Monday, April 30, 2012

The Jackson 5 "ABC"

I wrote a little about the toy that my kids have, that plays "Whoop There It Is" and other songs.

My daughter was excited to come to the understanding that there is actually a full "Whoop There It Is" song, which I found on Youtube for her.

This piqued her interest.  Were the other songs on her toy "real" too?

"Oh honey, you're going to LOVE this!" I enthused.

Her toy plays "ABC" by The Jackson 5, so I pulled up this amazing performance of the band, in full 1970s awesomeness.  She was a bit confused by the huge hair, and she couldn't quite process that none of them were girls.  But she got a kick out of the fact that the performers were basically kids, like her.

She was particularly intrigued by the leader, Michael.

"Is he still here?"

This is her way of asking, "Is he still alive?"

"No honey.  This video was from a long time ago.  He's passed away."

"How did he die, Daddy?"

And THAT'S the question I was hoping she wouldn't ask.  Because, even after giving this subject thought for many, many years (how to explain when someone dies from drug use), I still wasn't sure how I would answer it.

I was a little older than my daughter, when my Noni Pa died.  Noni Pa was my maternal Grandmother's father (that is, my Great Grandfather).  Noni Pa and Noni Ma lived next door to my Grandmother and Grandfather, so he was very present in my young life.

They were immigrants, with Italian accents that were a little hard for me to penetrate at that young age.  But there was so much warmth and so much pride that emanated from them, that even a little kid understood.

Sometime (a few years, maybe) after he had died, I asked my Mom how he had died.  She explained that about a year before his death, he had been walking, and was struck by a car.  "He was never really the same after that" she explained.  Within a year of the accident, he died, no doubt due to the stress the accident had put on his body.

Years later, some time in Middle School, by friend Brian told me something shocking:

"When I was younger, my parents didn't want me to know that Elvis died from using drugs.  So they told me he was hit by a car.  I believed that for years before I found out the truth."

Of course I immediately panicked.

My sweet old great-grandfather, was a druggie, and my parents lied to me!!!

Long story short, my Mom assured me that Noni Pa was not on drugs.  And thus concludes the only time in my life that I was happy to know that someone had been hit by a car.

"How did he die, Daddy?" my daughter had asked.

The whole Noni Pa/Elvis story flashed through my mind in the few seconds it took for me to realize that she was going to ask that question, and for her to say it out loud.

Also flashing through my mind was this piece I'd read about how the folks at Sesame Street created the episode that dealt with Mr. Hooper's death.  You can't say "He was old" because, to a 4 year old, anyone over 10 is old.  And you can't say he was sick, because sneezing is a sign of sick.  And you really can't tell a kid that it happens to everyone, because then they're terrified that the death of everyone they love, is imminent.

"Well, honey . . ."

We've been very straightforward about death with our 4 year old, whether we're talking about my sister or her fish.  I just tried to answer the question, as best I could.

"He took a bunch of medicine that he wasn't supposed to take.  And he kept doing it, even though it was bad for his body.  He didn't take care of himself, and his family and friends didn't make sure he was taking care of himself.  And eventually, he took too much of the bad medicine, and his body stopped working.  It just stopped working."

"Like Mr. Kite?"

"Yes, his body stopped working, like your fish's body stopped working."

"Oh."  Pause.  "Can we listen to Dan?"

And that was the end of it.

It's the difference between a 43 year old and a four year old, I guess.

I've been around long enough that the subject of death feels like a tangled, psychological mess, where people are tempted to lie (to Brian, about the cause of Elvis' death; to Michael Jackson, that he was immortal), or obfuscate, or torture themselves over trying to say the "right" thing.

But my 4 year old, who has had a little loss, just accepts that death is a part of the process.  That it's as normal as music in the air.  That it's as uncomplicated as ABC and 1-2-3.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Victoria Williams "You R Loved"

Here's another Weekend Post:

After last weekend's weekend posts about bands that seemed to have the talent to break through in the 90s, but didn't quite get there, I went searching for a few more of my favorites.

Victoria Williams was beloved enough by other musicians in the 90s, that when she got sick, a Who's Who of great 90s bands made a fundraiser record of her songs.

Maybe the masses couldn't quite hook into her voice, but damn her songs are good.  I mean, you can probably name 10 artists right off the top of your head who's singing voice you'll forgive, because their writing is so strong (I'll get you started . . . Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Richard Thompson, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen . . . ).

