Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mr. T "Be Somebody Or Be Somebody's Fool"

I wasn't really sure if I was should post this song for April Fools, or for Mother's Day . . .

Please enjoy the 80s awesomeness from a motivational video called "Be Somebody Or Be Somebody's Fool," featuring the song "Treat Your Mother Right."

Hear Mr. T drop some knowledge, on Youtube.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Tim Minchin "Prejudice"

With everyone talking about prejudice, name-calling, bullying and discrimination (especially on Facebook), I thought it might be appropriate to share this Public Service Announcement.

You really shouldn't use that offensive word---you know, the one spelled with G, N, I and R---unless you ARE one.

See the video on Youtube.

Thanks to my Down-Under-living cousin Rick, for introducing me to this song and to Tim Minchin in general.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dido "Thank You"

Way back in January, I wrote about the Goyte song "Somebody That I Used To Know."

I don't know if it came through in the post, but I was pretty on the fence about the song and whether or not the station should play it.

Of course, if you've listened to the station since January, you haven't heard the tune, so you would have assumed that we came down on the side of not playing it.

Then again, maybe you've listened to the station in the past two days, heard the song, and wondered, Why did they decide to start playing it now?

Okay, here's the thought process I went through . . .

Without a doubt, this is a great song. I never really questioned that. Was never on the fence about the quality of the tune.

But the question I'm always asking is, Is this a good mvy song?

On the plus-side? It sounds quite a bit like Peter Gabriel, who is certainly a core artists for us. And it's musically/sonically quirky enough to really stand out (in a good way). And the whole album is strong (that is, we don't usually go for novelty songs, one-hit-wonders, or artists who have a great single but a shitty record).

On the negative side? I could tell it was going to be a Pop radio hit. And generally, if an artist is going to quickly cross over to the Pop world, we don't waste time with it. The 3rd "A" in Triple A stands for "Alternative." And if we fancy ourselves as an alternative to the mainstream, then we let Pop radio have the big Pop hits to themselves.

And that's where we were from January, to about last week.

Then the Dido thing happened.

Waay back in 2000, British singer Dido released the single "Thank You" to Triple A radio. Many Triple A stations played it, but Barbara (who was mvy's Program Director at the time) passed on it. It did become a popular crossover hit, cracking the Top 10 on the Pop charts.

At the same time, Eminem sampled part of "Thank You" in his song "Stan." This was at the height of Emenem's fame, MTV was playing the hell out of his video, and Dido was reaching a wider and wider audience.

And that's when the song moved from being just a big hit, to a full-on phenomenon. It seemed to transcend genres or formats. People who didn't usually listen to Pop radio were hearing the song (because it was so culturally ubiquitous), telling us how great it was, and asking us to play it. We added it to rotation.

Something similar has happened with the Gotye song.

I see people of all stripes posting this song on Facebook, and talking about it with friends, and reacting to it. The raw emotion in the song, the unique-sounding musical dynamics, the "I've been there" subject matter---it's all striking a chord. A deep chord.

So at this point, it's hard to ignore the song. It's something that people who listen to mvyradio, by and large, seem to like. It's bigger than just Pop. Or Triple A. Or any sub-category.

It's in a league of its own, like Dido's tune and a handful of other rare songs that seem to have everyone's attention.

You can't ignore it. You just have to accept it and say "Thank You."

Hear Dido on Youtube.

Hear Gotye on Youtube.

Hear Eminem on Youtube.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Travis "Selfish Jean"

Here is a (partial) list of things that I enjoy, that my dear wife doesn't have any particular interest in, but still indulges my desire to discuss, listen to, search online for, obsess over, follow and otherwise geek out on:

Arrested Development
This American Life
Big Star
The Onion/AV Club
Battlestar Galactica
Tina Fey
pulled Pork Barbeque sandwiches
Flight Of The Conchords
Wait Wait Don't Tell Me
Dr. Demento
Buffy The Vampire Slayer
The Wire
Cadbury Eggs
Parks & Recreation
Emmylou Harris
Watching American movies on Telemundo even though I don't speak Spanish

My wife is not immune to nerding-out, herself. But about things that interest her---for instance, graphic design elements. Like fonts (yes, I'm talking about a particular typeface). She's crazy about fonts. In fact, she once went gaga for one particular font.

And not just any font, but a font based on a video by the band Travis, featuring one of her favorite comedians, Demetri Martin, who designed the font on the t-shirts in the video below.

This is so graphic-geeky. But she is generally accepting of my foibles, so it would have been wrong of me to tease her about font-passion.

Well, I did tease her, of course, but that just makes me an annoying geek.

See the video on Youtube.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Big Head Todd "I'm Sexy And I Know It"

Play this song, and your initial reaction is likely one of two things. Either:

"What The Hell?" or "Oh My God!"

At least, those were the two reactions of the two other mvyradio DJs in the building, when I played this song on the air.

I asked Ray if he recognized the song or knew LFMAO. He just gave the kind of answer you expect from someone who steers decidedly wide of ridiculous Pop radio---somewhere between a blank look and some vague recollection.

But as we were talking, Laurel came running in.

"Oh my God!"

