Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Otis Redding "Trick Or Treat"

Perhaps not surprisingly, hearing this song (even though it's really a "do you love me?" song) makes me think of Halloween.

A series of images flash through my head, about how much I enjoyed Halloween as a kid---making my costume (okay, Mom making it, with me directing), running around the neighborhood knocking on doors and dividing up and trading candy spread out on the living room floor with my sisters.

One image that really struck me funny, was thinking about my elementary school.  Holidays at Belleville Elementary were great, because somebody's mom made cupcakes and you got to push the desks into a big circle and the whole day was pretty loosey-goosey.

And on Halloween, everyone came in their costumes.

At a certain point in the day, they lined us all up for a "parade of costumes"---the whole school, kindergarten through 4th grade.  And they marched us down to the gym, where we were lead across the stage.

What makes me laugh is that we all did this.  The whole school.  Meaning, we were all parading across the stage, we were all in the show and no one was really settled in the audience.

Everyone's in the show and no one's in the audience.  I guess that's about right, for Halloween.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

U2 "Gloria"

If I have a blase attitude toward storms, hurricane preparedness and such, it probably stems from Hurricane Gloria in 1985.

Gloria had been billed as "The Storm Of The Century" and in fact, it WAS shaping up to be the biggest storm to hit the East Coast in my lifetime.  Local folks on the North Shore of Massachusetts were scrambling to get ready.  Mom was in a tizzy, making sure we had all the lingering summer toys and such out of the yard, as she collected flower pots and other loose gardening equipment, and Dad got the grill and such secured in the garage.

And then, we waited.

I had never experienced a hurricane before, so I must admit I was nervous.  But being a high school age teen, I was not about to show it.  So I just internalized it, and turned to the radio for comfort.

When 9pm came, and we weren't cowering in the basement, shielding our eyes from the shattering glass of our home . . . well, I felt like it was much ado about nothing.

With Mom's permission, I put some batteries in my boom box and I went out and lay in the grass of the front yard.  WBCN was playing a "Hurricane Party" set of music featuring Van Morrison's "Gloria," The Doors' "Gloria" and U2's "Gloria."

I watched the clouds whizz by via the high winds and warm air, and thought it was the most beautiful, non-threateningly wild night of my life.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Hollies "Sandy"

My daughter overheard my wife and I talking about the storm and she wanted to chip in.

She was concerned about the storm being "big" and she had heard from kids at school, that the storm was going to be sandy.

My wife and I scratched our heads for a moment, before figuring out the mangled meteorology.

I explain that the storm wasn't going to be sandy---it wasn't going to be a sand storm---the storm was named Sandy.

This caused my (almost)-five-year-old to give me that look and accompanying smile, that says, "Are you pulling my leg?"

Yeah, to a five year old (and now to a 43 year old), it does sound like a joke that we name storms with people names.

Anyway, now that you are likely in the thick of Sandy (but hey, if you are reading this, you've still got power!), perhaps you are looking for some "Sandy" songs.

Yes, of course you can play storm songs and hurricane songs, too ("Riders On The Storm" and "Like A Hurricane" always work), but here are a few "Sandy" songs.  Did you know The Hollies covered Springsteen?

I'm not sure any of these songs really sound like a storm, but have at it . . .

Hear "Sandy" by The Hollies on Youtube.

Hear "Sandy" from Grease on Youtube.

Hear Eartha Kitt's "Sandy's Tune" on Youtube.

Hear Dolly Parton's "Sandy's Song" on Youtube.

Hear "Hey Sandy" by Polaris on Youtube.

Hear "Sandy" by Ronny And The Daytonas on Youtube.

Hear Dion sing "Sandy" on Youtube.

Hear "Sandy" by The Carpenters on Youtube.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Rocket From The Crypt "Young Livers"

Here's another Weekend Post:

Crypt.  Get it?  Another Halloween-themed weekend post!  Also, livers are kinda scary, right?

Another amazing 90s band that just should have been more popular than they were.  The horns really worked for them and the energy was infectious.

The only time in my life I ever entertained the thought of getting a tattoo, was when I heard that if you got a Rocket From The Crypt tattoo on your body, you would get into any RFTC show for free, for life.

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, October 27, 2012

Concrete Blonde "Ghost Of A Texas Ladies Man"

Here's another Weekend Post:

He's a fun little lost hit of the 90s, that fills the bill for a Halloween themed Weekend Ghost, I mean, Post . . .

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, October 26, 2012

Grace Potter "Stars"

On the air, and on the blog, I've been open about my mixed feeling about Grace Potter.

On the one hand, she has fully won me over on the idea that she is an immensely talented singer, songwriter and performer.  She's harnessed some incredible charisma and the intricacies of a wielding a powerful voice.

On the other hand, since first being won over by her earthy early work, her recordings have moved into the direction of slicker, more-commercial arena-ready rock.  That's not the worst thing---I like arena-ready rock bands like The Foo Fighters---I just got on the Grace-bus thinking she was going in a different direction.  But harder for me to embrace was the make-over.

She went blond and started dressing (in promotional materials anyway) like a "Star."  Wind machines were deployed.  Marketing opportunities snatched up. 

Pairing this with the more commercial nature of her work, I just felt like authenticity was being traded in for commercial viability.

We skipped the 2nd single from her latest record because I just couldn't bring myself to add it to mvy.  But then I was sent the clip below.  It's a VH1 Storytellers performance of their 3rd single, "Stars," with a long intro where Grace explains what the song is about.

