Friday, January 31, 2014

Elastica "Stutter"

Having grown up as the child of a teacher and a coach, it was not uncommon to see young adults come up to my Dad and thank him.  They'd let him know that his guidance in math or sports really made a difference in their lives.  It was something Dad is always quietly, clearly proud of.

While my job isn't as profound or important as a teacher, every now and then I get a taste of what my Dad experiences with each bit of gratitude shown to him.

I got this email on Wednesday:

Hi P.J.,

I found your blog a few months ago by searching for the key words Whats The Alternative, WABN, 92.7, and Abingdon.  My friends and I grew up in Saltville, VA about 20 minutes north of Abingdon.  We loved WTA and listened to it regularly.  To this day I still listen to many of the bands that I heard for the first time on WABN.  The reception in Saltville was pretty bad so me and my skate rat/punk rock friends connected tin foil and unraveled coat hangers to our stereos and hung them from our walls and ceilings in an effort to improve our listening experience and to record better quality tapes.  We had several volumes of tapes that we recorded from Whats The Alternative and traded them with one another.  I was very excited to see your blog and read some stories about WABN.  I had always wondered what happened with the station.  I moved away in 2000 and eventually came back and settled in the Tri-cities.  To this day the area still lacks a station that's like WABN.  WABN was a huge part of my early teenage years as it was always on in our  rooms and on our car stereos.  Again, I enjoy the blog and I hope all is well for you.  Attached are two photos of a tape I recorded from the show.  The tape will not play anymore due to warping from sun exposure.  It is dated 7/28/1995.

Take care,

Jesse Whitt
Mt. Carmel, TN

If you look closely, "Stutter" is one of the tracks on this casette.  And if you search on the blog, you'll find that almost every other track listed on the cassette, has appeared as a fond memory/Weekend Post.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Eve 6 "Inside Out"

As part of the "post-1,500 posts" era, I have scaled back blogging a little bit, and that includes dropping the Weekend Post posts, so I don't have to come up with material 7 days a week.

But in the spirit of "Throwback Thursday" I'm going to post the kind of songs I might put in a Weekend Post.  I'll do it every Thursday.  And maybe Tuesdays too.  Is there a Throwback Tuesday meme?

So, for Throwback Thursday, here's a huge hit from the 90s.  Apparently these guys are still together and touring and such, but this was their only major hit.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Pete Seeger "Where Have All The Flowers Gone?"

"Pick out a book and meet me on the bed."

It's what we do every night with the kids.

Pajamas.  Teeth Brushing.  And then pick out a book and climb on to Mom and Dad's bed, where we read a few stories before bed.

Because we'd read it the night before, the Dr. Suess anthology was still on the shelf behind the bed.

"Something from this?" I asked my 6 year old daughter. 


"Sneetches?  The Sleep Book?  The Lorax?"

"The Lorax!"

And then we sat there.  My 3 year old son was still brushing his teeth, and my wife was trying to move the process along.  Unless you want to deal with a nuclear explosion, you never start a story unless both kids are in the room to hear it.

My brother-in-law got the kids this heavy, heavy anthology, and it's a great go-to source, because in one large book, it contains "The Cat And The Hat," "Green Eggs And Ham" and a dozen more stories.

Each story is prefaced by a short essay from various folks who were influenced by, or appreciate Dr. Suess. 

The Lorax is introduced by Pete Seeger.

"The most important thing you kids can do is ask the right questions."

I read that aloud to my daughter.  I doubt she really understands what he meant.  But I feel like it's these kinds of messages that, if you repeat them often enough eventually they sink in and your kid will become the kind of person who'll have the skills to navigate this big, wide, confusing world.

I was thankful to have such an important message laid out in such a succinct, clear way.

I learn, the next morning, that Pete Seeger has passed away.

Thanks Pete, for always being on message, with clarity and love, with care for children and for the future and for doing it with such beautiful simplicity.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Courtney Barnett "Avant Gardener"

This one is from Australia.  It's new and it's quirky.  Listen for the narrative and the wordplay.  There aren't many songs that start about gardening and end in an ambulance.  The idiosyncratic-ness and the slightly noisy underside have won me over . . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell "Back When We Were Beautiful"

Usually, when we're putting together the Top 25 list for MVY, the very top spots are left intact, straight from the voting.  But when you get down to the last 5 or so slots, only a vote or 3 can separate #20 from #40.  With so many albums so close, some shuffling around will happen, and the last few albums are usually decided not by votes, but by gut.

