tyrants," "Dear Sarah" is followed immediately by "Highland County Boy," sung from the perspective of a youngest son who is left to tend the farm while his brothers go off to fight and die in that War.

Today there will be big speeches and ceremonies and parades and salutes and thanks (and many, many people who pay no attention of any of this while they barbeque). But Memorial Day is strangely devoid of bitterness.

I posted these song today, because, in a very non-political, under-the-surface way, these two songs (especially the latter), talk about the human cost of War---the loss of loved ones, the separation of families, the hard, hard physical toll---and the bitterness it leaves behind.

So today others will ask you to think Big, maybe about Patriotism, or Pacifism, or Service. I'm asking you to listen to these songs, and to think about Memorial Day in terms of just a single person, and see where that leads you.

The songs in the videos are recorded live, but you can go to Scott's site to stream the full album versions. Check out the lyrics here and here.

See the video on Youtube.

See the video on Youtube.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bob Dylan "Love Sick"

In writing all these Dylan related posts this week, I've come across all kinds of weird Dylan ephemera (see the last two posts). But certainly, among the weirdest juxtapositions of Dylan's career, is this Victoria Secret commercial he appears in, with "Love Sick" playing in the background.

I think I explored "Dylan as sex symbol" on Friday, so this just continues my confoundation.

Okay, after a week-plus, I think that's enough Dylan for now from me . . . but for more Dylan weirdness, see The AV Club.

See the video on Youtube.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

William Shatner "Mr Tambourine Man"

Just a couple more Dylan posts, to mark his 70th birthday, and to promote the station's Dylan coverage . . .

I was asked What's the weirdest Dylan cover you came across while putting together the Bob Dylan Channels?

Well the most surprising coverage, was a 1 minute bootleg of Elvis Presley singing "I Shall Be Released."

But the weirdest is this William Shatner version of "Mr Tambourine Man."

You know I love the Shat. But he really tops himself here, with a completely unhinged delivery . . . Enjoy!

See the video on Youtube.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Bob Dylan "Tight Connection To My Heart"

The advent and explosion of the music video in the 80s really made certain artists. Dire Straits, Duran Duran, Peter Gabriel and Michael Jackson are just a few of the artists who saw their fame grow exponentially, due in large part to their excellent videos (and good songs).

But music videos were far less kind to artists who had already (long prior to the video age) cemented their iconic status.

There were really only 2 paths you could take.

You could be like Bruce Springsteen or Bob Seger, and refuse to star in videos (except for actual concert footage), and live with the fact that you weren't a star of the video screen.

Or you could decide to roll with it, and find yourself helplessly trapped in a horrible flaming bag of dog doody.

I’m not really sure what could have possessed Bob Dylan to choose the latter.

But Good Lord & Taylor! This video is HORRIBLE.

And yet, you can’t take your eyes off it, for all the wonders it offers:

The site of Dylan, exerting just enough mouth effort to suggest he’s lip-mumbling the lyrics.

Shoulder pads!

That great moment at the 2:55 mark, where Dylan musters all his acting skills to “naturally” “turn” and “look at a building.”

Knife fights!

Repeated images of a purple wig being blown by the wind, tumbling down some stadium bleacher seats. I think we all know what this symbolizes . . . the death of the modern wig industry.

Dylan in a chest baring V-neck!

What I think we can all agree, is the sexiest image ever committed to film---a storyline denouement that promises a Dylan-orchestrated ménage e trois.

International Intrigue!

Finally, the sentence that no human being has ever dared type before . . . Bob Dylan shows of his "Jazz Hands"! (at the 5:10 mark)

The first time I watched this, I kept saying, “Poor Bob Dylan.”

You just feel so much empathy for him, being stuck in this joyless cheesefest.

I’m mean, the man has been largely insouciant toward fame throughout his career. I can’t imagine how he was convinced that this was a good idea.

Thankfully, for the most part he avoided making videos in later years, and the ones he did do, suggested that he was enjoying the cheesefest, not trapped in it.

See the video on Youtube.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Old 97s "Champaign Illinois"

When Bruce Springsteen’s song “The Rising” came out, someone at the station (I can’t remember who, otherwise I’d give proper credit), suggested that this would be a perfect song for Verizon to license and appropriate for a commercial.