I won't spoil it, but I will say, Get a box of tissues handy.

It reminded me of why I was won over by Grace Potter in the first place.

See the official video on Youtube.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

John Denver "Annie's Song"

I just started laughing.

I'll try not to get too graphic here, or too personal, but see if you can picture this.

It's 1am on a weeknight.  Both you and your spouse have had a long day a work, a tough time getting rowdy kids to bed and have spent the last couple of hours trying to cram in some more work on your individual laptops before going to bed, too late.  While reconvening in the bathroom, trying to put a cap on the day, you ask "How was your day?" and your partner spins into a short story of a particularly awful work scene (in this case, involving an awful elementary school age child).  Then the toilet backs up.  Dressed halfway between day clothes and pajamas, a plunger is being sloshed in a dirty john while your spouse shares the kind of painfully honest answer to a banal question that you could only share with someone you knew deeply and intimately . . .

And I just started laughing.  There was no other response.

"Yeah, this isn't the old days, is it?" she smiled, with an equal mix of pain, nostalgia and realism.  "Nothing romantic about this . . ."

Cut to, The Old Days . . .

We'd only met a couple of weeks before, and she was coming to the Island again to see me.

February is not exactly a great time to impress a girl with the fabulous-ness of Martha's Vineyard.  There aren't too many activities happening, restaurants open, or scenic vistas you can visit without freezing your tail off.

But that didn't matter. 

Within hours of meeting each other for the first time we had discovered this electric chemistry between us.  Two weeks in, and I knew that this relationship was different than anything that had come before it.  When we were together, the rest of the world disappeared.  We entered a bubble and we needed absolutely nothing else, except maybe some take-out every few hours.

We spent the weekend on my bed, just talking.  Talking.  Talking.

Talking about everything.  Getting to know one another.  Sharing in the things we loved.

Of course we continued to talk about music.  The ReplacementsThe BeatlesRufus WainwrightTravis.

She said, somewhat hesitantly, "You know what song I hear when I'm talking to you?"

I could tell she was a little embarrassed, because whatever she was thinking about was not cool.  And she was about to open herself up, even over the possibility of being mocked.

"You know that, um . . . that John Denver song? . . . 'You fill up my senses'  . . . ?"

There was a pause.  She worried for a moment that I was going to say her song was lame or cliche or cheesy.

Instead I rolled away from her on the bed, and reached down into the cabinet door of the side table next to the bed.  I pulled out my own copy of John Denver's Greatest Hits on vinyl, and put it on the record player.

"Annie's Song?"

We listened to John Denver on vinyl all weekend long.

And if that sounds not cool, cliche and downright schmoopy, you're damn right it was.  But we were so happy.*

We're still happy, but it's a different kind of happy.  It's a real-er kind of happy.  Because it has to be.

It's the kind of happy knowing that your partner is there for you to keep you from killing the kids, to be your cheerleader when work sucks, to look at you when it feels like you are barely keeping it together and just laugh because you know you're with the best person in the world, the person who didn't laugh but loved that you wanted to listen to John Denver in bed on your third date and that is how you knew you were meant to be together.

It's the kind of happy that comes from knowing you've got their back, and they've got your plunger.

Hear the song on Youtube.

*  As a side note, after the weekend my roommate at the time said, hilariously, "I didn't see you guys all weekend but I knew you were in the bedroom.  I kept hearing John Denver.  And I thought, 'Is that how PJ gets girls?!?'"

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Allman Brothers "Hot 'Lanta"

"How was Hot 'Lanta?"

Words on the page can't really express the emotional complexities and layers of meaning that were infused into the reading of this line when it was spoken to me.  On the page, you can't hear the melody and counter-melody running through it.

Some background . . .

I had moved to Virginia at the end of summer, 1993, to take a job at an NBC affiliate in their creative services (that is, commercial making) department.

This was a blind move---I did it for the job.  I didn't know a soul.  So I was working hard to insert myself into whatever social scene was available.

I'd grown up in Massachusetts, had spent four years at a very liberal University (UMass) and had lived in Florida---not as liberal, but not as reserved either---for the previous two years.

Now I was living in The South, which was a new cultural landscape for me.  It wasn't the head-snapping, cultural 180 that I think some people who've never spent time in The South expect it to be.  But there were things that were different.  Social mores that I was ignorant to.

I'd gone to The Lemonheads show in Atlanta with a couple of girls my age.  We crashed overnight at a friend's place in the city.

This is something I wouldn't think twice about.  In my collegiate world, there was no difference between hanging out with guy friends and hanging out with girl friends.  No one in my college orbit would have thought so.

But for some of my in-The-South co-workers an overnight trip with female co-workers?  That was risque.  Perhaps scandalous.  At least something to raise an eyebrow at.

Especially for the girls' father.

Who happened to also be my co-worker.

Yes, her Dad was my daily partner.  A talented cameraman, photographer and all around creative mind, he brought to life whatever creative vision I had for, you know, the local car dealer or beauty school.

He was a very cool guy.  Smart, multi-talented, creative and down to earth.  A big and gruff self-described "redneck" on the outside, but a sensitive artist lurked below.

But he was also a Dad.  A dad who lived in a world where you protected your daughter from things like (gasp!) single guys.

Just to be clear, the daughter was a friend, not a romantic interest.  But in this world I was living in, for many, men and women (boys and girls), did not mix without the specter of sexuality hanging heavy over the proceedings.

