Thursday, May 29, 2014

Sam Phillips "Baby I Can't Please You"

A Throwback Thursday post:

Jess did a Hot Seat on T Bone Burnett last week, and that jogged the memory of this tune.

Burnett was married to Sam Phillips and produced her "Martinis And Bikinis" album, one of my early 90s favorites.

Fun fact!  The album cover picture led to her being cast as Jeremy Irons' mute terrorist girlfriend in "Die Hard With A Vengeance."

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Eric Clapton "Call Me The Breeze"

Eric Clapton has put together "An Appreciation Of JJ Cale," featuring covers of Cale's tunes as done by Clapton, Tom Petty, Mark Knopfler and others.

"Call Me The Breeze" is out as a single.

Should MVY play it?

On the one hand, does this version really add to or change your perception of the song?  Not for me.  It's a very tasteful take on the tune, but I don't feel like I'm experiencing anything new here.

And really, does anyone need to hear "Call Me The Breeze" every again?  It's one of those songs that feels a little like driving by a McDonalds---you don't have to go in, to know exactly how the food is going to taste.  Or in this case, listen to the song to know what it sounds like.

On the other hand, maybe adding the version to rotation provides a little lift to the version we play (MVY has the original JJ Cale song in rotation; we don't have the Lynyrd Skynyrd version in rotation).  Alternating versions might make the listeners listen a little harder, wondering "Which version is this?"

The very pragmatic reason to play it, is that any airplay or record sales that come as a result of someone hearing it on MVY, means money for the songwriter.  In this case, the estate of the late JJ Cale will benefit.

Cale was beloved by the great guitar players of the generation who followed him, but he never rose to the level of commercial success of the folks who are on this record.  Playing the album will financially support the Cale family.

But when a listener flips the dial and hears a song, they probably aren't thinking any of these things.

Instead, they're making a snap judgement---do I want to hear what MVY is playing, or change the channel?

What do you think listeners will do when they hear this one?

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Toad The Wet Sprocket "The Moment"

People asked us for months, "What is going to be the first song you play on your new FM signal?"

And everyone had an opinion.

You may be a little surprised to know that even just a couple of hours before we were to go live, we hadn't picked a song yet.

A few weeks back, Barbara Dacey and I had agreed that we should air the "ocean waves" sound effect that comprised the last 20 minutes of our final broadcast on 92.7, fifteen months ago.

My first idea was that we would play "Riviera Paradise," which was the last song on 92.7.  It seemed to suggest that we were picking up right where we left off.  But then it didn't seem original enough.

While brainstorming, Barbara suggested Carly Simon's "Never Been Gone," which is perfect on a number of levels, since it is specifically about the Vineyard, and the joke that "mvyradio feels like it never was away" was pretty funny. 

But we set that idea aside, because we really wanted the first song to be something upbeat.  (Hilariously, the 2 comments I saw online about "Never Been Gone," which ended up being the 3rd or 4th song we played were along the lines of, "I can't believe you didn't play that one first!" and "Ugh, I can't believe they played Carly Simon!?!"  So I guess we did strike the appropriate middle ground)

It was Barbara who came up with the unconventional choice of playing James Brown's "I Got You."

Though it's not a tune we would regularly play, the spirit and vibe matched the moment.

But that wasn't the first song on the new 88.7.

What I knew all along was that we were going to have to turn on the new transmitter and be certain that everything was working properly, before it was safe to announce to the world that we were going to "launch" 88.7.

And we had no idea when that was going to happen.

We were scheduled to have the antenna hung on the tower, last week.  But rain prevented the contractors from doing the work.

They were supposed to start Monday, but they couldn't get a ferry reservation.

They got to the station early Wednesday, but by mid-morning, they realized that a couple of necessary cables had not arrived via UPS.  We tracked the package and found that it was on-Island, so I furiously started texting a couple of guys I know who work for UPS, to see if we could pull some strings and get it there.  It came shortly after lunch.

I kept wandering down to the engineer, who was hooking things up in the basement.

"Now?  How about now?  Are we close?"  I was like a 4 year old.

The plan, once the thing was live, was to put the ocean wave on, send out a press release to the media and send an eblast to our listeners giving them a 45 minute heads up.  Craig, the engineer, just had to finish his work to set this all in motion.

Finally, he came running upstairs, and simply gave me the thumbs up.

Craig, Barbara and I ran out to the parking lot, and put on the car radios.