Sing it with me, “Come on up for Verizon! Come on up for Verizon tonight!”

(Of course, Springsteen would never agree to such a thing)

There is some small level of talent required to take an existing song, and make a sturdy parody or sideways version.

It’s a fun game to play, to try to change the lyrics of an existing song, to something fun and funny.

But you’d have to have real talent to take it a step further, and actually make it a good song.

And that’s the difference between us, and Rhett Miller.

The story goes that Miller, lead singer of the Old 97s, was the one driving the tour van for hours at a time. And to keep himself occupied, he’d take an actual song, try to retain the melody and the cadence, but write completely new original lyrics.

When we got the album “Grand Theatre Volume One” I instantly gravitated toward the song “Champaign Illinois.” But it was only after months of playing it, that I learned of the song’s origins.

In putting together the station’s Bob Dylan Covers Channel, this song appeared on a list as a song written by Bob Dylan.


After some research, I learned that Miller had been driving, fooling around with Dylan’s “Desolation Row.” He kept the melody and the cadence, and the spirit of the song, but wrote completely new lyrics and a completely new story.

Thinking that there was no way he could release the song without getting the pants sued off him, he had shelved it for several years. But he was finally convinced to ask Dylan’s people for permission, and to Miller’s surprise and delight, Dylan’s folks said Yes.

So the songwriting credit is to “Dylan/Miller.”

Check out both songs, and be struck by the similarity that you may not have ever noticed.

See the video on Youtube.

See the video on Youtube.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bob Dylan "Ring Them Bells"

The problem with an artist as prolific as Bob Dylan, is that it is easy to be dismissive of his lesser work, and in the process, miss out.

If you were going to go out and buy one Bob Dylan album, no doubt you'd be counseled by friends in the know, to buy a classic album from the 60s and 70s.

In fact, if you were going to go out and buy TEN Bob Dylan albums, you'd still likely be counseled by friends in the know, to buy at least 9 albums from his 60s and 70s output, and maaaayyybe one of his albums from the late 90s or the 2000s, for some perspective.

Yeah, there were some marginal albums over the course of Dylan's 40-something releases. And yes, much of the late 70s through 90s work was nowhere near as strong as his classic output, or his recent renaissance.

But Good Gravy, the man didn't completely forget how to write a song, either.

So if you're counseled by someone who's really in the know about Dylan, they should at least point you to some individual tracks from that period.

And if you were asking me, I'd tell you to go listen to "Ring Them Bells."

I missed this track the first time around, but Barbara Dacey introduced me to in a few years back.

For me, it has all these amazing, mysterious elements that I like in a song in general, and a Dylan song in specific.

I have no idea what the lyrics mean exactly, and yet they evoke a very specific feeling within me. Touching, spiritual, Grace-ful. It's religious without feeling preachy. It's simply a beautiful tune.

And the covers . . . well that can often tell you about the quality of a song. A different vocalist can lift a song, and in the case of "Ring Them Bells" Joe Cocker, Sarah Jarosz, Sufjan Stevens and others do.

If someone tells you an album or a period of an artist sucks, well, don't believe them. You might be missing out.

Check out mvyradio's Dylan Channels.

See the video on Youtube.

See the video on Youtube.

See the video on Youtube.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bob Dylan "Visions Of Johanna"

I was always jealous of the kid in “Almost Famous.”

At the beginning of the movie William's older sister is leaving home. But before she goes, she bequeaths him her stash of records. Discovering the music, his world opens up. (And let’s face it, having Zooey Deschanel give you her record collection is the stuff teenage dreams are made of)

I was the oldest child in my family. I didn’t have an older sibling to hip me to any amazing music.

The closest I would come to an older sibling, was the older siblings of my friends.

6th Grade overnights at a schoolmate’s house were the rare opportunity to hear what cool older kids were listening to.

My friend Brian had a brother Peter, 3 years older, who was in a discovery phase. Not only did he have records from new, “out there” bands like Devo (who Brian and I could not comprehend), he was also discovering the classic albums of the 60s.

On nights that I’d sleep over, Peter would move to the spare room (or go sleep over one of his friends’ houses), and I’d take over the other twin bed in Brian’s room.