We take into account how important the album was to the MVY playlist, how well it was critically received, how well it sold, and how much longevity it feels like the record may have.

Admittedly, these characteristics are somewhat subjective.

With only 5 slots left, and 15 to 20 records that are legitimate contenders, there is some hashing out to be done.

Barbara was pretty adamant that "Old Yellow Moon" from Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell make the list.

I wasn't so sure.

I thought it was a good record, and it was certainly well received by the critics.  But we didn't play it a ton, didn't get a ton of requests for it, and there was no second single to keep it alive on the air throughout 2013, so it had faded into memory a bit.

But she argued so passionately for it, talking about the beauty and the craft, and saying that it was the kind of record that touched the hearts of people who really listened.  She said, decisively, that it HAD to be on the list.

I was smart enough to trust her gut.

Guess who won Best Americana Album at The Grammys last night?

Hear the song on Youtube.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Stephen Colbert "America Again"

While I love looking at the Grammy nominee list for all the musical delights, I must confess that when the list comes out I quickly scan down to see who is nominated in the "Best Spoken Word" category.  Bill Clinton, Betty White, Al Franken, Orson Welles and many other folks who, conceivably should not have a Grammy, do, because of this category.

Stephen Colbert already has an Emmy.  If he gets a Grammy, he's halfway to his EGOT!

Hear the clip on Soundcloud.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Gary Clark Jr. "Please Come Home"

While the Grammy nomination list is low on MVY artists, there is ONE artist who hit a pretty big milestone.

Gary Clark Jr has the distinction of being the only artist in Grammy history to be nominated for songs in the“Best Traditional R&B Performance” and “Best Rock Song” categories for the same album.

It speaks well of both his genre-stretching abilities, and MVY's acceptance of eclectic, uncategorizable artists.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Regina Spektor "You've Got Time"

This Grammy category used to be called "Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television" but in this modern technology day and age, the category is now known as "Best Song Written for Visual Media."

Because this song isn't really in a movie or on television.

This is the theme song to the Netflix original series "Orange Is The New Black."

It seems like a bit of a long shot, since it's up again "Skyfall" and "Atlas" and other big movie themes.

But the fact that it's considered, is a victory unto itself.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Lorde "Royals"

The Grammys are this weekend.

One of the many, many (many!) little things I do at MVY, is to copy the whole nomination list, and then go over it with a fine tooth comb, highlighting all of the MVY artists who got nominated.  I print it out and leave it in the studio for the DJs.

Though this year's document is 20 pages long, the list---for MVY listeners---is pretty weak.

No MVY acts for Album Of The Year, Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year or Best New Artist.

Oh, some of our favorites show up in places you'd expect, like Americana or Alternative.

But this list this year is decidedly Pop heavy.

That's not entirely a bad thing.

Even though they aren't likely to be played on our station, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Bruno Mars, and Daft Punk are all credible artists who made great songs in the genre where they live.

I'd even venture that though this was not a tune we'd play on MVY, Lorde's "Royals" IS one of the best songs of the year, without a doubt.

I'll post about some other interesting Grammy nods throughout the week . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Harry Chapin "Cat's In The Cradle"

With "Cat's In The Cradle," either you tear up a bit at the story, or you find it to be a huge pile of schmatlz.

For me, it's neither.

Instead it brings back a bit of warm nostalgia for 70s Pop culture. 

No, "Cat's In The Cradle" makes me fondly recall the days of K-Tel Records.

For those of you too young to remember, TV in the 1970s (especially those UHF channels) had an endless parade of commercials for K-Tel and their "20 Original Hits!  20 Original Stars!" slogan.

In the 90s and 2000s, the "That's What I Call Music" compilations did the same kind of thing---collect the big hits of that year on one album.

But it was the commercials of the 70s that grabbed you, by stringing together the hooks of a dozen-plus earworms.

Dad must've got sucked in by one of these spots (or, he just couldn't wait a full week until the next episode to hear the theme songs of "The Rockford Files"), because we had the 1975 compilation called "Music Express."

I knew "Cat's In The Cradle" from the radio, but it was on Dad's LP that I was able to listen through again and again to suss out the sorry tale of parental karma.

