Sunday, September 30, 2012

Wilco "Sunloathe"

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

Oftentimes, only one or two singles from an album will come to radio.  But with the ease of video distribution via Youtube, bands are making videos for songs even if they aren't the single (which was an unthinkable practice in the heyday of MTV, unless you were a) super-rich or b) pretentious).

Anyway, enjoy this crazy impressionistic animated clip!

Hear the song on Youtube.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Paul Westerberg "My Road Now"

A good day, is any day Paul Westerberg releases a song.  And it's been 5 years since we've had a good day.

Thankfully, I Looked At The Internet Today So You Don't Have To.

Westerberg has posted this piano ballad on his website for free download.

(Be forewarned, though it is a sweet piano ballad, he does lead off by dropping an F-bomb.  Try headphones if the kiddies---or the bosses---are within earshot)

Hear the song on Youtube.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Lemonheads "Great Big No"

"The new phone book's here! This is the kind of spontaneous publicity - your name in print - that makes people.  Things are going to start happening to me now!"  --- Steve Martin in "The Jerk"

I don't exactly know what I was thinking was going to happen, but that wasn't stopping me.

They'd just announced that they'd be shooting scenes for a new music video during the next song.  So I was going to be in it.

Fortunately, it was 1993, I was young, the crowd was young, and pushing your way toward the front wasn't a faux pas at a Lemonheads club show, in the same way it might be at, say, Symphony Hall.

We were in Atlanta for a Redd Kross/Lemonheads double-bill, and I was determined to have my presence recorded.  I wormed my way as far forward as I could, right in front of Evan Dando and hoped for the best.

And I waited.

Well, I mean, I jumped around up front for that song, then retreated back to where my friends were and enjoyed the rest of the night out in Atlanta.  Then I went home and kept my eye on MTV.

I used to watch "120 Minutes" religiously.  I'd tape it even, if I thought I was going to miss it.  But I definitely taped it when I heard that The Lemonheads label was finally getting around to releasing "Great Big No" as a single.

So here's the thing . . . I am in the video, but you really need a good pause button to find me.  You can't really do it on Youtube.

Right around the 1:22 mark, there's a shot where the camera looks over Evan Dando's shoulders, into the crowd.  I'm there!  I swear I am.

Surprisingly, my phone did not ring.  No agent called because they had "discovered" me in a crowd shot that lasts for 2/10ths of a second in a video shown after midnight on a Sunday night by a band releasing its fourth single off a record.

Despite Navin's promise, things did not start happening to me.

But it's still pretty cool.  Look Ma, I'm on the internet!

See the video on Youtube.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Youtube Orchestra "Somebody That I Used To Know"

I remember this interview with actor Mark Hamill, who talked about the two roads he could have taken.

One way to was do everything in his power to distance himself from "Star Wars."  He could stay away from any and all Sci-Fi roles.  He could avoid the Comic-Cons of the world.  He could walk around like his co-star Harrison Ford, with a shirt like this --->>>

The other way was something he had seen Janet Leigh do.

Leigh, an accomplished actress who appeared in dozens of films (including notable ones like "The Manchurian Candidate" and "Touch Of Evil") is mostly remembered for three harrowing minutes in a shower in the movie "Psycho."

He noted that she could have just stopped giving interviews on the subject of "Psycho" and the shower scene, but instead she embraced it.  She became an expert on it.  She did not fight against her own public image.

Similarly, Hamill embraced the fact that he is seen by most as Luke Skywalker, and will do "Star Wars things" (like show up at Comic-Con or spoof himself on shows like "The Simpsons").

I thought of this when I saw this mega-mix of "Somebody That I Used To Know."

If a million Youtubers are going to cover your song, why not embrace it?

Gotye grafts together portions of dozens of homemade covers to create something as fun and as viral as any of the overly sincere or gimmicky cover versions out there.

If you're going to be known for one song, don't be afraid to embrace it.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Garbage "I'm Only Happy When It Rains"

I'm going to make a terrible, shocking professional admission.  One I have never uttered outside the walls of a sound-proof studio.

I DETEST playing requests.


I'm not saying I won't do it.  If you call up and want to hear something, there is a chance I'll play it.

But there is also a chance that I won't play it.

Now to be clear, even though I am the Program Director, this is not mvyradio policy.

In fact some of the DJ's, like Laurel, enjoy requests.  Jess actively seeks requests.

But not me.  I think requests are fascist.


"I want to hear this song, so everyone now has to hear this song."

Some people call up and request some deep album track.  And while the requester might be totally excited that we are playing some song that was the b-side to an import-only single . . . most of the listening audience is sitting with a question mark above their head wondering what the hell we are playing.