Not unlike the average Mom of the average teenager who will let the kid control the car radio, SHE recognized the song and was very familiar with the original, and thought it was hilarious.

Big Head Todd, covering LMFAO, but doing it in the style of John Lee Hooker.

I don't know if it's good, but it's entertaining.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Rage Against The Machine "Bombtrack"

The big, winding clover-leaf exit covered more ground than the entire neighborhood block I grew up on. And with the windows of my Toyota rolled down, I sped around the slightly sloping embankment, like a racecar driver on a track.

The exit off the Florida Turnpike emptied into the town of Davie, which is just directly West of Ft. Lauderdale. This was the drive I made every morning, to my first real, professional, post-college job.

I was working for a cable company, in the production department. You know those cheap-looking, low budget commercials for some rinky-dink local eatery, that pops up during a CNN commercial break? I was a guy that made those.

Every day I was shooting close up after close up of ugly chicken sandwiches and pan shots of unphotogenic hairdressing school students and stand-ups of stiff-gesturing car dealers. And always, always, always---because it couldn't be a cable commercial without it---the client insisted that we shoot a picture of the sign above the front door.

But I was doing what I love. And (despite my awareness of production value limitations) it was an artistic and creative environment.

Unfortunately, it wasn't the social environment I'd always assumed the workplace would be.

The reality was that all my co-workers were over 30. Most were married. And many had kids.

I, on the other hand, was just out of college, where 90% of the people I interacted with, saw, spoke to, looked at, ate with, slept with and thought about, were between the ages of 18 and 28. It was truly culture-shock to suddenly be somewhere, where not a single person was in the same stage of life.

I realized, pretty quickly, that at work, I had to try to age-up, to fit in. It didn't help that at 23 years old, I still looked like I was 15. But I tried to act like an mature adult. I told everyone to call me Paul (because P.J. was a kid's name). And I maintained a professional attitude, as best as a green-rookie knew how to project one.

That ride to work was mine though.

When I had moved a few months earlier, I had driven my car from Massachusetts to Florida, not thinking about the fact that I was moving to a place where it might suck to own a car with no air conditioning. So I always drove with the windows rolled down and WKPX cranked.

WKPX was a public radio station, run out of a Broward County High School, and DJed mainly by high school students, who played Alternative Rock.

And this was the 1991/1992, which was such a watershed time in music. WKPX is the first place I heard "Smells Like Teen Spirit," and Pearl Jam and Jesus Jones and Cracker and Rage Against The Machine.

In particular, Rage was a mind-scrambler for me. Not only was "Bombtrack" amazing, it simply sounded like nothing else I'd ever heard. The mix of rap and rock and guitar-wizardry and passion and politics . . . it was opening a new world for me.

I can remember coming around that big winding exit that emptied out into the town where I worked, with "Bombtrack" blaring on the shitty car speakers, and me "raging" along.

In a few minutes, I'd be entering this world where I was Paul, and I was serious, and I was professional.

But at that moment in my car, I was me, with no conformity, no compromises and no air conditioning.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Veruca Salt "Volcano Girls"

Here's another Weekend Post:

After yesterday's post, I was trying to come up with another good 90s duo to write about, and I was stuck.

Just by coincidence, this particular song was mentioned in a book I'm reading. Hooray, coincidence!

While I remember Veruca Salt well, I'd forgotten what a fun, hooky track and a fun video this is, especially with "Glass Onion"/Beatles reference.

See the video on Youtube.

See some fun Beatles footage and hear "Glass Onion" 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, March 24, 2012

Local H "Bound For The Floor"

Here's another Weekend Post:

Before The Black Keys had the guitar/drums duo thing---even before The White Stripes---Local H was there . . .

See the video on Youtube.

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

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

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

Friday, March 23, 2012

Joan Osborne "One Of Us"

I grew up in a family where Religion played a sincere and apparent role.

Meaning, we were good Catholics. We never missed Church. Religious discussions might come up at the dinner table. My father had been in the seminary and his sister was (and still is) a nun.

But when I moved into the South, it was evident that Religion played a much larger role in people's day-to-day lives.

Not so much in the morality or piety---I don't think people in the South had greater or better convictions than the people I grew up around. But that Religion was much more a part of the social structure.

Growing up, my friends were usually kids I went to school with. And my parents' friends were people they worked with, or were folks from the neighborhood.

But for many of the people in the town where I lived (Abingdon, Virginia), the people that they were more likely to socialize with, were the people from their Church.

Churches weren't just for Sundays. Churches organized picnics and trips and hikes and had classes/services on Wednesdays. A person's relationship with their Church wasn't just about Religious beliefs, it was about interacting with the world at-large---so much of what they might experience in a day could be filtered through Religious eyes.

I co-hosted a nightly call-in request program. It was mainly frequented by Middle and High School kids who wanted to send out dedications to their friends and such.

It was interesting to chart the reaction of the listenership to Joan Osborne's "One Of Us," which became an unlikely hit in 1995.

Some folks were horrified that we would play a song that suggested that God could be a "bum like one of us." That was practically sacrilege.

