Monday, December 31, 2012

Cousteau "Last Good Day Of The Year"

Hopefully you had many good days this year . . . but either way, this is the last good day of 2012.

Happy New Year!

Hear the song on Youtube.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Head And The Heart "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?"

This is a song that makes it's way to the playlist on New Year's Eve.

Which really doesn't make any sense.  Because if you are going to ask someone out for New Year's Eve, you should do it before New Year's Eve.

So I'm posting it the day before New Year's Eve, to remind you to ask that special someone out, NOW!

Enjoy this recently released version of the classic tune, from the Holidays Rule compilation.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Mumford And Sons "Lover Of The Light"

As noted on the earlier-this-week posts, the statistics of the Top 25 are pretty interesting.

For years, the Number One album on mvy was usually by a stalwart, heritage artist.  Someone like Bob Dylan or Mark Knopfler was most likely to garner the votes to get the top spot.  And that’s because our listeners, young and old, were operating under the consensus mind that Bob Dylan is a pretty amazing artist, and so lots of different kinds of listeners were voting for his album.

But over the course of the last few years, the Top spot has gone to a young artist who can build enough consensus from the bottom up.

Instead of being an established artist, the Number One record has been by a upstart artist with a breakout record.  And maybe that record started with the younger end of the audience, but was quickly embraced by the full spectrum of listeners.

Yes, your college student kid may have brought home the record first, but even your Dad taps along to the beat when the song comes on the radio.

So it was with last year’s Number One record, from Adele.

Adele’s “21” album managed the incredible feat of receiving twice as many votes from mvyradio listeners, as the Number Two record.  (You're gonna crack up, when you realize what was Number Two, last year)

I didn’t think anyone could pull that off again.

And yet, here we are.  Mumford And Sons’ “Babel” record actually receive more than twice the votes of the Number Two record.

You can view the whole list, and draw your own conclusions about what folks were excited about this year, on our Top 25 of 2012 page.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Friday, December 28, 2012

JD McPherson "Fire Bug"

One of the things I wonder as I look over the Top 25 of 2012 list, makes me feel a little guilty for casting aspersions.

But I look at some folk's lists and think, "Okay, did you really listen to this album?"

And I say this because I know for certain that there are some folks who have not listened.  How do I know?  Because occasionally, we get votes for albums that aren't even out yet!  The folks are voting for the singles (which are out), but they most definitely haven't listened to the album.

So I take it a step further and assume that many of the votes we get are based on the voter liking the single, but the voter has never listened to the album.

Album listening is increasingly rare, in this digital, singles-driven world.

Hell, I don't always get around to checking out full length albums.

Looking at the voting list, the number of full length albums that I've listened to more than 5 times?  It's pretty short.  I really have to like a full record these days, to give it multiple plays, what with so many records competing for attention.

"Signs And Signifiers" was definitely one of those records.  So I'm glad it made the list.

JD McPherson is #15 on mvyradio's Top 25 of 2012.  Check out the full list (so far)!

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Joan Osborne "Shake Your Hips"

The Top 25 countdown is always an interesting, educational experience for me, because it is an exercise in perception versus reality, which is a great thing to keep in mind at all times when programming a radio station.

I can hear a song and think it's great.

We can play a song and get great feedback from the listeners.

We can keep that song in rotation, and follow the chart success of the tune, on Billboard.

We can believe that our listeners love the song/artist.

And then the Top 25 voting happens.

I have never been a huge fan of Joan Osborne's records.  I do think they are uniformly good, solid efforts.  But previous releases have never quite hit my sweet-listening spot (whatever that is).

However, her 2012 album "Bring It On Home" had the grit that I was looking for.

And every time her version of "Shake Your Hips" hit the airwaves, I cranked it up.

So I thought this record was a surefire Top 10 choice for mvyradio listeners.

Not quite.

While it wasn't completely off the radar, it didn't have the impact I thought it was having.

In a year when the most important name in politics may have been Nate Silver, I'm happy that a little bit of statistical sampling is there to keep our list in line.

View the list as we reveal it, at

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Max Gomez "Run From You"

Here's an end of the year Let Me Ruin This Song For You post.

I keep an iTunes playlist of all the songs that record companies and promoters and artists have asked me to listen to, to consider for adding to mvyradio's rotation.  It being the end of the year, it's time to cull that list.

Lots of songs have run their promotional course.  If they didn't catch on before the end of the year, it's unlikely that their will be a promotional budget to keep pressing into the new year.  So I delete those.

I also keep a number of songs on the list, not because I think I'm going to add them.  I just like them.  And when you are listening to 100 songs you're probably not going to like, it's good to have a couple of ringers in there.

And there are a straggling few that I've kept on the list for one reason or another.  Like, they merit a blog post.

I couldn't remember why this tune by Max Gomez had been hanging around on my list for so long, until I hit "Play" and recalled that I was saving it for a  Let Me Ruin This Song For You post.

Listen to the tune.  See if it doesn't remind you of a famous 80s hit.  And if you want to see if you've guessed correctly, click through the link below, to be taken to Youtube to hear the 80s song.

Hear Max Gomez on Youtube.

Hear the mystery 80s tune on Youtube.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Mitch Miller "12 Days Of Christmas"

We had these "Sing Along With Mitch!" Mitch Miller records when I was a kid, and my sisters and I would listen to them endlessly.  Hearing this song now, takes me right back to our living room and the Christmas tree and the stockings and the build up to the holiday that seemed to go on forever (not unlike this song).

I'm a Dad now, and I'm acutely aware that what I am doing now, today, the way the living room looks and the songs we are playing and the gifts we give each other and the special foods we eat, that these are the memories that my kids will leap back to, when they are in their mid-40s, thinking about what Christmas sounds like and smells like and feels like to them.

It's kind of a strange premise---to give the future a memorable past, you must live in the present.

But it's a good resolution for me, who spends a whole heckuva lotta time reflecting on the things that have gone by.  Live in the present.  Make today and every day memorable for the kids.

Not that every day has to be Christmas.  But can every day be visceral?  Can every day have sounds and smells and a feel?  Can I make every day something more than a rote recitation of a bunch of random, useless and frankly weird items you could by for your true love (not unlike this song)?

It's hard to make scrambled eggs, special.  But, though she's been gone for 20-plus years, I still remember what my Grandmother's eggs taste like.  Why?  They were just eggs and milk and salt and butter---no different than the way my mother made them or the way I make them now.  Why were they special?  Was it love?  Care?  Passion?  I don't know how they were different.  They just were.

I, like probably every parent in America, have spent a lot of time thinking about my relationship with my kids these past 10 days.  I guess that's why I'm wandering down this path now.

My wife and I have spent weeks thinking about what fun things we can do for the kids for Christmas.  But I don't know how much time I've spent thinking about making things memorable.

This is starting to feel like a New Year's resolution, more than a post for Christmas Day.

It also feels a little like a wandering post from a guy who is avoiding putting that train table together and is instead working on scheduling a blog post for Christmas Day.

Anyway . . .

I hope you have a happy, and memorable Christmas.  And that you only receive as many Leaping Lords as you feel comfortable with having.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Boss Martians "3 Ghosts"

A weekend/Holiday post, since today is kinda like a weekend/Holiday day for many folks . . .