Even if you don't love her female-Neil-Young-ish voice, how can you not be charmed by lines like:
Jesus walked on water/He turned the water into wine,
Go down to the drunkards/Tell them everything is fine.

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, April 28, 2012

Kevin Salem "Lighthouse Keeper"

Here's another Weekend Post:

After last weekend's weekend post about bands that seemed to have the talent to break through in the 90s, but didn't quite get there, I went searching for a few more of my favorites.

There were a bunch of really great tracks on Kevin Salem's "Soma City" and I really connected to his songwriting.  But I'm guessing only a few of you remember this song.

If you've never heard it, well, what do you think?  Did the world miss an opportunity?

Hear the song on Youtube.

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

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

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

Friday, April 27, 2012

Lou Reed "Walk On The Wild Side" (Live)

Last week's Record Store Day got me thinking about my early record store experiences, back in the day where, if you wanted a record, you had to go to a record store.

I mean, I think Sears had some cassettes, but that was the only place other than a record store that I can remember finding music.

I can remember being of late-Middle School age when I started to discover music beyond the world of what my parents listened to.  WBCN and such.

I remember knowing, and liking, Lou Reed's "Walk On The Wild Side."

I'm SURE I had no real understanding of what Lou was talking about.  But damn that little bassline was catchy.

I know that I knew the song well enough from the radio, that hearing this live version was a part of a whole weird experience.

There was a record store in my town called Gilmore East, and, on all levels, it felt very mysterious to me.

First of all, it was in one of the newly renovated buildings on Inn Street, but it was one of those below ground stores.

I know those of you who lived in the City are accustomed to walking from the sidewalk, down an outside set of stairs, into a store.  But for Newburyport in the early 80s, this was kind of novel.  I mean, we lived at sea level.  You didn't put anything in a basement that you wouldn't want to get wet.  Certainly not your records.

Because it was below ground, I remember it being dark, poorly lit.  I don't think it was actually smoky, but that's how I see it in my memory.

The stacks of records were built for, you know, adult height.  I was a very small kid in Middle School, so just to see the records, I had to be on tip-toes.

I remember a section of rock and roll photography in one corner.  Black and white framed photos of Jim Carroll and Lou Reed and Bruce Springsteen in action/in concert, with the same tiny, handwritten price tags that my Mom used on the stained glass she used at craft fairs.

And I remember they always had music on the stereo.

I say that and you think, of course they did, but you forget, that back in those days it was pretty uncommon to walk into a store and find them with a soundtrack blaring overhead.  This was in the days where the only music feeds were MUZAK, and stores in the mall didn't yet have their own crafted personal market-researched soundtracks.

There wasn't just music on.  It was foreign music.  Not foreign, as in from another country.  Foreign, as if from some distant planet.  There was never anything playing that I might have previously heard on the radio.  It was always some alien rock and roll, yet to be discovered by me.

I'd love to tell you that it was an exciting world that opened up for me.  But truthfully, it was all a little scary at the time.

It was dark and smoky and underground and felt a little dangerous against my otherwise tepid sense of adventure.

I can remember hearing this live version on Lou Reed's "Walk On The Wild Side" in Gilmore East.

As I said, I knew the song well enough to sing along to the album version.  And when the familiar baseline kicked in, I felt some kind of sense of comfort that there was something familiar in the room.

At this point in my life, I'd never been to a concert, and it never occurred to me that live songs could sound significantly different than their album counterparts.  Or worse, that the artist could intentionally fuck with the tune.

On this track Lou keeps talking and talking and occasionally throwing in some actual lyrics.

But mostly, it felt like I was listening to an unhinged lunatic with a microphone and an audience.

I don't think Gilmore East lasted too many years.  But eventually, I got taller, braver, more curious and developed an appreciation for unhinged lunatics with microphones.

Strangely, I don't think record stores ever lost their sense of mystery for me.

I still like to go, and to look.  It's a little late for a "Record Store Day" plug/post, but I just wanted to say, I'm glad you're still around, actual-brick-and-mortar-dark-and-mysterious-Record-Stores.

Hear the song on Youtube.  Note that it contains quite a bit of profanity.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Electric Guest "This Head I Hold"

I love to introduce My Favorite Song We're Not Playing.

Sometimes, we end up adding them to mvyradio's rotation.

Sometimes, as good as they are, they don't quite fit.

