Sunday, March 31, 2013

Bing Crosby "Easter Parade"

I hope your Easter and/or your Passover are as delightful as a Bing Crosby song . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Paul McCartney & Jimmy Fallon "Scrambled Eggs"

Here's another Weekend Post:

Perhaps you are coloring eggs today.

Does it color your view of the classic "Yesterday," to know that as Paul McCartney was creating the song, before he came up with the word "Yesterday," he dropped in the phrase "Scrambled Eggs."  Really!

He went on to perform it on Jimmy Fallon . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Lady Lamb The Beekeeper "Aubergine"

Last Saturday, I was sending my wife out for her birthday as a surprise.

She didn't know where she was going or with whom or to do what.  (Answers:  Boston, with 3 girlfriends, to dance).

I just told her to be ready by 5:30.

"What do I wear?"

Something nice.  You know, like you were going out on the town.

I watched her change her outfit, 2 or 3 times.

"Am I going out locally or . . don't tell me . . ." and she disappeared to find another outfit.

A half-hour passed.  I walked into the bedroom.  She still wasn't dressed.

She laughed.  "This is hard!  I don't know how to dress because I don't know where I'm going!"

I laughed too, thinking about what a foreign concept this was for me.

If I'm not sure what to wear, the questions are "jeans or pants?" and "tie or no tie?" and "sneakers or shoes?"  The end.  There aren't really shades or degrees of dressiness in my closet.

But for my wife, there are many, many shades.  Going to a nice restaurant on the Island isn't the same as going to a nice restaurant in Boston.  You don't wear the same kind of shoes if you were going standing at The House Of Blues for a concert that you would wear if you were going to some club to dance for hours.

Depending on where you were going, your criteria for what's appropriate varies significantly.

What seemed like a foreign concept on Saturday night became suddenly familiar last night, as I was putting together the playlist for tonight's "Uncharted Waters."

Barbara Dacey is on vacation, so I'm filling in.  During her new music show, she features several tracks off one particular album.  I was having trouble choosing a record I was interested in from the list of records we'd recently added---either they'd already been done or I just wasn't excited to explore them further.

So I went into the brand new music pile and I picked up "Ripley Pine," the full length debut by Lady Lamb The Beekeeper.

I'd been interested in this album (on a personal level) after hearing some track samples, but hadn't bothered to pick it up because, based on the samples, it was just not the kind of sound we'd play in regular rotation on MVY.  Interesting, but a bit esoteric to fit among the regular programming.

But that is the judgement of someone who's wading in the mainstream-Triple A/mvyradio river with his music listening.

In this case, however, I was swimming in "Uncharted Waters."  I could listen with different ears.

The record is a challenging listen.  Not in a combative way.  Actually, in a delightful way.  In the way that it veers unexpectedly from once place to another, with surprising instruments and twists of arrangement.  At times its like riding in the passenger seat of a car driven by a friend who's pushed past the speed limit on a twisty road---you're not out of control, but the ride demands your attention lest the road banks hard to the left and you're not holding on.

It's not an outfit that looks good or feels appropriate for daytime-mvyradio attire.

But for where I'm going tonight at 9pm ET on Uncharted Waters, it's a perfect fit.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Ice-T "Colors"

It was late.  My wife was still at work.  The kids were in bed.  And I was thinking about The Egg Lady.

For a certain (deviant?!) part of the audience, the name “Egg Lady” sends you straight to “Pink Flamingos.”  Perverts.

See the John Waters scene on Youtube.

I'm talking about a different Egg Lady.

I met the Egg Lady back in the 1990s when I was working at a small radio station in Virginia.  She’d come on my show every year, right before Christmas, and again right before Easter.

My wife would say that the “Egg Lady” was the kind of woman who was “put together.”  Meaning, she was older (I’m going to guess 50+), but she clearly took care of herself.  I don’t mean that she was a super-model or anything.  But she always showed up tastefully fashionable, and age-appropriate attractive, leading with a hefty dose of charm.

Who the Egg Lady really was, was a PR person hired by, no lie, The Egg Council Of Virginia.  He job was to criss-cross the very long state of Virginia, promoting eggs.

She'd stop into my station at Christmas and talk about clever recipes for Egg Nog.  In fact, one year she gave us gift certificates that could be redeemed for a dozen free eggs.  I will tell you that this was one of the most successful promotions I have ever been a part of in radio.  People LOVE free eggs.

Of course Easter was the rush season for someone in the egg business.

And lest you think the Egg Lady was some silly souffle of a concoction, let me tell you that she was also a scientist.

She, along with the science department at Virginia Tech, had done extensive research on the best way to prepare Easter eggs for coloring.

Have you ever hard-boiled an egg, and when you peel it, it has a skin underneath the shell, that pulls chunks of the egg white out?  She went into the lab to try to prevent that.

Longer boiling times.  Shorter boiling times.  Cold starts.  Boiling starts.  She tried them all.

What she discovered was this:  You are better off not using super-fresh eggs.  If you buy eggs and boil them the same day, you are more likely to have hard-to-peel eggs.

To this day, against instincts to use the freshest ingredients, I buy the eggs I'm going to use for Easter 7 to 10 days before I'm going to boil and color them.

Thanks for the life advice, Egg Lady, wherever you are.

I was waiting for the water to boil, thinking about marriage equality.

I've been glued to the news, following the arguments before the Supreme Court on marriage equality.  It's an issue that I don't have any close stake in---I'm not gay and I don't have anyone immediately close to me who is unable to marry or is being denied benefits---and yet I feel like someone who does.  It is highly personal for me.