I was not really aware of this when I went away for the overnight to the concert.  But on the first morning back to work, someone pointed out to me that the Dad was a little weirded-out that his daughter was out overnight with this new-young-dude-in-town.

And now we were about to be in the van together for a long haul.

We had a commercial shoot that morning, which meant we'd be riding a long stretch in the production truck, just the two of us together.

We rode in silence for the first few miles, but I think we both felt the awkward tension that someone was going to have to alleviate.  He addressed it head on.

"How was Hot 'Lanta?"

Here is what was infused within those four words.

"I'm trying to be cool about this, but I'm not really sure what your intention is with my daughter, because I think you are a nice guy and I like you but if you so much as touch her I am ready to kick your little Yankee ass up and down State Street because who goes off on an overnight with a young girl to a big wild city like Atlanta without sexual intentions, so just tell me I've got nothing to worry about and let fucking drop this subject so I don't have to think about it anymore."

I was nervous, I rambled, but I tossed out a quick run-down of what a fun, wholesome time we had and about how the friend we stayed with had comfortable sleeping accommodations with separate rooms for boys and girls, and that the band was good (he asked if they were "New Wave"?) and the city looked fun but that after the show we didn't party it up because it had been a long drive so we just retired early after the show.  Oh, and there was no drinking.

That seemed to suffice.

His four words were all he cared to say or think about the subject. And we never talked about it again.

Don't let it escape your attention this song, that invokes the memory of today's post, this song you are about to hear while you imagine Dad and I are driving off through the southwest Virginia countryside not talking, is an instrumental.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Francis Dunnery "I Believe I Can Change My World"

I posted a song for Ghandi's birthday earlier this month, and my friend Ross asked about other songs that talk about Ghandi.  This tune popped to mind, because it includes the short line:

"I believe in Mahatma Ghandi, when non-violence was his faith."

But what this song makes me think of, is Betty Friedan.

I had this enormous, out-of-control crush on a girl.  I mean I'd had crushes before, but this one just felt irrational.  I just couldn't even think straight in front of this girl.  Logically, I couldn't explain it---she was pretty and smart and funny, but she wasn't superhuman or anything.  I think my friends understood why I liked her, but found my reaction to her to be a bit over the top.  Like those old episodes of South Park where one of the kids like a girl so much that every time he talks to her, he vomits.  It wasn't healthy.

I made her a mixed tape.  Because that is the kind of thing you did back in my day.

I was such a completist (nerd), that I even wrote liner notes when I made a mixed tape for someone.  For some people, it would be a way to let them know more about this artist (this was pre-Google).  In other instances, it was to tell them what I thought about the tune (this was pre-Blog).  And in this particular case, I wrote about why I had included each particular song.  Most of the song had been chosen based on something we had previously talked about---an artist or an idea or whatever.

For this tune, my only note was "Betty Friedan."

After she had listened to the tape, she thanked me and told me what she liked about it.  But she also had a question.

"Why did you write just 'Betty Friedan' about that song?"

"Because the song mentions Betty Friedan."

(The actual line is: "I believe in Betty Friedan, Gertrude Lawrence and Rosa Parks/I believe in Margaret Sanger, Mary Magdalene and Joan of Arc")

"Uh-huh . . ."

"And we had the conversation?"

"Uh . . ."

"About Betty Friedan . . ."

And suddenly, a clear transmission broke though the interference that typically plagued my brain functioning whenever I was around this girl.  I realized something:

She was not paying attention to and obsessing over every minute detail of every conversation that we'd been having.

In my clarity, I replayed in my head the moment that had led me to include the song, due to its mentioning of Betty Friedan.  I could now see that it hadn't been a conversation.  More like a scrap of dialogue.  Relatively forgettable.

She said something about someone making an inaccurate, and ill-argued reference to Betty Friedan in a class she was taking.  That's it.  And she said it in a funny way.  Because she actually was a pretty funny person.

Somehow in my addled brain, I had built it up to be a monumental, or at least memorable, conversation.  Our dialogue, like this song, had felt frenetic and densely packed with meaning.

It wasn't.  It was a barely registering blip on her radar.

And with that, I was rational enough to know that I was irrational, and clear headed enough to know that I had not been viewing the reality, clearly.

I knew I couldn't change my reaction to her---it was something weirdly physiological.  And I knew I wasn't likely to change her view of me to something that matched my level . . .

I took my next cue, from the same song.

"I believe in Cat Stevens, when he said 'I have to go.'"

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Danielia Cotton "Lighthouse Keeper"

When I'm not overscheduled, I can spend nice chunk of time listening to new music on the weekend.

Though we still get piles of CDs sent to the radio station, this exercise of reviewing the anywhere from 50 to 150 singles that are being pitched to me on any given week, happens on my laptop.

For financial and environmental reasons, many music labels have stopped sending promotional singles, and now just send MP3s.  Many other labels do both.

So it's pretty standard, as the week goes by, for me to a) click on a link that I get from a label, via email, and download a song, and b) dig into the mailbox and grab a stack of CDs that I should check out, and put those songs on my laptop.

In both cases, I may not even listen to the song while I'm doing this.

I had a fleeting thought when I was absently downloading this Danielia Cotton song, while on the phone with the label person who was telling me to check it out:  "I wonder if this is 'Lighthouse Keeper'?  Naaah, probably just a song with the same name."