And others didn't really seem to hear what the song was about. They only caught the lyrics "God Is Great," and jumped to the conclusion that this was a Contemporary Christian song, singing the praises of the Lord.

It made me wonder if sometime being too close to something, prevented you from seeing it. If you focus on it being about God, are you missing that it's really a message about everyone?

See the video on Youtube.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thomas Dolby "The Toadlickers"

"She Blinded Me With Science." I'm guessing you are familiar with that.

Maybe that's all you know about Thomas Dolby.

But you've missed a few things, and maybe knowing those few things will prompt you to give the time of day to his first album in nearly 20 years.

Did you know he played keyboards on "Waiting For A Girl Like You" and other hits for Foreigner?

That he was the keyboard player on Def Leppard's mega-hit "Pyromania" album?

That he played on records by Robyn Hitchcock, The Thompson Twins and George Clinton?

That he co-produced a record for Joni Mitchell?

Is he getting any cred from you yet?

That he moved away from recording in the early 90s, to move toward technology by starting a company that developed early digital files?

Then developed software synthesizers for mobile phones?

That if you have a Nokia phone, you have Thomas Dolby-created ringtones buzzing in your ears?

That he has been the Musical Director of TED Conference since 2001?

Okay, so he's a creative guy, a credible talent, an innovative mind.

Does that get you interested in hearing his first album in 19 years?

Okay, fine!!!

This video features:

Toad porno.

Dog puppets shooting smack.

A cat with a hooka.

Lingerie-clad cowgirls.

A chicken who appear to be examining various types of feces.

If that doesn't get you to check it out, nothing will.

See the crazy video on Youtube.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bob Mould "See A Little Light"

Oddly enough, when I hear "See A Little Light" it takes me back to being in the dark. Literally.

Ah, to be young and single. There are so many aspects to the story that follows, that are so far removed from the life I have now . . .

Let's see, where to start.

I'm on a lawn chair, on the deck of a house that is not mine. It is after midnight. I am with a girl I like. It is completely dark.

Honestly, this scenario was not a one time thing. I often brought a girl to this very location.

I'm in my late 20s, living in southwest Virginia.

I live in a 100 year old rented farm house, known as 7 Maples, with two of my friends. The house is huge, the rent is cheap. We are all single and generally unencumbered (we own little and owe little). Beer and cigarettes and coffee and friends and dates come and go, frequently and at all hours.

I'm a DJ, working the evenings, which means I don't get home until after midnight, every night. So much of my social interaction occurs when most of the town has gone to sleep.

The farmhouse is on the road. A country road, but right on it. Walking out of the wood stove room/back door to the driveway in the back is a slight incline, which then become a steeper, brush covered incline. Cutting a path through the brush is a dirt road, winding its way up the hill. At the top of the hill, just before the treeline, is the studio.

The farmhouse is owned by a husband/wife artist team. They have just built this beautiful studio, for their expanding production. They bought the land to build the studio; 7 Maples came in the bargain, so they rent in cheaply. On the lower level, is her kiln and her rows of tiny, handmade jewelry. On the top level, are his looms for his giant, rich, wall hangings. And on their deck are a few lawn chairs.

It is not unusual for me to bring a girl up here. The landlords don't mind. Encourage it, in fact. Just pick up your empty beer cans. Otherwise, enjoy the view.

When I hear "See A Little Light," even today, this is where I am. On a warm summer might with a warm summer beer, hoping to impress a girl, and generally unencumbered by anything more taxing than that.

It seems kind of idyllic, and I could probably paper over the reality with nostalgia. But the truth is that what felt like freedom on a good day, felt like being set adrift, aimlessly, on another day. There could be drama and mood-swings and angst. Some of that generated internally, and some of that manifested in the people around me.

7 Maples, due to its fluid and welcoming nature, attracted its fair share of friends and hangers-on, drunks and lost boys/girls. People searching, or flailing, or failing. People who's only reaction to things that didn't make sense, was to curse the darkness and shout out into the night.

"Ahh, shit. I'd better go see what that is."

I reluctantly got up from my lawn chair, which had been pulled close to her lawn chair.

Remember in "Say Anything" when you first hear "In Your Eyes" and you just think it's the movie soundtrack, until they show Lloyd in the yard with his boom box?

At first I didn't notice the melody in the air for anything other than a soundtrack to whatever I'm sure I was going on about in an effort to impress this girl. But then I realized that Bob Mould was booming from my house, which was a good 300 yards away.

We ambled our way in the dark, down the hill and as we got closer to the house, I could see a little light, literally, from the wood stove room where the stereo lived and most of the beer was consumed. The stereo speakers were now in the window, and the stereo was cranked up to 11.

I walked inside, smoothly and succinctly, heading straight for the stereo to turn it down.

"It's a little loud," I said, with a cocked eyebrow.

There was no point in making a salient argument, or getting too angry. He was drunk.

He was a friend of one of the roommates. The kind of guest that doesn't leave, even after his friend has gone to bed (if the are still drinks to be had).

I'm not sure what he was trying to accomplish by putting the speakers in the window and blasting Bob Mould across the hillside. And I'm fairly certain that he couldn't tell you either.