There are multiple Christmas songs about so many various bits of Christmas minutiae, but I have to say that this recent discovery (recent for me, anyway) is the only song I've ever heard devoted to the ghosts of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol."

Hear the song on Youtube.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Soupy Sales "Santa Claus Is Surfin' To Town"

A weekend/Holiday post

If you start searching, you may be shocked to find out just how big an intersection there is between Christmas music and Surf music . . . though very little of it is performed by Children's TV Hosts.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Matt Mullholland "Silent Night"

Here's another "I Looked At The Internet Today So You Don't Have To"  feature.

I keep seeing this video being posted on Facebook by various friends of mine.  I have weird (and hilarious) friends.

It will be your instinct to stop this video after the first 30 seconds.  Don't.  It just gets awesome-er as you go.  Not that anything surprising happens.  It just wins you over with its ridiculousness.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Elmo's Christmas Countdown "Countdown/I Hate Christmas"

My wife asked my 2 year old son if he wanted to write a letter to Santa.  His big sister had already done one, and he feels left out if you don't invite him to do whatever she does.

"I'll start," my wife told him.  "'Dear Santa . . .' Okay, now what do you want to tell him?"

"I hate Christmas!"


Both my wife and I did a double take on this one.  Hate Christmas?  A 2 year old?

Then it clicked, and we kinda cracked up.

Of aaaallllll the Christmas specials my kids have viewed, their favorite is something I'd never heard of, prior to receiving it.  It's called "Elmo's Christmas Countdown."

I can't say that I've ever seen it on TV.  Or heard another person mention it.  But we've got it memorized in our house.

It stars the voice of Ben Stiller as Stiller The Elf and is chock full of mid-2000s stars (Ty Pennington!  Kevin James!) and mid-2000s references ("Heckuva Job, Brownie" and the Sopranos famous "fade to black" moment) and a slew of great songs from Sheryl Crow and Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Hudson.

And there are plenty of repeatable, Christmas-y quotables from the show, including:

"Elmo is making a Christmas Wish on a Christmas Star for a Christmas miracle!"  and "It's like Alicia Keys said, 'When things are at their darkest, that when you have to believe the most!"

But for whatever reason, my son latched on to the song sung by Stiller The Elf and Oscar The Grouch.

It's a classic back and forth style argument song, where Stiller tries to convince Oscar that he should be the one to "Count-down-Christmas" but Oscar sings back, using the same melody, "I-Hate-Christmas."

So that's where he got it from, and we think it's cute and it's silly and hopefully he won't repeat it outside the home, because if he did, that would be, to borrow a phrase from Oscar, a "pain in the King Wenceslas."

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Howard Blake "Walking In The Air"

My friend Erica posted a story on her Facebook Newsfeed that led with this headline:

"Raymond Briggs: The Snowman is not really about Christmas, it's about death"

Uh, a five year old could have told you that.

Hell, a two year old could have told you that.

Specifically, my five year old and two year old.

If you've never seen it, "The Snowman" is an Oscar-winning, half-hour animated feature about a boy who befriends a snowman.  The Snowman and the boy play, bond, fly and dance with other snowmen in beautiful, word-less, animated tale.  We got our VHS copy as a hand-me-down from my friend Lynn, who's kids had outgrown it.

The music, by Howard Blake, is haunting, beautiful and magical, and I'm sure that is largely what drew my kids in to their first viewings of the Special, last year.

But after a few showings, my daughter, then 4, seemed uneasy with the end.  In the last scene, the boy awakes the morning after his adventure, goes outside to play with the Snowman, only to find it has melted.  My son, who was only one last year, had no particular reaction, and asked to watch it again.

This year was a whole different story.

A year is a long time for a kid and I don't know if either of them really remembered the plotline of "The Snowman."  But I can tell you that emotionally, this long year put them in a different space.

This year, when it got to the final scene where the Snowman is gone, my 2 year old son did process what had happened.  And he himself nearly melted.

He's not so old that he can really articulate his emotions.  But he knows how to sob.  "The Snowman.  Gone!  Aaaaaaaaaaah!"

Being one to take emotional cues quite easy, my daughter, who was slightly upset already, also began to cry.

So my wife and I talked to the kids in the way that you talk to kids about death, without talking about it.

"The Snowman lives in the little boy's heart.  A Snowman can't last forever, but what beautiful memories the boy will always have."

I have the feeling that if my son could articulate his feelings, he would have yelled, "Why did you make me watch this movie when the existential end seems so bleak!!!"

So yeah, Raymond Briggs, thanks for the big reveal.

I never would have guessed that your story was about death, by the way my kids cry, even now, at the site of the VHS cover.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Pearl Jam "History Never Repeats"

I really came of age in music during a period where vinyl fell out of favor.

By the late 80s, hardly any bands were putting out "records."  Everything was on CD or cassette.

But by the early 90s, some underground bands, who's members DID grow up valuing vinyl, were emerging from the underground and into the mainstream.

Michael Stipe and Peter Buck of R.E.M. famously started their friendship in a record store, and were among the first major artists of the early 90s to insist to their record labels that their albums be released on vinyl, as well as CD and cassette.

Being record collectors themselves, they appreciated the fabulous 45 too.

So continuing a tradition started by The Beatles, they released an exclusive 45 at Christmastime, sent to all members of their fan club.

Back in the early 90s, I was single and employed and, no, not rich, but I could put 10 bucks into a membership to a fan club or two.  So I have a nice, small collection of 45s from R.E.M. and from Pearl Jam.

I LOVED getting this disc from Pearl Jam, because I discovered that Eddie Vedder was also a fan of Split Enz.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Neil Finn "Song Of The Lonely Mountain"

Neil Finn is a great songwriter and an enormous talent.

But here's a quote from Rolling Stone Magazine, about the song he wrote for the new "Hobbit" movie.

"I'd get a little melody and I'd think, ‘Would a dwarf sing that?'

Yeah, I think when that's the question you find yourself asking as a songwriter, nothing good can come of it.

I dunno, maybe you'll like this one . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Stephen Colbert "Another Christmas Song"

Usually around the first weekend in December we buy our Christmas tree.  We like to get it up on the earlier side, though it does become a little crusty by the time Santa actually arrives.

And bringing in the tree, means going down to the basement and hauling up the boxes of Christmas decorations.  Not only things to hang on the tree, but lights for the window, the manger scene, nutcrackers, snowglobes, a mechanical Bob Hope figurine that sings . . . and the box of Christmas DVDs.

When I was a kid, Christmas specials were an event.  You'd study the TV page that came with the Sunday paper, to see when "Charlie Brown Christmas" or "The Grinch" was going to be on.  You'd wait all day for 8pm.  And the tension would build when you'd see that old "Special Presentation" bumper, that let you know that regular programming had the night off---here comes a Christmas special.

And woe be unto you if you missed it.

If a Christmas special aired, and you weren't in front of the TV, then you missed it for the year.  It didn't repeat.  You didn't have it on Tivo.  There were no VCRs to have recorded it.  You missed your chance.

It made watching a Christmas special, an event.

Today is a different experience.

I brought that box of DVDs up from the basement 2 weeks ago.  Since then, I bet my kids have seen "The Grinch" five times already.  And "Frosty" and "Rudolph" and "Charlie Brown" and others.  Hell, it's possible that "Elmo's Christmas Countdown" has been screened daily around these parts.