When I do music listening, many times, I'll minimize the iTunes window, so I don't know what song and artist is next.  Not knowing what song is starting, is an effective way to really judge if the song sounds like an mvyradio song and if it grabs attention quickly, without interference from my prejudice (if I think I already do or do not like the artist).

When the opening riff of this track started, my jaw literally dropped open.

I couldn't believe that someone had plucked this awesome, forgotten about, 15 year old nugget from obscurity, to give it another shot.  I was so excited.

(I've since learned that the producer of Cotton's new album is none other than Kevin Salem---so it all makes sense)

I'm not sure if Danielia Cotton's voice is right for mvyradio, but I bet she is a helluva live performer.  Mostly, I'm just glad that people will get another chance to hear this song, and maybe even check out the original.

Lighthouse Keeper by Danielia Cotton on Grooveshark

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Chemical Brothers "Block Rockin' Beats"

Here's another Weekend Post:
Remember in the late 90s when all the music pundits said that Electronica would take over?  Wrong again.

Though, this song is pretty awesome.

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, October 20, 2012

Buckshot LeFonque "Some Cow Fonque"

Here's another Weekend Post:

This Branford Marsalis side project had a minor hit in the early 90s.  But I always thought that the formula---jazz plus beats---would have more legs, and could potentially crank out a number of hits.  Wrong again.

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, October 19, 2012

Gary Clark Jr. "Ain't Messin' 'Round"

Here’s a new song we’re playing on mvy, that illustrates what I was talking about yesterday.

Gary Clark Jr. is a much buzzed about, Austin-based guitarist.  He’s EP “Bright Lights” made the rounds starting at the end of last year, turning a few heads.  He won over a curious Newport Folk Festival audience---and audiences in venues around the country.  Getting the nod from Eric Clapton to appear on stage alongside Doyle Bramhall and Sheryl Crow at Clapton's "Crossroads Festival" didn’t hurt.

So when his full length album arrived . . . well, honestly, I didn’t really personally get too excited.

For the most part, I’m just not a “guitar hero” guy.

I’m not likely to rush to hear a new Clapton album or Jeff Beck album or Warren Haynes album.  It’s just not to my taste.

BUT, mvyradio’s playlist is chock full of artists like this.  Buddy Guy and BB King and Stevie Ray Vaughan and Ronnie Earl and Joe Bonamassa and guys who can crank out the meat and potatoes blues rock.

When a song like “Ain’t Messin’ Around” comes across my desk, I can recognize that---like the artists mentioned about---Gary Clark Jr. is talented, authentic and will almost definitely appeal to the listeners who tune into mvy because they are excited about hearing “Before You Accuse Me” or “Cold Shot” or “I’d Rather Be Blind Crippled And Crazy.”

So you’ll find it on this week’s “Adds” list, and will be hearing it on mvyradio.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Jonatha Brooke "Linger"

My friend Sara posted this question on my Facebook wall this week:
i have a serious question ---- i've been using my free XM subscription on the van, and *mainly* listening to the Pearl Jam station ( along with playing "unthought known" 15 times a day, they do play some live deep cuts ( KKK took my baby away cover... influence tracks ! Black flag ( with Keith and Henry eras ... Fugazi... who songs that aren't tv show themes... ) Well, i started to think . . . DO you have to be a big PJ Fan to program such a station...  i mean, it's just so confining..Not that they don't have a million live shows to play and take up a few hours. But as a program director, i ask you... like there's a Grateful Dead, a DMB station.. and as i loath them, to think of having to program those stations for all of eternity sounds like hell. Or is it just a job and you just buck up, and have to listen to this crap to get paid? Thankfully i think my days with XM are numbered. 
Let me answer this question about 10 different ways.

But first, another question:
How do I get a job without compromising my principles?
This second question was asked by a college student.  I was on a panel with other DJs, speaking to college students involved in broadcasting at Cape Cod Community College.

The girl asking the question was concerned that after hosting her own radio show on the college station where she played whatever she wanted to play, that she'd have to go out in the big wide world and work at a station where she really didn't like the music.

So I guess thing is, what is the job of programming music about?

If you think its about being an artist, then yes, you are going to have to compromise your principles to be a programmer, if you want to get paid to be a programmer.  Because you have to understand what the job is.

A true artist creates, based on their clear, unfettered vision of how they see or hear their work.  We laud visionaries who are willing to ignore trends, or commercial concerns, or the desires of their audience, to be original.

But you know what?  If you program a radio station to suit your personal vision, guess who you're audience is going to be?


And only you.

No one is Youer than You, Dr. Suess wisely pointed out.  And that's good if you are looking to fulfill your soul by creating something for yourself.

But if fulfilling your soul is your intent, why put it over the airwaves?  Just make an iTunes playlist, call it "My Awesome Mix" and rock out to it at home.  Why would you program something intended for an audience, for yourself?

Really, the only answer is "self-indulgence."

No, the only reason to program a channel is to share it with an audience.  It can be a target audience of 20 or of 20 million.  But programming the station has to be done with an audience in mind.

And hey, if you're lucky, the audience you want to reach has tastes similar to yours, has good taste and you yourself can enjoy the thing you've created.  But you should always remember it's for them.

The restaurant metaphor remains apt.

You would be the worst chef in town if someone came into your restaurant, ordered Chicken Parmesan off the menu and you said, "Yeah, I don't feel like chicken right now.  I'm not cooking that."