You really, really want to hear Dave Matthews "Ants Marching"?  Well, we played it two hours ago.  I know you missed it, but everyone else who's listening doesn't want to hear it twice.

Then there are the people who call every day and request the same song.  Same song, every day.  Listeners would think I was nutty if, every day, I played "Treetop Flyer" at 2pm.  Every day.

It doesn't help that it seems like an unusually large percentage of the folks who call in requests, are either drunk or off their meds.

At some point on my old radio station, I just stopped playing this damn song by Garbage.  Not because I disliked it.  But because there was this guy who'd always call and request it.  And not only would he request the same song every time we had bad weather, he'd say the same creepy thing in the same creepy way.

"Can I make a request?"

"Sure.  What would you like to hear?"

"Well . . . you know . . . I'm enjoying the storm tonight . . . " he'd say in a low mumble-y gravel, "and I'm only happy when it rains . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Aimee Mann "Labrador"

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

On top of being a brilliant craftsperson and razor-sharp songwriter, Aimee Mann is a) hilarious and b) beloved by some pretty hilarious folks.

Enjoy the official video for "Labrador," which is a shot-for-shot remake of the video for "Voices Carry"!!

And while you're at it, see Laura Linney in the role of the Aimee Mann-bot in the video for "Charmer," her guest shot on "Portlandia" and some clips from a Christmas video she did a few years ago.

Hear "Labrador" on Youtube.

Compare the Til Tuesday on Youtube.

See the Aimee-bot on Youtube.

See Aimee Mann on "Portlandia" on Youtube.

See Part One of Aimee Mann's "Christmas Carol" on Youtube.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Smashing Pumpkins "Disarm"

There are songs that influenced my life, and there are songs that are a part of great memories, and there are songs that evoke emotions, but very, very few songs can be credited with changing the course of my life.

"What is this station?" I asked, surprised to hear a band like this on local radio.

"It's WABN."

"Man, if I ever worked in radio, it would be for a station like this."

Two years prior, in 1991, my college girlfriend and I graduated, and we ran off to Florida to start our lives.  I pursued a career in TV production, making low-budget TV commercials.  That turned out to be a flame-out for me.  The girl and I broke up.  I was unhappy.  Lonely.  Hated Florida.  I was this close to moving back home with my family---I had a job lined up and everything---when I received a offer to join the creative services department of an NBC affiliate in Bristol Virginia.  I took it. 

Where is Bristol Virginia?  I had no idea.

Bristol is in the most Western part of the state of Virginia.  NASCAR is big.  It is the birthplace of country music.  It is far, far, far from any major city.  Growing up in New England, having Boston within our reach, I was used to certain kinds of cultural access that did not exist in this part of the world

No Professional sports teams.  No Dunkin' Donuts.  And no modern rock radio.

I was riding with Brian, one of the NBC-TV station's salespeople.  We'd just gone to meet with a client, and were cruising back to the office.

He was flipping through the dial when Smashing Pumpkins "Disarm" came on.

"What is this station?" I asked, surprised to hear a band like this on local radio.  I'd been in Bristol for several months, and had only found Country, Classic Rock and Gospel on the airwaves.

"It's WABN."

"Man, if I ever worked in radio, it would be for a station like this."

"Huh.  You know, they are one of my clients.  And I know they need some part-time help."

In a few short days, I was in the office of WABN, a family-owned, independent AM/FM combo.  They were looking for someone to host their 2 hour Request Radio program, 4 nights a week.  I asked them if they had any interest in having me create a modern rock radio show---as this burgeoning genre (it was 1994) seemed to be gaining traction with young folks ever since Nirvana arrived.  They were open to the idea, if I was willing to take on Request Radio.

I had never done radio before, but they were warm and welcoming and encouraging.  I said Yes.

I'll write another post about the beginnings of my on-air career, but let's cut to a few days later.

At the TV station, my manager had poked his head in my office to ask me something, and before he left I said, "Hey, I just wanted to let you know that I picked up a part-time job for a few hours a week."

"Okay," he smiled.  "I'll let the boss know."

The GM of the TV station was notoriously unpopular with the staff, but I hadn't had any run-ins with him in the 6 months I was on the job.

Until the next day.

He was passing me in the hall when he said brightly, "Hey, I heard you picked up a part-time job! What'cha doing?"

"Oh, I'm going to do airshifts a couple nights a week on WABN."

"Oh . . ." His mood turned instantly dark, and he walked away.

Later that day, my manager called me in to his office, to tell me that the GM did not approve of my new job and that I would have to quit.