My kids won't remember Christmas specials as an event.  They'll remember them as a season.

Nowhere is this more evident, than on the DVD in that box, that only I will watch.

Yeah, the kids aren't really into Stephen Colbert.  But I got his Christmas special on DVD and really get a kick out of it.

One of the most on-the-nose jabs at the holiday-special-trope is that at the end of the show, Colbert holds up a DVD copy of the show he is currently in the progress of creating, saying it's for sale and you can watch it again and again.

Of course, unlike the kids, I'll only watch it once this year, like last year.

But maybe that just makes me as old and as crusty as our Christmas tree will be by New Years . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

See the CBS "Special Presentation" bumper on Youtube.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Keith Richards "Run Rudolph Run"

A weekend/Holiday post

It occurred to me this week, that of all the artists we play on mvyradio, there are very, very few, who don't have at least ONE Christmas tune in their stable.

But surprisingly, The Rolling Stones don't seem to.

Of course, it makes perfect sense that Keith Richards  covers this Chuck Berry tune . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Peter Serafinowicz "Ringo Remembers Christmas 1979"

Here's another "I Looked At The Internet Today So You Don't Have To" feature.

I mentioned previously that "Wonderful Christmastime" by Paul McCartney is "one of my least favorite Christmas songs."  But this comedy piece does a much better job of reflecting my true distaste for that song, by mocking it.

I have to say, this guy has one of the best McCartney impressions, in terms of getting his mannerisms down, that I've ever seen . . .

See the video on Youtube.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Staples Singers "Who Took The Merry Out Of Christmas"

Sure, you can listen to cable news and get all caught up in "The War On Christmas" and who is "X-ing" out Christ in Xmas, etc, etc.

But The Staples Singers report on the real story.

While the media is focused on the "X," no one has noticed that there is a diabolical plot to take the "Merry" out of Christmas!

Which, of course, is "code" for wanting to take "Mary" out of Christmas.

Don't let them fool you. And don't let them take your Merry!

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Brew "Into The Remembering Sun"

We wanted to support The Brew for a number of reasons, not the least of which is, we think they are good.

As a station, we want to get on board with a local/regional band that is a step or two from breaking wider, and we have a great history of giving early support to folks like Cheryl Wheeler, Martin Sexton, Grace Potter and The David Wax Museum.

Plus, the band has let us record and stream several of their live shows.  And let's just say that their one visit to the station, left a few of the staffers quite charmed by their sincere love of what they do.

So we added the song.

After playing this tune for a while, one interesting, pleasant thing sticks out for me.

Any young artist we add, local or not, has a musical connection to the core artists of our station.  While we don't want copycats, we hope that you can draw a straight line from some new, unfamiliar artist, to The Beatles or Talking Heads or Bob Dylan or one of the many classic artists we play.

So what was sticking out for me?


Man, Boston was such an important band to a kid growing up in New England in the late 70s and early 80s.

mvyradio doesn't play Boston.  They fit better on a classic rock station, because the sound is a little more mainstream than many of the more edge-pushing artists we rotate.  But I bet that band is still a touchstone for many listeners.

And really, is there a band or a song out there now, that is employing a style that you'd trace straight back to Boston?

So when the Tom Scholz-like guitar kicks in on this one, it gives me a warm feeling inside.  Maybe that's why it's called "Into The Remembering Sun."

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

B-Boyz "Fight For Your Right To Dreidel"

Here's another "I Looked At The Internet Today So You Don't Have To" feature.

Had to post this one before Hanukkah ends this week.  It's not great, but with a dearth of Hanukkah songs out there, the bar is pretty low.

At least give the kids credit for being creative . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Lyle Lovett "That's Right (You're Not From Texas)"

I'd had my leg pulled before.

Several years ago, I had met the director, Harold Ramis in a social situation on the Vineyard.  A day later, I got an email from him asking if I'd read a script he'd written about life on the Island.

I hesitated.  Something smelled fishy.  I didn't respond.

Later, I found out it was Craig Sherman, pranking me.

So you can imagine that I was suspicious when I got an email from Lyle Lovett.

It was nice enough.  He'd had a show in New Bedford that night, and was writing to thank us for playing his music and supporting his shows over the years.

I hesitated.  I didn't write back.

Then the other messages started coming in, from mvy listeners who'd been to the New Bedford show.

"Lyle Lovett talked about you from the stage last night!"

"He said he called the station but no one answered the phone!"

"When he said 'WMVY' the whole crowd cheered!"

Well, maybe it really WAS Lyle Lovett.

I wrote him back and we exchanged a couple of emails.  We said we were big fans and happy to support him and appreciated that an artist of his caliber always remembered to put the Cape and Southcoast on his touring map.  He in turn thanked the station for always supporting his records, saying that support makes it possible for him to come back to the area year after year.

It was a really nice exchange.  And unusual too.  It's pretty rare for an artist of Lyle Lovett's caliber to pick up the phone and say thank you.  Very classy.  Very thoughtful.  Someone raised that man right (or maybe they're all like that in Texas!).

And, even though I was already a fan, this really cemented my appreciation for the Lyle Lovett. 

When the Save mvyradio campaign started, we immediately started thinking about artists who could speak on our behalf as we tried to get the press to write stories about us. 

Not surprisingly, friends like Carly Simon jumped to our defense, and appeared in some of the first news stories.

When we got wind of an opportunity to appear in the New York Times, we were thankful that Lyle Lovett had reached out just a month earlier.  He was kind enough to speak to a reporter on our behalf.

Pretty awesome.  Thanks Lyle!

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Van Morrison "Caravan"

"Caravan"!!  What a song!  How did I not know that so many amazing Van Morrison songs existed?

I got off the ferry boat and was immediately approached.

"Hi PJ, come with me."

"How did you know I was the guy you were picking up?"

He laughed.  "Because you were the only guy coming off the boat, wearing a tie.  So I was pretty sure you were here for the interview."

And that is how I was greeted on my first trip to Martha's Vineyard.  Then-webmaster Al Mahoney had been dispatched to pick me up at the Steamship Authority and bring me to the station for my job interview with Barbara Dacey.  And he was mocking me.

My first lesson on how Martha's Vineyard was different---ties were not required.


I wrote an Op-Ed piece for the Vineyard Gazette about the Save mvyradio Campaign and it starts with me talking about my first experiences with the Vineyard and WMVY.

What's written above, is some of the stuff I had to cut out, for length.  Those are the two things that stand out for me, that when I started listening to mvy I realized how much good music I had never heard before.  And that I looked like a doink wearing a tie on Martha's Vineyard.  But I cut them out.

Take THAT, Al Mahoney!  It's payback time (12 years later).

Hear the song on Youtube.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Animals Of Youtube "Deck The Halls"

A weekend/Holiday post

I am really flummoxed . . . I am trying to remember what life was like before the internet.  How did we fill our days before we could spend them making and/or watching videos of dogs and cats?

(I mean, really, my Facebook newsfeed is literally 20% animal pictures with ridiculous captions)

That being said, this video made me laugh pretty hard . . .

See the video on Youtube.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Garfunkel & Oates "Present Face"

A weekend/Holiday post

While Christmas is still a few weeks off, it's not too early to start practicing your "Present Face" when the neighbor comes over with a gift basket of unidentifiable foodstuffs . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Joe Satriani "Sleep Walk"

I came home last night and my wife was playing this track.  It seemed perfect for the moment.