And after a night of . . . (good God, what did we do in 6th grade? Pinball? Watch “Dukes Of Hazard”?) whatever it is we did at that age, we’d go to bed and put one of Peter’s big vinyl albums on the boxy turntable perched atop one of the dressers, and listen as we fell asleep.

That’s where I first hear “Blonde On Blonde.”

Now I’m think it’s pretty likely that Peter, and in turn, Brian and I, were mostly excited by the opening track “Rainy Day Women No. 12 & 35” and its shocking (to a 12 year old) refrain, “Everybody Must Get Stoned.”

But the thing is, we listened to that record, over and over. In our sleep even.

And though it would be many years before I would really discover Dylan, or scratch the surface of understanding him, “Blonde On Blonde” was etched onto my subconscious.

Had you asked me, at age 25, if I knew “Visions Of Johanna,” I would have said no.

But had you played me “Visions of Johanna” at age 25, I would have recognized it as surely as I would have recognized a lullaby my mother sang or a tune my Dad hummed while driving. On an elemental level.

So here's to the older siblings, with gratitude, from the William's of the world.

See the video on Youtube.

(Make sure you watch the last few frames)

See the video on Youtube.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Kami Lyle "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight"

Imagine saying to a chef who just came over your house and cooked a meal:

"I mean, I've eaten lots of food, but I've never actually seen it cooked!"

I'm sure he'd look at you strangely. After all, preparing food is completely second nature to him, and he can't imagine a world where the end result is divorce from the creation of the product.

Joey Spampinato was looking at me strangely.

I had just finished what was, and still is, one of my most favorite interviews for mvy ever.

We were in Louisville, Kentucky, for a radio convention, and Joey's wife Kami Lyle was making the interview rounds, talking to radio stations about her record.

Kami was a bit nervous, but her discomfort with the interview process just motivated her to be exceptionally funny. So I was already delighted.

At the end of the proper interview, we asked her if she'd do a cover tune for us. It's mvy Standard Operation Procedure. We collect covers for our Live, Acoustic and Covers segment.

Kami's manager perked up. Kami didn't generally do covers, but her manager had recently asked her to learn a Bob Dylan song.

Kami was a little unsure. She was with her husband Joey, who had played the song before, and with Tim Krekel, a local Louisville star and old friend, who'd come to provide musical support. But they'd never played the song together, and she didn't remember the lyrics.

But we coaxed her, and a few minutes later I was holding my laptop in front of her, with the lyrics I'd pulled from Dylan's website. And they did a run-through.

As I was listening to them, I realized that despite being a lifelong music fan, despite having gone to tons of live shows, I'd never really seen music being made.

By "made" I don't just mean created, but actually built.

Joey figured out his chords, and Kami called out changes, and they talked back and forth as they played about where certain parts should come in, and how Tim should do a harmonica solo and how they'd wrap the whole thing up.

I saw all the ingredients being tossed together.

And then, immediately after, they recorded the song for us.

Afterwords, I was explaining to Joey that it was really a privileged as a music fan, to watch artists work something out of nothing. I'm sure to him, a lifelong musician, my perspective was unimaginable to him.

Anyway, check out the interview, and the song, and see if you can spot the magic.

See the video on Youtube.

Hear Kami, Joey and Tim doing "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight."

Hear the full Kami Lyle interview.

For more Dylan covers, visit mvyradio's Bob Dylan Cover Tunes Channel.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Emmylou Harris "Every Grain Of Sand"

What with The Rapture on everyone's mind, I thought I'd post some Dylan Gospel, rendered in spiritual beauty by Miss Emmylou Harris. I'm not particularly religious, but I do find this tune gorgeous.

For more takes on Dylan songs, visit the station's Dylan Cover Tunes Channel.

See the video on Youtube.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Booker T & The MGs "Gotta Serve Somebody"

Well, I thought I should tie together Bob Dylan's birthday, and the impending Rapture, and place me and my blog in good stead by sharing a Dylan Gospel tune.

Take me to church, Booker T!

See the video on Youtube.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bob Dylan "Lay Lady Lay"

It must've been one of the strangest double bills Bob Dylan had ever been on.

It was a late 80s Spring Concert at UMass Amherst, where they always booked several bands---a little something for everybody. So you often go a big name act, a rapper, an alternative outfit and a folkie. Or something like that.

