Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mumford & Sons "Roll Away Your Stone"

There are a couple of musical things that we have been adamant about, as parents.

One, is crummy kid music.

Perhaps surprisingly, it's my wife that has zero patience for twee tunes. With the exception of a Sesame Street album, we really don't play any music for our kids, that was created for kids alone.

Instead we've worked really hard to find music that was made for adults, that appeals to kids.

The Beatles is kid music. Abba is kid music. Michael Franti is kid music.

The other thing we have strongly encouraged is unselfconscious dancing. And that's because my wife is a great dancer, and because I am a terrible dancer. We want our kids to experience the joy of movement.

I lost that joy somewhere along the way.

When I was a little kid, my sister and I used to dance around the living room. The kid songs we had, were Showtunes. We'd jump and groove to "The Music Man" and "Fiddler On The Roof" and such. We'd swing with wild abandon, until . . . well, I'll get back to that in a second.

My wife and I have tried to recreate that scene in our living room, and we were having a blast recently, with Mumford & Sons.

I can't really say that lyrically, Mumford & Sons is kid music. But musically? Hell yeah.

I was holding my daughter, and my wife was holding my sons, and we started shuffling to "Roll Away Your Stone," sashaying from one end of the living room to the other.

Then that instrumental part, right after the chorus, hit. The part that makes you want to stamp your feet. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump.

And that's what we did. We stomped our feet. Stomped from one end of the room to the other.

As the song built, so did out stomping.


Where I had been charging into the rhythm with abandon, I suddenly had a hesitation, and I stopped.

I stopped stomping. I stopped jumping.


I smiled when I realized what had made me want to stop:

I didn't want the record player to skip.

Back in the 1970s, when my sister and I were stomping along to "76 Trombones" like we were in a Sousa marching band, there was a point where you had to pull in the reins of your unrestrained thumps.

If you thumped too hard, the needle would jump off the record. Why, you could get bounced right back into "Goodnight My Someone" if you weren't careful.

So you had to tread lightly, pull back the reins, not dance with full abandon, in deference to the limitations of the phonograph player.

I can't say that this is solely the reason that I grew up to be a terrible dancer. But it was a pretty startling realization.

In the living room, with my daughter in my arms, I realized no matter how hard I stomped, that Mumford & Sons MP3 was not going to skip.

There was nothing holding me back.

See the video on Youtube.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Jack Johnson "In The Morning"

The new Christmas songs have arrived, and now that Thanksgiving is over, I feel like we can start playing them in earnest.

Which doesn't necessarily mean we want to start playing them in earnest.

Truthfully, receiving a new Christmas album is often met with a bit of a tired sigh.

I like Christmas music just fine, but newly released songs tend to fall into two categories:

Standards, that have been done to death.

Originals, that are pretty darn weak.

Some years, we'll add one or two new Christmas songs to rotation. Some years, nothing makes the cut, and we just play the old favorites.

But this year, there seems to be a surprising crop of solid originals.

This new Jack Johnson tune doesn't necessarily sound like a Christmas song. You're not overwhelmed by jingling bells or whatever.

Instead, wisely, he goes for the feeling of Christmas, and does a pretty good job of conveying that. And I don't mean the feeling of the season itself. It's not a paean to wreaths and holly and whatnot. It's a simple song about that holiday moment when you have a chance to reflect on what is really important, and what you really have.

Nicely done. Much better than another version of Rudolph.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, November 28, 2011

David Bowie "It's Hard To Be A Saint"

Here are a few things I know about David Bowie . . .

He hasn't made a record in nearly a decade, hasn't toured in ages, and is mostly a homebody these days. His schedule is open.

He clearly likes Bruce Springsteen, having covered two of his song ("Hard To Be A Saint" and "Growing Up").

He plays the saxophone.

Do you get where I'm going with this?

Bruce Springsteen announced this week that he and The E Street Band are going to tour next summer.

And the first question on everyone's mind is, Who's going to play saxophone now that Clarence Clemons is gone?