After a week of my wife being sick and losing her voice, along with both my kids coughing AND with Barbara and Laurel being sick at the station, well, it was bound to happen to me.

By the time I got home last night, my voice was reduced to a whisper and the haze of a cold had surrounded my head.

The nights have been long and the mornings have been early these past two weeks.  It's been a non-stop blur of the Save mvyradio campaign, plus the seasonal craziness of trying to prepare for Christmas.

My body has just hit the limit.  I'm not unhappy, but I'm tired and dreamy and fuzzy.

And I'm certainly in no position to sing.  So it's an instrumental today . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Supremes "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town"

So many of the old songs you sang as a kid have anachronistic phrases that you just don't understand when you 5 or 10 or even 16.

I can remember being a kid and singing the National Anthem in school, and wondering what the hell the phrase "O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming" meant.  I mean, several of those words were familiar, but they didn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

So too, did I find this to be true with Christmas Carols. 

"His horse was lean and lank/Misfortune seemed his lot/He got into a drifted bank/And then we got upsot." from "Jingle Bells" was wholly impenetrable to a modern boy.

Less thorny in terms of bygone terms, but equally impenetrable, was this popular Holiday lyric:

"You better be good for goodness sake."

Okay, so there are all familiar words in there, and nothing that word require any special equestrian or militaristic knowledge.

But what did it mean.

And it was important to know what it meant, because "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" is a roadmap on how a child can insure that Santa delivers.

"You better be good."  That part makes enough sense.  No shouting, crying, pouting, etc.  Listen to your parents.  Clean your room.  Basic stuff.

"For goodness sake."

Now, at first, I thought that this was simply an exclamation.  "Oh, for goodness sake" is what polite people say instead of saying "Dammitall!" 

So the song was saying, you better be good, if you know what's good for you.  Or, you better be good for crying out loud.  Something like that.

Years later, I was taking a philosophy class and we were discussing the reasons to be "Good."  And the phrase, "for goodness sake" came up.

Many people practice being "good" because it is a way to get into Heaven or to get Santa to bring you a gift or a way to keep the cops from taking you away.  There is an outside incentive to be good.

But others practice the concept of "good" because the goodness is its own reward.  You behave ethically, not for anyone else, but so you can sleep at night with a clear conscience.

And that's when "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" really started to bug me.

Okay, here's a song about all the things you should and shouldn't be doing if you want good stuff for Christmas.  And, take note kids, Santa can see everything you do.  He's got his ever watchful eye on you, and is expecting you to be good.

And then the singer throws in "So you better be good for goodness sake"?


The whole song is built around the concept of being good for Santa's reward.  The song gives no indication that being good is an end unto itself.  It just the opposite.

Philosophically, I find Santa's reasoning to be lacking, and even suspect.

Yeah, suspect . . . this time it's me who's got an eye on you, fat man.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

David Wax Museum "Harder Before It Gets Easier"

Here's another "I Looked At The Internet Today So You Don't Have To" feature.

The Boston Music Awards were this week, and we're happy to send congratulations to The David Wax Museum for their second consecutive "Song Of The Year" Award, this time for the new "Harder Before It Gets Easier."

If you like the video below, definitely check out some videos for DWM's past songs too.  They're pretty great at making low-budget-but-eye-popping videos.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale "I Lost My Job Of Loving You"

As even the hearty crabgrass on my front lawn begin to wither, so too does the crop of incoming new CDs.

But that does open things up for a few fun forays.

I don't know if we've ever added a Jim Lauderdale song, but we've practically stalked the guy, recording him at Merlefest and The Americana Music Awards and other places.

And I can only recall adding one Buddy Miller tune over the years, though he's guested on dozens of tracks that we've played, including the recent Robert Plant cuts.

Both guys are great musicians and songwriters.  But both are usually a little twangy for mvyradio.

Interestingly, though this song is not short on twang, it's close enough to the center that we'll play it, because its pretty fun.  And totally worth it to support two guys who should be legendary.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Ben Folds Five "Philosophy"

On top of waiting ages to get around to writing the story of the last day of WABN, I've had a handful of other stories I wanted to write, but didn't make sense to put out there, until the big story was told, and context was established.

I've written about Lori T before (and for context, you can check out her stories, plus a few of her guest posts).

I always think of her when I hear this Ben Folds Five song, because she chose it as the last song to play, on WABN's last day on the air.

I knew it was her pick, but I didn't really know why until she got on the air.

Her speech was pretty short.  But she said something along the lines of:

"I'm playing this song, because of the one lyric that pretty much sums up how I feel right now.  "I've seen that there is evil/And I know that there is good/The in-betweens I've never understood."

Hear the song on Youtube.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Year Without A Santa Claus "Here Comes Santa Claus"

A weekend/Holiday post

Whenever I think of a Christmas parade, I see this little scene from "A Year Without A Santa Claus" in my mind.

This was the idealized version of what it would be like to have Santa arrive via flying reindeer.

I'd always be disappointed by reality when Santa would come by in the local parade on top of a firetruck or in a convertible.  Sort of anti-climactic.

How will Santa appear during today's Falmouth Christmas Parade?  Only time will tell, but don't miss mvyradio's yearly broadcast of the event.  Like I always say, if you can't make it to a parade, then hearing a DJ describe it on the radio, is most certainly the next best thing.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Annie Lennox "Lullay Lullay"

A weekend/Holiday post

While December is the beginning of Christmas music, note that the 1st is also World Aids Day.

Let's combine the two.

Annie Lennox has done amazing work to draw attention to the plight of African children in the Aids epidemic.  Here she sings a version "Coventry Carol" backed up by The African Children's Choir.

(And for good measure, I'm also posting Lennox singing "Many Rivers To Cross" on an Idol Gives Back special; it is perhaps one of the most beautiful, emotional music performances I've ever seen on television)

Hear the song on Youtube.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Shins "Wonderful Christmastime"

Despite all the turmoil of this week, the parade marches on, figuratively and literally.

I can spend all night returning emails and strategize-ing and working on Saving mvyradio, but they ain't post-poning Christmas just for me.

So this weekend, I'll put the Campaign on hold (in my mind) and do some Christmas shopping, co-host the Falmouth Christmas Parade with Barbara Dacey and listen to some Christmas music.

While there is a lot of marginal Christmas music out there, every year there's usually at least one record that's worthy of attention.

I think "Holidays Rule" is particularly good.  Lots of good interpretations by lots of good artists.  You can listen through the sampler below, or skip down to The Shins doing an admirable job of lifting one of my least favorite Christmas songs, to pretty decent levels.

Hear The Shins on Youtube.

Hear .fun on Youtube.

Hear Rufus Wainwright and Sharon Van Etten on Youtube.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bruce Springsteen "Death To My Hometown"

A few notes from the front lines . . .

So Tuesday we announced that mvyradio had 60 days to raise $600,000.  The 92.7 signal would be sold, but we could continue on, online.

Sometime not long after the campaign began, my friend Scott texted me to say "So much subtext in the songs you've been playing lately."  It wasn't intentional.  We (for the most part) weren't picking songs that illustrated our plight.

