Thursday, January 31, 2013

John Hiatt "Wood Chipper"

Every other week, my Father-In-Law comes over for dinner.

It's always a good food night, because we have a meal.  He's a great cook, and even something as simple as a meatball dinner prepared by him is a delicacy.  Or if he doesn't cook, then my wife---who learned a kitchen-thing or two from him---makes something great.  Food is one of the languages that they can speak to each other.

Whatever we end up eating, you can count in there being some red wine.  And sometimes there's pie.

Dinner is inevitably followed by some lounging in the living room, in front of the TV.

I can't say that I care about "America's Got Talent" or "The Voice" or "American Idol," but it's something that they can watch when they are together, follow when they are apart, and talk about when they are on the phone.  It's a language they can speak.

Even though I suppose I wouldn't choose to watch these shows, I am game to participate.  I can weather the bad singing, the manufactured drama, the endless commercials and product placement, and the general hokey-ness of reality/competition TV. 

But I can't stand one, ridiculous cliche.

"Man, you could sing the phone book!"

That phrase should be barred from "American Idol" and the like.  Just stop saying it. 

No, they couldn't sing the phone book and have it sound good.  It would sound stupid, even if Pavarotti did it.

Or so I used to think.

Check out this John Hiatt song that Barbara Dacey pointed out to me.

It's a story song about a woman who has disappeared.  Perhaps falling victim to foul play and a Wood Chipper.  All that was found of her was a note that the narrator once wrote, and on the back was a grocery list.

That's a great little detail, and it would be enough to complete the story.

But Hiatt, instead, sings the grocery list.

"Eggs . . . Hamburger Meat . . . Bread . . . Funyons . . ."

He got me with the "Funyons."  It's both hilarious and effective.

One of America's premiere songwriters just sang the word "Funyons," and its the highlight of the song, and maybe the album.

So I don't know, John Hiatt, maybe next record you could try the phone book!

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Social Distortion "Bad Luck"

I was hungry.  I was nervous.  I was alone.

I was waiting.



I've told you the story of my first radio station, and the long court battle that we waged to hang onto it.

What you don't get from one blog post, was the drawn out uncertainty of it all.

I was at WABN for 6 years.  And every three months (if not more often) for six long years, we'd have another court date.

"This could be it," we'd be told by our lawyers.  There was every possibility that the judge would take immediate and harsh action, either shutting down the station or removing us completely.

The family that owned the station would go to these hearings.  Dress up.  Look respectable and responsible.  Do their best to convey the sincerity of their desire to just run the radio station and live in peace.

It was my job to hold down the fort.

The four family members would go to court, and I would go to the station and wait.

I might do my shift.  Or I might let the automation system we had, spin its wheels.

Minutes ticked by slowly.  Hours progressed at a glacial pace.

Every time the phone would ring, I'd lunge for it, hoping it was the gang calling from their way home from court with some kind of good news.

Lunch would pass.  The many cups of coffee would sink in.  Tension would mount.

Eventually, I would get a call.  A brief overview of what had happened.  And a promise of lunch to be brought to me soon.

Relief, tempered by the notion that the court session ended with the promise of a reconvening within a just a few weeks.  And that we'd do this day all over again.

The night before each court date, I'd play "Bad Luck."  It was my idea that if I played "Bad Luck" today, it would mean good luck tomorrow.

Mostly, it worked.

I was thinking of this song earlier in the week, because I'm playing the waiting game right now.

We still don't know when our last day on 92.7 will be.  The signal is all but sold, just some paperwork has to be signed.  And then we'll be off.

Unlike the WABN situation, there is a future for WMVY.  We'll continue on the web.  I'll continue to work.  Stress about what is going to happen doesn't play a role here (just the "when").

Just waiting . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sallie Ford "Party Kids"

One year, (former mvyradio News Director and current weekend DJ) Megan Ward thought she'd be funny, and go as ME for Halloween.

She got a brown-hair wig and put on what I call "The Uniform," which consists of converse sneakers, jeans, unbuttoned flannel shirt over a t-shirt.  Or you can substitute a hoodie for the flannel.

Megan doesn't look especially like me, so only the folks who got "The Uniform" joke, figured out the costume.

Next year, Megan, I've got a better idea.

Hopefully, by fall, Sallie Ford &; The Sound Outside will have broken through, and folks may know who she is.

Check out these pictures of Sallie, and of Megan.  Maybe it's just the glasses, but I think Megan could pull this costume off!

Sallie Ford

Megan Ward

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Big Star "Thank You Friends"

When I was a kid, I worked at an ice cream stand.

People loved it.  For many, coming to get an ice cream was a highlight of the day.  Coming to OUR ice cream stand, was a part of their summer experience.  To this day, I'm sure that people who lived or summered in the Newburyport area have warm memories of Haley's Ice Cream.

Compliments at Haley's were easy to come by.  You weren't selling life insurance or bath fixtures.  When you gave them what they had ordered, there was a light in their eyes, and a grateful thank you on their lips.  They might even tell you that they love the ice cream you make.

But that was nothing.

It's been a pretty amazing two months, and so much of it has gone by so fast that it was hard to take in, process and respond to, as it was happening.

Two months ago, mvyradio told its listeners we needed $600,000 to survive.  And the listeners responded.

Now, I didn't have a lot of doubt that we could raise that much money.  I knew people loved our station and were willing to donate $25 or $100 or more, to keep it alive.

But I just can't get over the number of messages that we got from people who didn't just say, "I love your station," or "I want to support you," but went on to tell very personal stories about how much a part of their lives the station had become.

People wrote us about collectively listening to "Alice's Restaurant" as a family, singing while all on the phone together because the family was apart of Thanksgiving.

More than a few folks told us of hitting mental health low points, but being able to turn to the station, hearing a song that lifted them up, or even picking up the phone and having a DJ who wanted to talk to them.