I'm just saying . . . Bowie's available.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ray Charles "Sweet Potato Pie"

It's 4 days after Thanksgiving . . . quick, what kind of leftover pie do you have in the fridge?

(The Genius, with James Taylor)

Hear the song on Youtube.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fat Boys "All You Can Eat"

It's a little weird to be thankful for a fractured family, but I do have to say that I have enjoyed this last run of days/meals.

Wednesday, we had dinner at my Mother-In-Law's house, which included her boyfriend's family too.

Thursday we had a traditional Thanksgiving at our house, with my folks and my sister's family, and my mother-in-law and brother-in-law's family.

Friday, we had another dinner at our house, this time with my father-in-law, my wife's sister and her family.

And Saturday, we're having a birthday dinner at my Mom's house, for my Dad, which includes my late sister's husband and his new fiancee, and my Auntie.

We couldn't corral all these folks into one room on one day. That would be nuts.

So instead, we've had a stretch of delicious food, and family love, for which I could not be more grateful.

(But the joyous gluttony did bring me back to this tune from "Krush Groove")

Hear the song on Youtube.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Steely Dan "Black Friday"

Uh . . . if you've been awake for hours and hours already, trying to get to those doorbuster sales . . . do you have this one on the brain?

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Arlo Guthrie "Alice's Restaurant" (Revised)

We always air the original "Alice's Restaurant" at noon.

And we'd hate to break tradition, on-air, by playing an alternate version, so I'm posting it here.

Sometime in the mid-90s, Arlo Guthrie re-recorded the song, with a few updates and a very funny post-script related to Richard Nixon.

Youtube usually only allows 10 minute files, but you'll find the whole thing here.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Arlo Guthrie "Motorcycle Song"

Thursday is Thanksgiving, so of course, we're going to play "Alice's Restaurant," and I got thinking about where I first heard Arlo Guthrie.

And if these details don't lock the story in time . . .

We were in a large, white Econoline van, parked in a driveway.

We listened on 8-Track.

We didn't really know what The Draft was.

We thought "Father Rapers" was perhaps the funniest thing we'd ever heard.

Yeah, it was 1978 and I was about 9 years old. My best 3rd-grade buddy and I would go out to his driveway and sit in his parents van and let that 8-Track play over and over and over.

I can't say that we understood the full implications of Arlo Guthrie's anti-Draft, anti-War epic. But we surely understood the humor.

Hilarious littering, overzealous authority figures, pencil graffiti on benches---those were things a 9 year old could understand.

By 1978, we were post-Vietnam, post-Draft, post-Protest periods. But because were were stuck in the 8-Track age, it meant that we couldn't do what kids before us (with 45s) and kids after us (with CDs and MP3s) could do.

We couldn't just play our favorite song over and over.

So instead, we listened to the whole thing. The whole "Best Of Arlo Guthrie." And that's why, for me, Arlo could never be an artist who's history is a single song. Or even a single pair of songs (because "City Of New Orleans" is at least equally known). And he wasn't an artist I associated with only Thanksgiving, until I started working in radio, decades later.

So enjoy this one today from Arlo. At least give the man TWO days a year . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Paul Kelly "How To Make Gravy"

There's a certain segment of the listening audience, that wants to hear new music, but wants to hear it from old artists.

Yes, that's a complete paradox. But these people exist.

They aren't quite up for the challenge presented by new artist. They tune into mvyradio because they are into Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen or Elvis Costello and they aren't willing to go down the road with Death Cab For Cutie or The Decemberists or some other young band that one day (in my opinion) will engender the same quality of feeling to this music listening generation, as those previously mentioned venerable artists do.

But in the meantime, I'm a little bit stuck, since there are no "new" old Bob Dylan songs. There are no new, never-before-discovered tracks on "This Year's Model."

For better or worse, the musically lazy aren't likely to look beyond the U.S. borders for that sound they're missing.

So that's what I recommend.

Paul Kelly is a legend in his native Austrailia. Depending on what review you read, he's Down Under's answer to Bob Dylan or Elvis Costello or Bruce Springsteen or Ray Davies.