I suppose if you run a Chinese restaurant, and someone ordered Chicken Parmesan, it'd make sense to say "Sorry, we don't serve that."

But that's how I view my job.  I am the chef.  People come to my restaurant and have a general expectation of what kind of food their going to get at my place.  And it's my job to serve it up.

I take pride in that.

Just like the guy who makes your pizza does.

Do you think the guy with the North End Pizzeria wants to eat pizza tonight?  No, probably not.  But do you think he cares that he is carrying on a tradition, uses the best ingredients, and wants you to leave his restaurant saying, "That's the best damn pizza I've ever eaten"?  You bet he does.

Sara asks about the person who programs the Grateful Dead station on XM.  Could he/she possibly be fulfilled?

Every Monday, Jer Bear comes into mvyradio, to record his program "Shakedown Stream."  I can honestly say, I have never seen him come in to the studio bummed or bored or distracted by what he was setting forth to do.  Every week, he does a 4 hour Grateful Dead program.  He's done nearly 1,000 hours of shows for mvyradio.  But it's still exciting and interesting to him.  I'm sure part of that is the audience he has, that tunes in weekly, comments on the nuances of each show and lives for the music as passionately as he does.

So I guess I'm saying, if the person who programs the Pearl Jam station or the Dead station or the radio station in your neighborhood is not taking pleasure in satisfying their audience, then I think they're doing their job wrong.  Or at least thinking about it wrong.

Other thoughts . . .

A technical side note to folks outside the programming world, who may or may not know this . . .

Most programmers do use software to program their stations.

So at mvyradio, I do create the bones of a programming day.  The individual DJs are 100% responsible for their own specialty shows, and DJs take requests and make adjustments on the fly.  But the main programming day is created by me, with some software called Selector.

Selector helps me make sure I'm not playing Sting back-to-back with The Police.  It makes sure I don't play the same song at the exact same time two days in a row.  It helps shuffle and shift the music around.

I do look over every set of music and edit to make sure it all works and flows, but I'm not doing the old school thing of saying, "Okay, let's play 'Unknown Thought' again."  The software keeps me honest, by prompting me with a "Hey, we're due to play this song again," and keeps me from leaning too heavily on my personal preferences or prejudices.
So those programmers who are programming the Pearl Jam station or whatever on Satellite, don't really wake up each morning and figure out how to play the same 200 songs, but it in a different order.  Logarithms do that.  And they can focus their energies on how to add life to the station with creative ideas and approaches.

Now to undermine the thesis I have previously set out . . .

If I were suddenly traded to a Top Forty station and told to program that, I would probably be less happy than I am right now.  Because I DO like the music we play on mvy.  Programming music that my heart wasn't in, well, that would probably lead me to be a bad programmer.  If I didn't understand why people took pleasure in Top Forty music, then I wouldn't really be able to musically advocate for them, or deliver to their listening needs.

So Sara is right, programming a Dave Matthews Band station if you hate Dave Matthews' music, is going to be hell.  Bad for your soul.  And bad for the listeners.

Finally . . . this is a post inspired by a question, not by a specific song/memory.  So when I got to the part where I had to assign a song to the post, I tried to think about what song represents the crux of all I'm getting at here.

I went to Selector and did some simple database searches, and I came up with this tune.  As of today, November 18th, 2012, since we added Jonatha Brooke's "Linger" to rotation on February 7th 2001, we have played the song a total of 1720 times on mvyradio.

Right now, "Linger" is the most played song in the recorded history of mvyradio ("the recorded history" only dates back to 1999 when we first got Selector; the station has been on the air since 1983).

Do I like the song "Linger"?  Sure.

Do I like the song "Linger" 1720 times?  No.  No more than the Pizzeria guy likes the 100 pizzas he cooked during Friday night's rush.  But we play it because it's a great fit for mvyradio, it's a song the listeners seem to like and it's something we feel good about sharing.

I'm programming "Linger" for the audience, not for self-indulgence.

Self-indulgence is why I write a blog!

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Brian Wilson "Brian Wilson"

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

The other day, my friend Ross posited this rhetorical question:

"Ever wonder if Brian Wilson likes the Barenaked Ladies?"

Ah, but in a Facebook world, no rhetorical question needs to go unnecessarily unanswered.

Yes, Brian Wilson is aware of "Brian Wilson."

And Brian Wilson even recorded a version of "Brian Wilson" on the album "Brian Wilson: Live At The Roxy Theatre."

Also . . . Brian Wilson.

Okay, I'll stop saying Brian Wilson, and just let you listen to "Brian Wilson" by Brian Wilson.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

R.E.M. "It's The End Of The World As We Know It"

Have you ever wondered what the lyrics were to some song, so you Googled it and you ended up on one of those sites that posts song lyrics?

Did you see this in the news last week?

Live Universe, a web group that maintains some "lyric" sites, lost a lawsuit and now owes $6.6 million in damages, for posting lyrics without permission.

So that seems like the end of finding lyrics on the web as we know it . . .

Reading that story, I drifted back to the days before the internet made everything so accessible.

In college (late 80s), I lived with a bunch of guys who could play instruments.  And the newest friend in our midst was a Georgia-transplant who loved R.E.M.

I can remember one night early in the school year, where we decided we should learn how to sing and play "It's The End Of The World As We Know It."

The song is lyric-dense, and Michael Stipe was (and mostly still is) averse to making his lyrics available.