In the gaps between news, I've enjoyed following the fun side coverage (like these pictures of protest signs), and reading comments on Facebook.  And of course I've seen the many, many iterations of the Marriage Equality symbol.

An mvyradio listener on Cape Cod had, as of this morning had over 600 shares of an image he created, using the Constitution as a backdrop.

But of course I am partial to the Bacon/Equality symbol.

My mind, of course, made the connection.  Bacon.  Eggs.  Equality.  Eg-quality.  Easter.

It was late.  My wife was still at work.  The kids were in bed.  I knew how I'd be spending the next stretch of time.

Remembering the Egg Lady's instructions, I boiled a couple of the eggs I'd bought last weekend, and I got out the vinegar and the food coloring.  After dyeing the eggs a light pink, I laid them out on a red dish towel and voila.

Tying the Resurrection of Christ, to the coloring of eggs has always been an odd pairing.

Now they were both tied to Marriage Equality.

And just to make things extra sublime, you know what song was in my head?  The one that is always in my head, inappropriately, when I color Easter eggs each year.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Reel Big Fish "Sell Out"

I remember being 30 years old and going to the Warped Tour.

Looking around, I wagered that I was roughly twice the age of the average attendee.

But I loved the festival and I loved the day.  You'd see 30 punk bands plow through a dozen songs each in their allotted 30 minutes of stage time.  You'd see a few "name" bands, a few mid-level bands and a few bands you'd never hear of.

I remember looking around the festival, at age 30, knowing that I was enjoying the show as much as any teenager.  But also aware that there would probably come a day when I didn't want to go to the Warped Tour.

I happened upon this year's Warped line up, and was horrified.

Of the 30 or so bands on the bill, I'd only heard of one of them.

And the only band I'd heard of, last had a hit over 15 years ago.

So while I could go to an all-day punk rock show, and see one fun nostalgic ska-pop band while being thrice the age of the average attendee . . . maybe I'll just use my AARP discount to get the Early Bird Special.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

She & Him "Never Wanted Your Love"

Aaaaaannnnnnd . . . right on cue . . .

Last week I was struggling with that first-quarter-of-the-year issue of having lots of great songs, but few familiar voices to keep a good mvy-like balance to our playlist.

While we had plenty of holes in the playlist to fill, I resisted the urge to load it up with unfamiliar voices, knowing that I would be rewarded with patience.

No sooner had a reported my playlist to the trades on Monday morning (including new Adds from fairly familiar voices JJ Grey and Billy Bragg), then we received:

a)  A "for your ears only" private link to hear Lori McKenna's new album in full, which will be here in a few weeks

b)  Patty Griffin's first new single in 5 years, "Ohio," featuring Robert Plant.

c)  The new She & Him track from the forthcoming "Volume 3"

Playlist problem solved.  Balance restored.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Elvis Costello "Every Day I Write The Book"

I started this blog nearly 4 years ago now.

As I was developing the idea, I ran through a list of potential blog names.

While using "Finn" had potential (or maybe not; "Hi-Finn-delity" anyone?), it seemed like a better fit to use a song or album title to convey what the blog was about.

I poured over albums and artists and song titles, trying to find the right tone and the right message.

You very nearly happened upon a blog named after a song that Lucinda Williams wrote to celebrate Paul Westerberg.

Real Live Bleeding Blog.

I thought it was a great title.  But maybe a little to graphic.  Maybe a little too Emo.  Especially if you didn't know the reference.

So instead I named it after an Elvis Costello song.

The intention was to write regularly.  But by naming it Every Day I Write The Blog, the title actually goaded me into writing, every day.

Story after story.  Memory after memory.  Day after day.

Tonight, I'm trying something new.  As host of The Hot Seat, I'll be doing an audio version of Every Day I Write The Blog, telling some recent stories and playing the songs.

Let me know what you think!

Tonight, at 9pm on mvyradio, or we'll post it later in The Hot Seat Archives.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Matthew Sweet "Scooby Doo Where Are You?"

Here's another Weekend Post

Well, since I pulled out Scooby Snacks yesterday, it only makes sense to bring you the song Matthew Sweet was born to cover . . .

And hey, do you recognize the actress on the couch?

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, March 23, 2013

Fun Lovin' Criminals "Scooby Snacks"

Here's another Weekend Post:

How 90s is this?  A rock tune that mixes hip-hop elements and plays samples from Quentin Tarantino movies . . . 

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, March 22, 2013

Ryan Adams "To Be Young Is To Be Sad Is To Be High"

I saw this picture of Dave Kish digging through stacks in a record store, and I thought about how infrequently I do the same thing.

Not because I don't like to, or because I don't have time, or because record stores are fewer and farther between these days.

It's simply because I don't have to go to a record store to dig through stacks.

It's true that, more and more, instead of getting CDs sent to the station, we receive MP3s.  But still, mostly, music comes to us via the mailbox.

Every day Mike-from-the-front-desk comes back from our PO Box with a plastic mail carton full of envelopes.  Barbara or Jess or I will tear through envelopes and pile up the bounty, sampling as much as we can, setting aside what might go to What's New For Lunch or to Bill for The Blues or to Alison for the Local Music Cafe, etc.

A tiny fraction of what comes in makes it's way to regular rotation.  The rest can pile up.  And pile up.  And pile up.

When there's time, it's good to go for a second look.  Or in the old days, a first look.