And he's got a new Best Of double disc out now, in the States, featuring this song (which, though it's about Christmas, has a title that seems to better suit Thanksgiving).

So if you're looking for something new that feels like something old (or know someone old who wants to hear something new that is actually something old), this is a good place to start.

Hear the song on Youtube.

PS. Doesn't this sound just a little like last week's Belle Brigade tune?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Alison Krauss "Paper Airplane"

Maybe it's a function of having a baby.

Or maybe this happens every year (and I have just forgotten, because I'm so damn tired, due to having a baby).

I was putting together a list of all the albums we put into rotation on mvyradio in 2011, for our annual Top 25 poll, and I couldn't get over the number of records---BIG records---that feel like they've been around for years, but have actually only been out for 12 or fewer months.

Lucinda Williams "Blessed"?

R.E.M. "Collapse Into Now"?

Bright Eyes "The People's Key"?

All released this year.

The Grammy-winningest woman in history puts out her first record in 7 years, and it's so far in the rearview mirror that I didn't remember that I came out in April?

That's the sign of a good year. That's the sign of a year so full of great releases, that even great records get pushed to the back burner.

You can check out the list of all albums we played in rotation, and vote for your top five. Voting automatically enters you to win CD copies of The Top 25 Of 2011.

Thanks for your help!

See the video on Youtube.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Rick Springfield "Bruce"

"bruces . . . "

Hear the song on Youtube.

(If this post doesn't make sense, read Friday's post)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Muses "The Gospel Truth"

"muses . . ."

(from Disney's "Hercules")

Hear the song on Youtube.

(If this post doesn't make sense, read Friday's post)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Throwing Muses "Counting Backward"

For full enjoyment of the entry, play this audio now, and let it run while you read the post . . ..

I have one, simple memory that comes to mind, anytime I hear any Throwing Muses song.

It was another UMass Spring concert. I can't remember who was on the bill that year, but the student production company was always pretty good about putting together an eclectic mix of 4 artists, that would appeal to various campus demographics. That's how De La Soul and Bob Dylan appeared on the same bill.

There was usually a hip, indie rock act (in those pre-"alternative" days, we called them "college" bands), like Violent Femmes or something.

This particular year, Throwing Muses filled that slot.

My friend Kurt was a fan. And I trusted his musical taste enough that I made sure I was shoulder to shoulder with him, near the front of the stage.

I can't remember who preceded the Muses' set, but whoever it was, had cleared the stage, and the roadies and student crew, were readying the stage for Kristen Hersh and company.

Per usual, there was a 20 minute or so delay between bands. It was early in the day, so the crowd on the lawn was not yet packed, not yet rowdy (and not yet drunk).

A relaxed murmur filled the air, as friends chatted casually. As Kurt and I did the same.

I don't think I fully registered, the first 5 or 6 times I heard it, but somewhere along the line, I picked up on a noise from behind me.

I looked at Kurt. He heard it too.

Turning around, I saw a scruffy, bearded, grad-student aged guy, one fist in the air, saying, "muses."

Not "MUSES!!!" Not "MUSES." Not even "Muses."

It was more on the level of how you might say, "here" when the professor took roll call in a particularly dull class.


Twenty or so seconds would go by, and then he'd say it again.


Not shouting, not fanatical. Just loud enough to be heard over the crowd murmur. Just frequently enough that you knew it was the only thing on the guys mind.

"muses . . ."

(25 seconds)

"muses . . ."

It was the most lackadaisical show of intense devotion I've ever heard.

And to this day, I can't hear the music, without wanting to not-quite-shout "muses."

If you want to, try it out yourself this weekend in Woods Hole, when Kristen Hersh performs and reads from her book.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Belle Brigade "Losers"

I'm scratching my head over this one . . .

It is fully conceivable that the average music fan might hear a song, love it, and come to find out that it is months (or years!) old.

But it's not really conceivable that this would happen to me. Not because I'm some sort of super-hearing-music-goalie-that-nothing-gets-past.

It's simply because I have people who's job it is, to be on my case.