Looking back at the track list (which you can see here), I must've only listened to Side One, because I can still sing all those songs by heart, while I have been unable to even hum a bit of the melody of most tracks on Side Two.**

I can say with certainty that my love of both the album (which was really my first exposure to the idea of a mixed tape) and the commercials (which was an early introduction to the power of editing) predicted the career I'd end up in, where I have spent a life creating playlists and crafting music beds, for broadcast and commercials, and for fun.

**The exception of course, is "The Rockford Files" theme, which I still know.  One of the highlights of childhood, was being allowed to stay up an extra 5 minutes past bedtime, so that I could sit with Dad and watch the opening credits to "The Rockford Files" which contained a different "Answering Machine" gag every week.  Dad would roar.  I'd laugh too, though I'm sure the humor sailed over my head 90% of the time.

Hear the song on Youtube.

See some vintage K-Tel commercials on Youtube.

Hear "The Rockford Files" intro on Youtube.

Hear a whole bunch of answering machine messages on Youtube.

Hear ALL the songs on the "Music Express" album on Youtube.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Beatles "The End"

This is my 1,500th blog post for Every Day I Write The Blog.

Way back a year-and-a-half ago, I marked post #1,000 by saying that I didn't know how much longer I'd keep going.  I had to be running out of stories.

At the time, I may have underestimated how many untapped sources there were.  Turns out there were several hundred left.

But now, for reals, I think I've hit the pretty close to the end of what I can do with the original concept of this blog---or at least half of the original concept.

Part of the initial idea was to take a song and write about, "what does this song remind me of?" telling a personal story from the past.  At this point, I look at the notepad where I have kept a list of stories I'd like to tell, and I've crossed pretty much everything off the list.

I'm sure I'll come up with a few more, here and there, but largely, I think I've hit the wall, covering 45 years worth of stories of my life. 

The other part of the blog was to write about being the Program Director/Music Director at mvyradio, and to give a little insight into the question I get asked over and over, "How do you pick the songs?"

I can probably continue to bring you new things, and talk about the process.

But I don't think I can write every day.

A few months back, I started taking on the General Bloggers page at MVY, which is not an every day thing, but does suck up a bunch of blogging time.  And if the original reason to start this blog was to help the station, then working on the MVY blog is probably more important.

I have a few other creative ventures that I'd like try out, which are outside of the mission of the blog, but I can probably post here if I free up some time.  So if I write less, I can post more---get it?

. . . and in The End . . . there's never an end.  Even the death of John Lennon didn't prevent The Beatles from putting out a new song.  So I suspect I'll keep writing on the blog.

Just not Every Day.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Steely Dan "Green Earring"

The good karma of not sucking . . .

My wife lost her favorite earring.

Now I know, losing an earring is the kind of thing that happens all the time, but this was a bit of a big deal.

Last Spring, we had taken a family vacation to Ocracoke Island in North Carolina, a tiny enclave that has little beyond a few restaurants, some artisans and miles of empty beaches.

My wife, and artist herself, fell in love with the work of a particular jeweler and the one-of-a-kind earrings she made.

But she couldn't bring herself to buy a pair.

It's a funny thing that happens to mothers.  They give and they give and they give, but they also feel enormously guilty about taking.

"Go buy them.  It's totally fine by me," I said, several times.  But she couldn't.

She wanted to, but she couldn't.

On the very last day we were on the Island---on the very last hour of the very last day we were on the Island---as we were packing the car to race to catch the ferry, she said, "I have to get them."

She walked down the street to the jewelers (it's a small island) and I finished packing the car, loaded in the kids and picked her up in front of the store.

From that moment on, for the next 7 months, she wore those earrings every single day.

About 2 months ago, she lost one.

Honestly, losing something is not that uncommon in my household.  My wife is one of those people who loses her car keys, her phone, her ipad, etc, etc, on a regular basis.  They always turn up.

But the earring didn't, and she was really upset.

Every day she'd get dressed and say out loud (not expecting and answer) "Where is that earring?"

Long gone, no doubt.  We'd tried to work out when she might have lost it, and the possibilities weren't good. 

She knew that she wore it to work (teaching), but she didn't know if she'd lost it at school, or on the way to her car, or at any of the couple of stops she'd made (the store, the gas station) on her way to pick up the kids.  If it wasn't in the car (it wasn't), then it was probably on the ground somewhere.  Gone.