I first arrived at WMVY in 2000, after 6 years at a small, independent station in a fairly rural part of the South.  Being small, we didn't get much service from the record companies.  We were never awash in CDs, on the level that I discovered when I got to MVY.  Barbara Dacey was Program Director at the time, and it was she who sorted through the mail that came in.

In the short period it took me to find my feet and get comfortable at the station, I asked if I could dig through the piles to see if there were any treasures in there I might like to check out.

When I found something I was interested in, I asked Barbara if I could take it home.

"Who is this?"

I told her what I knew about Ryan Adams, about his previous band Whiskeytown and about the good reviews for his solo debut "Heartbreaker."

"Let me hang onto that one."

So, the bad news was that I didn't get to snatch that disc.  The good news was that we added his first solo single, and for the last 13 years his subsequent releases have been a regular part of mvyradio.

A little extra digging can make a difference.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

BOY "Little Numbers"

At some point, you do have to put on the breaks.

One of the weird quirks of the music business is that record releases by major acts don't generally happen from November through the end of March.

I'm sure there are a lot of good reasons for this, including the fact that larger bands that can mount large tours, aren't heading out to promote an album until late Spring or Summer.

While very little happens, in terms of record releases from November through mid-January, once the year is underway, there are plenty of great new releases from new bands or bands with smaller followings.

While we have strong sounding records from Eric Clapton and Ben Harper in the playlist right now, most of the new songs on the playlist are from great, but unfamiliar names (unfamiliar, at least, to our past playlists).  Carrie Rodriguez, Trixie Whitley, Chris Ross and Jesse Dee all have great sounding songs on the station.  But I'd wager that few mvyradio listeners are tuning into the station and instantly recognizing the voice, the way they would if they encountered a new R.E.M. or Bonnie Raitt track.

So the balance shifts to the new.  And new is good.  Until you hit the tipping point where the station isn't delivering the level of familiarity and comfort that regular listeners are used to.  You can put more or less salt in the soup each time you make it, but at some point if you tip the shaker a little too much, the soup's just not going to taste the same.

And that's where I am right now with our playlist, I think.

I like this track from BOY.  It's a little poppy, but it seems like it's going to be a hit.  And under different circumstances I might be inclined to add it.  But right now, mvyradio doesn't need more new, unfamiliar voices.  We need that new JJ Grey song to work its way into rotation and for the new Patty Griffin to arrive.

When we can restore balance, we can dive back into unfamiliar territory.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

6 String Drag "Guilty"

I was looking at Jess’ blog last week, as she ran down some names of artists she was featuring on The Local Music CafĂ© during a fill-in stint.

Ken Roby’s name popped out, and a fun little memory popped in.

One of the best places I’ve ever been, to listen to music, is at The Down Home in Johnson City, Tennessee.

It's been well over a decade since I've been there, and maybe it's changed.  Or maybe it's exactly the same.

The little, dark, smoky, dusty bar was in the middle of a economically-depressed, run-down downtown district in a town that wasn’t a Metropolis even in its heyday.  But going there at night often felt like you’d wandered onto the set of one of those 1980s post-apocalyptic films where all the people on Earth have eerily disappeared.

The inside of The Down Home was kinda odd, in that it was a long, narrowish space, but instead of the stage being at one far end or the other, it was against one of the long walls. This meant that if you were in the back of the room, you might actually be closer to the stage than the folks seated on the sides, who watched the performer in profile.

But the folks who ran the place were music lovers.  They weren’t trying to sell a lot of beer or a lot of food to make ends meet.

I know it’s hard to remember life before restaurants banned smoking, but in the heart of tobacco country, any show you went to see was usually viewed through a haze of cigarettes.  You didn’t even complain about it.  It just was.

But at The Down Home, they had a note on the table.

The simple fold asked you to respect the performers---you could smoke between sets but not during the show.

Respect the performers.

I had gone to see Scott Miller play at The Down Home.  He'd been part of the much-loved, from-just-down-the-road-in-Knoxville-Tennessee band, The V-Roys.  And this would be his first show since the breakup of that band.

Folks were filing into the venue, grabbing seats, finishing meals, waiting for the headliner.  There was a buzz of conversation, not loud but a consistent din, that rumbled below the sound of the opening act.

Kenny Roby was playing solo.  He was part of the band 6 String Drag, which had a following, but, based on the crowd's current reaction, that following wasn't necessarily in this room.  Some folks were listening, but some folks clearly thought of him as a placeholder, keeping the room alive until the man they came to see took the stage.

Roby, for his part, didn't appear phased by this.  I'm sure this scene has played over and over again in his career, whether being the opening act, or the headliner.  Sometimes the crowd just isn't paying attention.

Then something unfortunate happened.  Followed by something kinda amazing.

Roby had tried to adjust his mic stand a couple of times during his set.  It just wasn't quite staying where he wanted it to be.  He'd fiddle with it quickly between songs, get it in the right place, only to have the mic shift slightly during the next song.

Then, right in the middle of one of his songs, about 3/4ths of the way through his show, the mic stand collapsed.  So instead of the microphone being 5 or 6 feet high near his mouth, it had dropped to Roby's waist.

He kept strumming.  A look of frustration came and went from his face.  Then a quick calculation of his next move.  He decided.

He simply stepped to the front of the stage, past the microphone stand, and started singing, louder.

No amplification.

He just sang like he was a street performer.

And here's the amazing thing.

The room fell silent.

