Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Jayhawks "She Walks In So Many Ways"

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
---William Shakespeare

"There's nothing wrong with crabgrass. It just has a bad name, that's all. Everyone would love it if it had a cute name, like, uh, elf grass."
---Homer Simpson

While Shakespeare understood that the intrinsic value of something doesn't changed based on its name, leave it to Homer to note that a name has everything to do with marketability.

I, for one, was sad in the mid-90s when Mark Olson left the band The Jayhawks. The way his voice intertwined and played off of co-lead-singer and songwriter Gary Louris made the band for me. Without that dynamic, without Olson, they were still a good band (and they continued to put out good records), but they weren't exactly what The Jayhawks were, to me.

Flash forward a decade later . . . Olson is ready to work with Louris again. They write some songs, do some shows, and eventually decide to make a record.

They release "Ready For The Flood" under the name "Mark Olson & Gary Louris." It is greeted warmly by old Jayhawks fans, receives some positive reviews, but makes only a minor impact on radio and record sales, only a minor impact culturally.

In 2011, however, Olson and Louris have recorded more songs, but this time they are releasing the record under the name "The Jayhawks." And yes, they do have some of their former bandmates in tow, and yes, those guys are great players. But does the addition or subtraction from the equation of the particular bass player, drummer and keyboard player make the record sound more or less like a "true" Jayhawks record? Not to me . . .

So how do you explain then, that while the Olson & Louris album was somewhat tepidly embraced, within a couple of weeks, The Jayhawks record is quickly climbing the Adult Alternative charts?

Clearly, Olson and Louris shouldn't have called their album "Ready For The Flood," they should have called it "Elf Grass."

See the video on Youtube.

See the album preview on Youtube.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

John Mayer "No Such Thing"

Whenever I think about being star-struck, I remember John Mayer.

Okay, here in 2011, John Mayer has sold a zillion records, he's dated Jennifer Aniston and Jessica Simpson, and he's been called to the stage to play with Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt and other guitar heroes.

And yet, when he was in the mvyradio lobby, I thought he was here to cut the grass.

Now, granted, this lobby-meeting was in the summer of 2002, when he had just released his major label debut "Room For Squares," and the lead single "No Such Thing" hadn't even hit the airwaves yet.

I was working mornings at the time, and was leaving for the day. Coming through the lobby, Barbara introduced me to "John Mayer" who was stopping by to talk about his new record. I shook his hand, said a nice to meet you and hustled out the door, hoping to catch a little afternoon beach time.

He was a tallish, confident looking guy, but otherwise he was completely unremarkable. He seemed identical to many of the other local musicians we'd had by the station recently. Guys who were roofers and landscapers and wash-ashores, who made a few bucks playing the bars at night, and had cut a record like any good Island-living troubadour.

And that's what I assumed this "John Mayer" guy was. He didn't dress or act like anything more than a guy who was going to cut the grass, do a quick interview with Barbara, trim the hedges, and then play that night at Offshore Ale.

Of course, after a few listens, we realized that "No Such Thing" was going to be a hit. And within a few months, Mayer was on his way to being a Next Big Thing.

And I realize, even when he's on stage in front of thousands, or quipping with reporters on the red carpet or showing up to sing at the request of Herbie Hancock or John Scofield, he's still just a guy. A regular guy. Nothing to be intimidated by, or to fawn over. No different than the guy who does cut the grass at the station. Or, for that matter, the guy who cuts the grass at my house (me).

He's just a guy. And so is every other famous person.

Though, I suspect, Mayer now hires someone else to cut his grass.

See the video on Youtube.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

David Gray "Draw The Line"

I knew that we had entered a weird phase of marketing, when albums started to get their own trailers.

I mean, we're used to movies having trailers. It makes sense. You cut together little bits and pieces of an existing movie, to make an exciting 90-second preview.

But albums started to get the trailer treatment as a way to let fans know the record is coming. That seemed a little strange, but I guess it makes sense.

So I wasn't surprised to see a trailer for David Gray's summer tour. I guess it's a reasonable way to spread the word the Gray is coming to your town in support of his new live album.

What IS a little surprising and weird is the other marketing campaign Gray (or his label) is engaged in.


I guess I don't have anything against saving money. But something about crazy discounts to sell CDs feels really desperate. Like it's meat that is about to go bad so we'd better mark it down.

Creativity seems to be getting devalued at every turn. Rock bottom prices only make the product seem more disposable. That can't be a good thing for the artist, right?

On the other hand, might this motivate a casual David Gray fan, to go buy the record?

I'm on the fence on this one. What do you think?

See the video on Youtube.

See the video on Youtube.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Butthole Surfers "Pepper"

People's idea of being a DJ is often shaped by what they see in the movies, in films like "Good Morning Vietnam," where Robin Williams' character seems to be improvising and free-associating at all times.