And that meant we had to figure them out for ourselves.

We sat in the lounge area with a pen and a notebook (there were no laptops).  And I held my tape recorder.

All night long (and no doubt with beer in cans), we played and stopped and rewound and played and replayed and guessed and did our best to phonetically figure out what the hell he was saying on that cassette.

It was a moment where we gelled as a group.  Something that bound us together for our college years.  A moment that wouldn't have happened if someone had just said "R.E.M. lyrics?  Let me Google that . . . here they are."

It's not the worst thing in the world to not have everything, all the time, at your fingertips.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Rolling Stones "Doom And Gloom"

Picking new songs to put into rotation, is a little like picking fruit. 

Yeah, you want to select the best of what's at market.  But what's out there is seasonal.

October is a funny month.

If you've got an established artist with an anticipated record (Avett Brothers, Mumford & Sons), you want the album out in August, at the latest, September.  This gives the album enough time to build through the fall and be lodged in folks' brains for the holiday season.

Its hard to break a record once November hits and the Christmas music starts and people have less time to pay attention or invest in something new. 

So October is filled with releases that trade in on highly recognizable names with easily identifiable projects.

Paul Simon?  Live album?  You don't need a road map to figure out what this is going to sound like.

Olivia Newton John and John Travolta?  Together for a Christmas record?  You know what that is and can buy it (if you're a fan) without ever hearing a note.

The downside of this, if you are someone in the business of promoting records, is that each week it is a foregone conclusion that the radio stations you are calling on are devoting at least one of their coveted openings to these major releases, at the expense of the young bands you are promoting.

Most of the record promoters who call mvyradio know that we only add 2 or 3 songs every week.  So I had this conversation a number of times last Friday:

Promoter:  Do you know what you are going to add on Monday?  Do you have room for (the record I'm promoting that you just said you like)?

PJ:  I'll probably only add two songs on Monday.  And one of them is going to be the new Stones track.

Promoter:  Yeah, that's what everybody is saying.  Stones this week.  Adele last week.

And actually both "Skyfall" and "Doom And Gloom" are pretty good songs.  So I don't might them hogging the real estate.

But it must be frustrating to be a promoter in October.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Julian Velard "Experience The Great Happyfication"

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

We've come a long way from Neil Young's "This Note's For You."

In the last decade, more and more young, credible artists, are turning over their talents to TV commercials.  It's a way for a struggling newcomer to cash a check that allows them to make the next record, buy that new touring van, or just eat something that isn't Ramen Noodles for a change.

Some musicians just license the songs they've previously written.

And others are actually recording things specifically for the spots.

This one goes a step further.

The super-talented and entertaining Julian Velard provides the voice (talking and singing) for the main character, Pete, in this extended Coca-Cola commercial/animated short.

See the movie on Youtube.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Roger Waters "Radio Waves"

Here's another Weekend Post:

Yesterday I was saying that I never really obsessed about Pink Floyd. 

But I will say that, for whatever reason, I went through a phase of love love loving the Roger Waters solo record "Radio K.A.O.S."

If you have 20 minutes to kill, I found this 4 song video for your entertainment.

See the 4 song set 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, October 12, 2012

Pink Floyd "Wish You Were Here"

This one is a memory that will resonate with folks I went to high school with . . .

I certainly associate my discovery of Pink Floyd, with my discovery of the fact that a lot of kids I went to high school with really liked to smoke pot.

No judgement here---but I never really cared for it.  Pot or Pink Floyd.

I mean, I didn't totally hate it.  But I didn't live for it either.  I didn't see it as this mind-blowing experience that I could spend hours talking about.  Pot or Pink Floyd.

Though we all had to agree, there WAS one cool mind-blowing thing about "Wish You Were Here."

We went to high school with a kid named Michael Tinkham.

Listen to the song at the 2:31 mark.  The guitar is saying his name, right?  You hear it, right?

And you're not even high!  (Or maybe you are.  Again, no judgement here.)

Have your mind blown, on Youtube.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Adele "Skyfall"

Just in case you haven't heard it yet . . .

Adele does a nice job with the new James Bond theme, incorporating some classic Bond melodies into her own song.

Hear the song on Youtube.

See the movie trailer on Youtube.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Whitney Houston "I Will Always Love You"

Though I didn’t mention it in the previous post, I suppose a large part of my distaste for requests has everything to do with my 6 years of hosting Request Radio.

Night after night I was asked to play songs that I simply didn’t like.  Pop tunes in the era of N’Sync and Britney Spears and “Mmmm Bop” and “Wannabe” over and over again.

Worse, was that there was always a dedication that went with it.  And often they were just inappropriate.

Now, the bulk of the audience was high school age, so there was just something wrong about being asked to say and play:

“From Matt to Andrea, this song is for you,” and then play Boyz II Men’s “I’ll Make Love To You.”

Or have a 6th grader ask another kid out by requesting “Nightmare On My Street.”

The one that really drove me nuts was when someone---sometimes a kid and sometimes an adult---would request Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” and send out a dedication to their boyfriend or girlfriend saying “I love you so much!”

It was annoying, because “I Will Always Love You” is perhaps one of the greatest break-up songs of all time.  It’s about leaving someone, giving them up and letting them go.

And people kept using it to “say how they really feel” about someone. 