Roby's got a fine voice, but the crowd reaction wasn't "Oh my, this voice has stopped me in my tracks."  No, the crowd just realized, "Hey, if I talk, other people won't be able to hear this guy sing."

The crowd stayed quiet all through the last few songs, as Roby finished up his set and thanked the crowd for its patience.

I've seen a lot of shows, a lot of bands, a lot of opening acts in my day.  I've never seen an audience, en mass, decide it would be polite to shut the fuck up out of respect to the performer.

Like I said, I haven't been to The Down Home in over a decade.  Maybe it's completely different now.  Maybe it's completely the same.

I looked at their calendar of upcoming acts.  Scott Miller plays there in a few weeks.

If you go, listen.  You might hear something you didn't know you could hear at a show.  Respect.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Vampire Weekend "Diane Young"

I was going to write a post about how its almost become not worth it to post new music on the blog, because by the time you do, 10,000 folks have already done the same.

This Vampire Weekend track was digitally released on Monday afternoon, and my initial thought was that I'd write about it for my Tuesday entry.

But with barely more than 12 hours on the web, it's already all over the place, on music sites and blogs and your Facebook feed and such.  It's not even worth trying to be first, as it gets lost in a sea of sharing.

As I was dismissing the idea of just posting this because it's new and exciting, deciding instead to hold it back until I had a specific idea to write about . . . a specific idea to write about made itself evident.

Please, "Let Me Ruin This Song For You."

While bumping into this tune on radio and your social media feeds and television and your friend's playlists, try not to think of "Footloose."

That is all . . .

Hear Vampire Weekend on Youtube.

Hear "Footloose" on Youtube.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Ben Folds & Rufus Wainwright "Careless Whisper"

Scenes from Saturday's mvyradio Thank You Party:

Saturday night at the Ag Hall was just about the perfect, uniquely-Vineyard kind of get together, with lots of friends and familiar faces coming together to enjoy some music, as the station celebrated, well, just being alive.

We reached our goal of raising $600,000 to keep the station afloat and online, and we were very thankful for the community effort and relished the opportunity to thank folks in person.

Jess had the great idea of setting up a "Tech Table" where we could show listeners different ways they can listen and connect to the station, if they've never listened online.

I spent a good chunk of the night there, showing folks how to load the App on their phones, and demonstrating some of the simple devices you can buy to make car-listening easier.

One of the very-Vineyard things about this event, was that many people brought their kids---an event at the Ag Hall automatically implies a warm, friendly environment that you'd feel perfectly comfortable letting your children run free in.

Somewhere later in the evening, when the music, no doubt, had lost interest for a few of the kids, I found myself surrounded at the Tech Table by a group of youngsters who didn't need the technology explained to them---they wanted to use it.

"Can we listen to hip-hop on this?"  "Can you turn this on?"  "Do you have 'Gangham Style"'?"

So that's what Laurel came upon when she snapped this picture.  Me, trying to locate Katy Perry's "Firework" on my phone, so I could play it for the kids:

While it was most certainly a family event, there were also folks who did brown-bag it.  And when one fairly tipsy gentleman careened through the front door later in the evening, I was happy that we'd hired a cop.

It's always good practice, if you've going to have a large crowd, to have a police officer on-hand.  And the strapping young Tisbury police officer (who was covering for a West Tisbury officer/friend), was dispatched immediately to ensure that the large man bumping his way through the crowd and the walls was going to sit and listen to the music, peacefully.  (He did)

A few minutes later, I took a Tech Table break and headed into the bathroom.  Right behind came the officer, shutting himself in the stall next to me.

I heard the faint sound of music.

Now, I'd been in the bathroom earlier that night and hadn't noticed any music or P.A.  It wasn't Muzak.  It was definitely coming from in the room.

I recognized the melody too.

"Careless Whisper."  The Wham! song.

The officer didn't look like a Wham! fan.  But who am I to judge?

Listening more closely, I realized it wasn't the Wham! version.  I could hear Rufus Wainwright.

Oh yeah, Rufus Wainwright did "Careless Whisper" with Ben Folds.

Well now I had a very new perspective on this officer.  He was doing his detail, and rocking out to a Wham! cover on his headphones.  But it was this hip version that I remembered can only be found on the Ben Folds boxed set---so only a real music junkie would know about it or have it on their . . .

Wait a minute.

I took my own iPhone out of my pocket.

And the music got louder.

Yeah, the music wasn't muffled because it was coming from the officer's headphones in the stall next door.  It was muffled because I had "pocket-dialed" my own iTunes library and was inadvertently playing songs from my pants.

I'm sure the officer has great taste in music.  But I think we can all rest easier knowing the local police force is probably not the one rocking out to Wham!

Hear the song on Youtube.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Shane MacGowan & The Popes "Donegal Express"

Here's another Weekend Post:

Here's a NSFW song . . . good thing it comes to you on a weekend, when you are hopefully not working.

Happy St. Patrick's Day.  Here's a foul-mouthed and hilarious drinkin' and ruttin' song by the one and only Shane MacGowan, which has the added benefit of allowing me to make another round-a-bout reference to The Pope.

Hear the song on Youtube, where you can also find the lyrics!!!

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, March 16, 2013

Smoking Popes "Rubella"

Here's another Weekend Post:

What with all this talk about Popes and White Smoke and such, it seemed like the right time for a weekend post featuring The Smoking Popes.

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, March 15, 2013

Glee "One Of Us"

I've written about this song before, but it popped into my head a bunch of times yesterday as the White Smoke from Vatican had cleared and news stories about the new Pope circulated.