(To my mother's delight, they always held the show on Mother's Day, and me and my sister always opted to be concert-goers instead of gracious children)

This particular year, the headliners were Bob Dylan and De La Soul.

I was a HUGE De La Soul fan at the time. "3 Feet High And Rising" is still one of my favorite albums. So I was front and center for them.

And I was curious to hear Bob Dylan. I knew a bunch of his songs, and I knew he was a legend and all, but I was still years away from any kind of "Dylan Phase."

I was going to have to sit through Dylan, it turned out. De La Soul was scheduled to be the second-to-last act of the day, just before Dylan, but word was being passed that De La's tour bus had been delayed, so Dylan would go on first.

Again, I knew a few Dylan songs, and I know it sounds cliche to say this, but I swear to you, I have no idea what Mr. Dylan said over the course of the next hour. I managed to make out that he was singing "Lay Lady Lay," by virtue of the word of the chorus, but the melody and tempo were virtually unrecognizable.

Dylan wrapped up his set, and I got ready to bounce to De La Soul.

Unfortunately, the MC announced that De La Soul had been detained by the State Police, on suspicion of transporting drugs on their tour bus.

But Mr. Dylan has graciously offered to play an extra long set.

And with that, Dylan came out and said the only recognizable words of the day:

"Zaazz zu zaaaa, Mother's Day!"

Okay, only some of the words were recognizable. But we appreciated his gracious effort!

The station has two Bob Dylan Channels up for his 70th birthday. One is all Dylan songs, and the other is all Dylan covers. And we're asking for your votes, to help put together the Top 70 Bob Dylan songs. Find it all on our website.

See the video on Youtube.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Jason Crigler "Books On The Shelf"

We do a feature every Thursday on the station called “Person Of The Week,” where we focus on an individual or organization that’s doing something to benefit the community.

May is National Stroke Awareness Month so I spoke with the folks at nearby Spaulding Rehabilitation Center, because they are having an event next week, featuring Jason Crigler.

You may have seen a documentary about Jason on PBS.

In short, Jason was a young guitarist, who suffered a debilitating stroke. Watch the video below to see just how profound the damage was. Then watch through to the end, to see just how far he’s come. And what is possible.

I’m getting emotional just writing about it.

I had kind of a shitty day today. Well . . . this video set my ass straight about what trouble really is, and about how you should respond to it.

See the video on Youtube.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Adele "Rumour Has It"

I, and perhaps you, are of the generation where MTV mattered, musically.

Artists made videos, and we were excited to watch them.

But MTV evolved to a lifestyle channel, and music videos have been largely irrelevant to the channel for so long, that I just don't think videos matter to the current generation.

Videos have started to matter again, though, here in the age of Youtube. Online videos have proven to be a successful way to get an artist's music out there.

So I was curious to check out Youtube's newly updated Music page, which now lists the 100 most popular music videos on Youtube. And you can play them like a "Channel," one video after the other, like you were watching MTV in 1982.

I was curious, because I kinda thought---since music videos aren't really a part of the current generation's pop culture, but are hugely a part of my generation's orientation---that there would be a pretty strong showing of mvyradio-type artists on the list.

How wrong I was. Of the Top 100 videos, the only mvyradio artist on the list of most played videos on Youtube, was Adele.

The list was predominately Pop artists like Jennifer Lopez and Rebecca Black and such.

And I wondered, now that there is this page, will my generation rediscover their passion for the music video, and bring more adult artists to the top 100?

See the video on Youtube.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

They Might Be Giants "Put Your Hand Inside The Puppet Head"

It’s fun living with an artist. You never know what you might come home to.

Last week, I came home to puppets!

The puppet bonanza actually started with me.

As one of my many Dad-Is-In-Charge-Because-Mom-Is-At-Work timekillers/distractions, I will sometimes put socks on my 3 year old’s hands and tell her to do a puppet show.

Lots of time is spent finding a stage (usually the baby gate), a curtain (baby blanket) and a few choice props to interact with.

My daughter doesn’t really get that she can give the puppet a voice, I usually get a mimed Yes or No to my questions directed at the puppet.

My Mother-In-Law, encouraging creativity, got us a puppet making kit for Christmas . . . and while it was a neat idea, I’m not as crafty as I’d like to think I am. The glued on bits of felt all fell off within a day or so.