"He thought you'd be doing some weekend work.  He doesn't want you working on weeknights.  He feels that you'd be wearing yourself out, and would be tired when you came to work here."

I calmly but quickly rattled off a bunch of reasons why this was ridiculous.  Most notably, that adding 8 hours to my work week would still mean I was working fewer hours than the GM normally did---and I was half his age.  But I was also accommodating.  I said that I would we willing to do a 3 month trial---if my television work faltered due to my part-time job, I would quit.

The manager took this to the GM.  The answer came back with another, No.

I asked for a meeting with the GM.  I was told to come to his office at 3pm.

I walked into his office, promptly at 3.  He acted surprised to see me, and said he didn't know I was coming.  He asked me to wait outside his office.  He kept me waiting for a while.  I was young, but smart enough to know this was a bullshit power move.

We had a brief but friendly conversation where I reiterated my arguments, and my offer of a review.  I told him it wasn't really his business what I did with my off-work time, as long as it did my work, and that I had respected the company enough to tell them about the job---something that deserved respect in return.  He was resistant, but finally, he said he'd think about it.

I knew how this was going to go.

The next day I waited in my office.  My manager came in.  Not the GM.  He said the GM had decided, I couldn't work both jobs and I would have to quit.

And that's what I did.

"Here's my key."

I had already cleaned out my desk and had my office key off its chain.  If they were making me choose, I was not going to be bullied into that choice.

Was I nuts to quit a full-time, stepping stone job, with a national company, so I could make minimum wage for 8 hours a week?


But I felt like I was in a power struggle where the struggle wasn't over the thing (meaning, could I have the job or not), but over who got to decided.  The GM felt like he was in the ultimate power position, because he controlled my salary and my livelihood, and considered that his "checkmate."  What he didn't count on, was that the ultimate checkmate move is to walk away from the game.

At 25 I was wise enough to know that there are only a few times in your life where you are offered the opportunity to make such a statement, to make such a stand.  Today, at 43, there is absolutely no way I could do the same thing, because of the responsibility I have to my family, my mortgage, my creditors, etc.

That moment formed much of who I became.  That choice to make a stand.  To do the stupid thing, because I thought it was the right thing.

And it set the stage for the next 6 years.

All because I heard a song on the radio.

To be continued . . ."Disarm" Part 2 and what happened next, coming soon.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Dan Zanes "Rough Spot"

Here's another Weekend Post:

I know that for parents out there, when you hear the name Dan Zanes, you think about music for kids---and you have a positive or negative reaction based on that image.

But his first release after the Del Fuegos broke up, was a really great, rocking-rootsy solo effort under his own name featuring this tune, which I always loved to play on WABN and we still spike in on mvyradio.

Dan Zanes And Friends plays the Kids Stage at Life Is Good this weekend.  Follow our coverage on the mvyradio Facebook page.

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, September 22, 2012

Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy "Television Drug Of The Nation"

Here's another Weekend Post:

Looking at the Life Is Good line-up, I realized that a number of the artists on the bill are folks I've been following for a long, long time.

My first awareness of Michael Franti came through this tune, with his early 90s, pre-Spearhead group, Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy.

Michael Franti plays the main stage tonight at Life Is Good this weekend.  Follow our coverage on the mvyradio Facebook page.

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, September 21, 2012

R.E.M. "World Leader Pretend"

When I realized what was happening this weekend (that is, the Life Is Good Festival), I immediately went to look at Bob Dylan's tour schedule.

Not because I expect Mr. Dylan to be at the Festival.

No, I was checking to make sure that he was not out with The Never Ending Tour right now.

And while checking, I started humming R.E.M.'s "World Leader Pretend."

Dylan IS on the road next month, but right now he's not touring.

And that means I'll get to see Ben-Ben!

Brendan was my next door neighbor for the first two years of college at UMass.  Our gang of friends spent many many night (and let's face it, days and weekends and dinners and dawns) listening to and talking about music.

And while I spent my time at UMass exploring the media end of the business, Brendan (or Ben-Ben, as his roommate called him) got involved with the University productions, which put on a slate of amazing shows all year long, that culminated in a big Spring concert.  At every concert, while we'd be wandering through the crowd (most likely drunk) he'd have the thrill of working behind the scenes, as part of Load-In/Load-Out or Stage managing and such.

Brendan and I lost touch not long after college, but the advent of Facebook put us back into each other's orbit.  And two years ago, I saw him post a status about being in Canton, Massachusetts on a mid-September weekend.

I wrote him.  "Are you working at Life Is Good?"

He was!

We made a plan to meet, to see each other for the first time in about 17 years.