It was just the kind of thing you did when you were in your 20s, a little lost, a little drunk, a little in the dark, searching for some kind of answers.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Esperanza Spalding "Radio Song"

Let's start with 4 sentences of history.

The format mvyradio plays is called Triple AAA, which coalesced as a format in the early nineties. There was a wide swath of great artists who didn't fit in with your local Adult Contemporary station, but weren't hard enough or hip enough or ironic enough or whatever, for your local Alternative station. Adult Album Alternative flourished because it gave a home to harder-to-categorize artists who---like Susan Tedeschi and Lyle Lovett, Jeff Buckley and Chris Isaak---might bridge a couple of genres or be deemed eclectic. It's hard to imagine, but those artists I just named were hard to find on the radio, circa 1994.

Since the early 90s, Triple A has evolved into a home for singer-songwriters and for alternative acts that a hip 40 year old can enjoy.

But it still can be a home for those uncategorizable artists, who are great, but don't really fit in anywhere.

How about Esperanza Spalding?

She is getting rave critical reviews, won a Grammy last year for Best New Artist and was a stunning presence when she performed at the Oscars this year.

But have you heard her on the radio? Anywhere?

Is it incumbent on a station like mvyradio, to give her a platform?

Theoretically, yes.

Check out "Radio Song." If you heard this on the station, would you say "What the hell?" or "Right on!"

(Note that this is the full 6-plus minute version. We would probably play the 3:30 radio edit, which is more concise and to the point.)

Hear the song on Youtube.

Hear Esperanza at The Oscars on Youtube.

Monday, March 19, 2012

James Plattes "The Silver Spear & The Banshee."

She turned to me and asked, "What about you? Did you enjoy that?"

"Hmm," I paused. "Did I enjoy that? Honestly, I have mixed feelings about it.

"You know, I got on the Steamship today because I'm headed back to the Vineyard and I'm going straight to work. I work at the local radio station. WMVY. And I had a bunch of stuff I had hoped to accomplish on this ferry ride. I found this booth, sat down and opened my laptop, and I was deep into my work when you arrived.

"Now let me say this: I love music. I LOVE music. In fact I was sitting here with my headphones on, listening to some new releases when you arrived. That's part of my job. People send me their new songs, and I try to give them a good, fair listen to decided if the station is going to play them.

"I saw you come up the stairs and I could see the instrument slung on your back and I smiled because I feel some kind of kinship with people who love music enough to make it a daily part of their life. But I didn't give it much thought when you sat in the booth, directly behind me.

"Let me say again, I LOVE music. So I flashed through a wave of varying emotions when you started playing your fiddle.

"On the one hand, good for you. You have an instrument and you have a gift and you feel like sharing. A fiddle, on the morning before St. Patrick's Day? On the Steamship? How delightfully unexpected!

"On the other hand, your fiddle was REALLY FUCKING LOUD AND RIGHT IN MY EARS, LADY.

"I mean, if a person came onto the boat, sat in the middle of people clearly trying to work (or converse as the people around here were), and put a boombox down and turned it up as loud as you were, I think we would all think that person is kind of an ass. If a person came on the boat, sat right down next to you and started talking on their cell phone right next to your head, at a volume similar to your fiddle, we would also think that person is a complete ass.

"So why is it different for you? It's not. It's kind of the same thing.

"I was trying to listen to music, oddly enough. To listen and absorb and enjoy music. And I was being interrupted. Over-powered. By music. Other music.

"Maybe you saw me take off my headphones. I had my back to you and I was staring out the window at Vineyard Sound. I was trying to enjoy your playing, for the beauty within it. But I couldn't help coming back to the notion that a) you were forcing this upon me and b) I really did have to get some work done on this ride and you were a huge f-n distraction.

"Maybe you saw me pick up my laptop and go to another section of the boat, where I was able to listen to the music I chose, and get some stuff done.

"Or maybe you didn't notice my comings and goings. Maybe you were lost in your music. Though I bet you took note to the smattering of applause from some of the other passengers. Maybe that was incentive to keep playing. And certainly it played a role in me not asking you to go somewhere else and play. Before asking me if I enjoyed your music, you asked the guy at the next table, who said he did like it. Who am I to decide for other people?

"So when you ask me if I enjoyed your playing, I could try to be objective and say that I found beauty in your music and your willingness to share it. But unfortunately I have to view it from a subjective place where it was more of an annoyance than a pleasure.

"That being said, maybe I'll run into you some other time, and you'll be the one who sat down first and are already playing your fiddle, and I can decide to sit in the booth next to you, tell myself 'The Hell with work, for now I'm going to enjoy this musician' and get lost in your sounds. I hope you have a great St. Patrick's Day."

She turned to me and asked, "What about you? Did you enjoy that?"

I was awash with a myriad of conflicting feelings. I, for a split second, wished I was Elizabeth Montgomery in "Bewitched" where I could freeze time and have 5 or 6 minutes to gather my thoughts. But I knew I didn't have that time, so I just answered, simply:

"Yes. Very nice."

Then I spent the next 5 or 6 minutes composing the above monologue in my head.