But how quickly do songs that you've heard a thousand times, take on a new meaning when you hear them in a new context.  "It's The End Of The World As We Know It," "Sitting In Limbo" and "One Breath At A Time" suddenly all seem to refer to our situation.

Every day in the 2pm hour, I've been playing a deeper track off one of the Top 25 of 2012 contending albums.  Yesterday, I played "Death To My Hometown" by Bruce Springsteen.  I had a reporter ask me about the track.  I think he was wondering if I'd played it for a reason . . .

As I mentioned on Monday, it's pretty weird to be an interviewee.  But that's what the situation calls for, so I've been talking to reporters from the MV Times, The MV Gazette, The Cape Cod Times and other publications.  I realized that even more awkward than answering questions about "How do you feel?"  (answer:  It's complicated), is having your picture taken.

What is the right pose to reflect the mood?  You don't want to smile, because if it's next to the headline "WMVY Goes Off Air" and you're smiling, you look like a tool.

But you don't want to look overly-serious, because it can come off like "ALL IS LOST."

And if someone, with a lens pointed in your direction says, "Act Natural!" then there is suddenly a zero-percent chance that anything you will do for the next five minutes will mimic how real humans move.

Awkward photo shoots aside, I have to say some nice things about local media.

Traditionally, radio and newspapers in places around the country have all competed with each other, often in a less than friendly way.  (There is an old story about a radio station getting a delivery of free donuts---two hours later, pictures of those donuts, being worn earlier that day by otherwise naked male members of a competing station, were delivered.  It was enough to make me consider not going into broadcasting)

But I have to give credit to the local media, for being extremely kind and respectful to each other, and each others' audience.

WBUR was kind enough to do a news story about mvyradio's Pledge campaign, so that Boston folks could hear about what's going on.  And WCAI (who is in direct competition with WBUR) had Nelson Siegelman of the MV Times on their morning news broadcast.  He did a really great job of reflecting the feelings of mvy listeners who are upset with this news, and went further, to extend sympathies to the folks who work at mvy who could potentially lose their jobs.

It speaks very well of this community that the default position, even in a competitive marketplace, is kindness and compassion.

Finally, just because a couple folks asked, yes, when I wrote last week's post about my last day on the air at WABN, I did already know what was going on behind the scenes at mvyradio.  And I knew I might be reliving that "last day" kind of scenario.

After writing it, I wondered how on-the-nose my bitterness about the loss of that station was, in connection to mvyradio.  I got an email from my old roommate, who was part of the WABN family, who said reading the mvyradio site gave him "the chills" with its decidedly familiar feeling.

Let's hope another community doesn't have to go through what Abingdon, Virginia did . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Huey Lewis & The News "If This Is It"

So basically, we just said, “I love you.” 

And it’s just kinda hanging there.

Have you ever been the first one to say “I love you” in a serious relationship?

Sure, we’ve had a great time together.  It’s romantic and sweet and we enjoy each other’s company and you’d even say that you’re committed.

But are we going to the next level?

Are we really going to throw our chips into the pile and make a go of it together?

So I said, “I love you.”

And there is a pause.  Maybe I’m just imagining the pause, but it feels like “I love you” hangs in the air for hours, days.

Your wheels are turning, I can see.

You care about me.  In theory, you think you’ll miss me if I’m gone.

You’d even say you are committed.

But now I’m not just asking you to be committed.  I’m asking you to be committed.

To put your money where your mouth is.

To decide that you don’t just care about me in an abstract way.

To forego passivity and plunge forward with the idea that the future is something you must actively participate in.

“I love you.”

Do you love me back?

That’s the question mvyradio effectively asked yesterday:

Do you love us?  Do you care about us?  Do you want the station to be a part of your future, or is here where we part ways?

You have until the end of January to make up your mind.

If you want us to be together, you’re going to have to say “I love you” back.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bruce Springsteen "Radio Nowhere"

Well, if you haven't heard the news about mvyradio, you should probably read this.

The question now becomes, is Bruce's vision of a dead dial and music spit out by satellite drones, going to be further true?  Or can people who care about music, help Save mvyradio?

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Kinks "Picture Book"

I knew the look on his face.  That weird, uncomfortable, “the tables have been turned!” feeling.

Jess has been telling me for ages that I should meet her friends Ben and Erica.  That we had a lot in common and would enjoy each other.  They had an interest in art and music and culture.  Erica did design, and Ben loved photography, both of which are passions of my wife.

We were in a burrito place in Falmouth, and I noticed a “Benshotme” display.

Periodically, Ben will publish a collection of his photographs, and make them available at stores around the Cape.  This particular issue had a load of pictures featuring Ryan Montbleau and his band.

My wife and I were thumbing through the pages, when the weirdest thing happened.

The guy in one of the pictures walked into the burrito place.

I looked at the collection.  I looked at the guy.

“Excuse me, are you Ben?”

He made the kind of face that I’m sure celebrities make when someone approaches them, and there is that split second when they are not sure if they are supposed to know the approacher, or if it is a fan.

I also know what it’s like to be on the other side of the equation.  As a guy who has interviewed hundreds of people over the course of my career, I do get a bit awkward on those rare occasions when I am the interviewee.

So too, for Ben, I’m sure it’s awkward to be on the other end of the lens.  He loves to take pictures, but I bet it’s weird for him to be recognized for being in a picture.

Or maybe he thought he owed me money.

Photography is not Ben’s first job; he has a job that pays the bills.  A great way to support his work, and to allow this artist to continue to capture the world we live in, is buy something from the BenShotMe site.  Get something for yourself.  Or give a photo as a gift.  The part I love the best?  Ben doesn't actually list prices for anything.  He simply says to tell him what you're interested in, and he'll "work with you."

Before you do any Christmas shopping online with big companies, consider supporting individual artists and small entrepreneurs.  Amazon isn’t going to miss your 50 bucks, but a purchase from an artisan will help them enormously. I’m posting links to a few of my talented friends and family.

Take a look at the other posts on my page this week, and please "Share" the links with you think might be interested in these artists.  Thanks!

Hear the song on Youtube.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

John Fogerty "Working On A Building"

So I've been banging away with posts about artist friends that are worthy of your support for the last couple of weeks, and I thought I should get around to Mike Palmer.

Those of you who live on the Cape and Islands know that, among the hardest hit during this recession, are the people who build things for a living.  10 years ago, there was plenty of work to go around.  These days, every job counts.

For Christmas, my folks, and my wife's mom, and my wife's dad, have all offered to give us a little money to devote to various around-the-house projects.  The slider to the deck is broken.  The tiles around the tub have cracked.

Maybe you're getting this kind of gift too.

We'll call our friend Mike Palmer, who did a hellava job on The Art Shed.

Mike has built homes from the ground up.  But in the winter, its the little jobs that get you through.

Check out his work on his MLP Carpentry site.

Before you do any Christmas shopping online with big companies, consider supporting individual artists and small entrepreneurs.  Amazon isn’t going to miss your 50 bucks, but a purchase from an artisan will help them enormously. I’m posting links to a few of my talented friends and family.

Take a look at the other posts on my page this week, and please "Share" the links with you think might be interested in these artists.  Thanks!

Hear the song on Youtube.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Beatles "Roll Over Beethoven"

Let me take a break from promoting my friends' art and business, and say Happy Birthday to my Dad.

