Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Bllie Joe Armstrong & Norah Jones "Silver Haired Daddy Of Mine"

So this one garnered a lot of votes on the mvyradio Top 25 of 2013, which I found pretty interesting, since, when we opened the voting in mid-November, the record hadn't even been released yet!

I have often wondered if many of the people who vote are just enjoying the singles we play on the air, and voting on that basis, without hearing the full album.

And though I can offer my opinion that it IS deserving of being in the Top 25 (because I've heard the record), the way the voting went seems to confirm my suspicions.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Frank Turner "I Still Believe"

While everyone is working and/or revealing their "Top" lists for the year (including MVY), sometimes, your best discoveries of the year are things that didn't actually come out that year.

I knew Frank Turner's name when his album "Tape Deck Heart" came out this year.  I had a vague recollection that I had liked what I heard previously, but MVY hadn't played anything by him and I hadn't listened to deeply.

Clearly, I hadn't listen to deeply.

Because after I was instantly won over by his 2013 single "Recovery," and delved into the album, I happened to be cleaning up in the MVY basement and found an old copy of "England Keep My Bones."

And THAT record hasn't come out of my CD player in a month.

Falling somewhere between Bruce Springsteen and Billy Bragg (with a little bit of Richard Thompson's knack for making original songs sound like ancient traditional tunes on songs like "English Curse), this kind of thing is right up my alley.  It's a shame I missed it the first time around.

But this 2011 release is one of my favorites for 2013.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Tom Jones "Dimming Of The Day"

For the Weekend Post, a few more fun 2013 covers.

Tom Jones showed why he's still on the receiving end of a barrage of ladies undergarments . . . strip away the artifice of production, and his voice is clear and true and incredibly strong, like on this Richard Thompson cover.

Jump to the song, here.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Allen Stone "Rocky Mountain High"

For the Weekend Post, a few more fun 2013 covers.

This one comes from "The Music Is You" a tribute to John Denver . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Sarah Jarosz "Simple Twist Of Fate"

Every year I entertain the thought of adding some extra categories to the Top 25 on MVY.

We do the Top 25 albums.

And for the last several years, we've done the Top 5 singles of the year.  But I haven't been able to marshal the forces necessary to come up with some other mini-lists, like "Comeback Of The Year" or "Collaboration Of The Year."

On the surface they are great ideas, but it would take more research than I have time for, to put together a candidates list.

One possibility near and dear to my heart, would be "Cover Song Of The Year."

I do a set of Live Acoustic and Cover tunes every day, so I'm always on the hunt.  But the list of possibilities is so broad, I'd hesitate to make a list meant to represent MVY for fear of missing some great cover.

That being said, along with The Slide Brothers doing "Praise You," Sarah Jarosz taking a crack at another Bob Dylan tune is one of my favorite covers of the year.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Justin Timberlake & Carey Mulligan "500 Miles"

Well, I don't want to give too much away about the mvyradio Top 25 of 2013, but I WILL do a couple of posts, leading up the countdown which will start on Monday.

Every year there are a few surprises on the voting list.  Some more surprising than others.

We did have an internal discussion here at mvyradio about whether or not we should include the "Inside Llewyn Davis" soundtrack on the list.

On the "pro" side, it is a really excellent album.  Typical T Bone Burnett brilliance.

On the "con" side, the album consists mainly of covers and previously released songs.  In the past, we have excluded "covers" albums from the Top 25.

But in this case, the question was moot:  "Inside Llewyn Davis" received ZERO votes from MVY listeners for the Top 25 of 2013.

I find this a bit perplexing, and I don't really have an explanation for it.

We offered "Inside Llewyn Davis" as a gift for a donation to Friends of mvyradio, and it went quickly.  The album---and the movie---are getting rave reviews.  Folks are calling in about the single "Fare Thee Well."  Clearly, people do like this record out there in listener-land.

Zero votes?

I can't explain it.  But you won't hear it on the countdown next week.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Vince Guaraldi Trio "A Charlie Brown Christmas"

In the old days, we had albums . . . and we put them on for Christmas.

Maybe you don't have your albums anymore.  But here's an album to stream.

Enjoy.  Merry Christmas.

Hear the full album on Youtube.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Jackson 5 "Up On The House Top"

What's the oldest Christmas song?  "Jingle Bells."  Next?  "Up On The House Top" which was written in 1864.

Though I'm guessing Benjamin Hanby didn't really hear his poem quiet like The Jackson 5 does it.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, December 23, 2013

James Brown "Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto"

James Brown has, like, 5 original songs about Santa.

It’s an interesting fact that you are reading.  Important stuff!  It must be, because you are a looking at it!