I spend every Thursday and Friday, from noon to 1pm, in my office. I take calls from Record Company folks and Independent Promoters, who's job it is to say:

"PJ, I have this great song by this great band. Have you heard it? What do you think?"

If there is a band making music for Adult Alternative/Triple A Radio stations, and they are on a Major Label, or a sturdy Indie Label, then there is a person (sometimes several people) who call me every single week, to make sure I have heard the song, and to convince me that we should play it.

The Belle Brigade definitely qualifies.

But here's the weird thing. I heard the song "Losers" on TV a week or 3 ago, and I thought, "What a great song. It sounds vaguely familiar."

I went to my iTunes playlist, where I store all these songs that the Promoters are sending me, and I was surprised to find out that I had received this song back in May.


That means I had heard this song, discussed it several times with a Promoter (Rene!), and decided, "Yeah, that's not for us."

And here I am, 6 months later, going "Great Song! How did I miss this?"

If it were a case of me not liking the song at first, and then having it grow on me, I'd understand.

But how did I hear it 6 months ago and not be moved by it, then hear it now and go, "Fantastic! I love this song!"

I'm scratching my head on this one.

(And, Sorry Rene!)

See the awesome dog-filled music video on Youtube.

Hear the acoustic bathtub version on Youtube.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wilco "Outta Mind Outta Site"

Let me introduce a new segment on the blog, called, "Let Me Ruin This Song For You."

Why don't we pause right there for a second.

I promise, in any blog post where I plan to ruin a song for you, that I will alert you at the beginning of the post.

So if you see "Let Me Ruin This Song For You" and you look back at the artist and title in the header, and you think, "Hey, I'd rather you didn't ruin this song for me. I like this song," then don't read any further.

That said . . . let me ruin this Wilco song.

Every time I hear this the opening of tune, I can't help but be reminded of the opening of the classic version of the Sesame Street theme song.

Sure, Wilco's tune is a little more rocking, but listen to the electric guitar tutorial, and you'll hear it even clearer.


Hear the original "Outta Site (Outta Mind)"
Outtasite (Outta Mind) by Wilco on Grooveshark
See the very fun video that Wilco's old label won't let you embed.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Learn how to play the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mr. B The Gentleman Rhymer "Chap-Hop History"

After yesterday's "Nerding Out" post, I had to continue with this . . .

A friend started posted Mr. B/Professor Elemental videos on Youtube, and well, I just laughed my behind off.

The English accents, the ukulele solos, the fact that Mr. B looks a lot like Ben Folds. Also the clear love of hip-hop . . . the whole ridiculousness of it all. It all makes me smile.

Hear "Chap Hop History" on Youtube.

Hear Professor Elemental's "Fighting Trousers" on Youtube.

Hear "Straight Out Of Surrey" on Youtube.

Hear the inevitable on-stage showdown on Youtube.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ben Folds "The Luckiest"

Total "Nerding Out!" weekend, bolstering my geek credentials.

I curled up on the couch on Saturday with a Charlie Kaufman movie.

I spent the weekend getting excited to hear Ira Glass of "This American Life" at a speaking engagement in Woods Hole (though he got hung up in that mid-West snow, and had to postpone).

Delved deeply into one of the most interesting interviews I've read in a long time, with one of the most thoughtful interviewees I've read, the "I'm A PC" guy, John Hodgeman, who eloquently illustrated that sports metaphors are nearly impossible to avoid, and that sometimes being a Democrat is like getting punched in the face, repeatedly.

Oh, and I'll wait to post a video tomorrow, but I discovered "Chap-Hop" (thanks Hugh!).

But I hit total geek Nirvana with this video.

Wait until you hear the sneaky, subliminal way Ben Folds managed to convey that the characters in the song are married. Brilliant!

Ben Folds discusses and performs "The Luckiest"

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Less Than Jake "Johnny Quest Thinks We're Sellouts"

Here's another Weekend Post:

More 90s Pop Punk to Power thru the weekend . . .

Hear the song 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, November 12, 2011

NOFX "Philthy Phil Philanthropist"

Here's another Weekend Post:

I'm feeling a little pop-punky this weekend, for the throw-back Weekend Posts.