88.7FM was on the air.

"Does it sound good?  It is a go?"

It was "The Moment."  Completely random that the Toad The Wet Sprocket song was the one on the air when the switch was flipped.  But there it was, coming out of our speakers.

We all smiled.  And yes, a tear or two was shed.

Toad The Wet Sprocket was on 88.7FM, which probably only had 3 listeners, Craig, Barbara and me.

I ran back inside and put the waves on the air.

The moment had arrived.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sarah McLachlan "In Your Shoes"

Last week there was a conference of non-commercial radio stations.  I wanted to go, but it was during our Fund drive for Friends of mvyradio.

I was quite interested in the forum titled "The Tori Dilemma."  The question at hand was, if you are a station that breaks new artists, but you've been doing it for years and years, what do you do when your new artists, have become established artists?  You're not really breaking new artists if you are playing the new Tori Amos, Natalie Merchant or Sarah McLachlan.  But if you don't play them, you are effectively ignoring the artists you told your listeners were important to pay attention to.

For MVY, we're not necessarily chasing a younger, more fickle audience.  We still try to break new artists, but we're comfortable sticking with the heritage acts, even if they are "old."

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Barenaked Ladies "Pinch Me"

"I could hide out under there/I just made you say 'underwear.'"

I have to admit, I had never heard this underwear joke, until I heard Barenaked Ladies "Pinch Me" in 2000.

How did I miss this in childhood?

Well, that won't be true for my own kids.

I started saying "LOOK UNDER THERE!" to them, to trick them into saying "underwear."

It only took a few times for them to turn it around on me.

Now, pretty much every day starts with them saying to me, "Dad-dad-dad-dad-dad!  Look under theeeere."

And I dutifully and happily play the fool who says "under where?!?!" eliciting peels of laughter.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tune-Yards "Water Fountain"

I can't imagine this song joining MVY regular rotation (can you hear this coming out of "Lay Lady Lady"?).

That said, it is the stickiest, most memorable, hummable, joyful song on the iTunes playlist right now.


Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Robert Cray "Deep In My Soul"

I dashed down to the basement.

Now that I have kids, a wife, and you know, stuff, many of the symbols of bachelorhood have been relegated to the basement.

Like the giant tower of CDs.

It was my kid's birthday party.  So the house and backyard were packed with nearly 20 pre-schoolers, plus their parents (many of whom I only really know from drop-off) and various relatives.

And my wife said, "Can you put on some fun music?"

So I dashed down to the basement and came back up with a 1/2 dozen discs that I had quickly picked off the shelf, assessing that they'd be generally acceptable to the crowd.

That was a couple of weeks ago.

Yesterday was Mother's Day, which meant that it was time to give the house a big clean, since we were having family over.

I found the pile of CDs from my son's party, still next to the stereo.  And seeing the names of the spines made me laugh.

Ray Charles
Al Green
Johnny Hoy & The Bluefish
Otis Redding
James Hunter

What appeals to pre-schoolers, grandparents, Dads forced to take their kids to a birthday party on Saturday who are trying to enjoy themselves by drinking a beer, Moms who are enjoying the company of other Moms who understand their struggles better than their spouses and Grandparents who look at their grandkids and remember when they were the hosts of these chaotic preschool parties?

What appeals to all these groups?

Soul Music.

It cuts across all demographic lines, works for all groups, creates the right mood.

Soul Music makes the party.  Even a preschool one.

I mention this, in part, because Robert Cray has a new album called "In My Soul."  It's his tribute to classic soul music.  And for our Friends of mvyradio Drive, we're giving folks a copy of the record if they donate $100 to support our non-commercial station.  Think about making that donation, and getting your own disc of music to make your party just right.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Sugarplastic "Montebello"

A Throwback Thursday post:

I was driving through Virginia during April vacation, and saw a sign for Monticello. 

From the deep recesses of my brain, popped this tune, which I'm sure I haven't thought about since the 90s.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Steve Miller Band "Fly Like An Eagle"

Like pretty much ever single solitary person my age in the late 80s, I owned a copy of Steve Miller's Greatest Hits on cassette.  And I listened to it constantly.

I mean, I knew every word, every inflection.  I knew how long the pause was from one song to the next, so I could start humming, in sync with the music.  In fact, at a certain point, I didn't really need the cassette at all.  I could have sung/hummed the whole album, in real time.