And if you are still reading this, then I’m pretty sure you are just surfing around online because a) You have Christmas stuff you are supposed to be doing and you are avoiding, b) you are stuck at work and not getting a dang thing done, c) you don’t celebrate Christmas but are surrounded by people experiencing “a” and “b.”

Hear the song on Youtube.

Hear "Soulful Christmas" on Youtube.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Spinal Tap "Christmas With The Devil"

Here's another Weekend Post:

Uh, it always did weird me out that “Santa” is an anagram for “Satan.”  !!!

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 fun to revisit.

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

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Soul Coughing "Suzy Snowflake"

Here's another Weekend Post:

Holy weird obscurities.  I’d forgotten about this cover.  And when the cover had come out, I had forgotten the original!

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 fun to revisit.

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

Friday, December 20, 2013

Alicia Witt & Ben Folds "I'm Not Ready For Christmas"

Call me cynical, but these days, there is only one reason write a Christmas song:

For the mailbox money.

Unlike other songs, which have a regular arc of popularity, in that they play, they gain popularity, and they fade over a period of months or years or (if the songwriter is lucky) decades.

Christmas songs are different.  They fade from January to October, to return in November and December.  The cycle repeats.

If you are lucky enough to write a Christmas song that will get played from year to year---and the bar to clear to join that club is pretty low---then as a songwriter, you’ll be getting publishing check for years to come.

So it’s not surprising that Alicia Witt and Ben Folds were able to create a memorable, hummable Christmas tune.

What’s unfortunate is that it ain’t so FCC friendly.

Even though this song beats the pants off a lot of the 2nd rate stuff that gets played on radio at Christmas, it’s not likely to see the attention---or ASCAP/BMI fees---that it could potentially create . . .

So blast this one on your own.  But remember that it’s NSFW.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Parkington Sisters "Christmastime Is Here"

Though it may be Christmastime, as a rule I'm pretty stingy.  At least when it comes to giving out my email address.

Yes, you can get yourself tons of coupons and free shipping and samples and discounts and gift cards and hoo-hah, if you acquiesce to the demand that you get on somebody's mailing list.

No interested.  I get enough junk mail.

But every once and a while, it's worth it.

Like when you can get a free Parkington Sisters Christmas EP.

Enjoy!  And listen for their version of "Christmastime In Here" in rotation at mvyradio.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Lianne La Havas "Age"

Monday was the last day that most of the folks I know in Record Promotions will work for 2013.  The trade publications are closed, and no one really works records over the holiday.

That makes it a good time to start cleaning out the iTunes "Going For Adds" playlist that I keep.

I am constantly adding songs to that playlist throughout the year.  I'm adding songs I've been asked to consider for MVY airplay, and I want to be able to listen to them multiple times.  As I decide "this one isn't for us," I delete them off the list.

Some songs hang around longer than others.

And when I get to the end of the year, I always find a song or two that I didn't put onto the station and probably won't, but never deleted because I kinda like them.

Like this one.  La Havas has an interesting voice.  And this song's about about loving a much older man (not unlike one of my favorite Aimee Mann songs, "Mr. Harris").

Maybe it won't be a hit, but maybe you'll add it to your playlist.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Nick Lowe "Christmas At The Airport"

When I was a kid, here's what we did on Christmas Eve and Day.

On December 24th at about 2pm, we loaded into the station wagon and drove 2 hours toward western Massachusetts, to get a 4pm "Christmas Pageant" Mass, hosted by Father Brian Flatley, a friend of my Dad's.

By 5:30, we were in Stow at Uncle Joe and Auntie Peg's house for an extravaganza with my Mom's extended family.

Back in the car by 10pm.

Nearing midnight, we had reached home in Newburyport, but I went right back out the door to my friend Brian's house, where their Christmas Eve party was just winding down.

Home by 2am.  Back up now later than 7am.

After presents and breakfast, we were in the wagon once again, this time to Burlington, MA, for a check in with my sister's Godparents.

Then on down the road to Natick, for a meal at my Dad's brother's house.

By nightfall, we were making an end-of-the-run stop at my mother's Aunt Clem's, where we had circled back to seeing a few of the relatives from Joe and Peg's.  And for a number of years, my Great Grandmother was in a nursing home across the street, so we popped in there too.

Then the long quiet ride home.

You can think about Santa and snow and pie and holly and pine needles and mistletoe and even office parties, when you think about Christmas.

But what the bulk of the holiday really involved, was traveling.  And I know this is true for many of you, who spend hours, if not days, in transit just so you can enjoy a little Holiday time with family.

Nick Lowe faces that reality of the holidays on his new Christmas record, with this typically jocular ditty about "Christmas At The Airport."

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Hold Steady "Killer Parties"

Attention songwriters!