When it wasn't showing up, I decided I would take a picture of the remaining earring, and send it to the jeweler.  Maybe she could reproduce her original, one-of-a-kind work.  A custom job like that wasn't going to cost half as much, no doubt, but it would make a good present.

Too close to Christmas to get it done, I decided to wait until January to make contact, in hopes that maybe I could give it to her for her March birthday.

Our finances are often as disorganized as the rest of our lives, so it was with great pride that I was carrying a check to my son's daycare.

We pay quarterly for his (awesome) pre-school, and it's always a bit of a financial wack.  Sometimes it requires juggling the finances to make it work.  Often, we have paid late.  Occasionally, really late.  It never feels good.

But my wife had done some good planning this quarter, and we were ready with a check the day it was due.  I was proud to be paying on time.

As I was tacking the envelope to the cork-board at daycare (which I otherwise never look at), I let out a yelp.

There was the earring.

It had been found, but no one knew who it belonged to.

For a minute, I toyed with the thought of giving it to my wife and telling her I had contacted the jeweler and had it made for her.

Instead, I gave my boy the glory.

He and his teacher taped up the earring in a bright red jewelry box, and he dictated a letter that said, "Here is your earring!  Don't lose it!"  And he presented the surprise at the dinner table that night.

I think my wife was actually shocked, speechless at the surprise.  I thought she might cry (but she didn't), but she was truly, truly thrilled.

I feel like I finally saw that earring that had been tacked to the corkboard for two month, as a reward for doing what shouldn't be a big deal, but was---paying the bill on time.

It's the good karma of not sucking.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

St Paul & The Broken Bones "Call Me"

Here's a fun game. 

Start the video below and then minimize your browser.  Or just walk away from your computer screen.  So you can't SEE what you are hearing.

After listening to half the song, mentally describe to yourself what you think the singer looks like.

Then watch the video and prepare for some cognitive dissonance.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Blondie "Call Me"

Here's a leftover story from New Year's . . .

For the last several years, during the week around New Years, my wife's family convenes in Newport, Rhode Island for a few days at a timeshare.  Prior to having kids, my wife and I might go out for New Year's Eve, but in these last few years, we've generally stayed in.

That was the case this year.  As midnight approached we found ourselves watching Ryan Seacrest as he did the Dick Clark thing.

At some point, Seacrest brought out Debbie Harry and Blondie, who chatted for a few minutes, and then launched into a few of their hits.

My wife's family was remarking how good Debbie Harry both looks and sounds, though she is approaching 70 years old.

My mind suddenly jumped back nearly 20 years.

In the mid-90s, when I was living in Virginia, my roommate was a Virginia Tech grad, and a football fan.  When the Hokies made it to the Sugar Bowl, we decided to hit the road.

New Orleans for New Year's Eve?  Hell yeah!

The football game was exciting.  Tech won.  We were in an upbeat mood as we headed down to Bourbon Street, trying to decide where we'd go to celebrate midnight.

We noticed that at one of the clubs, the headliner for the evening was Debbie Harry.

"Debbie Harry!?!!? C'mon!" I remember exclaiming.

Harry hadn't had a hit in years and years.  I presumed she was old and washed up and why would I want to spend New Year's Eve with that?

So there I was, back in 2013 on New Year's Eve, sitting in a timeshare sipping some wine in my pajamas with my wife and my In-Laws waiting for the clock to hit midnight so I could go to bed, while I watched Debbie Harry rocking out on National TV, whipping the Times Square audience into a frenzy, looking fabulous as she neared 70. . .

I looked at the TV.  I looked at my pajamas.  I looked at the TV and said out loud:

"Who's washed up now, Debbie Harry?"

Hear the song on Youtube.

Hear Blondie on New Year's Eve 2013 on Youtube.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Ash "Girl From Mars"

Here's another Weekend Post:
More Brit-pop from a UK band that managed to take the cartoonish punkiness of The Ramones, but make it cute too.  Nearly 20 years later, this song still charms . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Weekend posts are a chance to revisit songs that have happy memories, not of anything in particular, other than just hearing the tunes.

Many of these songs were tracks that I played during my 90s stint as an Alternative/Modern Rock radio show.  They're tunes that I hardly hear these days, but are fun to revisit.