We heard from an ICU nurse who would bring a radio to a patient if the unit was having a particularly loud or chaotic night.  The music was a distraction and a comfort.

And I got a very personal letter from a woman who had discovered the station via her husband and listening became something they shared.  Even years after his death, she would hear a song on MVY and think "That's a tune he would have loved."  She needed the station, because the music was her way of staying connected to her love. "Don't die," she wrote.

We got donations from 3800 listeners.

And among those, we got donations from many musicians.  Not necessarily big names.  But folks we have supported.  Local and regional.

We got donations from Record Label people, Radio promotions people, and even DJs from other stations.  They recognize that MVY is unique, valuable and worth saving.

And, special in our hearts, were the donations we got from our own families.  The Moms and Dads and Brothers and Sisters of the station staff pitched in too, and it was great to see a familiar last name (Dacey, Redington, Phaneuf, Hammond and many more) land in the donation box.

Saturday was the mvyradio Big Chili Contest, and that's where the hugging began.  People we've known from around, or people we've never met before in our lives, gave us hugs, told us that they love us and congratulated us.

It was much more love than I ever got serving ice cream.

The song in my head (and there's always a song in my head) was this Big Star tune.  I'll put the lyrics below, because it really speaks to our story and success.  I love that he sings about things being "so probable."

Thank you, Friends.  Personally, and professionally.

You saved mvyradio.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thank you, friends
Wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you
I'm so grateful for all the things you helped me do

All the ladies and gentlemen
Who made this all so probable

Thank you, friends
I rejoice to the skies
Dear ones like you do the best I do
As far as can see my eyes

Without my friends I got chaos
I'm off in a bead of light
Without my friends I'd be swept up high by the wind

All the ladies and gentlemen (I said all)
Who made this all so probable

Thank you friends (thank you, again)
Dear, dear friends (thank you, again)
And again, and again
Never too late to start

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Reverend Horton Heat "Sue Jack Daniels"

Let me start with Homer Simpson's famous quote about alcohol:

"The cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems."

With the success of the Save mvyradio campaign, and the Big Chili Contest madness (on a full moon night, no less), uh, yeah, we're dealing with more of the former than the latter.

We'd be litigious, in the Finn household, if it didn't make our heads pound to just try and spell the word "litigious."

Hear the song on Youtube.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Reverend Horton Heat "I'm Drunk"

We hit our goal for Save mvyradio yesterday, and today is the mvyradio Big Chili Contest.

I think you know what's next . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Barry Manilow "Looks Like We Made It"

$600,000!!!  We Saved mvyradio!  Thank you for your support.

In this celebratory moment, I'm not averse to belting out a little Barry Manilow!

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Beyonce "The Star Spangled Banner"

First, let me say that I don't really care if Beyonce was lip-syncing.

I understand why, in a situation like a live Inauguration, outdoors, with many, many variables, you might pre-record your vocals, to make sure the performance is not torpedoed by something.

Now I DO find it bothersome if an artist has pre-recorded their vocals, and the vocals have been altered/improved/sweetened.  But if the track was recorded earlier, then, in this kind of performance, who cares?

It kinda bugs me that people would make a big deal of this.  Like it or not, when the visual performance matters, there is usually lip-syncing.  Artists in TV appearances like The Superbowl, major concerts where the star is expected to dance complex routines, mediocre-but-attractive teen heartthrobs---they all lip-sync.  You might as well be surprised that the McRib does not come from some kind of magical boneless pig.

People who don't like President Obama get fired up that he uses a teleprompter.  Really?  The guy gives hundreds, if not thousands of speeches a year, and you think he's carrying that around in his head?  You don't even go to the grocery store without a list.

What's most annoying about this Beyonce "scandal" is that it is being reported mostly by people who don't know shit about what they are talking about.  Which, sadly, is how much of the day's news---even the important stuff---gets reported.

Why not listen to an expert?  My friend Jesse Barnett posted this link to Slate, where singer Mike Doughty (former of Soul Coughing) explains why its clear to him that Beyonce was definitely NOT lip-syncing.

Finally, a talking head who knows what he's talking about.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Rolling Stones "Bitch"

I remember standing outside the dorm building, looking up at McNamara Hall, trying to find out where the music was coming from.

It was cold, but I was happier to be standing alone in the cold, than headed upstairs toward confrontation.

I was an R.A. at UMass Amherst, 1989, and it was my night on duty.

R.A.s were there to answer questions, help folks out, intervene when necessary and keep the peace.  Mostly, I just told my residents "Don't smoke dope in the hallway, and I won't hassle you."

But some students just had to be confrontational.

What other reason could there be for the level of noise that was coming from somewhere in the 8 story building?  There was no possible way that someone was actually IN the room where the music was.  It was insufferably loud.

The other R.A. on duty and I were in the 1st floor office, when we got complaints.  She was a take-charge type, and was ready to march up the stairs and find the source.

I headed out into the courtyard, to see if I could pinpoint it from that vantage.

It was early evening, and most all the rooms on that side of the building had lights on.  Except one.  And notably, that room's window was open.

Yes, very sneaky, Idiots.  No one will be able to figure out it's you playing the stereo at 11, if the lights are off.

Pretty much on schedule, the music stopped.  The light came on.

This happened in just about the amount of time it would have taken my partner to walk up to the 5th floor, knock on the door, and tell these geniuses to turn the music the fuck down.

I stood there for a second, waiting to see if I could hear anything, or see any shadows or action.

Pretty much on schedule, the music came back on.

This happened in just about the amount of time it would have taken my partner to yell at the residents for a few minutes, tell them they were going to get written up, and leave.  Likely, she was about halfway down the hall away from the room, when I saw a stereo speaker hoisted into the window.