The Finns are widely known to be perhaps the least funky family on the planet.  We do not have the moves on the dance floor.

But I have great memories of being a little kid, watching my Dad bang out the rhythm to his favorite Beatles song (yeah, he knows, its a Chuck Berry tune, but it's still his favorite), his wedding ring popping against the steering wheel of our Dodge Dart as we cruised down the highway

Happy Birthday, Duke!

Hear the song on Youtube.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Robin Sparkles "Let Go To The Mall"

It being Black Friday, I thought I should write about a shopping memory . . . 

When we were kids, we had an extended-family tradition.

My cousins and I would meet at the Burlington Mall and do Christmas shopping together.

Now, I don’t know if this was a big deal for my many cousins who lived in Burlington.  I’d wager that they spent a fair amount of time at the Mall, as a rule.

But living out in the sticks (as it felt like we did, in Newburyport), going to the Mall was an event.

We were young teens, and we got to go shopping, without our parents.

I must say, we felt pretty damn cool.  And I’m sure we were.

Yes, in fact I’m certain that going to the Mall without your parents, in 1985, was as cool as cool can be.

As cool as Robin Sparkles makes it out to be . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Ray Davies "Thanksgiving Day"

Earlier this week I was loading up the mvyradio Holiday Music Channel, and piling on song after song, by artist after artist, of Christmas tunes.

Then I went to find a song for Thanksgiving.

For a day about filling your table with plenty, the song-cupboard is pretty bare.

There’s the Adam Sandler tune.  “Over The River And Through The Woods To Grandmother’s House We Go” was originally a Thanksgiving song.  Of course, there’s “Alice’s Restaurant.”

But compared to the number of Christmas songs out there?  Pretty meager.

Which is strange, considering the lyrical possibilities.  I mean, it’s a little hard to write a song about, say, the Lenten season.

But Thanksgiving has some pretty clear metaphors, emotional touchstones and simple accessible imagery.

How is it that something like Ray Davies’ “Thanksgiving Day” is so rare?

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Smashing Pumpkins "Disarm" (part 2)

(This is Part 2.  You can read Part 1, here)

WABN was going off the air.  It was our last day.  Goodbye.  Gone.  Kaput.

I'd been on the air for 6 years, from 1994 to 2000.  Sometimes for 10 hours a day.  I worked and lived with a close knit group of friends who'd become family.  We'd fought for the station.  But the fight was over and it was time to say goodbye.

I helped orchestrate the final run-up, giving every DJ and friend of the station one last chance to step up to the mic, say something that mattered, and play one last song.

I rehearsed, in my head, what I wanted to say, and how I wanted to leave the airwaves.

Six years earlier, I'd quit my job in television in a power struggle with the boss.  He demanded that I leave my part-time job at WABN.  I told him he couldn't tell me how to conduct my private life.  My check-mate move, was to quit.

"Bold move," said Rita later that afternoon.  "Now what?"

Rita and her husband Craig owned WABN, an AM/FM combo in Abingdon, Virginia.  They literally did everything related to the station---sales, billing, maintenance, Craig went on-air, called local sports games.  This was true DIY independent radio.

Part of the reason they were so fiercely independent, had to do with the mess they'd just come out of.

They had purchased the station several years prior, with a partner (a relative).  After only a few years in, the partner tried to sell the station without their input or consultation.  He had controlling interest.  He fired Craig and Rita, and expected them to quietly hand over their stock.  Craig and Rita were doing no such thing.  What's more, the partner incorrectly thought he could sell the station without their consent.  He was wrong.

A protracted legal battle began, for control of the station.  Craig and Rita were barred from even entering the building.  Two years passed.  The station suffered from inattention, the partner tired of the fight, and finally, he turned control of the station over to Craig and Rita.

And that's when their troubles really began.

The damage had been done to the station's billing.  They were deep in the red.  The creditors were lining up.

When Rita said to me, "Bold move," she knew what might be on the horizon.

Shortly after I went to work full time at WABN, the station filed for bankruptcy.

Let me tell you this---I learned more than I ever care to know about bankruptcy court in the years that followed.

Craig and Rita scraped and fought to bring in enough billing to keep the station alive, while working tirelessly to come up with a plan they could present to the bankruptcy court for a way to emerge and go forward.

The partner, meanwhile, because he was a creditor, re-entered the picture to resume his efforts to sell the station to another party.

 . . . Let me stop right here and say that the story of the 6 years of bankruptcy court is a long and complicated journey, that I hope Craig and Rita publish some day.  Suffice it to say, that despite community support, a fight at the FCC level, arguments before the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals and a truckload of craft, smarts and passion, we lost this fight.  The station, which had been an award winning community radio outpost, would land in the hands of a large radio group who would use the FM signal to rebroadcast their syndicated Talk Radio station.  They would simply turn the AM off.

I could have walked out the door of WABN the day Craig and Rita told me they were filing for bankruptcy.  But I didn't.

I believed in them, and I believed in their mission.  I believed in a radio station that let teenagers call in and have their voice heard.  I believed in a station that let the DJs pick the music.  I believed in a station that talked to you, not at you.  And I believed in Craig and Rita themselves---that their fight was right and that it was worth fighting.

We were winding through the final day at WABN.  Friends of the station had a chance to pop on air and pick a last song.  The part-timers were on now, with their last words.  Craig and Rita's adult children (who made up the rest of the full time staff) would have their say, followed by Craig and Rita themselves.  Then the transmitter would be shut off.  Right before the family spoke, I would have my turn.

I had written out my speech.  I wanted it to be good.  I didn't want to cry.

I talked about how I had come to be at WABN.  About what I had learned by living in the presence of people with dedication, passion and conviction.

I said that I learned the importance of fighting for something you believe it.  The point is not to ask whether you can win, it's to stick with it if you are right.

And I ended my 6 years of independent radio the way it started.  I played "Disarm."

That was 12 years ago, and it's still painful to write about.  In fact, when I started this blog I knew that the "Disarm" stories were on the top of the list of posts I needed to write.  I've been putting them off for 3 years.

Twelve years later, WABN FM still rebroadcasts Talk Radio.  WABN AM is still silent.  And the building where Craig and Rita and their kids and I worked for all those years, remains empty and unused, the fields around the brick building are overgrown, the whole thing abandoned.

Nothing has come to Abingdon to replace WABN  (the Talk Radio station is located 20 miles away).  No station does high school sports.  No station has a request radio program.  No station shows up at the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life or any of the other dozens of charitable events that WABN supported.

I don't live in Abingdon anymore, but I am certain that the community is less, for not having WABN.

But because of it, because of them, I am much more.  And I am thankful for that . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Lake Street Dive "Faith"

Friends have been telling me about Lake Street Dive for a while now.

Ross has mentioned them.

Laurel raved about them.

And Garrison Keillor had nice things to say about them.  (Okay, GK is not actually my friend, but it feels like it)

So when I got their "Fun Machine" EP (which came out in the Spring but was just reserviced to the station), I got excited.

Then I looked at the track list, and I got bummed.

Ugh.  A covers EP?  Kind of a waste of my time, right?  Who needs another dang covers album?



This is awesome, just plain awesome.


The album version:
Faith by Lake Street Dive on Grooveshark

A live version:

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Ozzy Osborne "Crazy Train"

Billy can play the intro to "Crazy Train."