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

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Charlatans "Can't Get Out Of Bed"

Here's another Weekend Post:
Felt like a dose of Brit-pop this week and looked up this long lost track on Youtube.  Seemed like the right kind of song to be singing on a cold winter week, when dragging my butt out of bed (and getting the kids up and moving) was especially hard, due to the warm comfortable sheets versus the unforgiving frigidity.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Weekend posts are a chance to revisit songs that have happy memories, not of anything in particular, other than just hearing the tunes.

Many of these songs were tracks that I played during my 90s stint as an Alternative/Modern Rock radio show.  They're tunes that I hardly hear these days, but are fun to revisit.

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

Friday, January 10, 2014

Garnett Rogers "Small Victory"

This week our guest blogger is Scott Lajoie, who has substituted for me before as editor of Cape Cod Magazine. Now a writer with the International Fund for Animal Welfare in Yarmouth Port, Scott is writing about songs addressing animal welfare issues of today. 

The first time I ever heard this song, I became very emotional. Okay, I’ll say it: I cried a little.

I saw Garnett Rogers perform here on Cape Cod six or seven years ago. He put on a great show with a lot of moving songs. But this one stood out. I was amazed by his fingerpicking. I engaged with the lyrics from the first word. I related to the characters, even the friend “who turned to me and said, ‘you’re soft-headed, I can tell.”

The act of saving this horse makes for a great story, and the twist made me smile. (Is it a twist, or do you see it coming a mile away? Frankly, it doesn’t matter to me, even after I have hear it dozens of times.)

There are many stories like these. Right here on Cape Cod, a girl named Brittany Wallace had parted ways with her horse and then some time later found it online, up for auction where allegedly people buy horses for their meat (I wrote about her in Cape Cod Magazine’s “People to Watch” this year). Scribbles is now safely back with Wallace, but how many other horses face this fate?

I love what Rogers says about helping as an “impulse” in the intro of the video here. But a lot of us won’t find ourselves at a horse auction anytime soon and thus don’t know how we can make a difference. We feel helpless.

We shouldn’t have to. There are plenty of organizations that address the many animal welfare problems that exist worldwide. Although IFAW does not count horse rescue among its repertoire services, you can Google ‘horse rescue’ for a listing of places near you that could use some assistance. Of course, there is always the Humane Society and the ASPCA, too.

While some organizations strive for action on larger picture issues—preserving habitat, endangered species listings, cruelty legislation, etc.—many realize the importance of saving one animal at a time. It’s costly. But it’s worth it because it’s the right thing to do.

Do your research. Learn about how these non-profits operate. Find work that inspires you. And pledge your support.

You could be the one who helps make “one more small victory.”

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Samples "African Ivory"

This week our guest blogger is Scott Lajoie, who has substituted for me before as editor of Cape Cod Magazine. Now a writer with the International Fund for Animal Welfare in Yarmouth Port, Scott is writing about songs addressing animal welfare issues of today. 

The 90s alternative jam reggae band The Samples, a long-time fave of mine (in fact, I mentioned them the last time I guest-blogged), produced a lot of songs with socially conscious lyrics about the environment. I read them now and they sound a little corny:
Nature, it's all around me
Nature is so astounding
Puts me on a beach
Swims beneath the sea
It's never out of reach
It's even you and me
In the last two months, however, the song “African Ivory” has become very real to me, especially the two lines, There's a rhinoceros horn on our big TV and There's an elephant tusk on our big TV.
These lines address two of the worst products of wildlife trafficking, rhino horn and elephant ivory, both of which are horrendously sawed off the face of these charismatic megafauna after they are poached. Tusk and horn are not like wool or discarded antlers, folks; the elephants and rhinos must be killed to harvest it.

Along with human trafficking, drug running and illegal arms sales, wildlife crime—which includes a whole host of wildlife “derivatives” too numerous to mention—ranks among the most serious, dangerous, and damaging of international crimes, worth an estimated US $19 billion per year as noted in IFAW’s  “Criminal Nature – The Global Security Implications of the Illegal Wildlife Trade.”