As my mind reeled through those thoughts, I packed up my things, and made my way toward the Walk Off ramp. And in those 5 or 6 minutes, though she was 20 steps ahead of me, I learned all about the musician's family, what her plans for the day were, who her brother was and what he did for a living, what she looked like as a child and a number of other things she was easily and loudly sharing in conversation with the passengers she was next to.

Okay, so she's someone who doesn't have a clear sense of boundaries about where she ends and the rest of the world begins. She has no idea how loud she is or that those within her aural range might not be interested. There was ego at play, but not arrogance. Just an ego that roams freely, unaware.

I tried to soften my feelings. To accept that she was not malicious. To connect to the purity of expression that is live music. To have empathy for someone who probably doesn't realize that the things that are potentially delightful about her, are annoying in other contexts. To go forth into my day feeling like I had learned something from my strong reaction to this brief vignette.

But the thing that sticks out the most, that I can't get out of my head:

Fiddles, unaccompanied. In a large, mostly empty room. Are REALLY FUCKING LOUD.

(Apologies to James Plattes. He has absolutely nothing to do with this post or the person mentioned in it. I wanted some solo fiddle music to go along with my story, so readers could turn it up really loud and have an experience similar to mine. So I went on Youtube and found something at random that seemed pleasurable, and akin to what I had heard.)

Hear it on Youtube.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Wild Colonials "Charm"

I went looking for a good St. Patrick's Day weekend, Weekend Post, and had fond memories of this one.

Funny how this track could only find a home on alternative radio in the mid-90s. Is there anything "alternative" about it?

Hear the song on Youtube.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Simpsons "Whacking Day Hymn"

Legend says that St. Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland, perhaps rendering "Whacking Day" unnecessary in Springfield.

Thankfully, we had St. Barry to show us to by kind to our slithering brethren.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Hear the "Whacking Day Hymn" on Youtube.

Hear "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love Baby" on Youtube.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Chieftains & The Civil Wars "Lily Love"

With St. Patrick's Day tomorrow, it seems only appropriate that I end the working week with the pride of Ireland, The Chieftains, who are somehow, improbably, celebrating their 50th year!

You know what I love about this track, that makes me appreciate the band so much? That, to celebrate their 50 years, they made a record with loads of young guests, including The Low Anthem, The Decemberists and Paolo Nutini.

But what is so amazing, is that this record isn't about THE CHIEFTAINS 50TH ANNIVERSARY!!! It's about The Chieftains, making great music.

What I mean, is that they could have made a record that celebrated themselves, that put themselves front and center, that let the guests serve them.

But check out this track with The Civil Wars.

This song is NOT about The Chieftains. It puts The Civil Wars front and center. The Chieftains are present, but they are there to serve the singers, and to serve the song.

It shows a humility and a love of music, that should be celebrating its 50th year, and 50 more.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Leonard Cohen "Bird On A Wire"

Not all the notes I get at my mvyradio email box are as lovely as the one I wrote about yesterday.

We certainly receive a good portion of criticism and complaints too. And it's my job to answer them.

Last week I got a note from a listener who wondered why we don't play Leonard Cohen in regular rotation. Or, to more accurately reflect the tone of the note, a listener who wondered Why Do You Hate Leonard Cohen?

We definitely don't hate Leonard Cohen. In fact, Barbara Dacey's blog is named after one of his songs. And the day I got the note, she was featuring music from Leonard's son Adam!

But here's the thing . . . a great artist and a great song, doesn't necessarily translate to a great RADIO artist and a great RADIO song.

Jeff Buckley is one of my favorite artists. But most of his songs don't really fit comfortably outside of the confines of his album, instead sandwiched between two other songs.

Gram Parsons is an artist we've tried to put into regular rotation. His music is hugely influential and his songs are timeless, but on the air, they don't seem to fit into the mix of the radio station.

And Tom Waits has fit into this category too. His vocal style is off-putting to some, and often the atmospherics of his music are a little to avant garde for mass consumption.

Then again, a few years ago we scoured Waits' catalog and DID find a handful of songs where he had scaled back his full blown Waits-yness. "Shiver Me Timbers" fits beautifully into the mvyradio mix.

So I wrote back to our Leonard lover, saying that we could do the same scouring of Cohen's catalog.

She gave me a few suggestions, as did Barbara.

What do you think?

Check out the songs below. Don't judge them as stand-alone pieces of art. Ask yourself, would they sound good, or weird, when played in a mix between two typical mvyradio songs, like, say, "Girlfriend Is Better" and "Black Horse And The Cherry Tree"?

Hear "Bird On A Wire" on Youtube.

Hear "Dance Me To The End Of Love" on Youtube.

Hear "I'm Your Man" on Youtube.

Hear "Suzanne" on Youtube.

Hear "Girlfriend Is Better" on Youtube.

Hear "Black Horse & The Cherry Tree" on Youtube.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Dawes "A Little Bit Of Everything"

Over the weekend, I went out to dinner with my wife and two other couples.

These folks are new-ish in my life---the friends you make when your kids go to (pre)school.

One of the husbands is a builder. We talked a lot about the zero-carbon-footprint eco-Home that he is working on. Fascinating, world-bettering stuff.

The other husband is a scientist. He is literally working on a cure for cancer, via marine biology. Fascinating, world-bettering stuff.