How do I know?

Because I heard him do it.  A million times.  For hours on end.  Over and over.

One of the things I do not miss about college, or being young, or having roommates, is the proximity to other people's noises.

And when you lived next door to a musician, you lived next door to whatever they were learning.

Billy was learning the incredible, indelible opening riff to "Crazy Train."  And like any aspiring guitarist, he wanted to get it down, know it cold.  So he just kept playing it.

The riff that starts at :23 and goes to :36 (on the Youtube video below), is only a dozen or so seconds long.

But if you really want your fingers to learn how to fly through it, so it becomes muscle memory, then you just have to play it over and over and over.  A 12 second riff that lasts for an hour.

This process is maddening if you happen to live next door.

At first, it's really cool to hear the song being worked out.  But after a bit, it becomes annoying.  Then distracting.  Then infuriating.  Then it completely takes over your life to the point where you can't concentrate enough to read the side of a cereal box and even if you put a stack of pillows over your head you can faintly hear its muffled line and the notes poke your brain like tiny daggers launched from a pea shooter.


But not for the artist.

The process is necessary for the artist.

The devotion to practice and the discipline to commit to getting it right override all other sensibilities.

The amazing thing about Billy is that he could apply this mindset to everything he wished to do.

He's recorded an album, playing all the instruments.

He oversees the layout and design of a whole family of magazines.

He paints.

He sculpts.

He makes mosaics.

He silk screens.

He makes ceramics.

And he does it with a single-mindedness that makes his prolific nature seem effortless.

I used to want to write.  Write stories.  Maybe a novel.  Whatever.

But I could never muster the discipline that Billy had.

I admired it.  I envied it.  But I was never able to replicate it.

For years, I held onto the excuse that my creative powers were being fully directed toward my job at mvyradio, leaving little time or energy to be creative elsewhere.

I started this blog.  And I thought of Billy.

I began to write several days a week.  Then 5 days a week.  Then 7.  I went a whole year without missing a day.  And these days, I actually find it easier to write a post every day, than I did a few years ago, to write a post a couple of times a week.  Working with a single-mindedness has made being prolific feel effortless.

I thank Billy, in part, for helping me get here.  Even if I had to come via his Crazy Train.

See a fraction of what Billy can do, at his Big Dead Gerbil website.  I have a Big Dead Gerbil ceramic as a pencil holder on my desk.  You can also find some pretty amazing silk screen prints and hilarious t-shirts.

Before you do any Christmas shopping online with big companies, consider supporting individual artists and small entrepreneurs.  Amazon isn’t going to miss your 50 bucks, but a purchase from an artisan will help them enormously.  This week I’ll be posting links to a few of my talented friends and family.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Aerosmith "Walking The Dog"

One of my wife’s oldest friends made a bold decision one day, to drop a career that was not making her happy, and become a full time dog walker.

So yes, whenever she comes through our door, it is to the tune of Aerosmith’s “Walking The Dog” (in my mind, not in real life).

If you know a dog or cat owner on the South Shore, who needs a pet walker or a pet sitter, check out Tails On Trails.  Click through for her contact info, and read her story.

Before you do any Christmas shopping online with big companies, consider supporting individual artists and small entrepreneurs.  Amazon isn’t going to miss your 50 bucks, but a purchase from an artisan will help them enormously.  This week I’ll be posting links to a few of my talented friends and family.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Beatles "Paperback Writer"

If you are connected to The Vineyard or know someone who is, why not pick up a copy of “Au Naturel, A Summer On Martha’s Vineyard.”  It was written by James Sanford, who spent a season living and working on the Island and wrote a book about his experiences, including doing some volunteer work for mvyradio.

And I’m not recommending this work just because I am described in it as having a “witty way with words, (and) a disarming smile.”  (But I wouldn’t blame you for skipping ahead to page where he talks about coming to mvy and meeting me)

You can buy this book for only $2.99 on your Kindle or iPad!  C'mon, 3 bucks?  Make a writer's day!  Buy this book for yourself AND your Vineyard loving friends.

Before you do any Christmas shopping online with big companies, consider supporting individual artists and small entrepreneurs.  Amazon isn’t going to miss your 50 (or in this case THREE) bucks, but a purchase from an artisan will help them enormously.  This week I’ll be posting links to a few of my talented friends and family.

Hear the song on Youtube

Friday, November 16, 2012

Ben Folds Five "Cigarette"

The lyrics to this song are (semi-)famously lifted from an amazing run-on sentence that Ben Folds had read in the newspaper, about a man and his mentally ill wife.

There’s poetry in every day life that we don’t always see or hear or turn into song.

“Cigarette” is also famous for retroactively being known as “Fred Jones Pt. 1.”  Years after “Cigarette” came out, Ben Folds wrote a song called “Fred Jones Pt. 2” which features the same character found in Pt. 1.  In Pt 2, Fred Jones loses his job as a newspaper man.  The world has passed him by.

This week I thought I’d write about some of the artisans in my life, and promote the good work that they do.

I have to admit that even I was quick to make a list that involved graphic design, stone carving and other handmade crafts, but not something kind of obvious (for a guy who blogs every day).

Writing was not a type of “art” that instantly came to top of mind.

Why don’t we appreciate writing the way we used to?

As Ben Folds makes clear, there is poetry, there is value, in the every day written word.

Scott Lajoie knows this for sure.

Scott is the editor of Cape Cod Magazine.  He finds the poetry and beauty of every day life here on Cape Cod, and encapsulates it between the covers of his publication.  There is artistry in what he does, in what the magazine is, even if you don’t recognize it.

Yes, Scott’s art is more likely to be strewn on your bathroom floor, than displayed on your wall.

The written word is taken for granted.  But let me be not the first person to forewarn you---print publications become rarer by the day.  And if you value newspapers and magazines and such, they demand your support.

My motivation to write these pieces on artist friends was sparked by Scott’s dedication to promoting Cape Cod and the people who make it beautiful.  Cape Cod Magazine has written pieces on Meadow Dibble, Tim Dibble, Erica Szuplat and mvyradio, to name just a few.  The promotion has meant sales and attention for each.  That kind of support is what can keep an artist alive and thriving.

If Scott and his magazine are not there for us, who will be?  And if we are not there for Scott, how can he be there for us?

So as you are thinking about small businesses you can support this holiday season, consider giving someone (or yourself) a subscription to Cape Cod Magazine.  You can get a year's subscription for only 15 bucks!

Because we don’t want to hear Ben Folds sing, “And I’m sorry, Mr. Lajoie, it’s time . . .”

Hear "Cigarette" on Youtube.

Hear "Fred Jones Pt. 2" on Youtube.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Prince & Sheena Easton "The Arms Of Orion"

There are lots of songs about girls.  So when I happen to look at a girl, no one song comes to mind.

There are lots of songs about cars.  So when I happen to look at a car, no one song comes to mind.

But at night in the fall, I look up in the sky, and one stupid song comes to mind.

Because I only know one song about Orion.

In 1989 I was still a major fan of Prince.  And also a big fan of Batman.  And of Tim Burton.

Along comes news that Tim Burton will direct a new Batman movie.  And the soundtrack will be by Prince?


So I went out and bought the new Prince soundtrack.