I love the retro-Soul thing that seems to be happening.  There's a great mini-wave of young artists who are getting that vintage sound, right.

I've written about the station's relationship with soul before, so no need to delve again.  But in short, we like to have a dash of the sound in the mix, but often it doesn't fit at neatly as it should into the eclectic mix.

So what do you think, would this fit in the playlist, between say, "Tangled Up In Blue" and the new Norah Jones?

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bruce Hornsby "Gonna Be Some Changes Made"

My Mom was a career nurse.  Operating room.

She could come home at the end of the day, and calmly, unsqueamishly talk about surgery on folks who'd been in motorcycle accidents, or about removing internal organs and clamping vessels.  All kinds of blood and gore, that was just another day at the office for her.

But one time, I dropped a heavy object on my toe.  It was broken and bleeding.  And she could barely look at it.


She couldn't really answer that question for herself.

In my job, I can happily consume songs that are of the most personal nature.  John Lennon's pain of losing his mother.  The dissolution of Bob Dylan's marriage.  Stevie Nicks singing the poisioned words Lindsay Buckingham wrote about her.

Not that I'm unfeeling about these emotional songs.  But I don't know that I ever wince.

So why is it that whenever I get to the part of "Gonna Be Some Changes Made" where Bruce Hornsby admits to accidentally spitting on the crowd during a concert, that I become a horrified teenage girl?

T-M-I, Hornsby!  Gross!

Up in front for all to see I′m graceful like a bumbling fool
Then I thought I felt slip from my mouth a little drool
Maybe no one noticed it, on my mind heavily it weighed
I saw two people snickering I said there needs to be some changes made

Hear the song on Youtube.

Hear John Lennon on Youtube.

Hear Bob Dylan on Youtube.

Hear Fleetwood Mac on Youtube.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Kimbra "Settle Down"

By the time my daughter was one year old, she was walking, and she could say about a dozen words.

By the time she was 18 months, she could say 50-plus words.  Which was hilarious, because she was so small our pediatricians were concerned that she wasn't even ON the growth chart---she was in the "zero" percentile.  She was the size of a 10 month old, but she was completely conversational.

This being the only child I've ever had, that level of development was the standard-bearer.

So when my son was 18 months and he really wasn't saying any words, we decided to get him tested (plug for Early Intervention here!  They do free testing, and they were super!).  We knew his comprehension was great---he understood what you said.  And his communication skills were solid---he could point and grunt his way to whatever he wanted.  But she showed absolutely no interest in even trying to say a word.

Long story short, the testing suggested that he really didn't have anything wrong, or need any special help.  He'd talk when he felt like it.

Flash-forward to his 2nd birthday, this month.  As predicted, he got the notion that trying to say words yielded some positive results.  Let it be known that among his first two-dozen words were "Treat," "Pop" (as in, Lollipop), "Cheese" and "Done!"

More important than just knowing how to ask for delicious foodstuffs and how to communicate "Enough with the food, already!", he is trying to say words.

"Feet" might still come out "Beat" and "Gramma" is still only "Gaa," but he's excited when he makes a new sound.

I think that's why there are certain songs he responds to.  If the tune has a vocal hook that he can latch onto, he's sold.

After my wife went nuts for the Gotye song, she went searching for some solo Kimbra songs.  "Settle Down" became one of her favorites.  And it quickly became one of his.

He doesn't quite have the proper rhythm of the "boom, ba-boom, ba, boom, ba-boom, ba," but he tries.

"Boom, boom, ah!  Boom, boom-ah!"

Funny enough, I wonder if, years from now, he'll put the Kimbra song in the same place in his mind, as another song with a catchy vocal hook.

You'll see him trying to do it.

"Mlllmm, Mllmm.  Mlllmm, Mllmm."

And I know that it's time to bring The Muppets up on Youtube, because nothing says "I understand exactly what you are trying to say, loud and clear," like a round of "Mahna, Mahna" and "Boom, Ba-boom, Ba"!

Hear the song on Youtube.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Levon Helm "Rag Mama Rag"

I was on vacation last week when Levon Helm passed away, so I didn't get to write about him here, in a timely fashion.

But I guess I'm glad about that, as I had several days to process, and think about what I wanted to say.

I'm sure just about every news outlet played either "The Weight" or "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" as they spread the news.