Hear the song 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, November 11, 2011

Bruce Springsteen "Born In The USA" (acoustic)

It's Veterans Day, so I thought I would post this raw version of Bruce Springsteen's bleak view of a Vietnam Veteran returning home to no job, no prospects and no future.

Despite yesterday's show of solidarity in the Senate, approving a bill to help returning Veterans and their families find post-Service employment, Springsteen's song is sadly as applicable today as it was 30 years ago.

Unemployment for post-9/11 Veterans is at 13.3%, well above the National average.

There are "Support The Troops" rallying cries when we want funding for military spending, when we want our National interests protected, when we want a police action in a foreign land.

But does all that ring hollow, if we're even having this discussion?

Have a thoughtful holiday.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Travis "My Eyes"

We had a pretty good idea of what our kid was going to look like. There wasn't much room for guessing.

My wife and I look basically the same.

We're both Italian/Irish, favoring the Italian side, darker skin, brown hair, dark eyes. It has never been out of the ordinary for someone to think we are siblings. Or for people to think that my wife, is my mother's daughter. Young pictures of my father-in-law, look a lot like me, now.

It was a lock. We were going to have a little brown baby, with brown eyes.

And while my wife was pregnant, that's when we fell in love with this song from Travis.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Fran Healy had just had a child, too, and sang about the day he was born:

"You've got my eyes."

The only thing up for debate was, would our daughter have my brown eyes, or my wife's brown eyes?

Then she was born.

It's not uncommon for a newborn to arrive with blue eyes. And these eyes were blue. But yeah, they'd probably change to brown.


No. Months later, blue eyes. Years later, blue eyes.

It's not genetically impossible. My mother-in-law has blue eyes. And my Dad has blue eyes. Recessive genes do happen.

Today's her 4th birthday, and her eyes are still blue. My brother-in-law calls my daughter, "Blueberry eyes."

It was a good, early, lesson in parenting.

Even though you know better, when you have kids, there is a part of you that wants them to be a Mini-You. You hope they look like you and act like you and love the same things you love and become you, only better.

But it doesn't matter how much of your DNA they have. It doesn't matter how much you try to nurture them to be a certain way. It doesn't matter.

They are not a little you. And if you try to force that upon them, they'll spend the rest of your life, proving just the opposite.

There are so many things I want my daughter to see and do and be and love. And I'll guide her toward those things, hoping that she'll find some resonance in them.

But I learned on the day she was born, this day four years ago, that decidedly, she would see the world through her own eyes.

Happy birthday, little one!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Robyn Hitchcock "Balloon Man"

If you asked me a week ago, what does "Balloon Man" remind me of, I'd write some warm, fuzzy memory of being in college and having some roommates/friends who were infatuated with this song.

But the personal meanings of songs can change, when some striking modern day event happens.

It's my daughter's birthday this week, and last Sunday, we had a party for her.

We had rented out the studio where she takes her dance class, and had planned on piling in a gaggle of 4 year olds, to eat cake and do an art project and bounce off the walls.

My wife left the house early, to go set up, leaving me and our teenage nephew to bring the birthday girl and her 18 month old brother to the party.

As I'm loading the kids into the car, my wife calls.

"I stopped by the grocery store and ordered a whole bunch of balloons to hand out at the party. Go by and pick them up. You can leave the kids in the car with my nephew, while you go grab them."

Being married to an artist, I have learned to roll with the punches and the plan-changes. So even though this sudden extra task was going to make the birthday girl late to the party, I tried to be good-natured about it.

And really, how could you not feel goofy, and perhaps a little joyous, walking through the grocery store, and out into a sunny day, across a parking lot, holding nearly 20 primary-colored, old-fashioned latex balloons?

It was really just wonderfully picturesque . . . a man, on his way to a birthday party, carrying balloons.

Then I got to the car.

How many balloons can you fit in a Honda CRV?

Uh, not 20.

And I found this out, because as I was trying to corral the balloons into the hatchback, one popped, loudly.