There are Christmas songs about snow and snowmen.  About good presents and bad presents.  About Santa and Rudolph and all kinds of Christmas characters.  Songs about happy Christmases and sad Christmases.  Even songs about Christmas sandwiches.

But to my surprise, there are no songs (that I could find) about office Christmas parties gone wrong.

I mention this, because the mvyradio staff party was last night, and I was looking for a good hangover-office-Christmas-party tune.  And it doesn't seem to exist.

A good song often works because the theme is relate-able.

Well, this theme should resonate, as most of us have gone to a work party and either gotten too drunk, or watched someone in our office get too drunk.

So get on it, songwriters.  This could be your ticket.  Write the right song, and it will get played every December!

In the meantime, here's a song about a non-holiday-affiliated hangover.

"If she said we partied, then I'm pretty sure we partied.  I really don't remember."

Hear the song on Youtube.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Henry Rollins "Twas The Night Before Christmas"

Here's another Weekend Post:
I love Henry Rollins, especially when he's in storytelling mode.

That being said, I'm not sure this one puts me in the the Christmas spirit.

Hear the story 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 fun to revisit.

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

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Vandals "Oi! To The World"

Here's another Weekend Post:
It's gonna be a punk rock Christmas . . .

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 fun to revisit.

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

Friday, December 13, 2013

Bruce Springsteen "High Hopes"

One of Bruce Springsteen's under-appreciated talents is his ability to pick covers.

Think of songs like "Jersey Girl," "Trapped," "Raise Your Hand" or "My Ride's Here."  The average person---and even many true Bruce fans---has no idea that Springsteen didn't write these tunes.

Bruce has always covered songs that not only fit his familiar themes (like his Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger covers) and his love of previous eras (like his Elvis and Little Richard covers).

But he is also very successful at finding songs the sound like he could have written them.

Such is the case with his new single, "High Hopes," originally performed by The Javalinas.  Check out these lyrics:
Monday morning runs to Sunday night
Screaming slow me down before the new year dies
Well it won't take much to kill a loving smile
And every mother with a baby crying in her arms, singing
Give me help, give me strength
Give a soul a night of fearless sleep
Give me love, give me peace
Don't you know these days you pay for everything
Got high hopes
I got high hopes
Pretty Springsteen-y, no?

Hear "High Hopes" on Youtube.

Hear the original version of "High Hopes" on Youtube.

Hear "Jersey Girl" on Youtube.

Hear "Trapped" on Youtube.

Hear "Raise Your Hand" on Youtube.

Hear "My Ride's Here" on Youtube.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christopher Dennis "The Christmas Sandwich"

Seven full days after Thanksgiving, I went to the refrigerator.

The mashed potatoes were long gone.

The vegetables hadn't lasted more than a day or two past the holiday.

And the last bit of turkey had been eaten yesterday.

There was only stuffing.

But it was stuffing with sausage and apples in it.

I LOVE stuffing.  So I wasn't about to waste it.

Yes, I ate a stuffing sandwich, with a little mayonnaise.  That's right, a bread sandwich.

I point this out because Thanksgiving has the reputation of being a Sandwich holiday.   But as the song points out, Christmas can provide a pretty spectacular sandwich too . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Robert Clary "Alouette"

I've mentioned before that I was a strangely adult-like small child.

In the past I've attributed it to things like being the oldest child in my family or the youngest child in the neighborhood, or being a very verbal child, or having parents that modeled an older-school behavior.

One thing that definitely played a role was TV, but I don't know if this is a cause or an effect.

Today, if my kids want to watch TV, there are endless choices.  Endless age-appropriate choices.  We have 4 PBS stations.  Plus DVDs.  Plus the internet and Netflix.  Our kids can watch kid shows.

When I was a kid, the choices were not so abundant.  And if there wasn't a kids show on TV, you watched something that wasn't a kids show.

Actually, most of my peers just went outside or to their rooms, and played.

But I loved TV of all kinds.

And thought I might have only been 7 or 8 or 9 years old, I spent hours and hours watching shows that were neither geared for my age-group, or even my decade.

The UHF channels in the afternoon would air series from the 60s that an elementary school kid in the 80s should have had no business watching.  But I loved shows like McHale's Navy and That Girl and Adam-12 and such.

I'm guessing a lot of the jokes and context and even plot sailed right over my head.  But I know I absorbed quite a bit, too.

Because when my 2nd grade teacher asked if anyone knew the song "Alouette," I said yes.

Here's why I know I was a "strangely adult-like child."

When my teacher seemed surprised that I knew the song and could sing it, she asked---pressed even---where I had heard it.