I love being a DJ. But it doesn't necessarily feel like I'm bettering the world.

The same day, I got this letter from Brooks, who's an avid mvyradio listener.

It's nowhere near as important as saving lives or saving the earth, but it feels great to be able to share something that touches hearts and souls.


Hi, PJ.

Quick MVY story for you:

Walked back into my office on Monday and a song I had never heard was playing on MVY. “Is that Jackson Browne?” I wondered, but quickly realized it wasn’t. I was drawn into the lyrics immediately, checked your website for the “Now Playing” feature, and will now always remember where I was the first time I heard A Little Bit of Everything and Dawes.

Fast forward to Wednesday night. Was leaving on a long trip to Maine with 9th grade son the next day and figured I’d buy some new music for the drive. Obvious choice was Wrecking Ball- perfect chance to digest new Bruce. Fact is, I didn’t really feel any urgency about it- I know I’ll get to it eventually. What was exciting was taking in a band I heard for the first time the other day and all signs (90 second itunes clips, you tube video, MVY endorsement) pointed up. So downloaded Nothing is Wrong and keeps getting better with every listen. Some incredible writing- A Little Bit of Everything is powerful and that level is consistent through much of the album.

So just wanted to thank you and MVY for one of the most important things you do- introducing us to artists and their music.


mvyradio is playing "Nothing Is Wrong" in its entirety tonight, as our Album Of The Week.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Bruce Springsteen "Jack Of All Trades"

My two year old son is a shockingly opinionated music listener. Though he only knows about 20 words at this point, if he hears a song he likes, he will smile and bob his head (he's got rhythm, unlike his Dad). And if he doesn't like the song, he's been known to stick his fingers in his ears.

In the spirit of Bil Keane, turning over his comic to Billy, here now is my 2 year old son's partial review on the new Bruce Springsteen album "Wrecking Ball," which we listened to on Saturday morning.

"We Take Care Of Our Own"

He liked this one, smiling and nodding throughout. And when it was over, he shouted "Again!" (But he only shouted it once. When he really likes something, like The Black Keys' "Lonely Boy," he'll actually scream if you don't play it again)

"Jack Of All Trades"
We got about one minute into the first slow track on the record, before he shouted "Noooo!" several times, until I skipped the song. When I did, he smiled.

"Wrecking Ball"
The Irish beat inspired him to run off to his bedroom and get his drum so he could bang away. However, once he got in his room, he got lost in his own beat (and his toys) and lost interest in Bruce.

And thus ends my 2 year old son's first music review.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Joe Dolce "Shaddup You Face"

I saw director John Waters speak back when I was in college, and I remember him remarking that no matter what he did for the rest of his life, the first paragraph of his obituary would talk about his infamous "Pink Flamingos" film.

Sometimes we are remembered for dubious things.

Despite the fact that my folks, especially my Dad, liked Rock N Roll, we were not a Rock N Roll Radio Station listening family when I was little.

While my buddies were listening to WBCN or WAAF at the behest of their older brothers, we always had WBZ AM on the kitchen radio for breakfast.

So Dave Maynard was the first radio personality (beside, perhaps, Red Sox announcer Ned Martin) that I really remember following on a regular basis.

Maynard was a much loved, much honored (he's in the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall Of Fame) presence for folks in the Boston area for the 80s into the 90s, and when news of his passing came over the transom last month, I'm sure that all over New England, people were remembering funny, chatty, friendly moments in their kitchens and cars spent with "Maynard In The Morning."

In a manner not quite befitting his stature, I had an instant recollection too. To "Shaddup You Face."

Back before WBZ turned to an All-News format, they did play several songs over the course of an hour. And inexplicably, Joe Dolce's novelty hit seemed to be a smash on Maynard's program.

Being, you know, 10-ish years old, I thought it was the greatest song in the world.

But I have very clear recollections of Maynard wearily announcing that he would be playing the song again, for another morning, months on end, as a never end slew of requests for the silly song kept coming, coming, coming.

I couldn't understand why he wouldn't want to play the funniest song ever written, again.

Years later, whenever I come across a song that I have no desire to ever hear again, ever, I think of Maynard.

It's not exactly the kind of thing you want on your epitaph . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Boston "More Than A Feeling"

Also sharing a birthday with me (March 10th), is the guy who wrote the lyric, "I lost myself in a familiar song/Closed my eyes and I slipped away," which describes some moment of every day of my life.

Happy (now Late) Birthday, Tom Scholz of Boston.

Hear the song on Youtube.

I also share a birthday with Edie Brickell!

Hear the song on Youtube.

And also, Chuck Norris. Oh yeah, Chuck sings!

Hear Norris' killer vocals, on Youtube.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Neneh Cherry "Buffalo Stance"

Every year on my birthday, when I look at Musical Notes, I'm reminded that Neneh Cherry and I share a birthday (today!).

There were these two Freshman girls who lived in the dorm-room next to my Junior year girlfriend, the year this song was popular.

When they'd see me coming, they'd shout "PeeJay! Who-whose that . . ." instead of ("DJ!") like Cherry does at the beginning of the song (at the :25 mark on the video below).