And I took a peek at mvy's Facebook page to see that someone had posted those amazing lyrics from "When I Go Away."
Don't want no sorrow
For this old orphan boy
I don't want no crying
Only tears of joy
I'm gonna see my mother
Gonna see my father
And I'll be bound for glory
In the morning
When I go away
And yeah, if I had been "on-duty" with the blog last week, I probably would have posted that song myself.  While the song says basically, "Don't cry, I'm off to Heaven," it's pretty heavy still.

I never met Levon, but I did have a one degree of separation moment.

Back in 2008, we traveled to Merlefest, for four days of recording the best in Bluegrass and Americana Roots music, and Levon was on the bill.

There was a crew of 6 of us.  Gary did most of the heavy tech.  Nick ran the board.  I was producing segments.  Lindsay Reid took pictures.  One of Gary's buddies came down from Louisville to gopher for us.

And Jane did, what Jane does.

Jane is one of the weekend DJs at mvy.  And two of her best attributes are a) she's game, and b) she's not shy.

So whenever we head to a festival, Jane is in charge of autographs.

We bring copies of the CDs of the artists on the bill.  Or posters.  Or occasionally a guitar.  And Jane is dispatched to stalk the backstage area (or, more frequently these days, wait in the autograph line at the Merch tent) with a Sharpie in hand, to get the John Hancock.

Levon had already gone through his first big bout with cancer, and was out with his triumphant return to touring, behind the acclaimed "The Mountain" record.

I talked to Jane a bit, as we were enjoying Levon's rocking set and otherwise winding down for the night. 

She wasn't sure if she was going to be able to get close to Levon, because he was the last act of the night, and likely wouldn't be hanging around the grounds.  But she said she'd give it her best effort.

I'll never forget what she said when she came back to the mvyradio Tent.

"That guy is happy.  He's just happy."

Happy to be alive?  I asked.

"He just seems happy.  To be alive.  To be here."

It was evident in his playing and in his stage presence and in the way that people who knew him have reacted to his death:  He took great joy in playing music and in sharing music.

So yeah, last week I probably would have posted something more about Death, like "When I Go Away" or "The Mountain."

But after a few days to process it, I'll take Levon's advice to feel no sorrow, and instead be left with the joy that remains in the many, many great songs he was a part of, like this playful tune about a coy lover.

Thanks again, Levon Helm.

Hear the "Rock Of Ages" version on Youtube.

Hear "When I Go Away" on Youtube.

Hear a performance from Merlefest on Youtube.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Finley Quaye "Sunday Shining"

Here's another Weekend Post:

Like yesterday's post, here's another Brit who seemed poised for a late 90s breakout, by appropriating a style (yesterday: American Gospel; today: Bob Marley's "Sun Is Shining") into a strong, more danceable slice of UK Pop.

Alas, despite critical praise and some alterna-radio attention, it remains a lost hit/artist of the 90s . . .

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, April 21, 2012

Alabama 3 "Ain't Going to Goa"

Here's another Weekend Post:

Alabama 3 (or A3 here in the States, for legal reasons) would have been another one of those interesting British bands that got some minor attention here in the late 90s only to be forgotten, if they hadn't had one of their songs licensed a few years later, for "The Sopranos."

Hear the song on Youtube.

See "The Sopranos" opening on Youtube.

Hear the full version of "Work Up This Morning" 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, April 20, 2012

The Wallflowers "Letters From The Wasteland"

I'm on vacation this week, so please enjoy a week's worth of mini-stories . . .

I couldn't help but notice that most all of this week's posts were based on disparaging comments.  No wonder they had been previously abandoned!

One to make you smile . . .

While the radio station still regularly plays songs off of CDs (and occasionally even LPs!), most of the songs that get repeat airplay are available to the DJs on a computer in the studio, in high-quality MP3 form.

On the postive-side:  Convenience.  You can quickly find a song to play if you need one.

On the negative-side:  The various information fields in our computer database program only allow so many characters.

That means, when you look on the computer display, this song shows up as being titled:

"Letters From The Wastela"

So if you hear an DJ announce this tune as "Letters From The Wastela," you can laugh, knowing that this is some green newbie, who grabbed a song they weren't familiar with, and just botched the title!

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Patty Griffin "Rain"

I'm on vacation this week, so please enjoy a week's worth of mini-stories . . .

Around the time this song came out, my friend Martin asked me what I'd been listening to.

I sent him a bunch of names, and he sent back his reviews.