That's not reality, of course.

No, even if you are a BIG Personality with all the latitude in the world so say what you want (I'm thinking Howard Stern here), there are still things that you HAVE TO say, like it or not.

You have to do the station IDs like your boss wants you to.

You've got to say the name of the song, no matter how stupid you feel saying "That was Crash Test Dummies with 'Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm.'"

And you've got to do commercials.

One of my most awful moments was back in my early days at mvyradio, when I was in charge of producing the station's commercials. I had I received copy for a high end clothing store.

Among the items as part of the upcoming weekend's trunk sale, were these fur pieces, from a particular woodland creature.

Yes, the copy required that the jock say---with a straight face---the phrase:

"Sheared Beaver."

I'm not kidding.

Just writing it feels lewd.

But my awful moment turned into one of "schadenfreude" when I realized that I, as Production Director, could assign this task to another DJ.

Yeah, Megan the DJ didn't forgive me on that one for a while.

Years earlier, I remember watching this track by The Butthole Surfer climb the charts, and I did so with a smile on my face.

I was in the unusual situation of working for a station that played Top 40 music during the day, and Alternative music at night.

We were playing The Butthole Surfers during my evening show, and I didn't have a problem saying the band's name.

But I wondered what Casey Kasem would do.

We ran American Top 40 every weekend, and sometimes I would be the one to babysit the program. You got to learn, pretty quickly, that the show was heavily formatted, and that Kasem did the same things, week in and week out.

One of the scripted parts of the show, was that he would run down the Number One songs on some of the other charts. The Number One Country Song of the week. The Number One Urban Song of the week. And the Number One Alternative Song of the week.

Guess was track was on its way to that Modern Rock top spot?

If "Pepper" reached Number One, was I really going to hear Casey Kasem say the words "Butthole Surfer"?

Against all odds, Yes, "Pepper" did become this huge hit. But Casey wussed out.

When the time came, he announced that "Number One on the Alternative charts is 'Pepper' by The B-H Surfers."

Still, it felt like a victory.

Though not as sweet a victory as getting a co-worker to say the words, Sheared Beaver.

See the video on Youtube.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Nails "88 Lines About 44 Women"

I was working on a lengthier post for Monday, listening to that tune, and I remembered this one, which was such a bolt from the blue when I was a teen. I can't say that I was musically well-educated at this point in my life (1984). I had literally never heard anything quite like this . . .

See the video on Youtube.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Flaming Lips "She Don't Use Jelly"

Here's another Weekend Post:

Can you think back to 1993/4, when you first heard this song?

Did you imagine that nearly 20 years later, the band behind this (seeming) novelty song, would actually be one of the most inventive and critically beloved bands in America?

Me neither.

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, June 24, 2011

Lyle Lovett "Here I Am"

I like songs that have a good joke in them. But they're not very fun to hear live.

Have you ever heard a live Adam Sandler song? The audience is always singing the punch line. Totally annoying.

I went to see Lyle Lovett at the Cape Cod Melody Tent a bunch of years ago, and when he started to play "Here I Am" I was kind of excited, because I like the song.

But every time he'd get to the end of a verse, ready to drop his perfectly placed pregnant pause and zinger, the audience, in unison, would yell it out.

Totally ruined the song for me.

How do you get around this, if you're the artist?

Lyle is a smart man. He did save the song, by adding a whole new verse at the end, so no one knew the joke, set up or punch line, and he was able to get the audience to listen, rather than mimic.

The other way? Sing it in a foreign country . . .

See the video on Youtube.

The origial

See the video on Youtube.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Nikki Jean "Feathers And Steel"

How much does pedigree count?

I’m asking, because I’m having trouble listening without prejudice to today’s song.

Maybe the best thing for you to do is to listen to the song before we go any further.

See the video on Youtube.

Does this sound like a song the station should play? Would you feel differently if you knew who wrote it?

I knew the back-story of this tune, before I ever heard it. With the important information withheld, here’s the story:

Young singer and songwriter Nikki Jean, very promising, gets some help from a Producer with connections. Producer suggests that Nikki write to Producer’s Famous Songwriter friend to ask for help. Famous songwriter not only offers to help, but sends Nikki a partially finished-song for her to finish and record.

To keep the name out of this post, I’ll tell you that the mystery Famous Songwriter is also the mystery co-writer of this song.

Now, do you like Young Singer Nikki Jean’s song any better? Do you give it more benefit of the doubt?

Does it motivate you to listen to more of her music, when you learn about some of her other Famous Songwriter co-writers?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

R.E.M. "Tongue"

"Are you guys getting wet out there?"

I was seeing R.E.M. on their tour supporting "Monster." It was their first tour in 6 years. Things had changed for R.E.M.