As I write this on Monday, we at IFAW are lauding the ivory crush in Guangzhou, China. For those of you who are not familiar with a crush, it is a symbolic gesture on the part of a government to pulverize ivory. By doing so, it brings exposure to the poaching of elephants, the illegal trafficking of material across borders, and the conflicted morality of purchasing and even owning ivory. (For a very personal account of the latter, read True Blood actress Kristin Bauer’s blog on the topic.)

IFAW works everyday to address the myriad issues related to this often overlooked type of crime. It’s rarely on your “big TV.”

Band leader and song writer Sean Kelly posted a video for an acoustic version recently with a note:
Published on Jan 15, 2013:

In the mid eighties I saw a documentary on the severity of the poaching of Elephants for their ivory tusks and Rhinoceros for their horns. I had a helpless and nauseous feeling in my stomach and soul.
All this information was coming through my TV set. I wrote this song back in 1988 or 89 and as you can see from this article, sadly nothing has changed in regard to the sadistic need for a frickin bone!!!!


The version I post here is of the original.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Neko Case "The Tigers Have Spoken"

This week our guest blogger is Scott Lajoie, who has substituted for me before as editor of Cape Cod Magazine. Now a writer with the International Fund for Animal Welfare in Yarmouth Port, Scott is writing about songs addressing animal welfare issues of today.

They shot the tiger on his chain
In a field behind the cages
He walked in circles 'til he was crazy
And he lived that way forever
And he lived that way beside them,
Separate from the other tigers
He did not know another tiger.
We know them as one of the magnificent big cats. Ferocious. Powerful. Royal. With probably the most recognizable markings on the planet.

But tigers are facing enormous threats. Their natural habitat is diminishing. Poachers pursue them for the beautiful coats. There is a market for tiger bone wine, a tonic used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Perhaps you don’t know that one major issue in the welfare of tigers is a domestic one. There are more tigers in private ownership here in America than there are in their natural wild habitat in China and Russia.

While some living quarters are fitting, others are woefully inadequate, the “trophy” cats living in squalid conditions. What’s more, when these cats break free, they present a horrible safety risk in the surrounding community. Remember the breakout in Ohio?

Each year, some of these tigers are given up and relocated to a number of sanctuaries across the country. Others are not so lucky.

Neko Case tackled this issue back in 2004 with her song, The Tigers Have Spoken. It is haunting ode with cool guitar effects to the isolated life and tragic death of one such tiger.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Police "King Of Pain"

This week our guest blogger is Scott Lajoie, who has substituted for me before as editor of Cape Cod Magazine. Now a writer with the International Fund for Animal Welfare in Yarmouth Port, Scott is writing about songs addressing animal welfare issues of today.

I was obsessed with Synchronicity when it was released in 1983. Granted, I was only 10, but it proved to be pretty prescient as I still consider the album one of the greatest of all time.

The song King of Pain described phenomena of the natural world we humans perceive to be horribly tragic. Two lines stand out to me now because the non-profit for which I work, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, specifically addresses these issues.

There's a blue whale beached by a springtime's ebb.

Blue whales rarely beach themselves. The problem of stranding comes mostly with smaller whales (pilots) and dolphins. I wrote about IFAW’s Marine Mammal Rescue and Research team, the group that rushes out to the flats to attend to these creatures, when I was still with Cape Cod Magazine. We do not know why whales and dolphins strand, but we are learning about potential factors, including the overwhelming amount of noise with which we humans have polluted the ocean.

"There's a red fox torn by a huntsman's pack."

I really wasn’t very aware of what this line meant until I learned specifically about the fox hunt in Britain. IFAW has campaigned for years against this cruel “sport,” in which hounds led by a hunter descend on a chased fox and literally rip the animal apart. Another rock star has joined the fight against this practice: Brian May of Queen. Although it has been officially banned in the UK, hunters still engage in it under authorities’ radar. IFAW, however, has sponsored observer teams to follow these hunters into the woods and document their actions.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, January 6, 2014

PFR "Goldie's Last Day"

This was the subject of some future Weekend Post.

Though I never heard it anywhere else, this one was a semi-frequent request at the station I worked at in the mid-90s in Virginia.

At the time I had always thought it was pretty dang goofy.  Writing about your dog dying under mysterious circumstances and throwing in a bit of Taps struck me as ridiculous.

A few years later, a friend of mine had her dog poisoned, and the goofiness of the song was undercut by the realness of that incident.

I mention this story because this week, I'm turning over the blog to my friend Scott Lajoie, who is now making his life's work about the concern for animal welfare.  