But this Spring, somewhat out of nowhere, my Art Teacher/Artist wife decided that she wants to learn how to sew.

My Mom lent her a sewing machine, gave her a few simple instructions, and let her go to town. And when I came home last week, Voila! Puppets!

I wanted to make a video to show off the puppet, but I had to corral the squirmy one year old, so he’s on my lap, while the 3 year old explains details about the creation.

You’ll see the baby reach out for the puppet, and I immediately thought of this song, wanting to say:


See the video on Youtube.

See the video on Youtube.

Missing Posts . . .

Blogger went down last week, and lost a bunch of my posts from the last few days. They keep saying they'll find and republish them. That's why you haven't seen posts from me since Friday. Hopefully, they'll recover them and I won't have to rewrite them . . . Anyway, I'm back on track with new posts, starting today.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Irving Berlin "A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody"

Until today, I had never actually heard this song. I knew the melody and some of the lyrics, but I'd never actually heard it performed.

Except by my Mom.

This is one of those songs that exists in my life, solely because Mom would sing it to my sisters. I mean, it occurred to me that it was a real song, but I'd never thought to listen to a recording of it until I was trolling through the new National Jukebox.

What a cool historical project.

This week, the Library Of Congress posted The National Jukebox a long-in-the-making project of some of the earliest sound recordings made (and preserved) in the United States. Songs and artists and voices and styles that could have been lost to the ages, but are now available for free streaming.

Relying on your Mom is great, but it's pretty special to have this bit of recorded history.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

June Carter Cash "Tiffany Anastasia Lowe"

I love a track where the artist is confident enough to leave in a mistake or flub or crack up, and because they know it can be charming.

(I'm not so much a fan of tracks where the artist makes a mistake because they aren't any good)

June Carter spent a lot of time being Mrs. Johnny Cash, to the point that her comedic talent and her charm were a bit overshadowed (because, let's face it, Johnny cast a helluva shadow).

The "Walk The Line" movie did a great job of reminding folks that she could sing and that she was an entertainer who could hold her own, but even Reese Witherspoon's top notch performance only scratched the surface of June's magnetism.

She was just like that funny, silly, slightly wacked-out Aunt that always loses her keys at family barbecues and folks who don't know her might think she's drunk, even though she's stone cold sober.

Charm goes a long way in selling this cute little ditty about her granddaughter, but the carefree laugh she breaks into makes the song, for me.

See the video on Youtube.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My Morning Jacket "Holding On To Black Metal"

Continuing a theme explored on last week's Mat Kearney post . . . not adding a song onto mvyradio isn't a comment on its quality, only on its mix-ability.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes are awesome, but you wouldn't likely serve it in soup. It's not a complimentary texture or taste.

I think lots of radio programmers have been looking forward to the new My Morning Jacket. Jim James and Company deserve much credit for their creativity. They could easily crank out Neil Young-ish rawk, and sell plenty of records and have devoted fans. But instead, they seem to be happier challenging their fans' expectations and their own creative envelope.

"Holding On To Black Metal" is a powerful, complex, dense song, with horns and strings and a choir/chorus of women/falsetto-ing men/kids a la "Another Brick In The Wall."

It's a cool, adventurous song. But I think it would sound out of place between in-the-pocket mvyradio fare, say Paul Simon and The Civil Wars.

What do you think?

See the video on Youtube.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Super Deluxe "She Came On"

Movies like to depict the “Aha!” moment.

The character, who has been one way for the entire film, has a single conversation/realization/life-changing event, and suddenly they realize that they should spend more time with their kids or they really love their bookish best friend not the hot model they’ve been chasing. Or whatever.

But real life isn’t like that. Realizations tend to come more gradually, as does change.

You don’t wake up one day and decided, Hey, I should grow up a little!

No, it’s more of a process that maybe starts internally as you question how and why you do certain things, and continues with you evolving as a person.

I remember in the late 90s when this song by Super Deluxe came out. I instantly gravitated toward it, because I was in a huge Power Pop phase, listening incessantly to Matthew Sweet and Big Star and The Posies. “She Came On” is so damn hooky!

Then I was struck by a particular line:

“I found myself wandering aimlessly, calling it Freedom.”

I knew what it meant. It really hit home. It's where I was.