Being as far away as one could possibly be, from being a cool street-walking gigolo, I was flattered by the cool-by-association compliment.

It was like every day was my birthday.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Friday, March 9, 2012

R.E.M. "Nightswimming"

I remember really liking "Nightswimming" when "Automatic For The People" came out. I thought it was tender and beautiful.

But 20 years later, my feelings have changed (yes, this record is 20 years old!).

I've realized, I love it more.

The tune came on mvy one day when I was driving around, and as I sang along I could feel that the song was reaching me in a deeper place.


I think it's because the song is nostalgic, fondly looking back at youth, or at least a particular time. And at 23, I don't think I could have had the same sweet sense of nostalgia that I have now.

At 23, out of college and in the professional world, I missed my high school and college days. But missing that period in my life didn't evoke the same feelings that they do at 43, when I miss those days from such a distance, and with a great sense of wistfulness.

It's not like the song didn't effect me at 23. It certainly did.

But I guess you can't fully appreciate a song about nostalgia, until you are old enough to appreciate nostalgia itself.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Counting Crows "Untitled (Love Song)"

There are basically two kinds of covers albums.

One pays tribute to influences. Usually the original artists are familiar names, and often, the songs are familiar and coast on the good will of their history.

The other version is an interpreter's medium. Think Bonnie Raitt, who mostly does other people's songs, and often covers unknown singer-songwriters and up-and-coming talent. They are interpreters because they don't write a ton of songs themselves.

I figured if Counting Crows were going to do a covers record, it would be the former, not the latter.

But surprisingly, their new record "Underwater Sunshine" features covers by undiscovered and/or obscure and/or contemporary talent. They cover Travis and the pre-Duritz-Counting-Crows-band Sordid Humor.

And they cover The Romany Rye. These guys are an unsigned Long Beach, California band.

Interesting choice. Strong song. Well done.

Hear The Romany Rye original on Youtube.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Buddy Holly "Every Day"

Before I had my own Fisher-Price Record Player, there was Dad's record player.

Honestly, I don't remember him using it that much. I mean, I remember listening to the Red Sox on the big cabinets, but I don't really recall him putting on a lot of records. Except at Christmas. Then the Mitch Miller LPs came out.

But somewhere early on, I developed a fascination with the turntable.

And let's face it, even if a record player didn't play records, it's a pretty fascinating mechanism. The spinning, the lights, the needle following the tiny, tiny groove from the outer edge to the middle of the disc. Neat.

I wanted to use the record player, so Dad let me have one of his 45s.

Again, I don't really remember him having 45s. We had a nice chunk of LPs. Beatles. Beach Boys. Show tunes. But (at least in the box that I salvaged from when they moved out of our house, a few years ago) no 45s.

He had a 45 of Buddy Holly's "Every Day."

And I'd play that over and over and over.

Now, of course, I know who Buddy Holly is and what his significance is and where his music fits in the big context of things.

But coming out of my Dad's 1970s stereo, on an old 45, it just sounded like the coolest Music Box song I'd ever heard.

I played it again and again and again.

I was little. I didn't have a steady hand. I didn't understand vinyl. Or needles. I scratched up that record. I scratched it to the point it was unplayable.

Dad explained that he couldn't fix it. It was no good any more.

Forty-odd years later, how irritated am I, at my pre-school self? I could've had an original Buddy Holly 45!

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Chuck Prophet "White Night, Big City"

I had read that the new Chuck Prophet album was a loose concept album/love letter, about the city of San Francisco.

I'd also read that "White Night, Big City" was about the assassination of Harvey Milk, the sentencing of his murderer Dan White and the riot the followed.

If you've heard the song a few times on mvyradio, and you didn't get that portrait from the fairly sparse lyrics, the video is here to fill in the blanks with some great old footage from 1970s San Francisco.

Or, if you don't want homework, just enjoy the delightfully shambling call-and-response from the ever-entertaining Mr. Prophet.

See the video on Youtube.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Malvina Reynolds "Little Boxes"

We were going to write a song. It seemed about time.

I lived in a suite/dorm at UMass, with several guys who were actual musicians (as opposed to me, who wished he could play something). At least they let me sing.

We'd perfected a number of cover tunes (or, more accurately, beat them to death and had grown bored with our repertoire), and we were ready to try our hand at writing a song.

We were pitching ideas.

"We should write a song about a box," said Brett.

While Billy was the most proficient player, and Kurt has impeccable musical taste, it was Brett---the one who'd been playing guitar for only a few months---who had this loopy, brilliant and quirky creativity.

"What do you mean, a box?"

"You know. Like a cardboard box. On the side of the road. We should write a song about that."

I don't know what Kurt or Billy were thinking, because I don't think they responded either. I didn't say it out loud, but I thought it was the stupidest idea I'd ever heard.

As we let the conversation drift to the next idea, I thought to myself, Could there be a dumber subject to create a more boring song, than "a box"?

Tonight at 9pm, may I present to you an hour's worth of brilliant folks who had the same dumb idea.