The volume went straight up to FULL, and across the courtyard and echoing against the surrounding buildings was "Bitch" by the Rolling Stones.

As offensive as it was, I had to give them some kind of credit for not being afraid of inevitable confrontation and penalty.

The song lasted for a good 30 seconds.  No doubt my partner had wheeled right around and double-timed it back to the room.

I had to give her credit too, for not being afraid to going charging into the face of the most truculent opposition.

The music stopped.  I waited out the in cold.  Nothing else happened.

Both parties had satisfied their level of confrontation.

And I, ever one to avoid a tangle, waited outside a few minutes more, just in case . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

R.E.M. "Losing My Religion"


This is the kind of sentence that:

A) You never expected to hear yourself say.

B) Your childless friends will never understand how this is part of your existence.

C) You should never, ever have to actually say out loud.

D) All of the above.

It is now nearly 1am.  Officially, Monday has become Tuesday.  And I am just sitting down to write this post.

I don't know if it was the holiday, or some stir-craziness, or a pre-cursor to getting sick, but the kids were just insane tonight.

Not bad.  Just reeeevvvvvvvvved up.  There were performances.  Costume changes.  Lots of yelling.  And hammering.

And yes, the 2 1/2 year old boy, who is potty training, took off all his clothes, but instead of making his way to the potty, he sat down, naked, on his sister's oversized stuffed pink Unicorn.

(No, he did not poop on the unicorn.  We did get him to do the right thing)

After a Skype visit with their Grandparents (my folks spend winter in Florida), despite the high energy, we moved the kids to the bedroom, hoping to wind them down.

Sometimes the high energy is really a sign that they are over-tired, and if you can get them to sit still, they sack right out.

9:30pm.  We have finally gotten to lights out.  Neither kid is asleep.  But if we can just get them to relax . . .

10:30pm.  My 5 year old daughter is asleep.  So is my wife.  But the boy is lying there, in the dark, just talking, talking, talking.  He's wiggling and kicking.  So I tell him to get up and come out to the living room with me.

11:30pm.  He's still motoring around.  I haven't cleaned up after dinner, or checked my email, or thought about a blog post.  I ask him if he wants to come sit with me.  He says, "Nope," and keeps on playing with his puzzle.

But I have a secret weapon.

"C'mon up here," I say, and scoop him up off the floor.  He protests, but his squirming eases when I put on the TV and say, "Let's watch Charlie Rose."

Some highlights of the Presidential Inauguration flicker on the screen, ("Dad!  A parade!") and he settles into my arms.

Five minutes later, he is asleep.

After cleaning up---I love taco night, but it does create an assload of dishes---updating the Save mvyradio Pledge-O-Meter and brushing my teeth, I'm finally here at the computer.

With nothing prepared.

Soooo, let's make this a "I Looked At The Internet Today So You Don't Have To" feature.

My friends Jess Phaneuf and Lindsay Reid both posted this video.  Someone with some time and some good music software edited R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion."  The very Minor Chord heavy song, has had the Minors changed to Majors.  It sounds completely different, yet surprisingly the same.

That's all I got.  G'night.

Hear the song on Vimeo.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Beastie Boys "Get It Together"

It took me a little aback, but then it made me laugh out loud.

My 2 1/2 year old boy said, "What's up with boots on your feet!"

Part of the excitement just came from the pure joy of how much this kid has to say.  When we was 18 months old, we had him tested, because he didn't seem to have the words that his peers had.

Long story short, after a battery of tests, the speech folks basically said, "Oh he could talk.  He just doesn't want to."

Cut to a year later, and he is a talker.  He talks and talks and talks.  Tells stories.  Repeats things.  He's hard to understand, especially if you aren't used to translating his kid-speak.  But it is really entertaining to be his Dad.

I've mentioned before that there are phrases that we use around the house that the kids have no context for, but will one day hear it in a song and realized that's why my parents said "Get crazy with the Cheez Whiz"!!!

When winter started, we got our growing boy a new pair of boots as his every day shoes, to replace his summer sneakers.  He's a stubborn thing (as evidenced by the early unwillingness to speak), and sometimes getting him to sit still while you put on his shoes is a bit of a battle.

So I'll talk to him and try to make it fun.  Occasionally, I'll shout out a lyric from The Beastie Boys song called "Get It Together."

"Yo, what's up with the boots on your feet!"

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that he'd eventually parrot that back to me.  But it was delightful to actually have it happen.

I was an excited Gen-X Dad.

So I went straight to iTunes, and explained to him, and my 5 year old daughter, that "What's up with the boots on your feet" is part of a song, and I would play it for them now.

And that's where things went south.

It's been a while since I put on "Ill Communication."  But more than that, I don't think you really hear a song, until you've heard it with your kids.

Now generally, we don't censor the music around the house.  We'll play the unedited "Little Lion Man" or "Fuck You."  If you don't make a big deal of it, it won't be a big deal for the kids.

But I don't think I've ever really considered what to say about lines like: "Yes I'm Getting Funky And I'm Shooting All My Jism/Like John Holmes, The X-rated Nigger/Listen To The Shit 'Cause I'm The Ill Figure"?

I can argue about context all day, but I don't think I can explain a line like that to my kids.

And MAN, I don't think I realized how long it would take to get to that one "What's Up" line in the song.  The tune seemed to go on and on, as I was saying to the kids, "Just wait, that 'Boots' lyric is coming up!  Really, next verse!  Here it comes!  Keep listening!"

Meanwhile, "fucks" and "shits" and "niggers" are flying through the speakers, and I'm getting more uncomfortable by the moment.

Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.  But I won't be playing that one again for the kids any time soon.

It sends the wrong message.  That is, I got the Ill Communication.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Supreme Beings Of Leisure "Never The Same"

Here's another Weekend Post:

Well, I've officially been doing this so long, that I think songs from the early 2000s qualify for weekend posts, as throw-back tunes you (and I) may have forgotten about.