After college, Brendan continued to pursue a career in the touring business.  And---as these things work---he had a combination of talent, good fortune and timing, to land a gig with none other than Bob Dylan.

You can say what you want about Mr. Dylan being inscrutable and mercurial and whatever, but if you've been paying attention, in the last 20 years, he's become remarkably consistent about who he works with.  His touring band has changed very little, and, unlike much of the 70s and 80s, his touring band is largely the group of musicians that play on his records. 

Apparently, this extends to the people Dylan employs on The Never Ending Tour.  Ben-Ben and much of the core crew have been with Dylan for many, many years.

So that's Ben-Ben's life.  If Dylan is on the road, then so is Ben-Ben.

It's quite a thrill to live vicariously through Facebook and see Brendan post pictures from far-flung places around the world.

And it's nice that Mr. Dylan has happened to be off the road for the weekend of the Life Is Good Festival in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

When Ben-Ben is not on the road with Dylan, he's with his family in Massachusetts, and will pick up a job here and there if it won't interfere with the start of the next tour.  So he's picked up a gig running Good Vibes side stage at Life Is Good.

And while he grew up to be a roadie, I grew up to be a disc jockey, who gets assigned to introduce a few of the acts at the Festival.  So for the last couple of years, I've been sent to introduce some of the acts on the Good Vibes stage. 

It's pretty funny, and wonderful, to know someone from when you were practically a kid, and get the opportunity to work with them as a professional.

Saturday at 2:15, I'll be standing in the wings waiting to introduce Katie Herzig.  Ben-Ben will have given me the standard speech he has to deliver to misbehaving DJs, about keeping my shtick short and sweet and getting the hell out of the way.  And when he's ready, he'll give me the cue to send me out to center stage.  We'll be interacting as the professionals we work hard every day to be---He's touring with perhaps the greatest musician that has ever lived; I am running a beloved, heritage, independent radio station. 

This is hardly the kind of thing we could have imagined 20 years ago, when we were sitting around a UMass lounge, eating Bruno's pizza and listening to R.E.M., thinking we were terribly clever to change the words of the song so that we were singing, "I am, World Leader Ben-Ben . . ."

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Randy Newman "I'm Dreaming Of A White President"

I thought long and hard about whether or not to post this video, because I have some mixed feelings about it.

I enjoy satire, but when does satire go to far?

Randy Newman's basic thesis here---that there are people in this country who are deeply prejudiced---is in no way incorrect.

But does this song illuminate that?  Or combat that?  Is it combating it by simply deriding it?

Something about this feels like it goes too far.

Or do I just have that unsettled feeling because the subject at hand is such an ugly matter, that simply to look at it in the light is upsetting.

I don't know.

But with the recent addition of "I Looked At The Internet Today So You Don't Have To," I decided to post it, so you could have it in front of you, and decide to watch it or not watch it, yourself.

Please note, if I were you, I wouldn't play this at work, or within earshot of anyone who might take offense.  Headphones are nice.  And if you are looking for satire that is more silly that cutting, try the "You Didn't Build That" video below.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Get a free download of this song.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

John Hiatt "Pirate Radio"

Don't you hate it when you go to work, not in green, only to realize it's St. Patrick's Day?

Then please note, today is International Talk Like A Pirate Day.

Plan accordingly!

Hear the song on Youtube.

We're playing the new John Hiatt album, "Mystic Pinball" as tonight's mvyradio Album Of The Week.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ben Folds Five "Do It Anyway"

Late Sunday morning, we were sitting in friend's backyard when someone mentioned Bloody Marys, and suddenly, we were at the Quahog Republic.

The Quahog Republic makes a killer Bloody Mary, but the coup de grace is that instead of giving you a swizzle stick, they put a giant piece of vodka-soaked bacon in your glass.  Man, do I love bacon.

I was marveling at the salt-n-peppery deliciousness of my drink, when one of my friends suggested that you could make the drink even more indulgent by making it chocolate-covered bacon, which is something she'd recently run across.

I stammered out something about how that would just be too much, too too much.  I don't think my mind could compute that level of excess.

That's kind of how I felt when I stumbled upon this video today.

I was an enormous fan of Ben Folds Five, back in the 90s.  And word of their recent reformation, with a full album and tour, just seemed to good to be true.

I am also an enormous fan of all things Muppets (as evidenced by the many many posts about them on this blog), including the beloved, but rarely-spotted-these-days Fraggles.

Just the first few seconds of the video had me stammering "Ben . . . Fraggles . . . Folds . . . video . . . gaaaahhh . . . "

So for those of you practicing for the SATs:

"Chocolate Covering" is to "Bacon," as "Ben Folds Five reunion" is to "Fraggle Rock returning."