About Patty Griffin's "Rain," he said something to the effect that this was the music that depressed mid-Western housewives would listen to.

And despite the fact that I am not bored, depressed or a housewife---I did and do love this song and love Patty Griffin's voice.

But even today, because of Martin, when I hear "Rain" I can only think of Julianne Moore in "The Hours."

Hear the song on Youtube.

See the movie clip on Youtube.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Bruce Springsteen "I Ain't Got You"

I'm on vacation this week, so please enjoy a week's worth of mini-stories . . .

I don't know why this sticks out in my head, but when I hear this song I think of Andy Rooney.

For some reason he was going on about the "young bands of today" or something during a "60 Minutes" segment, and he started talking about this fairly obscure (and certainly not widely popular) Bruce Springsteen song.

Rooney was annoyed by the lyric "I've got more good lucky honey than old King Farouk."

Andy was miffed because, in fact, King Farouk wasn't lucky at all.  He was penultimate King of Egypt and Sudan, who was overthrown and died in exile.

And you call that lucky, Bruce?

Kids these days!

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

J. Geils Band "Whammer Jammer"

I'm on vacation this week, so please enjoy a week's worth of mini-stories . . .

Kids can be so cruel.

One time, in the high school basketball locker room, we were listening to the J. Geils Band, and I said, "What kind of a**hole would want the nickname 'Magic Dick.'"

And one of the guys in the locker room looked at me, deadpan and said "What kind of a**hole would want to go by the nickname 'PJ'?"

Sans comeback, I quietly returned to straightening my non-magic jockstrap.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Dan Zanes "Wonderwheel"

I'm on vacation from the station this week, but I can't call it Every Day I Write The Blog, without posting, you know, every day.

So went through my notes and have pulled out a number of ideas I discarded because they seemed a little thin.

But, knowing that brevity is the soul of wit . . . I give you a week's worth of mini-stories:

The first time I met Dan Zanes, he told this story about how he had written a new song that he played for his Mom.

When he asked if she liked it, she replied that it was good, but (referring to one of her earlier charming successes) "it's no Wonderwheel."

Hear the song on Youtube.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Soul Asylum "Somebody To Shove"

Here's another Weekend Post:

After "Runaway Train" Soul Asylum was treated like a pretty middle-of-the-road rock band.

But before (seconds before) they had a commercial breakthrough, they were a punky rock band, capable of "Buzz Worthy" MTV clips.

Fun video fact:  The guy who directed this, went on to direct huge action pictures, like "300."

See the video on Youtube.

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

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

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

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tin Machine "Under The God"

Here's another Weekend Post:

By the time I was hosting "What's The Alternative?" (in the mid-90s), this David Bowie side project was an already largely forgotten anomaly.

But I thought it kinda rocked.

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.

Friday, April 13, 2012

George Harrison "Taxman"

Especially if you've been doing radio for a long time . . . there can a be a resistance to trying to program for the holidays.

We talk about this often, around Martin Luther King Jr Day.  Sure, we can play "Pride (In The Name Of Love) and versions "We Shall Overcome," and whatever.  But doing that year in and year out seems a little boring.  On the other hand, there are only so many King-associated songs in existence (and believe me, we've used them all).

The same can be said for 4th of July songs.  Labor Day (work) songs.  Memorial Day songs.  Etc. Etc.  After a while, it feels like you are doing the same thing, year in and year out.

If you've been a DJ for 20 years, you may just feel like completely forgoing the process of musically acknowledging the holiday at all.  It's not like you're required to play songs for Thanksgiving ("Cold Turkey" by John Lennon, again, anyone?).

That being said, I never get tired of hearing this one as April 15th approaches.

So as you head into the weekend, freaking out because you haven't started your taxes yet, please enjoy some George Harrison!

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Brandi Carlile "That Wasn't Me"

Do you ever have the nagging feeling that you're just wrong?

I feel that way about Brandi Carlile.

Despite having had her on the station for interviews, and for live-streamed concerts, we've never added a song of hers into rotation.

I always felt like there was something missing.

And I do hear about it from listeners.  AND staff members.  "Why doesn't mvy play her?  It seems like a perfect fit."

And no doubt, Carlile is, in so many ways, right up our alley.  A great writer with a strong voice, who has underplayed her image in favor of her musical strengths.  She gets good reviews, she sells records and concert tickets, and she charts on radio stations with playlists nearly identical to mvyradio.

But I always felt like there was something missing.