I was still living like a college student, happily untethered from responsibilities of relationships or sobriety or major possessions. Anything that weighed me down, or smacked of adulthood, I roundly rejected.

But there was already a part of me (in my thoughts, but not yet my actions), wondering: To what end?

I’d see these guys out at the bars, 10 years, 20 years older than me, still living like they were in college. Did I want to be one of those guys?

I didn’t yet have the answer of what I DID want to be (I still kinda don’t), but I’d seen “Dazed And Confused.” I didn’t want to be Matthew McConaughey's character, aging but not changing.

I was years away from wanting to, or being ready to be married, or own a home, or consider that staying home on Friday night wasn't the worst fate in the world.

But a simple pop song was there to let me know that I was evolving.

See the video on Totally Fuzzy.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Billy Preston "You Are So Beautiful"

I was unaware, until reading his obituary, that Billy Preston didn't write this about someone he was dating or married to.

He wrote "You Are So Beautiful," about his Mom.

So sing this one for Mom today.

Happy Mother's Day!

See the video on Youtube.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Beastie Boys "Z-Trip Presents: All-Access A Beastie Boys Megamix "

I have previously professed my love for both The AV Club and The Beastie Boys.

This week, they came together not once, but twice.

The AV Club posted a link for this amazing free download (though I was first tipped off to this by my friend and fellow blogger Ross Condit). It's a 23 minute, Beastie Boys sanctioned mega-mix, incorporating dozens of great tracks from the breadth of their carrier, into one rocking opus.

In short, it's awesome.

And half the fun of listening to the Beastie Boys (or any great rhymers) is to try to catch all the crazy metaphors and references that fly through the mix. Not sure what Chateauneuf du Pape is, or who Sadaharu Oh is? The article "170 Beastie Boys References Explained" can help.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Indigo Girls "Uncle John's Band"

One of the weird phenomenons of being married is that while you do so much together, there are other things you simply can't do, because your partner is the one who does it.

For instance, 99% of the time I drive if my wife and I go somewhere. It's not that she can't drive or really despises driving. It's just something I do, and she doesn't.

How many times have we gone to visit her friend Nikki, who lives near Worcester? Half a dozen times in the last two years?

One day last year, she had a day off while I was working, so she decided to pack up the kids and go for a visit. I got a call from the road:

"How do you get Nikki's?"

She'd been down the path many, many times, but because she was in the passenger seat, the turns and landmarks had never really stuck with her, and she had no idea how to get to what should have been a familiar destination.

I was thinking about this when I played The Indigo Girls version of the Grateful Dead song "Uncle John's Band."

Sometime in the late 1990s, my friends and I drove down from where we lived in Virginia, to a club in Asheville, North Carolina, to celebrate Daemon Records 10th Anniversary. Daemon is the record label started by Amy Ray, one-half of The Indigo Girls.

Several of the artists on her label played that day, and of course, Amy did a short solo set. Vocal Indigo Girls fans were shouting out requests between songs, and Amy finally relented to a pair of persistent squawkers.

"What do you want me to play?" she asked. They requested a tune that The Indigo Girls had covered on a Grateful Dead tribute album called "Deadicated."

She hemmed and hawed, seemed to think about rejecting the request, and then just decided to go for it.

She got partway through the song, and you could see she was in trouble. And then she abruptly stopped.

She apologized. "Emily sings that part. I don't think I know the words . . ."

They'd no doubt performed "Uncle John's Band" many times before, but because she'd never sang certain parts of the song, she'd never retained them. And without those parts, the song fell apart.

You go through life in perfect harmony, but sometimes you don't really know just how much you need your partner until you're singing solo.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Reverend Horton Heat "Loco Gringos Like To Party"

Went to the The Reverend Horton Heat at the Paradise last night, and we celebrated Cinco De Mayo, a day early with a late night.

This Gringo is getting to old to be too Loco.

Short post today. Enjoy the holiday.

See the video on Youtube.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Tift Merritt "Engine To Turn"

A while back I decided to start a weekend feature called "Random Ridiculous Songs That Have No Business Being Played In Public Again But I Heard In The Grocery Store Today."

It was reserved for songs like "Adult Education" which had otherwise disappeared from the public's consciousness. Why would someone haul such a silly song out of the vault?