One of the tidbits that seemed to provoke a bit of hand-scratching/bemusement of the media, was that archbishop Jorge Bergoglio was known in Buenos Aires to fore-go a driver or special car, but rather take the bus from his downtown apartment (foregoing the mansion), to his office.

And when he was elected Pope, the new Pope Francis declined to take a limousine back to the place he was staying, opting instead to ride the transport bus he'd arrived in, along with the other Cardinals.

Will this continue?  Could you get on a bus in Rome with plans to climb the Spanish Steps, only to find yourself seated next to the Pope?  Since every news report of the last 48 hours has included the words "humility" and "modesty" can we expect to see the Catholic Church's hierarchy reject the trappings of a Monarch-like existence?

There are a lot of reasons I stopped going to church and stopped participating in organized religion.  I did so long before the clergy abuse scandals came to light, and long before I traveled to Rome.  But that trip in 2003 did as much as anything to steel my feelings that the Catholic Church was not the place for me.

We spent a day in Vatican City, touring the Sistine Chapel, and the many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many halls filled with priceless artwork, statues, sculptures, pottery and gold-covered everything.  I remember lying in bed that night, trying to close my eyes and fall asleep, my brain on overload processing and organizing the completely overwhelming rush of images flickering through my memory.

There was so much money, so much wealth, so much accumulation, that it was hard to square that with the vows of poverty, the life of service, the administering to the poor, that are supposed to be the crux of the church's mission.

If you had a choice between a Pope mobile or a bus, which would you take?  Or a helicopter flown by the Italian Air Force, or the rail-train with local stops, which would you take?   Or having a butler prepare your clothing, or going to the laundromat to wash your vestments, which would you take?

Speaking realistically, even if Pope Francis wants to buy a bus pass, security concerns are unlikely to make that feasible.  He's going to have to ride in the armor-plated vehicle.  And doesn't that eventually corrupt and separate you?

So I'm not as optimistic as the folks who hear "The Pope Takes A Bus" stories and believe it's a new day for the Catholic Church.

Nor am I as cynical as the folks who, hours after Francis was elected Pope, started posting about how his positions on Marriage Equality and other social issues are no change whatsoever from the Church's previous, conservative positions.  Being surprised the Cardinals elected a Pope who holds most of the same positions as his predecessor, is like being surprised the Patriots drafted a football player, instead of, you know, an Olympic Swimmer.

As I toss and turn the "what does this all mean" in my head, and think about the future of the Catholic Church, I eventually circle back to where I have been for sometime.

I stopped practicing organized religion because I don't need anything but my own awareness, to know that I need to recognize both the humanity, and the Godliness, of that person riding next to me on the bus, be he The Pope, or just a "slob like one of us."

The rest of religion, to me, is just a lot of white smoke.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Scatman Crothers "Yuck Mouth"

TV will rot your brain.

Not brushing will rot your teeth.

These are two things I heard quite a bit, growing up.

Now, I'm the parent, and I try to keep tabs on my kids' television viewing.

And every night, I am herding them toward the bathroom so they will brush their teeth.

Last night, to inspire them, I sang the "Yuck Mouth" song.

According to Wikipedia, this ABC-TV PSA ran from the 1970s, until the early 90s which means, (holy schnikes!) the last time it was on TV was over 20 years ago.  And truthfully, my Saturday morning cartoon watching days were a solid decade before that.

So when was the last time I heard the "Yuck Mouth" song?

And yet, I remembered it last night, word for word, and performed it with vigor, much to the bemusement of my children.

They say TV will rot your brain, but man, it seems my brain has retained some insane and random details, like the lyrics to "Yuck Mouth."

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Brandi Carlile "Keep Your Heart Young"

When I hear Brandi Carlile mention, at the beginning of this song, her plans to build a rocket, I laugh and think of this childhood memory . . .

I was visiting my Aunt Janet.  Or, in retrospect, I'm guessing Mom and Dad had plans, and Aunt Janet was drafted to babysit me.

But in the ego-centric mind of a 5 year old, I was visiting Aunt Janet.

She'd taken me to a playground, and at this moment we were sitting, stock still, watching a scene unfold across the way.

A group of teenage boys had come running into the sandy playground area, and they were all huddled around something . . . They were excited, nervous and looking around, and they were making a plan.

Auntie and I watched them discuss, negotiate, and then decide.

They buried a car's license plate right near the slide.  "We'll come back and get it later," one of them said to the group, as they ran off as quickly as they came.

Auntie was a teenager herself.  And I was 5.  We were both smart enough to realized that the license plate was stolen.  Probably just moments before.  Probably right off a car.

And we both knew what we had to do.

We dug that license plate up and ran home as fast as we could!

I don't know why stealing it from the stealers seemed like the right thing to do, but we did it.  And now I had my very own license plate.

When Mom and Dad came to pick me up, we told them of our adventure, and I unveiled my new plan:

I would build a boat!

I already had a license plate.  Building the boat, forward from that point couldn't be that hard.

Through the long car ride home I imagined my boat.  How I would craft it in our side yard.  How Dad would have to get some rope so we could tow it down to the river.  How I could make it Ark-sized, and maximize the height factor, since I was only a small boy.

There were a lot of details to consider.  I slept on it.

The next morning was a bright sunny day, and I had awakened with an epiphany:

Why build a boat, when you could have a helicopter?