Sometimes, having a powerful voice is actually a drawback.  Sometimes, really going for it with your voice, doing vocal runs, messing about in the upper register, trying to nail the drama, is a drawback.  Going from acoustic quiet to high vocal yodeling is a technical vocal achievement---but it gets under my skin, for some reason.

Just because you CAN hit those notes, doesn't mean that you need to.

Maybe that's why "That Wasn't Me" is the first song by Carlile, that I can imagine mvyradio adding.  There's vocal prowess, but restraint.  There's dynamics, but not histrionics.  There's something subtler in the delivery here.  She's not firing all her guns, and the song is more effective for it.

There's a phrase that Barbara Dacey uses a lot.  "Leave room for the audience."  If the performer is spraying you with a firehose, it's hard to do anything but put up your hands and attempt to push back.  But if there is more open space, there is room for the listener to step inside and feel part of the conversation.

I feel like I can get inside "That Wasn't Me."

So maybe what I was missing in Brandi Carlile all along wasn't her, it was actually me.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Rolling Stones "Moonlight Mile"

The hallway outside the mvyradio On-Air studios is filled with framed "Thank Yous" from labels and artists.  Replicas of Gold records from Dave Matthews and David Gray and Bruce Cockburn, acknowledging mvyradio's role in getting the music out to the people.

Also in the hallway is one large movie poster, with two indecipherable autographs on it.

"Moonlight Mile" is the film.

And one of the scribbles belongs to some unknown artist named Jake Gyllenhaal. 

Okay, so the Academy Award nominee isn't exactly unknown now, but he was the day he came to the station to talk about the movie with the other person who scribbled his name in black sharpie, director Brad Silberling.

This is back in 2002, before Gyllenhaal had been in "Brokeback Mountain" or any other mainstream success, and even his cult success (2001's "Donnie Darko") was only just then starting to attract attention.

As they explain in the interview (link below), the movie "Moonlight Mile" was finished, and they were gearing up to head out on a promotion junket, but at the moment they were enjoying a little time on the Vineyard.

In a kind of fascinating coincidence, Brad and Jake had discovered---while initially meeting to discuss Jake's possible involvement in the movie---that they each had a family place on the Vineyard, and that those houses were right next to each other!

So there they were, enjoying a little downtime, when Brad got a finished copy of the Soundtrack to the film, which is what he was REALLY excited about.

Let tell you about celebrities on the Vineyard---there might be a lot of them here, but when they are here, they are on vacation.  NEVER do they call up the radio station to do some unsolicited promotion of their work.

So even though we really didn't know who these guys were, when Brad called to ask if we'd like to have Jake and him in to talk about the movie Soundtrack, we said sure.

I won't go into the details of the interview, here---you can listen below.  Suffice it to say there are some great anecdotes about Soundtrack artists Robert Plant, Fran Healy from Travis and movie co-star Susan Sarandon.

And it's fun to hear this unknown indie-film actor talk about signing on to an unnamed blockbuster (see if you can guess what it was).

What made me so affectionate toward these guys, Brad in particular, was that they were really at our studios to talk about the music, not the movie (which, by the way, is great, totally worth renting).  There's no particular reason this film needed to be named "Moonlight Mile."  It could have been really ANY song from the 70s (when the film is set).  But he picked a beautiful, obscure Stones classic---the kind of song that we choose, to define mvyradio.

We felt simpatico.  And when they left we wished them well, hoping that maybe these guys would find some success in a tough business.

I guess it worked.

Hear our interview with Jake Gyllenhaal and Brad Silberling in the mvyradio archives.

Hear the song on Youtube.

"Moonlight Mile" trailer

See the trailer on Youtube.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Zeus "Are You Gonna Waste My Time"

Every once and a while, we'll get sent a song that we aren't in the least likely to play on mvyradio, because it just doesn't quite fit, sonically.

BUT, the song is so entertaining, that it seems worthy of sharing.

Again, I go to the food metaphor:  This song is really delicious fried rice, but we're a restaurant serving North Italian cuisine.

So I thought it was worth passing on to you, via the blog.

THEN I saw the video (which I looked up for purposes of writing this post.

Jamming puppet musicians made out of food!  And dogs that can't resist eating them!

Deliciously entertaining!

See the video on Youtube.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Cramps "Bikini Girls With Machine Guns"

My wife and kids and I went over to a friend's house a couple of weeks back.  Married couple with a son a little older than our oldest.