And there IS a someone. That's someone's job: to create a channel for that particular supermarket (or department store or warehouse store) that creates an atmosphere, a feeling, that will resonate with the type of shopper that frequents the place.

Usually that's achieved with songs that have a particular kind of familiarity---songs of a decade, or a genre, or a simple tone.

But yesterday I was in the grocery store and I heard "Engine To Turn" by Tift Merritt.

Tift is not exactly a household name. And "Engine To Turn" was the second single off an album that probably sold in the thousands, not the millions or even hundreds of thousands. At mvyradio, we've crossed paths with Tift a number of times and she's totally charmed us, so we're very familiar with her.

But I have to bet that I was perhaps the only person in the store who could have named the song and the artist.

Why would that someone pull such an obscure song out of the vault? I don't know, but I'm glad they did.

So maybe I need a new type of post: Random AWESOME Songs That Have No Business Being Played On A Store's P.A. System Due To Their Otherwise Unfamiliarity But I Heard In The Grocery Store Today And It Made Me Happy.

See Tift charm passersby as she busks.

See the video on Youtube.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mat Kearney "Hey Mama"

There's a line that some record promotion folks will use to prod me (or, in some cases, tease me).

They say: "Don't be afraid to play a Hit!"

It's kind of a funny situation to be in, but sometimes I'll turn down a song because it's too much of a "Hit."

Take this new Mat Kearney song. It's insanely catchy, well-crafted and fun.

But because of those seemingly positive attributes, it would sound pretty out of place on our station.

"Single Ladies" this song is not. But on a continuum, "Hey Mama" is too far down the line away from Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright," and the earthy, singer-songwriter-strummer roots of the station.

People sometimes think if we don't play a certain song, or a certain artist, it's a judgment against that song/artist. We're somehow saying that they're not good enough.

And yeah, I suppose that's sometimes true.

But Mat Kearney is a talented songwriter, a legitimate artist. If he were making slightly different music, with a slightly different production spin, he'd sound great on our station.

Instead, he's going to have to suffer the cruel fate of having his song become a big, successful hit via the hundreds of radio stations across the country who make their home on a more populist place on the musical continuum.

See the video on Youtube.

Imagine what it might've sounded like with acoustic instrumentation.

See the video on Youtube.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Paul Simon "Late In The Evening"

Here's a fun game you can play as you listen to the radio (or your iPod). I'll even give you one of the hardest "gets."

A few years ago, we thought it would be cool programming to take the entire mvyradio library, and, for a week, play the songs in Alphabetical Order.

"A Case Of You" through "Zebra."

At the time, I was the Production Director at mvy, which meant that I was in charge of making commercials and other promotional IDs and such.

We created some simple between-song sounds (we call them "sweeps") to identify the station, and let people know about the special programming.

"You're listening to mvyradio A to Z. We're playing all our songs in alphabetical order this week, and we're up to the letter---"

We made 26 of these, and when the copy got to the letter, we played a snippet of a song that featured the letter.

Some letters were simple. Like I pulled out the "B" in "Let It Be" by the Beatles.

Some sounded really funny. Like the big breath Donald Fagen takes in as he says the "F" in the song "FM."

Some letters weren't the letters, exactly, but sounded good. I got "C" from Neil Young's "Good To See You." Get it? "See"?

As the list of letters I needed to get dwindled down, I had to get crafty.

Since no one (outside of Sesame Street) ever sings about the letter "W" I knocked together the word "Double" from "When I Paint My Masterpiece" and a "You" from "Sweetheart Like You," to create the "Double-You/W."

But I was stuck looking for a "J."

It's not really a letter that is the first syllable of a commonly said word ("jay-walking" is not a common song-subject). And while there are lots of songs about "Joe" and "Jimmy," no one really sings about "Jay."

I was wracking my brain for days, trying to figure out how to get a "J" when this song popped into my head.

If it's not coming to you right away, listen to the track to see if you can figure out where I found a "J" (it's pretty obvious when you hear it).

And next time you're listening to the radio, as a challenge to yourself, see what other letters you can get.

Hear it on Youtube.

See the original music video.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Propellerheads "History Repeating"

Here's another Weekend Post:

Yesterday's post led me to another fun one from the same period. What a brilliant idea to put Shirley Bassey over this groove.

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.