And I distinctly remember thinking that she had to think it was inappropriate and strange that suddenly the class discussion was about to be taken over by an 8 year old who was going to explain the plot-line of an episode of "Hogan's Heroes."  But explain I did, about how Lebeau (Robert Clary) was singing the song as part of a ruse to distract some Nazis during a prison camp talent show.

My teacher seemed unfazed (and now that I have a child in elementary school, I realize that teacher hear all kinds of embarrassing/inappropriate stuff from kids about things their parents do or say) by how the discussion had turned, and she went about teaching the class the song.

But I was keenly aware that most of my peers had no idea what I was talking about, and that once again, I was an 8-year old talking like---and to---an adult, not a kid.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Rhett Miller "Here It Is Christmastime"

Ahh, the delightful Rhett Miller (and The Old 97s too).

He seems to have become a part of Christmas in my family.

Last year, I gave my sister the new Rhett Miller live album.

And the year before, a bunch of us within the family bought tickets to see The Old 97s, for each other, so we could all go together.

Will there be gifts along these same lines this year?  You bet, but I don't want to say who's getting what, what with Christmas still 2 weeks away.

But Rhett himself seems to enjoy the holiday.

Below is a Christmas video he posted last year.

And this week, I downloaded a new, free Christmas song called "Christmas Is Coming" from this site, which you can get too.

Oh, and if you want to give anyone the Gift Of Rhett . . . he's on the solo tour, hitting Johnny D's in Somerville at the end of February.

Here the song on Youtube.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Dr John "Mama Roux"

One of the good things about older artists continuing to make music, is that it does encourage you to go revisit the old stuff.

And not just because the new stuff reminds you of the old stuff, but because the new stuff makes the old stuff relevant.

Such is the case with Dr. John.

The song "Mama Roux" had been in our library for years and year.  We don't have saved playllists that go back that far, but I think it's safe to guess that song had been rotation since the early days of MVY over 30 years ago.

Somewhere, 4 or 5 years ago, in a regular round of reconsidering, we had looked at some of the songs from the 60s and 70s to set aside some of the tracks that sounded particularly dated, including "Mama Roux."

"Dated" is a funny, somewhat problematic term.  Everything that was recorded in the 70s sounds dated today, because it's 40 years old.  But what I'm getting at is that not only is the track old, it now no longer fits easily into the station's playlist.  It sticks out like a sore thumb.

This is a subjective judgement, no doubt.  But I think you'd probably agree that a song like "In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed" fits into the present playlist comfortably, despite its age.  While "Marakesh Express" by Crosby, Stills & Nash feels a little fried at this point.

So "Mama Roux" came out of regular rotation.

Then a funny thing happened.

In 2012, Dr. John made the record "Locked Down" with producer Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, who specifically wanted to make a new record that recalled the sound of early Dr. John records like "Gris Gris."

After months of playing the new song "Revolution" on MVY---and loving it---I happened to be out somewhere, where they were playing "Gris Gris" and I heard "Mama Roux."  And that style that had sounded so far away when I was hearing the tune a few years ago, now felt like it had renewed resonance.  It made sense again.  It had context, because of the new record.  It fit.

So "Mama Roux" is back in rotation again . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Bono "Silver And Gold"

One more Weekend Post from "Sun City."

Bono was involved in the "Sun City" song.  And as Little Steven was about to being mastering the final tracks he had, Bono showed up with a newly recorded tune.  One that features Keith Richards and Ron Wood as his bandmates.  It arrived so late in the game, that it didn't even make the track listing, which had already been printed.

"Silver And Gold" would eventually be re-recorded by U2 and make its way to the "Rattle And Hum" record, but this is the original release.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Gil-Scott Heron "Let Me See Your ID"

A Nelson Mandela-related Weekend Post:

"The word causalities comes up a lot . . . Nothing casual about dying."

I wrote yesterday about the "Sun City" song, and how it was one of the first "political message" records I had ever tuned into.  And that it was my first run-in with many artists that I would come to appreciate more deeply in the years to come (including Bonnie Raitt, Lou Reed, Joey Ramone and Little Steven himself).

Van Zandt's original intention was to just make a single.  But as more and more artists came on board, he found himself with more and more material.  Eventually, they stretched things out to a full length release.  Though . . . there was a lot of filler---like 3 remixes of "Sun City."

There were also some really interesting and important pieces.

"Let Me See Your ID" was my first run-in with Gil-Scott Heron.  And it was my first real experience with a sound collage.  Heron's spoken parts to this piece were so clear and direct, that it helped explain the situation in both a contextual and moral way.  The line I quote at the start of this post really struck me, and forced me to start thinking critically about the words we absorb, well, casually.