Naturally, the 18th month old was startled (hell, 4 year old, the 13 year old, and the 42 year old were startled) and he started screaming, sobbing.

So now I'm trying to work quickly, so I can get in the car and soothe the little guy, maybe give him his pacifier, when, POP!

Another balloon pops. And this one popped right in my face, with the latex snapping back in not just one, but both of my eyes.

Reflexively, without thinking, I just yelled, "SSSHHHHHHHIIIIIIIIITTTT!!!!!!"

I must say, the acoustics in the parking lot of my local grocer, rival Red Rocks, because there wasn't a person for 200 yards who didn't stop for just a moment to see what the deal was with the angry man holding the balloons.

Eyes watering, stinging, balloons now in the car, I got in the driver's seat only to realize that I didn't have the diaper bag with us. So no pacifier. Which meant that my boy just wailed and wailed.

With no other options, I just drove. It was only a 1/2 mile to the party. And yet we were stuck at a light for a solid 5 minutes, during which, yet another balloon burst. And this time, because the windows were closed, it was really loud.

It's this moment that we all recognize. The moment where things are just so bad, but there's nothing you can do about it. So you imagine you are somewhere else. You ignore the moment. You disappear inside your brain.

And inside my brain, pushing the fuzzy warm memories of college aside, was Robyn Hitchcock's song, singing:

"Balloon Man, blew up, in my face*."

See the video, with an awesomely free-associated intro by Hitchcock himself.

See the video on Youtube.

* the original lyric is "hand" not "face," but in this instance I imagine him singing the line more appropriate to this story.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers "Gravity"

At what point does a song that references another song, lose you?

We live in a day and age of samples and remix and such, so the idea of one song sounding like another isn't especially foreign.

But in the singer-songwriter and rock world, if your song sounds too much like another tune, well, sometimes you're written off.

Or maybe, it's just that if you don't acknowledge the similarity, you're written off.

Because the melody rip-off worked well for The Old 97s, who openly admit the the melody of "Champaign Illinois" was lifted directly from Bob Dylan's "Desolation Row."

But people (radio programmers, at least) have been less forgiving on Stephen Kellogg And The Sixers' new song "Gravity," which seems to reference the Simon & Garfunkel tune "Cecilia" pretty directly.

So they did an interesting thing. They re-recorded Stephen's delivery for that one vocal hook. And traces of the original single have all but disappeared from Youtube, leaving only this new, less-"Cecilia"-like version.

Instead of going down, the notes go up, and it's changed enough that it doesn't sound like a rip-off.

Does it work?

You can hear the original vocal line at the 20 second mark on this promotional video.

Check out the 20 second mark on Youtube.

But now all the online videos have been replaced with the new version. You can hear the new hook at 25 seconds.

Hear the song on Youtube.

And check out "Cecilia" and "Gravity" right next to each other.

Hear the comparison on Youtube.

Hear the S&G original on Youtube.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Frankie Avalon "Beauty School Dropout"

When I was middle school age, late 70s/early 80s, was there a bigger phenomenon that the movie "Grease" and its attendant Soundtrack?

I can remember being really into it, along with probably most every other 5th and 6th grader in my life.

But were we really aware how age-inappropriate it all was? The pregnancy/abortion issue, the sleazy TV show host hitting on the young girl, the drag racing, smoking, slutty leather pants outfit, the Italian swear word in "Sandra Dee," etc, etc?

No, we were not aware that this movie was not made for our age group.

At least I wasn't. Until the day our music teacher was sick.

I can't exactly remember why she was out, but it must have been something fairly sudden, because there was not a substitute teacher. Instead, one of the school administrators was the Sub for our music class that day.

I'm sure he thought he was doing a nice, "cool" thing, when, for lack of anything else to kill 45 minutes of class time, he acquiesced to the students insistent requests, to let us sit quietly, and play the "Grease" Soundtrack on the classroom record player.

Did I know the lyrics to "Beauty School Dropout"? Probably. Well, phonetically anyway. I'm sure I could sing along, but did I know what I was singing about?

I remember our sinking Sub's face getting a little redder and a little redder, as this song progressed.