In fact, I had this song in my head yesterday, but I could not come up with the name of the song or the band.  I was stuck on the fact that it samples The Turtles.  It's probably been a decade since I've actually listened to it, but it still sounds good . . .

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.

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

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Cat Empire "Sly"

Here's another Weekend Post:

Well, I've officially been doing this so long, that I think songs from the early 2000s qualify for weekend posts, as throw-back tunes you (and I) may have forgotten about.

I was thinking about this song in relation to Thursday's post about good segues.  For whatever reason, I remember this as a song that was really hard to put into the mix.  Wherever I played it, it seemed to stick out like a sore thumb in the MVY mix.  Even though it was a hit within the Triple A world, it didn't last on our playlist.

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.

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

Friday, January 18, 2013

Rufus Wainwright "Going To A Town"

(I started writing this post a long while back, but didn't finish it.  Then the election ended and it didn't make sense to post it in the quietude of the post-election season.  But with the inauguration a few days away, and folks thinking about being happy/sad about who is our President, I thought I'd complete the thought and post it) 

When we started playing this song in 2007, I wondered if we'd get any flack for it.

I ended up having an interesting and enlightening conversation with a listener, that has really colored my views of other people's views.

First, I'll point out that he was not an angry caller. He was extremely polite, holding back on any anger or frustration he felt (though it was there). And he wanted to let me know that he was, politically, on the left.

That being said, he didn't like the anti-American sentiment of the song.

"Anti-American sentiment?" I asked.

"Well, he keeps saying 'I'm so tired of you, America.'"

"What does he mean by that?"

"Well . . ."

By asking him, I'd thrown him off a little bit. I continued:

"I don't really know the lyrics. What leads up to that line?"

He didn't know.

The rest of our conversation was pleasant, brief, non-confrontational. But in short, neither of us could really say what the song is about, what Rufus was getting at, or if it were truly an anti-American song.

Here's the larger point. Larger than just music, it extends to whole belief systems.

People tend to hear the repeated chorus and then make a determination about the meaning of the song, without often without ever getting into the details of the verses.

I've just run across so many folks who, out of hand, reject The Tea Party, the Occupy Movement, Presidential candidates, environmental science, and a million other things. And their rejection is based solely on the one-sentence tag placed on these things. Or worse, they perceive that the idea is aligned with the political side they are "against," and not with the side they are "for."

And I'm not talking about stupid people. I'm talking about otherwise intelligent folks who won't entertain the notion that someone on the other side has a salient point, simply because they are on the other side. Or simply because they have heard they are on the other side.

It's discouraging when you think about it. That to make your point, you're not just having to make your point, you're having to get people to consider that they shouldn't just disagree with you because of the uniform you wear.

The political process becomes exhausting.

Rufus, I hear you. I'm tired too.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Alabama Shakes "Hang Loose"

Let me preface this by saying that I am not a musician.  I have no compositional skills to speak of.  So my comments here come only as a programmer . . .

So you want to craft a song that will get played on the radio.  Here is one small tip, from a guy who's hit the play button on hundreds of thousands of songs in his career.

Remember that your song will most often be heard, not between other cuts on your album, but between two songs by two artists who are completely unconnected to you or your work.

Think about how your song will sound, coming out of another song.

I know, I know, that's tough, since it could pretty much follow an infinite amount of songs.  You can't really prepare for all eventualities.

But I was playing this Alabama Shakes on yesterday, and when it fired up, it occurred to me that it would probably segue nicely out of virtually any kind of song.

Play the intro:

Hear it on Youtube.

That sound---I don't know what to call it---maybe the sound of tape getting up to speed?---works as a genius segue.

Segues are a funny thing, because you a) want the transition from one song to the next to dovetail seamlessly, but b) want to clearly and completely change direction.

So you could have a song that slowly fades out, like Paul Simon's "Train In The Distance," and the whirring up of "Hang Loose" would fade in nicely over Simon's fade out.  By the time the guitar hits on "Hang Loose," the flow of the station would be off in a different direction, without jarring the ear.

Compare that to the opening of "Why I Am" from the Dave Matthews Band:

Hear it on Youtube.

Listened to on its own, as a stand-alone single, the song commands the space and your attention.  But try to play this out of a fading out "Train In The Distance" or a song that comes in for a gentle, but clear, landing like Alison Krauss' "Paper Airplane" and its like when the smoke detector goes off for no reason.

So to review:  I don't play music, and couldn't exactly tell you how to actually do this, but if you are working on your new hit single, craft your intro and outro keeping in mind that playing well with others is what makes you stand out as an individual.

Hear "Train In The Distance" on Youtube.

Hear "Paper Airplane" on Youtube.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bonnie Raitt "Silver Lining"

As part of the Save mvyradio campaign, we've been reaching out to artists, asking them to do things like post about Save mvyradio on their Facebook page (Jackson Browne did), talk to the media about us (Lyle Lovett and Carly Simon did) and record some station IDs for us.

This last one is pretty standard, and no doubt, no matter what station you listen to, you've heard these kinds of things.  "Hi, this is So-And-So, and you're listening to Station XYZ!"

Surprisingly, I've learned a few things from this process.

I learned the proper way to pronounce the last names of JD McPherson and Madeleine Peyroux, because I heard it from their own lips.  (McPherson says it as "Mick-FURR-son" not Mick-FEAR-son"; and Peyroux says her name just like the country Peru).

I learned that Jason Spooner likes Cape Cod Potato Chips.  (Do I smell an endorsement for Mr. Spooner?)

I've learned the Mavis Staples may be one of the best voiceover artists I've ever heard.  I want to hire her to record ALL announcements for mvyradio.  Or read me bedtime stories.