I think it's worth pointing out, again, that the work on this album is overlooked and under-appreciated as an early example of Rock musicians working with Rappers, and effectively bringing music that was associated with Black and Urban listeners to the White suburbs.

When you heard it for the first time, "Hey, what Peter Wolf is doing, is the same thing these rappers are doing," rap music made sense.

Definitely check out today's song.  But if you have 45 minutes, stream the whole album below.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Hear the full album on Youtube.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Artists United Against Apartheid "Sun City"

There is wall-to-wall coverage of the passing of Nelson Mandela, and many wise and informed folks are offering their thoughts.  So I'll leave the job of remembering Mandela to them.

Instead, I wanted to write about how I even knew who Nelson Mandela was in the first place.

I could literally count, on my fingers, the number of non-white people I knew that lived in my town, growing up. 

I understood the concepts of racism and prejudice and oppression, but in the very, very white suburbs north of Boston, they were abstract concepts, not daily struggles that took place before my eyes.

By 1985, a number of charity songs had hit the airwaves and MTV, led by "Do They Know It's Christmas?" and "We Are The World."  But I was intrigued by the video and song for "Sun City."

First, it was really the first instance I'd seen of rock artists working with artists from the relatively new, strange and curious world of rap music (the song pre-dates Aerosmith/Run-DMC's "Walk This Way" by a year).  "We're Rockers And Rapper united and strong . . ." was something completely unprecedented.

Second, I was struck by the kind of artist who appeared in the video.  While bonafide superstars like Bruce Springsteen and Bono did appear, there was a lot of focus on some real esoteric and/or underground names like Lou Reed, Ruben Blades and Gil-Scott Heron.

But mostly, I was fascinated by the politics of it all.  I mean, I'd never really heard an artist call out the President in a popular song like Joey Ramone does.

I'd never heard of Sun City, the place.  I'd not seen images of violence, protest and strife as shown in the video.  The song inspired me to learn what exactly Apartheid was, what "constructive engagement" meant, why they were showing images of Martin Luther King Jr. in a video about South Africans, and why all these artists weren't going to play "Sun City."

Baby Boomers can go on and on about how images like these, and songs on these subjects were nothing new---they lived through the Vietnam era.  But the fact is that despite whatever accomplishments they might have made in the late 60s and early 70s, now that they were the adults, they were not doing a damn thing to teach social justice, or even contemporary history, to the next generation.

I learned it from a song.

Nelson Mandela will be remembered in a number of ways.

One person can make a difference.

Education makes a difference.

Speaking truthfully and never turning a blind eye makes a difference.

Encouraging people to reject violence, but demand change, will make a difference.

Nelson Mandela's struggles were half a world away from where I lived.

But thank God there were people like Steven Van Zandt who could take his message, and make it mean something to a little White kid living in a little White world.

Hear the original song on Youtube.

Hear the live version on Youtube.


This post was about Nelson Mandela and the power of song, and I didn't want to fill it with silly and snarky comments and observations.  But HOLY SHIT does the video need to be watched with live commentary.

Just a few observations . . . It is VERY worth your while to read about the background of the song on Wikipedia . . . Miles Davis was only supposed to do a few seconds, he played for 7 minutes so they made a full jazz version of the song . . . (:58) DJ Kool Herc wants you to know his sunglasses flip up . . . (1:08) Steven Van Zandt looks like he should have been a vampire on "True Blood" . . . (1:16) blink and you miss it---Pete Townshend was involved in this project . . . (1:48) it makes some sense to put Springsteen with 2 former Temptations (I'm sure Bruce was psyched), but Pat Benatar as the fourth in the foursome is weird, right? . . . (2:13) scratch that, weirder quintet---George Clinton, Joey Ramone, Jimmy Cliff, Daryl Hall and Darlene Love . . . (2:55) Bonnie Raitt's mainstream success was still a few years away, in the context of this video she was another "esoteric" artist . . . (3:10) I think the world is a sadder place not having heard a full album from "Reed N Oates" . . . (3:28) What's happening on the wall behind Bobby Womack?!?!? . . . (3:39) Does Ruben Blades give a slow motion "fuck off"?  . . . (4:02) DJ Kool Herc really wants you to know his sunglasses flip up . . . (4:14) Daryl Hannah??? . . . (4:28) Peter Wolf hand dance! . . . (4:30) Does Jackson Browne have his shirt buttoned only at the top?  How very LA-in-the-80s . . . (4:42) Bono, auditioning for the role of The Devil . . . (5:00) Ringo! And your first peek at future drummer-in-high-demand Zak Starkey . . . (6:19) Bono kisses a Fat Boy! . . . (6:22) Weird, context-less, and inexplicably-slow-motion shot of Michael Monroe of Hanoi Rocks . . . (7:17) The most powerful singing yet . . .