Make sure you watch all the way to the end of the music video for a fun extra, and check out the "making of" on the video below that.

See the video on Youtube.

See the making of, on Youtube.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Spottiswoode & His Enemies "Youngest Child"

Here's another song I was reminded of, while cleaning last week . . . 

My wife is a Public School teacher, and most of her career has been spent in a Grammar School setting.

From time to time, we'll be out in public and she'll run into one of her kids.

"Mrs. Finn!  What are you doing here?"

As if teachers don't, you know, grocery shop.  Or go to restaurants.

When we think of musicians, we think of them doing normal musician things, like playing on stage.  Or being interviewed at a radio station.  Or riding in a van to the next gig.

Generally, when you think of a musician, you do not picture them ironing.

But yeah, musicians need to iron too.  Especially the dapper ones.

Barbara and I were representing mvyradio at a convention that brings together non-commercial and independent radio stations, and the record labels and artists who appear on those stations.  It's called Non-Comm, and in 2005 it was being held in Philadephia.

Non-Comm is 3 days of a handful of panels, discussing the state of the industry, and a whole bunch of music showcases---abbreviated sets of music from artists that have new records.  They start as early at 10 in the morning, and go on well past midnight.  Much of it takes place right in a hotel conference room---not exactly Red Rocks, but it's a really great chance to see for yourself if this much-buzzed-about artist is "the real deal."

Not being ones ever let an opportunity to relax and enjoy ourselves get in the way of working a little extra, we had set up some interviews with some of the performers.  And because the whole convention takes place in a hotel, we did the interviews right in Barbara's hotel room.

And that's where we met Johnathan Spottiswoode, of Spottiswoode And His Enemies.  He was charming and dry and English, and he was happy to join us for an on-the-mic chat.

But he was most happy that he could, after the interview, iron his shirt before his showcase performance.

So while I thoroughly enjoyed the interview and the acoustic songs he played in it, and I enjoyed the full band performance later in the day, I most enjoyed chatting with him casually, as he pressed his outfit.

Because there's nothing more real-deal than that.

Hear the interview in the mvyradio archives.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Rob Cantor "Actual Cannibal Shia LaBeouf"

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

My Brother-In-Law, known for his impeccable taste in music, shared this song with me at our most recent family dinner.

I have to say, it is the best song I've ever heard about Shia LaBeouf.

And, as a bonus, a song featuring Christian Bale!

(the tunes/videos are NSFW!!!)

Hear the Shia LaBeouf song on Youtube.

Hear the Christian Bale song on Youtube.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Psy! "Gangham Style"

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

Heard of "Gangham Style" by Korean Pop Star Psy! yet?  You should probably take 4 minutes and laugh your tail off watching this.  Or perhaps it will motivate you to dance your tail off.

And if you need explanation, Nightline spells it all out in a way people over 40 can understand.

Hear the song on Youtube.

See "Nightline" on Youtube.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Led Zeppelin "Celebration Day"

Welcome to a new feature called "I Looked At The Internet Today So You Don't Have To."

For those of you with your head not buried in a music hole, you may have missed or have only vaguely heard about some viral video or questionable rumor or unearthed performance.  So I'll occasionally post these, much like I put up the "Weekend Posts" which don't rise to the level of evoking a memory, but are worth sharing/reminding you of. ***

While rumors of a Led Zeppelin reunion seemed too good to be true, that's exactly what we found out we're getting---a video of the most recent Led Zeppelin reunion, which happened back in 2007.

It's coming to theaters, then DVD and such.  Just in time for the holidays . . .

See the trailer on Youtube.

***Also, let's face it, after 1,000 posts, I'm running out of memories to write about, so I'll pad things a little between personal anecdotes.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sandi Thom "I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker"

Some people do Spring cleaning.  But we're more likely to do our Spring cleaning, in the Fall.

In these parts, in a Summer tourist town, from May to August, most of your energy is expended as you just try to keep up with the day to day of it all.  There is no time for maintenance.

I did not mow my lawn for the entire month of August.  Much to the chagrin of my neighbors.

Similarly, there isn't much time to file or pile or sort or cull through the mounting detritus on the desks and shelves and offices of mvyradio.

But then one day in early September, as you are racing through your daily routine and you finish, you look up . . . and there is still time left on the clock.  You've cut your commercials and answered your voicemails and filled out your reports.  And you rejoice, as you realize that the season's rush has abated, and you can start putting your life back in order.

So that's what I've been working on this week.  An hour of my day, each day, has been devoted to clearing out the CD shelves in the studio.