While it's easy to make light (or be like Nelson Muntz on The Simpsons and suggest we "Nuke The Whales"), there is important work to be done, and important issues to consider.  It is pretty impressive that right on Cape Cod, there is a worldwide-ranging organization working to protect and preserve rights for animals, and bring awareness to issues much larger, including the fur and ivory trade for instance.

Musicians have been bringing awareness to these topics in their songs for many, many years, and Scott will highlight a few of them, and talk about the organization he works for, The International Fund For Animal Welfare.

And if you still need to make thing light, when you say IFAW, you can say it like Nelson Muntz says "HAW-Haw!"

Hear the song on Youtube.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Fountains Of Wayne "Valley Winter Song"

Here's another Weekend Post:

Another song for all the snow . . . This one isn't actually from the 90s, but it's over 10 years old, so it feels like a throwback.

It makes me all kinds of melancholy, as it references Western Massachusetts (where I went to college) and The Bay State, where my friend Teri would sometimes play.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Weekend posts are a chance to revisit songs that have happy memories, not of anything in particular, other than just hearing the tunes.

Many of these songs were tracks that I played during my 90s stint as an Alternative/Modern Rock radio show.  They're tunes that I hardly hear these days, but are fun to revisit.

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

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Jennifer Trynin "Snow"

Here's another Weekend Post:
For those of you who've had kids home for Christmas vacation, and then had more time off due to the snowstorm, I suspect the madness is creeping in.  This is a deeper album cut off a record I listened to a whole bunch back in the mid-90s (the song "Better Than Nothing" was nationally successful, but particularly big in Boston, where she's from).  I'd always pull this one out when the cabin fever started to set it.

Hear "Snow" on Youtube.

Hear "Better Than Nothing" on Youtube.

Weekend posts are a chance to revisit songs that have happy memories, not of anything in particular, other than just hearing the tunes.

Many of these songs were tracks that I played during my 90s stint as an Alternative/Modern Rock radio show.  They're tunes that I hardly hear these days, but are fun to revisit.

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

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Steve Martin & Edie Brickell "Sarah Jane & The Iron Mountain Baby"

"Really?  A banjo record?!?"

I try not to look too hard at the voting for the Top 25 of 2013 while it is in process, so as not to make a big deal of anything, until the full picture has developed.

But I did take one peek this year.

After the voting period was halfway over, "Love Has Come For You" by Steve Martin & Edie Brickell was in the lead.

I was pretty surprised by this.

Albums that make the top of the list are, by nature, consensus records.  A large portion of the audience, with varying musical tastes, must feel connected to the record.

Records with a broad palette of influences do well.  Genre records rarely top the list.

And other than rap music, country music is the genre most often cited as an irritant by our listeners.

There is no getting around it.  "Love Has Come For You" is a banjo record.

Mind you, it's a really delightful, beautiful, warm and inviting banjo record.  But for a prejudiced ear, it's simply a banjo record.  With the banjo up front enough to be an immediate turn off to those who dislike the sound.

Ultimately, a less surprising album (Tedeschi Trucks Band's "Made Up Mind") surged in the voting and became number one.

But it's pretty impressive that a record that could potentially be viewed as niche-y, found such a wide audience.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Vampire Weekend "Step"

I was super-curious as to how this Vampire Weekend record was going to fare, on the mvyradio Top 25 of 2013 voting.

I get the impression that our audience is split on Vampire Weekend.

Many of our older listeners, and/or folks who tune into mvyradio to hear Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen and The Blues At 8 and such, don't seem too effected by Vampire Weekend.  To some, their inclusion on our playlist may even be a little out of character.

For those who have younger-skewing tastes, or listen because they appreciate our devotion to artists like Peter Gabriel or Robert Plant or Angelique Kidjo who are making multi-layered and multi-cultural records, Vampire Weekend makes sense on MVY.

And those people feel strongly.

So this is not a record like Ray Lamontagne's, which spans a broad swath of demographic.  But it brings out a devoted following.

So how did it fare?

Once you get the logical wrangling out of the way, the answer is fairly obvious.

Vampire Weekend ended up at Number 9 on our list.  It wasn't close to being Number 1 (as it was on many major publication's lists), but it made a strong showing.

Makes sense.

Hear the song on Youtube.