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Lord Huron "She Lit A Fire"

Sometimes, the case for a song it made quickly.  "It's a one-listen song" is a line employed by promo folks when they know a tune is going to be quick to win people over.

Sometimes, the case for a song is made slowly.

The Lord Huron record has been out for a year, and folks have been talking to me about it for a year.

I liked the first single, "Time To Run," but we didn't add it.  I felt like the beat was a little on the modern side.  And that very contemporary thing of making the vocals seem very far away and church chorus-y, while popular, is quite the opposite of the voice-up-front-and-clear folk roots of MVY-core artists like Dylan and John Lennon and Gregg Allman, etc, etc, etc.

Lord Huron was at Newport Folk, and I did catch a good chunk of their set.  In short, they were super-impressive.  And the singles, including the second one "She Lit A Fire" sounded strong.

And Jess Phaneuf has been lobbying for this band.

Now, so have a few listeners.

Getting emails asking "Why don't you play more polka?" isn't going to get MVY to play more polka.

But when we're on the fence about an artist, then hearing that listeners are excited about a band, is helpful.

We're passed the time of year when we're going to get any singles from major artists, so now is the time we can go a little farther afield, and add a track like "She Lit A Fire."

Hear "She Lit A Fire" on Youtube.

Hear "Time To Run" on Youtube.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Burl Ives "Holly Jolly Christmas"

I asked Barbara this week, “When did the Stocking Stuffer start?”

She looked up and ahead, searching through the years . . .

“I don’t know.  The 80s, probably?  It may have started before I got here.”

So for maybe 27+ holiday seasons, we’ve had the mvyradio Holiday Stocking Stuffer.

When I first started at MVY, we had the Singing Elves.

The Singing Elves were a number of MVY DJs (Barbara included), singing a 15 second snippet of a Christmas carol, with their voices altered up to high-pitched, elf-speed.

By the time I arrived on the scene at MVY, the staff haaaaaaaated those f-n elves.

There were 4 songs, and they rotated heavily, annoyingly.

But we couldn’t get rid of them.  People were obsessed with them.

Calls would start coming in, mid-November:  “When are the elves going to start!?!?!”

Every year, we’d entertain the subject of ditching the elves.  But inevitably, the question of “What will we replace them with?” stumped us.

Finally one December, in the middle of playing those annoying little bastards for the one-too-many-th time, we committed to it.  The elves were going to go, and we were going to decide NOW, what we’d do next year.

After much discussion, involving new Elf jingles, or the voice of Santa, or other talking bits, we decided that the only way we were going to survive the repetition that would continue each year, ad infinitum, was do not do a voice.  Just do a jingle.

I set about finding a short, distinct holiday jingle.

After many underwhelming ideas, I found the piece of music that we use today.

Burl Ives famously sang “Holly Jolly Christmas.”  But he reprised his version of the song in the stop-motion animated classic “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer.”

And in this version of “Holly Jolly Christmas” there is a prologue/intro to the song that is easily clipped from the more familiar beginning of the tune.

Maybe in the year 2025, some Program Director at MVY will be insanely sick of the Stocking Stuffer jingle.  But for now, it rules the (holi)day.

(The Stocking Stuffer jingle is the first 6 seconds of this clip, right up until the singing starts)

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Grace & Tony "November"

As we get to the end of the year, I start looking at songs that we haven't ever added, but seem to hang around my iTunes playlist for one reason or another.

On closer inspection, many of them turn out to be likeable tunes. 

But after further consideration, still don't quite fit the station.  Or they can be memorable songs unto themselves, but in the larger picture, we're not convinced that this is a band we could potentially follow for songs and albums to come.

So I'm on the fence on this track.

Whether or not we add it, you might find it fills a spot in your playlist, when you realize that Tony is the brother of John Paul White of The Civil Wars.  And Grace and Tony are married.  So for all of you who were disappointed that John Paul and Joy of The Civil Wars were not a couple, and that the band itself divorced, here's close relative, figuratively and literally, whose story has a more pleasing ending.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Frozen "In Summer"

We took the kids to see the Disney movie "Frozen" this weekend.

We're only on December 2nd, and I have already seen "Elmo's Christmas Countdown" three times, and "The Grinch" twice.

The switch in my brain the kinda turns off the holiday-kiddie-fare has been activated.

That said, "Frozen" was actually very, very good.  Like, I walked out of the theater humming the songs, feeling good about the message, and not having to console any small children because the villain was too f-n scary.

My wife enjoyed it too.  And before we were even to the car she said what I knew she was going to say:

"Oh, we are buying that soundtrack!"

The songs were particularly good in this Disney effort.  On par with Disney's best modern musicals, like "The Little Mermaid" and "Beauty And The Beast."