Worse, if I’d try to explain this to the requester (“You know this is a break-up song, right?”) I’d just come off like I was some kind of prick.  So I gave up offering my helpful, and correct, advice, and just resigned myself to this truth: 

Requests are stupid.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Janice Whaley "Ideas As Opiates"

When a record company person is pitching a song to me (or any other programmer), quite often they'll tell you the artist "has a great story."

And, on some level, I think, "Who cares?"  Either the song is right for mvy, or it isn't.  The story behind the song shouldn't make a difference.

But honestly, it does.  Because the difference between what we do (old school radio) versus just being a jukebox/iPod/logarithm that spits out songs, is that we DJs have the opportunity to give the song context, and give the listener something extra to listen for.

Melody Gardot's story was interesting, because her singing career emerged as part of her physical therapy to recover from a bicycle accident.

Kathleen Edward's story was interesting, because her new record was made with an unusual collaborator, her boyfriend Justin Vernon of Bon Iver.

Dr. John's latest record had an interesting story---Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys had him record it in Memphis instead of New Orleans, and kept him off his traditional piano.

So yeah, a good background story can help a song.

Today's tune, well, I can't say it's so good that I'm going to add it to rotation this week or anything, but the story behind it is so interesting, that I bet you'll click on the video just to hear the song.

It's been put out by Janice Whaley.

Whaley has made a name for herself in certain circles with "The Smiths Project."  Over the course of several years, she committed to cover every single album by The Smiths.

Not only to cover every song on every album---she's done it a capella, creating 20 to 30 layers of vocal tracks per song, to build the tune.

So that's who she is.

Today's tune is not a song by The Smiths.

On this tune, she has a vocal partner, named James Roday.  Familiar name to you?  Perhaps you recognize his face?  He's the lead actor of the TV show "Psych."  And yes, he is actually a really credible singer.

Oh, and the song?  It's a Tears For Fears cover.

So there's the story.  Does it make the song more interesting?

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Counting Crows "1492"

So a dream has been fulfilled . . .

While I did hit my 1,000th post a couple of months ago which was a big goal of mine, the other goal I had was to make sure I posted 365 days in a row.

Last year, on Columbus Day, I was out of town and out of computer range, and a post that I had automatically set up to go, didn't launch.  But I haven't missed a day since.

So yeah!  365 posts in a row!

Now on to the original (and slight) copy . . . .


Well . . . there just aren't that many songs about Columbus Day are there?

So here's a song that's, well, it's not really about Columbus. But it's got his name in it, right?!?

See the video on Youtube.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Ween "Push The Little Daisies"

Here's another Weekend Post:

Like yesterday's tune, this one got more famous thanks to "Beavis And Butthead" than via any other avenue.  And you never hear it anywhere these days . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Enjoy Beavis and Butthead commenting on 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, October 6, 2012

Gary Young "Plantman"

Here's another Weekend Post:

This song came up in a recent conversation, so I thought I'd post it.

In its day, it probably got more attention via inclusion on an episode of "Beavis & Butthead," but should be enjoyed on its own merits.

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, October 5, 2012

Dionne Warwick "That's What Friends Are For"

So I’d gotten a job on the radio.  Now what?

Like a dog that finally caught the car he was chasing, I suddenly terrified by the idea that I was going to be on the air.

Just days earlier, I had been interviewed by the owners of WABN about their open position---as host of the nightly “Request Radio” program.  For two hours each evening, the phone lines were open, and literally, if you asked for it and we had it, we’d play it.

Whitney Houston?  Yes.

Followed by Ozzy Osbourne?  Yes.

“That’s What Friends Are For”?  Yes.

Into Rage Against The Machine.  Yes.

If we had it, we played. 

And we would read a dedication for every song.  Anything you wanted us to say.

Want to ask someone out?  We’d say it.

Want to break up with someone on the radio?  We’d say it for you.

Inside joke between your friends?  We’ll announce it.

Want to tell the world that you are lonely?  We’ll say it.

This is in the days before Facebook, so any bit of minutiae that you felt compelled to share with the world, we’d share it via Request Radio.

Like many of the kids listening to the show, I had spent many a night in my room, imagining I was the DJ.

But reality was hitting.  I was about to go on the air for the first time.  There was no practice airshift.  No warm-up.  No air-check critique.  I sat in the studio with Craig, one of the station owners, who had been temporarily hosting the show.  I watched him for an hour, and then he said, “Okay.”

“Okay, what?”

“Okay, you’re ready.  Sit here.”

He was repeating the simple instructions---flip this slider to turn on the microphone, say the name of the station and the name of the last song, say the name of the next song, and gently press “play” on the CD player---but I wasn’t listening.

I had glazed over.

I was giving myself a mental pep talk.  I had been nervous before.  I played sports.  I had been terrified to walk out on a basketball court in front on my entire school and face an intimidating opposing team.  But I also had learned how to set that fear aside, turn it inside out and create the energy and intensity necessary to not only overcome my fear but perform at the top of my game.

I was focused.  I was ready.

The song ended.  I flipped on the microphone.  I followed the instructions.

I said the name of the last song.  I said the name of the next song.  I pressed “play” on the CD player.

The last instruction I did not follow to the letter.  I did not press it “gently.”

Instead, with a burst of adrenaline, I pressed the “play” button so hard that my finger was now inside the machine all the way up past my fingernail.

The good news was that the CD was playing.  The bad news was that it was one of only two CD players in the studio.  Crippling it was going to make it hard to do the rest of the show.