And I learned, much to my shock and delight, that Bonnie Raitt listens to the station!

Barbara got to interview Bonnie by phone, and, unsolicited, while answering a question about how she finds songs to cover, Raitt says that independent radio, including MVY, plays a big role in helping her select songs.  She even called us one of her favorite radio stations, and says she streams it at home on the West Coast, and while on the road.


To hear Bonnie and other artists talk about mvyradio and why people should support it, hit play on the Youtube video on our main page today.  And for the full Bonnie Raitt interview, catch it when we air it at noon today, or find it in the archives after that.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Jim James "A New Life"

On the Saturday night of this year's Newport Folk Festival, the mvyradio crew and some of our friends were hanging out in the house were we stay, finally getting to a meal (it was well after 10pm), and talking about our highlights for the day.

One of our station-friends asked me about My Morning Jacket.  Jim James and company was the reason he'd come to the show in the first place.  And he was a little surprised that I was not a bigger fan of the band.

In starting to explain why, I realized that I had a number of accumulated thoughts on the subject, that I hadn't really voiced before.  But they were coming out of me in a surprisingly coherent fashion.

First and foremost, I'm not crazy about Jim James voice.  I don't find it pleasing (though I don't find it intolerable either), and the effects they usually use on his voice on record, make his voice echo-ey and distant and not welcoming.

So there's a disconnect for me in how much I enjoy the band, and how much soooo many folks enjoy My Morning Jacket.  I can see why they are liked.  But I haven't been won over in the way that millions of others have been.

On the other hand, I totally get the appeal of Jim James, as a musical figure.

I have enormous respect of what he and his band are doing, and what he, as a solo artist, bring to the table.

As I've written before, My Morning Jacket could sell a ton of records and sell out big venues, by cranking out very derivative neo-Neil Young-type stuff.

But that's not the path they are taking.

Instead, they are experimenting, challenging, defying expectations.  Making music that makes you wonder, What will they do next?

What a joy to pop this new solo Jim James track in the CD player, and hear "Oh My God, he's got a Paul Simon 'Rhythm Of The Saints' thing going on!  Wait!  Now he's singing like Roy Orbison!"

I've referenced it before, but it is worth sharing again.  What has become one of my favorite movie scenes of all time, is at the conclusion of the Pixar film, "Ratatouille."  The critic, Anton Ego, gives an amazing monologue on the nature of criticism, it's possible lack of value, but it's relevance "in defense of the new."

So even if I'm not fully on board with the gospel of what millions of other James and MMJ fans believe, I am happy to ride the train as a secular supporter of the creative tracks.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Charlie Watts "The A, B, C & D Of Boogie Woogie"

I was watching the Hurricane Sandy Benefit show and when the Rolling Stones came on, it make me think of my Grandfather.

I know that sounds like a cheap "The Rolling Stones are OLD!" joke.  But I'm actually sincere here.

I was looking at Charlie Watts and something about him, a few things about him, reminded me of my Grandfather.

Let me say that Charlie Watts and my late Grampa would never have been mistaken for one another.  Charlie Watts is fair and English and pencil-thin mustachioed. My Grandpa was olive and Sicilian and clean-shaven.

But seeing Charlie Watts on stage during the televised concert, somehow made me think of Grampa.

Part of it simply had to do with age.  Watts is now 71, near the same age that Grampa was when he died.

My clearest image of my Grandfather is a picture of him (which I couldn't find, but enjoy this photo of him in a tie, hold me as a baby), in a plain white t-shirt, looking like he had worked up a sweat that day (he had; he'd built a cabinet for my Mom on a hot July day). 

And Watts, in his plain t-shirt (see above), cuts much the same figure---wiry and strong.

My grampa was, shall we say, economical with his words.  So is Charlie Watts.  Enjoy the video below that begins with interviewer Jules Holland dragging answers out of Watts, a single word at a time.

And they both had/have these knowing smiles.  The kind that let you know they may only say a few words, but they have a lot entertaining thoughts going through their head.

As a drew these comparisons, I remembered a story about Watts, and a half-remembered story about my Grampa.

Perhaps the most famous story about Charlie Watts, is this one:
"A famous anecdote relates that during the mid-1980s, an intoxicated Jagger phoned Watts' hotel room in the middle of the night asking "Where's my drummer?" Watts reportedly got up, shaved, dressed in a suit, put on a tie and freshly shined shoes, descended the stairs, and punched Jagger in the face, saying: "Don't ever call me your drummer again. You're my fucking singer!" 
(I've read that story a number of places, but this quote comes from Wikipedia)

There was a fuzzy recollection of a story about my Grampa, and I asked around to my Mom and my cousins.  It was Uncle Joe who remembered.

My Grampa was a quiet man and a gentle man.  But he was also a hard-working man, who, though he didn't look like he weighed 100 pounds, was wiry and powerful from years of construction and mechanic work.

Uncle Joe related an occasion when he was working in the same garage as my Grampa.  There was a loud-mouth co-worker---older than Uncle Joe, but much younger than my Grandfather---who was cussing, cussing, cussing at Grampa.  Grampa chose to walk away, but the co-worker did not relent and in fact followed him.  Pushed to his limit, Grampa turned and hit the guy with a single uppercut, lifting him the younger man up off his feet and laying him out flat.  No words.  No bullshit.

So yeah, it IS a cheap shot to say "The Rolling Stones remind me of my Grampa!" but when your Grampa was kind of a quiet badass, I guess it's not really a cheap shot.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Jill Sobule "Supermodel"

Here's another Weekend Post:

I always felt bad that Jill Sobule will be remembered mostly for "I Kissed A Girl," when she actually has a pretty full catalog of smart, funny, catchy tunes.

How was this song (from what is actually a pretty great soundtrack to the movie "Clueless") not a bigger hit?