And this was the moment I realized that Prince may not have his hand fully on the quality control lever.  While there are some good songs on the record (I actually like the much reviled "Batdance"), there is also some pretty sub-par Prince material on there too.

But being a super-fan, I did listen over and over again that summer, and the songs on the "Batman" soundtrack did become lodged in my head, including the sappy Sheena Easton duet "Arms Of Orion."  It's such a middling tune, but the hook of the chorus is just catchy enough that I find myself singing it.

In the fall, the constellation Orion The Hunter becomes visible in the night sky.  It's one of the few constellations that I can identify quickly.

Unfortunately, with an uncommon name like Orion, even now when I spy the formation of stars and just think "Orion," this stupid song pops in my head. 

Finally giving "Orion" a more positive connotation is Meadow Dibble's "Orion's Belt Buckle." She makes one-of-a-kind pieces of wearable art, incorporating hand-sculpted polymer clay, found images, designer and recycled paper, beads, shells and other objects.  She's extremely talented, like her dad!

Before you do any Christmas shopping online with big companies, consider supporting individual artists and small entrepreneurs.  Amazon isn’t going to miss your 50 bucks, but a purchase from an artisan will help them enormously.  This week and next, I’ll be posting links to a few of my talented friends and family.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Allman Brothers Band "In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed"

I always think of Grampa Tim when I hear this song.

Famously, Dickie Betts of the Allman Brothers wrote this instrumental in a Macon, Georgia graveyard that he liked to hang out in.

The fact that the songs is an instrumental leaves Elizabeth Reed's story untold, and lets us wonder.

Grampa Tim has spent many an hour, I'm sure, pondering such unknowable questions.

On top of being a carpenter, shop keeper, bartender, reluctant soldier, sketcher, clam digger, bird house builder, art installer, roofer, and handyman, he is also a stone carver.

He's been hired to carve massive sinks and fireplaces for luxury homes.

And he'll do simple marker carving, like the slate-address-marker we have at our front door.

A few years ago, he was hired by the Brewster Cemetery Association to fix and restore over 300 gravestones in town.  (Read about it in a Cape Codder article)

That job lasted ages, and gave Tim a lot of time to ponder just who those people were, what their life might have been like, and what their story had been.

But, despite his many talents, I don't think he wrote a song about it.

Throughout the holiday season, I'm writing stories about some of the family and friends who are making and selling art and such.  When you think about dropping $50 at Amazon or Walmart, consider how much farther that money will go, how much better for the broader economy it would be, if you spent your cash with a small business owner.

While I don't know that your Mom would appreciate a Gravestone as a Christmas present, and you may not be interested in a massive, marble carved fireplace, take a look a Tim's site.  There may be some more modest carving or stone bench or piece of rustic furniture or abstract art that would appeal to you.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Def Leppard "Rock Of Ages"

This is less of a story, and more of a sketch, but it makes me laugh.

I was driving on the Cape, near Popponesset the other day, marveling at how tony it has become since we vacationed there in the early 80s.

Not that it was slummy.  But now the houses are so much bigger and the paint is so much whiter and the landscaping is so much primmer and the cars in the driveways are so much more fancy than I ever remember.

And here's the memory that made me laugh.

I must've been in 8th or 9th grade.  Mom and Dad and my sisters and I were sharing a rental with my Uncle and Aunt and 2 cousins.  Christine and I are the same age---actually, she's two months older---and I always looked to her for what was cool, and what was not.

I can't remember exactly where in Popponessett we were, but we were wandering aimlessly down a sidewalk-less street.

A pick-up truck whizzed by, BLASTING some new Def Leppard.

Christine, who was in mid-sentence about something else, heard the truck's tune and shouted:


And I remember thinking to myself, "Okay, yelling at trucks blasting cool rock music. That's a thing people can do."

Throughout the holiday season, I'm going to write some stories about some of the family and friends who are making and selling art and such.  When you think about dropping $50 at Amazon or Walmart, consider how much farther that money will go, how much better for the broader economy it would be, if you spent your cash with a small business owner.

Cousin Christine is SariBlue.  She makes earthy, bohemian, wear-it-everyday jewelry centered on the power & theory of The Evil Eye.  Visit her site and buy yourself (or someone you love) something nice.  Perhaps she'll put that money right back into the economy by buying a new Def Leppard "Greatest Hits" album . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, November 12, 2012

John Mayer "Something Like Olivia"

There have been plenty of good and not so good reasons to be on the fence about liking a song for mvyradio.

It's too poppy

It's too esoteric.

It's too repetitive.

But this is a first.

I didn't want to add this one because I don't want to think about John Mayer dating my daughter.

When I saw this song on the "Born And Raised" track list, I smiled at the title "Something Like Olivia," because that's my daughter's name.

But when I actually heard the track, it made me feel queasy.

Now, it's not at all unusual to hear John Mayer sing about girls.  It's not too unusual to hear John Mayer sing (overconfidently) about his own sexuality.  It's not unusual to hear John Mayer put the women in his songs in a space where they seem a little like props to be moved around within in a Mayer-sexual diorama.

But what IS unusual, is to imagine your own daughter, in that role.

When John Mayer keeps singing her name, it's hard not to.  And it's hard not to become enraged.

Hey, I know it is totally cliche for a parent of a young child (Olivia is 5) to obsess about what might happen during the teenage years when your kid discovers his/her sexuality.  But every time one of my friends who had kids a decade earlier than I tells me a story about some misadventure their teen was involved in, cliche or not, it feels real.

And certainly, having once been young, I have first-person knowledge that the world does have more than its fair share of lecherous, John Mayer-like lady-killers.

So, back to the song. 

Are my misplaced hang-ups a good reason to not play a particular tune on mvyradio?  Am I perhaps unfairly projecting parental anxiety onto Mr. Mayer?

No.  And Yes.

So we'll play this song on the station. 

And when you hear it, you can imagine me sitting in the mvy studio, queasy with misplaced paternal agita.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Eels "Novocaine For The Soul"

Here's another Weekend Post:

One of the things that I loved about the 90s was the quirky, even bizarre music was embraced by the mainstream.  And what would be a cult band in another era, was an MTV/mainstream hit band.

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 10, 2012

Presidents Of The United States Of America "Kitty"

I was thinking about this song (particularly the refrain) on election day, when my cat was driving me nuts.

But now that it's in my head, I've got other kittys to think about.

My daughter turns 5 today!

We asked her on several occasions what she might like to have as a party theme.  And for my wife, no party theme is too weird, no party theme is undo-able.

Two years ago, when her two favorite things were "Dinosaur Train" and her dance class, my daughter suggested we have a dinosaur ballerina party.  So we did.  My wife actually found a great book called "Brontorina," about a dinosaur who wants to dance ballet.  And we did some decorating.  (Note the dinosaur's outfits)

This year, we ask our daughter what she thought a good theme might be.

"Cats and Warthogs."


"You know, the girls can dress up as cats.  And the boys can come as warthogs."

Uhh . . .

Well, maybe there is a theme that's too weird.

So we backed it up to just a cat theme.  House cats, jungle cats.  A lion cake and a tiger bouncy house.

I feel a little bad that we couldn't quite fulfill her vision.

(But I am still happy that my girl thinks boys are analogous to warthogs)

The lyrics of this song are NSFW!!!

Hear the song on Youtube.