The last time they had been on tour, it was behind the album "Green," their 6th record, which, like each predecessor, got them a little more attention than the last record. They had graduated to playing arenas.

But albums seven and eight were real breakthroughs, major worldwide successes. So by the time record number nine, "Monster," was released, the band's decision to tour brought them to much larger venues, including outdoor amphitheaters.

This night, outside of Nashville, Tennessee, the weather wasn't so great. Rain had been on and off, and thunderstorms were threatening. But the rain had stopped when Michael Stipe asked the question:

"Are you guys getting wet out there?"

And it struck me as a sign of much change with R.E.M. when Stipe, is a slow, low voice, followed his question with:

"I'm a little moist myself."

With earlier albums touching on political subjects and more recent albums awash in tasteful strings, with their activism up-front-and-center and their prevailing attitude being unadulterated earnestness, R.E.M. up to that point, had never struck me as a "funny" band. Or a "sexy" band.

Fun? Yes. Energetic? Yes. Even cheerful? Sometimes. But not usually funny. And never playfully sexy.

But in a quick flash on the previous album (when Stipe throws an Andy Kaufman-as-Elvis-Presley impression into "Man On The Moon"), and moreso on "Monster," the band, and Stipe in particular, seemed to be having fun with the characters in the songs.

And the song that followed his "moist" quip seemed to be the culmination of a willingness to really be something different, be someone different.

He introduced the song by saying, "Sometimes I write songs for boys. Sometimes I write songs for girls. This one, is for the ladies."

Can you imagine a full-song falsetto, up-front and on top of the mix, on an early album like "Fables Of The Reconstruction" or "Murmur"? No way.

"Tongue" had it. It sounded great. It suited the band. It was a sign of change and of growth. It was a good moment.

See the video on Youtube.

From a documentary, with a bit of discussion about "Tongue"

See the video on Youtube.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Brett Dennen "Comeback Kid"

Sequels are hard.

You want to create the success of the first film, and hit many of the same notes that the original audience enjoyed. But hew too closely to the formula, and you lose any of the pleasure of the first film that came from surprise.

So it goes with second singles.

Your artist has a break-through hit with the first tune on the album. How do you choose a follow-up?

I mean, mostly likely, the full album has a range of sounds. Slow songs, fast songs, loud, quiet, etc.

Pick the song that has nothing in common with the first single, and you may not touch the audience that responded to the original charm.

But pick the song that sounds too much like the first single, and you risk giving the impression that your artist is a Johnny One Note.

I wasn't too sure about this song as the second single from Brett Dennen's latest album, "Loverboy."

"Sydney" was such a cool, fun, surprising song from him. But the first couple of times I heard "Comeback Kid" I felt like it was a very, very close cousin to the first song.

Having been a fan of his for some time, I know that this is not his only sound. He does quieter, more contemplative tunes too.

For someone who doesn't know his previous work, does this second song give the impression that he's a One Trick Pony?

See the video on Youtube.

See the video on Youtube.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bruce Springsteen "Badlands"

I heard about Clarence Clemons' passing on Saturday, and thought, instead of posting on Sunday, I'd take a day and think about what I really wanted to say about him.

It was pretty amazing to check my newsfeed on Facebook and see the various friends and mvyradio listeners who felt the need to post the sad news. There were friends who I know are big Springsteen fans, but there were also lots of folks who's love of the E Street Band was previously unknown to me. It was impressive to see the musical lives that The Big Man had touched.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I got around to watching "The Promise," a documentary about the making of Springsteen's 1978 record "Darkness On The Edge Of Town." Springsteen kept talking about how he wanted to make the record more "stripped down" and "leaner and meaner." And that meant fewer instruments, fewer solos. Less Clarence.

But here's the funny thing, and Springsteen is the one to point this out.

With "Badlands" as (lyrically) the clearest statement of purpose in that record, the saxophone solo that Clemons nailed is so strong, is so present, is so important to the album, that when you've listened to "Darkness" from beginning to end, it feels like Clemons is all over the record, even though he's not.

It reminds me of the movie "A Few Good Men." You think of that as a movie starring Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson, but in reality, Nicholson is only in the movie for 4 scenes. Yet his performance is so powerful, and so integral to the film, that he won an Academy Award.

Clemons didn't play on every Springsteen song. He didn't need to. You hear his instrument, his voice, in your head when you think of "Bruce Springsteen."

They called him The Big Man, and this is why.

A live version

See the video on Youtube.

The album version

See the video on Youtube.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bettie Serveert "Ray Ray Rain"

Here's another Weekend Post:

Yesterday, I went Swedish, so today I go Dutch.

I've always loved Carol van Dijk voice. Clear and beautiful.