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, January 12, 2013

Jill Sobule "I Kissed A Girl"

Here's another Weekend Post:

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I was in a fairly religious spot in the country in the late 90s.  But being an outlier on the dial meant playing songs that folks weren't going to hear anywhere else.

I can remember when this Jill Sobule song came out, I'd occasionally get calls from a Mom who let me know her kids listened to our station.

"I want you to know that I am praying every day, that you will stop playing this song."

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, January 11, 2013

White Zombie "More Human Than Human"


His shout rang out across the frozen parking lot and the two dozen people still there all turned to look at me and my roommate.

It was several weeks earlier that a preacher had appeared before the local government in Johnson City, Tennessee.  Claiming to represent his congregation of hundreds, he was there to protest that a local city venue had booked the band White Zombie.  He asserted that the band was Satanic and their arrival in the Johnson City was an affront to God himself.

Taking the advice of a single complainant, the City moved to have the show canceled.  This type of outrageous act could never be allowed to express themselves at (I swear!) Freedom Hall.

Just up the road in Bristol, Tennessee, some brave (or naive) folks decided to book the band in their City's venue.  And that's when all Hell broke loose.

The town freaked out.

City government was besieged with calls and letters from angry residents who were incensed that a band so obviously Satanic would be allowed within City Limits to corrupt the children.

The outrage grew so quickly that the story broke as National news.  So now the City was really screwed.  The eyes of the country were upon them.  Would they cave to the pressure in a clear abridgement of the band's, and the ticket holders', First Amendment rights?

To their credit, they held their ground.  The show would go on, no matter the level of protest.

The City holding their ground just incited the protest movement, who held prayer vigils and burned records and took to the airwaves to preach of the moral decay that had come to town.

How could we allow such Pagans?!  At our own (I swear!) Viking Hall?!

This was the late 90s and I was a DJ at WABN.  We were always an outlier on the radio dial, and we decided to be one of the lone voices out there, supporting the show, the band and Viking Hall.

I was not a White Zombie fan, per se, but we played "More Human Than Human" on our shows and talked about Free Speech rights and how no one was making anyone go to see this band.  If you didn't like them, don't go.

In the meantime, rumors were spreading about the Satanic acts that the band committed.  Like passing a bucket around the audience for each person to spit in.  Then the band would drink it.

At some point before the show, Viking Hall had to be cleared, due to a bomb threat.

On the night of the show, I was worried about what might happen on the scene.  Groups were mobilizing to protest outside the show---ticket holders could expect to be harassed on the way in.  With a bomb threat already on the table, I was a) concerned about what confrontations might happen, and b) concerned about how it might get reported.

Though much of the local press coverage did side with the First Amendment rights, it seemed to do so begrudgingly.  Clearly, the overwhelming  majority of folks wanted to be seen siding with God, not Satan.

So I appointed myself as an observer.  And dragged my roommate, also a DJ, to come along.

Probably the most fortunate thing to happen---whether it was the work of God, Satan or some pagan spririt---was that the day of the show was insanely cold.  There was snow and ice on the ground and the temperature, once it got dark had dived well below freezing.

That seemed to keep most of the casually angry protesters away.  Leaving only the committed and fervent.

A number of local preachers were on the scene.  The local police was also out in force to keep them from being too aggressive.

Some of the protesters were quiet and calm, simply handing out pamphlets about the right way to save your soul.

Others were louder and more pointed, shouting "It's not too late.  You can turn back now!  Turn your back on Satan and his agents!"

And I clearly remember one man, who wouldn't have otherwise looked out of place if he were the manager of a bank, coming out of his office to talk about your loan.

Instead he was hooting and shouting and saying "Don't be fooled by the Devil!  I'm not afraid of what's inside that building!  I've got Jesus in my heart!  I don't mind standing here on the sidewalk shouting for Jesus!  I'M A FOOL FOR JESUS!!!  I'M A FOOL FOR JESUS!!!" and while saying this, he did this weird, crazed marionette move while shadowing a group of boys headed into the show.

I could see another group of kids headed up the sidewalk.  Angry teenage boys.  Trouble.  No jackets on a 20 degree night.  Tense and furrowed.

"Be cool kids, be cool.  Be cool kids, be cool."

All that needed to happen was for one of the kids to taunt a protester, the protester to engage, and expect the police to step in.  An arrest would no doubt hit the papers, and regardless of who was at fault, that would be the end of Rock And Roll shows at Viking Hall.

"Be cool kids, be cool.  Be cool kids, be cool."

The two groups converged.  The teenagers paused.  Wisely, one turned to look and made eye contact with a group of officers.  The teenagers moved on.

The show was about to start, the influx of ticketholders had come down to a trickle.  All that remained were the protesters and preachers, and me and my roommate.

What motivated these protesters?  On some level, I had no doubt that they were sincere in their beliefs.  That they loved God and were compelled to advocate on his behalf.  On the other hand, (as one of my friends memorably said at the time) Jesus never called in a bomb threat.

Anger, harassment, intolerance, gossip---these were not Christian values that were part of my upbringing.  And I suspect that most any Christians would not cop to these as being part of their value system.

I did not and do not believe in fear as a motivating force for good.  Or bullying.  I believe in acceptance.  I believe in positive role modeling.  While then, and today, I don't practice any specific religion, I hold these values dear.

There were only the police, and the dozen or so protesters and preachers left.  Most of the protesters and preachers knew each other.  With the concert-goers gone, the two anonymous DJs suddenly stood out.

The "I'M A FOOL FOR JESUS" guy eyed us from afar.


His shout rang out across the frozen parking lot and the two dozen people still there all turned to look at me and my roommate.

There was a pause.  I could see out of the corner of my eye, my roommate turn to me.  This was my question to answer.