Real estate is hard to come by in our little building.  And if you've ever been here, you know that the walls in nearly every room burst with CDs.

But because Real estate is scarce, only a limited number of CDs can be in the main studio with the DJs.  So we try to limit those shelves to the ones that we play in regular rotation.

Of course, what stays in regular rotation, what is essential, does change from year to year.

So that was my task, to pull out the CDs that maybe, at one time were important to us, but are now so rarely (if ever) played, that they can go on a shelf elsewhere in the building.

This includes some artists who just aren't in rotation anymore.  Sorry Pink Floyd!

And it also includes young artists we took a chance on, but who's songs didn't break through or make enough of an impact to have lasting power.

I was certain that this Sandi Thom song would rise above novelty status and break out.  But it never really caught on with listeners.

So it goes to a shelf in the basement.

But check it out, if you've never heard it.  It's fun!

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Van Morrison "Open The Door"

I had to laugh at myself when I first caught this song on the radio.

Has there been a music review of Ray Lamontagne, since he appeared on the scene 8 years ago, that doesn't compare him to Van Morrison?

After a few seconds of hearing this unfamiliar tune, I asked myself, "Is that a new Ray Lamontagne song?"

When I realized it was Van, and that I'd gotten things backwards, I laughed.

Somehow I suspect neither Van nor Ray---neither known for being a hilarious dude---would have found it as funny.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Bruce Springsteen "Darlington County"

I used to be this huge Simpsons geek.  Up to a certain point (through the first fifteen seasons or so) I had seen every episode.**

At the time it came out in 1997, "The City Of New York vs. Homer Simpson" was one of my least favorite episodes.  The plot involves Homer, his car ticketed and booted between the World Trade Towers, waiting for his car to be released by the police.   I remember thinking that a lot of the jokes were weak (though there is a really funny "crab juice" gag) and the target ("New York City sure is a rough, unfriendly place!") was a been-there-done-that concept.

After September 11th, 2001, when this episode comes on in syndication, I stop and watch.

Same thing if I happen to catch the opening "Working Girl," where they show the ferry going into the city.

I can't really explain why.  I had never, and have never, been to the World Trade Center.  I can't really tell you what I am looking for.

But its what keeps "Darlington County" in rotation on mvyradio, too.

It's a perfectly serviceable Bruce Springsteen song.  While it is funny and full of well-realized details, it probably doesn't even make the list of the top 40 Springsteen songs. 

But hearing him try to impress a couple of girls by saying "Our pas each own one of the world trade centers" for some reason makes me want to hold on to it.

Hear the song on Youtube.

**Once I got married and started having kids, my ability to be an episode completest was vastly diminished.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Steve Winwood "Higher Love"

The 80s were not good to the our favorite keyboard players.

I hadn't really thought this through until I heard Steve Winwood mention something in an interview.  He was talking about his early 80s hits, and how some people write them off as too commercial, compared to his work with Traffic or Blind Faith.

He suggests that there really isn't a difference between the songs and the songwriting of those two phases of his career.  The difference is in the production.

I wish I could prove him right, because mvyradio would play more Winwood if we could.

But 1980s production just doesn't hold up, especially in the case of piano/keyboard artists.

Think about it.  What are some of the most reviled works of Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Billy Joel?  They are the records where these great players lean heavily on terrible-sounding synthesizers.  Couple with the use of drum machines and other synthesized instruments, the music of that era sounds painfully, embarassingly cheesy.

I'm sure I don't really have to convince you of this---the 80s don't exactly have a great reputation.  But it IS instructive to listen to "Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing" versus "Part Time Lover," "Tiny Dancer" versus "I'm Still Standing," and "She's Always A Woman" versus "Pressure."  (All songs are posted below)

Don't the older songs actually sound more contemporary, or timeless, or, at a minimum, hold up much much better?

What's a little harder to be convinced of---though I think I believe it---is that tunes like Winwood's "Higher Love" and "Roll With It" and "Back In The High Life," if they were stripped of their 80s production, would hold up as equals to Winwood's earlier songwriting and playing.

I had this extended conversation with morning DJ Laurel a few months back.  She'd just gone to see Winwood live, and was enthusing about his playing and his songs.  I started thinking about his presence on the station.  We play 60s and 70s Winwood.  And we play more recent Winwood.  But we pulled the 80s songs out of rotation a good 10 years ago, because they just sounded dated.

I set Laurel on a task---to find some live or re-recorded Winwood material, where he plays those songs without the 80s trappings.  And like an Unplugged record.  Or a solo live performance.  Or a classic-rock-guy-revisits-his-old-songs record like Randy Newman and Loudon Wainwright have done.