They're still making music. Not sure how it hasn't found its way to Adult Alternative radio . . .

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.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Cardigans "Lovefool"

Here's another Weekend Post:

I never understood why this video had a "video babe," when lead singer Nina Persson is so damn gorgeous.

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, June 17, 2011

Reeve Carney "Rise Above"

If I say, "Tell me what you know about the Spiderman musical on Broadway," the one bit of knowledge that you likely have about it, is that the production has been troubled. Some might say disastrous.

If I say, "Tell me how you feel about U2," you're likely to give me a pretty strong opinion. The fans are long-time fans. The haters can't stand the band.

When I'm listening to the new music that comes into the station, it's best to listen with unbiased ears.

It shouldn't matter if I have previously liked the band or not, the new song should be judged on its merits.

It shouldn't matter if the song doesn't meet previous expectations of the artist (i.e. if Eddie Vedder does a ukulele album, it shouldn't be dismissed because it doesn't sound like Pearl Jam), it should be judged on its merits.

It shouldn't matter even if I like the song. What's important is if I think the mvyradio listeners will like the song, and it should be judged on those merits.

This song comes with a lot of baggage. It comes with built in prejudices against Broadway musical music, which can be corny and doesn't really have a place on Rock radio. It comes with built in prejudices against this particular musical, in that the show is mostly known for the accidents and retooling and director-firing, all while getting a Ho-Hum from the critics. And it comes with built in prejudices against/for U2, in that you can't help but judge this song against previous U2 songs.

So how to you listen, without prejudice?

And more importantly, should you (listen without prejudice)?

Because listeners aren't going to take a moment to set aside their prejudices while listening to the song, are they?

It's a tricky balance, trying to judge a song on its own merits, judge a song in context of its history and pedigree, and judge how others are going to judge the song (and what criteria they might use to do so), and then repeat this process for each and every song you consider.

So, play Program Director. What do you think? If you knew nothing about the singer or the song, would you like "Rise Above"? Does the story elevate or deflate the tune? How about the players?

Here are 3 versions, with varying degrees of context. What do you think?

See the song performed on Letterman, on Youtube.

Hear the version with Bono & The Edge, on Youtube.

And the version from American Idol, on Youtube.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tizzy "Cut Down Fight"

When I think about her, I hear this little giggle of hers, faintly coming through the speakers.

Before a show, she’d be getting her drum kit in order. Doing whatever drummers do to “tune up.”

And because she’d finally been coaxed into singing some back up, she had a vocal mic. But pre-show, it was pushed up high, away from where she was sitting, so when she laughed, it came out over the PA, but it seemed very far away.

The giggle was a nervous thing. Pre-show jitters. It was high-pitched and girlish.

It was kind of unexpected, in that she was not girly at all. She was not a frilly pink thing. Nor was she a bubble or a ditz. The giggle might’ve led you to think she was someone else, but no, she was sharp, smart, thoughful.

You only need to talk to her for about 30 seconds to realize that.

And neither the girlish giggle, nor her adult clear-headedness would have led to you expect what would happen next.

She’d count off the first song, and I swear to you, that when she wanted to, the only person I have ever seen hit the drums hard, or faster, was Dave Grohl.

The nervousness vanished, so did the gentleness, and Teri’s internal confidence, came out.

She could be an inventive drummer, keeping the beat without being boring. And she could rattle the whole damn stage, with pop punk power.

I loved watching other musicians see her perform for the first time, because her ability was so unexpected, and so overwhelming, that you could see their minds being blown, as her kit shook the room.

I got some unexpected news today.

Our friend Martin sent me an email with no details, only saying that he, like me, had lost touch with Teri these last few years.

The attached obituary was a complete shock.

41. Breast cancer. Gone.

She was my definition of cool.

Teri loved lots of very challenging, hip, indie rock music. Bands I never heard of, and often, who’s beat I could not catch. She also really loved Duran Duran and The Partridge Family.

You'd expect the too-cool-for-school indie rocker to eschew the pop drivel, or the Top 40 lover to not have the taste for the complex and fuzzy. The thing that made Teri cool is that she loved both, sincerely, un-ironically and without embarrassment or pretension.

If I learned one thing from her it was this. Like what you like. Don’t apologize for it. Don't wear it as a badge. Just enjoy it. Sincerely and un-ironically. Without embarrassment or pretension.

We had been college housemates at UMass in the early 90s. Collaborated on TV/Film projects. And became great friends.

She was an amazing letter writer. And in the post-college decade, as other, lesser friends drifted away, an envelope in the mailbox from Teri was still a sure thing.

But in the last few years, as she got married and I got married---and my days became more about my job and my family and building a life---I stopped writing, and she stopped writing.

I assumed that she was out there, in Western Massachusetts, doing the things she always did, making music, writing and producing TV and video pieces.