But professional radio folks are nothing if not calm in the face of live mishaps.  Once the next song was underway on the 2nd CD player, Craig got a screwdriver and managed to pry out the button that had become lodged inside the machine.

He set the player right, gave me back the air chair and said:

“Okay, let’s try it again.  Gently.”

And thus, a career began . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Casey Driessen "Billie Jean"

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

Casey Driessen has come up a couple of times in online conversations via friends this week, through his connection to Abigail Washburn and to Ben Sollee.  Then my friend Lynn put this video on Facebook.

So I had post it.

Give it a minute.  It takes a while to get going.  But he is building the song, loop by loop, by himself.  Pretty awesome.

Hear the song on Youtube.

You can hear me interview Driessen back in 2007 in the mvyradio Archives.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Neil Young "Walk Like A Giant"

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

There's something oddly appropriate about this new Neil Young & Crazy Horse video.

Like the song, the video has an elusive nature (like Bigfoot), is psychedelic (like the patterns), feels home-made a little half-assed, yet charming, and has parts that seem too go on for too long (like the patterns).

Though I think I like it better than some recent past Neil Young singles, it still merits the standard issue Neil Young conversation.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Flea "Pea"

Today is the anniversary of Ghandi's birth.  I was wracking my brain trying to come up with an appropriate song to celebrate, and this nugget shook loose.

It's Flea, of The Red Hot Chili Peppers, basically solo.

And it contains one of the most awesome lines I've ever heard about the power of non-violent protest:

"I'm a pacifist, so I can fuck your shit up."

Think it's not true?  Ask the British Empire.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Sublime "Santeria"

I was aware I led a pretty sheltered youth.  But being aware of it and being confronted with it are two different things.

I should note that I recognized that I am a statistical anomaly.  I grew up in a happy, two-parent home.  And the large percentage of my closest friends also grew up in stable, happy two-parent homes---at least to the best of my knowledge . . . if those homes were not stable, happy, violence-and-major-tragedy free, I was not aware of it.

My Mom did drive this point home many times throughout my youth, that I would go out into the world and meet people whose experience growing up would be very very different from my own.

There was no real antecedent in my dating life, to this girl.  She was blonder than anyone I had previously dated.  She wore more make-up than anyone I had previously dated.  She'd been previously married and she had a kid.  And she had less formal education than anyone I'd previously dated.

On that last count, she was trying to catch up.  Now that she was nearing thirty, and the son she'd had as a teenager was a pretty responsible Middle Schooler, she was going to college.  She was a great writer, but she often asked for me to proofread her English papers.

"What's the topic?" I asked.

"We had to write about a song with controversial lyrics, and defend them, or not."

"What song did you pick?"  Being a DJ, this was of course interesting to me.

"'Santeria' by Sublime."

"And you defended them?


At the time (the mid-90s, when I was in my late 20s), Sublime was hugely popular and I was a big fan of their self-titled record.  I was am (and still am) a pretty staunch Free Speech advocate.  So I was a little put off by the idea that she would be arguing the other side of the coin in her paper.

But I read it.  And it made me think.

(Now you'll have to forgive me---I don't have that paper today to reproduce actual quotes from her, and everything I'm about to say was not in the paper---some of the information came from the discussions that followed)
Tell Sanchito that if he knows what is good for him he best go run and hide,
Daddy's got a new .45,
And I won't think twice to stick that barrel straight down sancho's throat,
Believe me when I say that I got somethin' for his punk ass.
Her basic argument was that the song had a casual approach to violence that was highly offensive to anyone who had actually been a victim of violence.

Yes, she herself had been a victim of domestic violence.

As a baby, she had been essentially abandoned by her parents, to be raised by her grandmother.  Tall, shy and awkward, with an unhappy, fractured childhood, she left home after high school, with the first man who gave her the opportunity.

Unfortunately, that man was a troubled human being.  Prone to mood swings, alcohol abuse and suicide attempts, he extended his self-hatred onto his new wife in the form of physical abuse.

She told me stories of awful, scary, creepy and manipulative things he did.  Stomach turning stuff just to hear.  Unimaginable to live through.

These episodes culminated in a day where he forced her at gunpoint into their yard, put the barrel to her head and told he would kill her first and then himself.

Ultimately, he did not carry through with his promise on that day.  She did escape the marriage, with her son and her life.  Sadly, her ex-husband made numerous further suicide attempts, and finally did achieve his goal to leave this Earth.

And somehow she managed to defy . . . shit, everything . . . by turning out to be a gentle, kind, sane, thankful, drama-free adult.  She had every right to be a sad, fucked-up mess of a human being.  But she wasn't.  In fact, you wouldn't ever guess she had been through such horrors if she didn't come out and tell you.  She didn't wear it on her sleeve.

But when it came to this subject, the subject of violence, she was not calm or casual or ambivalent.  She found this song disgusting.
If I could find that heina and that sancho that she's found,
Well I'd pop a cap in sancho and I'd slap her down. 
From that point forward, I had a really different relationship with Sublime.  I couldn't sing along to this, or "Wrong Way."

Quentin Tarantino was huge at this time, and I, like so many of my friends, watched movies like "Pulp Fiction" with ironic detachment.

But I couldn't anymore.

I won't say that I never watch a violent movie or listen to a song with violent lyrics.  But I have never looked/listened the same.

Being confronted with the reality of violence in the life of someone you know, makes you aware how stomach-turning even fictitious casual violence actually is.

Hear the song on Youtube.