Yes, I would build a helicopter, and fly around the neighborhood.  Those big kids with their go-carts and skateboards would look up and see me soaring over their heads.  I would be the envy of Jefferson Street.

"Mom, I'm going out to build a helicopter."

Mom was pretty relaxed about the whole thing.  I thought she'd be more concerned about a 5 year old piloting an aircraft, but she just said, "Okay."

Honestly, parents in the 1970s didn't even flinch at the idea of a 5 year old grabbing a hammer and a box of nails and some scrap wood.  Today, I feel like I'll go to jail for child abuse if I don't cut my kids' grapes in half.

I worked away for a while, but started to become frustrated with the complicated engineering of it all.

I'd nailed two long, large boards into a cross to make the propellers.  And I'd nailed a 6 inch piece of wood with a single nail, to the side of another board, so I could pull it back and forth like a lever.

But how was this thing going to be powered?  How was I going to measure my speed or know how high I was flying?

I went inside for a glass of milk and talked to my Mom about these problems.

Mom was resourceful and creative, so it was always good to take these kinds of questions to her.

She went into the cupboard and found some Tupperware/butter-tub tops.  And she showed me how I could put a nail through the center of the plastic top and into a board and it would work like a steering wheel.  You could even draw on it with a marker, and it would work like a gauge.

She gathered up her creative solutions and handed the pieces back to me, sending me into the yard to complete my project.

I remember sitting in the driveway, watching her watch me from the porch with a smile on her face.  And as she did, I distinctly remember thinking:

"This woman is an idiot.  You can't make a real helicopter out of butter-tubs.  I need electronics!"

But, realizing that we probably didn't have a spare helicopter's electronics panel in our garage, I should just hammer these Tupperware parts into a piece of wood, and humor the sweet, naive woman.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ryan Adams "Nuclear"

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

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

Every time I hear the very beginning of this Ryan Adams song, I half-wish that a Looney Tunes episode was about to start . . .

Hear Ryan Adams on Youtube.

Hear the intro on Youtube.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Wilson Pickett "Hey Jude"

We tend to define famous folks by their most famous achievements (or escapades).  But in doing so, the Legend can eclipse important, vital parts of the story.

If I say "Duane Allman," you say "Layla," "Live At Fillmore East" and "motorcycle accident."

The two sentence story is about his ground-breaking and influential work in his two years with the Allman Brothers, his tenure with Derek And The Dominos and his untimely death.

But the two sentence story misses so much great work.

Thankfully, there is a new, comprehensive boxed set, coming out via Concord Records, which tells the story much better, and much more thoroughly than two sentences ever could.

While a 7 disc boxed set undoubtedly has tracks that are more curios that anything else, "Skydog" also has some amazing, mind-blowing tracks that should come out of the museum. 

I can't tell you the last time I heard the Wilson Pickett version of "Hey Jude" and I don't know if I knew that Duane Allman was the sessions guitarist on it.  But hell, let's bring this one back.

Ditto to his work with Aretha Franklin, Boz Scaggs and John Hammond.

It's a much better story when you tell the whole thing.

mvyradio is giving away copies of a "Skydog" sampler today, and one lucky winner will get an upgrade, to the full "Skydog" set.

Below, hear the Wilson Pickett version of "Hey Jude," see a trailer for the boxed set that flashes through all the track names, and see a totally random video.  When Dave Einstein from Concord Records asked if we wanted to do this give-away, he meant to send a link to the trailer, but accidentally sent this link on how to open a wine bottle with a shoe.  Random, but helpful!

Hear the song on Youtube.

See the trailer for the "Skydog" set on Youtube.

Learn how to open a bottle of wine with a shoe, on Youtube.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Roosevelt Sykes "Forty-Four Blues"

Well, the only thing I'm blue about, is that Daylight Savings stole a hour from my birthday . . .

Otherwise, I'm grateful and thankful for everything I have, and for just being alive.  And for only feeling half as old as this guy sounds.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Subdudes "All The Time In The World"

"You need a minute?  Take your time.  Need an hour?  You can borrow mine."

Need an hour?  Don't forget, Daylight Savings starts tonight.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Bruce Springsteen "I'm On Fire"

I got a good 20-years-delayed laugh, the first time I was with my wife and we heard this song, together.

We hadn't been going out too long, when we were somewhere and "I'm On Fire" came on.

She talked about how sexy Bruce sounded on this track.  She'd always known that girls found him attractive, and she knew that he was handsome but hadn't yet found him sexy.  Until she'd heard "I'm On Fire."

And when she said that (circa 2004/2005, sometime after we first met), I flashed back 20 years.

My Dad was a high school teacher and a coach.  And in my youth I logged many, many miles in transit with my Dad and many other high school teachers/coaches.

I remember being in Dad's Toyota, heading North on 95 on a dark, cold winter's night, with my Dad and one of his buddies.

"Who's this?"

The silence of the ride was broken by the start of a new song on the radio.

"Bruce Springsteen."

I was known to know a thing or two about popular music, so the adults always liked to test me.

We rode in more silence, as "I'm On Fire" played.

But when Springsteen got to the line: "Sometimes it's like a knife, baby, edgy and dull, cut a six-inch valley through the middle of my skull . . ." my Dad's buddy said offhandedly, incredulously:

"This is what gets the girls all excited?"

I couldn't argue with him.

And even 20+ years later when I hear that lyric, despite what my wife and millions of others might think, it's hard not to laugh, 20-years-delayed.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Chris Ross "Mostly Sober"

When we were advocating to Save mvyradio, you might have been thinking "Will the station be able to survive?" and "Will I still be able to hear them?" and "Will they have to change their format?"