But it was when Frankie Avalon really sticks the line "unless she was a hooker!" that his eyes just totally bugged out of his head.

Like a ballet dancer whose pants have just fallen off*, you could see him frozen, struggling to make a choice: Freak out and stop everything cold, making a scene? Or just keep going, as if nothing is wrong, and don't draw attention to it.

Maybe it was inertia or maybe it was his nature as an administrator, but he chose the latter, and did nothing except glower a little.

For many years, the thought of it made me laugh.

But now, I'm on the other side of the equation. I'm a Dad, with kids who are going to listen to things that will horrify me.

Am I really going to be the Dad that doesn't let his kid listen to the Soundtrack of a 40 year old beloved American Institution/Musical?

Or worse, am I really going to be the Dad that listens to the "Grease" Soundtrack with his daughter, and then "raps" about the issues it raises of female objectification, peer pressure, chastity and the importance of completing high school?

Can't I just go back to Middle School?

See the movie scene on Youtube.

* I know, I know, ballet dancers don't wear pants. But that's the line that popped into my head, and it made me laugh, so I kept it.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Imperial Teen "You're One"

At the same time Imperial Drag was out, so was Imperial Teen. I always thought that was unfortunate. It's so damn hard to pick a band name---it sucks when a band with a similar name comes out at the same time.

Roddy Bottom was in Faith No More, and left to form this sweet quartet. A great 90s pop tune about his late friend, Kurt Cobain.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Imperial Drag "Boy Or A Girl"

I often think of this one around Halloween time, as inevitably, that gigantic woman that I just saw out of the corner of my eye, turns out to be a dude in a wig and sequins.

A catchy 90s nugget, courtesy of members of the at-the-time-just-broken-up Power Pop band, Jellyfish.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Friday, November 4, 2011

David Wax Museum "Yes Maria Yes"

When bands are in a live setting, they'll often back-load the set, putting the stronger and more complex songs later in the show.

Part of the reason for doing this, is that while you want to hit the stage with something strong, it usually takes 2 or 3 (or more) songs for the sound engineer to perfect the mix, so that the band is firing on all cylinders. You'll see the players gesturing for more monitor, or less bass, or whatever, as the band develops a feel for that night's stage.

I'm always excited to hear that moment when the band has found the sweet spot and plays with a higher level of confidence.

I saw The David Wax Museum last night at The Narrows, and I was a little surprised that when they launched into "Yes Maria Yes" so early in the show. It's such a strong, fun song that wouldn't be out of place as a show closer, but here it was early in the set.

And, as a testament to both the band's skill, the Narrows sound engineer (Patrick!) and the room, it was one of the best sounding songs of the night. You could just hear that they had found their stride, and that they were going to gallop forth and slay this audience.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Black Keys "Lonely Boy"

I wrote about how it is sometimes incumbent upon the station, to play a new track from a veteran artist, regardless of quality, because to ignore it would be weird.

Like, we always play a new Neil Young track, if only to let the listeners decide for themselves that maybe this one wasn't Neil's best.

Similarly, there comes a point with certain new artists, where we may need to address them, whether they are "mvy-style" or not.

Personally, I like sound of The Black Keys. But I've never heard them do a song that made me think they should be on mvy. The noisy garage rock just isn't the right fit.

But the band has had quite a run in the last year or so, showing up in places that mvy listeners are hearing them (Saturday Night Live, Letterman). People are curious.

This new song is good, but, objectively it still doesn't sound like mvy to me.

As the song gets added to stations around the country that are similar to mvy, as the band shows up on TV programs that mvy-listeners watch, as positive reviews stack up in publications our listeners read, it may become weird that we're not playing them.

Their absence is noticeable. But their presence seems out of place.

It's weird to feel so awkwardly ambivalent about what is a seriously kick-ass song.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Winston Grennan "Island Vibration"

I just passed my 11th anniversary with mvyradio, and I have had lots of thoughts about the early days at this new job.

Even though, in 2000, I'd been a DJ for 6 years already, and had been in TV for 3 years before that, I arrived at mvy with enough humility to know that there was a lot I didn't know.