"Yes," I said, not shouting, but loud enough for the crowd to hear.  "Yes we are." 

Hear the song on Youtube.

PS.  You know what reminded me of this story?  I saw a trailer for a new Pixar movie, that uses "More Human Than Human" as the music bed.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

David Bowie "Where Are We Now?"

So I'm probably the last blogger on earth to post this new Bowie track.

But I'm not posting it to debut it.  I'm posting it to talk about the reaction to it.

Well, I've certainly heard plenty of folks who like it, who are excited about it, who think it's good.

And I've certainly plenty of folks who say that don't like it.  Or it's lackluster.  Or they don't care about Bowie anymore.

Reasonable people can take either side of that argument.

The comments that make me scratch my head though, are the ones along the lines of, "This isn't as good as 'Jean Genie.'"  Or, "He hasn't made a good record since 'Aladdin Sane"  Or, "He's not relevant anymore."

I suppose all those above statements can be true.  What's headscratching to me is that this seems like a surprise to the haters.

Kinda like when The Who played at the Superbowl and people were complaining, "The Who is old!  Roger Daltrey can't sing like he used to!"

No shit.

I'm forty years old.  I can't even stand up from a chair the way I did when I was 21.  Never mind reaching hard-to-get notes with perfect pitch.

Every time Madonna comes out with a record, people slag her because she's not able to carry off "Like A Virgin."  She's in her 50s!  She wasn't like a virgin when she sang it in her twenties, and she isn't getting any closer to it now.

My friend Ross pointed me to an article in Esquire about Bruce Springsteen, where the writer took issue with some of the lesser Springsteen albums, saying, "I don't like a man who has at least five flawless albums getting away with anything less."

Really?  An artist makes 5 flawless albums, and you fault him for sucking on some of the others?

I find it all bizarre.

David Bowie made a string of landmark albums and songs.  He became legend, in part, because he innovated.

But are we really to expect that Bowie will innovate at a steady, equal clip until his death?  If you really think his run of albums in the 70s was his greatest achievement, is there any sane way you can be disappointed by his 2013 single, 40 fucking years later?

Do I think "Where Are We Now?" is the best David Bowie song ever?  No.

10th best?  No.

But can I derive no pleasure from it, because of that?  Of course not.

That'd be Aladdin INsane.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Beatles "One After 909"

It was only a brief interaction, 10 seconds maybe, but it reminded me that we were members of a pretty special club.  Two clubs, actually.

Holidays with your In-Laws is a strange experience.

Don't get me wrong, I married into a great family.  My wife's mother is ridiculously generous and amazingly loving.  My wife's brother James is a cool guy and a kindred spirit---he and I always know what to get each other for Christmas because we just think, "Hmm, what would I want for myself?"

But as much as you love your In-Laws, you are always a little bit on the outside.  Their family traditions are maybe a little different than your family traditions.  They tell stories about things that happened long before you were on the scene.  Theirs is a familial, blood bond that you are welcomed to come right up to, but can never fully be inside of.

Even before I was married, I knew that this was they way of the world.  I just happened to luck into a family that I can truly love.  (I know plenty of friends who did not marry so lucky).

What never occurred to me is how many people would be in the same boat as me.  And I don't mean in the world.  I mean, in the same room at holidays.  I mean the other folks who've married into the same family that I did.

There's a special bond I have with the folks who have also married into my wife's family.

And I've loved the little moments I've had with James' Linda, like this vignette from our Christmas gathering.

Near the end of the evening, I saw the number "910" on the breast pocket area of her t-shirt.

"What's 910?" I asked.

"It's the one after 909," she said, and showed the same words printed on the back of the shirt.

"Where'd you get that?!"

"I made it.  Cafe Press."

"'Let It Be.'  Cool."

"You got it.  No one ever gets it," she beamed.

When you're in a small club, be it serious Beatles fans or just one small family, you live for these moments of connection.

I get it.  I definitely get it.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tristan Israel "Martha's Vineyard Roundabout Nightmare"

With the Local Music Cafe airing tonight, I thought it would be fun to post this ditty from Tristan Israel.

Go to Washington DC, and you'll find that most politicians come from professions like Law and Consulting.

But on the local level, you're politicians are more likely people you run into in your day to day life.

If you listen our our FM station, then you might hear commercials featuring Linda Sibley.  She's the West Tisbury representative on the Martha's Vineyard Commission.  But she also runs the local Radio Shack, Vineyard Electronics.

Dave, from Tony's Market, has been doing spots on mvyradio for years.  And while he runs a great little more-than-a-convenience store (with awesome french fries that come in a paper bag), Dave has also served as the Oak Bluffs Town Moderator.

And then there's Tristan Israel.  He's long been involved with Island government, as a Tisbury Selectman.  But how awesome is it that a real politician can sing, entertainingly, about quirky local issues like the loooooooonng coming Roundabout (Rotary) that is replacing the blinker?

Barack Obama may have a nice voice, but until he writes original material, I vote Tristan!

For more great local artists, listen to The Local Music Cafe tonight at 9pm, listen to past shows in the Archives, and download free tracks in The Local Music Cafe online.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Bahamas "Caught Me Thinking"

When we get to the end of the year and the flow of incoming music slows to a crawl, that's when I look at songs we've passed over during the course of the year, and we add something that was maybe a personal favorite, or a bit of a stretch, or just a simple mistakenly forgotten cut, and put it in rotation.

This year, I have to say, I didn't really have a pet song at the end of 2012.  There was nothing floating around that made me say, "Oh man, we missed out on that one."

But two reliable sources convinced me that we should look at Bahamas again.

One is Jess Phaneuf, who has been talking about the Bahamas album for months, and wrote about it a few times on her blog.

The other is my wife, who looooves it when she finds a great band that I'm not already onto.  We've been listening to this record at the house, and it has won me over.