With dinnertime rolling around, we decided to order some pizzas.  It was from a place that didn't deliver, so John (the other Dad) and I got in his car to go pick up dinner.

On the way out the door, he grabbed an album by The Cramps.

"I haven't heard these guys in years," I smiled.

I mean, I used to hear them all the time on the Florida non-commercial station I listened to, and played them from time to time on my Alternative specialty show, but these days, I just haven't been listening to much Punk-y rock.

That was the impetus for digging out the CD, John told me.

For the last bunch of years, whenever he was in the car, he and his wife and son would be listening to family friendly fare.

And the same for us.

We've been listening to Dan Zanes and Kimya Dawson and other kid albums, but also The Beatles and Queen and silly Pop songs.

Rocking CDs, just for me, had fallen out of rotation.  And they had for John too.

So as a treat to himself, when he gets in the car alone, he's been blasting The Cramps.

It's great to be a Dad.  But it's also great to be "a drag racer on LSD" from time to time, too.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong "I'm Putting All My Eggs In One Basket"

Despite what the song says, it's probably okay to put all your eggs in one basket today---so long as they're hard boiled.

Happy Easter!

Hear the song on Youtube.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Paul Westerberg "Mr. Rabbit"

Every bunny that has hopped through our yard over the last 12 months, according to my daughter, is named "Easter."

She's been waiting for him to drop some dang candy at the house.

Tomorrow, finally!

Hear the song on Youtube.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Matthew Sweet "I've Been Waiting"

There's something inherently awkward about doing something for someone who is good at that thing you are doing.

(Go ahead, say it: "huh?")

It's kind of weird cooking dinner for your friend who is an awesome chef.

It's really hard to buy an article of clothing for your friend who is really fashionable.

Or buying flowers for your florist friend.

And it's also kind of awkward, if you are on the other side in this equation---you are the chef, the fashionista, the florist, etc.

Even if you are doing your best to be grateful, if it's something you are passionate about in your own life, it's hard not to see the flaws, the shortcomings, the plain inaccuracies, and have an awkwardness permeate your interaction.

Like when you're a DJ, and a girl gives you a song.

That's what I think about when I hear this Matthew Sweet tune.

I LOVED the "Girlfriend" album.  Was very passionate about it.  Invested in the songs.

So when I girl I had been seeing for a few weeks told me that "I've Been Waiting" expressed how she felt about me, it was . . . awkward.

It was awkward because I didn't feel the same way she did.

That is, I realized that she liked me more than I liked her.

But also, I think I understood the song in a way that was different from her.  I cared about it deeply.  And I wouldn't have said, "this song expresses how I feel about you" unless I felt equally as deeply, about the person I was sharing the song with.

For her, the chorus of "I've Been Waiting" simply expressed an excitement about really liking someone.  I don't know if she dug any deeper than that.

You can check out the neat video below, where Matthew Sweet talks about the genesis of the song, but even years before I saw this, or knew the actual story, I understood that this song was about a depth of feeling that I didn't share with the person sharing the song with me.


Hear the song on Youtube.

Matthew Sweet discusses and performs "I've Been Waiting"

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Beck "Looking For A Sign"

Sometimes I wish that I could post these songs, without revealing the name and title.*

Because I think you'd get a kick out of listening to this song from the soundtrack to the movie "Jeff Who Lives At Home,"** and trying to guess who it is.

But because his name is right up front, well, never mind.

Still, would you have guessed that this is Beck?

Maybe not the first time through, but certainly on second listen, you can pick out his voice. And there are some sonic flourishes that are noticeably Beck-ian.

What I find most remarkable about Beck, after nearly 20 years of listening to his output, is the ease with which he moves from sound to sound on his various albums. It's amazing that the guy who made "Midnight Vultures" is also the guy who made "Sea Change," and made both those records sound distinctly like a Beck album.

I'm a huge Elvis Costello fan, but even with Elvis, even when he does a great album that leans Country or R&B or Classical or whatever, it general feels like "Okay, here is Elvis, trying to work within a particular style."

For some reason, I never get that sense from Beck.

It never feels like he's "putting on" a style. He's just making the record sound like the songs warrant.

So when he does the acoustic-y, downbeat stuff, he's not trying to sound like a singer-songwriter, to explore that style. He's just making Beck songs, and these happen to be quieter, sadder and strummy-er.

It's quite a feat.