On the whole, big thumbs up for this film.

If I had any minor critique about the film, it was that the Snowman character seems a little out of place.  The rest of the movie has this mystical-realism style, similar to "Brave."  And the Snowman is straight out of something very cartoon-y, almost like a computer-animated Chuck Jones creation.  It's like he's wandered in from a different film project.

That said, I expect to see more of Olaf the Snowman.  I would not be surprised to find him showing up in his own future shorts and specials.  He is hilarious (voiced by Josh Gad of "Book Of Mormon" fame), and has one of the best songs in the film, where he imagines the wonderful life of a snowman in summer.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Friday, November 29, 2013

Ben Folds "All U Can Eat"

You know what I can't quite reconcile?

I feel pretty disgusted by the whole Black Friday insanity of our consumer culture, and am very, very put off that some businesses tried to get a jump on Christmas (which is still a month away!) by opening on Thanksgiving.

I reject participating in any of it.

On the other hand, I am not opposed to having a large, lavish meal on Thanksgiving.

Why is one okay in my mind, but not the other?

Isn't it all, as Ben Folds sings about, just crass consumption?

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Johnny Cash "Thanksgiving Prayer"

Happy Thanksgiving from Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman! 

(And also Johnny Cash) 

((And me!))

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The JB's "Pass The Peas"

Of all the dishes that I look forward to preparing, and eating, on Thanksgiving, I'd have to say that Peas are pretty low on the list. 

Not that I dislike them.  Just . . . they're peas.  Who cares?

BUT, if I'm looking for something to keep things grooving in the kitchen as I juggle the pots and pans and mixers and hot plates . . . well, bring on the JBs and Pass The Peas . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Paul Simon "Slip Slidin' Away"

One great source for battling the seasonal slowdown, is the reissue pile.  Sometimes.

Sometimes the reissue of classic albums contain "bonus" content that is pretty weak.  But sometimes there is a little bit of treasure buried there.

Paul Simon recently collected all his solo albums into one box.  And each album has a few demo or live versions of the songs therein.

The label helpfully put all these alternate versions on one disc for promotional purposes, and though not every cut is radio ready, some of these stripped down take are a great listen and give you a new appreciation for the old songs.

I found about 7 cuts that are worth some limited airplay, bundled them up in a "packet" and they will cycle through the playlist at the speed that just one song might.  So it's not heavy airplay, but the songs are so well-known that there's no need to build familiarity as if it were a new artist or new cut.

Instead, the friendly, loveable sound of Paul Simon provides a little bit of an anchor to a time when the playlist could start to tilt toward the unfamiliar.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Eddie Murphy "Boogie In Your Butt"

Another story popping up multiple times on my Facebook feed is this one about the old Columbia Record And Tapes Club.  It's worth a read.

I had forgotten about the thing, completely.  But those ads used to be ubiquitous.

Perhaps the only worse deal that someone actually joining the Columbia Record Club, was the one I somehow roped my cousin into.

The deal was something like, "You can get 11 records for a penny."

But in the fine print you found out: you had to buy a certain number of albums at an overprice, AND they would send you a new album every month and make you pay for it unless you sent them a refusal saying you DIDN'T want it.

Because the number of albums you initially got was an odd number, I proposed to my cousin Christine that I'd give her the penny, and only take 5 of the albums and she could have 6.  But in the fine print: she had to be the one to sign up for the account, leaving her on the hook for the payments and the refusals.

These 30 years later, she still speaks to me.  But it was a pretty shitty deal to foist upon a family member.  Sorry cousin!

Lousy deals aside, it may surprise you to know that the Columbia Record And Tape club was not so much a musical influence on me, as it was a comedic influence.  I got my first comedy albums this way, including "The Best Of Bill Cosby" and Eddie Murphy's debut "Eddie Murphy."

As recently as today, I was appropriating material from the Eddie Murphy album.

(He does this brilliant thing where he asks an audience member who'd been hit by a car, "Where did you get hit?" and when the person responds with the street, Murphy gets a big laugh from the audience by saying that he meant where "on your body" did you get hit.  It's brilliant because it works in reverse---if the person had answered with a body part, he could have said "I meant where in town did you get hit?")

And the albums weren't without their occasional musical moment, like this timeless classic, Boogie In Your Butt."

Hear the song on Youtube.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Semisonic "Chemistry"

Here's another Weekend Post:
After yesterday's horror, it's good to return to the more understated late 90s/2000s, where stripes and glasses and choker-things were the wild accessories.

"All About Chemistry" ended up being Semisonic's final record, which was disappointing, because I think, like Fountains Of Wayne, there was a breakthrough hit somewhere in their future, that would have opened up an audience to a treasure trove of great catalogue songs.