I came home and dug my out Tizzy discs to hear her playing (and occasional singing) again. And later, I’ll go in the garage and try to find that one picture I have of her (with me and my cat Milktoast) on the lawn of my rented Virginia farmhouse from that time Tizzy did an East Coast tour and played my town.

And I’ve been searching around the internet, looking at old record reviews, blog posts and interviews.

I don’t know what I’m expecting to find in all this looking and listening.

Answers? Peace? Relief from the guilt of not being there?

I don’t know. I’ll dig into that in the days and nights to come, I guess.

In the meantime, I’ll focus on the pride I take in having known, and learned from, someone special, and concentrate on sending those feelings to the people (like her husband, her sisters, her folks) who need answers and peace and relief right now, much more than I do.

Here's a Tizzy track called "Cut Down Fight," which features Teri rocking the drums and singing back up.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Spice Girls "Wannabe"

I remember that I was slowly, lazily, getting ready for work when I flipped on MTV.

I caught only the last 40-or-so seconds of this song, but my immediate thought was:


At work, I dug through the stacks of new, yet-to-be-listened-to CDs and founds the song. I listened to the full thing.


I called over a couple of my fellow DJs and played them the song, introducing it by saying:

"Get ready to hear the song you'll be listening to over and over again for the next 6 months."

I was working at a Top 40 Radio Station in 1997, and when a song like this came around, you just braced yourself.

Say what you want. Mock them if you will. But there was no denying that "Wannabe" by The Spice Girls was destined to be a Number One Pop Radio Smash.

And so it came to pass. The song quickly climbed the charts, which meant playing it once every 8 hours, then soon every 4 hours, and within just a few weeks, we were playing every 2 1/2 hours, the heaviest rotation of we had.

It wasn't enough.

You'd have played the song last hour, and people would call and request it.

You'd have played the song 15 minutes ago, and people would call and request it.

I'd even be playing the song on the air, and while it was playing, people would call and request it.

One day, I just lost my shit.

"By request, here's 'Wannabe' from The Spice Girls!"

Two and a half minutes later, I came back on.

"And now, by request, here's 'Wannabe' from The Spice Girls!"

And when it ended:

"Here's a new one you probably haven't heard before. It's 'Wannabe' from The Spice Girls!"

The after that:

"We just got the new song from Metallica in. Here it is!"

And I played, that's right, "Wannabe."

The request line rang. It was 2 little girls.

"Can you play 'Wannabe' by The Spice Girls?" and they burst into laughter. At least they were in on the joke.

"One more time, 'Wannabe' by The Spice Girls."

"Because you don't want to here anything else, here's 'Wannabe' by The Spice Girls."

"Why should we play anything else? It's The Spice Girls again!"

I did this for a half hour or so, just playing it over and over, feeling more and more manic, but somehow liberated. The dread of having to play the song every 2 1/2 hours was gone, when you played nothing else.

And to this day, I kinda don't mind hearing the song. You know, once a year.

See the video on Youtube.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Reverend Horton Heat "Please Don't Take The Baby To The Liquor Store"

I never actually saw the movie "Sweet Home Alabama," but from the promos, I learned the useful line, "You have a baby! In a Bar!"

It's great when pop culture provides a joke that you can use to defuse the awkwardness of doing something socially, well, awkward.

That's why I was happy to discover this Reverend Horton Heat track.

Because I was going to see the band last month, and hadn't caught up on their recent releases, I had missed this nugget.

And yes, when I'm on the way home from the grocery store, and my wife calls me and asks that I stop by the package store, too, I can look in the rearview mirror, into the back seat, and cheerily sing to my kid:

"Please don't take the baby to the liquor store, it's not the kind of bottle he's been crying for."

Hear it on Youtube.

See the Reverend do the song live on Youtube.

Here's the movie clip on Youtube.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Van Morrison "Have I Told You Lately"

At its core, the station I work for is a singer-songwriter station. We play lots of different kids of music---we're fairly eclectic---but the home-base sound is made by people who are writers first.

Because we're talking about some of the great songwriters (Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young), it stands to reason that even people who don't listen to mvyradio, know many of the songs we play, because more commercial artists make mainstream versions of their songs.

And here is another place where I need to check my snobbery.

The folks had a big Anniversary coming up, and my Dad (the closet romantic) wanted to take my Mom out on a special date. And to make the scene complete, he wanted me to get a song and put it on cassette for him (cassette! how quaint!), so when the car started up, so would the song.

"Peej, can you get me that Rod Stewart song?"

"Which one?"

"Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?"

"You mean the Van Morrison song?"

"No . . . no, the one by Rod Stewart."

"But the one that Van Morrison did. That one?"

"Oh, I don't know. I'm pretty sure it's a Rod Stewart song."