But Laurel reported back that she couldn't find anything like that.

So here we wait, for Steve Winwood to prove this theory correct...

In the meantime, get a glimpse of how a synthesizer-less Winwood 80s track might sound, by checking out the James Vincent McMorrow cover of "Higher Love," below.

Hear Steve Winwood on Youtube.

Hear James Vincent McMorrow on Youtube.

Hear 70s Stevie Wonder on Youtube.

Hear Stevie Wonder in the 80s on Youtube.

Hear Elton John in the 70s on Youtube.

Hear Elton John in the 80s on Youtube.

Hear 70s Billy Joel on Youtube.

Hear 80s Billy Joel on Youtube.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Semisonic "FNT"

Here's another Weekend Post:

Here's another under-appreciated Power Pop band from the 90s.

Of course, leader Dan Wilson is much appreciated these days as a songwriter, having won Grammys for his work with The Dixie Chicks and Adele.  Fascinating.

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, September 8, 2012

Teenage Fanclub "What You Do To Me"

Here's another Weekend Post:

On the subject of roommates who play the same song over and over . . . I had a roommate who hated this song.  I didn't play it over and over, but it IS so repetitive, that I'm sure it felt like I was playing it over and over and over.

On another note, this album, "Bandwagonesque" will forever be the answer to the question:  Who was that band that beat out Nirvana in Spin Magazine's 1991 Best Album Poll?

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, September 7, 2012

Air Supply "The One That You Love"

A while back, I started an occasional weekend feature called "Random Ridiculous Songs That Have No Business Being Played In Public Again But I Heard In The Grocery Store Today."

This week I considered starting a new one called "Random Ridiculous Songs That I Heard In a Martha's Vineyard Cab."

Those who come and go from the Island know---especially the people who live here year-round---that you live and die by the ferry boats.  Everyone's got a story about rushing to make that boat, the last one off the Island.

Less talked about, is that trip to the ferry boat.  Unless you are taking your car on the ferry, you've got to get a ride down to the Steamship Authority.  There is no place to leave your car near the boat.

Because many folks on the mvy staff conduct business on the mainland (really, we do! Some people are so surprised that the mvyradio signal goes all the way across the water to the Cape!), many of us know that trip well.

Fortunately, the station has forged a nice relationship with "the best cab company on Martha's Vineyard," Adam Cab.

They give us rides from the station to the ferry and back.  We air commercials for them.

So next time you hear one of these hilarious commercials you'll know that one of the mvyradio staff members is getting a ride to the boat.

We get to know the drivers pretty well.  Most are guys who are here on a work Visa.  And the majority of the driver are either from Jamaica or Bulgaria.

Now, I've always imagined that being a cab driver lets you play DJ in one of two ways.  Either, you put on music to make an interesting/pleasant experience for your passengers.  Or, you treat the cab like your office, and you listen to whatever music gets you through the day.

Honestly, most drivers do the latter.

But funny enough, they don't always pick the music you'd expect.

When I get in the cab with one of the Bulgarians, its not uncommon to hear some kind of European dance music.  They've plugged in an iPod and are jamming to the kind of tunes they hope to be hearing when they take all the money they made in the summer, and enjoy it in the Sofia nightclubs.  Or they may be listening to one of the local Pop stations, that play the latest American dance music.

The Jamaicans are pretty likely to be listening to Pop music too.  Or, perhaps not surprisingly, they'll be listening to some reggae.  On a lucky day, one of the drivers, who is also a performer, will play some of his own gritty, authentic, modern reggae music.

And these are the kind of things that you'd expect.

But every once and a while, a driver will be listening to something that defies expectation.

Like the Turkish kid who drove last summer, and seemed to prefer to listen to mainstream Country radio.

Or the crusty old Islander driver, who knew every 80s Pop song that came on the radio.

But the one that really blew my mind, was a ride I took this week.

I just would never expect the 20-something Jamaican kid, with dreads and everything, to be cranking Air Supply on his iPod.

But there we were, barreling down the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, "rocking out" to the most vanilla, smoothed out AC power ballads you'd never expect to be hearing, had you looked in the windows of our Adam Cab.

But as the jingle says, "Adam Cab keeps your secrets . . . "

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Calexico "Splitter"

I had mentioned earlier this year, that there was a pretty good chance the two of the biggest records of the year, would be led by the banjo.

Years ago, such a thing would be unthinkable.

Banjos were country music instruments.  And any band that deployed a banjo would be consigned to operating within the country world, regardless of how "country" they truly were.