WBCN was promoting that Steve Miller would be stopping by the station, and he would be playing live in the studio.  He had a new album out, but he was sure to play some old hits too.

And he did oblige, launching into a spaced-out version of "Fly Like An Eagle," solo, on an electric guitar.

"Time keeps on slippin' slippin' slippin . . . into the future . . ." Miller sang, and I sang too.

Then something strange happened.

Miller sang "Feed the children, who don't have enough to eat."

I kinda froze.  What was he going to do?!?!

Now maybe you're saying to yourself, "I don't get it.  What's the problem?

Here's the problem.

The lyric is "Feed the babies, who don't have enough to eat.  Shoe the children, with no shoes on their feet."

But he had flipped a word, singing "Feed the children, who don't have enough to eat."

Was he going to have to complete the word flip and sing, "Shoe the babies, with no shoes on their feet"?  That doesn't make any sense.  Babies don't need shoes!

And it's not like he can stop the song to gather himself and think his decision through.  He's going to have to do something.

We're only talking about 2 seconds.  But I learned a valuable professional lesson in the space between the lines.

If it's live, let it go.

I've opened up the microphone on live radio tens of thousands of times.  And sometimes, you make mistakes.  You stumble over a word.  Or a whole sentence.  You misplace modifiers.  You accidentally swear.  You introduce a Bruce Hornsby song as "Bruce Cockburn."

And when you do, there's not much you can do.  Once it has gone out, you can't bring it back.  The only thing you can do it go forward.  You can compose yourself so you don't fuck up again.  But you go forward.

That's was Steve Miller did that day.

He sang "Feed the children, who don't have enough to eat.  Shoes the babies . . ." and then he just let his voice drift off, and filled with his guitar.  He picked up the lyrics with the next line, "House the people, living in the street, oh-oh there's a solution" and he just kept going.

I took that lesson to heart.  Even Steve Miller, a guy who probably sang "Fly Like An Eagle" more times than even I had, can screw up from time to time.

But professionals don't let a stumble completely derail things.  They just gather themselves, and plow ahead undaunted.

It's great advice for DJ's, and for life.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Lorde "Swinging Party"

I'm not a grumpy old man.

But clearly, I am an old man.

My friend Lori TB gave me the heads up that Lorde does a cover of The Replacements' "Swinging Party."  (She wrote "I 100% always think of you when I hear anything at all to do with the 'mats.")

My first thought was "How does Lorde even know this song?"

My second thought was the realization that this song came out in 1985.  Lorde wasn't born until 1994!

I'm not complaining that a young artist covered The Replacements.  I just find it shocking.  In the same way I'll find it shocking when they move Wheel Of Fortune's time-slot on the TeeVee.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Friday, May 2, 2014

David Bowie "The Man Who Sold The World"

Much like "Random Ridiculous Songs That Have No Business Being Played In Public Again But I Heard In The Grocery Store Today," I keep an ear out for songs in public places, that are strangely out of place.

For instance, standing in front of the elevators of the Florence, South Carolina Doubletree Hotel, it does not seem like they should be playing David Bowie's "The Man Who Sold The World."

But on the tail end of a long vacation, somehow it seemed appropriate.

I'd just come from Disney, where the art of merchandising is perfected, and amazing.

I mean, it's no revelation that the amusement rides promote the movies and the movies promote the rides, and they both promote the t-shirts and stuffed animals and acres of plastic crap that is every which way you turn.

But I did find myself both impressed an horrified and the marketing onslaught.

And as I stood there in front of the elevators, I thought, yeah Bowie, you're right, you can slap a logo on just about anything and sell it.  Even the world.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Big Audio Dynamite "The Bottom Line"

"The horses are on the track!"

Whenever I am telling a younger person about the stupid things I used to do, I invariably mention my one trip to the Kentucky Derby.

Being a group of poor 20-somethings, it was our plan to sneak alcohol onto the Fair grounds.  But security was tight.  How to get it in there?

Sandwich bags, filled with grain alcohol, stuffed into the bra of one of the women in our group.  She looked rather busty, but no one frisked her chest!

Then it was soda and grain alcohol all day.

I placed my 2 dollar bet on a random horse, and couldn't believe it when I won!

They say Disney is the happiest place on Earth, but I have to say, I have never been in a happier place than in a massive line of drunk folks who had all picked the Kentucky Derby winner and were lined up to collect.

The Derby is this weekend.  "The horses are on the track!"

Hear the song on Youtube.