In my mind, Jack Black appears, for just a moment. Then I dismiss him.

"Yeah, the Rod Stewart song? I'll get that on cassette for you."

My anniversary gift to you, was to not act like an unctuous ass.

See the video on Youtube.

See the video on Youtube.

See the video on Youtube.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sugarcubes "Hit"

Here's another Weekend Post:

I always loved this one, because Bjork, in the cutest way possible, really does capture the feeling of new, surprising love.

Not sure about the orange/Icelandic rapping, though.

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.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Civ "Can't Wait One Minute More"

Here's another Weekend Post:

Doesn't this just scream 1995?

Low budget, pop-punk, Springer-imitating video, with a catchy little hook that would no doubt resurface a decade later in a car commercial?


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, June 10, 2011

Bob Dylan "It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry"

I remember this line from Mike Mills of R.E.M.

He was asked in an interview to respond to a somewhat lurid rumor, surrounding a former associate of the band. He declined to comment, citing his desire to remain in good taste:

"Y’know, I may not be a gentleman of whatever, but I know how a gentleman would act, and I’m not going to say anything about it."

I thought of that line while I was thinking about how I would (or if I should) present today’s entry. Because clearly it crosses a line of good taste. But I'm not a gentleman, and I really can't resist . . .

So if you are easily offended, you should bail on this post, now.

For the rest of you, I’m not sure where your line in the sand is, where you mark that something has gone too far, so I’m going to just guess and hope for the best.

The final scenes of an old Bob Dylan video I wrote about last week, posed the idea of a Bob Dylan sex scene, which led me to consider Mr. Dylan in an adult movie.

What would it be called?

Well I asked this question to a few friends---friends who don’t mind occasionally driving their 4-wheel vehicles over the line in the sand---and Yikes! We came up with literally dozens of Bob Dylan song titles and album titles that could be converted to great Porn titles.

There were the obvious and not-too-too-offensive ones like:

“Lay Lady Lay”

“Blonde On Blonde”

“Hard Rain”

The slightly ruder, but obvious:

“Highway 69 Revisited”


And the hilariously conceptual:

“In Fidel”

“When I Paint My Master’s Piece”

But there were A LOT that were just too graphic to repost here. You’ll have to use your own dark mind to figure out how to twist “It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry.”

I’ll share my two favorites, neither written by me (but names withheld, to protect the guilty).

One of the guys came up with a brilliant title, aimed at women who love women:

“Brainy Gay Women #12 & 35"

And my other favorite, is just beautiful in its simplicity:

“John Wesley Hard-on”

I think that one wins, for sounding most like an actual title of a porno.

Bob Dylan turned 70, and we wanted a classy, fun way to commemorate the occasion.

This wasn’t it.

Instead, we asked listeners to vote for their favorite Dylan tunes, and we made a list of the Top 70, to mark his birth.

Check out the list at mvyradio’s website, and listen to the songs on our Dylan Channel.

See the video on Youtube.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Eddie Vedder "Longing To Belong"

I was at a Potluck dinner at my daughter's preschool last week, watching the kids tumble around, and chatting with some of the other Moms and Dads.

One of the best things in a social situation about having a job like mine, is that people feel comfortable talking about my work. If I worked in aerospace or taught Greek classics, small talk at a potluck wouldn't likely ever be about my job.

One of the Mom's told me:

"I just got tickets to see Eddie Vedder!"

"Cool," I said. "Wait. Is this the Ukulele album tour?"

"Uh, Yes." she said.

There was a pause. Then she laughed.

"Hey! Did you just dis my Eddie Vedder show!?!"

Huh. I guess I did.

I try really, really hard not to be a music snob. When you spend nearly 20 years talking to people about music they love as your job, you come to accept that everybody likes something different, and that's okay.

But something about Eddie Vedder, powerful frontman for one of the great live rock bands of the last 2 decades, doing a little ukulele album hit me in the smart-ass-bone, and I couldn't resist the tweak (which was really aimed at Vedder, not her).

But really, isn't the definition of cool the ability to do something that you love and believe in, even if it is completely antithetical to what you are known for, and to do it without a trace of shame or irony?

I told her I was sorry. Hey, Eddie Vedder with a Uke is still Eddie Vedder with that amazing voice. That isn't mockable, it should be celebrated (or at least, not looked down upon).

C'mon, this tune is actually pretty good.

See the video on Youtube.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tom Petty "Even The Losers"

"PJ, look out for the cop!"

"I see him," I said, calmly. Not really understanding what the big deal was. I wasn't speeding or screwing around. I was a pretty cautious driver at age 17.

"The COP, PJ, The COP!" he was shouting.

There was a police car, parked, on the way far side of the intersection of Salisbury Center.