A question that perhaps didn't cross your mind was, "Will they still be getting service from the record labels?"

It's an interesting, sometime strange arrangement we have in the world of Radio and Records.  And if you're not in it, you may not know how it works.

Here's how it works.

Record companies sign artists and release records.  Their promotions departments (or hired freelancers, called independent promoters) promote the record to radio stations.  Meaning, I get phone calls every week from promoters saying, "We sent you the record.  Have you heard the record?  Do you like the record?  Will you be playing the record?"  Ultimately, their goal is to get mvyradio to put the record in regular rotation on the radio station, because regular airplay (generally speaking) leads to sales, which allows the artists to get paid, and the label to make enough money to sign new artists and release new records.

How do they quantify success?

Here's where industry trade magazines come it.

Each week, I am expected to send a list of what songs we played, and how many times we played each song to Billboard/R&R and Triple A Radio/Mediabase and FMQB, all trade magazines.  The list includes all the current songs we play (not all the older tracks).  For instance, last week, mvyradio played Grace Potter's "Stars" 15 times.

That 15 is added to all the the other spins that Grace got, on all the other radio stations that report.  The song with the most spins, is the Number One song of the week.  Right?

Having a high charting song lets the label know that the promoter is doing a good job, lets the band know that the label is doing a good job, and lets radio know that a band is succeeding elsewhere (and might prompt the station to increase airplay).

So having radio airplay be an accountable thing, is vital to the whole Radio and Record ecosystem.

What happens if you don't report to the trades?

Well, all those times you spin "Stars" aren't counted by anyone.  The bands and the labels have no proof that you are supporting them.  And the promoters lack incentive to even send you records, because there is no proof that you play them.

Stop reporting, and the records stop coming to your mailbox.

Way back when, when I hosted an Alternative specialty show, I'd try to get service from the record labels.  I wanted to be on their mailing list and be shipped their regular releases.  But I was often just blown off.  The nice ones would say, "I can't put you on my list, but if there is something you really want, send me a request and if I have an extra I will send it to you."  Imagine not being able to get a copy of "Nevermind" in 1994?

To get on these lists, you have to be a real radio station, with a real reach and impact.

Going off the FM dial was putting mvyradio's status in jeopardy.

Two pieces of good news happened:

First, we were able to work out a deal that keeps us on 96.5FM in Newport.  So for the sticklers, we ARE on a real FM radio station.

Second, attitudes (inside and outside the industry) are changing. 

If we had left the FM dial a few years ago, many Record folks would have treated the fact that we were a stream-only station the same way they treated my Alternative Specialty show:  not significant enough to be on the radar.  It wouldn't have matter to them mvyradio's online listening audience is much bigger than many of the terrestrial FM stations that do report.  We would have been off the reports, off the mailing lists and kicked down to a second-class status.

But today, industry minds are finally coming around to the fact that some of the old measurement systems really don't accurately represent the world today.

Perhaps the most notable shift in all of the business occurred a couple of weeks ago, when Billboard Magazine announced that they would add Youtube data to how they calculated their Hot 100 charts, which historically was based on radio airplay and sales of the record.

It makes sense.  The new math allowed the song "Harlem Shake" to leap to the Number One spot on the singles chart, propelled by the viral nature of videos featuring the song.  More and more people are hearing, discovering and sharing songs in this way.

Keeping mvyradio on the charts, due to its long reach and influence, I know makes sense to a lot of folks in my business.

In fact, Marc Ratner, a former Major Label guy who know runs his own operation, spoke on our behalf to the folks at Billboard.  He talked about how everyone may still call them "records" even though they might be CDs or MP3 or a stream or whatever.  It's still music, the delivery system is just a little different.  mvyradio should stay as a reporter.

mvyradio is still radio, it's just delivered a bit differently.

And that brings me to this Chris Ross song.

Ross is a singer-songwriter from Maine, and a client of Ratner's.  I got a kick out of "Mostly Sober" the very first time I heard it, enjoying the humor, liking his voice and rolling with the lyrical twists and turns that remind me of a Beck song.

After deciding "We like the song," the next question asked, on the path to adding it to rotation is, "Will the audience care?"

Chris Ross is nowhere on any chart.  He's unknown.  There is no data, from traditional sources, to indicate if we played the tune, music fans would be interested.

So it's all the more striking that his Youtube Channel has about 200,000 views of his self-produced videos.

He's not charting, but someone is listening.  And folks are reacting.

I played "Mostly Sober" at 2:50pm on Wednesday.  By 3pm, an mvyradio listener in New Jersey had written on Ross' Facebook page that she'd just discovered him by listening to mvyradio.   And a few minutes later, Ross had emailed Ratner in Maine, and Ratner forward the message to me.

The modern world!

"Mostly Sober" is no "Harlem Shake."  It's not about to rocket to the top spot on the chart due to Youtube play.

But it's good that we are recognizing that "records" are more than just a plastic disc, and "radio,"---what it is, what it does and what it means to people---isn't limited to a small part of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Hear the song on Youtube.

See a "Harlem Shake" compilation on Youtube.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Lyle Lovett "Here I Am"

Do you ever have the experience of hearing a song many, many times, but suddenly, it jogs a memory?

We play Lyle Lovett's "Here I Am" on a semi-frequent basis.  And have, for many, many years.