On our free-form hour called The Hot Seat, listen in for a hour of songs about boxes by Tom Waits, The Decemberists, The Blues Brothers and Nirvana, as well as multiple versions of Malvina Reynolds "Little Boxes."

And let the record show that after passing up the box idea, our brain trust settled on the utterly original, non-stupid-or-trite topic of writing a song about breaking up with a girl.


The Hot Seat airs at 9pm ET. Stream it at mvyradio.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Barenaked Ladies "Shoe Box"

On Monday night I'm hosting our free-form hour show called The Hot Seat.

My theme: Boxes.

It seems silly, but I bet if you think about it, you'll come up with a dozen awesome songs about boxes.

Think about it.

Or tune in, Monday at 9pm!

Hear the song on Youtube.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Reverend Horton Heat "Spend A Night In The Box"

On Monday night I'm hosting our free-form hour show called The Hot Seat. Every week someone different (staff members, outside guests, the occasional celebrity) has a full hour to do . . . whatever. So it can be pretty random.

I challenged myself to come up with a theme that sounds boring, but would turn out to be really fun and here's what I picked:


Songs about boxes.

And while that sounds dumb and boring, I've got a pretty fun hour planned.

So I'll be playing this Reverend Horton Heat song, and the song in yesterday's post, plus a few more surprises.

Join me Monday at 9pm ET on mvyradio.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Southern Culture On The Skids "8 Piece Box"

In the Spring of 1994 I started my first radio gig, at a small independent station in Southwest Virginia. I had my own, nightly Alternative specialty show.

I think it's kinda hard to grasp today, just how weird it was to hear bands like Green Day and The Ramones and Sarah Mclachlan and The Cure, on a radio station in 1994. Maybe it was normal if you lived near a major metropolitan area. But for most of the country, those artists were sooo far outside the mainstream, that they just weren't going to make it on any radio station.

So my little "What's The Alternative?" program was, to some, a bizarre, welcome oasis. And the fact that I was the host, opened a few doors for me.

There was a great restaurant in town called The Starving Artist. Great, high-end food, in a casual, artsy atmosphere. Several of the people who worked there were well regarded local painters, visual artists and creators. They had a great scene unto themselves.

And because I got off the air around the time they were closing the kitchen, I'd get invited to the head chef's house on the outskirts of town, for a few after-hours beers, where they'd feed me (because I was an impoverished waif) and where we'd talk about and listen to music.

From the get-go, they were selling me on Southern Culture On The Skids.

SCOTS was a regional, hard-touring rock/rockabilly/country/semi-comic party-band, that was soon to be releasing a major label record.

And The Starving Artist was on the verge of celebrating their 10th Anniversary.

"There gonna play right here!" the chef told me, gesturing to his spacious living room area. "You gotta come."

Well, I think we've all been oversold at one time or another, on how great a party is going to be, only to show up and have it fall miles short of expectation . . .

So I said that Yeah, I'd try to come after work.

Let me tell you what I saw when I walked through the door, shortly after midnight on party night.

The room was PACKED with party-goers. 100 people in the living room? Probably.

The band was cooking, in a groove.

The chef was shirtless, in a tiger mask, doing an interpretive dance right in front of the band.

And then they introduced "8 Piece Box."

As part of their tour rider on every show they play, Southern Culture receives a bucket of fried chicken. It is set aside, for when they played "8 Piece Box." They invite a dozen or so girls up on to the stage and the girls eat the chicken while dancing to the song.

Normally (not that this scenario is "normal" by any standard in the first place), the girls stand on stage and vamp and maybe eat the chicken seductively (sexy carnivores!).

But this night, it was more like Velociraptors tearing into carrion.

I remember the maniacal, greasy faces of women with mouthfuls of chicken, tossing the bones out into the audience.

Now I know the bucket of chicken couldn't really have been that big, but when I see it in my mind's eye, dozens of bones flew back and forth above the sweaty, dancing crowd, like the chickens had been partially re-animated, and were trying (but failing) to fly.

Part of me was thrilled that I had somehow stumbled through the door of a secret sub-culture.

Though the really hungry impoverished waif DJ thought it was a big waste of perfectly good chicken.

Hear the song on Youtube.

See a live version with dancing girls on Youtube.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Ben Kweller "Jealous Girl"

"But what kind of music do you like?"

I get asked that question a lot. From folks who understand that the station's playlist is for listeners, that it is not just me playing songs I like.

I always make that restaurant analogy---I am your chef and server. I bring you the food that you ask for, food that I think you'll enjoy. I like most of the items on the menu (though not necessarily all). And I also, personally, like to eat things that aren't on the menu, stuff that I might have to go to another restaurant to eat.

So what kind of music do I like?

The first time I heard Barbara play Ben Kweller's "Jealous Girl" on "What's New For Lunch?" I told her, "If you ever wanted to know what a perfect songs sounds like to me . . . that was it."

Fuzzed out guitars, great energy, insanely-catchy-Ramones-worthy-vocal-hook ("Oh, oh, oh-oh!"), straight out of the same Zip Code as Matthew Sweet and Teenage Fanclub and The Posies.

"Jealous Girl" is like someone serving me a plate with chocolate chip cookies, freshly baked by my Mom.

Hear the song on Youtube.