So hats off to you, my favorite opinionators, you get the end-of-the-year pick!

Hear the song on Youtube.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Charles Durning "Sidestep"

Over the holidays, the family was talking about the End Of The Year reviews that were listing the famous folks who had passed away in 2012.  The list seemed unusually long, particularly those from the music world.  Adam YauchDoc WatsonDavy Jones.

Over the holidays, a couple of famous actors passed away.  In reading their obituaries, I learned that they actually did some singing.

Without further ado (and hopefully not sullying their legacies in your mind), enjoy!

Charles Durning's acting career is incredibly impressive.  But not every role can be Big Daddy in "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof."

And while you could call the prancing about in the scene below an affront to the dignity of a World-Class actor, he did give the role his all---and nabbed a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for this performance in "The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas"

Hear the song on Youtube.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Odd Couple "You're So Vain"

Over the holidays, the family was talking about the End Of The Year reviews that were listing the famous folks who had passed away in 2012.  The list seemed unusually long.  Adam YauchDoc WatsonDavy Jones.

And even over the holidays, a couple of famous actors passed away.  In reading their obituaries, I learned that they actually did some singing.

Without further ado (and hopefully not sullying their legacies in your mind), enjoy!

Perhaps you had no idea that the late Jack Klugman made an album with Tony Randall, in character as The Odd Couple.  Klugman can't sing, but he knew that---the album was a fun lark.

Check out their take on Carly Simon's "You're So Vain."  I think you can download the entire album at this site.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Neil Young "Ramada Inn"

I'm filling in for Barbara Dacey on Friday night, for her show "Uncharted Waters."

Usually, it's a plum gig.  Barbara spends a full hour playing new releases, and when I fill in, it's my chance to champion some of the great new music out there.

But this is perhaps the worst week of the year to have to host the program.

Record labels basically take the month of December off.  The last new releases of the year hit around mid-November, and little to nothing comes into the station until the 2nd week of January.  The few that come in do get played on Uncharted Waters over the course of the month.  But by the first Friday night of the new year, every new song has been played.

So I have an hour to fill, and literally not enough new songs to fill it.

Unless . . .

One of the independent promoters I talk to, JB Brenner, has mentioned this Neil Young cut to me a couple of times.  Not because he's promoting it---he's not.  Just because he's a Neil Young fan.

He thinks it's one of Neil's best songs in a long, long time.  He even put in a call to Neil's record label rep, to suggest they put it out as a single.

But to do that, the label would have to make an edit.  Because no station is going to play a single that is nearly 17 minutes long.

No station, except . . .

Yes, the final third of tonight's "Uncharted Waters on mvyradio" will be one very, very long Neil Young tune.

And if you are at work and you have a lot of time to kill, you can enjoy it now in the video below!

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Steely Dan "Peg"

Steely Dan came on the radio, and, unusually, I did not change the channel.

If I'm in the car with my wife, and Steely Dan comes on, I instinctively either turn down the volume, or surf to the next channel.

My wife does not like Steely Dan.  At all.

But it was Christmas Eve and we were going to my Aunt Peg's house, so when Steely Dan's "Peg" came on, I left it on.

My wife was into something.  Looking at her iPad.  Talking to the kids.  I can't quite remember.  But whatever the distraction, "Peg" did not register with her.

But I couldn't help singing.

"It's your favorite foreign movie . . ."

"Steely Dan!?!  Ugh.  I hate Steely Dan," she mock moaned.

She didn't have to real moan, because she we've been married long enough to know that she knows that I know that she hates Steely Dan.

"Yeah," I said, "but this is the most mainstream/tolerable of their work, right?"

"Yeah it is."

"Plus, we're going to Auntie Peg's house, so . . . I had to keep it on."


"It's a good song."

Long pause.

"It just takes me right back."

My wife's father loves Steely Dan.  And back when records like "Aja" and "Katy Lied" were out, he LOVED Steely Dan.

She can't hear a Steely Dan song without being instantly transported to the 1970s of her childhood.

But even then, she didn't like them.

Something about the weird tension in the songs.  The creepy, oblique lyrics.  The overly pristine sound.  Something about Steely Dan rubbed her the wrong way in the 1970s.  And still does.

And yet, she knows every song.  Every word.  Every inflection.  Because her Dad listened all the time.

It made me think about my own kids.

Yes, today we'll play Mumford And Sons and The Beatles and Janelle Monae and who knows what else, ad finitum around our house and in our car.  And we'll be thinking we're doing the kids a favor by sharing our awesome jams.  But inevitably, they're going to silently hate some of it.

And in the year 2045, my daughter will be driving with her spouse (or perhaps flying with her spouse in her space hover craft), and some old song will come over the transom and she'll find herself singing along, awash in a mix of nostalgia and resentment for her lovely childhood and her parents' terrible taste in music.

"Peg, it will come back to you . . ."

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Yo La Tengo "Ohm"

There are some great artists who were close, but never quite fit mvyradio's sound or sensibility.

But then, as time went on, with the maturing sound of the band, and the evolving sound of the station, the band fit.

We didn't play early Decemberists records, but eventually the band softened a bit and the station started to sound more contemporary, so we added them.

We didn't play early Ben Folds.  But as he toned down the rocking/punky aspects of his music, and lyrically became more mature, we added him.

I've always thought Yo La Tengo could make a record that would work for mvyradio, but that they their style and ours hadn't quite crossed paths yet.

They've got a new song out, so it's a good time to check in with them.

I'm not to sure this is the meeting of sounds I'd been waiting for, but what do you think?

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

U2 "New Year's Day"

I'm over 1100 posts into this blog, so yes, I couldn't really remember if I posted this song before.

I was mildly surprised to find out that somehow, despite the dearth of New Year's related songs, I hadn't put this one up yet.


Hear the song on Youtube.