"I SEE him."

But there wasn't even anyone in it. What was the big deal?


I turned my gaze from the cruiser far across the intersection, to the Traffic Cop standing in the middle of the road, inches away from where I had screeched to a stop, his hand outstretched, yelling "STOPSTOPSTOP!"

"PULL OVER THERE," he barked.

This was not good.

I was 17. Four of us were skipping school to go to the beach. There was a case of beer in the car. And I had just nearly run over a man with a badge.

I do not have, what you would call, a Poker Face.

Never having a real taste for trouble, I had never skipped school before. And I'm not sure I'd ever had a beer during the light of day. And definitely, most definitely, I was not the kind to absently run down a Traffic Cop.

"License and registration."

I'm sure I was shaking as I handed my papers to him, nervously shifting my eyes in a way that said, "Don't look under that towel in the back seat, because there is nothing there. Certainly not beer."

While he ran my plates, my friends and I had a brief, going-nowhere conversation about what the hell we should do to get out of this.

"Mr. Finn?" he said, returning to my window. "You're from across the river, huh?"

"Yes sir."

"Tell me. Are you Newburyport boys in the habit of running over Police Officers?"

"No. Sir."

"Alright then. Pay attention to what you're doing. Get out of here."

We stayed pretty quiet for the next few minutes as we rolled down the long road that opens up to Salt Marshes, with the beach homes of Salisbury then Seabrook on the horizon.

At some point, among the beer and the frisbee and the sun and sand, we heard, "Even The Losers Get Lucky Sometimes," and knew that, yeah, that song was ours for the day.

See the video on Youtube.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Paul McCartney "Waterfalls"

Wait a minute . . . TLC ripped off Paul McCartney? I had no idea.

How was there not a lawsuit? And how come I'm just hearing about this now?

(Well, the answer to the 2nd question is that the 1980 album "McCartney II" is about to be reissued)

See the video on Youtube.

See the video on Youtube.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sheryl Crow "If It Makes You Happy"

Not every DJ can love every song that the station plays. And that’s alright.

Not every server in a restaurant loves every dish that gets ordered, right?

You realize that playing the song (serving the meal) isn’t about YOU the DJ, it’s about the person who wants to hear (or eat) it.

But every once and a while, you do go a bit crazy.

I’m going to leave the DJ in this story unnamed, and will only tell you that this story takes place many years ago, and the DJ stopped working for mvyradio not long after.

Not every DJ loves Sheryl Crow. I mean, she’s enormously popular (especially so, when this story takes place), but she does rub some people the wrong way, including this DJ.

The DJ would dutifully play “If It Makes You Happy” as part of mvyradio’s regular rotation, but at some point, comment could not be withheld.

Reserving this prank for times when the DJ was sure that the bosses weren’t listening, 2 things would get cued up.

One was “If It Makes You Happy.” The other was a sound effects CD.

When Sheryl would get to the chorus, and start reaching for that slightly screechy note, the DJ would bring up the sound effects disc, very low in the mix.

If you were listening to mvyradio at the time, you might have asked yourself:

“Is there a cat in that song?”

Yes, just under the surface of the song, faintly, but noticeably, would be the sound effect of a cat, mewling.

It’s a little shocking, how appropriate it sounds.


You can try it yourself.

Start the Sheryl Crow video, and when it gets to the 1:08 mark, start the cat video.

And enjoy being a rebel DJ.

See the video on Youtube.

See the video on Youtube.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Farm "Groovy Train"

Here's another Weekend Post:

In the early 90s, bands like this were being foisted on America on a weekly basis. You'd read all these breathless Melody Maker reviews of how they were dominating the U.K. charts, and were coming to conquer the USA.

And inevitably, they'd get a nice bit of MTV "Buzz Bin" action . . . and that would be that. You'd never hear from them again.

20 years later, I still won't read a review of a band, if it was written by the British press.

I like this song, though.

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.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Seahorses "Love Is The Law"

Here's another Weekend Post:

Here's a forgotten Brit-nugget of the 90s. These guys were a spinoff of the beloved Stone Roses. I think they only put out one album . . .

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, June 3, 2011

The Who "Boris The Spider"

What do you tell your kids about spiders?

Do you have no qualms about squashing a spider?

Or, if you find one in the bathroom, do you capture it and take it outside?

Are you afraid of them? Or even a little skeeved out by them?

I don’t know what the deal is---the weather, the humidity, ancient arachnid curse---but suddenly there are all kinds of spiders in my house.

Most of them are small and harmless and I don’t really think twice about them.

But a few on them have been HUGE. And a little hairy.

What to do in front of the kids?

You don’t want to freak out, and encourage a lifelong fear. So you try to explain that spiders are really helpful creatures, protecting us by eating other bugs.