But I heard it yesterday, and for whatever reason it shook loose a little sketch of a memory from a good 15 years ago.

My roommate Mandy had a computer.

Why is this significant?  This was the first time I'd ever lived with someone who actually owned a computer.

I know, I know.  It seems unfathomable now, to live in a house without computer-access.

But in the mid-to-late 90s, it was pretty unusual for a 20-something like myself and my roommates, to actually own a computer.

But Mandy had one.  And she was even savvy enough to create her own sounds.

She'd edited pieces of "Here I Am" so they played at key moments---when you might normally hear a beep or ding.

When you logged on, you'd hear Lyle's "Hello?"

And if you Escaped out of something, it would say, "That wouldn't make you a shallow person, would it?"

If you tried to log out, Lyle would say, "Please, if it's not too late . . ."

Funny that this memory would suddenly dislodge here in 2013. 

That's my brain.  As reliable as a computer from 1997.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Carla Bruni "Chez Keith Et Anita"

I heard this song over the weekend, and was really charmed by it.  (I'm certainly neither the first nor last person to be charmed by Carla Bruni)

I was thinking about how rare it is that a non-English-language song makes it into mvyradio rotation.

Rarer still, are non-English language songs that are also non-African.  We'll open the doors for Habib Koite or Miriam Makeba, but are far less likely to bring in a European voice.  I can't really explain why.  But I can't think of a single non-English/Romance Language song that we have in rotation on mvyradio.

What do you think?  Even if you don't speak French, does this song charm you?

(And remember, we can't show the video on the radio, so factor that out of how charmed you might be by Ms. Bruni)

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Joe Jackson "Sunday Papers"

I was at a local auto shop back in January, to get my car inspected, and as I was talking to the guy behind the counter, his buddy, who'd been hanging out said, "Hey!  Are you PJ from mvyradio?"

Good ears.  He recognized my voice.

But times like that are pretty rare.  Mostly, I go through life anonymously.

In fact, I'd wager that there are folks who listen to mvyradio AND who have seen me around the town for years, who have no idea I'm "PJ from mvyradio."

But in the heat of the Save mvyradio campaign, we had reporters and photographers coming through the station on a regular basis.  The Vineyard Gazette, the MV Times and The Boston Globe were particularly generous with their coverage.

And a funny thing happened.  Immediately after these stories, folks I'd seen around for years would say, "You're the mvy guy!" for the first time making the connection to the voice on the radio and the skinny unshaven guy with the backpack, who never says anything.

How many Steamship ferry rides have I taken since moving to the Island 13 years ago?

I had a landmark moment happen.

I was late to catch a boat back to the Island.  I'd parked and hopped on the transport bus that drives you up to dockside.  9:29 for a 9:30 ferry.  As the bus was grinding to a stop, I could see the dock guys pulling the orange curtain across the car deck ramp.

For those of you who don't live here and don't know, when they pull the orange curtain, the ramp is CLOSED.

The City equivalent is when you get back to your car just as the Tow Truck driver has hitched up your vehicle.  It ain't coming down no-how, no way.

I leapt from the bus and started running, and something truly amazing happened.

One of the dock guys, someone I'd never spoken to before, yelled, "HEY PJ, HURRY UP!"

He opened the orange curtain and let me on.

Ask an Islander.  That stuff doesn't happen.

So thanks, newspaper friends and photographers, for pulling me out of the ether, making me look good and, at least for one day, making me somebody.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Bash & Pop "Friday Night Is Killing Me"

Here's another Weekend Post:

Keeping Fridays' focus on the "Songs For Slim" project, let me share one more solo-Replacements project.

Tommy Stinson has spent a lot of the last 15 or so years being in the mostly-inactive Guns And Roses, but he put out some solid post-Replacements work.  "Friday Night Is Killing Me" is not unlike a good Keith Richards solo project, full of fun, loose rock n roll, a less that perfect voice that wins you over with charm, and plenty of call-and-response barroom rock.  Another 90s fave . . .

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, March 2, 2013

Chris Mars "Popular Creeps"

Here's another Weekend Post:

Keeping yesterday's focus on the "Songs For Slim" project, I want to point you to one of my favorite albums of the 90s.  This is another one of those records that makes me feel like a lone voice in the darkness---I love it, and no one I know has ever heard of it, never mind succumbed to its rock n roll charms.

Mars spent years behind the drum kit of an iconic alt-rock band, and emerged, surprisingly, to be a very able and talented multi-instrumentalist and front-man.

Why yes, I am calling Dave Grohl a total copycat.  (Just kidding!)

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, March 1, 2013

Slim Dunlap "Ballad Of The Opening Band"

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

Guitarist Slim Dunlap has found himself in a position that too many Americans, and particularly, too many musicians, find themselves in.

He had a debilitating stroke last year and his insurance doesn't cover enough of what he will need going forward just to survive.  So not only is the medical condition delibitating, so is the financial condition.

Fortunately, he has friends.

In February, a limited edition new recording by his old band mates, The Replacements, went at auction for $10,000.  The songs will be available digitally later in March, but Pitchfork as a previous of the Gordon Lightfoot cover.

And there are more songs to come.  If you are, or you know, a fan of Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, Jacob Dylan or a long list of others, check out the Songs For Slim site.  There you'll find out more about Slim and his needs, and more about the songs to come.

If nothing else, check out the song below.  It's Slim's funny, somewhat heartbreaking and very accurate "Ballad Of An Opening Band."

Hear the song on Youtube.