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 fun to revisit.

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

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Trip Shakespeare "Bachelorette"

Here's another Weekend Post:
After writing about Dan Wilson earlier this week, I thought I'd make the weekend posts about his two former bands.

As the kids would say, OMG!

I had never seen this video before.

With the hair and the "rocking out lip-syncing" this is such an 80s video.  And it totally reminds me of that movie with Hugh Grant where he's the songwriter and they flash back to his 80s hits.  Except I'm not sure they were joking in this video.

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 fun to revisit.

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

Friday, November 22, 2013

John Forster "Entering Marion"

If someone posts a video on Facebook and I see it in my feed, I don't usually click on it, unless I'm just killing time.

But if I see that same video posted multiple times by multiple people, I figure it's worth checking out.

And that's how I came across the video below, which explains, in a regionally/appropriately profane way, how to correctly pronounce just a few of the ridiculously mis-pronounceable town names in Massachusetts.

That brought up these two songs, that are much funnier if you're from here, but still work if you're not.

Former mvy News Director Toby Wilson introduced me to "Entering Marion" years ago.  And Dana Edelman and his son now live on the Vineyard.

Enjoy.  And put it in your Facebook feed several times if you want me to click on it.

Hear "How To Properly Say Massachusetts Town Names" on Youtube.

Hear Dana Edelman's "Massachusetts Song" here (I can't embed it here).

Hear a live version the song on Youtube.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Dan Wilson "Disappearing"

Sometimes it is such a relief to hear a good song.

Dan Wilson is one of those artists that I personally love.  But none of his work has ever really fit on MVY.  Or fit snugly, anyway.

His 80s and 90s bands---Trip Shakespeare and Semisonic---were a little too pop for the MVY world.

And when Semisonic's  early-2000s "All About Chemistry" album didn't really break through, commercially, the band went on hold and it seemed like maybe Wilson's considerable song-crafting talents could have slide into obscurity.

Thankfully, he developed into an incredible co-writer and producer, reaching the highest highs in the last decade while co-writing and producing Grammy winning smash hits for The Dixie Chicks and Adele.

He's also worked with Jason Mraz, Mike Doughty, Taylor Swift and Rachel Yamagata, among other artists who can deliver a strong song with a pop sheen.

But listening to a song like Adele's "Someone Like You," even if you feel like that song is too much of a "pop hit," your ears would have to be broken to miss the fact that it is an incredibly well-constructed song, with an instantly memorable melody, with lyrics that pack an emotional wallop.

He could make a song that would fit on MVY.

And he did.

I haven't even dug into what "Disappearing" might be about, or plumbed the details of the melody and the arrangement.  I have the feeling that the depth of the song will unfold for me in the coming weeks of listening.  But I didn't have to think too hard about adding it to MVY's rotation.

I only had to hear the song once, to love it.

And that, if anything, is the mark of a Dan Wilson tune.   

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Lady Gaga "Applause"

My wife and I were waiting to meet some friends at a bar this weekend.  While our friends were extricating themselves from a different party to come join us, my wife and I had some time to sit in the bar, talk and listen.

We talked about serious things.  We talked about light things.  We talked about Christmas.  We talked about the kids.

The usual.

A local band was getting set up at one of end of the barroom.  But in the meantime, the PA system was rotating through a bevy of current pop hits.

I don't listen to too much pop music by choice.  I don't hate it necessarily.  It's just not my taste.

But I DO hear a least a sample of what's current, via my wife and kids.

While they don't like everything---they are discriminating---they like enough to make me feel like I am connected to the pop world so that I know who Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are, or what the fox say.

Some fun song would come on the PA and my wife would start grooving in her chair, a smile breaking out on her face.  It wouldn't necessarily stop the conversation or anything.  It was just a part of the scene and the mood.

Our friends showed up right around the time the band started playing.

The band's selections tended toward the heavier, moodier stuff, and both my wife and I noted a marked change from what the vibe in the room had been.

"What were they playing before?"

"Oh, you know, Pop stuff," I said.  "Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars and such."

My wife started cracking up.

"No they didn't."

Really?  I thought they did.

But no.  She ran through the 10 or so artists we HAD heard.  But Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars were not among them.

Basically, what she was calling me out on, was that to me, there isn't really any difference between hearing Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars, and hearing Fun and Katy Perry and Justin Timberlake (whose songs we DID hear).

Admittedly, unless I have heard the song a few dozen times (via my wife), then sometimes hearing songs from these artists is like trying to tell squirrels apart.

Hear "Applause" on Youtube.

Hear "Locked Out Of Heaven" on Youtube.

Hear "Roar" on Youtube.