You strike this friendly tone, that doesn’t quite drown out the creep-factor, kind of like the John Entwistle song. It’s almost a kids song, but has a lingering element of menace.

It makes me long for the days of Paul and Ringo.

See the video on Youtube.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

U2 "The Sweetest Thing"

For young single guys who live on the Vineyard, it’s a common rite of passage that you date a summer girl.

You know, she’s here from somewhere, spending the summer working in a restaurant, here to have fun and then leave come August. Or maybe she’s come to the Island with her family, in a seasonal home 10 times as nice as the “room” (actually walk-in closet, fitted with a mattress) that is your summer shuffle rental. And you’re the doesn’t-like-to-be-tied-down type who’s happy to be in a relationship that has a fixed expiration date.

And there’s a special sub-set of this phenomenon, which itself is a rite of passage:

Dating a nanny.

It's a slightly different experience than just dating a summer girl. It opens up a different world of the Vineyard.

Yes if someone can afford to have a second home that they only visit a few weeks a year . . . a second home worth a million (or millions of) dollars . . . then they can afford to hire someone to keep an eye on their kids.

I dated a nanny one summer. Nice girl. She was my age and she was in charge of a young teen and a pre-teen. So a date might be her picking me up in one of the SUVs the family had rented for the summer, with kids in tow, and going out for dinner. It was strange for me coming from a family that did not really believe in taking children to restaurants, to be with some very poised, self-assured youngsters who didn’t think twice about ordering the lobster tails. The nanny was always given a nice handful of cash to take care of the tab. Then maybe we’d drop the kids at the arcade while we'd hang in the car.

I got to see parts of the Vineyard I’d never been to. I’d tag along as the family got invited to private beaches, some of the most beautiful on the Island, where, yeah, I ran into a celebrity or two. And beyond celebrities, I met the kind of folks who aren’t famous, but are incredibly interesting---people who’d made their fortunes in computers or retail or science and discovery. A class of people who populated the island for a few months, but rarely co-mingled with the electricians and bartenders and boat builders that I knew so well from my local pub.

Being a little older than the average summer-flingers, my nanny and I did try to make a go of it when she returned to California, stretching our summer relationship from coast to coast until just past the new year. But summer is summer, and as we experience here every year, summer has to end.

A good friend of mine tried the same thing---met a nanny on the island, tried to continue the relationship, long distance. But she was from Sweden, and yeah, despite their best efforts, summer has to end.

But when we'd swap dating-a-nanny-on-the-Vineyard stories, he'd sing this song, because, you know, "Oh oh-whoa, The Swedish thing."

I like hearing this song, at this time of year. I smile, thinking about the year-round boys (and girls) who've been looking at the same faces for months on end, who's long winter has finally ended. And I think about the summer girls (and boys, and nannies) who are unpacking their bags in a room that will be their home for the next ten weeks. Each group wondering if they'll find the other, wondering if summer romance is in the Vineyard stars.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Head And The Heart "Lost In My Mind"

A really great pop songwriter’s gift, is creating a piece of instantly memorable ear candy. Something that lodges in your brain after one listen, and remains a pleasure to hear to over and over.

I’m thinking of songs like “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” or “Mamma Mia” or “Mmm Bop” or “Hey Ya.”

A song that can sound simple, and sometimes even stupid, is actually incredibly hard to make. Or at least to make well.

There’s a deeper, less celebrated kind of great pop songwriting that I think is even harder to achieve, but is sometimes more rewarding.

Neil Finn of Crowded House does it. So does Glen Phillips of Toad The Wet Sprocket. Aimee Mann too.

They have this gift of being able to create these beautiful, wonderful, sturdy melodies, that don’t necessarily reveal their power on the first listen, but in the end are as (or are more) durable than the Ear Candy songs.

20 years later, you can still hear “Don’t Dream It’s Over” or “Walk On The Ocean” or “That’s Just What You Are” and the songs feel fresh and they even seem to (politely) beg you to sing along.

Their power is subtler. It doesn’t hit you over the head with its own cleverness.

That’s what I like about this song from The Head And The Heart.

I heard it a bunch of times and liked it well enough, but I can’t say the song immediately distinguished itself among the 100 or so songs I was listening to for possible adds to mvyradio.

But I liked it, and when I found out that they were on the bill for Newport Folk this year, I decided to get behind the tune, knowing that we’d likely be airing their set and/or interviewing the band.

Now that I’ve heard it on mvyradio a bunch of times, it has suddenly become one of my favorite new songs on the station.

It’s such a strong song, with a memorable melody and a nice steady build.

If you’re not familiar with the song, check it out. And if it doesn’t knock your socks off on the first listen, that’s okay. Enjoy the fact that it will reveal its beauty and power, over time.

See the video on Youtube.