I can't say that I am perfect at always admitting to my limits, but after close to 20 years in broadcasting, I've seen more than a few people arrive in their jobs, so eager to prove that they are smarter than you think, that they wind up proving the opposite.

While Barbara Dacey, who had hired me, stood by on my first couple of airshifts, to make sure I was comfortable with the equipment, I began flying solo pretty quickly. And within a week, I was on a shift where I was the only person in the building.

Early Saturday morning. The phone rang. No one else was going to answer it, so I did.

The woman on the other end told me that her husband, Winston Grennan, had passed away. She was understandably upset. She didn't offer any details. She just said that she knew we would want to know.

I knew enough to know that she wasn't speaking to me, or even to a person. She was speaking to "MVY." To her, (to many) "MVY" is an entity unto itself. When the stations speaks, they don't hear the individual DJ, they hear what they assume is the full representation of the company thinks. When they call, the aren't talking to the person that picked up the phone, they are talking to the entire staff. And if they tell that one person, the whole hive should soon know and understand.

And I understood this.

I didn't know who Winston Grennan was. I wasn't familiar with his career or legacy. She hadn't even referenced that he was a musician. She just said we would want to know.

So, while I wasn't really sure what information I had, I knew it was information, something that needed to be spread.

I called Barbara. She knew what to do. She pulled together a news story to let people know that a reggae/drumming legend had passed away.

And I read it on the air, at the time not knowing the full significance, but knowing enough to know that there was more to know.

Click the song title to hear "Island Vibration."

And if you don't know who Winston Grennan was . . . well he was a drummer who played sessions and/or toured with Toots And The Maytals, Bob Marley, The Wailers, Jimmy Cliff and Desmond Dekker, and also Marvin Gaye, Paul Simon, Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gillespie and Peter Paul and Mary, just to name a few. Oh, and he was in the movies "The Harder They Come" AND "9 1/2 Weeks."

You can check out a profile on Wikipedia.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

U2 "Blow Your House Down"

Well, it's the day after Halloween, so, in some quarters it's okay to start talking about Christmas.

I mean, for some of you, it's not appropriate to broach the subject until after you've had your Thanksgiving turkey, but c'mon, that's not realistic, if you're talking about preparing for Christmas as a shopping season.

In the world of the record industry, it has long been a tradition to shut things down when December hits. What with the flurry of the holiday, with holiday programming and other distractions, record labels recognized that December is a pretty terrible time to launch a new record project.

So if it wasn't out by November, it wasn't coming out until January.

But as we, as a culture, have started the Christmas season earlier and earlier, the label world has had to react.

Now, if the record isn't out by mid-October, then it's not coming out until next year. You just can't chance having a good record get lost in the holiday shuffle.

Sure, labels could then take a couple of months off/easy, and prepare for next year, but that's a pretty long furlough. So instead, they have really ramped up the no-brainer releases.

In the past, you could reliably count on a couple of popular artists releasing Christmas records. Because if I say (like last year) "Sting has a new Christmas record," you know everything you need to know. You know what it is going to sound like, and if you like Sting, or have a family member on the Christmas list who likes Sting, you'll probably buy it.

Labels also started pushing Best Of/Greatest Hits releases and Live albums to November.

Again, there's no ramping up or explaining necessary. "R.E.M. has a career-spanning Best Of coming out," has no ambiguity. If you like R.E.M., you'll probably want this.

And now, come the reissues. Albums celebrating their 10th or 15th or 20th Anniversary get the treatment, where the original album is remastered, and there is a generous package of songs from that era on a second disc.

You've probably never heard "Blow Your House Down" before, but if you've heard U2's "Achtung Baby" then you have a pretty strong sense of what this unreleased b-side is going to sound like.

That makes it an easy buy, if you're in some retail shop and you see the U2 display. You don't have to think about it, and you don't have to wonder if you'll like it, you don't have to deliberate.

You can just buy it, and the record label person behind the record can have a good holiday knowing they were doing their job all season long.

Hear the song on Youtube.