Hear the song on Youtube.

See the movie trailer of Youtube.

* I suppose I could create my own, unnamed Youtube videos, but that's going a long way, just to prove a point.

** This is the 2nd Jason Segel-related post this week!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Rickie Lee Jones "Youngblood"

Welcome to another segment of "Let Me Ruin This Song For You."

(If you missed the first entry, you should probably read this)

I know that "Youngblood" isn't a widely known tune.

In fact, I'm not sure that I've ever heard it on a station other than mvyradio. And even we only play it occasionally.

Maybe that's why it's only recently that I make this connection . . .

For years, I've had the nagging sensation that "Youngblood" sounded like another song I knew. But I couldn't place it.

Until now.

Uh, does it not share a riff (and I use the term "riff" lightly here), with the theme to the TV show "Golden Girls"?

Yeah, sorry.

Hear Rickie Lee Jones on Youtube.

Hear the "Golden Girls" theme on Youtube.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Andrew Bird "The Whistling Caruso"

It was my wife's birthday this weekend, and how psyched was I that her brother gave her "The Muppets" on DVD?

Answer: Very psyched.

I'm definitely a life-long fan of Sesame Street/The Muppets, and am also a big fan of actor Jason Segel, who stars in the film, and co-wrote it too. And many of the songs were written by Bret McKenzie of the band Flight Of The Conchords. AND the film is filled with don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-em cameos---there's Mickey Rooney! Was that Feist? Look at the drummer, it's Dave Grohl!

But the craziest little tidbit comes at the end of the film.


Young, nervous Muppet, Walter, finally gets the nerve up to perform on the Muppet Theater stage, and his performance is . . . whistling.

Which I thought was odd.

But then the song builds and the whistling becomes so amazing I said to myself, "I wonder if they're creating the whistling with some kind of synthesized instrument. Because the only person I know who could pull off a performance like that is Andrew Bird."

Guess what? I scanned the credits (mostly to see if Animal would appear, yelling "Go Home!"). It WAS Andrew Bird.

Yeah, yeah, you say. Big deal. Whistling. Anyone can whistle.

Take a look at your socks. Because in 60 seconds, you're going to have to search elsewhere for them, as they will have been knocked off.

Listen here:
The Whistling Caruso by Andrew Bird on Grooveshark

Walter, performing "The Whistling Caruso"

And I'd be remiss if I didn't point you to Bret McKenzie's Oscar winning tune "Man Or Muppet"

Hear it on Youtube.

Lots of great songs on this soundtrack . . .

Monday, April 2, 2012

Dead Milkmen "Instant Club Hit"

I was thinking about other people's record collections---I do that sort of thing.

You can often learn a lot about someone from the contents of their record collection. That is, if they are the kind of person who buys a fair number of albums.

But what about the folks who don't buy a lot of music---generally, they are somewhat inscrutable via their record collection, because a) there's not a lot of data to be mined, and b) they tend to have the same handful of albums.

I mean, if you are my age and you went to college in the late 80s/early 90s and you had a friend who only had 10 CDs, odds are pretty good that their record collection contained, several, if not all of the following:

Bob Marley/Legend
Steve Miller Band/Greatest Hits
Paul Simon/Graceland
R.E.M./Out Of Time or Green
Something by The Beatles
U2/The Joshua Tree
Van Halen/1984
Prince/Purple Rain

In other words, they probably owned some pretty conventional, crowd-pleasing, easily-consumed records.

Which is why my girlfriend's best friend was a bit of a mysterious anomaly.

She literally only had about 10 cassettes, but they were the kinds of albums that you weren't going to run into by accident. Hip stuff that you didn't really hear on the radio, or blasted from speakers at a frat party. Music that you would have to dig to find.

And if you were the kind of person who would dig to find music, in theory, you'd have to be passionate enough about it, to want to get more than just 10 cassettes worth.

Her entire music collection didn't fill a shoebox, but it was through her that I learned the phrase, "You'll dance to anything by The Communards!"

Instant Club Hit (You'll Dance to Anything) by The Dead Milkmen on Grooveshark
Hear the song on Grooveshark.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Aaron Neville "Everybody Plays The Fool"

Just a reminder that today is April Fools Day. Perhaps you've been horns-waggled before, but I hope you don't get fooled again.

Or, in the words of our former President, "Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again."

Hear the song on Youtube.

Hear President Bush's speech on Youtube.