I think it speaks well of 2012, the time we're in and the people that we are, that we have become so musically accepting of mash-ups and mix-ups and cross-genre sounds.

It makes the success of Calexico's new song possible.

When was the last time you heard a mainstream song with Mariachi horns in it?  Was it "Ring Of Fire" for crying out loud?

Calexico has included Mexican-style horns on their records, and the song "Splitter" is perhaps the most commercially accessible tune they've ever released.

Will "Algiers" break through in the way that The Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons are breaking through?  Perhaps not.

But it's pretty amazing just how natural it sounds to have Southwestern-tinged horns tucked neatly into a song that seems to fit mvyradio perfectly.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Hear a live version on Youtube.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Bonnie Raitt "Takin' My Time"

I had a fun time-machine-like experience while on vacation in August.

We were at my Mother-In-Law's getaway place in Maine.  It's not a cabin.  It's not roughing-it by any means.

But it IS out of cell phone range and internet range and cable and broadcast television range.  So you can be pretty disconnected.

There are a ton of books floating around, so in the quiet moments (when we send the kids outside, that is) there are plenty of things to idly flip though.

When my Mother-In-Law bought the place a couple of years ago, it came as-is.  So we inherited a huge collection of VHS movies and books and such.  Many of them had been there for decades.

And that was my experience when I picked up The Rolling Stone Illustrated History Of Rock & Roll.

It was---as advertised---a comprehensive history of Rock & Roll, published in 1980.  Each section was an essay on either a single important musician/band, a particular movement or a full genre.

Hilariously, it touts that this is the updated edition (the original came out in 1976), so it's more complete than ever.

So it's a view of Rock & Roll that predates Nirvana.  It predates the internet.  It predates Rap music.

Those are obvious.

It also describes a world that has never seen a CD.  A world where all four of The Beatles are still alive and could potentially reunite.  A world where MTV did not yet exist.

Most interestingly, it had really interesting summations of artists who---from today's perspective---were perhaps being analyzed too soon.

Talking Heads had put out a few promising albums, but the piece on them doesn't/couldn't predict their breakthough commercial success or their lasting influence.

Elvis Costello had put out his blistering triptych debut and follow-ups, but gave the reviewer no hint of the many genre exercises and tributaries that he would so ably traverse in the coming years.

My favorite review was on Bonnie Raitt.  In 1980, she was critically beloved, and was an impressive live act.  But she hadn't had a commercial breakthrough yet.  And the reviewer thought her own material was weak, and, more damningly, that her ability to select material was weak (like this track written by Little Feat's Bill Payne).  And thus she'd probably never realize her potential.

Which is hilarious to read here in the future, where Bonnie has won many Grammys, sold millions of records and is widely regarded as important and influential.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Jimmy Cliff "One More"

One of the great benefits of being an independent station, is that we can play songs that more tightly controlled, corporate stations, won't play.

One of the great benefits of being a Triple A Format station, is that we can play songs that less eclectic stations, won't play.

So a lot of times, when we hear a song that is on a periphery of the mvyradio sound---be it soul or alternative or world music---we ask ourselves this question:

If we don't play it, who will?

This comes up whenever a reggae song comes on the radar.  Simply, no Top 40, Urban, Hot AC, Country, Easy Listening, Classical or Folk station is ever going to play a reggae song.  And if they don't play reggae, who will?

Well, mvyradio does play reggae.

We have a nice, but limited reggae library, which mostly consists of classic, roots reggae from Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and the like.  Jimmy Cliff is there too.

But is this Jimmy Cliff song enough of a standout to take up a spot in rotation?  On first few listens, I didn't think so.

But I keep coming back to the question, if mvyradio doesn't play it, who will?

Is that enough of a reason to play this song?

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Dolly Parton "9 To 5"

Here's a Labor Day Weekend Post:

Hope you are enjoying a day off from the typing pool!

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.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Jim Carroll "People Who Died"

Here's another Weekend Post:

I remember this track from WBCN when I was a kid.  I also remember playing it on the air as part of my 90s Alternative show, and the song's re-release with the soundtrack to the movie about Jim Carroll, "The Basketball Diaries."

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, September 1, 2012

Wayne Kramer "Crack In The Universe"

Here's another Weekend Post:

I was totally obsessed with this song when it came out.  I listened to it for the first time in years, this week, and the lyrics and the slabs of grating guitars still give me chills.

And for a bonus, I used to love to occasionally play the spoken word piece (which had to be heavily edited for broadcast) on the same album "Incident At Stock Island."  Listen to the story with headphones on---it's NSFW!

Hear the song on Youtube.

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.